You don’t have to be prepping for very long to know that the list of equipment and supplies never seems to end. As you move up from novice to expert prepper, your level of sophistication can actually decrease to some degree. As we all started out, we looked at the proverbial “Beans, bullets, and band-aids”. A good prepper is never really done with any one category but instead our sense of urgency shifts. I tend to shift my prepping based on a few variables. One variable is the demand. I refuse to pay $1 a round for ammunition, nor will I pay $200 for a thousand primers. Why? Simply because over the year I have steadily put back for a “rainy day”. So when ammunition or magazines become insanely high priced I switch over to focusing on something else like food, fuel or medical. This strategy has served me well for decades until now, when “everything” seems to be in demand and “everything” seems to be insanely priced. So, I have tried to find equipment and supplies that don’t seem to be in demand by the masses of new preppers. Here are some ideas to think about, if you are “okay” with basics:
When the power fails and our normal ways of heating our homes are no longer viable how are we going to heat our homes? Well, hopefully we all have wood-burning stoves but that will be far from the case. Traditional wood-burning fireplaces, it is said, have 70 to 90 percent of the heat go up the chimney. Hence the common fireplace is not an efficient way of heating one’s home. In the 1500s many English homes did not have fireplaces but rather they placed a small wood fire on the dirt floor in the middle of the home and kept it burning all day. In a somewhat different version, there were also reredos that were an open fireplace, made of fieldstone and perhaps some clay. The shape of many reredos would be like that of an armchair with no legs. The fieldstone would act as a heat sink to absorb the heat. Our modern homes are not conducive to doing this for a number of reasons, such as not having dirt floors, lower ceilings and not being as drafty — just to name a few.
As we often see in emergencies necessity becomes the mother of invention. People will do what they can, with what they have at the time to stay warm in a post-TEOTWAWKI world. (Please note this is for a long term grid down scenario like an EMP — not an ice storm.) A few items that can make heating our living spaces a little easier post-TEOTWAWKI are available, with no mad rush, are fire bricks, high heat silicone sealant, and welding blankets. Obviously, there are a number of safety issues with any fire, let alone with fires in post-TEOTWAWKI environments. I’ll leave it up to you to research how you may use these items, individually, in a post-TEOTWAWKI world.
Other items not normally seen on prepper lists are those for gathering maple sap for making maple syrup. Being able to gather maple sap will depend mostly upon your geography but you can quickly gather a lot of sap from a few trees. My neighbor taps a half-dozen trees and gets enough sap to make syrup for his family of nine for a whole year. If you have maple trees in your area consider this source of high-energy food. Sugaring supplies can be found online or at local farm or agriculture stores like Tractor Supply or Rural King and they are not expensive compared to other prepper supplies.
There are a lot of people who have delusions of grandeur that when SHTF they will simply hunt and fish like Jeremiah Johnson. The woods are already a sea of blaze orange-wearing hunters during hunting season. What do you think the woods will be like post-SHTF with thousands more starving people shooting at anything that moves? Hunting is also a very inefficient way of harvesting food. Trapping, on the other hand, is more efficient in that several traps can be set up thus increasing one’s chances of actually catching something. Snares, deadfalls, and leg traps will provide for a meal or two but using live traps may allow you the opportunity to capture feral rabbits, or other small animals that can than be used to breed litters to provide a continuous steady supply of meat with little effort. So adding a few Have-a-Heart traps and cages to your preps may be a good idea.
In a post-TEOTWAWKI world, fur and leather will come back into vogue out of pure necessity. Having the ability to sew leather together with a modern sewing awl will be a plus. Even having an ice pick or awl and some sail-making needles would be helpful if one doesn’t have a sewing awl. Make sure you put some extra rolls of waxed thread away too.
I find it amazing how little value is given to binoculars these days. I put away pairs of 7×35 that I find at flea markets, garage sales, auctions, and the Salvation Army. After TEOTWAWKI, spotting threats from a distance will be priceless. Having numerous sets for observation posts, and for other security elements will be a great force multiplier, no “app” needed.
