There are always obvious items to save for survival situations. Of course you want to hoard dry food, water, weapons, and tools. However, some of the best survival items are not nearly as obvious.
When putting a pack together or hoarding items, I like to think of at least three purposes for each item. This rule eliminates many of the supplies listed on most websites.
In this article I will cover the strange, surprising, and even the embarrassing items that could save your life.
Obviously books are good for reading, but even old romance novels have a purpose. Books are great for creating hiding cubbies. You can hollow out the inside of the pages and store valuable items.
The pages are also great for tinder. You can use the pages for toilet paper if needed. In a pinch you can even tape a couple layers of books across your chest for a makeshift bulletproof vest.
These are a great utensil in the wild because they work for almost any food. In addition, you can break them up for tinder in your fire. You can also use a knife or pencil sharpener to sharpen the point and create a weapon.
You should always have a handful of various sizes with you. The uses are endless.
You can create fish hooks, tweezers to remove splinters or ticks, a quick repair for torn clothing, a finger splint, an easy attachment when building a tarp shelter, a method with which to close a severe wound, and a quick fire starter if you have a battery.
Just spread out the metal ends and touch one end to each terminal.
At first glance this seems obvious, but it is very rarely mentioned on prepper lists.
With limited water and no fire department, a fire extinguisher would definitely be needed for safety. It also is a solid blunt object for a weapon, and the spray can blind intruders and allow you to escape.
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Razor Scooters, Wagons, and Strollers
They may seem like toys for kids, but they can be helpful for adults. Scooters are great to bring with you when bugging out to cover more distance.
Wagons and strollers are perfect to haul gear, injured, people, or small children. They can also be disassembled and the parts have multiple uses.
These are getting to be more common, but they still do not get enough attention on prepper lists.
They are handy for securing gear, building a shelter, hanging food in trees, securing fencing or plants in a garden, and if needed secure the hands or feet of intruders.
Many police forces and security companies use them in place of or in addition to handcuffs.
Soda cans are great for many reasons. The tab can be cut and used for a fish hook. Cans can be cut to make containers for boiling and drinking water. They can be cut to create a mini stove for cooking.
Sharp pieces of tin or aluminum can be used to create weapons. The bottom of an aluminum can could be polished and used to reflect light and start a fire.
If you cut the top off of a can, line the inside with honey, and put some seed or bread in the bottom you can trap birds. Secure it on its side and small birds will go in for the bait but cannot back out. Cans can also be buried outside scorpion holes to trap them for food.
Wire can be used to make deadly snare traps. It can be used with a battery to start a fire and can put a loop on containers so they are easier to pull out of the fire.
With a couple sticks you can make a lethal weapon. It is also easier to secure a shelter with wire instead of cordage if your hands are cold and numb. You also never know when you will need to repair electrical items like radios or lights.
It is not a good idea to wear clothes in the wild with gaping holes, but it can be used for many other items. Pieces of torn cloth can be used to patch other clothes. Zippers, buttons, and snaps can be removed for other items.
Torn clothes can be sewn into bags for carrying other items or can be made into blankets.
Strips of cloth can be fashioned into wicks or fuses and can be converted into char cloth. It also comes in handy for bandages if you are injured, and cloth makes a much better toilet paper than the alternative… pine cones.
It is a little girly, but panty hose can be worn under your socks to prevent blisters. It also helps with ticks, chiggers, thorns, and poison ivy.
Panty hose can be used to make a fishing net or for a water filter. It also helps with mosquitoes if they are bad. I have even put it over my face at night to keep them off of me.
These take up very little space. Garbage bags can carry anything from food to clothing to even water if needed.
If you trap air inside and tie off the end it can make a float for fishing or for a lifejacket. If you stuff one with dry grass or leaves it can make a soft, warm cushion for sleeping.
Of course this helps with dental hygiene, but it has so many more uses. Floss can be fishing line, it can be cordage for a shelter, or it can be stitches if you have a wound.
You can wrap it around a stick and create a fire-starter. Waxed floss is flammable.
You can plant veggies and herbs in these, but they are also great for their insulating properties. Use two pots with some wet sand in-between to make a makeshift refrigerator.
As the water evaporates it will cool the inside. You can also line the inside with hot coals to make a clay oven.
You may be ready to throw away that broken bottle, but it has many uses. It can be used as-is for a weapon, or it can be formed into a better one.
