13 Survival Must-Haves You May Not Have Thought Of

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I’ve read dozens, and I mean dozens, of lists telling me everything I need to have with me to survive.  Usually there are no surprises. This list of 13 survival must-haves has some genius suggestions for items your emergency kit might be missing.

13 Survival Must-Haves You May Not Have Thought Of via The Survival Mom

I know a flashlight, pocket knife, and water are essential for my survival or emergency kit, but every now and then I come across some unusual piece of equipment that are brilliant but that I never would have thought of myself.  Here are my 13 favorite survival must-haves that you also might not have thought of yet!

(NOTE: We’ve updated this list just a bit from an earlier version and added a few suggestions from readers.)

  • Lightsticks.  You can pick up one of these every time you wander into a Home Depot. They don’t need batteries and can be hung around the neck with a string making it easier to spot everyone in your party when it gets dark. An alternative is the UVPaqlite, which never needs batteries.
  • Wool socks and sweaters. People have literally frozen to death wearing their layers of cotton knit tees and hoodies. Fun fact: It takes forever for wool socks to start smelling. On camping trips I have worn the same pair of socks for 6 days in a row, leaving them to air out each night, and in the morning they smell nearly as fresh as they did on Day 1. For true survival conditions, nothing beats wool. A set of merino wool thermal underwear is also a smart long-term investment to make, especially if you live in a colder climate.
  • Upholstery needles and thread.  What if a sleeping bag or tent rips and you have no way of mending it? Knowing basic sewing techniques are a valuable life skill to add to your survival plans.
  • Roll of quarters. Handy for phone calls, although payphones aren’t as common as they used to be, and laundromats, but if you put it in a sock and wield it like a sling, you have a handy-dandy weapon! If the quarters are pre-1965 and 90% silver, you have a whole new type of currency.
  • Pencils. Forget the pens. They can run out of ink and freeze in cold weather. With a pocket knife, you’ll always have a sharp pencil.
  • Super glue. Professional hockey players always have this on hand to seal up small cuts, and the glue itself is harmless. Unless you get it in your eye, like I did. But that’s a story for a different type of post!
  • Rubber bands. String just doesn’t cut it when what you really need is a rubber band
  • A full-size sanitary pad or two to stanch heavy-duty bleeding from an injury.
  • Paracord belt.  It’s an accessory and survival tool in one!
  • Waterproof wrist watch.  Makes perfect sense, I had just never thought of it.
  • Animal repellant trash bags. Use these when you’re camping and animals will stay the heck away from your trash.
  • Safety pins
  • Dental floss. Besides helping to keep your teeth clean, it makes sturdy thread for mending.

Suggestions from readers? There are plenty! Take a look at the comments below for more survival must-haves. Here are a few that we wanted to add to this list.

  • A pair of pantihose to wear as an extra layer for warmth, reduce friction to avoid blisters and work as an emergency water filter for removing debris (not bacteria or other microbials). – Shadekat
  • Vet wrap to use to hold a bandage or anything else in place.  – Mona Baird
  • Playing cards. – SgtRock
  • One heavy-duty black trash bag for multiple uses, including an emergency shelter or rain poncho. – SgtRock

119 thoughts on “13 Survival Must-Haves You May Not Have Thought Of”

  1. Pingback: uberVU - social comments

      1. They are also good for nosebleeds. Our sports team medic used to keep some in her first aid kit for that purpose when I was in high school.

    1. Actually the OB type is better. They are smaller and will fit most bullet holes, as per the Navy Medic who has a bagful for his tours in hostile areas. For a prepping plan they do take up much less room than cardboard applicator types. For larger wounds such as a chest wound or large leg wound a maxi-pad is very handy, cover with a bandage or large strips of cloth to keep it secure.

      1. That’s what I carry! No need for the big plastic or cardboard, “applicator”. (Who knew you “applied” tampons???)

      2. The tampon in the applicator can also be used as a basic survival straw. They don’t take up a whole lot more room. Condoms are also great. Water storage the latex Ines are flammable and make great fire starters, wound care, slingshot bands, and also for keeping things dry, such as the muzzle of your gun.

    2. Besides the tampons, kotex pads make great bandages-designed to absorb blood, sterile and a box of 24-48 is under 8.00…much cheaper than an equivalent amount of sterile bandages….

  2. Hi Mom, I love the new look of your site! I also have checked out many, many lists and there is one thing I see almost all forget also. A cleaning kit for your weapon. These come in nice plastic containers, they are not too costly and are definately needed. One of the first things you are taught in boot camp, a dirty weapon is not a weapon anymore. Thanks and keep up the good work, you seem to hit on subjects others don't.

    1. You're right about the cleaning kit. If you have a firearm,you'd better have some way to clean it and keep it conditioned. Thanks for visiting my blog!!

  3. In the case of earthquakes, learn from my bad experience in the '94 Northridge event….keep your paper goods far away from your plastic water jugs — the bottles split when they hit the garage floor and walls.

