Most preppers have so many things on their wishlist that it may seem like only those with a lot of spare money can manage it. Starting out, most of us have purchased cheaply made items, not realizing just how low-quality they really were. Imagine being in a severe emergency only to find that the gear in your bug out bag either breaks the first time you use it. That’s a nightmare scenario, for sure.
You don’t have to be a victim of cheap and poor quality survival gear and supplies — not when your life could depend on it!
We’ve combed through dozens of online products that we either use ourselves or have been recommended to us by others. Each of these prepper gifts is under $20, but the are still solid quality items, not cheap dime-store items.
These items are a solid foundation to get started and they make great gifts and, in some cases, stocking stuffers. They’re also a excellent upgrades for anyone who has been preparing just a bit longer and wants to improve their kit. Have kids or grandkids? These inexpensive gifts are also a great way for them to get started. I still remember getting my first pocket knife (a knife I still own) as a kid, and my eldest loves his new mess kit.
Food and Water
1. Herb Terrarium – Small, portable, easy to use, and herbs are good for both cooking and (sometimes) herbal medicine. What’s not to love?
2. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter – The LifeStraw is only for one person, but provides water immediately, no need for boiling water, adding bleach or anything else. It’s easy enough that even very young children can safely use one.
3. Mess kit – In addition to the standard bowl, cup, and utensils, this kit has a small cutting board and container for spices. My teenage Scout loves having the spice shaker and there are 7 colors to choose from — even pink!
4. Pie Iron Sandwich Cooker – I’ll admit it. I just like hot sandwiches, as detailed in this article. This makes it easy to make them over a campfire. It’s just like when I went camping as a little girl.
5. WAPI (WAter Pasteurization Indicator) – Tiny, effective, and a great way to purify water, the WAPI makes a great addition to any emergency kit. It takes roughly the same amount of work for a cup of water or a big pot full of water.
6. Dryer balls and / or soapnuts – Dryer balls last for years. Once you have a set, you don’t need to buy dryer sheets again. Soapnuts don’t last nearly that long, but they are an all-natural, easily portable alternative to “regular” laundry detergent.
7. DIY (Small) Emergency kit: mylar blanket, meds from home (small pill organizer with six to ten tablets each of ibuprofin, headache tablets, and antihistimine), water bottle, food, water purification tablets (or a Life Straw), black trash bag, fleece blanket – This combination covers the most basic immediate needs in an emergency. Having a mylar and fleece blanket may seem redundant, but it will be softer and warmer than either one alone possibly could be.
(Note: Some items are in a multi-pack but you only need to include one in the kit.)
8. Flash drive – Use one just to store copies of all your critical documents, as listed here. By the way, that’s a plural “you” because you’ll need to include documents for everyone you are responsible for, whether that’s your family or another group. Add to the flash drive any other important files you need, such as .pdfs or even copies of e-books. Family photos, too.
9. Solar flashlight or UVPaqlite – Batteries die, and we run out of them. Everyone, prepper or not, should have at least one flashlight (prefably a few) that does not rely on batteries. These are both great options. If you’re unfamiliar with UVPaqlite products, I reviewed them in this article.
(Note: The solar flashlight here is over $20, but it’s for a two pack, making each one under $20.)
10. Crackle Finish Zippo Lighter – Sure, you can buy a lighter for $0.99 in the check out line, but can you rely on it? When it counts? This is the classic Zippo lighter. It’s refillable, with a lifetime “fix it free” warranty, and Made in the USA.
11. Paracord belt or bracelet – It’s no secret that paracord has a ton of uses, so a paracord bracelet or belt is a natural gift. For a fantastic gift, combine a selection of paracord in different colors with a book like this one that gives instructions for all kinds of paracord projects.
Health and First Aid
13. Breathe Healthy Face Mask – Face masks can be hard to breathe in, but the Breathe Healthy face mask is different. The fabric (tons of fun choices for kids and adults) has an anti-microbial coating that kills germs, but it still breathes well. I have personally worn them for four hours straight on multiple occasions with no difficulty. Another emergency face mask recommended by Survival Mom is the Readi-Mask. It is small, easy to store, and effective against things like smoke and airborne particles.
14. Essential Oils – It’s easy to get started with a few essential oils. Four Thieves is a popular choice for fighting off illnesses. Depending on personal needs, Muscle Relief, Anxiety Ease, or Breathe Easier might be good choices. Lavender and Tea Tree are also popular first choices. (I used Young Living oils for years and recommend them. However, I’ve recently discovered Edens Garden and they are excellent with lower prices.) Add to a selection of oils a diffuser for the car, and you have an awesome gift, even if it’s just for yourself! Survival Mom’s family used this one on their road trip around Iceland.
15. QuikClot – It’s small, unlikely to ever be needed, but if it is, it could save a life. Isn’t that worth under $20 and a little space in the glove compartment?
Camping and Outdoors
16. 2 Pack Edible Wilderness and Wilderness Survival Playing Cards – It’s easy to overlook the importance of entertainment, but a good set of playing cards can be a sanity-saver in an emergency of any size, even if it’s just to distract you while you wait to be seen in an emergency room. Having all those tips and that information just makes it that much easier to survive and thrive in a real wilderness survival situation.
17. Fixed Blade and whetstone – As great as pocket knives are, a longer fixed blade is better for some tasks. For example, a pocket knife is great for whittling the point on a stick for campfire cooking, but food can get stuck in the folding hinge and that’s potentially just all kinds of bad news. But a dull knife can be a danger and a frustration, so add a good whetstone or sharpening kit to help you sharpen it. (Pocket knives need one, too.)
18. Pocket knife and sheath – A good pocket knife can help with cooking (sticks for food), entertainment (whittling), medicine (cauterizing – OK, I wouldn’t really recommend that), and all kinds of things. Fixed blades come with sheathes. Pocket knives don’t, but you still need one. It makes it easier and safer to carry one.
19. Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite Sleeping Pad (Small, Silver/Sage) – This is a definite upgrade from the cheap big box store sleeping pads, but is not prohibitively expensive.
20. Wood splitting wedge – A simple tool, a solid wood splitting wedge massively speeds up splitting wood for fires or drying out (to use later for fires).
There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.
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