The world will end someday, likely when the sun fries the Earth in a few billion years. If the end comes before that though, you can better your survival odds by packing the right gear. As the Boy Scouts say, "Be prepared." " - Robert Fure
It's pretty commonly stated that disaster can strike at any time and that to better your odds of survival, you need to be prepared. Odds are you, like many others (and my old self-included), heard this, nodded your head, and then promptly went back to playing video games on your PS3. Perhaps if you lived in a disaster-prone area, be it Tornado Alley, Hurricane areas, or Earthquake vulnerable California you took the first basic step and assembled a few things that will keep you comfortable in the event of a power outage. Some water, some canned food maybe, but mostly flashlights and candles.
That's a fine start for the mundane, but what about the unthinkable? Pardon the punny word use, but if you think the unthinkable can't happen, think again. Every country has faced a variety of disasters that have tried their citizenry. A massive earthquake almost erased San Francisco from the map. Terrorists have attacked major cities all over the world. Hell, freaking volcanoes still explode and threaten lives.
If you're lucky, you won't ever face an epic tragedy, but if you find yourself in a strange, apocalyptic setting, taking a few precautions right now could mean surviving later. At the absolute worst, you've bought a few things you won't end up using and spent a couple of hours putting a few things together. Best case? You don't starve or get killed by a roving band of bikers in 2021.
How to get an Affordable Survival Pack
This is not your everyday earthquake kit or the kind of stuff you tuck into your overnight bag. This is an end of the world survival kit – meant to help you survive, even thrive, in all kinds of adverse conditions. While it's impossible to plan for every eventuality, or please every survivalist (I will no doubt fail to mention someone's personal most essential object), but with the things in this kit, you'll be far better off should disaster strike than if you have nothing, or if you buy some travel safety kit from an outdoors outfitter.
The Pocket Kit
This kit, assembled by Chris McNab (SFSG, 17), won't save your life during the Apocalypse, but it does fit in your pocket. Having this every time you head into the wilderness, or leave your base camp, is a great idea. Essentially, this pocket kit is part of your larger kit that never leaves your side in an emergency.
- A waterproof container to house your goods
- A candle
- Flint/striker or other non-match based fire starter
- Sewing Kit
- Water purification tablets
- Signaling mirror
- Safety pins
- Wire saw
- Fishing line and hooks
- Plastic bags
- Snare wire
In the wilderness, your primary concerns are going to be water and heat – hence multiple ways of creating fire (and light) as well as ways to make drinkable water (tablets or boiling). This kit is useful to have around at all times, but for the real deal Armageddon, you're going to need a lot more stuff.
This list will be long and the descriptions relatively short. As a smart reader (we trust you) you'll probably know what the purpose of most of these items without us explaining them (you sleep in the sleeping bag). We plan to return to some of these topics in the future to provide more detail, so only the barest is given here.
Whether you’re working on buffing up your survival gear stockpile on a budget, or you’re just looking for some inexpensive survival stocking stuffer gifts to help celebrate the Christmas season, knowing which cheap survival gear is available and actually worth the dollars you’ll spend on it is a huge boon. If you can save a pretty penny while not taking too much of a hit to quality, there’s a good argument to be made for going for the cheaper alternative, especially in the case where you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford the full-fledged, more expensive piece of gear quite yet.
The law of diminishing returns makes it so that some of these items, especially in the $15-20 and $20-25 price range, are actually some of the best you can get for your money. While there are many other, more expensive alternatives, it’s hard to make the case that you’re better off spending your hard-earned cash on them when you haven’t got much cash to spare and the Mora will do absolutely great.
The Armageddon Pack
Backpack – Your backpack should be lightweight, waterproof, and comfortable to wear over long distances (SFSG, 27). It should be rugged and of decent enough capacity to hold everything you intend on carrying. I highly recommend a pack that has external webbing (PALS) or is otherwise MOLLE compliant, allowing you to attach your gear to the outside when prudent. If you find yourself in an emergency situation with gear to carry, try creating a horseshoe pack
Compass – A compass is a no-brainer and a vital tool, make sure to select one of decent quality. A compass will allow you to plot more detailed courses when used in conjunction with.
Maps – The more you know about the area, the better. When disaster strikes, you may have to flee the area and you may have to travel far. You'll be best served by having a few maps, some of your immediate area, and some of the nearby areas (ie a Southwest USA map, a Central USA Map and an Eastern USA map). Store them in waterproof ziplock bags.
A Medical Kit – Many stores will sell put together kits that can be assimilated into your bag. They should include latex gloves, tweezers, plenty of bandages, painkillers, antidiarrheals, sutures, needles, and antiseptics.
Knives – A knife is an extremely important survival tool. A proper, quality survival knife can aid in hunting, wood gathering, cooking, and defense. The sturdiest knives are fixed blade models with a full tang. Straight edges are easier to maintain in the field than serrated ones, so get either a partially or non-serrated blade. You should also keep at least one backup knife, which can be a folding knife, in case something happens to your primary knife.
