After all the basics are covered (think the top ten supplies to survive disaster), what else from the modern world would help a person, family, or entire community survive a widespread disaster or global catastrophe?
You may be able to buy several of these items listed below from second-hand stores, but always be sure of the quality of each critical survival tool before you simply buy it and hope for it to come through for you in a future emergency.
What If An Economic Collapse Happens? What If All Hell Breaks Loose?
Now, we know what the basic survival supplies are: Food; water; weapon or weapons for self-defense; shelter; clothing; map and compass; fire making materials such as a lighter or flint and magnesium; candle; flashlight; backpack or get home bag.
These are the basic survival tools. The top 10 -- if you don't have these top ten survival supplies when a serious disaster hits, you may be in trouble shortly, and you'll want to figure out how to get each of these top 10 items as soon as possible.
But There's More to Survival
But there's more. Life in the wilderness and / or life in an urban disaster zone has a lot more dangers and challenges than you might expect. In the wilderness you'll have to deal with dangerous wildlife. In an urban setting -- dangerous people and sometimes dangerous wildlife (loose, dangerous dogs for example or even loose exotic pets or animals that have escaped from a zoo). If the "Big One" ever hits Seattle as is predicted to happen, the Woodland Park Zoo might be leveled, along with other parts of Seattle. What about Los Angeles? L.A. has a big zoo also.
So, there's a lot more to survival than what you see on Man vs. Wild or Survivorman.
A lot of whether you survive or not will also have to deal with traveling -- namely your ability to cross over rivers and your ability to cross over mountains and snow, ice, and glaciers.
Then there's long term survival to consider when you've set up a base camp -- whether that's a bunch of tents pitched close together up in the mountains near a hot spring (congratulations if you can score that location) -- or it's a secluded cabin hidden in the trees up in the foothills or even near a remote coastal area of British Columbia, Canada, Alaska or parts of the continental U.S. coastline.
50 Speciality Tools Critical to Surviving a Catastrophic, Long Term Disaster
This article discusses 50 critical items to survival -- these are survival tools that can help you sometimes in more ways than one, and a few of these you may not have even considered before -- but shouldn't be overlooked.
This section is going to discuss survival items that may add more weight to your pack, but may come in very handy all the same. Depending on where you are when disaster strikes, and what kind of disaster and how big it is, you may or may not be able to load up your car, truck, or ATV and make the drive into the countryside. If you have to walk, you may have to build yourself (or simply buy) a two-wheeled cart that you can tow / push as you walk -- perhaps something similar to a cart that hunters take into the backcountry to carry out deer, elk, and bear.
With that said, the first specialty tool we'll suggest is:
A deer cart / game carrier is a dolly cart of sorts with two wheels and a handle and two sides that meet at the wheel base. It is an effective tool in the backcountry most used by hunters. It can be used both on-road and off-road to transport heavy gear. With just some rope and even tarp or bungee chords, you can travel by foot carrying a number of survival supplies when driving a vehicle isn't an option (whether those supplies include an animal you've shot or simply 200 pounds in survival gear and food). The more people in your party, the more deer carts you can use to move your entire camp long distances by road or trail and even over rough terrain.
Fact is many coastal areas and mountain lakes and rivers are cold much of the year -- really cold -- but if you have a wetsuit (that includes the foot coverings -- called wetsuit boots -- and wetsuit gloves -- as well as a protective hood to wear over your head), you can swim in beach waters and lakes and rivers in an effort to spearfish under water or hunt for other types of sea-life you can eat. Your wet suit may also come in handy for cold water river crossings.
Tip: There are many dangers when it comes to crossing rivers as well as swimming off beaches when spearfishing, so make sure you know what you're doing before attempting a river crossing or swimming in the ocean. Regarding the ocean, make sure you know how to escape riptides (which occur periodically along shorelines) before simply throwing on a wetsuit and diving in.
With a camouflage wetsuit you make it harder for sea life to spot you when in the water spearfishing. Now add a weapon that will take down sea life that ventures into your line of fire: A speargun. In different parts of the world, primitive people (including Native American tribes near the North American coastline) have been spearfishing for thousands of years. Now, spearfishing is even easier, thanks to the speargun. Recreational spearfishing is common place nowadays. In a time of collapse though, you won't be doing this for recreation; you'll be doing this for survival. The oceans (and a number of lakes and rivers) can provide an abundance of edible wildlife, even for large numbers of people -- as early Native Americans new well.