  4. An Army issue P-51… the bigger version of the P-38 can opener. They have a hole in them for wearing on your key chain or your your i.d. (dog tag) neck chain. Very simple, very small, and quite the lifesaver if you need to open a can. I purchased a half dozen cheap clearance can openers that can be used for barter. Also bags of individually wrapped hard candy will make good barter material or a treat at the end of a long day. P.S. make sure you have a way to keep that firearm dry… keep it by those paper goods last mentioned. lol

    1. Ruthie D – P-51, absolutely!! We actually use one in our day to day lives. We tried several electric openers and that thing with the wing that you turn. Always went back to the P-51, fast, easy to store and doesn't need electricity.

      1. Military surplus stores usually have 'em pretty cheap. I just checked amazon and found a 10-pk (brand new) for under 7 bucks. 🙂

      2. Midway carries both the P38 and the P51 models. They advertise it as aluminium but it is actually slightly thicker steel than the original P38. Hope this helps!

        On the waterproof watch. If we’re thinking Air Burst EMPs, the electronics in a wristwatch will probably be fried. A couple of cheap watches, wrapped in foil, in a Faraday box, might be a good barter item investment?

        Good Luck, and Be Careful out there, Be Safe!

  5. I like this list. Thanks! However, you can also buy the lightsticks in bulk on eBay, and other places I'm sure, for less. And you can get pencils, glue, and paper cheap cheap and cheaper at Target, Walmart, etc, when they clearance the back to school supplies – along with spare back packs for the kids to put their Bug Out Kit into (unless you just use last years back pack for that). Personally, I think hairbands are good in conjunction with the rubber bands. There are big ones designed for headband use as well as the standard size. They last for more years (or it seems like it at least) and they don't stick on things as easily. Rubber bands for braces are also good to have on hand if you need small rubber bands.

    This widget may not be a must-have, but I think it's pretty high up on the "nice optionals" list. I've always wondered about the advice to fill a tub since, I don't know about you, but I do NOT want to drink anything from my tub most of the time. It's not like it's terribly dirty or anything, just not up to snuff for potability.

    P.S. Yes, I do generally have a lot to say. That's why my screen name is most often BabblesLong.

    1. Right at this moment, I'd be pretty hard pressed to go take a drink out of water from my tub, and if water becomes scarce for whatever reason, you sure don't want to waste it washing out the tub first! If you didn't have the Water Safe you mention, I wonder if those extra large black trash bags would work. You could probably fit three or four in a tub and then use a drop or so of bleach to make sure it was safe for drinking. I wish water didn't weigh so darn much. And yes, I hit the back to school sales pretty hard every August!

    2. I went to an expo recently and I came across a Reusable Glow Sticks. Has an indefinite life. And its only $7 plus they have some other cool products. Then you only need one for each of your family members. It will save you loads over time. http://www.uvpaqlite.com/

  6. I have a waterproof watch (less than $15 from Target), but I also have a WIND UP watch. Once again, gotta love eBay. It was $.99 + shipping from China, for a total of maybe $15 (it's being shipped halfway around the world – that's not a mark up). If my batteries die, then I still have a functional watch, as long as I wind it. I think China's actually the perfect place to get a mechanical watch from since they probably have more than a couple areas where getting a watch battery replaced is easier said than done. Also, spare batteries and a widget so you can replace a dead one.

  7. Be very careful about using tampons for plugging wounds. As the tampons take on fluid (blood), they expand and can cause tissue damage in addition to the original wound. Plus, if you remove the tampon from the wound, you may end up pulling the clotted blood from the wound, causing new bleeding.

    1. TheSurvivalMom

      Joy, I've heard that tampons are commonly used on the battlefield by our military. I wonder what technique they use to remove them? That's something else for me to research!

      1. To remove tampon after it has clotted and dried, saturate the tampon with saline or STERILE water for removal. do this for any kind of wound dressing that has dried, such as gauze. if the hole is big enough, saturate the tampon lightly prior to insertion for pre-expansion. use the smallest size tampon like light or regular and not the super plus. they will expand the least.

        or form a tampon plug out of gauze and pack it in. make sure it has enough of a tail to get it out.

  8. I think dutch ovens with the Tri legs are a must have… after all we have food but it needs to be cooked. One would be hard pressed to compete with the versatility of the Dutch oven. Bake, boil, saute, roast the one pot does it all.

  9. I love lists! The idea of using black bags for water collection is only useful if you arent consuming the water. Most bags have pesticides in or on them. For flushing and such it might just work.

    1. They make a plastic holder that fits in your tub that is made to hold water in case of emergency. I think it was called a tub bladder or something like that. Got mine on…. you guessed it, EBAY!

        1. It is…and if you go to the web site they are out of stock at this time and don't show a price for what they would be if they had them. eBay has them for different prices (the single ones) but I'd like to know what the 'normal' price would be.

