Starting your Survival Prepping on a Budget
When you start talking to certain survivalists, I find it a tad shocking how they've spent thousands and thousands of dollars on items that could well have been bought for much less. Of course, I'm all for investing my money in the right gear and tools to do a job, especially when that job is keeping you alive after the SHTF, but where do you turn when you need survival gear on a budget? Generally, you're going to find that being a survivalist is not cheap. While you can argue you do get what you pay for (a belief I follow too), it is possible to find the middle ground. Good-enough gear that can help you build out your kit without breaking the bank. Here's what we at APE Survival recommend as your essentials. Backpack. A decent bug out bag doesn't have to cost hundreds of dollars. Look online to find a surplus ALICE bag, with a frame and depending on the condition it should set you back about $50. Not bad for military proven equipment. Knife. Don't look for the fanciest knife on the shelf, you're after features. It needs to cut cord, help you clean and skin animals, and if you get one made of high carbon steel you can use it to throw sparks and start a fire from a piece of flint. It should set you back around $20. Clothing. Gortex is the best cold-weather gear you can find, so look to find a jacket secondhand. Don't forget a few new sets of thermal underwear and plenty of wool socks to protect your feet from the cold, you'll do permanent damage if you're marching in snow without the right gear. Personally I like to double up on my wool socks in the cold, which means I go through them fast. Boots. Don't skimp out on a good pair of combat boots, and for survival you can't really cheap out on your boots because you'll be walking everywhere. No matter which brand you buy, prices start around $60 and escalate fast. Just check the seams and laces for quality, and if they've got a bit of heft to them, they're probably ok. I'd recommend getting these new, and breaking them in slowly over the course of a few hikes before I'd rely on a new pair in my bug out kit. Shelter. A tarp to quickly throw up to keep you off the wet ground, stop any rain, or to help you retain the heat in your shelter from your camp stove is important. Pack some paracord too so you can tie it off, and choose if you want it bright (to aid as a signal) or camouflaged for a low profile. Wood stove. A camping stove can double as both a heater and a way to cook your meals, and there's (usually) plenty of timber available for fuel. Forget solar panel kits, and even camp stoves that run on butane or oil, and it's not going to be practical to organize a year's worth of fuel. Fire-steel. Matches and a butane lighter will run out eventually, so conserve them until you really need it and use a fire-steel and tinder instead. Sourcing all of these items new isn't recommended when you're on a budget, but it's important that any second-hand gear you buy is tested and you're sure you can rely on it before the SHTF. Check out sites like eBay and Craigslist if you're looking for something in particular, and make a habit of checking out your local yard sales every now and then. Large retailers who rent outdoor gear often do periodic flash sales, and look for any specialist stores in your community that stock second-hand items. GearTrade.com is another great site when you're looking for a specialist item, and there's plenty of Facebook groups dedicated to buying and selling outdoor gear. Of course, keep your safety in mind when you're going to meet a seller, and if you are going alone make sure you've picked out a location that's public and there's going to be other people around. There are lots of weirdo's out there, and you don't want to unintentionally find yourself in danger before the SHTF. The final item I want to cover today is food. Even buying beans and canned food in bulk is going to be an expense, but you can offset some of the cost by learning how to preserve and can your own food. Simple preparation methods, like learning to make jerky by drying meat, canning vegetables in brine and salt curing can be used to extend the shelf life of the vegetables and game you hunt now, which will all boost your stockpile of supplies should an emergency strike. When it all comes down to it, surviving a crisis really only comes down to your ability to procure shelter, water and fire, and over a longer period of course, food. Pack your kit with the tools and equipment you need to achieve these, and don't worry about silly things like using a second-hand knife. Even a brand new one is going to look worn after a few practice runs, the key is to keep it honed and sharp, like all of your other survival skills. You are your best asset once the SHTF.