Here’s the Essential SHTF Gear You Need to Survive

Essential SHTF Gear

Reality is, we’re probably not as prepared as we thought when SHTF (Shit Hits the Fan). That’s why it’s never a bad thing to have a Bug Out Bag (BOB) full of your SHTF gear ready. But what are the essential items to have in your BOB? We got you.

Essential SHTF Gear List

Here’s our list of must-have SHTF gear items that will help you survive disasters and emergencies.

1. Food and Water

Make sure that you have a supply of good food and clean water that can last for a week up to a month. Your emergency food supply must include ready-to-eat food such as canned goods, biscuits, energy bars, beans, fruits, and snacks. Food that has a long shelf-life or not easily spoiled is ideal. Your survival food must also be easy to carry or transport if you and your family are on the move. There are a lot of survival food options on the market today which you can check out.

It is also essential to keep yourself hydrated as your body will barely survive without enough water supply. When worse comes to worst, you may find yourself stuck in an area where there is no clean water available. A water purifier would come in handy. Having a reliable water purifier will ensure that you don’t run out of freshwater. It is an essential item in your SHTF gear whether you are out in the wilderness or the suburbs. Aside from the water purifier, another piece of crucial SHTF gear is a water bottle so you can quickly hydrate.

2. Waterproof, Heavy-duty Backpack

Fitting SHTF gear in your bug out bag might be challenging, but it is a must in SHTF situations. That’s why having a waterproof, heavy-duty backpack which can carry a lot of stuff is a must-have SHTF gear. You also must be comfortable hauling it for an extended time. And make sure that it can withstand extreme snow, heat, and rain. You don’t want your backpack giving up on you while you’re on the move.

3. Protective Gear and Clothing

Prepare survival belts, body armor, and tactical clothing. Make sure to prepare comfortable clothes.

A headgear is a useful SHTF item since you can use this as a protection against the sun, dust, and heat, as well as an arm sling or emergency gauze.

You can also choose to prepare a gas mask and respirator for cases of airborne attacks.

4. Personal Defense Items

Arm yourself with personal defense items such as knives and guns. Lightweight knives such as a Swiss Army knife or utility knife that you can carry with you anywhere always have a place. Choose a survival knife that comes with pliers, scissors, and screwdrivers, which will come in handy. Survival knives are useful when you’re out in the wild since you can use it to slice or prepare food, hunt for food, open canned goods, fix things, cut ropes and other materials for shelter, as well as defend you from attackers.

There are also credit-card-sized knives that are easy to carry and won’t take up too much space in your bug out bag. As small as it looks, it is heavy duty and works as a knife should. What makes it an essential SHTF gear is that it can fit into your wallet without being noticed.

You can also arm and protect yourself with guns or firearms and ammunition. Remember to use firearms only in self-defense and only when necessary for survival. There are a lot of weapons available on the market. So, choose a gun that best suits your needs.

Whether it is a stealth EDC multi-tool or a large hatchet in your bug out bag, there are a lot of survival tools that you should have on hand to help you through tough situations.

 5. Back-up Power, Flashlights, Headlights, Batteries

A portable power kit that can recharge via solar power is an essential SHTF gear. This power kit can be used to restore your SHTF gear such as flashlights, headlights emergency lights, phones, and radios.

Don’t forget batteries since it can be used to power your flashlights and emergency lights. Pack lighters and matches to light up a fire, especially when you’re out in the wild.

6. Emergency Communication

Having emergency communication items such as phones, battery-powered radios, as well as long-range walkie-talkies, is essential. Battery-powered radios are valuable SHTF gear since you have to stay connected with the world and keep yourself updated with the latest updates and reports.

Another valuable SHTF gear is a survival whistle which alerts people of your location.

7. First-Aid Kit

Your SHTF gear must include a first-aid kit containing medicine, alcohol, antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide, band-aids, tourniquet, gauze or bandages, and pain relievers, to name a few. Your first-aid kit must have the medicines and tools to treat burns, itches, wounds, sprains, cuts, and other injuries.

Another must-have in your first-aid kit is potassium permanganate which can be used to clean and sterilize wounds.

If necessary, your kit may also have tampons or sanitary napkins for women, and diaper for babies or seniors.

8. Map

Prepare a physical map of your area or state. Having a map will help you navigate your way as well as find evacuation areas or temporary shelter. It would also be helpful to have a compass for navigation purposes.

9. Sleeping Bag and Tent

Another SHTF gear is a tent with a sleeping bag which you can use as shelter in the wild or during disasters. Your tent must, of course, be waterproof and last extreme conditions such as heavy rain and snow.  You must also pack a paracord, which is a cord that is useful for shelter and clothesline.

Wrapping Up

These are just some of the must-have SHTF gear to arm yourself with during disasters and emergencies. But this SHTF gear list is nothing without proper response and handling on your part. You, yourself, are the key to surviving emergencies and disasters. That’s why you should be mentally and emotionally prepared for a crisis or when SHTF. You mustn’t panic.

Calmly face the problems and challenges that come with it. Think of solutions rather than problems. You must be able to devise a comprehensive SHTF plan and act on it the best way possible. The SHTF gears we listed above are items that can help you survive disasters and crises for sure, but don’t forget, you hold the key to your survival.

What do you think of our SHTF gear list? Are there more SHTF gear that you would like to recommend? We would love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments section. As always, stay safe, secure, and prepared.

Brian Duff

Brian began his preparedness life at the age of three after surviving the 1971 San Fernando Earthquake. The prepping path led Brian to become a boy scout, lifeguard, firefighter-paramedic, army ranger, tactical-medicine training center director, and international security director. Adding to his time helping save lives here in the United States, Brian spent over a decade protecting others in countries like Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and South Sudan. In addition to his bachelor's degree in security management and a master's of business administration, Brian holds numerous certifications from the safety, security, and emergency medical industries.


  1. john cole on August 30, 2019 at 2:47 am

    Love it.Thank you

  2. Tina ZenQuest on March 10, 2020 at 8:38 pm

    Wow I got some holes on my BOB. Very informative. Thanks!

    • Brian Duff on March 30, 2020 at 8:01 pm

      I hear that’s a common problem these days.

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