A Multitool – A Multi-tool is one of the handiest tools you can have around the job site or workshop. It's just freaking useful to have.
Crowbar – When most people think survival, they think the woods, but it's not as though cities will disappear. A crowbar is your key to urban survival, and in a pinch, can be used as a climbing apparatus with the right rope.
Hatchet – Whether you need to make fire, traps, or shelter, gathering wood comes into play. You'll find a hatchet, though heavier and larger, is more durable than a pocket saw and makes gathering decent sized bits of wood a breeze.
Firearm – This is the end of the world we're talking about. Ideally, you'll already be versed in firearms (if not, seek out some training) and own two: a pistol for self-protection and a long arm for further defense and food gathering. If you can only have one weapon, a pump action shotgun is reliable and accepts a wide variety of rounds, giving you options from taking down small or large birds, small game like rabbits, or larger mammals like deer, coyotes, and whatever else lives in your area.
Ammunition – A gun is useless without bullets. Unfortunately, ammo is heavy so you won't be carrying an armory with you, but 50-100 rounds of pistol ammunition and as much shotgun ammunition (of varying shot loads) as you can comfortably fit/carry is recommended.
Collapsible Shovel – Compact and useful for digging fire pits, shelters, and can even be used as a frying pan if cleaned.
Water Purification – The most compact purification system are iodine tablets, though if you think you'll be traveling with a group (roommates, friends, family), you may want to consider carrying a water purification jug and filter. This comes in especially handy in long-term survival, where you may establish a base camp for days or weeks. When necessary, water can also be purified.
Water Storage – Lugging around a 40lb jug isn't entirely feasible, so in between camp locations, you'll need a canteen.
Collapsible Tent – Carrying a collapsible tent prevents you from having to create new shelter every night. With modern materials, you can find lightweight tents that fit four and fold down into a 24x6x6 area, which can easily be attached to the exterior of your bag. If you don't want to carry a tent, you can try making one of these.
Fire – You should have many ways of starting a fire. A couple packs of strike anywhere match, a five-pack of Bic lighters, and a magnesium block and striker will keep your business for a very long time. Cotton balls or, ahem, tampons, make great fire starting material.
Climbing Rope – You can never have enough rope. Climbing rope is rated to handle both heavyweights and shock forces. Combined with climbing carabiners (not those junky keychain ones), 50-100 feet of rope can come in very handy when navigating tricky areas. I keep a length of rope that has a knot and carabiner already attached to one end.
General Purpose Rope – Great for pending shelters, making rafts, dragging and lifting game, creating traps, and many more things, you'll want to have plenty of non-climbing rope (not rated for shock) for general uses. Paracord is popular, strong, and relatively inexpensive.
Knot Tying Guide – You can either learn a ton of knots or pick up a small plastic card set that tells you how to tie a bunch of different knots. It's not the first thing that pops into your mind when you think survival.
Socks/Underwear – Unfortunately you're probably going to be stuck wearing the same clothes, day in, day out, but having dry clothing reserves is a smart idea to prevent infections, especially in the feet and groin.
Food – While you won't be able to live out of your pack, it is wise to keep some long-lasting, energy dense food in your pack to help get you through lean times. Dried pinto beans just need to be boiled, while tinned meats can be eaten straight away. Nuts, chocolate, and peanut butter are also calorie dense for energy and many can be doubled as bait for animals if necessary.
Appropriate Clothing – This depends on where you are and where you're heading, but even in the heat, you'll want lightweight layers that can protect your skin from exposure, keep you warm at night, but not be sweltering during the day.
Bandannas – Wrapped over the head they protect from the sun, over the mouth they protect from dust or soaked in water they can keep you cool. Also capable of serving as bandages and bindings. Or signaling which marauding tribe you've joined. (Just kidding.)
Gloves – In cold climates, you'll want gloves to keep your hands warm, though in all climates a pair of leather work gloves can protect your hands and fingers from cuts and splinters while chopping wood.
Waterproofing – With either garbage bags or a tarp, you can create a waterproof pack or impromptu shelter. Garbage bags are wise to have regardless of whether or not you've decided to pack a tent.
Radio – A hand crank radio for tuning into emergency stations is a great idea and a multiple band CB handheld may enable you to make contact with others nearby. Or, if you think you'll be part of a group, radios for several members can make hunting and travel safer and easier.
A Survival Book – Let's be honest, unless you spend a great deal of time training and studying to build fires, shelters, and snares, you're not going to remember any of it when disaster strikes. Buy a decent survival guide that fits in your pack.
There are many things to take into consideration when you are choosing the right camping essentials to bring along with you on your next trip. To prepare you to make these choices, it’s a good idea to know what you should expect. First, if you want high-quality gear, then you can’t just grab any cheap camping gear you find on the shelf—and take our word for it, when you’re in the wilderness, you’ll be glad you shelled out the extra bucks. After checking out our reviews, you will know exactly what to look for and where to look for it.