          1. The water bob’s cost about $30 give or take. I saw one on another survival blog I subscribe to.

            Fire starters: Use dryer lint and cardboard egg cartons. Buy 5 pounds of parafin and go to town. You just fill up the cups with lint, twirl a piece into a wick, and dump in the wax. Break up into individual cups and stick in ziplock bags. Non-lubricated condoms will hold anything within reason. They help you maintain downward pressure on your drill and bow firemaking, make sling shot arms, and many other things that you would never think of.

  10. The warning about the tampons is a good reminder for everyone. To follow up,tampons are great because they are very absorbant, however direct pressure is the preferred method to stop bleeding. Whatever dressing you use, gauze, tampon, bandana, etc., you should NOT remove it if it becomes saturated (for the reason above.) You should just add another layer on top and keep applying pressure until help arrives or you can transport to a Med. Facility.

    I highly recommend that everyone take a first aid/CPR class. You don’t know whose life you may end up saving!

  11. I don't know if this is the proper place, but keep your automobile gas tank full or not less than 1/2 at all times. If you have to evacuate you won't have time to find a gas station. Also know alternate routes to a safe place. And keep a G.O.O.D. bag in the car.

    1. TheSurvivalMom

      That's great advice to pass along. One friend who attended a CERT class was told, "A half tank is an empty tank." With the high gas prices, it hurts a lot less to pay $25-30 or so for that half tank of gas!

  12. Regular sanitary napkins are equally good to stop bleeding. They also make good large bandages. I have several kinds of different thickness.

  13. Tampons in bullet wounds are meant for "1st aid purposes only", meaning PLUG THE WOUND, GET THE VICTIM TO THE DOCTOR." He'll know how to treat the problem from there. Until then, if there is a long time frame getween the two, pull the plug only when signs of infection set in and only if there is some/any form of anti-biotic and blood stopping available..
    Emergency Medicine is common sense. If it is working, run with it. If it aint, try something else.
    Quick Clot ,A tampon and a Kotex is carried in my 1st aid kit when I go hunting bear country in Colorado.
    I also have a top notch 1st aid kit in my truck for "JUSTIN"

  14. Cut-up strips of inner tubes make great fire starters and work great regardless of wet conditions.

    Also, the three things you should NEVER “skimp” on are your boots, your sleeping bag and your knife. If any of these items fail, you could perish. Everything else you can make due on.

    1. Now that's a new one I have never heard of before! What a great idea, and your advice about the boots, bag, and knife is solid.

    2. Your advice about the boots, knife, and sleeping bag are right on, I advise not using the tube strips if you are in a situation where you do NOT want to be found, no matter how small the strip, you will reap loads of dark black smoke…. Just my 2 cents, take it or leave it.

      1. And if you’re in a situation with wet wood and you don’t care if you’re found, bring a ziplock bag full of smoke bombs. They burn very hot and will dry out kindling and wood.

        And hoard strike-anywhere matches & candles.

  15. Not sure about this one or not but something I was thinking about…….You know dryer lint….it is great for kindling a fire..So, if you were to save some of it instead of throwing it all out than you will have a slow burning kindle for a fire. and you can compact it tight in a small container or baggie

    1. This works very well. i have been saving my dryer lint for kindling on backpacking trips for several years. it gives you time to build on top of the kindling as it burns slow and hot.

      1. You can get the steel wool packs at dollar store ..and can be broken down into 36 starts..( dont get the kind with soap on them ).. they also have 9v batteries …2 for a buck. . make sure you put your wool into zip lock and keep seperate from battery. it only takes 2 min and 5 $ and you have over 100 fires. just touch the wool with the battery .BTW kids think this is really cool …in fact my son showed me . I just love your site …i was on all day .. some really great info ..your followers are some really cool people . i will be checking your site often. i started preppping just after i read ” one second after” a couple years back.

        I wanted to add that mushrooms are everywhere…some good for eating ,some for meds…find your self a good field guide . National Audubon Societys field guide for North America has great pictures. but doesnt hurt to have more than one guide. Im not a big fan of mushrooms ..but if i got hungry enough. My interest was for medicinal purposes. My guide lives in my bug out bag. i live at the base of a large natl forrest…so it could come in handy. I also keep a small zip lock bag with fishing hooks , a needle , and fishing line. ..very light and takes up no space.

    2. We have been using dryer lint for sometime and it works great! I just read recently that if you pack your dryer lint or other dry firestarters in a non lubricated condom that it works great to keep it dry.

  16. I read somewhere sheen that you can take a tunafish can or equivalent and put drying lint into it as you pour melted housewax into it….it takes a lot of drying lint, more than you think…but then take a fork to loosen up the dryer lint and light it like a candle. (when wax is hardened) It will stay lit for a very long time, and you can use it like sterno…cook over it or warm up a plate over it….etc. Brilliant idea, very cheap candles or heat or cooking ability.