* Not only can you count on harvesting fish and other sea life on the ocean floor (such as crab) with a speargun, but in some situations a speargun can make an excellent stealth weapon, should a situation arise where to defend yourself you have to make an offensive move on a hostile group that is either sitting off shore on a boat or island or has it's basecamp near the coastline on the mainland. Welcome to the Navy Seals.
Goggles worn by scuba divers will allow you to see underwater when you want to search for edible sea-life or spearfish. Snorkeling gear will allow you to stay underwater for long periods of time, making it easier to spot sea-life and / or wait patiently for fish to come in to range of your spear. See:
How to Use Your Snorkeling Gear. While you're at it, grab yourself some good fins, which will give you more strength to propel yourself while swimming underwater.
A flood may be headed for your community -- rather than simply stopping at your porch this one may be a catastrophic flood that rises another ten feet or more, flooding the bottom story of your home, and forcing your family to evacuate upstairs to safety. You didn't expect this. But you can be prepared for it. If you have an inflatable raft and can make your way onto the roof, inflate the raft with your manual pump (or inflate it on the rear deck of your home, if it's up on the second story) and then load the family into the raft; include a few key survival supplies and simply float away (consider inflating the raft a couple days beforehand). Make sure you have some oars as well as plenty of rope. With rope you can tie yourself to light posts, to trees, or other fixed objects if you need to rest from rowing, or if simply the tide is pulling you toward the ocean faster than you can row inland.
* Note: The inflatable boat shown at the link above has a mount for a small trolling motor and space for an external battery. It's also rated to hold up to 880 pounds. So that's approximately 4 people and a couple hundred pounds of survival gear. The price for the boat, trolling motor, and battery is extremely low, considering how useful this boat could be in an evacuation; such as getting from an island to the mainland (if ferry service is down) or simply getting across a large lake or river, if a water crossing is part of your evacuation plans.
A kayak is an efficient and fast way to row across the water or travel vast distances along a coastline. Some kayaks are narrow and roll easily (such as a "white water" kayak) and should only be used by people who have experience and know what they're doing. Other kayaks (such as a three person sea kayak called a "triple") are heavier, have a wider base and aren't subject to rolling -- yet they move fast through the water; kayaks like these have room for a second or third person and over 100 pounds of of survival gear (if it's packed in an upright backpack). If it's just you, consider purchasing a "double" kayak (or two double kayaks, if it's you and your wife for example). Keep these close by your home in case of catrastrophic flooding. If you own a couple "doubles", then each of you has room in each kayak to carry over 60 pounds in survival gear (fill up a backpack and set your pack in the empty seat and bungee chord it down; put all the heavy weight in your pack at the bottom, so it sits low in the kayak; by keeping the weight at the bottom, this will help keep your kayak balanced in the water, giving you more stability).
Note: Don't just store kayaks outside your home under a tarp. Tie your kayaks to a fixed anchor point so that sudden flood waters don't sweep them away and prevent you from making your escape.
So you want to make that river crossing -- but you don't have a boat -- and it's deep and wide and moving relatively fast? Throw on a life vest and swim your way to the other side. Don't just jump in the river, though. Calculate the speed of the river by how fast you'll be able to move, and then go upstream quite a ways, jump in the river from there, and by the time the current carries you back downstream hopefully you will have made it to the location you hoped to land at. Not all rivers are the same though -- some rivers this simply won't be an option. Better to hike many miles along the bank until you can find a relatively safe place to cross. Remember, that large, slow moving rivers can have a strong undercurrent -- which is why a life vest can be a life saver in a river crossing.
Here's one way to cross a rushing river -- jump in a river with a secured life vest on and once in range of the other side, throw a grappling hook (tied to a rope); with decent aim, a grappling hook can catch on to tree branches or thick brush; now simply hold on tight to the rope, and let momentum pull you to the shore.
The grappling hook has enough weight on it that you can also use it to bridge small gaps and creeks; from one side of the gap or creek (side "A") you throw the grappling hook to the other side (side "B") where it catches in the trees. Once secure (and you've tested it to ensure that -- yes -- it's secure), you can tie the rope you're holding high in a tree (on side "A") so that the rope descends at an angle to the other side of the gap (side "B"). Then rig a pully system and either ride it down like a zip-line to the other side, or first send your packs down, then ride it down. There are ways to retrieve your rope -- that's too much information to go into detail here though. If you take a mountaineering course you'll learn ways to use rope that allow for rope retrieval once you've gotten up or down an area. The same science to rope retrieval can be adapted for gap/river crossings. Congratulations -- now you're getting into special forces training.
