Jul242011

34 Comments

Top 10 Products for the Beginning Prepper

More than three years ago, my husband and I realized that the downturn of our nation’s economy was beyond the normal up and down that we’ve been used to.  When we saw hard-working people lose jobs and homes, we realized it was better to be proactive than to sit and wait for the worst to happen to us.

Some of the products that every prepper should own, and that we own and use, are:

  1. At least two ways to purify water if the power goes out.  I use the SteriPEN with batteries and also own the hand-crank version.  Another effective method to purify water is calcium hypochlorite.  I recommend Cal-Shock 65, and you can download directions for using this here.

    image by Danny et Maryse

  2. At least two ways to cook food in a power down situation.  I’ve used the Sun Oven for years (visit the official website here) and own the Stove-Tec Rocket Stove.  The new Eco-Zoom stove is another version of a highly effective, fuel-efficient stove that weighs less than the Stove-Tec.  If the prices of energy skyrocket, and it looks as though that may happen in the near future, it will be a blessing to have alternative ways to cook food without cranking up the gas or electric range.
  3. Basic bulk ingredients with long shelf lives are a must.  Wheat, rice, and beans are versatile, when you add a variety of spices, herbs, and other ingredients and will last for decades.  There are food shortages around the world, and it’s likely we’ll experience either shortages, much higher prices, or both in the future.  If you’re afraid of wheat, and who among us hasn’t been??, read this and this, and if you’re looking for creative recipes using these basic ingredients check out my Macho Mexican Rice and Rice and Beans with a Bam!

    image by dougw w

  4. A .22 rifle.  This is an inexpensive go-to firearm that is useful for hunting small game and is very budget friendly when it comes to ammunition.  Because the ammo is so cheap, a .22 is ideal for learning and developing marksmanship skills.  You can always move up to more expensive guns, but the skills you develop with a .22 will easily transfer to larger caliber firearms.
  5. Customized emergency kits.  These kits are sometimes referred to as Bug Out Bags, for getting out of town in a hurry, or 72 Hour Kits, packed with everything you need to survive for 72 hours on your own.  However, I recommend a Vehicle Kit, smaller kits for each member of the family, and a larger kit that contains items that will be needed by the whole family, such as extra food, an emergency toilet, and a wind-up radio.
  6. A high-quality multi-tool and an all-purpose Swiss Army Knife.  There’s no need to lug an entire survival kit with you everywhere you go, but these two items are really a must have for your purse, pocket, or glove box.  By the way, when it comes to essential tools that may make the difference between survival and not, never go cheap!

    image by xjara69

  7. A selection of non-GMO, heirloom seeds suitable for your climate zone.  Tough times may include expensive produce that’s difficult to come by.  You can grow your own, but there’s a very high learning curve involved.  Stock up on seeds for foods you know your family will eat.  Heirloom seeds are preferred since they haven’t been genetically modified.  Learn how to save seeds from one season to the next.
  8. Basic camping gear.  In the case of an evacuation, take this with you in case hotels are already filled.  Additionally, camping skills double as survival skills.  Learning how to locate the best camping spot, how to pitch a tent, how to cook over a fire, and how to enjoy nature are important for every member of the family to learn.  A good quality tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads (for us older folks!), and a campstove are good basics to begin with.

    image by subarcticmike

  9. Cash.  This isn’t exactly a product, but without a supply of cash during an emergency, you and your family could be left high and dry.  Set aside some cash each month, in smaller bills, and have it ready to grab if you must ever leave your home in a hurry due to a natural disaster or some other crisis.  Figure on having enough to pay for 7 nights at a hotel, 3 or 4 tanks of gas, and enough to pay for a week’s worth of food and other supplies.
  10. A good survival library.  You can download free survival manuals here, but additionally, take a look at Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before it’s too Late by Scott B. Williams, Survive! Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere – Alive by Les Stroud, Crisis Preparedness Handbook by Jack A. Spigarelli, The Backyard Homestead, How to Survive the End of the World as we Know it by James Wesley Rawles, and The Modern Survival Manual by Fernando Aguirre.  These are among my personal favorites.

It doesn’t take a ton of money to prepared for an uncertain future, but it does take some forethought, research and a plan.


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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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 5 years. Come join me on my journey to becoming more prepared to handle everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios.

(34) Readers Comments

  1. Thanks for the tips! I was actually thinking of doing a post on this but tweaking it to fit ranches. We had a major freeze this year that left us without power for over a week, and the freeze burnt our pump so we couldn't water. We also had several major wildfires that left us without cell service b/c a tower was disabled. I was totally unprepared. I thought we were going to lose everything in our freezer, I couldn't wash clothes or dishers (not a great experience if you have a house full of kids) and no way to communicate with anyone. And that is when a friend recommended your site. It's been so helpful! I think in addition to your list, one could also use a HAM radio or emergency radio, a solar pump if you have a well, and alternative light sources.