By flint-napping the glass, you can make a knife blade or arrowhead. You can also form it into a lens for starting fire. If you are really good, you can even make a fish hook.
This is another girly one, but they have numerous uses. Tampons can be used to make a water filter, or for tinder to start fire. They can help stop the bleeding on a wound or can be used for a cold compress.
Foil is an item that is gaining more popularity on prepper lists, but it still needs to be mentioned. You can crumple it up to help scrape dishes, or spread out sheets to build a solar oven.
Aluminum foil can be used to signal an airplane, or to start a fire by touching it to a battery. It can be added to your fishing line to attract fish with its shimmer.
This writing implement is great for leaving temporary messages. The recipient can wipe it clean so nobody else can see it. It also absorbs moisture so it can keep metal from rusting.
Chalk dust helps repel ants and can be used to clean up grease spills. It can also ease heartburn if no other options are available.
It may be hard to find screw-on tops to bottles in the future, so having corks of varying sizes is a good idea. They can also be used as bobbers for fishing, broken up for mulch, or soaked in alcohol for fire starters.
Wide Range Thermometer
This is of course good for determining if you have a fever or if you are suffering from hypothermia or hyperthermia. However, it can also alert you to changes in air temperature to predict the weather.
It is important to cook meats to the proper interior temperature to avoid illness, so it can help with that as well.
Clear Plastic Sheets
These have multiple uses because of the principle of radiation. You can drape it over your shelter and heat from the fire outside will pass through but will be trapped inside.
You can use it for a greenhouse to convert light into warmth or can line your windows to keep your home warmer in the winter. You can even fill a cupped piece with water, tie off the top, and shape it into a lens to start a fire.
This one has been discussed a great deal recently. Condoms can be filled with water and formed into a lens to start fire. They can act as a water bottle and hold up to two liters.
Condoms can be rolled into elastic cordage for a fire drill or can be used to build a slingshot for hunting.
These products normally have a very practical primary purpose. However, they can also be used as a weapon.
Aerosol can be sprayed in the eyes of an attacker or split open and thrown to create a diversion. You can even light a match in front of one and create a mini flame thrower if needed.
Small Pencil Sharpener
This is nice to have if you do come across a box of pencils. However, you can use it to sharpen sticks for building traps or to make arrows. You can also strip off wet bark and use the dry inner shavings for tinder in your fire.
Smoking in a survival situation is not a good idea. However, cigarettes can be used medicinally to stop cuts from bleeding, stop toothaches, ease bug bites and bee stings, and even remove parasites from your digestive tract.
They can also be used as tinder in a fire, and the filters can be used to build a water filter.
Drinking while in a survival situation is also a bad idea, but having alcohol on hand is a good call. It can disinfect wounds and sterilize tools. Alcohol makes a good fire starter and fuel, so it can even be used to run certain types of engines.
Alcohol in general can be used to repel insects and to clean your feet after a long hike, among other things. Vodka can clean your eyeglasses or any lenses for fire-starting. It can also be used to preserve certain foods.
These sweet treats can give you a boost of sugar to get through physical tasks and they last for a long time if kept dry. They are good for bartering, but even better for a weapon.
Grasp one in the palm of your hand with the stick poking out though your fingers. If you strike an intruder in the eyes, neck, ribs, or groin they likely will not get up again.
In this article I tried to focus on items that are not so obvious that they are on every list, but also items that are not so obscure that they are never on any list. You should have duct tape… duh. I would think everybody would keep some duct tape around.
On the other hand, I fully believe that every prepper should have at least one pack of Quick Clot; which is a granule that can be applied to a gunshot wound to keep you from bleeding out.
If you are shot in the torso, there are not many little tricks that will keep you alive. However, most people have only seen this product in action movies unless they are working in the military, police, medical, or fire protection fields.
In the end, what you stockpile is only limited by your own imagination. I am sure there are hundreds of other items that can be repurposed for survival.
Use your own knowledge and background to come up with whatever is available and useful. With prepping and survival, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to be better prepared.
My name is Ryan Dotson and I am a survivalist, prepper, writer, and photographer. I grew up in the Ozark Mountains and in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains. My interest in survival started when I was in Boy Scouts and continued as my father, uncle, and grandfather taught me to hunt and fish. In the last few years I have started taking on survival challenges and have started writing about my experiences. I currently live in Mid-Missouri with my wife Lauren and three year old son Andrew.