For the sake of excusing any semantical argument over words here, we are going to basically equate the terms gear and equipment as the same. I suppose one could separate the two. For example, equipment might be an electric generator while support gear might be a gasoline can, electrical extension cords, and connectors. But, why bother?
By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog
The important part for preppers and survivalists is to have the proper gear and equipment to overcome any kind of a disaster scenario. But, certainly not just to have all the essential survival stuff, but to organize it and know how to use it when the time of necessity arrives.
However you approach the acquisition of gear and equipment, have an organized plan to do so including a system of categorizing what you are gathering in support of your survival efforts. Organization is essential. This is to avoid just buying gear and equipment willy-nilly, this or that, and chunking it all into the garage in a heap of stuff. You know, like it looks the Monday after you get home from a weekend long camping trip? Begin the process with an organizational system.
The Prepper Notebook
When it comes to prepping and most other phases of life demanding a sense of organization, I tend to be a bit anal retentive. That is, I have to have a plan, and an on-going record of everything to do with the entire process. This helps me track all the efforts, intents, goals, objectives and not to mention the actual acquisition of gear and equipment as with prepping. At my age it pays big time dividends to have it all written down where it can be consulted, changed, or updated regularly.
When asked by wannabe preppers how to get started, my first recommendation is to start a prepping notebook. This helps organize everything for everybody. You devise the book however it works best for you, by gear category, equipment type, bug in emphasis, bug out concentration, or whatever. Develop chapters, lists, files, or any form of organization that is simple for you to follow and keep up. This notebook becomes your Prepper Bible so to speak.
Sure the notebook can take many forms. Mine is a simple three-ring binder that allows me to update it with new pages, re-do or replace old pages as lists change or new ideas come to the forefront of the overall organizational plan. Some do this but use a separate binder for each prepping survival category. As the system grows over time, this might be a workable approach. You decide what works best for you.
The Foundation Categories
Common sense and logistics vary from person to person. The goal is simply to find a system you understand and that works for you. Everybody’s does not have to be the same. However, if you happen to be working with a team, several families, or even a neighborhood, then standardization would be the most plausible way to go.
As you review survival information and planning guides, you may begin to see familiar terms and references to the most logical ways to organize survival gear and equipment. I use a set of basic foundations to organize everything for me.
My own basic survival foundations or essentials include (1) food, (2) water, (3) shelter issues, (4) hardware gear, (5) software gear, (6) security and weapons issues, (7) communication modes, and (8) health and sanitation. Your categories may be different as you develop your own unique working organization system. But create one and use it.
Now let me go through each to briefly describe what kinds of items ought to be included in each survival foundation.
1) Food. This encompasses everything you will stock up to eat for 3-6 months. It should cover both options of staying home or escaping to an alternative site. Survival food kept at home could be considerably different than foods hauled to a bug out site. At home you can keep bulky, heavy, high volume space items like canned goods, and big bags of rice, beans, wheat flour and such.
If you have not already pre-stocked a bug out site, then you may be limited to easier to handling foods to carry out of the house. This might mean MREs, freeze-dried foods, or classic pre-packaged survival foods commercially purchased.
Try to vary your menus by adding a balanced diet of meat proteins, vegetables, and fruits. Watch your plan to keep lots of carbs and starches under control. As with an everyday diet now, try to mix things up not only for nutritional value, but variety as well.
2) Water. If you are lucky, you’ll have access to continued water service or a private well even if it has to be hand pumped. Calculate ahead to plan for at least one gallon of water per person per day. That is a lot of water. A water purification system will be needed for essential daily water needs but also as a backup way to purify any available nearby water source. There are chemical ways to purify water, so look into those methods, too.
3) Shelter Issues. Bugging in or out, make sure you have shelter and that it is sound and secure. Deal with maintenance issues or be prepared to. In storm areas you may want to pre-plan for window and door covers. Beef up security with locks, bars, or other security efforts. If the power grid is down, think ahead for ways to cool, heat, and light your shelter. This may mean an outside generator and fuel supplies to power the basics if not only for short periods of time. Have a plan for shelter security, monitoring and observing areas surrounding the shelter.
4) Hardware Gear. This includes everything from common mechanical tools, to construction tools, and everything thought of as hardware. Add an AM-FM crank radio, weather alert radio, lanterns, flashlights, knives, utensils, cookware, cook stoves, hatchets, axes, machetes, gardening tools, chainsaws, sledge hammers, jacks, storage boxes, tote boxes, and such. Have a thorough diverse selection of hardware repair items including nails, screws, bolts, nuts, and you name it. Supplying hardware gear probably never ends, but is easier to organize for a permanent home than perhaps a bug out location, but try. Even if you are forced to bug out, you will still need most all of this gear.
5) Software Gear. Software is basically anything canvas or nylon or such for bags, cases, packs, backpacks, fanny packs, sleeping bags, all garments for all weather conditions and seasons, and the same for shoes, and boots. Also think of software in terms of gear that supports your weapons arsenal including cases, holsters, gear totes, ammo bags, magazine pouches, slings, and all else.
6) Security and Weapons. A selection of weapons will be needed for self-protection, property protection, thwarting external threats of all kinds, two and four-footed, and for securing additional foods for survival by hunting and foraging. A well rounded weapons arsenal will include handguns, rifles, and shotguns. Acquiring the appropriate guns is a study of its own and requires much consideration, thought, comparisons, and planning. Seek out professional advice at gun shops, gun ranges, and through a host of information sources available these days. Shop carefully and buy prudently.
Owning weapons also means everything that goes with it including an extensive ammunition supply of ammo types for both self-defense and hunting. You will need storage capacity, boxes, or ammo cases. Guns will need safes, or lockable cabinets. Maintenance supplies will be needed including gun cleaning kits to handle every firearm and the consumables that go with it. See also software above for weapons uses as well.
Security plans and firearm’s training will be needed. This should be a regular on-going activity to support all other survival training and activities. Security should include both for the physical residence or bug out shelter, but also for vehicle escape during any SHTF scenario.
7) Communications. During a SHTF scenario, communications will be important between you, family or other survival team members and or with the outside world. IPhones may or may not be operational. Hand radios can help for short range talk at home, or in the neighborhood, or bug out property. Having a HAM radio is not out of the question as well. Emergency communication devices may be needed too including lights, flares, bonfires, signal mirrors, beacon strobes, message flags, PLBs (personal locator beacons) or anything else to draw attention when you need help. Know the Morse Code SOS signal of 3 dots, 3 dashes, and 3 dots as a universally recognized emergency rescue signal. That could come in handy, too.
8) Health and Sanitation. This is a big one and not covered last because of a lack of importance. Just the opposite. During any SHTF or disaster of any kind, personal hygiene and sanitation is paramount. Plan ahead how you will attempt to stay as clean as regularly as possible, and how to handle human waste issues. Look into a variety of options for a porta-potty on site.
Personal health is critical especially if you take regular medications. Be absolutely certain you maintain ample supplies of all required medications. In this day and age of Obamacare or whatever the next plan is to be, it can be difficult to secure much more than 90 days of most prescription medicines. Talk to your doctor about this. Maybe you can find a pro-survivalist physician to help out. Also keep a full supply of every kind of OTC meds you might use. Have a comprehensive first aid kit, and backups for all frequently used items.
Gear and equipment is a big issue in the survival movement. You have to devise a plan to acquire everything that is needed, next, keep it organized and then to manage it for both long term storage and use. The process never ends, so get started as soon as you can.