What a time to be alive. No longer does any actual or would be prepper have to get dressed and drive into town to shop for needed items and equipment. Right from the comfort of your home, in your jammies or your birthday suit, on your desktop or on your phone, you can have nearly anything in the world sent right to your door the very next day with just one press.
Say what you will about their ethics and effect they have on local small businesses, but Amazon has damn near anything you might need on the provision and equipment front, and can send it to you so fast and cheap you’ll question ever leaving your house again.
In the interests of helping the chronic procrastinators, agoraphobes, newbies and perpetual tinkerers, I have assembled a list of my 20 favorite, high-quality prepping products you can get on Amazon right now.
All of the items on this list are ones you could actually use, and would certainly benefit from having in nearly any survival situation great or small. This list is based entirely on my use and experience, and is not to be taken as any kind of complete or comprehensive BOB, get-home kit, or anything like that.
While all of the items on this list are of good quality, I make no guarantees real or implied as to their suitability for any specific task or environment. It is up to you to do the research and put your gear through its paces before you declare it worthy of selection. I cannot do that for you. Take heart though, that none of the items on this list are junky, or hobby-grade crap.
Use these recommendations to plan your own shopping, look for replacements or upgrades to your existing kit, or round-out a core supply you have already started. If you are missing something from one of the major survival requirements, chances are you’ll find it on this list.
The following items are presented in no particular order, so just read, peruse and enjoy.
Quick disclosure: If you visit a link in this article and then you buy something, I may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. You can read my full disclosure here.
Flashlight – Streamlight MicroStream
Streamlight is well known for making rugged, dependable and eminently useable flashlights for a good bit less than another well known AAA maker (Surefire, *cough*). Their MicroStream is tiny flashlight that still pumps out plenty of light for utility tasks and features a convenient two-way pocket clip for bezel-up or bezel-down carry.
45 lumens on a single AAA battery is not much next to some eyeball-toasting models they and other makers churn out today, but it is more than enough to read a map, find your way in the dark, or signal someone that is not too far off. You know, things you’ll actually use a flashlight for.
Reliable, and works well as a secondary or primary light for someone who is not concerned with defensive tasks. Very cheap, and worth every penny. Small and thin enough to carry in a pocket, on a belt or in your pack or survival kit.
Headlamp – Streamlight Bandit
If you are using a flashlight for a utility task, chances are you’d be better served with a headlamp. Don’t get me wrong, you need both, but the ability to go hands free and have the light aim wherever you are looking is priceless. Plus, holding a flashlight with your teeth just sucks.
Another Streamlight offering, the Bandit is a super light rechargeable headlamp that pushes about 130 lumens in a wide angle flood beam, perfect for lighting up your workspace and immediate surroundings. A low mode helps you conserve juice and is still more than enough for most tasks. The Bandit is comfortable and a very good performer at its price. Its lack of battery replacement and reliance on recharging might be a deal-breaker for some, but this is easily overcome with a power cell for extended forays.
Around your head or clipped onto a hat or helmet, the Bandit is a great headlamp for all occasions. The various versions have different combinations of white light plus an optional alternate color like green or red to preserve your night vision.
Knife – CRKT M21-10KSF
A decent knife is almost as essential as air in a survival situation. Your pocket knife will serve innumerable tasks, from self-defense and shelter creation to utilitarian and rigging chores. Pocket knives can be as expensive as you want, but good quality can be had for a decent price. Enter the CRKT M21, a beefy tactical folder that makes it a good all-purpose choice.
This sturdy spear point folder features a deeply sculpted handle for a secure grip, and an integrated full guard that functions as a flipper for fast and sure opening of the knife, even with one hand, in any circumstances.
This knife can be had with and without serrations depending on your preference, and is available in several colors and styles. A hard working no-nonsense knife that will not break the bank.
Multi-Tool – Gerber Dime
A multi-tool may serve as your do-all tool, knife and all, or supplement a carried folding or fixed blade. However you feel about the multi-tool as a pocket knife, it can certainly handle all the tasks your knife isn’t up to or not designed to perform.
Gerber’s diminutive Dime packs in 10 tools in a compact form factor: pliers, wire cutter, file, tweezers, bottle opener, knife, flat and Phillips drivers, scissors and a utility box opener. Aside from all this functionality, it is the nice design touches that put the Dime above its peers in the compact multi-tool category, elements like spring loaded jaws and tools that are accessible with the unit handles folded shut.
You won’t be repairing an engine with this little guy, but you will be more than capable of tuning up and repairing most of your other gear, and that makes the Dime something you don’t want to drop.
