by Morgan Rogue, contributing writer
When it comes to getting prepared, gear certainly helps. Preparedness isn’t all about gear, of course, but let’s not fool ourselves. Gear helps us be better prepared. The whole point of preparedness is so we’re not struggling during an emergency or disaster. So why not store up some gear to help us through tough times?
In saying that, some of us are on tight budgets, especially during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic (the time of this writing). With unemployment skyrocketing and a recession likely on the way, how we can we get the gear we need while sticking within our budget?
There’s a ton of great gear out there for every budget. Even more so, there’s a lot of great gear that goes unnoticed or ignored because it’s not ‘tacticool’ or maybe it’s just slipped our mind. No worries, we have you covered!
20 Underrated Preps for Under $20
1. No Rinse Body Wash – Why waste water when you can clean yourself with a no rinse, no water needed body wash? Also comes in a shampoo version.
2. Manicure Set – Broken nails, ripped skin… none of that is fun. A small kit won’t cost much and you even just get some nail clippers for $1.
3. Dental Hygiene Tools – I’m not talking about toothbrushes here. I’m talking about post-collapse oral care. Specifically – a set of stainless steel dentist’s tools. Take care of your teeth and they’ll take care of your overall health. Also, make sure you have download the Where There is No Dentist pdf – it’s totally FREE and it could save your mouth WTSHTF.
4. Sewing Kit – Knowing how to patch clothes and gear will help keep them lasting longer. A sewing kit can be found at the dollar store for, you guessed it, $1.
5. Road Maps – An atlas or local road map can be found anywhere from $8-20, depending on where you get it. Gas station maps are exceptionally inexpensive. If you are willing to break the $20 mark, the DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer are my absolute favorites. You should have one in your bug out vehicle for your state and any state you think you might need to bug out to.
6. Spices – Good spices don’t come cheap, but you can get a basic variety pack for under $20. You’ll thank yourself once you need to cook up some otherwise bland survival food. It will also be helpful if you are hunting gray squirrels for dinner after the apocalypse and struggle to gag down the meat.
7. Sunscreen and Bug Spray – Highly underrated prep but a sun burn can be detrimental to our health and well-being. In addition, getting bit up by bugs could cause severe issues.
8. Travel-Sized Booze – Otherwise known as “nips,” these little one-ounce liquor bottles are under $20 and they’re great for barter/trade. If you want to extend your dollar even further, you can buy a larger bottle of alcohol and a pack of one dozen mini liquor bottles to fill up.
9. Electrolyte Powder – Our body needs proper electrolytes in order to function. Supplement your electrolytes with tablets or a powder. They are the perfect addition to storage preps and bug out bags.
10. Sillcock Key – What’s better than a prep under $20? A prep under $5! Gain access to water from the sides of buildings with a sillcock key. Very underrated and extremely useful. They’re so cheap you could put one in each vehicle and bug out bag for under $20.
11. Hand Warmers – These really come in handy, especially if you don’t have any electricity or are caught outside in chilling conditions.
12. Baking Soda – With a million and 1 uses, baking soda is good to have on hand for toothpaste, cleaning, baking and more! I got a 5lb bag from Amazon for $3.27.
13. LifeStraw – Most preppers know of these by now, but do you actually own one? There is no shelf-life on these, and they are perfect in a pinch. Great for bug out bags and get home kits.
14. Cheap Binoculars – Are $20 or under binoculars going to be the best binoculars you’ve ever owned? No. But they’re not terrible, and certainly better than nothing at all. The upside to cheap binoculars is that 1) you can buy more than one, and 2) you don’t have to worry about tossing them around in your truck or bag. The “under $20” SkyGenius 8×21 Compact Binoculars have surprisingly strong reviews!
15. Cards – A deck of cards is one of those things you probably already have multiples of. They’re very common as Christmas stocking stuffers that then get pushed into a drawer somewhere. Learn a few games if you don’t know some good ones already. Perfect for kids. And if you want to up the “survival” aspect of playing cards, take a look at Urban Survival Playing Cards.
16. Prepping Books – Knowledge is power and your mind is your best asset. Invest in yourself by reading and increasing your survival know-how. There are countless books out there on personal preparedness, and many military manuals are fitting and entirely free in PDF format. If you want some of the best in grid-down paperback format, visit the selection at Prepper Press.
17. Weatherproof Lighter – I know the standard Bic lighter is everyone’s go-to lighter, but if you have ever tried to light one in cold or wet environments you know how frustrating they can be. These are usually the kinds of conditions where the need for a survival fire is at its greatest. A weatherproof lighter is what every prepper should be carrying. You spend a bit more, but it’s still cheap.
18. Flint Steel Fire Starter – Speaking of fire, a basic ferro rod kit will generate hundreds if not thousands of fires. It takes a little practice, but once you have the hang of it, you can start a fire in almost any condition with one.
19. USB Drive – It’s not the USB drive itself that you want, but what you can put on it. Contacts, maps, important documents, PDFs, you name it. If you don’t have a digital bug out bag add making one to your to-do list.
20. $20 Bill – Cash on hand is always a good idea. Always have at least a $20 in your wallet, car, and go-bag.
Are There Other Underrated Preps?
You bet there are! The best way to find items that might be ‘underrated’ is to look around your everyday life. What do you use on a fairly regular basis? Would you still want those things around, even in a crisis? While we can’t have every single item around during times of crisis, we can certainly have some forethought about things we don’t want to have to worry about or things we might take for granted.
We’re preppers, so let’s prep to have some semblance of normalcy, even during a crisis. This is especially important for kids or anyone else in the household who needs some kind of ‘normal’ during stressful times.
Don’t let your budget get in the way of being prepared. There are always options available to you.
What would you suggest for this list?