Training with a Grappling Hook
Your ability to use the grappling hook in a time of a emergency -- such as being pursued -- is going to come down to how adept you've become with it after many hours of practice. Your aim will greatly improve, your ability to judge a location for hooking into will get better, and the speed at which you can climb (or descend) will get faster.
Don't be careless and don't throw a grappling hook without knowing where it's going to come down. These things can kill. Pay attention to what you're doing.
Keep a second rope handy used solely for climbing and descents when there is no wall or tree for your feet to "walk" up. Small knots at regular intervals in this second rope (every 18 inches for example) will give you an easy way to climb or descend (for example, onto a highway overpass or bridge, where there is no wall for your feet) as each knot will provide leverage. Consider the job you're likey to use a grappling hook for that day and then choose a specific rope for beforehand -- so you have it ready should an immediate need arise.
Tactical Uses for a Grappling Hook
Grappling hooks have been used in times of war to trigger wire obstacles and set off land mines before they can take lives. They have also been used in naval warfare to tie on to enemy boats or to dredge along the bottom of a lake or coastline for items that have fallen in the water.
You might not think of a grappling hook as an effective tool, but really, with some practice and ingenuity, you're likely to find several uses for it. (Whichever grappling hook you purchase, be sure to check on the quality of engineering that has gone into it; it should be rated for actual tactical use. Do you want to gamble your life on a cheaply manufactured grappling hook? Don't skimp on this one. Finally, seek out actual tactical training -- you will be light years ahead of most readers here.)
9) Bolt Cutter for Chain Link Fence and Barbed Wire
If possible try to avoid cutting someone else's fence. But in a life-threatening emergency, and when there's no easy way over or under a fence, you can use a handy bolt cutter tool (you don't need to buy a large one, just a small one that will do the job) to cut your way through the barbed-wire or chain link.
10) Crossbow and Arrows
A cross bow is relatively easy to learn how to shoot and easy to aim. While hunting with a rifle can be easier and more effective, there may be a time when you don't want to alert people to your location with gunshots -- and that's why you should also have a crossbow around. They don't have as much of a learning curve as a traditional bow and arrow or a compound bow. So it's easier to teach others in your party how to shoot. Plus a crossbow can be kept loaded and ready to fire -- which can be essential for self-defense purposes. Have plenty of arrows and choose arrows with brightly covered "flanges" so that if you miss your target you can more easily retrieve your arrow from the surrounding brush. Take down elk, deer, moose, dangerous dogs and even African lions with a crossbow or (if you've got the experience), a compound bow.
11) Long Range Rifle and Ammunition
Great for hunting wildlife at long range. It is easier to hunt with a rifle as you can be further away (with less risk of your scent being picked up) than a person with a compound bow or crossbow, who typically needs to be within closer range of an animal in order to get a good shot. Have a few long-range rifles for troop movement -- by "troop" I mean the people you are traveling with, including any kids, women, and even any elderly.
Tip: If you want to survive in a time of widespread disaster or even the "apocalypse" or "Great Tribulation" that many are expecting is right around the corner, you need to think of your group as a team and ultimately as a platoon or troop. A little discipline and organization can go a long way to helping your "platoon" survive should dangerous wildlife or people threaten your lives. Organize a formation (train, train, and train some more with your group days and weeks beforehand), be able to move and fire in unison, while covering angles of incoming fire.
Organization will give you strategies for escaping an ambush, should enemies suddenly show up on all sides. If you fight as a team rather than individuals you're a much bigger force to be reckoned with -- which is exactly the reason that the first armies started winning wars early on in history.
Train to be ambushed. Teach your team what an ambush might look like and different ways to react and adapt to the terrain. Train to escape.
12) Bear Pepper Spray
Use it on grizzly bears, mountain lions, and crooks (crooks that aren't pointing a gun at you). Bear pepper spray is a good secondary weapon that children in your group could be considered being trained to fight with -- you might not trust them with a gun, but they might be just fine with pepper spray -- as long as they don't freeze from fear.
Tip: In a time of disaster, put children through some training scenarios to help them be prepared for the day of battle. Pepper spray is a last resort weapon as it's typically only effective in close encounters when an animal or a person is closing-in. Teach them to spray and run -- but make that spray count. The closer they let the animal or person get, the better chances they have of the pepper spray striking it's target with maximum impact. Teach them to be fearless. Make them realize that pepper spray when used at the right moment is a very effective weapon at disabling an opponent and creating a few minutes of time to make an escape -- or it simply creates time to grab a follow up weapon such as a knife or spear. If we can teach kids to play baseball and football we can also teach kids how to fight and beat the bad guys when there's no other escape possible. Teach them to move laterally -- to the side -- like a running back on the football field side-stepping from a charging linebacker. Spray, dodge, run.
