Survivalist Gift Guide

Christmas is around corner and Jay and me got together to look for some good gift ideas for you. This Survivalist Gift Guide has some gifts for new preppers or non survivalists as well. Giving non survivalists box of lighters for Christmas might be a bit awkward so book is obviously better choice. We tried to balance what is useful and what is fun and also added some crazy gifts.

Many more expensive products in this guide are “survival luxury items”. Nice to have and will make heart of every survivalist jump, but not really necessary because cheaper item can get the job done as well. It all depends on who you give gift to.

A new prepper who has very limited budget will be more happy about $30 machete, $30 first aid kit, $50 ham radio than one high quality $110 solar charger. This is much different for seasoned prepper with bigger budget of course. Simply because of other priorities.

In the end survival is much more about skills than equipment but we all love having good tools to get things done and some toys to play around.

Under $20

Under $30

Under $100

Over $100

Funny and over the top gifts

Ammo is of course always option and weapons too. But this gets very specific, depending on area where you live, common calibers in area and laws.

What were the best survival related gifts you ever got or gave someone? What is your plan this Christmas when it comes to gifts?

Survival Hygiene

There are some topics that people maybe sometimes do not want to read or hear about, or other folks just thinking that is not too important when SHTF. Hygiene is something that we all agree is important, but how dirty is gonna be is other thing.

If you look for example to definition of Cholera you can see this:
„Cholera is an acute enteric infection caused by the ingestion of bacterium Vibrio cholerae present in faecally contaminated water or food. Primarily linked to insufficient access to safe water and proper sanitation, its impact can be even more dramatic in areas where basic environmental infrastructures are disrupted or have been destroyed.„

I already mentioned that I suffered (together with lot of folks from that time) few serious cases of diarrhea, I mean cases when you can not lift your head up for days, i was so exhausted.

Did I have Cholera? I do not have clue, no hospitals, no labs, no doctors. Probably yes. All what I could do is to take fluids, menthol tea, chamomile tea and „Rosa Canina“ tea.

In normal grown up healthy people, it can be solved with oral re-hydration, and cases of death are not so common. In very young and very old it is harder. When you have some underlying medical condition it is complicated again.

It is hard anyway if SHTF and you get heavy case of diarrhea, and you are not prepared for it, and you do not know too much about it.

When SHTF small problems lead to bigger problems, later you have lot of small problems pieced together, and actually you have one big problem.

If you have access to medical facility when you dehydrated and exhausted because diarrhea then in most of the cases all can be solved with IV re-hydration, Ringers Lactate etc.

If you have knowledge and equipment you can try to solve it by yourself.
Worst case scenario would be to not have neither available medical help, no knowledge and no equipment.

Of course having no disease is better than treating one.

Try to not get yourself in situation where you need medical help, because medical help can be not available. Also, you can learn some basics about treatment, and store some stuff for it. I am not saying that you need to go to nursing school right now. But knowledge is key, learn how dehydration work, and how you can re-hydrate man.

Having knowledge how to re-hydrate patient who is suffering from diarrhea not going to do you too much good if you did not solve question of proper waste disposal.

Because at the end you gonna find yourself „running in circles“ and getting sick again and again.

So again pay extra attention to proper waste management, your water and your food.
Consider the fact that you can control maybe conditions in your home if you plan and prepare everything, but you gonna need to go out for many reasons, and outside world is going to be probably very bad and dirty place.

Protect yourself when you are out, and be sure what you are bringing home with you.

Today when it comes to urban survival I think simple surgical masks and gloves should be part of your preparation.

They are not only meant to be used in operation rooms. I would use it whenever I am out on some „suspicious dirty“ place and these places are all around after normal services do not work anymore. Shoe covers are good idea too…

You can not achieve sterile environment in your home, and that is not point here. But whenever coming home from your trip out (when SHTF) consider yourself dirty, and clean yourself, cloth and equipment on best way that is available for you.

Just use common sense, but much more common sense then in normal time. What makes you sick in such survival situations is usually not visible.

Your first line of defense gonna be your personal hygiene, way how to manage your waste, and way how you keep your self clean. So simple procedures like washing your hands carefully after you done with dirty job get some new meaning. It can be life saving.

