The bare necessities: Tips for determining what you really need in your survival stockpile
08/18/2019 / By Zoey Sky / Comments
The bare necessities: Tips for determining what you really need in your survival stockpile

If you’re preparing a survival stockpile, there are several questions that you need to answer. How much of your supplies are you going to use? Are you purchasing items that you need or want? And finally, are there other prepping essentials that you should be spending your money on? (h/t to

Like other aspects of prepping, stockpiling seems straightforward on paper. However, you need to make a detailed plan once you start setting up your survival stockpile.

Before you stock up on necessities for when SHTF, how do you determine what exactly these necessities are?

The necessities will depend on the nature of the survival event that you’re preparing for. Short-term events (e.g. a power outage that lasts for two days) may require different supplies compared to a long-term scenario (e.g. a month-long power grid failure).

Prepping for short-term events

Beginners who want to prep for short-term SHTF events need the following items:

  • Water – at least three gallons per day per person
  • Food that is ready to eat or easy to prepare – at least 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day per person (e.g. canned food, cereal, dried beans, flour, instant coffee, jams and jellies, jerky, oatmeal, powdered milk, tea, etc.)
  • Flashlights and lanterns
  • Candles
  • Lighters and matches
  • Camp stove and fuel (e.g. propane)
  • Charcoal for a grill or fire pit
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Personal hygiene items (e.g. shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc.)
  • Buckets (for sanitation)
  • Toilet paper
  • Trash bags
  • Baby and toddler supplies, especially if you have babies or are expecting one

This list doesn’t cover all of your SHTF needs, but it’s a reliable guide for those who want to prep before a short-term event. Don’t forget to factor in the number of people in your family so you have enough supplies to take care of all their survival needs.

Needs vs. wants

You may want to have certain things when SHTF so you can feel comfortable, but what you want isn’t always something you need. It can be tempting to give in to your wants, but it’s best to exercise control and self-discipline.

If you have a tight budget, focus on the necessities first.

This usually includes:

  • Oxygen
  • Water and food
  • Shelter and warmth
  • Sanitation
  • Safety/Security

These things should be covered for both short- or long-term events. Not planning for these areas lowers your chance of surviving when SHTF. (Related: Prepping basics: 3 Common mistakes to avoid when buying food for your stockpile.)

Every prepper started as a beginner, and most of them make similar mistakes when planning their stockpiles. Your needs might change as time goes by, and what you thought was a necessity when you were in your 20s might change in your 40s.

A younger person with 20/20 vision probably won’t think of stocking up on a pair of extra glasses or prescription medicines in their first aid kit, but an experienced prepper with bad eyesight will remember these things when setting up their stockpile.

You also need to consider how much space you have in your storage room. If your house is small, don’t waste storage space on useless wants. Focus on getting items that have multiple uses, like cordage and duct tape and food that can be combined with other ingredients so you can maximize each item.

Remember, food, water, personal hygiene items, and a well-equipped first aid kit are necessities. Other things like junk food and makeup are not.

Only you can determine what is a need and a want. However, before SHTF you must decide what items you can do without and what you need to have in your survival stockpile.

Sources include:

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