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What is more important – prepper gear or prepper skills?

Without the proper gear, it’s more difficult or impossible to manage and find solutions in any kind of disaster scenario. On the other hand, without skills, you can’t manage unpredictable situations, use your gear effectively, or improvise.

Obviously, you need both skills and gear.

But how much gear do you need and what skill level is enough to say that you are ready? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, don’t worry – welcome to the “prepper world”. 

Around 35% of Americans claim they have survival items in stock in case of emergency. The percentage of Americans who live in households with at least one firearm is even greater.

So, there are more people that think about precautionary measures than you may think.

Unfortunately, many of them stop there. They plan to prepare but they never do it. Even more of them buy just a couple of things and give up. As a result, you get a false sense of security.

You can’t blame them, though. There’s no such thing as a universal prepper guide. And if you search a little bit, there are all kinds of people who call themselves a “prepper”.

Some of them just hoard tons of food and water. Others focus on primitive skills and wilderness survival training.

Then, there are tactical enthusiasts always ready for an all-out war against zombie hordes, overlooking other aspects of survival. 

Truth be told, if you could summon one person from each of these types, they would’ve made an awesome survival team. But, learning all these skills and getting all supplies and equipment seems to be a mission impossible for a single person.

How to Choose Prepper Gear

Once you decide that you don’t want to get caught off guard, it’s a never-ending quest.

At some point, you may say that you are thoroughly prepared. But you can never say that you are completely prepared.

There’s always another level of preparedness. You can always learn or upgrade your skills and improve your equipment. Becoming a jack of all trades is difficult, but there’s a middle ground. You need to make a priority list of “must-have”, and “desirable” skills and gear.

Then you can start obtaining one item at a time until you cover all “musts”. From that point on, you can keep upgrading if you have time and resources. If you don’t, keep practicing to maintain your skills, rotate your food supplies, and you’ll be more ready than the most.

If we focus on prepper gear, it’s the same principle. Once again, you need a plan and a priority list. There’s no perfect gear list for everyone. For example, if you live in the coastal lowlands in Florida, you won’t need the same gear as if you reside anywhere in Alaska.

However, there are items and guidelines that must make the top of any list whether you live in the tropics or in the far north. Our list will cover all basics and then some. So, let’s get started.

32 Prepper Supplies You Can’t Do Without

Creating a supply list is not an easy task.

The idea is to get as many supplies as possible not only to survive but to provide some level of comfort as well. But, you can’t really get it all. You may end up storing more than you need at one department and missing the essentials at another.

The best way to avoid this is to organize supplies into groups. You can make your own division that suits you best. Most commonly, we divide supplies and gear based on our needs. These basic needs are water, food, shelter, hygiene, and security. Then, you can make a list of supplies and tools to take better care of each of these needs.


Water is the most important thing for your survival. So, whether you choose to bug in or bug out, you need to store enough water as part of your prepper gear.

While it depends on the climate and the level of your activity, most experts agree that 1 gallon per person per day should suffice. Half of it is to drink and another half for cooking and sanitation.

1. Water Containers. Buying food-grade water containers is the simplest way to store some water.

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2. Rain Barrel. For long-term survival, you need to find water sources apart from your stockpile. A rain barrel is the simplest way to do it.

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3. WaterBOB. It is a convenient and affordable way to store water, especially for bug-in scenarios.

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4. Water Filtration System. While you can store enough water for a couple of weeks, if calamity lasts you’ll need to search for water, collect rain, or use water from a nearby stream or river. In any case, a filtration system will allow you to make water safe.

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Storing enough food is very important. Depending on your location, it might be more or less difficult to find additional sources of food. As a general rule of thumb, choose long shelf-life food.

5. Freeze-Dried Food. There’s a reason why freeze-dried food is a major component of astronaut and military rations. Extremely long shelf-life makes it the best choice for long-term survival.

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6. Canned Food. More affordable than freeze-dried food, there’s a variety of canned meals to get you through the tough times.

7. Food Dehydrator. Yes, it is an expensive machine and it’s not absolutely necessary. However, if you know a thing or two about edible plants and fruits, a food dehydrator will allow you to save your harvest for months to come.

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In most SHTF scenarios, you can’t count on the availability of health care. So, it’s obvious that you need some items to try to take care of possible medical issues or injuries.

Hygiene is sometimes underestimated in emergency cases. However, it helps you to stay healthy both physically and mentally.

8. First Aid Kit. It will help you to take care of cuts, bruises and other light injuries. Not the bulkiest thing, but a must-have in a prepper gear.

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9. IFAK. You can either buy a premade one or assemble it yourself. While an IFAK will help you to treat more severe injuries and problems, make sure you know how to use each item. Some of them require medical training. 

