Do It Yourself DIY Survival Gear

If you’re new to prepping, one thing to keep in mind is that there is a ton of gear and supplies out there that you can spend your money on, unless you learn how to make homemade survival gear. There are plenty of items that you can make yourself fairly inexpensively. DIY items will often work just fine for what you need to survive and you can avoid spending your hard earned money on store bought items.

We’re going to cover several ways to make basic equipment, to meet your basic needs in a survival situation. Basic needs include things like fresh drinking water, a way to cook and stay warm, shelter, food, tools, and medicine. In some examples, you’ll need to make the item in advance, other times you can use what you find in nature or your environment to make the gear.

Clean drinking water is critical in a survival or grid down situation. Most individuals can only survive 3 days without water. You may not always be able to find clean water in a SHTF situation. So you want to have in your BOB several ways to access, prefilter and purify water.

PVC Hand Pump

If you’re at all handy or know someone with some basic power tools, you can make your own PVC Water Pump. This hand pump will allow you to access water from a well or, if you strap it onto your bug out bag, you could technically use it to get water from any other well that you may come across while bugging out. Obviously, this is an item you make yourself in advance to have on hand when you actually need it.

Make Your Own Char Cloth

Make char cloth in advance to carry with you for fire starting. Use a small metal container that can be tightly sealed, such as an altoid tin. Poke a small hole with a nail to let smoke escape. If the hole is too big, oxygen will get inside and your cloth will catch fire. Use a loosely woven cloth that is 100% cotton, cut it up, and place it inside. Place the tin onto hot coals until it stops smoking. Let it sit until it coals off. Once you open it, you’ll have your char cloth to carry in your BOB.

Make Your Own Hand Warmers

You might want to make your own hand warmer recipe to have on hand for colder weather. There are different variations and the store bought ones are definitely more convenient but may not be available post-SHTF. If you stockpile the proper materials or can forage them in an urban environment, you can make your own handwarmers or even use them for bartering.

You will need to stockpile or scavenge for iron filings, powder, or shavings, about 25 grams per recipe. You will also need 1 gram of salt. Combine these two ingredients in a plastic bag or other container and mix well. Add about 1 tablespoon of charcoal or sawdust and mix again. Store this mixture in an air tight glass container until you need it.

When you need to warm your hands, simply transfer the mixture into a plastic bag, Add in 1 teaspoon of water. Make sure the bag is tightly sealed. Squeeze and shake. It should start to warm. Place bag inside mittens or pockets.

DIY Penny Can Stove

Instead of spending hard earned money on a rocket stove or fancy Coleman camp stove, you can make your own penny can stove and store it in your BOB.

To make a penny can stove you will need the following things:

  • Two aluminum cans
  • Scissors or tin snips to cut them.
  • A permanent marker or other way of marking your cutting lines.
  • A nail or punch to poke holes.
  • Silicon based sealant.
  • A file or sanding block to smooth the cut edges of the cans after they are cut.
  • A thick flat surface and a thin flat surface to use for marking your cans for cutting.
  • A penny
  • Denatured alcohol or other fuel source

Build your stove in advance as demonstrated in this video:

After you’ve built your penny can stove and tested it out, all you need to carry in your BOB is your penny can stove and some fuel.

Water Distiller

Any prepper who wants to make sure they are prepared to keep themselves and their family members hydrated needs to make or at least know how to make a water distiller. In the event that well water or other fresh drinking water is inaccessible, you can use condensation to clean contaminated water.

You will need a heat source (stove, campfire, rocket stove, etc.), a stainless steel teapot, a piece of rubber coupler and clamps, a piece of copper tubing and fittings to size. See this video for a demonstration:

Keep in mind that in a bug out or survival situation, you can also make a solar water distiller using an aluminum can to hold your “dirty” water and a plastic bottle as demonstrated in this video:

You can also make your own water filter from a plastic bottle and materials you gather.

Simple Solar Cooking

There are several styles of simple solar ovens, a heat trap or box type, a parabolic type, and the Fresnel lens type. In the box type solar oven, the heat gets trapped inside the box using insulation, absorption, and a reflector. Most of what you need for the box type solar oven could be found in an urban survival situation.

Primitive Tools

If you get in the habit of carrying paracord along with some super glue in your BOB, you can use these to make a variety of primitive tools in the wilderness, such as fishing spears and stone tomahawks, that will help you catch small game for food. See this video for a brief demonstration on putting together a tomahawk:

In a pinch, you can even make your own axe blade:

Natural Rope

Rope or cordage is such an important piece of your survival gear, it’s unlikely that you would intentionally get into a situation where you don’t have paracord or something else with you. But it could happen, so it’s important to know where you can find materials in the wilderness to make it if needed.

Dry bark from the inside of most trees is a workable material to make cordage; it’s better if you can find trees with dead bark. Look for trees such as ash, oak, maple, elm, or cedar. You’re looking for the fibrous layer which is found between the bark of the tree and the wood. If you find it difficult to strip the fibrous material, soak strips of bark in boiling water to make it easier to pull the fibers apart.

Once you have the strips, roll or twist them together between your hands or against your thigh. You can usually strip dogbane and milkweed stalks in this way also. Other plants, like cattails and nettles may have to be pounded with a rounded stone first but the process is similar. Short pieces will be sufficient to use for most things. Make sure you read up on details of how to enhance strength and how to weave several shorter pieces together. And practice making natural cordage before you get into a survival situation.