13) Picks and Shovels
There's a great chance that the ground underneath you is going to have rocks, or be hard packed, and simply not easy to dig with a shovel. Break up the ground with a pick until you have plenty of loose dirt, then shovel the loose dirt away, and return to using the pick.
If you plan to be rooted in place for a period of time, having a few good picks and shovels around can be very useful. With a small group working as a team large areas can be dug relatively quickly -- such as underground shelters and even tunnel systems (learn the ins and outs of digging tunnels before you simply try to dig one yourself -- not knowing what you're doing is a quick way to die when the sides or roof collapse).
Note: If you plan on being part of any community r-ebuilding effort following a disaster, don't just have one pick or shovel stored away; have a few of each. Digging is one task that you will appreciate having multiple people with multiple picks and shovels at work beside you. Shoveling is hard work -- especially when a task takes many hours or even days to complete.
You can easily take down small trees with a good axe, as well as chop firewood. Don't use the axe on anything but wood and never whack through wood without something else made of wood underneath it. You'll chip your axe head on rocks if you do that.
15) Axe Sharpener
Keep your axe head sharp and able to cut through wood with a good axe sharpener.
You'll get through trees a lot faster with a chainsaw than you would with an axe. The chainsaw is going to be most effective in the early weeks and months of a widespread disaster, when there is still fuel to be had. Use it while you have it. If you've never used a chainsaw, be sure you're shown how to keep the blade sharp as well. The points can dull up on you. See:
How to Sharpen a Chainsaw Blade
17) Bow Saw
A good bow saw has a lot of life in it and can be used to cut through hundreds of large tree limbs and small trees. When it comes to survival, tree limbs and small trees can be used to construct everything from small cabins to defense walls around the perimeter of your camp; sharpen the points to help keep out dangerous wildlife as well as intruders.
18) Survival Knife / Bowie Knife
A good knife will go a long ways -- from skinning an animal to cutting rope to simply scaring off a crook with a knife of his own. Use it to carve markings in trees to mark your path and signal others in your group to specific locations.
You can never have too much rope. If you have a lot of rope you can do everything from complicated tasks such as bridge building for river / creek crossings to simpler tasks such as pulley systems (for hoisting objects into the trees); then of course there's the basic use of rope which is simply tying one object to another object, like a tarp to the top of a shelter -- or a goat to a tree to be used as bait to draw in a lion or pack of wolves to an ambush where you and your team are waiting close by with weapons aimed.
Many uses for paracord. When living outdoors you're going to find that you need rope / string to tie many things. Paracord has it's origins in parachutes; what makes paracord different from traditional rope is that it's made of many strings (the "guts" of the paracord) woven together inside a sheath of sorts - the outer-casing. When cut the guts are revealed, which can be unwound and used as individual thin strings for everything from emergency fishing line to shoelaces. An open flame will melt the paracord ends, sealing the casing again, enabling the paracord to continue it's life as paracord -- just a bit shorter now, with each length that you've cut from the original.
Great way to weatherproof any shelter or provide temporary relief from the sun or rain. Also can be used as a rain-water harvesting system, where each corner is tied to a fixed location, and the lowest corner acts as a drain / spillway for any rain that is collected (that's one method). Tarp can also be used to build solar stills. If you're in a position to stockpile supplies, stockpile tons of tarp. Like rope you can never have too much tarp.
22) Nails / Roofing Nails / Plywood
High winds from a hurricane or tornado may have ripped shingles or even part of your roof or wall to your home away. You can do repairs with plywood as well as shingles you find around the neighborhood after the storm has past (use roofing nails for the shingles). Tarp also goes a long way to repairing roofs and walls that have been damaged by high winds or even fallen trees. Stockpile plywood. You can build sheds and even small cabins / living units on your property with plywood, nails, and tree limbs.
23) Contractor Grade Garbage Bags / Waste Disposal
These things are a lot bigger (up to 55 gallons) and a lot stronger than typical heavy duty residential garbage bags. You'll find many uses for these bags and will appreciate having them around in a time of disaster. With water and sewer lines broken throughout the area, working toilets will be a thing of the past for many. Your group will have to turn to chamber pots for solids, and these solids can then be dumped into large contractor garbage bags and then tied shut and even buried. It will go a long way to reducing the stench of human waste that is likely to build up around your camp or property after many weeks or months. Stockpile contractor grade garbage bags. They can also be used as a rain poncho (just cut out holes for your head and arms), as well as an emergency make-shift shelter -- you may need two or three for that.
