Top 12 NECESSARY items for survival when SHTF
05/28/2019 // Zoey Sky // Views

Depending on their needs, preppers rely on different tools for various survival applications. If you're not sure where to start, here's a list of 12 items that can help you survive when disaster strikes. (h/t to

This list doesn't just include the kind of gear you need in your survival bag. Certain tools and skills can act as force multipliers and they can make your survival supplies even more effective and useful.

Before SHTF, you should learn how to use each tool in your possession. Otherwise, you could get hurt if you start using an item you're unfamiliar with during a survival scenario.

There are more than 12 items in the list below since some categories require more than just one type of prepping gear.

Bug-out bag or go bag

Almost all of the items in this list will be stored in your bug-out bag (BOB). Survival gear can also be stored in your bug-in bags, get-home bags, or everyday carry (EDC) kits. (Related: These important items deserve a place in every bug-out bag.)

Force multiplying survival skills:

  • Physical fitness
  • Multi-use prepping supplies
  • Sturdy backpack

EDC items

EDC kits may vary, but most preppers rely on similar core tools. When preparing an EDC kit, you should at least include emergency cash, BIC lighter, flashlight, pocket knife, and a multi-tool.

Fixed blade knife

A high-quality fixed blade knife is the second most important survival tool in your bag. With your survival skills and a good knife, you can get or make anything you need. Select a knife within your budget with features that meet your specific needs.


Force multiplying survival skills:

  • Building shelter
  • Building traps
  • Carving/whittling
  • Field dressing fish and game
  • Firestarting
  • Knife maintenance
  • Self-defense

Water filtration and purification

A water filter is a must in your prepping gear because clean water is key to your survival when SHTF, especially outdoors. Aside from a water filter, you should also have access to alternate means of water purification such as boiling or water tablets.

Force multiplying survival skills:

  • Finding water
  • Water purification
  • Water storage

Firestarting supplies

Firestarting is crucial because without fire, you can't stay warm, cook food, and signal for help. Useful firestarting items include:

  • BIC lighters
  • Char cloth
  • Ferro rods
  • Magnifying lens
  • Stormproof, windproof matches
  • Vaseline-soaked cotton balls

Force multiplying survival skills:

  • Basic fire-making skills
  • Fire-making materials

First aid kits and medication

You need a well-stocked first aid kit and medicine when SHTF. In case you run out of medicine, you also need to know how to find and use medicinal plants.

Keep painkillers, prescription medicine, and remedies for common complaints (e.g., diarrhea, fever, nausea, etc.) in your first aid kits.

Force multiplying survival skills:

  • First aid classes
  • Wilderness medicine

Self-defense weapons

Since people have different skills and abilities, choose a weapon that's suited to your own skill set. Self-defense can include your physical ability to defend yourself, using a weapon, or a combination of both.

Force multiplying survival skills:

  • Avoiding conflict
  • Creating improvised weapons
  • Self-defense classes
  • Firearms training
  • Non-lethal options


When SHTF, cordage might just save your life. You can use various types of cordage to build a shelter, fishing, trapping, and other survival uses.

Force multiplying survival skills:

  • Building snare traps
  • Building survival shelters
  • Knot-tying
  • Paracord weaving
  • Splinting

Multi-purpose supplies

Multi-tools are a great addition to any EDC kit or BOB. Multi-use survival gear will significantly reduce the number of supplies you need and the weight of your BOB, which is important if you need to evacuate immediately.

Other useful supplies include:

  • Alcohol
  • Aspirin
  • Bleach
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Iodine
  • Weather-appropriate clothing


Footwear is an often neglected aspect of prepping and survival. If you wear cheap shoes, your feet will hurt if you need to bug out or hike to camp. If you can't walk properly, how can you escape when SHTF?

Survival guides

While you can review various articles and resource materials, it's impossible to remember everything you read. To ensure that you have access to information when the power grid goes down, set aside prepping and survival resources.

You may need books about knot-tying or first aid, along with the SAS (Special Air Service) Survival guide. Review these resources before SHTF and practice these skills so you know what to do during a survival scenario.

Alternatively, you can create your own preparedness and survival file with data that is relevant to your location.

Emergency cash

You may have no need for cash in certain survival scenarios, but it is important to have emergency cash on hand at all times. For personal emergencies, having a bit of extra cash is a must.

Regardless of the amount you carry, you should prepare cash in smaller bills.

The most important tool: A survival mindset

Your survival mindset can make all the difference during a survival scenario. Even if you have the most expensive tools and gear, they'll be useless if you panic at the first sign of danger.

Your will to survive gives you the strength you need to protect yourself and your loved ones when disaster strikes, so keep calm, learn how to use your weapons, and stock up on survival supplies before SHTF.

Sources include:

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