Boil your clothing, add some bleach and let it dry in direct sunlight. These little things are all things that increase your chance for survival. You can not shoot these little bacteria and they killed as many people as bullets (or even more) during my time in war.

Store disposable trash bags, as many as you can, for many different reasons, including for human waste disposal. Also many ways to clean yourself, and again use common sense, store it in „small“ containers, so you can carry it with you anywhere and always.

To have pair of disposable medical gloves and small hand sanitizer with you in your pocket make much more sense when SHTF then in normal situation today.

Do you already have masks, surgical gowns (or other throw away clothing for dirty work), shoe covers, hand sanitizers, rubbing alcohol, gloves, disposable cups and plates? What are your most important preparations when it comes to hygiene?

What light and darkness meant for us

light for survivalI remember when all was over, and electricity came back in street. We managed to repair some installations and wires inside house and lights go on.

We were quiet for couple of minutes staring at the light bulbs like some tribe from Amazon that sees light bulbs for a first time. And then one of the older guys from the family breaks the silence and says: „Oh my God we lived in pig shack for a year“.

Wall paint was gone, holes were everywere, in corners there was all kind of junk, and everything had dark colour from improvised oil lamps, everything was sticky.

I guess we did not see all that because even during daytime, with covered windows you can not see too many details, not to mention that small lamps during the night do not give enough light to see everything. And also we did not care for some things I think, we did not have time.

Also we were not prepared for all that hell, when everything started most of the folks had few candles inside the house, and maybe one lamp in car or garage.

Soon we realized that we needed to „invent“ some new way of lighting. Actually not new, again old folks jumped in with solution from their past.

So we used mostly lamps with oil. Sometimes with cooking oil, or sometimes with mixture of pine resin and diesel I believe. It was small lamp in the glass, made from bottle cap and rope, or shoe lace. It went off regularly, stank like hell, gave lot of thick black greasy smoke. But also gave some light. And that was important.

Importance of light is not only to see where you are going or what you are doing in your house. I think it is something that divides us from animals. Just like fire it gives you feeling of being at home. So to have light in house in those days, when we sit all together to eat or to plan something meant a lot. It is one of the little things we take for granted but can make big difference.

But to talk about importance of light means also to talk about importance of darkness. In darkness we go out and do things. All things.

Forget about picture of guy with strong lamp walking around and using light to see where he is going. To have lamp on at open during the night usually meant drawing somebodys attention. And you all probably know already that drawing somebodys attention was bad thing.

Light in form of lamps and batteries was good for very short terms, if you are moving very quickly, I mean to light something very quickly, one second or two and thats it. In closed areas it was different, but even then we covered lamp with hand, using only small amount of light.

You try to stay hidden so when it comes to light or making noise you always keep things minimal.

Best way for walking out in terms of light was clear night with moonlight, and good idea was to go outside of my house, to sit in yard for some time in order to let my eyes some time to adapt to night and moonlight.

Then it would be fine to walk, when you adapt yourself to constant greyness of everything, and shadows.

Even today when I go out from my apartment, I usually spend some time in dark hall, before going out during the night.

There is something called peripheral vision. You can see objects in night outside of your central (forward) vision.

In reality I went out and moved very slowly, with many stops where I would take few deep breaths and look with eyes wide open, trying to catch any sign of movement.

Try it, practice your night vision, I mean natural night vision, you’ll see that you can see during the night objects that are moving when you are ready for that and you get used to some of the tricks shadows can play on you.

You have sort of tunnel vision when you use your flashlight. Human eyes just need too much time to adapt from light to darkness. And of course too much time if we are talking about real survival situation.

Darkness can be your friend, just like light can be your friend. But again both can be your enemy.

Using your flashlight too often and then your eyes need to adjust to darkness again can mean difference between life and death.

I am not saying that flashlights are stupid, or you do not need flashlight when SHTF. I have around 60 lamps and flashlight, different kinds, from led stuff, hang on wall lamps to powerful torches. I am taking things very serious in this part of preparation. It is just no camping trip where you go out and point light at everything.

Once I was out at night with two friends looking for useful things like always and we met other group. One guy from my group put light on them and we saw they have guns. We turned and ran like hell and got away. That he pointed light in their face might have saved our life. They just shouted some bad words but the light must have blinded them and it seemed they had no real flash light so they could not follow us before their eyes adjusted to darkness again.