  17. Nylons. Strange being that i'm a male. But these do help reduce rubbing under socks and provide a little more warmth in the layers.

    A lot of the history of tampons goes back to first aid uses, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tampon

    Pencils are nice but a good china marker, or grease pencil helps lots, can mark on a lot more surfaces more clearly.

    Pencil sharpener. Never 100% rely on your packed tinder for firemaking, only use that when there's no other alternative.

  18. I always carry a regular disposable diaper with me. it's not just that I have a toddler who isn't potty trained – they're terribly practical. I have used them to wipe up messes, catch vomit from a car-sick child, and they are so absorbent that I would even use them as pressure dressings for a bleeding wound – the sticky tabs can even help secure it!

  19. i took a first responder first aid class and was told the disposable diaper is also good for a head/scalp wound which bleeds quite badly.

    1. That's a great point, Bryan! I've even seen hospitals use disposable diapers as ice packs. They open them up fully, saturate them with clean water, then freeze them.

  20. WritingABookHere

    For fire-starter, my mother used to used to keep cardboard egg cartons in the laundry room. She would stuff the bottom egg compartments with lint. When it was full, she would then melt paraffin in an old can (in a boiling bath in another pan on the stove). She would then use tongs to pour the melted paraffin into the lint filled egg carton. Worked like a charm for our barbecue! 1-2 egg compartments did the job with charcoal.
    Another thing that I had a mom tell me was the glow stick necklaces for her kids for night-time while they were in a strange location. That way she could keep track of her kids in the dark. Plus the kids will have fun for the night, maybe lightening up the situation.
    Lastly, somebody told me that an emergency thermal blanket is good to have. It can create insulation to a tent, your sleeping bag, and of course is good if someone goes into shock. A park ranger my husband met says he uses it for a poncho. Warm and waterproof. 😀

  21. This has a couple bits of just plain wrong information.
    Shoving a tampon in a bullet wound? Seriously?! Bullet wounds are much worse than people think. It's not a simple in and out that makes you bleed. Shoving a tampon INSIDE a bullet wound will only aggravate it. Not to mention, those little cloth fibers can stay inside the wound after it "heals" and cause infection stupidly easily. I NEVER carried these in my first aid kit while deployed. If anything, use it as tinder for fire or on the OUTSIDE of the wound as a pressure bandage. DO NOT EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, STICK A TAMPON INSIDE OF A BULLET WOUND. I have seen this suggestion countless times by people with little to no first-aid training, and I hope to god that no one who believes this would ever perform first aid on me.
    Also, stick a roll of quarters inside of a sock ? No thanks. Anyone who has ever tried this, or even thought about it extensively can tell you that one swing with a weight of some kind inside of a sock (doesn't even have to hit) will ruin the sock when it breaks and you may just lose your roll of quarters. Better off hitting someone with your fists.

    1. No one here is suggesting a tampon in a wound as a first choice in a crisis, but I\’ve read too many first person accounts of them being used in a real emergency by members of the military. The danger, actually, is removing them because, if not done correctly, pulling it from a wound would also remove any clotted blood as well. As far as the quarters go, well, again, it\’s just a suggestion! Lighten up!

  22. You suggest Tampons as a first aid measure… It works great for nose bleeds that just won't stop the typical way. We use them in the ER all the time… and they have a built in pull cord for when it is time to remove them. Not great for GSW's ( as people have said) so please do not use them in that way.

    I carry several overnight maxi-pads though, as they are highly effective for pressure with major bleeding, as others have said… and they do not stick to the wound.

    Dental Floss is also great!!! Your are totally right… it can be used for tons of stuff… It is sterile, and therefore can be used as a suture if you are in a pinch… Just sterilize the Upholstery needle, you suggested, with a lighter, and get sewing( I carry several suture kits with needle drivers, but the floss is a good back up)

  23. Baby diapers work great for wounds too. My mother (an ER RN) confirmed use of tampons for sucking wounds. Sucking wounds are trauma chest wounds that are aggravated by breathing and beating of the heart. (So GSW to the chest) BUT they should only be used if no other dressing is available and you can get med help in the immediate hours following the trauma.

  24. You forgot to mention the Holy Bible. And that, added to your list here, is everything I need to have with me to survive! (and bear mace. and a sling-shot. seriously.)

  25. One thing I haven’t Seen on any of the lists yet are (and I know this sounds gross at first) reusable femine pads. I happened to come across this great brand who also makes diapers. Called Charlie Banana. They come in packs of 3 for about $18 and are made of the softest cotton and super cute. I ordered mine on amazon. Have yet to use them but I put them in my bug emergency bag. They claim that just by washing them in a bucket of water they stay super white. So I figured this might be better then storing pads by the tote full. Check out the link. http://www.charliebanana.com/3-Feminine-Pads-Butterfly-Regular-Box_p_19.html

  26. Make a list broken down into 3 groups (1 – life itself, 2 – can live without it for a short time, 3 – and nice to have if there is space and time).

