20+ Unusual Items for Stocking Up You May Not Have Thought Of

Some of the links in this post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Everyone is slightly different in the things they need and want in their preps, and we all find different, cool things to include in our preps. Rather than having one person create a list of their favorites, this article has unusual items for stocking up from other survival experts.

Plus, we’ve pulled some of our favorite ideas from reader comments and added them at the end. Take a look!

image: a pile of paper clips representing unusual items for stocking up

Unusual Items for Stocking Up

    1. An Altoids tin with a small plastic container of denatured alcohol to make a small, portable stove. (Jim Cobb)
    2. Land Shark Bag is a patented instant emergency shelter that keeps you warm, dry, and visible to search & rescue crews for miles, on land, or on the water. (Rob Hanus) Sadly, it appears the Land Shark Bag is no longer manufactured. If you know otherwise, please add the info in the comments for others.
    3. Vacuum-sealed Cheetos in a jar. Cheetos make me happy. (Jamie Smith)
    4. Meat tenderizer to rub on ant bites. It works miracles.  (Jamie Smith)
    5. Activated charcoal is commonly prescribed at the emergency room to absorb toxins in the stomach. During a SHTF scenario, there will be an increase in food poisoning, arsenic, adverse reactions/celiac, etc. (Helen Cates)
    6. Binder clips can be used for numerous things.  Keeping bags clipped down, clipping items to clotheslines, hanging items to dry, hooking tarps together, and more! (Karen Lynn)
    7. Small tin of Vicks VapoRub. Triple use: Medicinal use per the label. Mixed with tinder, it is an excellent fuel for starting fires, even in the rain. Swabbed under the nose, it covers unpleasant smells like spilled sewage or dead bodies.  (Jim Acosta)
    8. Dried prunes. Dietary changes and stress might affect your digestive system. We have four kids, and one of the quickest ways to clear them out is to have them eat a few prunes. (Sarah Anne)
    9. Sillcock keys” or “4-way keys.” Outside of fast food restaurants and gas stations are water spigots that don’t have a traditional handle. This prevents unauthorized people (read “homeless”) from using the water for drinking, bathing, etc. The water can only be turned on with a sillcock key. Having one of these in your bug out bag may help provide you with a water source that others won’t be able to access.  (Amy Van Riper)
    10. Knee-high (and some full-length) pantyhose. Possible uses include: (1) straining debris from water before sending it through the purifier; (2) using sterilized ones as you would cheesecloth to strain cooled bacon fat or make cheese (#2 was untested!); (3) tie strips around the garden fence and tomato cages to keep critters away; and (4) slip it over a leg or knee injury and unroll it over a gauze pad for an instant, flexible compression bandage that doesn’t stick and doesn’t show dirt as fast as white tape and gauze. (Kris Alford)
    11. Popcorn is a filling and a fun snack to bring out for a little taste of comfort for the kids, especially if you pop it on the stovetop or over a fire (not microwaved). You can grind it into cornmeal. I’ve even had success with soaking it and cooking it slow and low like you would dried beans. It was not the best that way, but it was certainly edible. (Christy Jordan )
    12. A huge amount of coffee makes life pleasant and safer. How many people do you know who are nice before their first cup of morning coffee? (Christy Jordan )
    13. My Bible because when things go wrong, nothing brings me comfort like reading scripture. (Melissa K. Norris)
    14. CASH. When there is no power, we need to have CASH. For those stores that are open, many can help you if you pay with cash because they won’t be able to run credit or debit cards. (Paula Tobey)
    15. If you must evacuate, bring a few things to help maintain your routine. That could be books to read for bedtime, a board game, chargers for their electronics, favorite music, a blanket or pillow… Whatever part of your family routine matters most, try to preserve it. If you keep some predictable routine, your kids will not feel as scared or frightened during disasters, power outages, or bad weather. (Paula Tobey)
    16. Gloves – all kinds of gloves. Many of us have a pair or two of work gloves for adult family members, and of course gloves / mittens for cold weather. Consider adding work gloves for elementary and middle school kids, bags of cheap gloves with rubber-coated palms (in more than one size, and some double-coated), Mechanix gloves, gardening gloves, dish-washing gloves, nitrile gloves, and even fingerless work gloves. (Liz Long)
    17. I have an entire 5-gallon bucket dedicated to just hair doodads:  hair brushes, combs, barrettes, bobby pins, and hair ponies. There are five girls here, and we all have tons of hair. I can’t stand having hair in my face when I’m trying to get stuff done!!! (Charley Cooke)
    18. Thieves essential oil helps fight germs, including cold and flu germs. (Julie Behling-Hovdal)
    19. Paracord (made in the USA, and available in many colors). If you’re dropped in the middle of the jungle, it’s the one thing you want. Snares, fishing line, stashing a food cache, rappelling down a cliff, bivouacking above the forest floor. It makes it easier to build a lean-to or create a shelter. It has a zillion and one uses. Just about anywhere in the world, you can make something sharp, i.e. a blade. But it’s hard to create a rope that will support your weight. Paracord rules! (Patrice Lewis)
    20. Jalapenos. I have them dried, freeze-dried, pickled, and canned! I love spicy foods and can’t bear the thought of eating bland rice and beans in a future worst-case scenario. (Lisa Bedford)

Our Favorite Unusual Items From Reader Comments

These are some of our favorite ideas from YOU, our readers!