Just like with all what I write, I suggest you to go out during the night and test it. It is gonna be maybe hard for you to find destroyed city, without eletricity, with shooting in background, but do not worry.

Practice your night vision

For example go to woods, or bigger park close to your home, and bring lamp with you. Have plan before that, I mean trip plan how to get from point A to point B.
First go trough the park with lamp, all the way. You’ll see clearly part of ground that you are putting light on that given moment, but for everything else you are blind, not to mention you are clearly visible with your lamp in darkness.

Then spend some time, 30-40 minutes in dark, adapting your eyes, then go back without lamp, all way. Depending on terrain, you’ll see that sometimes it is much easier to go without lamp. Using your eyes after adapting them to darkness. You’ll see maybe silhouettes only and shades, but you are seeing bigger picture. Some trees maybe that you can remember and other “landmarks”.

I suggest to use night with moon, partially cloudy, so you can see difference when moon is covered with clouds, and when clouds go away. Get to know your neighborhood in darkness.

Learn pros and cons of moving in both ways, because there is gonna be situation when one is better than another, you never know.
And of course, just like with everything use some common sense, never stare directly to light, lamp, candle or whatever.

When it comes to lamps, flashlights and all other sources of light, there is no perfect answer for every situation. You may find yourself in situation that you need some really small light, just to see silhouetes, or just to see in what you are going to put your shoe in next step.

I mean for example you gonna find yourself trying to take something useful from ruined apartment building in the middle of the night, at the third floor. You can not see anything, so you need some kind of light.

From this picture what kind of light source is gonna be best for urban survival situations?

survival lights

If you ask me I would choose this Pelican light, or that small white „penlight“. All other things on picture are stronger sources of light, and if you ask me why I do not choose them, answer is simple: I want to see things in order to use something. I do not want to flash so strong so anybody can see me and my light. So between good visibility around me, and danger that I might be seen I chose some kind of compromise, with small light.

That Ultrafire flashlight is very good to see clear and at much longer distances, or to „blind“ someones eyes. First one is cool if you want to hang it and light your room, can go very long on three AA batteries, and it is very cheap (around 2.50 Euros here).

I mean there is no too much sense to use UltraFire flashlight to light your room while you having dinner with your family, it is too expensive and not so practical way to do it.

Those are just few examples, not to mention gas lamps operated on gas or oil, so best idea is to have lot of stuff so you can choose.

How do you prepare when it comes to light?

Fire for survival

Again and again, you need to think in some other terms in order to understand importance of some everyday and usual things when SHTF.

It is hard in way to explain importance of some thing that is so common and usual for us today so we do not even notice it, because we take it for granted. We take it like it was always there, and it going to be there always. When SHTF only then we understand real importance of these things.

Fire means lot of things (especially for survival), fire means warm place to sleep, fire means hot soup. Fire also means clean clothes and clean water. Fire means life. It’s no surprise that our ancestors thought about fire as something holy. It is really that good.

In old history fireplace was almost magical place where all important things happened, wars started or peace was made. It was center of the house. Fire had to be kept alive.

There is reason why lighters were so valuable during my time in war. They enabled people to make fire and with that a lot of very basic but important things were possible.

I remember clearly guy who was walking over open space on one intersection, on sniper alley, in the middle of the night with flaming torch in his hand. He did not perform any strange ritual. His fire went in his stove in house because he did not have any matches or lighter or anything to start it again.

He went out walk for a few kilometers, found fire somewhere and went back in his house to start fire again. People died while trying to get fire from one place to another. I talk about this in detail in my course.

And all that happened maybe few months after war started. How many ordinary folks have 20-30 lighters or matches stored somewhere in house? I know you probably have now and that is good.

But other than you not too many of them.

You are completely dependent on fire

Just do one practice, go and sit in cold and dark room for a few days and then let someone offer you cold soup, or hot soup. Small thing, but single hot soup just makes amazing difference.

You need to have fire place inside your house. That does not mean that you need today to smash walls and change your house plans in order to install fire place.

