Getting started with gear is another one of those overwhelming and potentially expensive challenges for the beginning prepper.
Today I would like to suggest a starter list of 15 items that can be purchased, in total, for $350 or less. Don’t have $350 to spare. No worries. Purchase one item a week or one item a month. Along the way, you will find other items and soon you will have a nice kit, ready to go when the big one strikes or the flood waters hit.
Crank-Up Radio: This model from Kaito Electronics will set you back about $50. It comes with all the features that you need in an emergency situation such as a multi-band AM/FM and shortwave radio, 7 NOAA weather channels, a five LED adjustable reading lamp, and a multi-function LED flashlight that can be used in both a normal bright color mode and red color for emergency use. All of these features can be operated indefinitely without external power using a hand crank. There is a solar panel that charges the built-in batteries or you can use AA batteries or you can plug the radio into a USB device.
Other options? The Etón American Red Cross Self-Powered Radio with Flashlight, Solar Power and Cell Phone Charger for about $34.
LED Flashlight and Batteries: You can never have too many LED flashlights and at least one should be a quality flashlight that can withstand the harsh environment of a survival situation. This MAGLITE LED Flashlight will cost about $25 but there are many others available for $15 or less.
Survival Knife: The sky is the limit when it comes to survival knives. For the beginner, or someone on a budget, a decent quality, all purpose knife is what you need until you have a chance to use it and learn what you like and don’t like, feature-wise before you invest in something more pricey. This Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife is highly rated and will cost about $23.
Candles, Matches, Lighter, and Fire Starters: From a safety point of view, a Candle Lantern is a great alternative to plain candles. Expect to pay about $18. Waterproof matches ($2) and a Zippo Fire Starter are some other items to add to your starter gear.
Pepper Spray: Not everyone is comfortable with a firearm plus, getting started with guns and ammo is an expensive proposition. That, plus the training required means that you should have some other means of self-defense to get you by while you are learning about firearms.
The Sabre Family Home and Property Protection Pepper Spray will set you back about $35. But even a hand held pepper spray such as the Sabre Compact Pepper Spray will keep you protected. The cost for the compact spray is less than $8.
A Lightweight Axe: This is another area where you can spend a little or spend a lot. This ax from Fiskars is highly rated and about $25.
Paracord: There are so many uses for paracord that it deserves an article all by itself. I just wish I had known about it sooner. You can get 100 feet of 550 lb. Type III Nylon Paracord for $8. This is a real bargain.
First Aid Kit: This is one area where I prefer to assemble my own kit but I know from talking to others that I am in the minority in this regard. My advice is that you carefully examine the contents of any kit you are planning to purchase and make sure that it is suitable to your needs. This all-in-one first aid kit from Coleman is $17.
Light Sticks: Light sticks are another one of those items that can be used in a variety of emergency and non-emergency situations. They are cheap – less than $20 for 10. These Military Grade Light Sticks provide up to to 12 hours illumination each.
Survival Whistle: This 5 in 1 Survival Whistle is only $3 with free shipping. In addition to a whistle, it includes a compass, signaling mirror, lanyard, and a storage case for your waterproof matches.
Survival Blanket: Not luxurious like a down comforter, but in an emergency, a survival blanket will help you retain body heat. Get quite a few of these and practice using them before you have to. This pack of 10 Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets is less than $9 with free shipping.
Water Filtration System: I will save the big, fancy water filtering system (such as the Berkey) for another time. What you need as a beginner are some Water Treatment Tablets to make contaminated water suitable for drinking on the fly. Expect to pay about $7.
Durable Water Bottle: There are lots and lots of choices for water bottles. You can even recycle a soda bottle to include with your survival gear. For the long tern, however, you should invest in a Nalgene BPA-Free Water Bottle or stainless model. Cost? About $8 for Nalgene.
Duct Tape: I have always said you can build a house with Duck Tape and Elmer’s glue. Well, not really but I have to tell you, there are a lot of uses for duct tape and a roll or two should be included in every survival kit. Survival Husband swears by the 3M Heavy Duty All-Weather Duct Tape but there are other, less expensive brands out there. About $8.
Outdoor Cook Stove: This is possibly the only budget breaker on my list, but definitely something you should consider. I recommend Volcano II Collapsible Stove or an EcoZoom but if money is really tight, a Coleman will do just fine. In that case, you will also need some propane instead of charcoal. Expect to pay about $100 for a cook stove.
So there you have it – 15 items for your starter gear kit. I put a lot of thought into this survival gear checklist and it is in no way all-inclusive. The intent was to get you thinking and to motivate you to start gearing up, one thing at a time. Print out this list, shop around, and find your best deal.
Whatever you decide, start now and before you know it, you will have the perfect kit, tailored just for you.
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