A little bleach can go a long way. Have a second container that is mostly water. Use the mixture to sterilize knives and utensils and clean up cutting areas after any meat has been cut or deer / elk butchered. Stockpile bleach.
How to Use Bleach to Prevent Food Contamination
If you have an emergency generator you can produce electricity after a disaster. Of course you're going to need fuel to power it. Have fuel on hand as well for your car, should you be in a position where your automobile can be used for travel, such as in an evacuation, or if you simply live in a rural or semi-rural area that is not heavily congested by millions of people in an evacuation. Fuel (gasoline, not diesel) is also a great way to get a fire started in wet conditions. A little gasoline can go a long way in that regard.
26) Mess Kit
A good mess kit contains compact pots and pans that are designed to work as a set and pack within each other to compress to take up the least amount of space as possible in a backpack. These have been carried by soldiers in various armies as well as popular with modern day backpackers who don't want to pack typical pots and pans along as they're heavy and take up too much space. One difference between someone who camps and someone who backpacks is often a mess kit.
Whistles are a great way to signal that you need help if you're out in the wilderness or to communicate with others in your party who are within ear-shot -- such as rescue workers or backcountry skiers who have drifted away from each other. In times of lawlessness or war whistles can be used by people posted as watchman on the outskirts of camp to alert the camp that an intruder -- or worse -- an invading force had been spotted.
Survival Tip / Caution About Whistles: If you're traveling through an area and you hear whistles or whistling -- be on the alert immediately. Someone may have spotted your group and is calling in bandits or gang members for an attack. You or your group may be about to be jumped, robbed, or raped. In the inner cities street gangs or simply criminals can use whistling to signal that a victim (you) has come into their neighborhood. If you hear a series of sharp whistles, this could be a signal for an attack. Pull out your weapons and make a run for it -- it may not be smart to stand your ground because you just don't know how many are coming and whether or not anyone will show up in a nearby window with a rifle and pick you off like a military sniper. Just get out of there.
28) Signal Mirror
Use it to signal other people in your group camped or positioned a distance away from you (if you have a communication system set up then you can even communicate simple commands with flashes of a signaling mirror at one another -- think morse code.) Also use it to signal overhead aircraft should you be lost and you know that they're searching for you. You can also use it on the shore to signal ocean going boats that you're lost or stranded. See:
How to Use a Signal Mirror
Great way to clear away brush. Great way to slash at the face of a dangerous animal though most people will end up maimed or killed if they try this. It just depends on how fierce and on target your initial slice is -- if you can hit with pin-point accuracy -- and you've got a good machete with a sharp edge and some weight to it -- and your first strike is right across an eye and face, that animal that has attacked you may back-off for a few moments, trying to regain it's sight. Continue to hack at it's face, destroying it's ability to see, and then take that opportunity to run or pull out a gun and open fire.
Highly accurate (after a few hours of target practice) and good for hunting small animals like squirrels and rabbits, grouse, and other birds. One hunter came up with the idea to shoot deer pellets (manufactured "pellets" that contain a scent for drawing deer to a hunting area) into the area he would be hunting. In other words, from his stand he shot deer pellets in several directions up to 100 yards or so away, rather than walking around, and leaving his own scent.
Deer are highly aware of odors and if they pick up a hunter's scent will often flee without hesitation. A hunter's scent can ruin the hunt. But deer pellets (also elk pellets) are created with odors that attract deer to the area. Regarding slingshots, there are toy slingshots then there are others such as those made by Trumark that can project shot at a speed up to 200 miles per hour and a distance of 225 yards. Yes, you could kill a person with a sling shot. Be careful with these. Don't let untrained children run around with one of these weapons. David took down Goliath with a sling. It's essentially the same idea.
31) Deer / Elk Pellets
As described above, have plenty of these on hand to aid in baiting deer or elk or even moose to an area within a shooting distance of your stand.
32) Propane Stove
If the power is out or your home destroyed by a disaster, a propane stove is an easy way to cook food, and a quality stove will give you many years of use. Cook with maximum efficiency to conserve propane as well as get the most heat out of an open flame. One trick is to wrap aluminum foil around the base of a pot -- but far enough away from the flame as to not actually burn the foil. You can also do something even better than aluminum foil just by getting some thin stainless steel sheeting and cutting it / bending it to the right dimensions. Just one piece will go a long ways to getting more heat from your flame and you'll get a lot of use out of it.
