Preparing for emergencies is about accumulating the knowledge, supplies, and tools to handle whatever life may throw at you next. A power outage that lasts a few days, or a flood that requires you to evacuate for several days is just a temporary situation.
Temporary emergencies are easier to handle because you can simply “muddle through” for a few days with the supplies you stockpiled.
When you return home, the real work begins. That’s when it’s time to start the repair or rebuilding of anything that was damaged by the storm, looters, fire, etc. so life can get back to normal. And sometimes a temporary emergency unexpectedly turns into an extended crisis.
A power outage caused by an EMP, for example, could damage the power grid to such an extent that rebuilding it could take not just months but years. In a scenario where there is no power grid or any government services or aid for a year or more, you’ll need more than knowledge and supplies. You’ll need hand tools and equipment to do things yourself that you may have purchased or paid to have done in the past.
So, given that an extended SHTF situation could happen at some point in the future, we’ve put together a recommended list of essential tools and gear for long-term survival. The multi-use tools are a great list to start accumulating.
These are the tools that can be used for multiple things every day but especially following a SHTF event. The second part of this article lists common tools used for different categories of tasks such as plumbing, auto repair, carpentry, farming, etc.
Whether you need to pry a lock or move fallen trees, fix a fence, repair a roof, rehang gutters, replace plumbing or test electrical systems, these multi-tools will make things a lot easier.
But even this list of essential tools and gear isn’t complete, we’ve listed additional categories of tools in the last part of this article that pertains to specialty tasks such as making ammo, beekeeping, welding, meat processing, etc.
Below are some essential tools and gear to have on hand in a SHTF scenario because you can use them for a variety of different tasks around the home and yard to make repairs and rebuild following a disaster. Your experience level may dictate how many different types of each tool you select.
When buying multi-use tools, do your research and pay a little more if needed to get a quality tool that will be durable and last a long time. If possible have multiples so if one breaks, you have a replacement on hand.
- Screwdriver Set
- Adjustable wrenches (crescent, monkey, strap wrench)
- Socket Set
- Pliers (needle nose, lineman’s, Channellock)
- Measuring tape
- Box cutter/Utility Knife
- Putty Knife
- Duct Tape & Masking tape
- Pry Bar
- 18 Volt Cordless Drill Combo Kit (18-volt drill with light, reciprocating saw, radio, flashlight) Batteries from previous drills can be interchangeable.
- Halligan Tool for breaching doors. (30 inches and all one piece is best)
- Hand drill
- Allen Wrench/Hex Keys
- Staple gun and staples
- Pop rivet tool and assorted pop-rivets
- Grommet tool with grommets
- Tin Snips
- Packing Tape
- WD-40 (use as a lubricant, preventative for rust and corrosion, loosen bolts or parts, clean/protect firearms, etc.)
- Various hoses (for gardening, rainwater collection, etc.)
- Assorted caulking and adhesives (gorilla glue, window caulk, spray foam insulation, etc.)
- Chainsaw and maintenance supplies
- Steel wool
- Assorted bolts, nuts, washers
- Propane Torch good for soldering copper pipe (sweating pipe) Comes with electric igniter so more fire- starting power than a cigarette lighter.
- Sharpening stones or diamond sharpener
- Glass cutter, glass breaker
- Portable battery or solar powered air compressor
- Flat black spray paint
- Zip ties
- Vice grips
- Heavy work gloves
- Rope, baling twine, paracord
- Oxygen/Acetylene Torch is versatile enough to cut steel chains, bolts, locks, etc. Do not require electricity. Can be used to weld, braze, bend, and shape steel to let you salvage car parts, fix fencing, etc. Can also melt gold, silver, and iron.
Cooking & Household
When gathering your tools and equipment for cooking and household, think about the tasks and chores that you do daily and what tools or equipment you use to get those things done. In a long-term grid down situation, you will need to plan for alternative ways to cook other than the traditional stove/oven.
A power outage means you may need to invest in a wood-fired cook stove, propane stove, and propane supply, or even build an outdoor brick oven.
- Pressure canner
- Cast iron loaf pans
- Various knives (fillet, boning, skinning, paring)
- Solar oven
- Solar Dehydrator or homemade drying racks
- Food-grade barrels for rain water collection and storage
- Tripod and hanging chain
- Cast iron grate or wood stove
- Dutch oven and cast iron pots and skillets
- Heat resistant/fireproof gloves or mitts
- Lamps and lamp oil
- Mortar & pestle
- Washboard and Tub
- Safety pins and bobby pins
- Clothespins and clothesline
- Fine mesh screen
- Utility Scissors
- Knife sharpener
- Mop and Wringer Bucket
- Treadle Sewing Machine
- Tape Measure & Sewing Supplies (thread, needles, patches, material)
- Eyeglass repair kit
- Crazy glue/super glue
- Solar panel system with replacement parts
- Pressurized Water or PW can (refillable if air and water available. Used for dousing small fires)
Carpentry Repairs and Building
At a minimum, you will need basic carpentry skills to repair damaged walls, protect windows from damage or secure them from looters.
