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Survival gear and prepping supplies can be expensive and hard to find. A great way to get the items you need is to shop at a military surplus store, also known as an army-navy store.
If you shop at a military surplus store, you’ll be able to find great prices on all kinds of unique and interesting items that you might not find anywhere else. Keep reading to find out more about what kind of prepping supplies you can find there.
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What Is A Military Surplus Store?
A military surplus store is generally a civilian-owned business that acquires merchandise from the government and sells it at discounted prices. These stores originally were brick and mortar stores, but many are moving to an online format so you can shop from just about anywhere.
The merchandise is often used or new items that government agencies and the military purchased but no longer need. It doesn’t mean the items are necessarily bad or obsolete, it just means they have been upgraded or replaced.
Benefits of Shopping at Military Surplus Stores
There are many benefits to shopping at military surplus stores. First of all, these items are heavily discounted. Because they have been somewhat used or replaced by newer models, they can be sold at much lower prices than if you were to purchase them new or direct from the supplier.
Additionally, these items were originally intended for heavy use in military operations and even in times of war. These rugged items will last, making them excellent for emergency and prepping supplies. The catalog of items available changes frequently, so you can shop often and keep finding new merchandise.
Lastly, some of these items have been around for many years, and there is value to be found in their historical significance.
What Should You Purchase At Military Surplus Stores?
There are all kinds of interesting items you can purchase at army-navy stores. You’ll want to keep an eye out for sales and special deals to make sure you are getting the best prices.
Have an idea of what kinds of supplies you need for your prepping and survival needs, but also keep an open mind. You may discover helpful items that you never expected to find. Here are some ideas of what you can purchase at your local or online army-navy store.
1. Mess Kits
Mess kits are typically made of stainless steel and sometimes aluminum. This makes them easy to clean and very difficult to break. They are made to fit tightly together, making them easy to pack and take along camping or bugging out. Ideally, you want a mess kit for each person in your family.
2. Canteens, Fabric Buckets, and Water Bladders
Clean water is critical in an emergency situation. Whether you are camping, bugging out, or staying in, you might need a means of transporting clean, safe water.
At the military surplus store, you are likely to find items such as plastic or metal canteens, water bladders, and even fabric buckets specifically designed for hauling water. You need to plan to have at least a gallon of water per day per person for the bare minimum of drinking and hygiene.
3. Water Purification Tablets
If you don’t have potable water, you’ll be in a very dangerous situation. Water purification tablets are often available at military surplus stores. These can turn unsafe water into potable water. Just make sure you follow the directions so you don’t get sick.
4. Cast Iron Cookware
If you find yourself in the position of needing to cook over an open flame, you’ll want to have some cast iron cookware on hand. Cast iron cookware is durable and is easy to clean. If you will be camping, you’ll want to invest in a mess kit instead.
5. Can Opener
Typical civilian can openers aren’t sturdy. But in a survival situation, you’ll need one that is extra durable and doesn’t rely on electricity. You’ll find military can openers readily available at army-navy stores.
Related Article: 40 Emergency Supplies You Can Find In Dollar Stores
6. Gamma Buckets
Five-gallon buckets are great for all kinds of uses, but using them with a gamma lid makes them even more useful. A gamma lid screws tightly to a five-gallon bucket, making them waterproof. If you use food-grade buckets, you can store all kinds of food, water, and other important items in gamma buckets.
7. MREs and Dehydrated Meals
Emergency food is always a good idea to have on hand for those times when you can’t get to the grocery store or when the grocery store shelves are empty. MREs are Meals Ready to Eat. These pre-packaged meals are sent to soldiers on the battlefield.
The complete meals come with seasonings, drink mixes, and even a heat source. Also, dehydrated foods are lightweight and easy to carry bugging out. Emergency food bars are dense bars with lots of calories, making them long-lasting and easy to store.
Combat boots are great for working, hiking, and camping. These durable boots are made to protect your feet, provide solid ankle support, and a good grip. Dress boots are for ceremonies and parades. While they may look nice, they don’t have the same ruggedness or foot protection as combat boots.
9. Socks and Gloves
Cold weather means it is critical to keep your fingers and toes warm and dry. Wet feet will open you up to all kinds of problems such as trench foot and frostbite. Look for wool socks and gloves which naturally wick away moisture while keeping you warm.
