Prepping on a Budget - 11 Preps for Under $10
Shopping for survival gear can be a little overwhelming not to mention expensive, especially when prepping on a budget. To help you get the most bang for the buck I put together a list of 11 versatile preparedness items all currently under $10 that are both very useful and good values.
#1 Camping Stove
Sterno Folding Stove - I have more camping stoves than I care to admit, but the Sterno Folding Stove remains my primary bug out bag stove. It's not as compact or lightweight as some of the other models I have but it just works too well to swap out. Its large square frame provides a stable cooking surface and it is the only camp stove I own that could be used to grill on if need be. The Sterno stove's walls also make a good windscreen, something often overlooked but very important when cooking outdoors. Finally, while designed for Sterno type fuels, other fuel sources like fuel tabs and even wood can be used if necessary.
Rothco 550 Type III Paracord - In case you haven't heard paracord can be used for an astonishing number of survival related tasks. While paracord bracelets are popular I prefer to pack more because it is such a versatile item. I generally carry 100 feet in my bug out bag and 30+ feet in my EDC kit. Be aware there are some knockoff type cordage out there that looks similiar to paracord but doesn't have the individual strands inside that can be separated and removed.
#3 Pill Holder
Thumbs Up Keyring - A keychain pill holder can be used to store any number of small items that you might want to keep with you at all times. Some people use them for pills as intended, while others have broadened their use to include micro fishing kits or storage for spare hearing aid batteries. The pill holder on my keychain is used to hold a single bill (usually a $20) in case I should forget or lose my wallet; this way if I have my keys I have some cash.
#4 Duct Tape
Gorilla Tape 12 Yards - There is no denying how useful and effective Duct tape is as a survival item; however, the quality can vary greatly from brand to brand. Gorilla Tape is like quality Duct tape but with even more holding power; and while it sounds a little ridiculous to get excited about tape, this stuff is just awesome. While a having a roll or two around the house is a good idea, I like to cut three or six foot pieces and roll them up for use in the various kits I keep stocked.
#5 Camp Soap
Campsuds 4oz - Sanitation is an important survival issue that often gets neglected especially in survival kits and bug out bags. Packing laundry detergent, hand soap, body wash, dish soap, and shampoo would be impractical and costly; however, I cover all these bases by simply carrying a bottle of Campsuds. This stuff has been around for a long time and is a favorite among campers and backpackers alike; a little goes a long ways and it is biodegradable to boot.
#6 Knife Sharpener
Smith Pocket Pal Sharpener - You would be hard pressed to find many survival kits without at least one knife in it, yet even the best survival knife will eventually need sharpened. While carrying a Lansky or similar style sharpener is often ruled out because of size, weight, or cost; a small v-style sharpener can do the job effectively as long as you don't let the blade get too dull. I use a Smith's brand sharpener which has two "V" slots for maintaining my knives and it usually only requires a couple passes to keep a knife's edge sharp.
#7 Emergency Blanket
Adventure Medical Heatsheet - Most of you have probably been exposed to the cheap silver emergency style blankets; and while their ability to reflect heat can be an important asset, their durability is often questionable at best with some bordering on laughable. The Adventure Medical Heatsheets style blanket is still compact, lightweight, and relatively inexpensive; but its durability is much better than the average silver emergency blanket found in most stores. Adventure Medical makes their blankets in both single or two person models, and also makes a couple of small bivvy models.
#8 Bottle Cup
GSI Bottle Cup - Having a metal container to cook with, or more importantly to boil water in if necessary is a must. What makes bottle cups so useful is that they are extremely lightweight, and can nest on the bottom of a Nalgene or similar style water bottle. So you get an important piece of gear that adds almost no weight to your pack and takes up virtually no room. I use a GSI brand cup nested on the bottom of a Nalgene bottle as my back up cooking vessel and spare coffee cup.
#9 Keychain Light
Energizer Hi-Tech - Key chain lights are inexpensive and so useful, yet few people actually use them. To be fair some early keychain lights years ago were kind of a joke, but today's modern versions are a very useful little piece of survival gear. I tested three of the most popular keychain lights and decided that the Energizer Hi-Tech was the right one for me. I use this little guy all the time, because despite usually having a high powered tactical flashlight nearby the Energizer is on my person.
Mini Bic 5 Pack - While starting a fire might not be something you need to do very often; having the ability to do so when needed is important. While there are some unique and cool looking firestarters out there, for price and performance Bic is still the standard to beat in my book. I like the mini Bic's as they are very small and slim, and I have one in nearly every survival kit I have including, Altoids Tins, EDC kit, Get Home Bag, and Bug Out Bag. While it never hurts to have multiple ways to make fire, mini Bic's are just too inexpensive and effective to not have several.
#11 Velcro Strips
Velcro Sticky Back 5ft - While Duct tape and Paracord get the lion's share of attention for being fix all preps; those who have discovered Velcro strips have found it the solution to many prepping related problems. The strips come in two sections, the hooks and the loops, each section has a sticky back that can be applied to a wide variety of surfaces. I first used these strips to better secure the front entrance flaps of my Texsport camouflage pup tent and was impressed at what an easy solution to that problem it was and have been a fan ever since.