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10. Toothbrush. Maybe you don’t need a pearly smile to survive, but you do need healthy teeth and gums. Toothache can make your life miserable. It won’t kill you, but you don’t need it in the middle of the crisis.

11. Toothpaste. True, you can find alternatives in nature – such as willow sap. But until you settle in (or out), a nice tube of industrial toothpaste will make your life easier.

12. Baking Soda. If you’re out of toothpaste, baking soda can help you keep your teeth clean. It’s a cheap and multi-purpose compound.

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13. Disposable Gloves. You’ll probably have a couple of pairs in your first aid kit or IFAK, but a package or two can come in handy as part of your survival gear.

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14. Wet Wipes. Wet wipes and body wipes are convenient and they can save you some water.

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15. Toilet Paper. Surely you can find its replacement in nature if need be. But believe you me, your regular, good ol’ toilet paper is so much more comfortable and gentle to the rear end!

16. Bucket. If the sewer system fails, human waste becomes an issue. A bucket toilet solves the problem. (It also makes for a great gift idea to delight your prepping friends!) You can also use cat litter to mitigate the smell.

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Surviving for a couple of days shouldn’t be an issue as long as you have enough water. But, with each passing day, life becomes more difficult. Therefore, you need a couple of tools to create or maintain sustainable functioning. 

17. Wood Stove. Choosing a wood stove depends on your bug out plans. Portable, lightweight, camping wood stoves are convenient for boiling water and some basic cooking. On the other hand, home wood stoves are more versatile and they will keep your hideout warm and cozy.

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18. Lighters and Ferro Rod. You’ll need fire for all kinds of things. A couple of lighters, matches, and Ferro rod as a backup will allow you to start a fire easily.

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19. Flashlights. A flashlight with LED bulbs, or a couple of them, will help you see in the dark. It is an indispensable piece of survival equipment.

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20. Tarp. The tarp is such a versatile item – you can even use it to build a temporary shelter. You should have at least one of these in your prepper gear.

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21. Mylar Blanket. Also known as space blanket, it is a life-saver in emergency situations. While it can be used for different purposes, it is extremely lightweight and compact.

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22. Power Generator. A power generator is not a must, but it can certainly make your life easier in black-out situations. 

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23. Gardening Tools. Multi-purpose gardening tools can be very useful in long-term disaster events. If you have planting and sprouting seeds, you can grow food.

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24. Fishing Kit. If there’s a river, lake, or ocean near your location, a fishing kit will allow you to obtain some fresh proteins.

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25. Sewing Kit. Once you’re off the grid, you can’t replace your clothes, tent, tarp, or anything else that gets damaged. With a sewing kit, you can repair tears and rips.

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26. Duct Tape. Use it to seal, fix, and repair things. This little tool has so many uses that we would need a separate blog post to even dip our toes into the subject.

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27. Hatchet or Tomahawk. These versatile tools can help you create firewood, emergency shelter, and many more. They can transform into weapons especially against predatory animals.

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28. Multi-Tool. A multi-tool is a perfect prepper tool – compact, easy to carry, and versatile.

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Weapons can improve your safety. There’s no doubt about that.

However, this is where preppers often disagree a lot. Some preppers have enough firearms to supply a small army, while others like to keep a low profile with only a knife or a handgun in case of need.

I won’t take a personal stance here, though. It’s difficult to assess in advance what is the correct amount of weapons and ammo to stay safe. Use your own better judgment to decide for yourself.

However, I will recommend having some weapons. They can be used not only for self-defense but also for hunting. Whatever you decide, if you have weapons make sure you know your weapon. These things aren’t toys, so you should know how to use them. 

29. Crossbow. Don’t underestimate this weapon just because it’s not a firearm. It has several benefits in hunting. If you buy a decent item, it will be fast, efficient, and most importantly – silent.

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30. Handgun. Whatever they say, size isn’t always an asset! To be more precize, sometimes smaller is better. A handgun or a pistol is easier to store and carry, keep safe, and/or hide if needed. That’s why many survivalists prefer it over other firearms when it comes to their prepper gear.

31. Shotgun. While it isn’t the most convenient weapon for bugging out, it’s perfect for keeping safe at home. With it, you can achieve the desired effect even if you’re not a brilliant shooter.

32. Rifle. It’s by far the most accurate choice of firearm. Especially when it comes with a scope. That makes it a great choice for hunters.

Final Word on Prepper Gear

Much as I tried to provide a comprehensive list, I have to admit that it is not – and can’t be final.

The truth is that you can’t find two prepper or survivalist experts who would compile two identical lists. It’s not because they disagree, but because there are so many items that might be valuable. It also depends on geography and climate.

So, no matter how many experts you consult, you’ll have to make your own priority list. We have included a couple dozen indispensable items and added a few more to choose from. With our guidelines, you should be able to make your own perfect checklist and “wishlist” as well.

Start stocking up. As they say, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.