    1 – [these items will provide food, water, shelter, and protection] food that requires no prep or fridge (chef-boy-ardee, compleats, fruit cups, etc.), plastic spoons, water, firearm (.22LR revolver and pump rifle at a minimum), blue tarp, sleeping bag, alcohol gel, first aid kit, multi-use knife (leatherman, swiss army, etc.), 5-gallon metal jerry can w/spout), personal medicine.

    2 – [these items will help sustain life over a longer period of time] things for cleaning (bottle of dish washing liquid, five gallon bucket), bleach, extra clothes, colman stove and lamp, plastic trash bags, entertainment items (books, magazines, cards), paper towels (can be used to wipe you and other things), sewing kit, wood matches, important documents,

    3 – [things to make life easier and more endurable] Folding chair/table, walkman/ipod, etc.

    Having lived in a war zone I can say it may be nice but not absolutely necessary to bathe daily as we went 30 days in the same clothes with a splash of water here and there which is why cleaning agents are in group 2. Regardless your position on firearms, you will be one of the first victims without one. I am not judging, but please remember that police response and 911 will not exist. Group 1 food can be eaten out of the container with a plastic spoon and reused if cleaned well with your tongue (did it in Iraq). Dish soap and a bucket will let you clean you and anything else that needs it. If there is no t.p., do it arab style (finger and a flick), just don’t use that hand around food (arabs have a clean and unclean hand mentality-adopt it). Water should be in larger containers with smaller bottles refilled from it to save on space. Use a stove and lamp that are multi-fuel that way unleaded gas from your vehicle can be used. Keep clothes simple and durable (underwear while nice isn’t a true necessity), but do take plenty of socks. NatGeo magazines, and cards (playing cards, uno, go fish, etc) can be used by all ages. Make your own first aid kit (talk with your doctor and pharmacy on unique needs) and put in a large surplus ammo can. Contents don’t need to be larger amounts, but have a wider variety. Bleach can be used to disinfect water and other things. Plastic garbage bags have a multitude of uses (trash, toilet liner, poncho, etc). Important document are unique to you, but choose wisely.

    Is my list complete? No. My personal list is larger, but I also have them readily available and they fit in my vehicle. Adjust for your personal needs and desires, but always remember this – rotate your stock to keep things fresh, and if it doesn’t fit in the vehicle it is worthless. How much should you have? Having watched the disaster in Japan, I adjusted mine to two weeks and thinking of increasing it to one month – you decide.

    Babies, small children, pets will complicate the situation further.

  27. I guess I will be raiding the bathroom cabinet to steal some of my wife’s tampons to add to our camping and survival kits 🙂 Great list.

  28. My own list to add is water filtering tablets, i bought a pack of 50 for 4.71$, to make almost any water drinkable. Camping sods, biodegradable soap that can be used for anything from washing hair, to cleaning clothes and doing dishes and it take only a drop. Above all duct tape! can be used to repair, bind a wound if need be, made into rope, use as reflectors, waterproofing, think of something and you can most likely find a way with duct tape.

  29. Keep in mind after Halloween glow sticks are SUPER cheep! My husband and I bought ours for about 25 cents each at Wal-Mart.

  30. as this is just an essential/handy/ not-thought-of list i will only mention one item i think is vital…

    Triangular bandages (aka cravats, similar to bandanas, bandanas could work)
    basically a large cloth dressing, packaged specifically for bandaging. I am a paramedic and this is one of the only items i put in my emergency first aid kits. if i need one item for all around first aid, and any “situations” I grab a triangular bandage. When I am on the ambulance I use this item far more than any other bandaging or splinting item.

    Aside from being a wound dressing (i.e., bandage), they can be a splint, sling, swathe, cleaning cloth, head covering, foot covering (instead of socks), diaper or feminine item, patch clothing, replace or become clothing, strap, belt, etc. the commercial ones are kind of like a gauzy-linen, kind of like cheese cloth. you could use it as cheese cloth, strainer, filter, food wrap for storage, napkin, etc.

    The commercial ones you purchase typically have 2 medium sized safety pins (endless uses) in each pouch and many come in handy ziplock style bags that can obviously be used for many things.

    This is an example of some I actually have, I do not endorse or recommend any brand or purchase,


    Personally i would recommend each person have no less than 15 in their possession.
    Again, bandanas or large squares or scraps of fabric could work. Don’t throw out those old or mismatched sheets.

    Just thought I’d share….

  31. Multiple sources of fire starting resources is ideal. When hiking, I keep a basic disposable lighter, several waterproof matches, and a fire steel in addition to a few alcohol prep pads and cotton balls saturated with petroleum jelly for tinder. The best thing is, I can keep all of these in an empty altoids tin. I also have a small mirror adhered to the inside of the altoids tin lid that I can use to signal for help.

