33 Brilliant Non-Traditional Preps

Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: November 24, 2020
33 Brilliant Non-Traditional Preps

Pick up any preparedness book or visit any preparedness website and you are bound to be inundated with ideas for getting yourself ready for an unexpected disruptive event.  After awhile, the eyes begin to glaze over as you realize that you are reading the same thing over and over again.

The good news is that if so many people are talking about something, it must be true, right?  For obvious reasons, I am going to leave that one alone for now.  Instead, I want to focus on the real life preps from regular folks who are walking the preppers walk.  By that I mean ordinary citizens, not authors, not bloggers, and not individuals that are out to make a name for themselves.

33 Brilliant Non Traditional Preps

I am referring to Backdoor Survival readers.

As those of you that have been following this website know, to enter most giveaways there is a giveaway question designed to make you think.  Recently, the question asked was:

What is your favorite non-traditional prep? Be specific.

Some of the answers were indeed, great ideas and quite non-traditional. Others, while more commonplace, were preps that are often overlooked and worthy of repeating.  With that in mind, today I share some of the very best non-traditional preps from Backdoor Survival readers.

The Best Non-Traditional Preps from Backdoor Survival Readers

1.  Marbles!  I use them in my wrist-rocket slingshot. They make great ammo, cost little, and are seen as a toy for children, so they are not as likely to be stolen or confiscated. In addition they are of a uniform size and weight.

2.  I used sandbags to create a root cellar in my crawlspace. I could have used wood but didn’t want to attract bugs.  Since it’s above ground, I added a vent off our AC unit in order to cool it. It took nearly 6 months for the ground temp to come down but its very reasonable now in the summer!

3.  My prep that is not in the norm is my daughter’s blankets. I think that if something really happens, a little piece of home will be good for her. She has this specific type of blanket she likes.

4.  A whiteboard and markers. My autistic son will need this to understand a change in his schedule.

5.  Books on herb craft. I love using essential oils but if the SHTF then I would not have access to the oils after a while. So, I am growing herbs and learning how to use them fresh or dry.

6.  Dr. Bonners Castile soap. Because it is one of those items that has multiple uses, you clean everything from yourself (hair, teeth & skin) to your house and laundry. Multi use items are my favorite things to store.

7.  I have a couple of wind-up watches that don’t need batteries and a wind up alarm clock. When batteries run out and cell phones don’t work, there might be some comfort in still being able to tell time.  A solar-powered watch would also work.

8.  Journaling supplies. They will help me vent should the SHFT.

9.  A kindle or iPad for storing prepping info.  It would be impossible to store that many paper/hardback in a  limited space.

10.  Fabric in several types (flannel, cotton, wool etc.) plus patterns, scissors, needles, and thread! I also have a treadle sewing machine and yarn to knit/crochet sweaters and mittens and hats and socks.

11.  Over the years I have purchased many bags of feed for my critters. I save all the bags (they are heavy duty) to use as “dirt bags” to fill with dirt to line the insides of the walls in my home. A bullet will go through a normal wall very easily. A wall of dirt that is from 1 1/2 feet thick to 4 feet thick, depending on how you place them, will make an excellent protector.

12.  Plastic yogurt cups. They don’t have a top but I have saved them any way. They can be used to start seeds, as drinking cups, as candle holders, and many other things.

13.  I have a treadle sewing machine and quilting supplies so that I have something to work on and that can be used.

14. I am the family historian. So if/when you see a safe box in my home, the treasures it holds are my family history (some of which I have written) and family pictures going back many generations. I have hard copies, copies on flash drives and CDs stored in different places and of course in my BOB. Knowing the stories of my ancestors will keep others occupied during those crises times when calm is needed. We do have heroes in our own families. They may not be superheroes, but heroes nonetheless.

15.  My non-traditional prep is an extensive collection of games and kite making materials. Kids will take it fairly hard if something should happen.

16.  My grandmother’s cookbooks. There are a lot of “from scratch” recipes and ways of doing things, right down to how to prepare a chicken from the coop to the table.

17.  Carving tools.

18. My non-traditional item would be my essential oils kit. I know I can use these as alternatives for first-aid, hygiene, and stress relief.

19.  Books on foraging and how to use herbs and essential oils.

20.  My non traditional prep would be getting Lasik eye surgery done. In really bad conditions, eye glasses and definitely contact lenses will be non existent.

21.  I have printed almost every “from scratch” recipe I could find. If SHTF I want to be able to make bread, biscuits and as many other comfort foods as I can.