Choosing the more inexpensive route or forgetting everything that you’ll need to bring along with you on your next weekend getaway to the great outdoors could be a trip-ruining or even a dangerous mistake. Getting the best camping gear and accessories, and then caring for them adequately, is essential to your safety and the success of your trip. Doing this ensures a much happier time surrounded with your friends or loved ones.
Of course, spending the right amount of money isn’t the only concern that should be on your mind. You should also be thinking about the type of trip you plan to have. There are endless options for camping supplies and accessories out there, and you couldn’t possibly bring—or need—them all. Consider the types of activities and terrain you will be in to make the right call.
You should be asking yourself, “In one sort of environment will we be pitching our tent?” and “What will we be doing during the day— a little bit of kayaking, hiking, or perhaps something else?” Anticipating what you will be up to is the first step in determining the types of equipment you will require.
Think about your location and the weather you are likely to experience in your region. Will you be in warmer climates with bugs swarming around you, or will you be curled up with a blanket at night struggling to keep warm? These factors are vital in choosing the right camping tools and gear for your needs. Every camping trip is different, depending on where you go, who you go with, and what you do. Keep these things in mind while making your choices.
The biggest things on your mind when purchasing accessories and supplies for surviving the outdoors should be first, safety and comfort, and second, fun. You want to make sure that you get home unscathed first of all, but there’s no point venturing into the great outdoors for a weekend if you’re not going to have fun, either.
By buying selloffs and promotions in bulk and avoiding the overhead costs of physical stores (leases, employees, bills, etc.) discount gear websites are able to offer incredibly cheap travel and outdoor gear. Seriously. You can find good brand-name products for 40-80% off on these websites on any given day.
I shop almost exclusively at these stores these days. More and more of these stores have sprung up in recent years, but some are much better than others, so I’ve kept a list of the best ones. This is it.
There are three general kinds of discount gear websites:
- Big stores with a wide variety of cheap gear (think an online department store). These are great for the casual shopper looking for a deal or shopping for gifts.
- Sport specific stores where you can find discounts on those hard to find widgets and knick-knacks specific to your favorite sport.
- Stores that offer limited-time sell-offs. These are the hardcore bargain hunters who are willing to snatch a deal when it comes up. Limited-time offer stores usually require you to sign up and then email you about each new limited-time deal. It’s more work, but also one of the best ways to find the most outstanding deals.
Regardless, you can save a lot of money and still get quality brand-name gear. Check out these shops and the only reason you’ll ever visit a mall again is to try things on for size (before you go home and order them).
Places you can Find all kinds of Affordable Surviving Gears
These ones are big stores with a huge variety — kind of like Costcoostco of cheap gear.
As we all know, Amazon, being the biggest marketplace in the world, has everything from A to Z. You can find a huge variety of Surviving gears from Branded to imported.
Backcountry.com may be the biggest of all the discount online retailers. They have everything from skis and snowboarding equipment to tents to climbing gear. I head straight to the clearance bins (the link is in the top navigation bar) for as much as 70% off.
Most of us have heard of REI, so I won’t go into detail about them. This sporting goods behemoth requires no explanation. Most of the website is just their normal store. But, there are lots of deals as well.
Sierra Trading Post has a wide variety of gear including that used for most outdoor sports, but they also sell luggage, electronics, and even golf accessories. They advertise 35 – 70% off retail prices.
Altrec is an all-around outdoors retailer selling all manner of clothing and gear for travel, hiking, running, surfing, cycling, kayaking, yoga, climbing, skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. I love this website and often find items I can’t find elsewhere.
This is another behemoth shop with all manner of outdoors gear. Be careful when you enter. I almost bought a new surfboard 10 minutes ago just browsing. The Best Deals: The top navigation bar of the site has a ‘Sales’ button on the left. Use at your own peril.
This Portland-based store is not just for climbers, as the name might imply. They have up to 15 different limited-time sales, generally running for three to seven days, with goods ranging from luggage, to watches, to sport-specific gear usually for 40 – 70% off. And they say that they have Adventures (trips I assume) coming soon.
Planet Gear has sells products for about one-week at a time and usually have six to eight offers on any given day. Their prices range from about 40 – 70% below retail.
Steep and Cheap has outdoors and snow sport-related gear on sale one item at a time. They sell until the current item is gone, and then post a new one.
Chainlove is like Steep and Cheap–one deal at a time–except they sell bike-related stuff.
With the tagline “Surf, Skate, and Snow. Cheaper Than Your Mom.” how could you not love these guys? Their wares are geared towards a young alternative crowd. They have one deal on at a time for non-members, but if you sign up (free) they usually have another six to ten deals at any given time.
Wilderness living is about cooperating with others, including all the living beings on the land that sustain life.
Remember the most important survival skill is your knowledge. Educate yourself on how to survive in the wilderness by taking classes from experienced bushcraft practitioners and survival schools. Nothing beats learning directly from an experienced instructor and practicing with their coaching.