Lighter – Bic Classic
Fire is the primordial multi-tool: heat source, light source, used for cooking, signaling and keeping predators at bay, fire has ever been the greatest tool for man since we first mastered its creation in those dim days before history was. No matter what, when the time comes that you need a fire, you need one pronto. Stop beating around the bush and use a lighter before resulting to other methods.
Bics are cheap, reliable and utterly ubiquitous. Just about the only thing that will stop them is extreme cold, but that has more to do with the fuel, butane, than the delivery system. Keeping it in your pocket near your body will keep it sparking happily into even the coldest nights.
It is important to have a secondary fire starting system to make sure all your bases are covered, but you will rarely have need of one if you keep a couple of good lighters in your kit. Buy the 12 pack above and stash them everywhere. You aren’t less of a prepper for using a lighter. Be smart.
Fire Starter – Uberleben Zunden Fire Starter
Just in case you lose your Bic, run out of fuel or misplace your kit, you can still have the means to quickly and easily get a fire going with a minimum of fuss. Taking the form of a compact ferro rod with a striker on a handy lanyard, this dynamic duo will repeatedly spew out a shower of sparks that are over 5,500 degrees in all conditions, rain or shine.
These are not click-and-light, and do take a little practice and finesse to employ effectively, but they are ultimately easy to use. Give it a whirl in your backyard a couple of times and you’ll find it is like riding a bike.
Tested, tried and proven, a ferro rod is a natural complement to more modern fire starting tools. At under 5” in length and weighing almost nothing, there is no excuse not to have one. Toss in a small pack of tinder (I like dryer lint in an old film or pill bottle) and you will have a roaring campfire in no time.
Bandana – Levi’s Bandana
The humble bandana is a one-piece wonder for survival. Far from just a garment or headcovering, the multi-use bandana can serve as padding, insulation, sweat control, signaling, lashing, small parts sack, coarse water filter, impromptu bandage and more.
Whatever design you choose, make sure you get either 100% silk or cotton both for their wear characteristics and also for thermoregulation. Cotton can cool you quickly if you wet it, while silk will help keep you warm even when it is wet. At any rate, unfolded either will dry out quickly so you need not worry too much about them staying soggy for long when you don’t want them to be.
You cannot leave home without one, and with a little imagination you’ll constantly be finding new ways to make use of them. One tip: carry at least two, one for sanitary concerns like wiping your face and the other as a utility cloth. These good ones from Levi’s come two to a pack.
Power Cell – Anker PowerCore 10000
Some preppers assume that they’ll be going device-free when the SHTF, but this is both unrealistic in most cases and short sighted. Our smart phones and tablets offer a lot of utility, even life-saving capability in many situations, and we would be remiss to through that capability away for want of some logistical support and a few extra ounces. Don’t forget also that many technologies that were once taken for granted as running off disposable batteries, like our Bandit headlamp up there, are now rechargeable with built-in batteries.
Enter the power cell, or power bank. Functioning as highly energy dense batteries to recharge your devices using their normal charging cords on the go, these are indispensable pieces of kit to keep your electronics running for a while longer when afield. Think of them like a SCUBA tank; so long as you have power stored, you can stay off grid and mobile, devices on.
This compact model from Anker stores enough juice to recharge even power-hungry Micro USB compatible phones at least twice, and do so within a few hours. An integrated safety system regulates the flow of power to protect both the cell and the device you are charging. This one is a no-brainer if you plan to use any kind of device.
You need not give up your phone and other devices! Carry a power cell and keep on the move.
Compass – Suunto Clipper
Knowing where you are is important. Knowing where you are going, perhaps even more so. Despite what you tell your significant other, you probably cannot self-orient as reliably as the migrating birds of fall and winter can. Using the sun and stars can get you more or less on the right track, but neither compares to the convenience and reassurance of a compass.
Suunto makes nice and well-regarded field and expeditionary compasses, but their tiny Clipper gets my vote for being so convenient. You can clip this guy to a lanyard, watchband or strap to effortlessly go where you do and a luminous dial makes it easy to read at night. Give it a quick shot from your flashlight and it will glow for hours.
While the rotating bezel is a nice gesture, it is too coarse and the compass too small for real precision. This is not the ideal unit for precision overlanding and long distance hiking, but it is accurate and reliable enough for cardinal direction work, so you can tell which way you are heading. These also make great inclusions in pocket survival kits and subloads. Available for northern and southern hemispheres, make sure you get the right one!
Note Pad – Rite in the Rain 3 x 5 Top Spiral
You’ll have plenty to jot down when SHTF. Planning, checklists, important details or things you cannot trust to memory alone. Perhaps even leaving messages for someone or communicating complex ideas silently and quickly. You’ll need paper that is up to the task of withstanding a disaster with you, though, as ordinary paper will turn to mush in no time when abused, like say from exposure to rain or copious amounts of sweat.
