Gearing Up for Prepping & Preparedness

Level 1 Prepping & Preparedness

Gear: Supplies, Tools, or Clothes needed for a special purpose.

That’s the definition we’re using as it relates to gear for prepping & preparedness.

Level-1 preparedness only covers periods of disruption lasting from hours, days, or perhaps up to one or two weeks. So, the topic of gear won’t be too overwhelming.

That said, there are some specific recommendations to consider while setting out on the road of preparedness.

Note: Some of the gear that you might consider is already discussed and overlapped in other Level-1 topics which you can view here:

Prepping and Preparedness 1 -Overview

Gear: Supplies

Flashlight & extra batteries
You do have at least one of these, right? It is an LED flashlight, right?

LED flashlights will operate MUCH LONGER on a set of batteries compared to the flashlights of old. It’s actually difficult to find one that’s not LED these days, but for some of you old-timers maybe you’ve never upgraded?

There seem to be similar numbers of flashlight models as there are grains of sand on the beach. That said, if you’re looking for quality and longevity stick with the well regarded brands such as Streamlight, Surefire, MagLite.

Note: The brightness of LED flashlights are rated in “lumens”. To give you a general notion, a 100 lumen flashlight is not very bright but will suffice for many ordinary applications. A 200-400 lumen flashlight is good and bright. A 600 lumen flashlight is VERY bright. A 1,000 lumen flashlight is crazy bright. The higher the lumens, the shorter the battery life.

Household bleach & Medicine dropper
If you need to purify water from organic contaminants for safe drinking, one way to do it (besides boiling or a quality water filter) is with ordinary household bleach. Without repeating myself, here’s an article on how to do it:

Bleach-Water Ratio For Drinking Water
(basically 8 drops per gallon)

Sleeping bag | Warm blanket for each person
How many of you have a sleeping bag? It’s a great way to stay warm and sleep warm if the heat’s out (power outage during cold weather).

Fire Extinguisher
I’ll bet that there are lots of people who have overlooked having a fire extinguisher in their home. You really should have several. One in the kitchen, and others in different parts of the house.

Related: How To Put Out A Grease Fire

Firemaking | Matches, Lighter
The means to make fire. You never know when you might need to, right? If you’re not a smoker, you’re less likely to have a handful of lighters or matches. So, go out and get what you need.

You might need to light your campstove or the charcoal grill. Maybe the electronic ignition on your bbq grill isn’t working. You might simply need to build a regular fire.

Related: Fire Starter Kit

Paper | Pencil
To right stuff down… Ordinarily in today’s modern world we communicate via electronic devices. If those gadgets aren’t working (dead batteries, power outage) then consider the old fashioned way with paper and pencil. You might need to leave a note.

Can opener
A hand operated can opener. Again, we’re figuring that the power is out. I’m assuming you have some canned foods.

Need to get someone’s attention? The sound of a whistle carries a very long way. Further than you can shout. Great for rescue.

Related: The Loudest Whistle For Your Emergency Kit

Local maps
Can you get from here to there without a GPS? I remember the days before GPS and we all had something that you called, “maps”.

Finding local street level detail maps is harder to find, however you should at least have a road atlas for your area.

Related: Road Atlas Map For Each State

Gear: Tools

4-way Spigot Key
If a water spigot does not have a handle, this little tool will open the valve. Many industrial building water spigots do not have handles, so this Spigot Key will open them. You never know when you might be looking for a water source…

Utility Tool for emergency shut-off of utilities
In an emergency this handy tool will shut off your gas valve and water mains. I have one of these, and purchased it years ago when I lived in California (earthquake concerns). Hurricanes, fires, or floods would be other concerns.

Emergency Gas and Water Shutoff 4-in-1 Tool

Gear: Clothing

Lots of disasters happen due to severe weather. Chances are that you may be outside dealing with the situation and a good raincoat may be a very good thing to have. There are big differences between good quality raincoats and cheap one’s. Breath-ability is one of them! This is one thing that I paid more for, and I’m glad that I did.

Work Gloves
The aftermath of a disruptive event may involve some heavy lifting and handling. Maybe you will need to move debris. Cut tree limbs. Things like that. I cannot overemphasize having good gloves to protect your hands.

Related: The Best Work Gloves For Preparedness

Rugged | Heavy Duty Work Clothes
Some people work and live in environments that do not demand heavy duty work clothes. Most jobs today are not labor intensive or in rugged environments. That said, you may one day find a need to wear heavy duty pants, shirt, etc.. due to the work you may face during a disaster.


A post like this could be filled with lots and lots (and lots more) suggestions for “gear”. I could be typing this for days while trying not to overlook something.