It can be done on some simple ways like hole in wall for exhaust, or finding some small stoves that you can install when SHTF and use all kind of fuels for them. Even a bigger grill for barbecue is better than nothing.

Stoves are not such big problem, finding fuel for them is.

So good idea is to have some amount of fuel ready stored somewhere. I have currently 300 liter of diesel fuel and 50 liter of petroleum stored. Or if that is not possible try to have plan where you can quickly take some fuel for fire when SHTF, again before others.

You as prepper have hopefully “first mover advantage” that you realize what you need before others.

After some time all folks just realize “let’s go out and take those trees from park“. So do not wait for everybody else to go there in that park. Just like with everything else try to be ahead of other folks.

Of course this does not mean that you need to go tonight to park and start to chop trees. This actually means that you need to have all tools ready today, and plan how to drag the trees and where to put them when SHTF.

Good idea is to have some kind of storage for firewood and some amount of fire wood, but since that is almost impossible for most of the folks who are living in urban areas, today you can do everything in order to be ready to start quickly to gather firewood when time comes.

When SHTF just go out and do it quickly. Do not learn where and how to do that when SHTF. Have plan for that today ready. If you never chopped wood go and help someone at rural place and learn to chop some wood safely.

Getting a stove

There are all kind of stoves around to buy and to make by yourself. Without going into the brands and models of them, here are few things to think about when you buying it.

1. You are needing stove for what?
As I mentioned already, you gonna need fire for lot of things. To make food, clean your water(boiling), heating… So when you are obtaining wood stove for you think for what thing you are gonna use it? How that thing gonna look like is not important thing at all.

It also helps A LOT to have some kind of metal frame to hang things over fire. You can buy it here but make sure it is really sturdy. If you are with group you want to cook a lot of water at same time.

2. How much fuel you are gonna have?
If you are living in area where wood is no problem then you are lucky when it comes to stove, because in other case you are in situation like I was, always something like half cold and freezing.

I used two types of stoves, real wood stove, old type, that used lot of wood, but gives lot of heat, and keep heat lot of time (long time). I just do some upgrading on that thing by switching heating plates (thick) with thinner, in order to boil things faster.

Other type was very thin and small stove, something like big can. You could bring that thing to red heat in few minutes with very small amount of wood, or cardboards and all junk. Intense heat was good to make something very quick (food) or to warm yourself with small abount of fuel in very quick time. That thing went cold very quickly after fire went down of course.

3.Look around you
Again and always: have and do what most folks around you are doing-that means actually LOOK like you are looking for and doing what everybody else is doing.

I mean if most of the folks are freezing around you, it does not mean that you need to freezing too. Just look like that. Do not talk about how warm and cozy your place is when you see neighbor or someone in the streets. Pretend to be still cold. Once your body is cold it takes long time to warm up again so pretend to freeze. It is easy to forget but people are not only hungry but cold too. They want to get warm no matter what, even if that means move in YOUR house if you want or not.

Just like everything else, there is no universal advice for everybody. If you are living in lonely place, thick smoke from the chimney and tasty smell of chicken soup is something like invitation for not wanted guests when SHTF.

In my case smell of burnt ruins and burning stuff was in the air all the time together with smoke, and other worse smell, so I did not have problem with visible smoke and smell.

4. Have portable stuff
You will eventuall go out and take trips for many reasons, and on these trips you are gonna spend time, take shelter somewhere and need fire. Think about solution of portable stove and what kind is best for your situation and surroundings.

Military type portable stoves, with liquid fuel, simple „can“ type portable stoves, or you are gonna start fire in place, on ground. But be sure that you have some stove to move around. For example something like this here.

5. Take time today and make some tests
Be familiar with all kind of wood in your sourondings and learn what you can expect from different kinds of wood or other fuels. You gonna save some important time when SHTF if you check that things today. Know what wood chips you can use for tinder and if you have some tinder fungus in your area for example. Also know what kind of wood or other fuel gives how much heat, and for how long, and also important how intense smell and smoke.

If you can not try it because you are in urban area try to go to parks and other places with public fireplaces or areas. Even trying things with wood on barbecue grill somewhere is ok to get familiar with different materials.

Water for survival

First you need to stop for a moment, or for more then a moment and think about importance of the water. There is a all kind of cool information about water all around the net. And you can research them all.