Rite in the Rain has you covered with their legendarily waterproof and rugged notebooks. These hardy pads come with plasticized and durable covers, heavy-duty binding and are compatible with both ordinary pens and pencils (sorry, not markers). Write what you need with no worries about its integrity, and have confidence that any messages or breadcrumbs you leave behind will endure for a time.
Grease, oil, water, sweat or snow, this paper defeats it all. Available in all kinds of colors to suit any preference, from low-vis grays, blacks and tans to eye-watering safety orange and classic R.I.T.R. yellow.
Pen – Fisher Space Pen
You’ll need an implement to write on your nifty Rite-in-the-Rain pad, so make sure your pen is as capable as your paper. No surprises here; Fisher’s legendary Space Pen is one that will, quite likely, outlast the apocalypse. Capable of writing at any angle, in any temperature, and even underwater, this product of the Space Age uses hygroscopic ink in a heavy duty pressurized cartridge that will stay liquid and write smoothly for years and years without drying out. It also writes much longer than conventional pens.
You may not give a pen or pencil much concern in the pantheon of survival gear, but for a small increase in price you can have a writing tool that is far superior to conventional, common pens. You are not investing in a cool or trendy pen; you are investing in a degree of certainty. That is what we are all after when we anticipate and prepare for highly uncertain times.
Water Bottle – Nalgene Tritan Wide-Mouth
Water is one resource you can depend on not living for long without, and you’ll be a shambling mess long before death from dehydration claims you. Therefore a dependable vessel to collect and carry water in is essential. Nalgene has made a dynamite bottle for over 20 years, and is one that you can rely on to stay leak free and ultra-durable. Made from a BPA-free polyester plastic blend, this plastic fantastic is just the ticket for transporting a ready supply of drinking water.
The wide mouth is easy to refill and more importantly easy to collect water from found sources with. You cannot boil water in it, it is plastic after all, but you can use it in conjunction with sterilization tabs and personal filtration systems for ensuring you stay healthy and bug-free.
I have used and carried Nalgenes forever, and trust them utterly. You can get these in just about any color you could possibly want. A variety of companies make aftermarket nozzles, caps, filters and so forth that you can add on. You can even get specially sized cooksets that nest around the bottom to save even more room.
Water Filter – LifeStraw Personal Filter
As mentioned above, making use of found water sources is vital to staying hydrated when surviving a crisis where no potable water is available. But getting cripplingly sick or even dying from germs and other biohazards from contaminated water is decidedly not a good move. You’ll need to make your found water safe to drink by either sterilizing it or filtering it. For making this job fast and easy, I like filtration.
LifeStraw is a big name in emergency filtration, and their personal filer is a light, affordable and reliable option for drinking directly from the source or out of your bottle currently holding a suspect water supply. Simply insert and drink and you can be assured that all the gribbly germs, contaminants and parasites will not make it past the filter.
With a little care, this model is good for over 1,000 gallons of clean water; that is over 4,000 refills on an average water bottle!
Dry Storage – Magpul DAKA Pouch
You’ll carry plenty of things you want to keep especially safe from the elements, and from loss. Dirt, dust and water can destroy many sensitive items like paper, electronics, food and medicine. Keep those things safe and sound while still being organized and accessible with a Magpul DAKA pouch.
These mega-duty pouches have a textured, polymer fabric outside with several attachment points for carabiners, a water-resistant zipper and nearly invincible welded seams for the ultimate in durability. Fitting from the makers of the legendary PMAG.
You’ll find plenty of uses for storage items like this.
Chemlights – Cyalume SnapLight 6”
For the times when you have no flashlight, or don’t want to waste the batteries, or cannot afford to risk a fire, choose a chemlights for the job. High-quality snap lights provide plenty of soft lighting for close-in work, are excellent for signaling, and as safe as safe can possibly be, emitting virtually no heat and they are non-toxic to boot.
These pups work when soaking wet, even underwater, as well as they do bone dry, making them a great option when the weather is truly foul. Guaranteed to last at least 5 years in on a shelf in their wrapper, you can count on a quality chemlights like these made by Cyalume being ready when needed.
These have a hundred uses limited only by your imagination, and with several colors coming in a multipack you can work out all kinds of clever signaling and communications strategies with your group mates.
Cordage – TOUGH-GRID 750lb. Paracord
You know it, you love it. Paracord is the one item that all preppers love. Good for load management, shelter construction and a thousand other uses, from first aid to security, there is always, always, always a need for strong, sturdy cordage in survival situations.