  • Vicks or Mentholatum is also good to have on hand for athlete’s foot. (Jan)
  • Paper clips have a plethora of uses, such as repairing broken zippers. (James B.)
  • Drawing salve draws out infections and splinters and boils, too. (Teri R.)
  • Diapers in both kids and adult sizes. If you have to hole up in the crawlspace to wait out a tornado or have to sit in a car for hours due to an evacuation, you really don’t want to worry about getting to a washroom. (Olga N.)
  • Chains and padlocks to temporarily secure things. When you need to go into the store or the bathroom, for example. (Edie)
  • Expanding on the chain and lock, it can also be used as a weapon, such as a ball and chain, or as a flail. (Gregg) Survival Mom comment: There are many, many locations where having a self-defense weapon of any kind isn’t allowed. Great Britain comes to mind. Knowing how to quickly improvise a self-defense weapon could be a lifesaver.
  • Cheetos also make great fire starters. (Lisa)
  • Another improvised weapon is a sock and lock, sock and rock, and sock and pool ball. (Rick)

And a Few Suggestions from The Survival Mom Editors

We thought these less common items for prepping deserved some space. What do you think?

  • Chewing gum. What’s more normal than chewing gum? Plus, it can help you stay awake.
  • Super Glue is useful for repair tasks and as a stopgap if you’re out of bandages.
  • Dental floss can substitute for thread, fishing lines, snares, and lashing small items.

Hopefully, this has gotten your wheels turning, and you’ve found some new items to add to your own preps.

Please add your own favorite unusual items for stocking up on in the comments as well!

By the way, if you’re just starting your prepping journey, check out The Survival Mom’s Prepping 101 course. It prepares you for the next emergency and helps you keep your home and family safe!

Last updated on November 30, 2022 by The Survival Mom.




39 thoughts on “20+ Unusual Items for Stocking Up You May Not Have Thought Of”

  1. Another use for the Vick’s or Mentholatum is for athlete’s foot. Rub on and cover with a clean sock at night. Two or three nights and it is gone! Also, if using for congestion, you can rub it on the soles of your feet instead of or as well as your chest. Seems to work better!

  2. I like to store paper clips. I’ve found so many uses for them over the years. I always keep one on me to fix broken pants zippers/

  3. Please remember safety precautions around little ones. Vicks etc. is great stuff, but it is highly poisonous. Many parents don’t know how toxic it is if ingested. Keep it out of reach of any little ones, safe and secure.

  4. Thanks, Survival Mom – this is a great list of items to keep around! I keep a few vasoline-soaked cotton balls in an Altoids tin that I then duct-tape closed. I use these as a quick way to start a fire, if I happen to be stuck with wet matches and have to use the old firestarter. Generally gets the fire going quick!

    I own three Land Shark instant shelters; with a family of 6, I’d like to eventually have one for each of us. Right now, my kids are small enough that they can probably fit two or three of them in one bag (they are really spacious).

    Most importantly, this product WORKS! This is a military-grade piece of survival gear that can mean the difference between life and death, literally, in a wilderness survival situation. I can not recommend this product highly enough!

    Thanks for the great info you put out on your posts! Keep up the great work!

  5. Great list. There are certainly a few things I’m going to look into adding to my preps. I’ve been meaning to add nylons because I read wearing them under your socks helps prevent blisters and they add some warmth. Now I just have more reasons to add them 🙂

  6. Sounds gross but diapers, both kids’ and adults. If you have to hole up in crawlspace to wait out a tornado or have to sit in a car for hours due to an evacuation, you really don’t want to worry about getting to a washroom.

  7. Chain & padlocks…..another good idea in an Evacuation scenario….to temporarily secure things.
    When you need to go into the store or the bathroom, for example.

    1. The Survival Mom

      Gregg, I don’t think I ever would have thought of that. Thanks for the suggestion! There are many, many locations where having a self-defense weapon of any kind isn’t allowed. Great Britain comes to mind. Knowing how to quickly improvise a self-defense weapon could be a life saver.

  8. extra wood and nails to cover your windows, plastic sheeting especially the thick kind has lots of uses, nylons that fit everyone to wear under clothes in winter, coconut oil not just for cooking has TONS of uses, in addition to cast iron cookware invest in some good sturdy cooking utensils, knives and a sharpener, many people still forget a few spare quality can openers, canning supplies especially extra lids, collapsing water jug, if fuel is available don’t forget extras for your vehicle battery oil fuses antifreeze etc, quality hand tools and shovel as well as lots of nails and screws, blankets, sewing supplies, quality shears

    Lots of things depend on if you plan to bug in or out. Personally with 4 kids im staying home as long as I can.

