The Core SHTF Gear List

The proverbial doo-doo has hit the fan and now you have to rely on your own wits and gear to survive. You did pack a bug out bag didn’t you? Do not fear if you haven’t put one together yet – I have written a complete SHTF gear list to give you some ideas for what you need. Most of this gear is core to your kit and I have included a few pieces of gear that will make life easier.

Let’s crack straight in to the list.

Backpack – It goes without saying that you’re going to need something to hold all of your survival gear. Your backpack must be large enough to carry all your gear and strong enough not to break down half way through an SHTF situation. Tactical backpacks are the way to go. Here is a giant list of tactical backpacks.

Knife – The single most important piece of equipment on this SHTF gear list. There are two primary elements to consider when choosing a survival knife – the knife blade must be fixed and the tang must be full. A fixed blade knife means the blade does not fold in to the handle. They require a sheath to protect your person when the knife is not in use. Fixed blade knives are much stronger than the folding type varieties. Full tang means the metal part of the blade runs all the way through the handle. Full tang adds strength to the blade. You’re going to want a strong knife in any survival situation. Repeat after me – fixed blade full tang.

Required reading – choosing a survival knife

Paracord – You never know what you’re going to need it for but you always find a use for it. Paracord is extremely versatile and has a number of tactical applications. You can easily rig up a shelter for the night using a bit of paracord and a tarp. If you learn how to rig up shelter in this way you won’t need to carry a bulky tent. Trust me, you’re going to want to pack as light as possible.

Stainless Steel Bottle – This piece of gear functions as a water bottle and a pot to boil water. If you run across sources of water it’s always a good idea to boil or purify it. The last thing you want to contract in an SHTF situation is a water borne pathogen – unless of course you enjoy explosive cases of diarrhea.

Water Purification Methods – You can boil water in your stainless steel mug but boiling takes time and you don’t always have the luxury of waiting around. It’s wise to carry a packet of water purification tablets as well as a water  filter. Water is too important of a resource to rely on only one method of getting it.

Required reading – everything you need to know about purifying water.

Firestarters – It’s time to go back to ancient times. Fire is an integral part of human life. In an SHTF scenario you might have to start a fire to cook food, boil water, or signal for help. BIC lighters and waterproof matches are easily found at any outdoor shop. I like to carry a ferrocerium rod as a backup. While it can be tricky to get going, a ferro rod is a tried and true method you can always count on with a bit of practice.

Required reading – 5 epic survival fires and how to build them

Trash bags – Ah yes, the mighty black trash bag. I call these guys the unsung heroes of the city. You can create shelter, waterproof important pieces of gear, make a parka, collect water, and a carry out a host of other survival related tasks. Trash bags are so light there isn’t a reasonable excuse not to have them. This is something you probably have at your house under the kitchen sink or in your garage. Grab a few of them and stuff them in your bug out pack.

Tarp – lightweight and versatile. Use it to make shelters, make a ground cover for a solar still, collect water, etc. Make sure you get one with grommit points along the edges. Sure beats a tent when it comes to weight.

Flashlight – a full blown SHTF situation isn’t going to wait around so you can have ample lighting. If something happens at night a tactical flashlight will be an invaluable piece of SHTF gear. Tactical flashlights like the Fenix PD-35 double as effective self defense weapons. The brightness temporarily blinds anything unfortunate enough to catch a direct light blast to the face. Serrated edges also make for a competent melee weapon! Double win.

3 days of food and water – Pack 3 days worth of food and water unless you fancy hunting your food. Many SHTF situations will resolve themselves fairly quickly. This food and water will see you through the hairiest parts of the situation. If for some reason things boil over to the 4 day mark then its time to really start considering long term survival options.

Medical kit – Grab a ready made first aid kit or set aside a few things you have around the house. Items like bandages, gauzes, and anti-septic liquids might prove to be invaluable.

Extra socks – You might be walking a lot so pack extra socks. It’s really crucial to protect your feet, plus, putting on a new pair of socks feels like a new lease on life. Sweaty cheese foot is an absolute drain on morale. If you’ve done any amount of hiking in dirty socks you know this feeling.

Clothing – Pack clothes appropriate for your area. Synthetic fabrics like polyester are preferred over cotton. Cotton holds water and does a terrible job at pushing moisture away from your body. Wet clothes puts you at risk for hypothermia. Fabrics like wool or polyester wick away moisture and keep you dry. They will even keep you insulated if they get wet.

Final Thoughts

This is the core of any decent SHTF gear list. There’s a lot of stuff you could throw in but it’s a treacherous slide down a path of potentially including too much. It’s easy to get overzealous and include gear you think you need but actually don’t. Stick to the items on the core SHTF list and it’s smooth sailing. I recommend packing all this stuff in your B.O.B and taking off into the woods for a few days. Learn how to use the equipment and get used to the weight of the pack. If you think can handle more weight, by all means, include more gear.

By using the gear on this list you will familiarize yourself with the skills required to survive an SHTF situation. In the end, it is your skills that keep you alive – NOT your gear!

Stay safe and survive my friend…





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