A hank of cord is small, easily stashed or wrapped/woven around your other gear, meaning there is no excuse not to have it. You can use it to pitch a shelter, tie a knife into an improvised spear and lash a few sturdy branches together to make a sledge. With paracord, some imagination and a knowledge of a few working knots, everything is possible.
You can order this in a multitude of colors, from subdued earth tones and camo patterns to high-vis neon hues.
Gloves – Mechanix Wear Original Covert Gloves
Protecting your hands is essential in many work and survival scenarios. You may be a built-the-old-school true grit type of person with leather skin, but even minor wounds can take on greater import in a crisis. Infection, debilitation and loss of mobility are things you can ill afford when all your chips are on the line.
Consider the hazards likely to be present: broken glass, jagged metal, rough wood, nails, and more. Your hands are right behind your eyes when it is time to interact with the environment, so you’d best protect them while maintaining your dexterity if at all possible.
Mechanix gloves are loved for their modest protective qualities while simultaneously letting you feel what you are handling. Perfect for light duty when you still might need to make use of small and fiddly devices like guns, compasses, maps and more.
They are not true work or brush gloves, but the make for a great second-skin layer to soak up the most common hazards you are likely to encounter.
Organizer – Maxpedition Fatty Pocket Organizer
Organization of your gear is important. You don’t want a giant pile of mixed equipment floating around in a rucksack. You want your things organized into discreet units for easy access. How you organize it is up to you, perhaps by type, frequency or urgency of use or some other metric or a combination of all of the above.
Also important is the concept of sub-loads or cross loading. You may want a smaller backup kit of supplies in your person as an emergency hedge against loss. You may want a load of supplies that can be quickly removed all at once for use or to hand off. Flexibility and adaptation is the key. An organizer pouch to help you wrangle several smaller items is the way to execute.
The Maxpedition Fatty is my favorite “just right” pocket organizer, and has all the room, compartments and hold-downs I need for my purposes, be it as my electronics support kit, medical pouch or tool kit. It is small enough to fit into a cargo pocket on pants or coat, and is at home in any bag. Superbly handy, you’ll find a dozen uses for it.
Carabiner – 18KN Locking Steel Carabiner
Carabiners are another survival tool you don’t want to be without, and not only if you plan on climbing or rappelling your way down a mountain. Carabiners are handy to have in case you need to hang or attach something to something else, and can act as a third hand when you need to hoist something. If you can indeed make use of these and related accoutrement for climbing, so much the better. That will be another skillset and accompanying equipment at your disposal should you need to call on it.
So these will get a serious workout on your pack or belt, but also serve as a pretty formidable knuckle duster in a pinch. A quality locking steel version like the one linked will afford you better striking power without deforming or opening and tearing up your hand.
Flimsy plastic ‘biners are just fine for light utility duty and key chains, but you want steel or alloy for serious field use, to matter what that looks like.
Emergency Blanket – Swiss Safe Mylar Thermal Blanket
Having the ability to thermoregulate is critical, even in “warm” climates. It does not take long for you to become debilitated, even incapacitated or killed by exposure, which I will remind you is statistically the most probable killer in any outdoor survival scenario.
On a nice spring day you may be fine in the sunlight, but after the sun sets and the temperature starts dropping things can get dicey fast. Now perhaps you are soaked to the skin, either from water or sweat, and a stiff breeze has picked up. You are exhausted. You just want to lie down. So you do, on the ground, which then starts sucking even more heat out of your body at a prodigious rate. All of the above will send you into hypothermia in no time.
You can stave off the worst of it even without a fire by using an emergency blanket, sometimes called a space blanket. These crinkly, foil-like wonders reflect over 90 percent of your body’s emitted heat, creating a much warmer microclimate around you to keep you warm. Additionally, they can completely block wind and all moisture, making them valuable in shelter creation or lining, and as a ground cover.
You can get these excellent models in a variety of colors, either low profile green or camo, or bright, cheery high-vis colors. My favorite is the reversible, which has OD green on one side and blaze orange on the other. This has great utility for signaling in addition to its intended purpose.
You might wind up looking, and feeling like a baked potato, but just like that delicious side dish you’ll be toasty warm. These are super light and weigh nearly nothing, so pack several no matter where you are heading.
All of the above items are affordable performers that deserve a place in your pack, no matter if you are a seasoned pro prepper or rank novice survivor. If you are just starting on building out your BOB or are looking to trim some fat and make some changes you are sure to find something you need. Take the time to browse the above recommendations and you can have it in your hands ready to work in just a couple of days thanks to the magic of Amazon.
Charles Yor is an advocate of low-profile preparation, readiness as a virtue and avoiding trouble before it starts. He has enjoyed a long career in personal security implementation throughout the lower 48 of the United States.