Chances are in a long-term survival situation your house and outbuildings will be damaged, or you may need to build a temporary or permanent shelter for your family or livestock. The tools and equipment below will help you be prepared to handle any of these tasks that may come up.
- Aluminum Level (four foot or longer for framing)
- Wood saw
- Stud Finder
- Framing square
- Speed square
- Assorted wood clamps
- Assorted nails (16 D, 10D, 8D framing nails)
- screws (deck rather than drywall)
- OSB or plywood sheets (walls 7/16” thick, floors ¾” thick) Most sheets are 4×8 and work well for covering windows too.
- Lumber (common used sizes are 2×4, 2×6, 2×8, 2×10)
- Wood plane
- Froe (for shaping rough lumber)
- Marking pencils
- Chalk Line/Box and supply of chalk
- Saw horses
- Plumb Bob –weight on a string used to identify true vertical or “”
Even though public utilities may not be in service, with the right tools and equipment, you can rig your plumbing system to bring water in from a nearby source and to route it back out of your home, so you don’t have to resort to bathing and washing dishes in the creek.
- Pipe Cutter
- Pipe Flaring Tool
- Teflon tape
- Plumbing tape
- Plumbing fittings
- Plumbers putty
- Assorted clamps and elbows
- Pipe Auger and reamer (to make wooden pipe)
- Spare pipe (copper, iron, PVC, etc.)
If you are prepared enough to have quantities of gasoline and other fuels for your car/truck and tractor, you will also need to prepare to maintain those vehicles. Below is a suggested list of tools and equipment to have on hand:
- Feeler Gauges
- Ball peen hammer
- Block & Tackle Set
- Tap and die set
- Brake-flaring toolkit
- Spare brake line
- Punch set
- Star Key/Torx wrench
- Jack and jack stand
- Spare tires
- Torque Wrench
- Liquid Wrench/PB
- Manual Flammable Liquid Pump
- Spare fuses, spark plugs, extra fluids
- Spark plug puller
- Grease gun
- Oil filter wrench
- Oil and air filters
- Spare gas cans
- Assorted clamps
After a long-term power outage, there’s a good chance that many of the circuits and wirings in your home or bug out location are shorted or burned out. You may need to do more than just replace light bulbs and flip a switch to get your power back.
Since everyone in your area is in the same situation, you won’t want to be stuck waiting for a repair person to get around to your neighborhood. If you are handy enough, there may be some things you can repair on your own to get you through if you have the tools on hand.
- Electrical Tape
- Voltage detector
- Wire cutters
- Wire Strippers
- Wiring kit (tester, assorted fuses, and wire, solderless terminal)
Farming / Fencing / Livestock
In a long-term survival situation, there’s a good chance that you will need to install or at least repair fencing or make repairs to various outbuildings to keep your livestock and future food source secure from predators of both the human and animal variety.
If you have lumber on hand life will be a bit easier, but it’s a good idea to prepare to fell trees and produce lumber that can be used. There will also be various chores to be done to care for livestock and your garden.
- Bolt Cutter
- Assorted Shovels (snow, flat, scoop, etc.)
- Ax (splitting ax, chopping ax, etc.)
- Bow saw
- Crosscut saw (two-person)
- Assorted rakes (plastic, metal)
- Hand Plow
- Hand trowel
- Wheelbarrow and/or cart
- Harvest Apron
- Manual log splitter
- Fruit Press
- Scythe (long-handled)
- Sickle (short-handled)
- Come-along (lifting heavy items, securing loads on vehicle, pulling vehicle out of mud or ditch)
- Post-hole digger
Additional Tools and Gear for Long-Term Survival
If you’re not yet overwhelmed by the above lists, there are many more tools you may need depending on the details of your SHTF plan for long-term survival. Further research may be needed into the essential tools and gear needed for additional specialty areas such as:
- Gunsmithing (bullet puller, brass extractor, rubber mallet, pin/nail punch, etc.)
- Canning (mason jars, lids, rings, jar lifter, pressure canner, etc.)
- Fruit and Nut Orchard picking equipment
- Beekeeping (smoker, jacket, veil, gloves, bee brush)
- Candle making
- Meat processing (meat saw, bone saw, sausage stuffer, meat grinder, etc.)
- Sheep shearing (shears, carding combs and paddles, spinning wheel, etc.)
- Soap making
- Tanning, leatherworking, and furrier tools (Skinning knife, hide scraper, sewing awl, drying rack, etc.)
- Blacksmithing tools (leather apron, hoof pick, rasp, anvil, gloves, etc.)
- Metal casting tools
- Glass making
- Cobbler/harness making
The tools and gear you need from these lists will largely depend on the knowledge and skills you have accumulated.
If you don’t know the first thing about repairing a car/truck, then you wouldn’t know what to do with a torque wrench or spark plug puller even if you had one handy.
If you have a survival network or group, assign categories to different members and keep a comprehensive inventory.