  32. Vet wrap is also a good idea to have on hand as it sticks to itself if applying any type of bandage or using the sanitary pads. it will help hold the pads in place just have to be careful to not wrap it too tight.

  33. Re: fire starting qualities. Dryer lint works quite well. Pine needles and pinecones are amazingly eager to burn. Tampons…not. We struggled with a whole box. They are not all made of the same substances,and the ones we had were not at all effective as kindling.

    1. I haven’t tried tampons as a fire starter, but I wonder if infusing them a bit with Vaseline would help. Vaseline-infused cotton balls work great.

  34. I was thinking about the watch just the other day (and batteries if it’s not self winding). Everyone uses their cell phones to tell time now – what if we don’t have them anymore.

    Another thing, a knife sharpening stone for your knives.

  35. One thing to add…goes with the superglue:

    Acetone, or acetone-based nail polish remover.

    Reason: Dissolves superglue. Ever get your fingers stuck together when using superglue? I do practically every time (I wear nitrile gloves now when I work with superglue, mainly for that purpose)

  36. 1) The new feminine pads have a wick-away feature that would be bad news for any kind of wound. Ditto tampons. I have sewn pads out of old sheets, about the same size as the sanitary ones, they don’t suck blood and you can boil them and use them again and again. When I was “on the rag” that is what we used. Soak in cold water before washing in hot to get the blood out first. For nosebleeds, cold water compress over the bridge of the nose with a slight pressure is better than sticking anything inside.
    2) Get wick-away socks of several different thicknesses. Nothing worse than cold wet feet. I got mine at REI in my camping days and still have them. I have worn them in hiking boots, Teva sandals etc.
    3) I have several BOBs, my most basic one has a Solo stove (very small and light for backpacks) and a zip lock bag of dry twigs. I have the usual leatherman of course but also a gardener’s leatherman which has the snips to cut more twigs up as needed, small saw etc. Of course multiple fire makers as others have mentioned.
    4) Weapon protection – most camping departments have waterproof bags that are extremely sturdy, that seal with a roll down collar. I put full mags in it too. The additional advantage to waterproofing is the lack of printing – look at the bag and you do not see the outline of the weapon. Medications and first aid equipment go in smaller versions.
    5) Every time I repack my backpack, I wear it for a day. You find out what is unessential really soon.
    6) I don’t use plastic for anything. For eating I have the combination fork-spoon-knife that lock together when not in use and take up little space. The knife is decently sharp, adding it to the other bigger knives I carry.
    7) I do carry some canned goods, eat them hot or cold and save the water they come in to be a soup base for rice or split peas. I also pack two envelopes of instant oatmeal in a small ziplock bag, and a bunch of those in a heavy duty ziplock. Also do that for grits. They pack well like that, nice and slippery. Come to that, I zip lock most everything that could be damaged by wet or damp.

    Keep up the good work, Survival Mom!

  37. Is it OK to “share” some of these suggestions with my prep workshop attendees?

    I get so much go info from everyone’s input!

  38. Cotton bandanas are endlessly useful. Also tuck in a small pencil sharpener – not just for writing purposes. Pencil shavings make great tinder, or you could even ‘sharpen’ small dry sticks.

  39. I’m sure it’s mentioned somewhere, but vodka is also a great choice for a survival item. Good for barter, tinctures and disinfecting wounds in a pinch.

    In addition, I’m a chemist–my specialty is fermentation, whether it’s bread, beer, yogurt or whatever, despite that, I’m taking a course to become a certified nurse aide and CPR along with it. The classes are cheap, useful and I’m going to work in a medical setting instead of industrial. It’s a pay cut, but that’s fine because I bought my property outright, planted a fruit tree grove and am going to build a greenhouse this spring.

    The medical skills I’m learning will compliment my chemistry skills and will be useful whether TSHTF or not.

  40. I really enjoyed the read. And, just like any other survival based topic, there’s always some people who feel the need to argue. So, I will avoid such topics. Instead, I’d like so suggest some alternatives.

    Lightsticks are wonderful, but single use. I’d rather a shake-light. These can be found for pretty cheap some times. a quick search found them for $6 each.
    Wool socks and sweater are a must. I wouldn’t change a thing here. I keep three pair of the socks in my bag.
    Upholstery needles and thread are fine if you can sew. I carry three different kinds of glue: Krazy glue, Gorilla glue, and fabric glue.
    Roll of quarters has been suggested time and time again, but I can’t bring myself to bother with them. I’d rather pry apart the mechanism and force it to work… But, I have experience is jury-rigging electronics. As a weapon, i’d be weary. Nothing wrong with gripping them in your fist to add some weight and reinforce your grip a little.
    Pencils are good. I agree with Grease pencils. I carry both. Pencils will turn into tinder real quick if you have a knife on you (and you should).
    Rubber bands decay too quick for my taste. I just print off a small knot reference with 4 knots on each side and laminate it (nothing wrong with forgetting how to tie proper knot when you’re tired, cold, wet, or any other form of stressed).
    Tampons in a cardboard tube aren’t in my list. They do have their uses, but i’d fear that someone trying to help using them on me would do more harm than good. I just carry glue.
    Paracord belt, paracord bracelet, paracord knife grip… The List goes on. Paracord is great stuff for so many uses.
    Waterproof wrist watch is so often over-looked. I have one with a compass on it.
    Animal repellant trash bags aren’t bad. I just use the same construction-grade bags we use when doing hardwood floors.
    Safety pins are great. I carry 10.
    Dental floss is great if you make sure to buy the round unscented. I’ve used it in snares when needed. As long as you have a good response time, you can get to the animal before it can calm down and bite through it.