Great way to fish in rivers as well as in the ocean. Become familiar with fishing with a net and have different types of netting based on what you'll be fishing for and how you're most likely to use it. People have been fishing with nets for thousands of years.
34) Fishing Pole
If there's any chance that you'll be fishing in salt-water or when the salmon are running be sure to have yourself a strong fishing pole that can reel in a big fish and that's not going to simply snap when a 30 pound fish or bigger is on the hook. Carry strong line with a high weight rating and you'll be ready for most areas. If your pole does break or you lose it it's not the end of the world -- plenty of survivors have fished successfully with just line and a hook. You can cut fishing line out of parachord (just cut off a length and pull out the guts, and tie yourself a fishing line). Know how to find natural bait - and remember you can find nightcrawlers almost anywhere there's dirt and rain.
35) Mosquito Netting
Keep the bugs out -- more and more Westerners are seeing West Nile virus; the possibility for malaria taking off in North America exists as well -- our world is going through changes; some call it Global Warming but others like myself believe this is from the direct hand of God. If so we may see a lot more disease carrying mosquitoes in the years ahead. Protect your homes and campsites the same way that many do currently in countries where mosquitoes are a daily threat. While on the subject of mosquito netting, get yourself an actual "hood" as well. Designed to be worn like a cap right over your head, the netting protects your face and neck from mosquitoes as you trudge through the woods or countryside or fish from the riverbank.
36) Toothpaste and Mouthwash and Floss
If you're preparing for a widespread disaster, and a serious catastrophe has taken place, take care of your teeth as much as possible as there's just not likely going to be a dentist in your area still open for business.
Have the means to keep your teeth as clean as you can and take good care of them.
If you have a large amount of coffee on hand you have a valuable resource for trading with your neighbors. A lot of people drink coffee and are hooked on the caffeine. That's the plain and simple truth. Tea and coffee are valuable crops and when you can't grow it it's even better to have it canned and ready for the consumer. Think about this for a moment. When all your friends are eyeballing your survival stocks and you point to a few cases of coffee -- you know they're going to say things like, "Man, you got coffee? Hook me up."
38) Campfire Percolator
If you want to brew coffee in a time of disaster you're going to want a percolator that you can use right over a campfire or on your propane stove. Your Mr. Coffee maker back home just isn't going to work out in Timbuktu when there's nothing to plug into.
39) Spear Tips
You can use a spear for everything from fishing to hunting big game and even self defense against deadly predators like lions, grizzly bears, and wolves (don't take on the grizzly, lions or wolves by yourself; it's going to take a few of you with spears to do this effectively). Don't wait until society collapses to have a few good spear tips on hand. There are different spear tips for fishing and then others for taking down wildlife such as boars and lions. Hint: Those same spear tips for taking down boars would work great against people should your life be at risk. Today, you can become Rambo and buy the entire spear, not just the tips, or you can be smart and realize that not many people are likely to buy spear tips -- that way when you and your new companions (or family or friends or whomever you end up surviving with) admits that they didn't prepare for doomsday, you can laugh and show them your collection of spear tips, and hand them out, one to each person in your group. Get to the task of spear making -- cutting small trees / tree limbs that you can attach the spear tips to, and you're set -- your group will be ready to take down a mammoth or an angry sasquatch.
While we're on the subject of weapons for self-defense, if you have the means and the money to stockpile ammunition, have a number of pistols on hand. Like mentioned above, most people you know aren't likely to prepare for a "doomsday" scenario. This step is really going the extra-mile but this is survival right? Stockpile a few pistols -- and stockpile a ton of ammunition -- and then be ready to hand these out to people in your group -- people whom you can trust to handle a gun responsibly -- also be able to teach them how to shoot because your lives may one day be in danger; teach them how to re-load their weapons quickly, how to shoot from cover, and how to work as a team to protect each other in a fire fight.