That said, some of this has already been discussed in other topics of Level-1 preparedness (“Water & Food”“72-hour Kit”“Without Electricity”). And since this is prepping and preparedness for short term, we can keep the list fairly light.

So with that in mind, save me the additional work and comment below with more suggestions for “Level-1” gear (up to 1-week max downtime).

[ Read: Preparedness Level 1 – 4 Series Overview ]


  1. Camp Stove with Fuel,
    A few 5 Gallon Buckets.
    Maybe a Oil or Kerosene Lamp with some Fuel.
    A good quality Knife.
    Shovel, both regular Spade and a Foldable.

    The list could be Miles Long as Ken said, each of us should evaluate our needs, make a good list and ACT upon our needs.

    1. For us having extra food is huge,
      But gear wise its basic stuff, knives, garden tools, generators, welder, carpenters tools etc etc, like you said, list could be miles long,,, self defense gear? Yea, i have it covered, do I think ill use it? Who knows, anything is possible. Whats that saying, plan for the worst, hope for the best,,,
      Almost all the hardware i buy has preparedness in the back of my mind regarding it, from being prepared to do whatever work i need to do to being prepared to make or fix things that were available at one time but no longer are…
      The one set of pieces of equipment i would really like are a good combo mill and lathe,,,

  2. Just to reemphasize, FIRE EXTINGUISHERS!!! Even if you have them you need to make sure they are in working order. They can loose their pressure in time. I have 3 in the house 3 in the garage and 1 in my truck.

  3. If you have a generator…or a car…don’t overlook the gasoline. If the pumps are off for a week, (3) five gallon containers would be minimum I would think. Pri-G seems to be the best for a preservative. I recently rotated my supply out that was coming up on two-years old and had been treated with this and the car ran perfectly. I’ve read articles where guys testified to using seven-year old gas treated with this stuff.

  4. Just a quick testimony to the importance of having a map. Yesterday I was coming home from down state when I was detoured off the expressway because of a flooding closure. This was two hours from home right in the heart of a city I was not familiar with. One of the very first car preps that I put in place years ago was a state Altas & Gazateer. Had been under the back seat untouched for years. I pulled over and navigated around the outskirts of the city back onto the expressway. Total detour time was about thirty minutes. I suspect had I not had that it would have turned into a two-hour cuss fest.

  5. You hear these so called and often self proclaimed gurus of prepparedness saying you dont need gear, you just need knowledge,,
    Well guess what you wont survive long with only knowledge if theres no gear available and if you think you will be able to waltz in and take someones gear your dreaming and better pick out what kinda daisies you want growing outa your grave mound

    1. Nailbanger
      I agree with the “no gear” comment. I will say the amount of “Gear” needed for a Level One, is hugely less than the next step, but there are “Must Have” items, hence this article I believe.
      Those that think that they will just “Take” hahahaha good luck with that one, for there will be a LOT of people, even at level one, that will protect what they have.

      With that said, at Level One it’s a great idea to start figuring out what Skills one will need for even a few days of Grid-Down, and start training now!
      For I would NOT count on any help at all from FEMA or any .gov, for they WILL be watching out for their own Tush and Families.

  6. Good Quality Rope should be kept on hand.
    I will be using this as a barter item. I am planning on going into the rope business after SHTF.
    There will be a lot of politicians to hang… :P

  7. We’ve lost the power grid out here a lot over the years (winter storms, downed trees, etc.). Living out in the woods as we do, one of the first things we did was purchase a good generator and install the necessary switches to easily go from grid to generator power. Having done that, we’ve managed very well with no outside power for up to five days, and could easily last a month or more, though we’d probably need a few more board games.

    I do appreciate the mention of a fire extinguisher, as that is the only item on the list I don’t currently have. That’s embarrassing considering my dad was a firefighter! If he was still around I think he’d give me an earful on that subject. Gonna take care of that post haste.

  8. I imagine a sturdy set of boots or walking shoes would be under the category of clothing. Though the car may be working, the roads may be blocked or impassable.

    To Car Guy: Yes, check the pressure on the fire extinguisher butt also turn it over and bump the bottom gently against a solid object (or thump it with a rubber mallet) to loosen the dry chemical that makes up the dry chem fire retardant. Essentially, it is industrial grade of Sodium Bicarbonate. (baking soda). This is one of several reasons that retired firemen keep a big box within our kitchen cabinets. At my place of work, I check the extinguishers for pressure 1x/week and date+sign on the hang tag.

    Flashlights? : over the years, I have been using a variety though now I have settled on 2 types: Mini-Mag iights because they are durable and relatively waterproof. and LED headlamps for their convenience. The headlamps are not very durable and not very waterproof so I buy lots of cheap one as opposed to one expensive tricked out one. ($20.00 per unit)

  9. Solar or crank radio, portable water filter if not on well (I use sawyer minis) and way to store it, a waterbob for the tub if u think it will be a long week, entertainment for the little ones and low soot candles.