    As a side note, I take twine, charcloth, bark, and bee’s wax and make fire-balls. you can learn how here: http://www.primitiveways.com/waterproof_fire_starter.html

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  42. Hey just to let you know, the tampon in the bullet wound is a really bad idea. Fluffing the tampon and using it as Gauss is a good idea as it is absorbent, but actually sticking it in the wound would cause some serious issues.

  43. I am new to your blog and did not read all the comments. One item, you already mentioned somewhere else but duct tape is another good item to have with you. I took a roll and split it down the middle and rolled on to my hiking poles. It is there as needed. I am sure you could roll onto a bug out bag somewhere.

  44. I have tried to read both sides of this debate. I do not think tampons are good for bullet wounds. Specifically, when you have to remove them. You do not want to have to create a new wound when trying to deal with an old one.

  45. These are great ideas! Thank you! I would never
    Have thought about the mighty rubber and!
    My son started making disaster relief kits recently, after
    He returned from volunteer work in the Philippines when they
    Were hit by that huge typhoon. Thanks for some
    Great ideas!

  46. All pretty great ideas, I could go on but… one thing of great import would be a picture of family. Never underestimate the psychological effect it could have in a true survival situation. Of course, if your family is with you, that may change things, but otherwise it just may keep your will to survive going.

  47. Life straws!!! $20 each and safely filter 1000 gallons of water through each straw. They’re compact and light weight. Who wants to carry a bunch Of heavy water around with them? And honestly, in a survival situation, how feasible is “carrying” water anyway?!

  48. An Army/Navy Surplus wool watch cap goes with me everywhere I go (along with wool socks and mittens(not gloves but mittens)) even in the summer (I live in the Rocky Mountains). The human body looses something like 80% of its body heat out the top of your head.

  49. For longer term medical needs, fine grade cheese cloth is an excellent bandage material that can be washed/boiled for reuse. A grease pencil is a handy device to keep in your vehicle or bug out kit. You can use it to write on a vehicle window or a household mirror to leave messages to love ones or emergency personnel to inform them where you can be found.

  50. I buy chemlites at the dollar store. 5 in a pack. They are the short ones but in a pinch, they’ll do. If you want to get fancy, they have wands with stars. LoL

  51. Pablo the Meatman

    Great list, didnt read all the comments yet, so someone may have posted this but i recommend some religious text, whsyever religion you are. At times, these bags may be needed in life threatening situations and may bring peace and comfort to you or family, etc. Also, i have a family of 6 so i have several different bags. Everyone has their own 72 hour bag, but then i also have an extra, large food bag, an extended wilderness bag, a field cooking bag, a field “comfort” bag for non-essential but useful items, an expanded combat bag with several non-essential but useful weapons and several other bags. But we can throw them all at an instant in our bugout vehicle or just our regular 72 hour bag then pick and choose if we need others depending upon the circumstances. Sorry so long winded but hope this might help someone.

  52. I didn’t read every comment, so I don’t know if someone mentioned it, but Dollar Stores are a great place to buy a lot of items one may need for their BOB’s, GHB’s or EDC packs. You have a great site, by the way!

  53. My husband and I thouroughly enjoyed reading your list as well as all the comments. We arent ‘hardcore’ preppers, but we do keep up on things like protection/weapons, canned and non perishable goods, we know how to hunt and grow our own food. Something you all might want to look into for storing dryness products such as flour, oats, wheat etc. Is Oven canning. I buy these type on items in bulk and oven can them, in regular Mason jars. This kills ALL the bug larvae that can hatch even in a ban of unopened flour or rice. Also, we use a vacuum sealer for things such as pads, bandaids, etc. Anything you want to keep dry, you can vacuum seal(yup, I mean like a Food saver) . Thanks again for a great blog!