  9. For people who live in cold regions that gets lots of snow, a pair of snowshoes in your car or just to have. Walking through 3 feet of snow drifts is not only NOT fun, but it’s dangerous for you and kids. Keeps your feet & clothing dry.

  10. Dont forget the most important items!
    Tampons and Pads! not only to help out with women’s items, but for medical as well! pads wont stick to the skin, and cover a wound very nicely. a tampon doesn’t allow anything to pass. so fill a bottle with water, stick a tampon in the top, then turn the bottle upside down. the water that drips out will be filtered, and ready to be boiled for drinking!
    Be sure to add empty plastic soda bottles and milk jugs. they are great for holding small items and carrying liquids, if cut in half they can overlap and make a good storage area for items, also the large jugs can be cut to make a small shovel! they can also be re-purposed to grow plants in!

  11. i forgot to add a pickle jug with a toilet seat, is great for a make shift toilet to help out disabled folks use the potty!, line with a garbage bag, and some kitty litter!
    dont forget to add medications to your arsenal!
    i have a ton of coloring books, puzzle books, and magazines. these are great to be read,a nd when finish, can be used for toilet paper, and tinder for lighting a fire!
    dont forget to save some dryer lint and a lighter for starting a fire!

    1. A 5 gal plastic bucket, a pool noodle cut to fit the rim, a roll of tissue on the bucket handle. Redneck toilet. Even rig a shower curtain for privacy.

  12. Okay so does anyone else noticed in the picture the canned banana? Canned banana?????? Where did you find this? Melissa

    1. I don’t see any banana and I haven’t heard of canned bananas being sold commercially, but there are some recipes online for canning your own!

  13. another use of tampons… they were originally invented to be used as dressings for bullet wounds.
    Vinegar has a ton of uses from cooking, medicinal, and as a mild sanitizer. If you store Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar with the “mother”, you will have the means to make more as well.

  14. Pingback: 20 Slightly Unusual Items for Stocking Up – Survival Mom – Pushing Back the Darkness

  15. One thing I almost never see on these type blogs, are wire coat hangers. I found out about these in the military. I use them for loads of things. BTW great list!

  16. Jeanne Gibbons

    Buy your coffee in green, unroasted form. They keep literally for years that way, and you can roast a needed quantity in a frying pan the night before you need to use them. Freshly roasted beans need to outgas 12 hours to develop that wonderful flavor.

  17. in reply to the lock and chain for a weapon: sock and lock; sock and rock; sock and pool ball (8 ball etc.) wasp spray over pepper spray. pepper spray is a mist (you will get some on you) wasp spray is a stream, shoots 15′

  18. Distilled water gallon jugs are much sturdier than regular water jugs. Save them or ask someone who uses distilled water to save for you. Can be used many ways besides water storage.

    1. The Survival Mom

      As long as they aren’t made from the milky white plastic used for gallon milk jugs. That plastic breaks down really quickly.

  19. Safety pins! Not the cheap ones from the dollar store (although those are great to have, too), but heavy duty diaper pins, kilt pins, blanket pins.

  20. An item I use daily are rubber bands. When I open a food package (cheese, hot dogs, marshmallows, mashed potato flakes in a bag etc.) I close the package securely and then wrap a rubber band around it. The rubber band keeps the contents fresh, dry and won’t spill out. Not to mention in a bugout bag will keep your hair out of your eyes besides not taking up much space.

  21. Someone mentioned coloring books, Pinterest has tons of coloring pages for adults and kids, also wood matches are great, try dollar tree or a grocery store in the bbq section.

  22. Love your articles, Lisa! Just saw a post on having a can of cheep coffee grounds. Sprinkle on puke, etc. to soak up liquids and absorb odors.

  23. Bemused Berserker

    Those little corded retractors people usually wear on a badges and ID’s, work great as keepers for gloves and mittens, especially for kids. Replace the badge snap with a small Keychain carabiner or other type clip to attach to the gloves loops. You can even use two retractor and clip or sew one to each arm of your coat, and your gloves can be worn withe retractor cable extended. If you have to remove a glove, the retractor keeps it on your coat, and handy to use. Doing this to my Grandkids’ coats, they’re able to hang on to their gloves/mittens.

  24. Bemused Berserker

    Plastic Ammo Cans (found at Walmart and Harbor Freight Tools), Make great containers for storing Disaster Specific supplies. They’re waterproof within reason. Paintable/markerable for quick recognition. I’ve one specific for Blackouts, with several battery and hand cranked Flashlights, extra batteries, candles and so on.
    Another is set up as a Grab-n-Go First Aid kit. They stack neatly, in a closet or pantry shelf.

  25. we have several safety glasses for those who do not wear regular eyeglasses.
    an serious eye injury is something few can overcome. they are best avoided.
    (ex: hot cooking grease pops into eye, insect contact, etc.)
    also, for those who need vision correction…extra eyeglasses.
    depending upon which is running a “special”, we order from
    zenni or goggles4u. my last pair cost $13 including shipping.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *