My dad always used to say “It only costs a little more to go first class.” He drove Cadillac’s, flew Beechcraft Bonanzas, wore Hart, Schaffner, and Marx suits, drank Gordon’s Gin, and hunted with Weatherby rifles, because he thought those brands were the best of the best, and worth every penny regardless of what they cost. Fifty years ago perhaps those brands did define “First Class” for that generation. These days not everybody can afford such extravagances, nor do I think we need to. Picking gear, clothes, guns, vehicles, camping equipment, and other essentials for any coming SHTF has to be a good balance between our budget and what we can afford to spend on survival supplies.
I recently read on another survival site the discussion over how much cash to sock away for a rainy SHTF and/or how much to spend in prepping. The consensus of the replies was that $1000 sounded about right for a starting budget for prepping. I don’t know the parameters of the question posed on a SHTF budget, but sorry to break your bubble folks, but one grand won’t do diddly squat. Maybe they meant just to start off with some scratch extreme basics. In that case maybe so. I will admit that even some small start is at least a start. But frankly, a good AR with optics can cost a grand.
Still be it far for me to recommend to anyone else how much hard earned investments they should put into their prepping efforts. I just know that if you sat down with some blank paper and made an extraordinarily comprehensive list of everything needed, it would be one expensive venture. That is why incremental planning and buying is the course that most of us have to take. I been at this 20+ years.
Quality vs. Cheap
By cheap, I do not mean to imply junk that will not function, or last. I mean useful items that are reasonably priced that most preppers can afford to buy. I think there is some middle ground these days upon which we can compromise on the equipment, gear and goods we buy for survival prepping. I think we can buy good stuff for a fair price that will give reliable, long term service.
If you are old enough to remember, stuff from Japan used to be pure junk, say when I was 5-10 years old in the 1950s. Today most Japanese made merchandise is top quality and a reasonably good value. Now we have to deal with stuff from China, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, and other places we know little or nothing about.
I say all that to say we need to closely inspect and evaluate any purchase we make regardless of the brand name on the label. I have come to discover some of my favorite and heavily replied upon brands now suffer from quality standards as they move their origins of manufacture from the United States. You simply cannot rely on a so-called trusted brand name alone any longer. All goods must be evaluated on their own performance standards.
Trusted Brands or Retail Sources (For the most part)
I have made reasonably great strides to evaluate and pick prepping goods that offer both decent quality and a fair market value in today’s marketplace. There may be exceptions within some of these brand offerings, but for the most part I have found these to make the grade:
• Muck Boots. You can buy the basic waterproof, mud boot on sale for under $75.
• Coast Lights. They have good flashlights for under $50.
• Para (Ordinance) Pistols. Basic 1911 models can be found for $700 or less.
• PMC Ammo. Reasonably priced in standard calibers. 1000/5.56 for under $350.
• Uncle Henry Knives. Inexpensive but good utility, decent quality.
• Brown Jersey Gloves. In bundles they can be had for $1.00 a pair.
• Bass Pro Shops. Redhead brand is good and reasonable during sales. Best socks.
• Carhart Clothes. Tough, long wearing, durable and comfortable work wear.
• Plano Plastics. Carry cases, ammo boxes, storage containers, strong, resilient.
• Cabela’s. Store branded clothing and boots are well made.
• Bushnell Optics. Reasonable prices, good features, decent glass.
• Sportsman’s Guide. Catalog/on line retailer, good source of real surplus.
• Case-Guard. AR-15 mag storage/carry boxes and other utility plastic containers.
• Cheaper-Than-Dirt. Sometimes, good source of ammo and shooting accessories.
• War Surplus. If you can find the genuine stuff, it is quality issued or not.
• Leupold. Extreme quality optics, not least expensive, many options.
• Smith-Wesson ARs. Top of the line quality, shop around for best prices.
• Schnee Boots. Very best cold weather, rubber bottom, leather top boots.
• Rock River Arms. Among the best heavy ARs for .308.
• Case Knives. Best American made pocketknives.
• Colt Arms. The original 1911, still among the best; same for ARs.
• Coleman Camping. Good all around, shop carefully for origin of manufacture.
• Ruger. An American stalwart for ARs, bolt rifles, 10-22 rimfires and handguns.
• Tractor Supply JOBSMART ® Batteries. On sale as good as the bunny drummer.
• Toyota, Ford F-100, Chevrolet Silverado Trucks. Pick your options, good rides.
• Remington Yellow Box Ammo. Good quality, shop big boxes, shows for pricing.
• Maxpedition. Exceedingly durable packs, bags, cases. Higher end pricing.
• Honda ATVs. Well made, durable, reliable. Mine is 15 years old, never failed.
• Remington. Especially M700 rifles and 870 shotguns.
Certainly as members of the SHTFBlog/Survival Cache family you likely have many other thoughts, preferences, and we hope numerous more recommendations we could add to this list. It’s only a start, and it’s only based on my experiences. We want to know yours. What prepping products have worked, are working, and what has not. As to prep budgeting I can only recommend to set aside what you can. If that requires you to save up to buy a better product, then do that. You don’t have to buy the high end stuff to get quality, durability, good function, and value. Keep shopping, but always buy carefully.
All Photos by Dr. John J. Woods
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