Tip: The best survival strategy for a fire fight may be to shoot and run, rather than shoot and stand your ground. The longer you stay in a fire fight the more chances you have of one of your team members being shot. If you're living in an area of lawlessness, why shoot it out with the bad guys, especially if you're possibly outnumbered and out gunned? Let your team members in front lay down fire while you're guys in the back drop out of sight. Once they have cover, they can fire over the heads of their team members in front, or to the sides of their team members; the enemy may stay concealed for a few moments longer (to avoid these incoming shots) which gives your guys (or gals) in front time to make their escape also. This is guerrilla warfare 101. (we have an article on ambush survival -- what to do if you're ambushed, and how to get out of it -- even when the people you've been ambushed by are trained soldiers; use the search bar at the top of the site to find it)
41) Ski Goggles
There's a chance that you may find yourself traversing through a snowfield or even up and over a mountain pass with the sun high over head, or simply the snow coming down with winds whipping at your face. Ski goggles will give your eyes relief from the sun (get goggles with specialized tint) as well as your face relief from the wind chill and possible frost-bite. Soldiers on alpine missions are typically equipped for severe cold weather survival; take a lesson from these soldiers.
42) Ice Axe
So you find yourself climbing up a mountain pass (maybe it's the Sierra Nevadas in California or the Rockies in Western Montana) but you underestimated the slope toward the top, just before the crest. An ice axe is commonly used by mountain climbers to ascend icy peaks. Rather than risk sliding back down the snowfield you just climbed up, use the ice axe in an overhead swing to grab on to the ice just ahead, and pull yourself forward. It may be slow going toward the top, but at the least it can get you over that crest, plus also allow you to make a safer descent down the other side, should it also have a steep grade. This technique of descending is called "glissading".
Tip: With a little knowledge of setting anchors and tying rope, you can make it safe and easy to climb for anyone following below you. If you have the opportunity take a course in mountaineering. Also, become familiar with the dangers of crossing over glacial ice (many climbers have been lost their lives while crossing glaciers). Many of America's early pioneers had to cross over mountain passes, as well as other explorers in earlier centuries. We've got a few more modern tools -- like an ice axe and cramp-ons, which attach to your boots for digging into ice -- that make this easier than they had it -- but you've got to know how to use these tools first before they can help you.
43) Work Gloves
Cold Weather Work Gloves - If the weather is cold and you find yourself working outdoors -- or worse, living outdoors -- cold weather work gloves will be your best friend. Without proper protection for your hands from the severe cold, they're just not going to be of any use for very long. Plus, if it's cold enough and you're outside long enough you risk frost-bite. Conditions are brutal when you work outside in the cold for very long without some protection for your hands from the frigid temperatures.
Standard Work Gloves - For warmer temperatures you're going to want good work gloves that will protect your hands from debris, glass, wood, and just overuse should you have to work with tools for any period of time. The act of clearing brush with a machete also calls for work gloves -- the moment your hands are blistering from failure to wear gloves is going to slow down your chopping through heavy brush, until you simply quit due to the pain and destructive forces tearing at your unprotected hands. Good work gloves will go a long way -- until you can build up callouses from working with tools; then you may not need them as much.
44) Wool and Synthetic Clothing for Cold Temperatures
Wool is known to keep people warm, even when wet, which is the opposite of cotton. Cotton, when wet, in cold conditions can be deadly, as it quickly depletes the body of heat, leading to hypothermia. Wool was a clothing worn by many of America's early pioneers, especially those living in cold conditions. Today there are both wool products as well as synthetic materials designed to do essentially the same thing and may even have more life and longer use than normal wool.
45) Cold Weather Sleeping Bag
You won't appreciate this until you're having to spend a night out in a tent when the temperature is in the 30s or simply if you're in your home and the power has been out for many days and it's the dead of winter and 10 degrees below zero outside. A cold weather sleeping bag can be made for different temperature ratings, so choose one that's going to do the job based on record lows your area of the country is known for. In other words someone living in Western Washington isn't going to need a sleeping bag rated for 40 below zero, but someone in North Dakota or Alaska would. And that still may not be enough. If you want to save a few bucks you can also take a lesson from the homeless and simply sleep under a pile of 8 - 10 blankets, and that will keep you warm even in severe cold temperatures.
46) Waterproof Rain Jacket and Waterproof Pants
Whether you're in rainy, wet conditions, or trudging through the snow, waterproof gear is essential for protection from the elements. Often it's lightweight and can be rolled / packed and even stuffed in a small
cinch-tight bag to take up the least amount of space as possible in your pack. Most waterproof pants make a swish sound as they're worn, which can be a bad thing if you're trying to cross an area with as much silence as possible. There are now pants made for hunting that are waterproof that have been designed to make as less noise as possible. Go with one of these.