22.  Fire extinguishers.

23.  Free samples of diapers, incontinence products, saw blades – anything that I can get. I figure that when SHTF, I can find non-traditional uses for these things. Plus, every penny saved can go towards the traditional preps.

24.  Although you should not store drinking water in old milk bottles, I store water in them to refill the toilet tank for at least 3 days-till other arrangements can be set up.

25.  My only non-traditional is the WonderBag that I made for cooking. I got the idea off of the internet and it looked intriguing. I’ve only cooked in it a couple of times but it works great.

26.  I have been collecting board games & card games.  Thrift stores have had a LOT in like new condition with all the pieces & instructions. Also jigsaw puzzles. When the “apps” go out along with the lights, we’ll need some R&R to recover from all the “new” hard work we’ll be doing.

27.  I began collecting crossword and word search puzzles. I also buy pencils at the dollar store every time  go.

28. One of my non-traditional preps has got to be the cloth diapers and accompanying accessories. We have several young adult children (still having kids) in my family and having learned when I was younger to have cloth diapers on hand will be a boon to the young mothers when they can’t get “plastic” diapers.

29.  A French press for making coffee.

30. My non-traditional prep would have to be my walker. I can use a cane as well but my walker would allow me to go further and a bit faster plus it gives me a place to sit and rest when needed and it has a small basket for some additional gear.

31. I would have to say that our non-traditional prepping item would our distiller for water and making alcohol (for barter, of course!).

32. Travel books with lots of pictures, so you can travel in your armchair since there won’t be any more ways to travel.  Also, a world map.

33. My faith and Bible!! Also theology books.

The Final Word

When I am asked where my ideas and knowledge comes from, I typically respond with “anywhere and everywhere”.  Seriously, my knowledge and inspiration comes from a variety of sources: first hand experience, books, online forums and of course, Backdoor Survival readers.

The bottom line is not that I am smarter or more clever than everyone else.  On the other hand, I have taken my passion for preparedness and made it an active part of my life.  There is life on the other side and I want to be there to live it with gusto.

A special thank you to all of the readers that made this article possible.  As always, make every day a prep day!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider voting for me daily at Top Prepper Websites!  In addition, SUBSCRIBE to email updates  and receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

 Below you will find  the items related to today’s article.

Marbles in a Tin Box, 160-Piece: What a great idea!  I actually have a sling shot but have not used it much for practice because of the cost of the ammo.  I need to start practicing with marbles.

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps Pure-Castile Soap:  This is the real thing and it works well for cleaning, hygiene, and a bunch of other uses.  For the budget minded, consider making your own.  See DIY Liquid Castile Soap “Wonderful”.

Citizen EcoDrive Watch : Both Shelly and I have EcoDrive watches that require no batteries.  They just run and run and run.  Highly recommended.

Kindle, 6″ Glare-Free Touchscreen Display: Kindles and other eBook readers have become so inexpensive that I don’t know why everyone does on have one. BTW, eBook readers charge up quickly using an inexpensive solar charger.

SterlingPro French Press:  I have had a French press for over a year and have yet to learn how to use it.  That said, also think about a percolator.  I have this one and it makes superb coffee.  Who would have thought it?  Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Percolator.

Clara’s Kitchen: Wisdom, Memories, and Recipes from the Great Depression: If you don’t know about Clara, be sure to read Depression Cooking: A Visit to Clara’s Kitchen.

Essential Oils Desk Reference 6th Edition: This is the ultimate reference guide for essential oil users.  I thought long and hard before purchasing this book myself, but once I did, I was so grateful I took the leap.  The information is cross referenced in many ways making it easy to find what you are looking for.  When searching for a particular remedy, you may see multiple oils listed and any will work but they are presented in order of typical efficacy.  The nice thing is that if you do not have #1 on hand, you can move down the list.  I have found the recommendations to be spot on.


Ticket to Ride:  When it comes to board games, this is my favorite.  (It helps that I usually win.)  This is fun for the entire family.  Warning, you will become addicted and will often ask the question:  Want to play train aka “ticket to ride”?

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27 Responses to “33 Brilliant Non-Traditional Preps”

  1. Eyeglasses, reading glasses, and contact lens supplies; pick up a few every time you go to the dollar store or thrift store!

  2. I always love the comments when a you ask questions. Other than this one, there were a lot of good ideas when you asked about pantry meals.
    Thanks for compiling the list

  3. Gaye, you provide a great example of why we need community in disaster events. Many minds have more knowledge and shared, survival and thrival is possible. 🙂
    Adding another idea. I spent part of yesterday in the hardware dept. I went to replace some carabiners. Once there, I realized how much so many of these ‘quick connect’ items could save time, energy while being that extra umph I may need in the future. I just went to Amazon and discovered more of those items. They aren’t large but carabiners and their like to hose connections and other things which I didn’t know what some of those things were for…I know I have used the hose connections, I’ll be investigating some more of those qc’s to see how to expand my options. 🙂

  4. Hello, we came to prepping from farming or more specifically, homesteading. Which came from wanting to be more self reliant/sufficient as influenced by watching The Waltons and hiking/backpacking in my formative years and many years in the service. Similar experiences for my husband.
    This was an excellent article.
    Numbers nine and ten are often overlooked in my opinion. But a solar charger is crucial for number nine. Adding underwear to number ten would also be of paramount importance.
    Many on the list are things homesteaders/backtothelanders consider “normal” everday items.
    I would also like to add to the list, a hand cranked grain mill and roller as well as an oil seed press.
    I really connected with the person who mentioned their autistic family member. No one in the preparedness community talks about the developmentally disabled/mentally ill. Almost every family in the US is affected by one or the other. These folks aren’t going to just disappear in a grid down/SHTF/apocalypse event.
    I would also like to add:
    A copy of The Declaration, The Constitution, set of lawbooks and Roberts Rules of order.
    Pam Baker

  5. I’m amazed that people think that they will be able to sit in a recliner and look at picture books when the SHTF. You won’t survive if you are not working
    toward gathering firewood, food etc. Your stored items will only give you a very limited head start. Plan for no electricity, no running water, no toilets, and only yourself to provide protection for your family.

    • Dear Friend,
      I do believe you have missed the point.From the most gruesome of tragedies and disasters to even the most horrific battles from the Crimean War to whatever is currently going on in the middle east, soldiers and civilians alike find that some little thing, a token, momento, act or provision, serves to both temporarily relieve stress, soothe the soul and provide hope. For without those, all the firewood, bullets and beans won’t mean much. It is part of the psycology of survival and lays the foundation for rebuilding society. In the final analysis, it’s about surviving AND thriving, yes?

    • Many of us are prepping first for most likely scenerios; Snow or tropical storm putting the power out for a few days to a few weeks. Once we have the supplies on hand to survive a few weeks we are adding to it to survive a Katrina like storm; several months. In those cases entertainment will keep us from killing those who are trying to survive in our household. If we don’t have some relief from the stress of staying alive, heads are going to roll.

      If “the worst” does happen and we find ourselves living in the early 1800’s, we will be working harder than we ever have in our lives, but even those living in the 1800’s the first time found time to play, so having items on hand to entertain ourselves is not really unresonable, it’s actually a very good idea.

  6. The Salvation Army store in my area has its own Black Friday and everything in the store is half off. I go stock up on blue jeans of all sizes at as little as $1.00 per pair. Then I get the big vacuum seal bags that you can seal up bedding, etc., so it shrinks it down flat, and I seal all the jeans in there and store them under my bed. Blue jeans will be an important barter item.

    • What a great idea! That doesn’t happen here but we do have a Goodwill outlet store which sells clothing by the pound. You’ve given me an idea. 🙂

    • Here is an interesting tidbit. Our local thrift shop does not accept women’s blue jeans any longer. They said they simply do not sell. They actually said they can not give them away. I don’t typically wear jeans and the pairs I have are a bit, ummmm, snug. LOL, alas, I am no longer a size 2 🙂

  7. One of my favorite fixers is JB Weld. I have seen this stuff used to fix a ton of things and have even use it to re-create a new part. Just mix the two tubes together and then form the putty into the shape of the broken object you are trying to replace. once it is hard just use a file or knife to whittle it down to the size/shape you need.

  8. an item that’s free – usually just tossed away – 1,000 uses – and soon to disappear … the poly retail shopping bag …

    I collect til I have a full pillow … squeeze the pillow between a heating duct and an outside wall down in the basement … a little insulation duty while in storage

    • Thanks I hadn’t thought of doing those. I do use them for packing gifts and other items to be shipped. Now, I’ll be seeing them as pillows and insulation until needed. 🙂

  9. A better non-electric coffee-maker than a French press is the GSI Outdoors Collapsible Java Drip (Amazon), which makes up to 12 cups. I’ve used both and prefer the collapsible. It’s unbreakable, much easier to clean, takes up little space, and IMO, makes better coffee.

  10. dental floss! the stuff is strong as the dickens and can be used for lots of things, even sewing. and it takes up almost no space in my edc.