Something that all preppers love is an item that has many uses. We see all kinds of videos and articles about the many uses of baking soda, vinegar and salt but what about “Barn lime”, also know as crushed limestone which is also know as calcium carbonate? Lime has its own “cycle” where starting off with crushed limestone you can burn it to make quicklime (calcium oxide) that can be used as a Leavening agent, and in steel and glass making. Adding water to quicklime, will make “slacked lime” or calcium hydroxide that can be used for making cements, mortar, for pickling, egg preservation, and for nixtamalization of corn. Over time slacked lime will absorb carbon dioxide thus returning it back into calcium carbonate. Barn lime is also helpful in the barn too and is relatively inexpensive. I recently paid $3.69 for a fifty-pound bag.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is another multi-use substance that is cheap. DE is often used in pool filters but it can also be used in gardens as a natural insecticide. My parents used to add it to stored grain as it would kill or create an environment not conducive for insects to survive in (note they would use food grade DE for this). The internet is full of do-it-yourself uses for DE for personal hygiene (toothpaste, deodorant) and for uses outside to kill bugs in the garden and around the home, as a soil additive, and for your chickens as a dust bath.
My neighbors are Mennonite and produce most of their own food. They make their own cheese, press their own apples for cider and other foods. I’ve noticed while watching them in their various food processing methods that there is a lot of utility in 100% cotton linen towels, mostly for filtering. There are several other things that these pieces of linen can be used for. The price of cotton seems to be going up but not like food or fuel.
Something else we don’t see a lot of discussion about is having vessels to cook in, post-TEOTWAWKI. For many people using their plastic-handled pots and pans over an open fire won’t work. Cast iron is very versatile and is very durable. But do you have large pots for boiling large amounts of water for cooking or cleaning? When I process chickens, I boil water in a large pot on a propane-fired burner to use in the de-feathering process. In a Post-TEOTWAWKI environment, we will probably have a few more mouths to feed. Many Preppers believe that they won’t take in others but the reality will be that we must and we will. So, having larger pots used in institutional kitchens may be a much better solution to post-TEOTWAWKI cooking.
I have a small stash of candy thermometers. As people have to resort back to the old ways, having a thermometer for determining the temperatures of oils, fats, and syrups will be very useful. As we are forced to make many of our chemical formulas, High-temperature thermometers will also be useful in those processes too. Note to self: Don’t use the same thermometer for your food as you use with the chemicals.
Zote soap is another multi-use product that makes it perfect for post-apocalyptic living. One big bar (400 grams) can be used to wash the clothes, the pots and pans, and yourself, including both the body and your hair. The soap is made with citronella oil so it is strong and is rumored to keep the bugs away. The soap is also a way to help rid oneself of poison ivy. I recently found 400-gram bars at Dollar Tree for $1.25 each. Don’t like the idea of smelling like citronella? Then consider Fels Naptha bar soap that can do just about the same tasks without the smell.
As the modern conveniences we are accustomed to disappear, like chicken breast at the local grocery store these days, our hygiene and sanitation will start to suffer. We only have to look back at the “Dark Ages” to see the ramifications of the simple little flea. We spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on protection from two-legged dangers but most people will succumb to disease before high-velocity lead injection. Mouse and rat traps will help keep the rodent population down thus helping to keep disease and disease vectors at bay. Another item to consider is flea and tick collars. Just put the around your house and near the entrances.
These are just a few examples of preps to put away, assuming you are comfortable with the basics, that don’t have supply shortages nor have they seemed to skyrocket in price. Consider adding things like sterile gauze and over-the-counter medicines. Inflation isn’t a reason to stop prepping, in fact, it is a reason to stock even more while your currency still has more buying power. Buying items that have seen extremely high price increases may not be the best strategy so look for items that haven’t yet gone up in price.