We have started a water page in our wiki and hope you add your survival knowledge about water to it. For instructions how to edit the wiki please read this. In this article I write about my experience with water during SHTF. I try to touch on few topics that might not be so obvious.

Importance of water for survival

When SHTF everything matters and all small things are connected. New small problems suddenly emerge, and one small problem is connecting to another small problem, and suddenly you have big problem and then you are dead. And thats it.
So you need to think about in new terms. I suggest that you try to measure amount of water that you spend for one day. For cooking, cleaning, drinking, shower, toilet and all that.

After you measure that amount of water then go and shut down your water souces for a week. In that week use some canisters and drag your water from your neighbour who is for example 1 mile far from you. One week. After that week sit down and try to think again about importance of the water.

It will be refreshing reminder about importance of something we take for granted.

Probably you are going to conclude that water is much more important then you thought before. But belive me you are still do not know, you still probably can not imagine how important it is.

When you hearing that man can survive only few days without water, it is true maybe, but you need to think about water in some new terms. Not only like cool bottle of water to drink.

1. Water to boost your morale

Sooner or later you are going to find yourself without “real” food, and you are gonna start to “invent” food. Ive gone trough that. Boil plants with water, boil small amounts of flour with water, all kind of “tea” or bad “soups” for food.

At some of the very bad time I had something like hot colored water for my lunch, without too much asking what was added for color. I mean yes, you are perfectly prepared, lots of canned food, your storage is full. But think about “sooner or later”

One of the my best memories from bad times is hot soup. There is something “magical” in hot soup when you are cold and wet, and when everything out is gone to hell. It is like fire a great boost for your morale.

2. You need more water during SHTF

In long term survival scenario chances are you will work more with your body than now. That means you need even more water than now.

Do not expect to spend few days laying at home, in nice and cool room. When shtf and you fight for survival there is always much to do.

To be long time survivor you do not want to live on 500ml water a day. You want to have much water every day.

3. Hygiene

You need water for hygiene, lots of water. You can think that you can survive even if you do not have enough water to keep yourself clean. Yes people survived like that, but keep in mind again, that small problems lead to bigger problems, and big problems at the end kills you.

To be dirty because you do not have enough water is not like in movies. It is not about sweating and dirty shirt only. It is about you are crippled wit some fungal infection on your feet because you simply did not have enough clean socks to wear, because you spent 20 hours daily in your shoes, boots. At the end you can not run at all. And to be in state when you can not run is definitely not good idea when SHTF.

Forget about problems with bad smell, thats not problem. Its a civilization problem but when things get uncivilized it does not matter. Problem is you having diarrhea for week, you need to go to toilet every half hours, you can not get up without dizziness, you are weak like baby, and again all because you did not have enough water to keep yourself clean, or to eat clean food that you at least boiled first.

4. Some survival water games you can “play” today

The scouting game
Do not get yourself in situation where you need to go out and check for water sources when SHTF. Probably it is not gonna be easy then to wander around and check things.

Forget about empty towns with lot of resources laying everywhere. That happens in movies maybe.
In my case many people were shot at well known water sources by snipers. It’s like lions in deserts. They wait for prey near water holes.

Go out today and check your surroundings for possible less known water resources close to you like small springs or places where water stays for some time after rain. Have that places marked in your map for future. Take your time today when you have enough.

The saving water game
Research some things. For example how you can wash your clothes with as little water as you can, some alternative ways of washing yourself with “bottle” of water. Check how much water you can save with using anti bacterial napkins for cleaning yourself for example.

The hiding game
That means to think about some other spots to have some hidden backup water. Personally I have three spots close to my apartment where I have extra sources of water if I gonna need it. Another water resource is halfway between me and my bug out location.

The collection game
Rain is good source of water depending in what region you live. But definitely good idea is to have plan ready and tools ready to collect water from your roof. Check it, somewhere is enough to have few barrels, saw and piece of pipe and thats it. You can use rainwater today to water your plants for example.

Water means life

This article is just reminder that without water no life and of course no survival. It is easy to get lost in having perfect security and weapons at home but not being familiar with living with limited amount of clean water.

In my course I talk about how we collected water from our roof and if you have stories about how you collected water please share in comments or our survival wiki.