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If you are serious about preparing to survive hard times, you’ll need to be strategic. Few people can afford to go out and buy all the cool prepping stuff. It’s expensive and really more of a luxury than a necessity. It’s like buying a Mercedes instead of a Nissan. One’s nice and pretty, but do you really need it?
There are plenty of things a prepper can do without. Things a person can put together themselves for a fraction of the cost of the Mercedes line of prepping items on the market. Convenience costs money, but it’s not always worth it.
The following list includes things that are great to have, but they are not financially affordable for most and honestly, you really don’t need them. There are more cost-effective, space saving options.
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1. Premade Bug Out Bags
These are excessive and typically packed with cheap items that could be purchased at half the price. Your bug out bag is going to reflect your needs and where you live. It’s better to create your own and don’t be afraid to buy some things-second hand.
2. Premade First Aid Kits
The first aid kits you see on Amazon and other marketplaces are very overpriced and typically under-supplied. First aid supplies are relatively inexpensive. You can go to the dollar store or buy in bulk online and put together several kits. Buy an inexpensive backpack at the store or buy used from the thrift store to build your own first aid kit.
3. Expensive Survival Knives
4. Water Purification Tablets
Water purification tablets are great when you’re in a pinch or on the move. Unfortunately, if you have a family of four and you are following the rule of one gallon of water per day for each person, you would have to have a five-gallon bucket of tablets to last a month. It’s expensive and there are other cheaper options, like boiling.
5. Freeze-Dried Food Kits
The large buckets that promise to feed a family for a year are not taking into account a lot of different factors. Freeze-dried meals are definitely nice to have, but they are expensive. The buckets that promise to be a one-size fit all are not considering big guys that need more calories to function.
You’re not getting to choose the meals you like. Freeze-dried foods are great if you can afford them, but they shouldn’t make up your entire stockpile of food. You need options.
These are a lot like freeze-dried meals. MREs, the ready-to-eat meals that are often used by the military for troops in the field, have their place in a prepping stockpile. They are expensive. If you get a great deal on a case, it doesn’t hurt to have some for those days you will be on the move and can’t stop to boil water and rehydrate your freeze-dried meal.
7. Portable Showers
The nice small pop-up tents meant to provide a real shower experience aren’t necessary for survival. It’s a luxury and there might be a wife begging to have the option but you can make your own with a tarp or some good old-fashioned ingenuity. The bags that are a part of the portable shower setup are relatively cheap, but you can make your own as well.
8. Large Expensive Water Filtration Systems
Again, the big setups are great and filtered water tastes better, but it isn’t necessary to survival. Filtered water is not always safe if it hasn’t been purified first. Filters remove debris and some bacteria, but not all. Purification is a must, filtration is more of a preference. You can make your own filter with charcoal.
9. High-End Survival Clothing
While it would be nice to have pants and jackets that were built with survival in mind, created with fabric that won’t tear and will always keep you dry, that stuff is expensive. You could pay two-hundred bucks for a single pair of pants.
If someone gives you some, awesome. If you find it at a secondhand store, perfect. Unfortunately, that’s probably not going to happen. Get what you can afford and be prepared to patch and mend your clothing.
10. Large Whole-Home Generators
Power is a luxury. Most people accept the fact that a major event is going to knock out power and life will be a little darker. It’s not critical to survival. While it’s nice to have, you don’t need it.
The large generators are a huge investment. The money could be spent on food. The generators require fuel, typically propane, but what happens when the tank goes dry? That investment becomes a massive paperweight.
11. High-Tech Underground Bunkers
This is the dream of so many preppers. Yes, it would be incredible to have a comfortable home with fake windows, running water and plenty of cement and safety several feet underground, but the price tag is insane. It’s essentially the same price as buying a new home.
While we would all love this option, it’s not necessary. If you want to be underground, look into using a root cellar or fortifying your home to make it as safe as possible. You could use the money you save on a bunker to buy a small chunk of land in the middle of nowhere and achieve a level of safety as well.
12. Tricked Out Bug Out Vehicle
Again, it would be great to spend fifty-grand beefing up a rig that will transport you and your family to your next location, but is it feasible? You can achieve the same thing with an old, ugly vehicle that you’ve put in the work to make sure it runs.
13. Expensive Hiking Backpacks
The expensive packs that are marketed to survivalists are really unnecessary. Sadly, the majority of people prepping to survive an apocalyptic event aren’t really prepared to hike fifty miles carrying seventy pounds of gear. Therefore, you don’t need a huge, internal frame pack. Pack what you can carry and nothing more.
14. Brand New Cookware
Shiny new cast iron cookware is pretty but it’s just as good as used cast iron pots and pans. Cast iron is expensive because it can last for decades when properly cared for. Again, look for secondhand cookware that’s been taken care of and will last you another twenty years.
15. Emergency Blankets
Just no. These are cool for packing in a bugout bag, but don’t waste a bunch of money putting them into your stockpile. They are flimsy, noisy and won’t last more than a couple of nights. You can spend ten bucks on a used blanket that’s going to last a lot longer and provide more warmth.
16. Sporks and Camping Utensils
Camping gear is the bees knees when it comes to prepping for survival. However, it’s overpriced and unnecessary. You don’t need to anything more than cutlery. This applies to coffee cups, plates and so on. The dishes you have in your house right now are going to work just fine after a collapse.
17. Yurts, Large Tents and So On
You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on tents with rooms big enough to have a party in. First of all, if you are storing the tent in your house, why leave? If you have to leave, how are you going to carry one of those massive tents? You can build a great shelter with a tarp and what you find in the environment you’re setting up camp.
18. Waterproof Matches
A container in your bugout bag is a good idea, but they are expensive and not a guarantee. You get one use out of a match when you could get fifty or more out of flint steel or even a lighter. Why not buy a ten-pack of cheap Bic’s and carry those around?
19. HAM Radio Setups
You need an antenna, which can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands. You need to know which direction to face your antenna to connect with someone who may or may not have their radio on and their antenna functioning.
20. Security Systems
Most systems require electricity and internet. If those go down, your cameras and alarms fail. Learn some very rudimentary alarm systems that require no power. Learn how to secure your home with landscaping options.
21. Radiation Detection Tools
Geiger counters are expensive. If you’re worried about radiation, it’s best to err on the side of caution and assume it’s bad. To check levels would require you to expose yourself to the radiation which just opens up another can of worms when it comes to proper gear and the ability to adequately remediate the radiation.
22. Expensive Survival Footwear
A good, sturdy pair of boots doesn’t have to cost more than a hundred bucks. You don’t need to spend a lot more than that. Your footwear is important, but if you have to choose between food and boots, food is more important. Find a good boot that will provide ankle support, foot support and good traction.
23. Faraday Cages
Simply put, make your own. These are some of the most basic things you can make with very few supplies. Don’t waste your money buying one with a bunch of bells and whistles that don’t offer any real benefit.
24. GPS Devices
It’s All About Your Budget
This list is not comprehensive and some people may have their own ideas about what is necessary and what isn’t. You know your budget. If money is not a factor, by all means, blow it on the cool stuff that will keep you comfy. For everyone else, prioritize food, water purification and shelter. Being handy and resourceful is one of the most valuable skills you can have.
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