Building the perfect stockpile is both the perfect joy and the bane of every prepper. The reality is that there is no such thing as a perfect stockpile, as much as we all wish there was. That's partially because we never know what disaster we're going to face. So, we keep seeking perfection, knowing that we'll never find it.
The good news is that seeking perfection is a worthy goal; it's not a waste of time. Each time you find something missing from your stockpile and add it, you reduce the number of problems that you'll be unprepared for. That means that your family will be better off than they would have been otherwise.
Since I've been at this a while... quite a while; I thought I'd put together a list of some of my more unusual preps, including an explanation of why I have them. Perhaps you'll find something that you're missing for your own stockpile and be able to fill that hole. If you do, then we've both won by my taking the time to create this list.
So, what am I looking for here? I'm trying to find the things that you and I might have forgotten, which will cause problems for us when we can't buy them after a SHTF event. Granted, without knowing what sort of disaster we're going to face, that can be difficult, but that's the challenge that each and every one of us face.
My ideas of prepping, like those of many people, have evolved over the years. More than anything, that's been a reaction to the changing threats we are facing. But it's also been partially due to the greater understanding of survival that I've gained through the years. That growth has caused some of my ideas to change, sometimes flip-flopping more than once.
The other important factor here is who I'm prepping for. When I first got involved in prepping, I was single. Preparing to survive by yourself is much different than preparing to survive with a family. Then, as I grew older, my needs changed once again. My wife and I aren't as physically fit as we once were. So, we've needed to make some modifications to accommodate that. I assume we will continue those changes as we grow older.
As far as disasters are concerned, I see an EMP as the biggest realistic threat we face. If you've read "One Minute After" you see a pretty good description of a world falling apart, as people try to survive without any electrical power. Lack of supplies and social disorder make that the worst possible urban survival situation I can imagine.
Of course, I don't just limit my thinking to an EMP. That would be foolish. But I've found that it makes a good starting point for my thinking. I can then check my plans for surviving an EMP against other types of disasters, such as a pandemic, to seek out any holes in my logic and planning. In this way, I miss little.
One of the assumptions I work under is that anything I need can break. With that in mind, I ask myself what I would do with those things that break. There are basically two answers to that; repair it or use something else. So, as a regular part of my prepping, I try to have the necessary parts on hand to repair any of my survival equipment possible.
Of course, not everything is repairable. There are always things which will escape you and I. in those cases, I try to ensure that I have either an alternate means of accomplishing the same task or of building something to accomplish that task. If you can't do that, then have a spare for that device on hand.
- Coleman "Dual Fuel" Stove - I use an old-fashioned Coleman stove as my primary means of survival cooking. This stove runs off of Coleman fuel or gasoline; which means that it will be much easier to find fuel for it, than for a propane camp stove. However, the valve for pressurizing the tank can go bad. So, I've got a couple of repair kits for it. These kits consist of the O rings and seals for the pump, making it possible for me to keep using my stove. The same kit is used for the pump on Coleman lanterns.
- Pump and Pump Seal Kit - I have a well on my property, so that I will always have a source of water. It runs off my off-grid electrical system, which saves me a lot of manual pumping. But, if something were to happen to the pump, I'd be sunk. So, I have both an extra pump that I can use and a seal kit that I can use to rebuild the existing pump.
- Gun Parts - I don't do this for every gun, but for my principal guns I try to have a full set of key replacement parts. That includes all pins and springs, as well as the delicate parts such as firing pins and extractors. I've also taken my guns apart and photographed the individual parts from multiple angles. This allows me to make my own parts, using a broken one as a pattern. The photos will show me what's broken about the part.
- Metal - I have a fair stock of metal on hand; including round and square tubing, sheet metal in different thicknesses and a few bars. While it's not a large stock, I can make just about any small part I may need from what I've got.
Most of us dismiss the idea of using our cars and trucks for more than a bug out vehicle, once a disaster hits. As I mention below, I keep 110 gallons of gasoline on hand. That's actually not so much for my cars, as it is for power tools. But I also want to have my vehicles available to me, should I need them. So, I try to make sure that I can repair at least the common stuff, if I have to.
- Spark plugs and plug wires
- Computer and sensors (kept in a Faraday Cage)
- Vulcanizing tire patches
- Alternator (rebuilt)
- Starter (rebuilt)
I've done a separate article about emergency home repairs, in which I give a list of emergency repair materials that you should have on hand. I merely mention it here, so that you'll go looking for that article. Many disasters, especially natural disasters, cause serious damage to our homes. Having some basic materials on hand can make it possible for you to keep your home livable, even after it has suffered damage.
If you're anything like me, you have a pretty good tool collection. I like to do things myself and I've got the workshop to do them in. I always figured that my tools were part of my prepping, as well as a way of saving money by doing things myself.