Simple DIY Net

A net is something that could really come in handy in a survival situation. You can use it not only to bundle firewood or other items but also to catch fish or even to hang between two trees to try and catch a bird for dinner.  This video includes a great step by step demonstration of how to make a simple net:

Nets can be made from a variety of different types of cordage. It would be time consuming but in a real pinch, you could even make a net from long fibrous grasses or natural pieces of rope that you made yourself as described above.

Mortar and Pestle

This is another primitive tool but one that will come in handy if you find yourself in a survival situation without a grinder and you want to make porridge or even bread. The mortar can be carved or burnt from a large piece of branch. Just hollow it out enough to put your seeds or grains into it. You can use a knife or even a sharp rock to do the carving. The pestle is used to grind the seed or grain in the bottom of the mortar. It can be made from a large rock that is long enough to hold in your hand and is either already rounded on the bottom or that you round off using a file or another hard surface.

Pop Tab Fish Hooks

In an extended survival situation, it’s crucial to be able to find food. Your BOB can only hold a finite amount of supplies and as the weeks drag on, the amount of food you had in your BOB is going to run out. Once that happens, you need to be prepared to find food in nature.

One fairly easy thing you can find if you are anywhere near a water source like a stream or lake, is fish. Your BOB should include a fishing kit, and if you also carry pliers, tin snips, and a file in your BOB, you can always make your very own hooks from pop tabs as demonstrated here:

If you don’t have pop tabs available, you can make fish hooks from animal bone, wood, or cactus spines.

Paracord Trotline

In a SHTF scenario, there will be plenty of work to be done. Even though you may know how to fish in the traditional way or may have the gear to fish in the traditional way, you aren’t going to have time. You need a way to multi-task and catch fish while you’re busy doing something else, like starting your fire or building your shelter. You can make a trotline from paracord yourself following the instructions in this video:

Make Your Own Snare Trap

Using a snare trap is difficult to do unless you know the woods and know how animals behave and move about. You can’t just set up snares randomly in the woods and expect that to work. But if you can identify a well-used small game trail, you can make your own snare and catch food for dinner:

Look for animal dung, tracks, burrow entrances, and well-traveled trails from nest to the water’s edge. It’s definitely a skill that must be practiced before you have to count on it to survive.

You can make the noose for the trap from any type of cordage, but wire is best. Use copper wire, wire from headphones or electronics, or even the wire from your bra! It must be strong enough to hold the weight of a 5-8lb animal that is panicked, jumping, and twisting. If you’re really dedicated, you can learn to make snares from plants in the area such as cattails, cedar or elm trees, or milkweed.

Medicine and First Aid

In a bug out or long term SHTF scenario, access to medical care is going to be sporadic if it’s available at all. As a smart prepper, one of the things you have to learn  is medicine and first aid. Inevitably, yourself or someone in your group will become ill or get injured. The more you know in advance and prepare, the better you will be able to help them.

Even if you’re not looking to make your own medicine, you should still assemble your own first aid kits with over-the-counter medication.

Herbal Remedies

There are several herbs you will want to have growing in your herb garden post-SHTF. It doesn’t hurt to start now either. Growing herbs and making your own medicinal remedies will save you tons of money on doctor co-pays. Do some research about herbal and essential oil remedies and know how to find what you need or re-purpose supplies you may already have on hand.

You may have heard of Echinacea and may have even bought this herbal remedy in the store. Did you know it grows in the Eastern and Central U.S.? It’s a beautiful purple coneflower which you will often find growing in open wooded areas or fields. You can grow them yourself in full sun and well-drained soil. It’s great for cold and flu symptoms, it’s an immune system booster.

St. John’s Wort is another plant you will want to have on hand. It’s a perennial but it has a wide range of medicinal uses including anti-viral and anti-inflammatory. It is also used as an astringent and has been used to treat urinary health issues and nervous system problems, including depression.

We can’t possibly list all the herbs and their medicinal uses here but suffice it to say you should know which herbs can be grown in your local area, be able to identify them growing in the wild, and know how to use them to treat someone who is ill or injured if a professional doctor is unavailable.

The more you know about how to make survival items yourself, the better your chances are of survival in a prolonged SHTF scenario. When you’re done building these tools, perhaps you’d be interested in making your own weapons as well? Much more exciting.

Do you have an item that you’ve made yourself that works well?  Share it in the comments below.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Megan Stewart

Born and raised in NE Ohio, with early memories that include grandpa teaching her to bait a hook and watching her mom, aunts, and grandmothers garden, sew, and can food, Megan is a true farm girl at heart. For Megan, the 2003 blackout, the events of 911, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, spurred a desire to be more prepared for whatever may come along. Soon to be living off-grid, this mother of four and grandmother of six grandsons, is learning everything she can about preparedness, basic survival, and self-sufficient homesteading. She is passionate about sharing that knowledge so that others can be increasingly prepared to protect their families.

3 comments

  1. Wow! Lots of excellent ideas!

  2. I prefer articles that I can print out. Videos are not useful to me.

  3. Same here, I need printed materials, not videos!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *