Lately I’ve noticed that preparedness items have become hot ticket items! When I went to Berkey to order yet more replacement filters for my water purifier, I noticed that their Big Berkey and Royal Berkey (their two largest model water purifiers) were on back order. That’s a first! I decided to check EcoZoom, a popular maker of rocket stoves, and their stoves are on back order. It appears that the recent political unrest and Ebola scare may have kicked procrastinators into high gear, which is a good thing. But if you plan to buy preparedness-related goods for Christmas, now may be a good time to get your order in.
Most of us have close friends and family who may never get prepared, but that doesn’t mean we can’t tie a bow around something that will be useful in an emergency. The following are preparedness items I have personal experience with and would highly recommend; one that lists items under $150.00 and another list of higher-ticket items over $150, but they all have on thing in common: they are sought-after preparedness items that we wouldn’t want ourselves or our loved ones to be without.
Prep Items Under $150
Emergency Radio: Emergency radios are available at many price-points, but my particular favorite is the C Crane Radio. It offers great quality at an affordable cost.
C Crane CC Solar Observer Wind-Up or 3 AA battery run Radio w/ AM FM Weather and built-in LED Flashlight COBS $54.95
Cast Iron Dutch Oven & Pans: A Dutch Oven can cook or bake just about anything anywhere, and I should know. I’ve been using mine over an open fire pit for years whenever there’s a family get-together. It makes cooking an outdoor event and its much more entertaining than standing over a stove. Before buying, consider what size will best fit your family.
Right now Cooking.com has a 5-qt Logic Double Dutch Oven (the top converts to a 10.25 inch skillet) by Lodge on sale for $45.95
LED Flashlight: I own both of these flashlights recommended below. Here where power outages are frequent, and always land at the worst time, I stocked up. For quality and price point, I believe you’d be happy with either of these flashlights.
One of the most popular tactical LED flashlights on the market is the Fenix TK11 R5 285-Lumen Cree XP-G R5. They sell on Amazon for $70.
A good general household flashlight that has received great reviews is the Streamlight Pro-Polymer LED flashlight (requires 4 AA batteries). They sell for $27.51 on Amazon.
(Ox’s note: I’ve tested and own several brands and kinds and am preferential to Surefire…specifically their 500 lumen P2x Fury and 1000 lumen P3x Fury. The P2x has a somewhat annoying feature of having a click-cap that activates the 15 lumen setting first, so you have to engage, disengage, and re-engage to get to the 500 lumen setting.)
Oil Lamp & Lamp Oil: Walmart sells basic glass oil lamps with glass chimneys for $6.97 each (in-store purchase only), and 64 ounce lamp oil for $6.00. I purchased over a dozen of these when I first moved to my cabin after I was warned about frequent power outages. Each winter, I’ve needed them for a few hours, and on more than one occasion, several days. They work perfectly, but should be placed on a safe surface before being lit because they aren’t safe to move from surface to surface without snuffing the flame first.
Don’t forget to grab replacement wicks and replacement chimneys!
Emergency Candles: It’s always good idea to have plenty of back-up for alternative lighting. I’ve been happy with the 10-hour votive candle that’s linked below, and the price can’t be beat.
Fire-Starting Flint Set: Even though we should be stocking plenty of matches and lighters, a good backup to have on hand is a Flint and Steel Firestarter. I purchased one from Cabela’s for $19.99 and it gives me peace of mind that if I go through the bushel basket of lighters and matches I’ve put aside, it’ll help keep the wood stove and wood cook stove fired up!
(David’s note: I have been recommending “Light My Fire” or “Blastmatch” for years. Light My Fire is light, effective, and easy and Blastmatch is incredibly hot and allows for EASY 1 handed operation.)
Reference Books: Personally, I don’t think it’s possible to own too many preparedness books. David offers a great series: Urban Survival Guide that walks people through how to survive disasters, pandemics, economic collapse and more in or outside an urban setting.
I also have several reference books on seed saving, gardening, wild edible plants and herbs (region specific), preserving wild game, home canning and food dehydration. My favorite medical emergency books are Where There Is No Doctor & Where There Is No Dentist. They are written for third world medical emergencies, where drugs and sophisticated equipment isn’t always available. . . exactly where we’ll find ourselves in a long-term crisis.