The problem is that many of my tools are power tools. While there's nothing wrong with power tools and I'm actually a big fan of them, I don't really expect to have an excess of electrical power available after a disaster. I'm probably going to be stuck using hand tools for just about everything. Not only that, but there are tools I'm going to need, which I don't use everyday now, just in order to survive.
- Axe and Maul - Axes and mauls are different tools, even though they look similar. The axe is for cutting down trees and cutting off limbs. To do this, it's got a thin, sharp head. A maul is used for splitting wood, so it has a much thicker head. That way, the head acts as a lever for splitting the wood.
- Pick - Digging with just a shovel is hard work. It's still hard with a pick to break up the clay and hard dirt, but at least it goes faster.
- Shovels - Various shapes and kinds for digging and moving things.
- Wheelbarrow - How can you garden without a wheelbarrow? Seriously though, if you don't have one, get one.
- Bow Saw or Bucksaw - For cutting tree branches, mucking logs to length before splitting for firewood and other general wood harvesting.
- Crosscut Saw - Your basic carpenter's hand saw, for use when your power saw doesn't work.
- Timber Chisel - If you have to do any heavy building, this will allow you to do mortises and other connecting cuts in beams and timbers.
- Hand Powered Drill - You'll need either a hand-crank drill or a brace for drilling holes. If you get a brace, make sure you buy bits that will work with it.
- Honing Stone - Just in case you forgot; a good honing stone will be essential for keeping your tools sharp.
- Forge and Anvil - I'm building myself a small forge and looking for an anvil for doing basic blacksmithing. I figure my wire-feed welder isn't going to do me much good, so I'd better have another option.
In a TEOTWAWKI situation, such as an EMP, you're going to have to think in terms of several years, not just one. If the country actually recovers from an EMP, it will take years. In the mean time, the local mall probably won't be open. So, what are you going to do about your kids clothes, when they outgrow them?
My kids are grown up now, but my wife and I always practiced a system of shopping ahead. She did a lot of their clothes shopping at garage sales, when they were younger. She didn't just buy what they needed, she bought ahead, even when we were poor. We literally had boxes in the attic or basement, with clothes for the kids for the next two or three years. Even though we had never heard of an EMP, we were ready in that regard.
- Extra Shoes - Shoes are going to be a problem in a post-SHTF world. Few cobblers remain and the factories won't be open. Most of the dress shoes we use today won't last at all, nor will our tennis shoes. Buy some extra work boots or hiking boots and keep them around.
- Jeans and tough shirts - Jeans are going to become your daily wear, which should make a lot of people happy. I'm not talking about your designer jeans here, but the rugged ones you can buy at the big box stores, or maybe at a farm supply. Figure out how many you'll need and then buy double. They're going to have to last a while.
- Gloves - Gloves are one of the hardest things to sew yourself. But with all the work you're going to be doing outdoors, you're going to need some really heavy-duty gloves. Get several pair, so that when you wear the first ones out, you don't have to wear your hands out.
- Sewing Supplies - Sewing is fast becoming a lost art, but if you know how, you can make anything out of fabric. That means being able to cut down or modify clothes as your family loses weight or your kids grow and need new clothes. You will also be able to do repairs, which will probably be a necessity.
- Cloth - A few bolts of cloth, purchased from the discount rack, will help ensure that you can make anything you might be missing. Stick to something simple, like solid colors, so that you can use it for a variety of clothing items, without it looking weird.
Keep in mind that you will probably lose weight and put on muscle when you're in survival mode. So, you're either going to have to have clothes that will fit you when you get smaller, or you're going to have to do a lot of modifications to the clothes you've got.
Medical and Hygiene
With power down and the country in crisis, you may not be able to get medical services. Even if you can, that doesn't mean that the doctors and pharmacies will have everything you need. I'm assuming you already have a good first-aid kit put together. But here's a few things you might not have thought of.
- Vitamins - With the problems we're all going to have in maintaining a regular diet, adding vitamins to your stockpile is a great idea. Go for a good multivitamin, which also contains minerals. The more it contains, the better. This will help keep you healthy, even if you aren't eating a good diet.
- Reading Glasses - I wear glasses regularly and keep a spare pair or two around. But I also have a number of pairs of reading glasses, in various magnifications. While they won't help much with my long-distance seeing, they will make it possible for me to see things close up, especially detailed things that I might have to work on.
- Antibiotics - A lot of people talk about buying fish antibiotics for survival purposes. If that's all you have available, then by all means do so. But if you can get to Mexico, you can stock up on antibiotics across the counter in any drugstore.
- Prescription Medications - If anyone in your family takes prescription medicines on a regular basis, you need to make sure you've got a good stock of them on hand. Once again, you can probably buy them in Mexico, much cheaper than you can here, and you probably won't need a prescription.