47) Hip Waders
These are typically heavy duty waterproof pants that come up above the waist that are worn with attached suspenders. These are great for fly-fishing in rivers (you can stand in the river and not get wet) or fishing with a net or just a fishing pole down on the coast in an area of shallow salt water. Hip waders are also a good tool for keeping your feet and clothing dry when crossing shallow rivers, or trudging through swamps or pond areas, or areas that have been heavily contaiminated by sewage or an industrial disaster, where you want to avoid coming in contact with chemicals or contaminants.
48) The Splitboard
Here's a modern tool that revolutionizes the idea of cross country skiing and snowshoeing. The splitboard is a snowboard that "splits" down the middle into cross country skis. With a splitboard a person can effectively snowshoe (but much more efficiently than traditional snowshoeing) and also cross-country ski through a snowy area. The snowshoe effect occurs on alpine grades, when it's time to climb. Specialized "skin" on the bottom of each ski grabs the ice and prevents the skis from sliding backwards. You can climb a mountain on these skis and then at the top clip the skis together to form a snowboard. Now you snowboard (backpack and all) down the other side of the mountain.
What if you want to cross over a mountain pass that has an early season snowfall you didn't expect?
Before you start splitboarding and snowboarding your way through the mountains -- make sure you understandavalanche dangers and how to avoid getting caught in an avalanche (we have a detailed article on avalanche survival -- use the search bar at the top of the site).
If you think that a splitboard won't save the day when it comes to alpine survival, think again. How easy will it be for dangerous people to follow you into the snow if they don't know how to move in the snow nor have the proper tools?
With the splitboard you have the advantage. Hostiles won't be able to keep up -- not without snow-mobiles. In that case, climb up into the trees, where their snow-mobiles can't follow. But in a time of collapse, will snow mobiles be much of a threat? Not unless the people coming after you have plenty of fuel.
Our last critical item for surviving a major disaster is the modular kayak; I mentioned a kayak and sea kayak early on in this article but want to bring special attention to a modular kayak: It breaks down into 3 pieces for easy transport. And compared to most sea kayaks, these modulars are much cheaper.
I recommend a modular kayak specifically for people who live in major cities, like New York City, that rely on connecting bridges to the mainland to evacuate. This particular modular kayak holds two people or simply one person and a large backpack of gear (be sure to strap down your gear bag before making a water crossing).
Here's how a modular kayak can be a life saver ...
What happens if those NYC bridges are destroyed in a disaster or terrorist attack? What happens if terrorists attack Manhattan with a biological weapon, infecting tens of thousands with a contagious and deadly virus, and authorities respond by shutting down all bridges and tunnels to people fleeing the "red zone"? Now your stuck in NYC with millions of panicked New Yorkers and the possibility of a much larger terrorist strike with a WMD in the coming minutes or hours.
But what if you're not stuck? If you keep a modular kayak and paddles in the trunk of your car or in the back room of your office building, you'll have a way to get across a channel of water, like NYC's Newark Bay, when there would have been no other way for you to evacuate.
There's a good chance that someone with a gun is going to want your modular kayak, if they're stuck in NYC as well, and see you trudging through the city with a means to get across the bay. With than in mind, keep two pieces of your modular kayak (it breaks into 3 pieces) in a large duffel bag, and carry the other piece in your hands or a second duffel bag. Most people won't realize that you're carrying a kayak and won't give you a second glance. Make sure your kayak paddle is also collapsible (modular) and keep it hidden in one of your bags until you're ready to use it.
If you do this right, you just escaped a disaster that might take the lives of a few hundred thousand people. Not bad for a $350 investment.
Reaching for a multi-tool is as easy as simply finding one with pliers, and a phillips screw driver, right? Actually that's wrong. A Phillips screw driver might come in handy on several occasions but there are a lot more screw head types that call for special fittings. These special fittings can quickly take parts off vehicles, remove hardware around locking mechanisms, and remove ventilation coverings. A good multi-tool is essential to urban survival, is made of stainless steel, and can withstand years' of use. If you're going to be anywhere near an urban environment, look, at the Swiss Tool Spirit Plus. Here's a multi-tool with 38 functions, including a bit wrench with 6 bits (important for screw heads that a Phillips or standard screwdriver will not fit).
If you want a multi-tool for both urban survival and your firearms, you can purchase a Leatherman Tactical Multi-Tool, get superior construction also like the Swiss Tool mentioned above; be sure to get the the 40 bit add-on set (approximately $12). That's 40 bits of various sizes; in an urban environment, you should be able to open just about anything you come across. It may get you into buildings. It may get you out of danger on more than one occasion.