  11. Good ideas, all of them. My “non-traditional prep” is to store water in empty detergent bottles of all kinds. There is enough soap left in the “empty” bottle to do many things with the water. I am thinking of using one bottle of laundry detergent water for washing hand laundry. Using an bottle of dish soap as a squirt bottle to wet hands too soiled for alcohol hand sanitizer, rubbing hands together to get soil off and rinse them in a bucket of water. When the rinse bucket gets to soapy to get the soap off, I will use that bucket of water to water plants or add it to the laundry bucket to wash dark clothing in.

    I LOVE the idea of taking advantage of all the free samples out there to put away for barter in the future.

    For family’s with young children who get all those darn Fast Food toys….put them away, unopened, for future trade/fun for children who won’t touch them for more than 2 seconds now, but will be looking for entertainment when the lights go out.

    Baby food for families with elderly parents in them. The baby food will help with swallowing pills without water and get more calories in them than just plain water, too boot. (Acutally this is a good idea at any time, just be sure to get fruit sauce baby foods, cuz who wants to take pills with green beans? LOL)

  12. The person had better have a concrete pad floor In the house expecting to bear the weight of earth filled bags for bullet proofing the inside the home…

  13. I make sure mine and my families dental work in up to date also make sure everyone is current on a Tetnus shot. Don’t put off getting that filling they have been telling you that you need.

  14. A small pencil sharpener in a fire kit makes for easy tinder. Small repair kit with wire, duct tape, silicone, zip-ties, superglue, and JB-weld can fix most small repair needs.

  15. A whet stone and the skill to sharpen your knives. Skills may be more important than things. I like the idea that my fabric stash and my yarn stash are now known as preps! Learn to sew and learn to knit. We will always need to repair clothes, even if we don’t make new ones. What will you do if you don’t have any socks? I’m knitting ours. Learn new skills as you age. It keeps your brain working.

  16. I originally suggested the travel books. The reason is even in Little House on the Prairie they had time for fun. Different people like different things for fun. People who like to travel will not be able to so they can look at books. Pictures are beautiful & take your mind off dire circumstances.

  17. Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge with us. I pray you and your family will be well and safe in any event forthcoming.

  18. Converted gas stove from natural gas to propane with 200 gal tank; enough gas to cook with for up to 2 years now. Already practicing no or low electric use with extra benefit of having under $15. power bill for the last 6 months! Upgraded/refurnished old pickup truck that uses no fuses or modern gadgets, just gas and oil, in case of EMP…it will still run fine. Cleaned out chest freezer, canned everything, now using it for canned storage and seeds. Bought sunflower seeds, can plant them or use oil extractor to get fuel or cooking oil. Built an indoor rocket stove with bench, can cook on it and use for slow cooking if need be. Built several outdoor types of cooking methods: keystone oven, pit cooking, and got colonial style cast iron fire irons to use and practice using them. Got many wicks and used oil lamps that can burn sunflower oil. Bought many sizes of tin carrying buckets for water and veggies, etc. Getting ready to put in a handpump shallow well.

  19. I have been prepping most of my life as well. Now that I am getting older with disabilities I am looking for things that can help me stay independent. I live in an apartment so there is not much storage space, everything stored needs to be versatile. I am stocking up on denture cleaner and fixative even tho’ I don’t have them yet. Dollar store reach and grab tools. Extra glucose tablets. Dental supplies, toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, tooth repair kits, clove oil, etc. spare reading glasses in different strengths, microfiber cleaning cloths to keep them clean. I’m concerned that many resources we depend on will not be made and we will run out: where does baking soda come from? Salt? Recipes and instructions for creating the basic ingredients and actually trying them out. As someone said, knowledge is important, but skills are essential. Blankets, yes lots of them. Learned how to forage for plants to make fiber for baskets, thread, rope. Other primitive survival skills. I want to learn how to do so many things, then if I can’t physically do them myself, I can barter my knowledge and teach others. We need to pass on our knowledge to the younger generations that never had exposure to “making do.”

  20. My non-traditional prep is small containers. They are free. I have a designated space for my small container collection and promise myself I will stop when it is full. (said with a straight face. LOL) Pill bottles, cute little glass jars from jelly and room service ketchup, tiny ziploc bags from buttons on new clothing….anything I can use to repackage big lots into smaller packages for trade. Pill bottles for seeds I have saved, jars for hand lotion/creams, ziplocs for antibiotic ointment (just cut off the corner and squeeze it out onto the wound)

    As I see it, everyone talks about bartering, but no one says how they are going to barter their 100 ounce container of laundry detergent and still have some for themselves. Small containers to repackage valuable things in will get you more bang for your bucks.

    (I also save every single glass jar I get…you know how slowly that collection is growing. Sigh)

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