  10. Guess the lists would be different if you were assuming you were spending the week without power at home (bugged in) or traveling.

    Assuming bugged-in, I’d say the first level of ‘gear’ to get would be getting substitutes for whatever you do now that requires power. Especially important for urban / suburban folks with less ‘wild’ resources.

    Water storage ‘gear’ to make up for loss of city water, manual can opener to get into your stored food, battery (or oil) lanterns for light, battery/solar radio for news, alternate means to boil water or cook. Fuel for same.

    Bushcraft stuff is cool, but if you’re bugged in to a third-floor apartment for a week, not so level-1-useful.

    — Mic

  11. Can I suggest something our depression era folks used along with those gloves? APRONS!

    When your doing hard dirty work having a workman’s apron with pockets is excellent. Just ask anybody back then who had to do laundry by hand. Also for sun protection, insect protection (AKA Gardening) long sleeved scrub tops and pants are wonderful. Scrubs are made from cotton-polyester sheets material, tough, easy to wash and much cooler than jeans and shirts. Aramark has great prices and good quality.

    NH Michael

    1. Aprons are great,, when i was heavily producing kale we harvested and packed twice a week, had long rubber aprons like a butcher would wear, was the only way to stay clean and dry, lately am thinking about making a nice leather apron for when im doing shop work, keep my pencil close and tape etc on me rather than putting it down then searching for it every time i need to measure, would keep glue off too

      1. Made a leather apron out of leather skirt I found at thrift store! I was ankle length.

  12. Most don’t know why only 8 drops per gallon to purify water.
    More used repeatedly will harm the stomach.

    Don’t forget that extra bulb for that flashlight.

    I hope all know where the gas, water, electric boxes/cutoffs are.

    1. JJ I cannot disagree that excessive bleach in your drinking water can be harsh on your bowels BUT 8 drops per gallon is for clean water. Bio-load is important as sticks and dirt, let alone bird poop from your roof will require MORE bleach to properly treat your water. The sniff test is generally effective so if 5 honest minutes has passed since you added and stirred your water you should clearly smell bleach. If not add 4 more drops, stir, wait 5 minutes sniff again. Excess bleach smell will dissipate soon. I have extra coffee filters on hand to reduce bio-load in my untreated water.

      Hopes this helps someone avoid diarrhea in a situation.

      NH Michael

  13. I definitely want to have my battery/crank charge operated radios handy for local news, weather, and Ham reports. I have a variety of radios I can use. Another idea is a small portable digital tv to see if local channels are broadcasting. I bought one several years ago on Black Friday, 8 inch color screen, It works great, and is part of my Emergency Comms bag.

    Additionally, my old incandescent Mag Lite D cell still works great and it’s going on 15 years old. Of course I have some LED flashlights.

    1. Broadwing (cool name BTW) Walmart sells replacement LED bulbs for your Mag light. Our local police use LED in their flashlights so I assume they hold up well to club duty.

      NH Michael

  14. Hard copy phone list and copies of important documents. Doesn’t take up a lot of space but if you have to retrieve a child from school lock-down a birth certificate will probably come in handy. If you have to prove that you live in a locked down area, you’ll need something with your address on it. That kind of thing. Birth/marriage certificates, immunization records, wills, deeds, etc.

    1. Lauren
      Good suggestions, I do believe Ken has an Article coming soon on this issue…
      “Documentation and Planning (coming soon)”

  15. All good stuff, have to replace the fire extinguishers that are old. Don’t forget a good first aid kit. A big, cheap plastic tarp and duct tape for any holes.

  16. …and a big bottle of your preferred headache medicine, I’ll let you fill in, blank(s) as the headache cause…

  17. When resident manager of the old building I lived in recently
    I had to learn how to shut off water in an emergency and clear the
    building pipes of water. There were sixteen units and I’d use the Sillcock
    key to clear the pipes of water and actually it would drain for at least a full
    minute. Lot’s of water in those pipes. And only two stories.. If water is
    contaminated by broken pipes in area, the water in pipes may be the only
    clean water for a while. So…
    Have a collapsible 1 or 5 gallon container to put your water in. You may not
    have access to a bucket at the time of an emergency.
    I just moved and am fixing up new place. Thanks for the reminder of several
    fire extinguishers. Was going to do later but it’s probably better to do before I
    I’m on second floor and was thinking of getting a fire latter to have available in
    a fire emergency since there is limited egress from my condo. I just mentioned
    to worker in condo how my previous balcony wasn’t that strong and he said
    never to use if possible – to weak – and pointed out which windows to drape over
    because windows have stronger support around them. Was grateful for the tip.