    • The Wonder Wash is a hand-crank clothes washer that doesn't use much water. :-)

  2. Good info here. Looking forward to seeing you tonight on NatGeo

  3. The most important product is a healthy body. Start now to get as physically fit as possible. Carrying bug out bags, supplies etc. in an evacuation for any distance is not possible for people who are in poor physical condition.

    • Sheila, I've been going to aerobics classes every morning this summer just for the reasons you cite. In about three weeks or so, even a very sedentary person will begin noticing a difference in their stamina and muscle strength. Thanks for the comment!

  4. "You can grow your own, but there’s a very high learning curve involved. " This is a very accurate statement. We have made 3 attempts at gardening and it was on our 3rd attempt that we were successful (meaning we grew some vegetables). I cannot imagine how stressful this would be if I were depending on it for my families survival.

  5. We just bought this new pocket knife. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003FC70HQ

  6. I'm book marking this. I have done a lot of reading on prepping, and this website organizes pretty much every conclusion I have ever come to on the subject. Very nicely done. Thank you for your contribution to society.

  7. What do you have against GMO? Life has been evolving for billions of years; GMO is just another "evolution". I think it highly unlikely there would be problems caused by these modifications, AND they have unique value by being resistant to pests. As far as I'm concerned, anti-GMO hysteria is just that, hysteria.

    • the seeds from gmo plants are useless, gmo plants are also now linked to organ failure… gmo is not evolution, I think you may be thinking of hybrids which are entirely different. But even hybrid seeds will not produce the same crop the next year as the seeds gathered from hybrid plants revert back to one of the parent plants which may be fine but I wouldnt take the chance in a time when you count on it for survival… So from a sustainability point of view gmo plants are useless, not to mention that many heirlooms are also disease and pest resistant, just naturally. There are also natural ways to control disease and pests for plants. If survival is key then sustainability is also key.

    • It isn't hysteria, and GMO isn't 'evolution'. One of the biggest issues for preppers and survival is that GMO seeds will not reproduce in the same way if the seeds are saved and re-used. In fact, in many instances (maybe all?), it's illegal to save the seeds and re-use them! It's far better to track down heirloom seeds that are native to your area and/or compatible with your climate. A good place to start looking is <a href="http://www.nativeseeds.com” target=”_blank”>www.nativeseeds.com.

    • They are "pest resistant" cause they PRODUCE INSECTICIDe,and do not grow next year.they are franken food that destroys health and kills bees so you can have my share.
      Steve

    • The jury is still out on whether or not GMO food is healthy but the reason for heirloom seeds is that you can save the seeds from season to season and never run out of food.

    • What research have you done on this? Are you simply making assumptions, because that's what it sounds like. The needs of someone trying to grow a couple tomatoes so the kids can see what they look like growing on the vine one summer are verrrrry different from the concerns of preppers who are thinking in terms of potentially supplying food for their family for many years.

      Evolution takes time, GMO has not taken time. It's not the same thing at all.

    • One of the biggest issues with GMO food is the allergy cross-over. Because genes from nuts, fish, soy and other highly allergenic plants/animals are used in the to give the need seed the desired characteristics, they can trigger serious allergic reactions in people who had no way of knowing the food was dangerous or even which food it was that caused it! If that wasn't bad enough already, it will certainly only be worse in a grid-down situation where medical care is limited at best.

      There are some very well and reader-friendly done books on this subject, and most libraries have at least a couple of them. I'd strongly recommend that you read a couple before you write this off as hysteria!

    • Really? Do you have proof?
      WE WON"T KNOW "TILL THE BAD EVIDENCE BECOMES
      OBVIOUS, BUT WE DON"T WANT THAT, DO WE?
      Are you actually saying this, or are you jest being silly?
      Have you seen all the recent law suits involving pharmaceuticals?
      ALL THOSE DRUGS ARE "SAFE", RIGHT?
      Radiation aint so bad. Right?
      Mercury in yer brain aint so bad. Right?
      Fillin ar kids up wid sody pop, pretend food, pharmaceuticals, & now GMO,
      …. aint so bad. Right?
      Talk to all the parents of damaged children because of all this – are they
      truly hysterical? Are you willing to risk your great grandchildren having all
      sorts of weird health issues & be rejected by society for having abnormal
      qualities? Is it really worth it?
      Really?
      Do you have stock in GMO, or are you corporate?
      WOW

  8. I would propose adding a good guide to local foragables to your book list. We have 3 such books and its easy to walk around and ID wild forages and weeds that should we need to can offer us medicine and food while we are waiting for a garden to grow. Seeds are great but they take valuable time that in a SHTF situation may not allow.