If the SHTF happens, you may not be able to go shop for new clothes. Clothing is an important consideration. You’ll want sturdy, easy-to-clean, durable clothes that will protect you. Military pants and other clothes are designed to do just that and are often available at a great price at the army-navy store.
11. Helmets and Caps
Your head needs to be protected, so you’ll want to invest in some rugged, sturdy caps and helmets. Wool caps will whisk away moisture while keeping the heat in, and helmets will of course protect you from bumps, falls, and crashes.
12. Ponchos and Coats
Some people say there is no bad weather, just bad clothing. Make sure you have the right clothing for the weather where you live. You might need quality rain gear, heavy coats, or something in between. Plus, military ponchos have many different uses.
13. Sleeping Bags
Camping out in any weather means you need a high-quality sleeping bag. Military sleeping bags come ready for all kinds of weather. Look for sleeping bags that will keep you warm in frigid temperatures and that are easy to pack and carry should you need to bug out.
14. Blankets and Emergency Blankets
Emergency blankets are heat-reflective blankets made up of thin plastic sheeting. These are great for keeping in your vehicle or around the house because they take up very little space.
On the other hand, wool blankets are excellent for daily use. They will keep in the heat while letting moisture evaporate if you sweat. They are also very durable.
If you are camping or bugging out, you will likely need some kind of a tent. Military supply stores carry a variety of tents, from single person to rugged, multi-person tents. Make sure your tent has all its parts and practice setting it up and taking it down so you know how to use it quickly in an emergency.
Paracord, also known as parachute cord, was used for parachutes in WWII. This strong, lightweight cord has a large number of uses, making it ideal to have on hand. You can use paracord for fishing, tying tarps, making emergency shelters, and all kinds of other purposes. It could even save your life.
17. Survival Matches
You may need to start a fire in less than ideal conditions. Whether bugging out or just going camping, you’ll want to have survival matches that can light even when the weather is wet.
18. Knives and Hatchets
To survive in the wild or in an SHTF situation, you need the right tools for the job. A sturdy, no-frills ax or hatchet and a solid survival knife are tools that no prepper should be without. You can find both at most army-navy stores. These tools for intended for chopping wood, hunting, and all kinds of other great uses.
Related Article: 14 Prepper Items To Look For At Garage Sales
You might need to dig your vehicle out of a snowdrift, dig a hole to use as a restroom, or turn over some ground to create a firepit or a new garden. Regardless, you’ll need a solid, sturdy shovel. Survival shovels are often found in military surplus stores and at a great price, too.
20. Tactical Gear
If you’re looking for tactical gear, you’re probably looking for extra sturdy clothing that will conceal a firearm, protective vests, or other similar items.
21. Duffel Bags and Backpacks
You never know when you need a good bug out bag, duffel bag for travel, or backpack for daily use. Military issue luggage is sturdy and tough and designed for field use. The last thing you want when hiking through the woods is for your backpack to fail, so keep your eyes out for great deals on bags.
Tarps are great for any number of purposes. You can use them to build shelters, protect firewood, camouflage supplies, and protect things from wind and rain. You can find all types and sizes of tarps at the military surplus store.
23. Camo Net
Camo netting is a lightweight covering that will disguise some of your outdoor items. For example, you may want to hide your vehicle, your stash of water, or other large items from view. Camo netting will work like camouflage to keep your items hidden away from prying eyes.
24. Jerry Cans
A jerry can is a tough can made of steel. These cans originated in Germany, and their name comes from a slang term for German. These cans were originally intended to hold fuel, but now they are available for other purposes. The color of the can depicts its use.
25. First Aid Supplies
If you’re bugging out, bugging in, or just being a smart prepper, you will need first aid supplies. From small items like band-aids and first aid cream to larger emergency items, you’ll find them all in these types of stores.
It is worthwhile to be educated on all kinds of topics, from military strategies, survival planting, first aid, knot tying, and other skills that might be useful in an emergency. Make sure you browse through the book aisle to find great survival books to assist you with your prepping skills.
27. Radio with Crank
Radios with cranks are helpful in a lights-out situation. Even when you don’t have electricity, you still need to know what’s happening in the world.