- Over the Counter Medicines - If antibiotics are going to be hard to come by, then so will simple things like aspirin and antihistamines. Stock up now, while you can.
- Antibacterial Hand Cleaner - This one is critical. Water will be at a premium and most people will be struggling to have enough. One way that some people may try to save on water is to avoid washing as much. That can be dangerous, especially if you've been in contact with anything that might have bacteria on it (just about anything). But you can get by without washing, if you use antibacterial hand cleaner.
- Feminine Hygiene Supplies - If you have girls, this is a given.
Food is the bulk of most people's stockpiling. That makes sense, if you think about it. Even so, there are some things that we can easily overlook when we're buying our food. While you can probably survive without them, you can survive better with them.
- Salt - Most of us just think of salt as seasoning, but it's actually necessary for survival. Salt is what the body uses to retain water, so if you don't have enough salt, your body doesn't retain enough water. Of course, that's not much of an issue for most people, but it will be hard to find in a survival situation. But there's another important use for salt; preserving food, especially meat. I've got a couple of hundred pounds of salt stashed away, just for that.
- Spices - It may be difficult getting your family to eat some of the unfamiliar foods you've got stockpiled. Most kids aren't into a diet of rice and beans. But with the right spices, you can make that taste like their favorite chili or spaghetti. So, stock up well on spices.
- Bullion (also called soup stock) - Dried bullion is great for soup starter. I have a feeling that in any disaster situation soups are going to be a major part of most people's diets. So by stocking up on bullion, you've got a head start. Buy it from a restaurant supply, so that you can get it in quantity.
- Canning Lids - You're probably planning on canning the produce from your garden. If that's the case, then make sure you've got a truckload of canning jar lids. They usually aren't reusable, so you're going to need a complete set every season.
- Spare Bucket Lids - If you have dried foods stored in five gallon buckets, make sure you've got some extra lids. The rubber seal can get damaged, in which case the bucket won't work as well to protect your food.
- Roto-tiller - I know, what does a roto-tiller have to do with food, right? Well, if you're planning on gardening to keep your family in food, you're going to need a whole lot more garden than that 20 foot long bed you've got. I only have 60 feet of four foot wide beds in my garden, and I figure I need about five times that much. So, with the roto-tiller, I've got a way of quickly and easily expanding my garden.
Most people don't think about it, but you're going to have to deal with your neighbors in one way or another. Regardless of how good a job you've done with your OPSEC, you probably have at least one or two who have figured out what you're doing. While we all say that we're not going to share our stockpile, that's going to be a lot harder when they're at your door.
There's actually a fairly easy solution to this problem. That's to co-opt your neighbors. If you plan for them coming around looking for what they can get, then you can plan to take advantage of that. Basically, that means stockpiling things to barter them for their broad backs. Work out a deal where you provide them with some food and other supplies, and they work for it.
- Basic Food Staples - Rice, beans, oil, flour and a few other staples will seem like a treasure to them, when they don't have anything to eat. You don't need to feed them as well as you are feeding your own family, but a few hundred pounds of inexpensive staples will buy you a lot of goodwill.
- First-Aid - Make sure that your stockpile of first-aid supplies is big enough that you can take care of any injuries in the neighborhood. You don't want to run out of bandages and not have them for your kids, just because you've taken care of a neighbor.
- Basic Hygiene Supplies - Call this enlightened self-interest. Soap and toothpaste will go a long way towards ensuring that you can't smell the from across the street. It will also help in keeping disease down.
- Water Filtration Capability - Make sure that your water filtering capability is far beyond your own needs. You can trade them hauling water for you filtering it. That'll save you from having to do it.
- Seeds - The best way of keeping them out of your garden is to help them get their own started. Enough seed for your neighborhood may seem like a huge amount of seeds, but it will make them indebted to you and keep everyone eating.
- .22 Rifles and Ammo - One of the best ways to utilize your neighbors is to make a joint-defense pact with them. You can fight better together, than you can by yourself. A few .22 rifles won't cost all that much and it will greatly help you, if you ever come under attack.
Then there are those things that just don't fit nice and neatly into any category. Here are a few of them.
- Activated Charcoal - There are many uses for activated charcoal, such as making a bio-filter to filter water and making gas masks. Considering its many uses, I store 100 pounds of activated charcoal in sealed five gallon buckets. That way, I've got enough for whatever may come my way.
- Gasoline - Storing gas is tricky. Not only is it highly flammable, making it dangerous to store, but it doesn't keep well. I keep a couple of 55 gallon drums full of gas in my shed, laying on their sides on stands. That way, I can dispense the gasoline without using a pump. I rotate this stock, putting the gas into my cars and filling the drums with fresh gas every six months. Not only will it be useful for my cars, but also for my chain saw, roto-tiller and lawn mower.