Reflector Oven: If you haven’t heard of a reflector oven, they work from the heat of a fireplace, a wood-burning stove, or beside an open fire pit for baking and cooking and they are collapsible. The stainless steel model has been at the very top of my wish list after I borrowed one from a friend for a camping trip. And if my family doesn’t take the hint this Christmas, I’ll be purchasing one soon after. Check out Weismen Trading and Supply. They sell an aluminum model for $54.95 and a stainless model for $64.95. While you’re there, have a peek at the double ovens used for baking over a camp stove or wood stove.
Campfire Tripod: A tripod allows a cast iron Dutch oven to be raised and lowered by a chain over an open fire to better control cooking temperatures. My favorites is Lodge Tall Boy Camp Dutch Oven Tripod that’s made to go with their handled Dutch ovens. I use mine in the summertime for family gatherings to make stews or a pot of chili. The best price I found is at Bass Pro Shops for $39.99, plus $8.00 shipping.
Swiss Army Knife: Swiss Army Knives are a classic that most of us grew up with. In fact growing up in Alaska, I don’t recall anyone who didn’t own one! Over the years they have added to their line with a Campers Knife and a Hunstman Knife, along with other styles. They range in price from $20.00 to $31.50.
Firewood-Gathering Manual Tools: I breathed a sigh of relief after moving to the edge of the wilderness years ago and finally had a dependable wood stove. But with a wood stove comes the need for a splitting maul, wedges, and a sledgehammer to gather and split firewood. If you don’t already have these items, consider adding them to your Christmas wish list.
Protective Gear: Safety was number one on my mind when I thought about family members chopping down trees or splitting wood for the stove. What if there comes a time when medical help isn’t available? I purchased heavy work gloves, helmet/face shields, and Kevlar chaps “just in case”. Prices for Kevlar chaps start at $50.99, and go up from there. The cost of a chainsaw helmet/face shield starts at $36.99 on Amazon.
Manual Tools are a must-have for a grid-down scenario, and besides, I don’t know a handyman who wouldn’t welcome more tools. The basics that I have put aside and would recommend are: chisels (assorted), clamps, hand drill, file & rasp, hammer, plane, pliers (assorted sizes), saw, sharpening tools, screwdrivers (assorted), staple gun, tape measure, vise, and both adjustable (Crescent) and fixed size wrenches.
Camp Gear: Camp gear is an insurance policy that if you’re ever forced to bug out, you are more likely to survive. When I started filling in items that I needed in duplicate and triplicate, I purchased one item at a time as they went on sale. Check places like Cabela’s, REI, The Clymb, Backcountry Gear and plan to save from 30% to 50% on many items.
(David’s note: As I discuss in the Survive In Place Urban Survival Course, there are several situations where you might very well want camp gear in your home as well. Having a quality tent, ground pad, sleeping bag, and/or bag liner means that you can keep the temperature of your house MUCH closer to freezing and still get high quality sleep. It’s probably obvious, but the cooler you’re able to keep your house and still be comfortable, the longer your fuel will last in a power outage…regardless of the reason for the power outage. Another obvious observation, but I’ve found that anything that works good in the backcountry without utilities has been helpful in our house during power outages.)
Board Games/Playing Cards and Activity/Project Material offer entertainment when the plug gets pulled from TV and Internet in grid-down. Things like notepads, printer paper, balls, and board games are cheap already and they go on sale during the holidays. David’s Urban Survival Playing Cards are another way to spend downtime and learn critical survival tips. Because there are children in our group, I purchased grosses of pens and pencils (they make great stocking stuffers), tempura paint by the gallon from Walmart, color crayons, colored pencils, markers and coloring books.
Heavy-Duty Steel Utility Cart or Wheelbarrow: A wheelbarrow is a must at the cabin, but I finally purchased the heavy duty cart linked here. It makes gardening and moving firewood worlds easier! Walmart has the Sandusky 48″ X 24″ heavy-duty jumbo crate with a 1,000 pound capacity for $129.00 with free shipping.
Wheelbarrows at big-box hardware stores like Lowes and Home Depot typically sell for around $35.00.