  54. Also, in my opinion, you need Gold, Silver, Platinum and other precious metals, as paper money has no value in a collapse…

  55. Light sticks are also good to keep in any car kit for seeing helping others see your car etc..
    Upholstery needles and thread. are a good point I also like having duct tape to add a layer where sewing so the material doesn’t rip and for quick fixes, you don’t need a whole roll you can layer some along other items like around walking sticks, lighters, or flash lights..
    Roll of quarters it will create a much firmer punch also..
    Pencils. I like having a pencil sharpener they are cheap $.39 or less, light weight, many have a place to catch the shavings which are good for using as tinder and they keep that pencil sharp or a stick for gigging or just for the extra shavings.
    Pads are also good for wounds and often cheaper than dressing for wounds.
    I think of basics first food, water, shelter, heat.. after that renewable sources like some edible plants knowledge for your area, ability to create fire over and over, a water filter for extended needs, and plans/ideas/knowledge for improving the shelter..

  56. Add: raw, unfiltered organic honey – not only great calories, but beneficial immunity boosting enzymes as well as top-notch anti-bacterial/anti-fungal when applied topically! Yes, dress wounds with it! Add: powdered cinnamon – again, anti-fungal/-bacterial/-viral support when ingested daily. Aids in digestion, may even get kids to eat stuff they normally wouldn’t! 😉

    For those where fishing is a potential food source: take a wine cork, trim to approx 2inches, cut a Vee-shaped notch all around the center to wind some fishing line into, slice at an angle at the top to secure end of fishing line, with tiny sinker & swivel hook already attached, add a twist of aluminum foil for “bait” secure in place on top of cork with a drop of wax & all you need is a stick!

  57. I guess a lot depends on whether you’re a bug out or hunker down type of person. My main items are toilet paper and a camp potty with plenty of bags and enzymes. I believe there will be more disease related deaths than gunshot, so, controlling dysentery, cholera, etc. is extremely important to me.

    On major wounds – I prefer not to stitch. Each stitch adds 2 more puncture wounds and triples infection opportunities. I like applying tincture of benzoin on both sides and then steri stripping or butterflying the wound closed. Don’t forget the antibiotics – both are needed oral and topical. Don’t forget, you don’t close a puncture wound (deeper than it is wide) you let it heal from inside out.

  58. another barter items are baby disposal and cloth diapers, baby bottles any thing babies needs, I get mine from garage sales and goodwill stores, I have also made a bag in case a person has to deliver a baby, it has every thing to deliver and clothe and diaper baby. going to add some kind of formula soon

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  60. A few things I never see on survival lists that I would carry…foot powder (I like goldbonds), A&D ointment (or your choice of baby butt cream) it can be used for rashes of any kind as well as chafing points (like inner thighs with loose pants) lip balm, and anti monkeybutt powder (that is the actual name) similar use to the baby cream in powder form, great for sweaty areas anywhere chafing may occur.

  61. What about storing commercially Cannes chicken/ veggie/beef broth to supplement water supplies? It can be consumed as is it to cook and reconstitute fried foods for extra flavor and calories?

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  63. I have 2 Mora Knives, Companion and Robust/heavy duty, they can do just about anything I need. My 2nd Mora Companion is now a main kitchen knife, it will cut anything and is super sharp, easy to sharpen and comfortable to use. I also have a Victorinox ‘One handed Trekker’, and a Swiss Army Farmer.

    I found out the hard way feminine napkins and duct tape will not only stop major bleeding, it will also slow/stop it enough the guy with the nicked artery made it alive to the hospital about 2 hours later (the Doc told me later it was actually nicked). I had shopped for a friend, picking up the pads, & had the duct tape in the truck, saw a nasty accident, stopped, patched wounds and forced the first vehicle passing to stop, and told them to contact police asap. Ambulance & PD arrived about an hour later. I now keep Unscented panty liners (deep scrapes, blisters), light, medium/reg and heavy pads, plus a roll of duct tape in the trauma kit I made & carried after that. I also carry several items *I* can’t use, but EMT’s can, and on a few occasions have done. I asked a couple EMT’s and a combat medic about tampons & bullet wounds, I was told never put anything in a bullet hole or puncture, the pads and duct tape will work fine.

  64. There will always be “one more thing”, I believe if 80% of my needs are met I’m doing very very well.

  65. I have been seeing wool as an important article but I have a problem, my daughter is allergic to it. What would you suggest as an alternative?

    1. The reason wool is recommended for cold-weather wear, in particular, is because of it’s excellent thermal properties. My wool socks never smell in spite of repeated wearings, which is pretty amazing! However, there are synthetic materials that provide similar warmth, such as fleece, thinsulate, and polypropylene. Down is another good material for insulation. There’s a chance your daughter isn’t really allergic to wool, just sensitive to some wool fabrics that feel scratchy. In that case, give merino wool a try. It’s wonderfully soft.

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  69. I have been using the vaseline cottons balls for years, works great. I also shred all my bills at end of month, and put paper shreddings in a gallon ziplok bag. Firesteel and waterproof matches are also in the bag.
    Military surplus clothing is cheap, and brand new, on ebay. Socks, backpacks, hydration systems, thermals, fleece, gortex, all much cheaper than buying at store.

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