A radio powered by a hand crank will help you listen to the news, the weather, and enjoy some entertainment, too. Some crank radios even offer charging ports for cell phones and other battery-powered devices.
Related Article: 23 Prepper Items To Look For at the Goodwill Store
28. Solar Lights
Solar lights are a great addition to your preps since they can offer light when the electricity is out. The cost of solar lights can be prohibitive, but you might find them at a great discount at your local military surplus store.
Maybe you need to spot what’s coming from a distance, want to search the landscape for deer or other animals you might be hunting, or you just love to watch the wild birds. Binoculars are handy to have for any situation.
30. Gas Masks
If you’re working with aerosols, chemicals with strong fumes, or want to protect yourself from serious illness or germ warfare, it’s handy to have a good quality gas mask around. Military-grade gas masks will protect you from any number of airborne particulates and pathogens, so make sure you look for one when you’re shopping.
If you use your imagination, you’ll discover all kinds of terrific prep-worthy items at local or online military surplus stores. You’ll want to keep your eyes open for items related to all sorts of prepping including protection, cooking, cleaning, camping, hiking, farming, food storage, electricity, and more.
Consider items such as lanterns, holsters, signal mirrors, and even sewing kits just to get started. Don’t forget to ask questions, shop often, and be willing to think outside the box for the best items to fit your needs.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to read 25 Prepper Items To Look For At Flea Markets And Thrift Stores.
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A gas mask is kind of extreme. How about a U.S. road atlas book?
You also might want to get a fire starter kit( then practice using it.
There is no military surplus stores and where I live and I need to find a place where I can order online to get military supplies thank you
Elbert Jones says
Wal mart gives away food grade 5 Gall. buckets. Check with their bakery dept. clerks. Gamma seal lids are wonderful. Women love them them. they’re so easy to open.
The video about someone taking your food is very extremist. Could someone please describe an event that will justify declaring martial law in the United States? When Obama was elected; Amer. Gun fanatics screamed that someone would try to disarm them. DID IT HAPPEN?
obama wanted garland on the supreme court as his “moderate” compromise… the united states isn’t venezuela, but neither was venezuela 20 years ago. you sound like these people crying about how anyone who wants american sovereignty defended and the 2A respected is a fanatic this or that, but then we can’t do enough for ukraine.
my name says
The cheapest food grade five gallon buckets i have found is at Firehouse subs…..3 dollars a piece, pickle buckets.
Elbert Jones says
U.S. troops have been known to call M.R.E.’s by the name of ” Meals refusing to exit”. They’re meals a majority of people do not want to eat willingly. Anyone who says he loves them is probably a section 8 case.
I must be a section 8 case as you vwould call it. I keep at least 2 in my trunk for emergencies. Some of the new flavors/recipes actually don’t taste bad. (Of course I use hot sauce).
anyone who complains about MRE’s probably is a bed wetter. you’re in the field, not the ritz carlton.
Omg you have soooooooo many damn ads in this article its impossible to read
Good information, thanks, you can get spun steel cookware instead of cast iron, it is lighter and easier to handle you will also need a mess kit also catering stores have very good sturdy can openers. A lot of ex military items are no longer genuine surplus so quality may be an issue.( in Australia anyway)
Remember to stay gray. Mil surplus won’t stand out much in some situations, but will in others. When planning your bug out route, observe the areas you will be traveling through. Dress for your area and situation, and keep your bol light enough to easily carry.
Elbert Jones says
Thank you for your comment. Very few Americans understand the gray person concept.
LOU ELLEN PARRISH says
THANKS FOR THE INFO,,,,, WHERE ARE ARMY SURPLUS STORES IN MESA, ARIZONA? 85208 AREA CODE?
Use the search bar and enter your local city and zip code to search for Army Surplus stores in that area. You can expand the search area if none are located in your immediate area.
In Canada PRINCESS AUTO is an excellent source. They have stores, plus do online & mailorder. They have all of the items mentioned except no NOAA crank weather radios. They have online & paper flyers for SURPLUS that change every two weeks
Another source is K-W SURPLUS on HWY 7 at the east end of Kitchener ( ON ). There are several universities & comunity colleges in Kitchener-Waterloo & this store is popular with students because of prices. In the early days of the dollar store build-out, K-W priced many many items at $0.88