Alternative Cooking Device: Years ago, I bought a Camp Chef and I truly love it. It has a small oven and two burners and by purchasing an adapter, I’m able to hook it up to a large propane tank, rather than having to use small bottles. The funny thing is, it’s this very camp stove that woke me up. After buying the $28 adapter, and larger propane tanks, it finally dawned on me, this was only a temporary fix. In a long-term crisis, something like a Camp Chef will be awesome to have. . . until the propane runs out! I now have a wood cook stove for back-up.
Camp Chef that sells on Amazon for $219.99.
2-Way Radios: Having a form of communication is critical for safety and peace of mind during a societal breakdown. The two-way radio I use is the Motorola MT352R FRS. It’s weatherproof and has a 36 mile range. That’s the claim, but here in the mountains, trees and valleys interrupt the line of sight, and I don’t get anywhere close to that range. They are on sale at Amazon for $69.98 for the pair. (David’s note: ALL of the FRS/GMRS radios that claim ranges in realistic conditions of more than 2 miles are being extremely deceptive.)
Heirloom Seed represents a lifeline against hunger during a protracted crisis, and in my opinion, you cant have too many seeds. Purchase individual heirloom seed that does best in your growing region, rather than invest in a cookie-cutter tube of heirloom seed that may or may not do well in your garden. And when you store them, keep them in a cool, dark, low-moisture location. Freezing temperatures can damage them, or preserve them, depending on the seed and how the freezing is done!
Cold Weather Gear like hats, mittens, gloves, and long johns are always must-haves for anyone living in a cold climate zone. Here at the cabin, I have bins of cold weather gear and I’m always adding to them. The good news is that these items go on sale during the holidays.
(David’s note: Cotton may kill, but I still refuse to sleep in anything but natural fibers. When exercising or working outdoors, I either wear wool or synthetics close to my body to maintain body temperature more effectively.
If you want the best cold weather gear in existence, you want King of the Mountain. It performs across a wider temperature range than any other clothing I’ve tried and surpasses more well known brands, like Carhart, North Face, Mountain Hardware, Royal Robins, etc. with a patented combination of wool, carbon, and kevlar that performs like something out of a science fiction novel set in 2200AD.)
First Aid Kit Living in the wilderness automatically means you must be prepared for a medical emergency! Here where there are no ambulances, it could take volunteer first responders hours before they made it to the cabin during a heavy snowfall, and possibly not at all if the hill is glaciered, which happens all too often. For that reason, medical equipment is covered, but if you have loved one who may never prepare for themselves, a first aid kit is a thoughtful gift that could help them in an emergency. The Complete First Aid kit sells on Amazon for $38.20. It’s not extensive enough for long-term preparedness, but it’s an affordable start! If you’re curious what else might be needed, go to an earlier post, Get Started With Life-Saving Medical Supplies For $50.
Prep Items $150 and Up
Solar Charger & NiMH Batteries: Two way radios and flashlights take batteries! It’s a sticking point here in North Idaho, because sunlight and winter don’t always get along. Even so, I researched the best way to charge NiMH batteries and found the PowerFilm 20W F15-1200 Foldable Solar Panel Charger, which can trickle-charge batteries and run small devices. It sells for $225.12 on Amazon. PowerFilm also makes higher wattage models. Now on sunny days at least there’s a way to recharge batteries.
Pressure Cooker/Canner: Game is plentiful where I live, but that doesn’t do much good if there isn’t a way to preserve the meat. Because of that, a wood-burning cook stove now sits in my kitchen, and then I went in search of the best pressure cooker/canner, which in my opinion is the All American Cooker/Canner. I highly recommend them. Amazon sells the 21.5 quart size All American for $223.69. All American also makes 21 quart size cooker/canners for 223.69 and a 15.5 quart for 199.99.
Treadle Sewing Machine: I wish I could get back all the hours I spent looking for a working antique treadle machine. I’m sure they’re out there. . . somewhere, but after years of searching all I could find was a “needs repairs or needs parts” antique. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that Jerome treadle (as in foot pedal, non-electric) sewing machine. They’re made for the Amish and for those who live off-grid. I’ve seen nothing but good reviews on this machine, but you have to either buy a new treadle base or find an antique that comes with a food pedal. Amazon sells the Jerome treadle sewing machine for $249.00.