    • That is a good suggestion but I'll add my caution, be very, very careful before you start eating unknown plants. An Army Ranger told me that he had had to pull more guys out of the field due to their getting sick from eating plants than for any other reason!

  9. Awesome suggestions! im lovin this blog right now! I am starting up a non profit organization that essentially would make communities self sustainable and ready for any such survival emergencies… http://www.facebook.com/pages/GFM-Guerrilla-Farmi… im starting out small, but hey doesnt everything :-)

  10. very good suggestions. we put a hand pump on our well so we have water if the power goes out,,,even in winter.

    • Any suggestions on where to find a good one? We need one for our well. I'd REALLY like a solar pump, but those are more than a bit pricey. :-(

      • We actually built it our self using pvc pipes. Hubby designed it himself. The handle pumps down to a one way valve that pushed the water up the second pipe to the surface. (if that makes sense) it works really well! Lehmans has a couple that look really good.

  11. SurvivalMom, do you mean http://www.nativeseeds.org? The dotcom addy didn't "produce" for me. =D) Love your article. I have it bookmarked to my emergency preparedness sites. Great info here!

  12. Pingback: Survival Mom’s Top-10 Gear List for Beginners | Sensible Preps

  13. How could I clean my salty pool water? I am thinking of filtering it through charcoal, then sand and charcoal again, but not sure that will work. Any ideas?

    • Do you mean clean it so you can drink it or clean it if the electricity goes out and the pump isn't working? If you want to drink the pool water, the best option I know of is to distill it yourself. I just had a reader send me this same question, and she mentioned checking around marine sites to see if there's a product available to remove salt from sea water in an open water emergency. I do know that the Berkey filters will NOT remove the salt. If possible, you're better off storing several 55 gallon drums filled with tap water and several cases of bottled water. I also reuse 2-liter soda bottles by cleaning them, refilling with water, and then storing them under beds and in closets.

      • Regarding the 2L soda bottles, how long do you store them before changing out the water with fresh water? Would you say that the water stored in this way would only be good for cleaning clothes, washing dishes and bathing and not for drinking or cooking? I have pondered doing the same thing but wondered how long the water would stay fresh and free of bacterial growth etc. (aka safe to use).

      • Many municipal water supplies are disinfected with chloramine now, not chlorine. (That's Texas law, for example.) The difference is that chlorine evaporates, while chloramine does not. It can only be removed by chemical reaction or charcoal filtration. For that reason, I avoid tap water as much as possible. But one nice thing about it in a survival situation is that, based on personal experience at least, it does not go bad.
        On the other hand, the Ozarka jugs I've been storing seem to do well too.

  14. I just bought my son a nice basic Swiss Army pocket knife for $20 through the Boy Scouts. I know I have one myself, but I can't remember where at the moment. :-( I may ask for a new one for Christmas if I haven't found it by then.

    They had $3 ones for sale at the BSA camp but we refused on the grounds that a cheap pocket knife is dangerous. He was bummed until we got him the new Swiss Army one.

    We also have a Cobb Grill for cooking (charcoal). It's about the same as a new outdoor grill to replace the rusted out one and since it's designed for indoor storage and easy transport (it has a carrier bag), it should long outlast anything we would need to leave outside. SHTF or no, it's a good buy for us. Clearly, it is smaller than a full-size grill, but we don't need that anyhow.

  15. I have been planting small gardens for two years now mostly to learn how to do it. It is so rewarding to eat what you grew. But one thing I am realizing is that it would take a lot of vegetables to feed the family and can to get you to the next harvest. Also I learned that I really get upset with birds that eat my tomatoes!

  16. Not so sure I agree with some of this list. Sure, you need to clean water, shelf-stable foods and alternative ways to cook it, but not so sure I would recommend beginning preppers bother with a rifle or seeds quite yet. I would suggest they worry about items like a comprehensive first aid and hygiene/sanitation concerns first. You need to be able to get through a disaster before you should worry about a long term survival scenario.

  17. I see that a lot of people have solar ovens. We have several types of outside grills, some charcoal or wood burning, some propane, as well as a smoker. What do you guys think about those types of cooking elements. I'm not really sold on the solar ovens yet.

    • Solar is the only cooking method that doesn't require any stored fuel, just the sun. On cloudy days you need to have at least a couple of alternatives, but sterno, propane, butane, etc. will eventually all run out and may be hard to come by someday. I recommend solar and two back-ups.

  18. Pingback: The Prepper Food List: Top Foods To Hoard - Final Days Survival

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