  18. Today is the 34th anniversary of hurricane Alicia devastating our area. It was 34 years ago I became a “Prepper”. I was caught unprepared then and swore that would never happen again and so far, I’ve been prepared for every hurricane, flood, and power outage since. Going down these preparedness lists, I’m proud to say I have it all and then some.
    I do have a question for someone with more electrical knowledge than I. I have been concerned that in the event of an EMP or CME that the LED’s in these newer flashlights would be fried as they are diodes. For this reason, I still keep a few filament bulb lights handy as well as keeping a few LED lights in a faraday cage.
    Will LED’s survive an EMP or CME?

    1. That reminds me of our story of being prepared. We moved to Louisiana in ’84 and it wasn’t long before we had our first hurricane. Just like you I made up my mind being un prepared would NEVER happen to my family again! We had very young children and to be honest, it scared the hell out of us. We came from the Midwest and had never seen the store shelves stripped bare of absolutely everything. Not to mention the devistation from the hurricane. I was taught from the local Cajun/Coon Ass people to always have a hurricane box stocked up at all times. A life lesson well learned that I have never forgot!

    2. Regarding LEDs and EMP, it’s theoretically possible to fry. However never tested in real life (thankfully!). The affects of EMP will depend to an extent on your proximity horizon to detonation (overhead vs low angle), EMP altitude, payload, and other such theoretical technicals. Nevertheless its a good idea to save some of those incandescent bulbs/flashlights, assuming you will have the ability to power them post-event.

      1. Tinfoil hats for your LEDs? Seriously. I’ve wrapped a number in thin foam. rolled them in tin foil and then rolled and crimped the ends. Then vacuumed sealed in the food saver. Batteries are stored out of the lights.

    1. Whats up with the site not holding usernames anymore? Really sorta irritating

  19. If you are in a heavy rainstorm prone area and have a basement you should have wetness alarms, sump pumps, wet/dry vacuums, dehumidifiers, power fans, tripod mounted worklights and most importantly a generator + extension cord + ethanol free gas supplies. All of these are a necessity.

    1. @OldChevy
      This is a timely comment since a sump pump in near the top of my list to get for “just in case”. This is the first time I’ve ever had a basement, and it’s fully built out, including carpet (bad idea in retrospect).
      I have water alarms in the utility room (two drains) and also on the window sills of the bedroom window wells (both have drains also, but they could always get plugged). Thinking I need something that will move a lot of water, but not draw too much power, especially if it’s grid down and I’m working with either solar or generator power.
      Any suggestions?

      1. @ FinallyOuttaCA
        Marine battery trickle charged off your solar running a 12v marine bilge pump. You can get upwards of 1000 gph moving per pump.
        This week I got in some range time and found that my FNS-9 cycles aluminum cased ammo just fine. S club had canned tuna on sale so grabbed a dozen of them and some various spices.
        I am also in the process of trying to get my 21 month old son to learn “quiet time” and not make a sound. He is always up to play, so I figure hide and seek might be a good way just in case, but I can’t figure out how to stop his giggling while hiding without killing the fun. Any thoughts?

        1. Play cat and mouse hide and seek, The cat can’t find the mouse if he is quite?

  20. I would say this was pretty informative. I was pretty familiar on what items to bring in case of a situation when needed, but what I didn’t know was about using bleach to purify water. Pretty dang cool.

  21. You have one of the best sites out there. Thank you for all you have done. I share your link with anyone who CARES. I’m asking permission to copy some of your material, along with other stuff, to put together a personalized hand out for my local parish for FREE. People are waking up. For most it will be hard on them. If I can help them I will. Young families are our future. They are becoming more aware and afraid. A useful tool!! Thank you

  22. – Looking at some of the linked articles and had a small comment.
    Fire extinguishers definitely, have several around. A small generator, at least 3500 watts, will make a huge difference. That’s big enough that with a little forethought, you can run whatever you must, without breaking the budget. It will require some skull sweat to figure what you can run at one time, but that will make stored gasoline go farther.

    One item I don’t see listed, that will frequently be needed, is a small (16” or so) chainsaw. Unlike some of the areas I have lived, I do not have huge trees here. I still find regular use for a chainsaw and have needed them much worse in the past. I feel a bit like Calvin from the comics asking his dad where they keep the chainsaws and explosives, both of which I have played with, LOL.

    These are obviously in addition to the basics you have listed above such as good work gloves and clothing, sturdy boots, knives, a means to clean and purify water, start a fire, radios, and other items already listed above.

    – Papa S.

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