Water Purifier: A quality water purifier is so basic to the principles of preparedness, I can’t imaging why anyone would put off buying one. My personal favorite is Berkey, possibly because it’s the one I purchased when I moved to the middle of nowhere and it preforms better than I had hoped, but Katadyn makes an excellent water purifier as well. Prices vary, depending upon the size and how many replacement filters you purchase (it’s best to bite the bullet and get what you feel you need right away, so you don’t get caught short-handed!). The Travel Berkey, which holds 1.5 gallons, costs $228.00 with 2 water filters. They are currently back-ordered on the larger 2 1/2 gallon Big Berkey and the 3 gallon Royal Berkey.
The Katadyn Gravidyn Drip Water Filter holds 2.5 gallons and comes with three water filters and sells at REI for $294.95. The Sawyer Complete Water Treatment System will process up to 1 million (no, this wasn’t a typo) gallons of water and is on sale at REI for $159.00, marked down from $199.99.
Sawyer makes a popular SP184 complete water treatment system that will process up to 1 million gallons (no, it’s wasn’t an error) that’s on sale at Filtersfast.com for $159.99.
Cold Weather Gear: If you live in a cold weather zone, you don’t need to be told about the importance of cold weather gear. A warm coat and boots are a must-have in Idaho where typically people have a “dress” winter jacket (one without duct tape covering the holes) and a not-so-dressy jacket, which will likely have several patches of duct tape. Prices vary greatly, depending upon the brand and what level of performance you need. Go here for an earlier post that was devoted to keeping you warm and dry: How You Can Survive a Deep-Freeze On Any Budget. During the holidays, screaming deals can be found on what you’ll need.
Manual Grain Mill: You could get a couple $40, bare-bones manual grain mills but if your food storage includes a good store of wheat and whole corn like mine does, then you need a grinder you can depend on. Years ago, I purchased a Country Living Grain Mill and I have nothing but praise for the quality. They cost around $429.00, and rarely go on sale, but Homestead Products is offering a 5% discount, or keep your eye on craigslist.. It’s a good idea to purchase replacement parts when buying a grain mill.
Tree-Felling Ax: Years ago before I purchased a tree-felling ax, I spent days researching what people were recommending on related blogs. I kept hearing about the Gransfors Bruks, so I saved up and purchased one and it hasn’t let me down. WesSpur sells them for $190.00, and if you decide on this Swedish-made brand, don’t forget to get a replacement handle and a sharpening stone.
Firearms: You may already have firearms covered, but if you don’t, you’ll need to do your homework. Are you needing a gun for protection, or hunting, or will you need both? Making a choice between a high-caliber rifle, a tactical rifle, a low-caliber rifle, a tactical shotgun or a hunting shotgun takes research and prices vary greatly.
Because my brother is an avid hunter and knows guns, I asked him for a recommendation and he suggested a the Marlin model 795 due to its accuracy and affordable price. Impact Guns sell the Marlin 70680 795 Rimefire Semi-Auto for $149.99. I like the fact that it’s a .22, therefore bullets are “usually” easier to come by.
Generator: When I finally had all the basics in place and was ready to purchase a generator, I went with a propane model because I liked the idea of being able to store propane without having to bury it or worry about its shelf life. That may not be everyone’s ideal, however. Whether your choice is gasoline, diesel, or solar, a generator will make life easier while the fuel lasts. You will need to figure out what size generator is required for the appliances you plan to run and if you’re in the fact-finding stages, check out an earlier post, Which Is The Best Generator For You? which discusses the pros and cons of various generators and fuel.
And, on the topic of “Tested and Recommended”, in July, the National Tactical Officers’ Association gave Dry Fire Training Cards one of the highest ratings they’ve given for 2014 (4.6/5) and recommended them to their 35,000+ SWAT, SRU, and other tactical officers. Get yours now, for less than the price of a box of practice ammo, by going >HERE<
Do you have any favorite preparedness items that you’ve tested and want to share? Please sound off by commenting below!
God bless and stay safe,
David Morris and Survival Diva