There’s no doubt that being a survivalist takes its toll on your wallet. You’ve got an almost endless amount of gear and equipment to buy, not to mention the cost of building your stockpile of food and water - so you’re ready to make it through whatever comes your way. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not made of money. But even if I was, I’d still be thrifty with my money because it’s another level of security, financial security, that you’ve got when you have a healthy bank balance. So, I tend to look for deals when I’m on the hunt for new survival gear. As you can imagine, I’ve bought my fair share of “duds” over the years. Cheap products that not only fail when you actually try to use them, they’re downright dangerous to rely on. If my very life was at stake, these products could have ended it. Today, I’d like to share the wisdom I’ve come to appreciate with survival gear, and give you an insight on where your money is going to be best spent as you build your stockpile.
Comparing your needs and wants
Of course, in an ideal world you would have the best of the very best survival gear. Top-of-the line products that you know are going to perform. But they come at a cost, and much like everything in life, you will need to make a trade off. Consider what is a must-have product compared to a nice-to-have product. And spend your money wisely. Now, everyone’s going to have their own idea of what you’ve “got” to have as a survivalist, but in general it comes down to this. Think about every bit of gear you have, then consider what goes wrong when it fails. A cheap jacket that doesn’t keep you dry could be a death sentence in bad weather, while a cheap fire-starting kit is all you need to get a spark. Once you know what’s essential, you can spend your money accordingly.
Comparing quality levels
Quality is another key aspect, you should buy the highest possible quality you can afford. There’s a story that highlights this well, known as Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness. In short, expensive boots last longer, so you actually save money by investing more in a quality product. High quality boots will last years instead of giving out in one or two, yet most people can only afford the cheap ones. Over time, replacing these cheap products again and again ends up costing you even more money.
What you should never cheap out on
I’ve spent far more money than I’d ever like to admit to my wife on survival gear, but in my opinion these next categories are the key areas you should never cheap out on. If you do, you could be putting the health and safety of your entire family at risk.
Bug out bags
The starting point for any good survivalist, you need to ensure the bag you’re buying
is not only tough and rugged enough to stand up to the wear you’ll put it through, but capable of fitting everything in, and staying comfortable on your back. Top of the line hiking packs are well worth the investment, and pay particular attention for double-stitched seams and heavy-duty materials.
Choosing a good, sturdy knife is one of the most important decisions you’ll make, as it’ll likely be the survival tool you use the most out of all your gear. Everything from cutting limbs for shelter building, making traps, and cleaning your kills, it needs to fit comfortably in your hand, hold a decent edge, and be tough enough to stand up to daily use.
For a time, it seemed I was always gifted cheap headlamps and torches. But one by one, they’ve all failed. Either the circuitry goes, the battery is drained faster than you could possibly imagine, or it has some other issue. Invest in a decent, waterproof torch and headlamp and ensure you’ve got a reliable source of light once the SHTF.
Reliable sources of water can be hard to find, and if you’ve not got a means to purify what you’re drinking you will get sick lightning fast, and that could even be the end of your story. Don’t cheap out on a water filter, and remember you’ll also need to regularly change the cartridges inside after you’ve put it to use.
When a crisis hits you’re going to be on your feet. Whether you’re lining up for a meal at the ration station to getting the hell out of dodge, you need to ensure your feet are supported, and taken care of, in a good quality pair of hiking boots. Oh, and make sure you break them in before you need them, the last thing you want is to be laid up with blisters when you need to evacuate.
Yes, ammo can get expensive fast and that’s why many preppers opt to stock up on lower-quality ammunition. But let me tell you, as someone who’s shot tens of thousands of rounds at the range, you do not want to cheap out on ammo. It’ll always fail, eventually, and if you’re in a firefight or relying on your handgun for defense, that could be the ticket that seals your fate.
Medicine and first aid supplies
Every man and his dog seem to recommend going cheap on medical supplies. I’ve lost count of the amount of blog posts telling you to stock up on “fish antibiotics” because they are apparently just as good. Come on. In reality, you don’t want no-name (or even veterinary-grade) supplies when you’re sick and dying. Buy proper drugs so you can trust they’ll work as needed. If your survival stockpile is full of cheap gear, you may want to re-evaluate some of your purchases to ensure what you’ve prepared will actually stand up to daily use when the SHTF. Because when it all goes down if you can’t rely on your gear, what’s the point of being prepared in the first place?