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Whether you’re stocking up your bug out location or gathering items to store at home for an emergency, you may think “new” is always the best choice. However, you can buy many high-quality yet used survival items for a fraction of the price.
If you’re patient, persistent, and a little bit lucky, you might score some brand-new or barely used survival items online or at flea markets, thrift stores, and yard sales.
Here are 16 survival items that you should always buy used.
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1. Cast Iron Cookware
Century-old cast iron pans still exist for a good reason. They are almost indestructible. Cast iron pots and pans are perfect for cooking over a campfire or on a grill. Yet many people don’t know how to clean them and end up giving away perfectly good cookware.
Don’t let the rust on an otherwise solid cast iron Dutch oven, soup pot, or frying pan scare you away. Here are instructions on how to clean and reseason rusted cast iron.
Quality tools are expensive. However, you often can find excellent bargains at estate sales, garage sales, and Facebook Marketplace. Although shipping can get costly on heavier tools, you can find a selection of used tools on eBay as well.
Do your homework ahead of time so you know what the device sells for in new condition. Avoid tools that are rusted. And, if it runs on a battery pack, test it out. Sometimes the cost of a new battery pack can negate your savings. This video offers some tips for purchasing used tools.
Most thrift stores and yard sales have a good supply of flashlights for sale, and you often can find some quality ones for a very low price. The key here is to test it out before buying. If it doesn’t have batteries, ask the store or the person running the sale if they have any extra batteries.
Another option is to bring some batteries with you when you shop for flashlights. After you’ve seen that a flashlight works, check for signs of corrosion and rust. Also, make sure the seals around the batteries and the bulbs are intact. Here are some other tips for buying used flashlights.
4. Portable Radio
When the power is down and your data is fading, a portable radio can be a lifesaver. You can tune in to a local station for weather updates and evacuation notices, for example.
Also, keep an eye out for used CB and HAM radios and walkie-talkies. As with any electronics, ask to test them out first before buying. If you happen to come across a hand-cranked one, snap it up quick.
Some people spend a lot of money on camping gear and then use it only once. That’s why you can sometimes score some gently used tents. When considering the purchase of a used tent, examine it carefully for mold, rips and tears, broken zippers, or missing stakes.
6. Winter Outerwear
If you plan ahead and hunt for them during the warm weather months, you can find some gently used coats, snow pants, gloves, boots, and scarves to keep you warm in an emergency. Make sure all the zippers work and check for rips and tears that can’t be easily mended.
7. Rain Gear
Similarly, yard sales and thrift stores can be sources for good quality rain jackets, ponchos, and boots. Become a label reader and look for brands you know and trust for their water resiliency. (FYI — “waterproof” beats “water-resistant.”)
8. Barrels and Buckets
Don’t waste your money on new barrels and buckets when so many people either give them away or sell them at low prices. However, for health and safety purposes, be careful to ask what was previously stored in the containers. Only use food-grade buckets to store food.
9. Gardening Supplies
Make a list of your gardening needs when you head to an estate sale or a yard sale. Look for quality rakes, shovels, hoes, and tillers. Other items that can add up when purchased new include planter boxes, hoses, and tarps.
Look for used wool and thermal blankets to help stay warm in an emergency. Look for rips and tears first, and remember you can wash them when you get home if they smell musty.
11. Sleeping Bags
You’ll want a sleeping bag for each family member, but you don’t need to buy them new. Check online and in thrift stores for gently used sleeping bags. Inspect them carefully for rips and tears and test all zippers. Read the labels for the best temperature ratings.
12. Camp Stoves
A quick look on eBay for used camping stoves yielded plenty of results. Be sure to check the reviews of both the product and the seller and choose stoves you can return if you are unsatisfied.
13. Multipurpose Tool
Your first step is to educate yourself on the features you want in a multi-function tool or pocket knife. Also, be up to speed on the prices of new models.
This article offers some important tips when shopping for used versions of this essential survival item. Also, be on the lookout for gently used sharpening stones or steel to keep your valuable knives in shape.
14. Canning Jars
Mason jars can be used for many purposes on the homestead, but you don’t need to buy them new. Garage sales, estate sales, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and thrift stores are all good places to look for used canning jars. Be sure to inspect used jars for any chips or cracks and use the money you save for purchasing new lids.
You won’t be able to watch YouTube videos on how to make or fix things if the internet is down and the power is off. That’s why it makes good sense to purchase how-to books and manuals on survival topics.
You can find some incredible buys on used books online and at yard sales and thrift stores. Books are also great for keeping your family’s minds occupied during an emergency scenario. Shop for classic literature and novels for each member of the household.
Used board games and puzzles are another kind of survival item to consider. Look for sealed boxes for puzzles, and ask if you can inspect that all the playing pieces are in the board game box and that they are in good condition.
When it comes to preparing for an emergency, you don’t need to sacrifice quality in order to stay on a budget. By taking the time to shop for used things, you may be able to get better quality items than you ever thought you could afford.
Here’s a final word of advice, though. Don’t buy something just because it’s inexpensive. Buy it because it is something worthwhile that you need – and it just happens to have a great price.
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