Getting properly prepared seems to entail a never-ending list of acquisitions. Gear, tools, weapons, supplies, land, vehicles. It goes on and on and on.
And though the survival implements we require can range from the intricate to the sublimely simple, every once in a while you might discover that some truly strange or unexpected items might have compelling survival uses or other benefits.
From the weird to the wild, I’m bringing you a list today containing 13 somewhat weird survival items that, despite appearances, deserve a place in your survival stash, bug-out bag, or INCH kit.
They May be Weird, but They Could Save Your Life!
Ultimately, every single thing that we rely on for survival duty is intended to help us obtain or sustain access to survival necessities.
Survival necessities are things like air, shelter, water, food and security, although which of these exactly belongs on the list or doesn’t depends largely on whom you’re talking to.
Regardless, lacking any essential attribute required for human safety and life support will see you or your loved ones rapidly assuming room temperature if you catch my drift.
It is important to frame and contextualize all of our equipment acquisitions based on this unassailable truth.
This helps cut away some of the marketing hype and intellectual clutter around our purchases.
You don’t have to have specialized, highly processed, flashily packaged survival tinder and an equally specialized survival lighter to get a fire going; you just need to get a fire going by any means necessary, be it by bow drill or a Bic lighter and some scavenged bark and twigs.
The point of all this is to remind readers that many of the items on the list below might chafe your sensibilities a little bit depending on how you choose to prepare and where you choose to invest your hard-earned dollars out of your survival equipment budget.
It might not even boil down to a matter of buying the right things to impress the right people, as you might have a dire need for specific capability and all other options have been exhausted.
In that theoretical case, having an alternate or backup option close to hand might spell the difference between success and failure.
13 Somewhat Weird Survival Items
The following items might not be your first choice or your best option, but they are always definitely an option for taking care of the survival tasks described.
Always keep them in mind as either a low-cost and multi-purpose solution or a backup on all other options are spent.
1. Super Glue
Most preppers are likely already familiar with super glue as a multipurpose, super strong and fast-acting adhesive that is good for a variety of repair tasks.
But what you might not know is that super glue also works wonders for quickly and easily closing up small puncture wounds and lacerations and the absence of other bandages or an extremist when you need to act fast and get on with things.
Super glue is also known to have minor pain relief properties when used in this way, a further benefit, and though any doctor or other medical practitioner worth their degree will tell you to purchase purpose made and so-called liquid stitch for these tasks countless soldiers, outdoorsman and austere environment medics cannot be wrong.
As always, make sure you follow best practices like flushing and cleaning a wound before closing it up in this way lest you invite infection, but assuming you can do that dabbing a little super glue on either side of the wound before pressing it to shut will seal you up in a jiffy and help staunch bleeding.
2. Snap Lights
Snap lights, also known as chemlights, are ubiquitous fixtures around Halloween and rave culture, but they are far from some novelty item that can add some quirky and festive fun to a party.
High-quality commercial or military-grade snap lights provide useful, long-lasting and completely safe light for general purpose illumination, marking and other purposes.
This makes it ideal for use in situations when you need long-term but comparatively gentle light that will be safe in hazardous atmospheres or during times when an accident or mishap with an open flame could spell disaster. Naturally, there are excellent choices for handing off to children or the infirm.
You can use snap lights for marking members of your group in conditions of low or no light, signaling to rescuers or for long-distance communication between two groups using simple prearranged signals after other methods fail.
3. Petroleum Jelly
Petroleum jelly has long been a cure-all substance used by caring grandmothers all over the country for ailments great and small.
Petroleum jelly definitely has its purposes as a topical medicine and for the treatment of dry, cracked or chapped skin, but it also has innumerable other uses around the home and shop, making it an indispensable part of a well-equipped medicine chest.
Petroleum jelly can be used for loosening or removing stubborn, stuck-on stains and build up as well as freeing frozen fasteners. It also works wonderfully as a preservative and corrosion inhibitor on electrical terminals and other susceptible metals.
A little bit of this stuff goes a long way, and its ubiquity means that it is available everywhere for a very modest price.
Make sure you keep a small pot in your pack and a larger one in your medicine cabinet or bathroom closet.
4. Pencil Sharpener
A pencil sharpener might be the last thing on your mind when you’re heading into a survival situation, especially if you rely upon pens and markers instead of traditional graphite pencils as your end of the world writing utensil.
But as it turns out pencil sharpeners have several other worthy survival uses that make them a definite inclusion in any survival kit and especially one focused on outdoor survival in wooded areas.
A pencil sharpener is capable of turning any suitably sized twig or stick into a sharpened point with just a couple of flicks of the wrist.
This makes it a highly efficient and fast way to fashion small spears, gigs or tridents or spikes for use in various traps or building projects.
Furthermore, the thin, paper-like wood shavings produced by a classic pencil sharpener makes awesome tinder that will dry out quickly and catch fire with little provocation.
By using a pencil sharpener and twigs in this way you can kill two birds with one stone.
5. Safety Pins
Safety pins are another unexpected survival superstar that can accomplish a variety of tasks either as-is or a little bit of crafty modification.
Safety pins are just the thing for hasty repairs of torn clothing or other items made from fabric and also work well for pinning notes or other lightweight items to people or things.
A note with intervention or other relevant medical information attached to an unconscious patient might make all the difference for first responders, or it might ensure that a follow-on member of your group gets an important message.
Beyond their obvious and typical uses, safety pins can easily be fashioned into hooks for fishing or into fine spear points or arrowheads for use in the hunting of small game.
The robust, spring steel of a safety pin also works well in a variety of triggers as a trap component.
Safety pins are quite small, even the larger ones, and way virtually nothing so there is no excuse for not including a handful somewhere in your survival supplies.
Mouse traps are one of those items that I feel are chronically overlooked among preppers. As unsettling as it might be to consider, mouse traps could still be an important and effective way to reliably procure protein in a long-term survival situation.
Rodents, including mice and rats, after all do like to hang out near human habitation, are quite plentiful and easy to catch, and if properly prepared provide tasty and meaningful calories.
Compared to many other improvised traps that you will have to fashion, set, and tend to mouse traps are self-contained as well as fast and easy to emplace.
This makes them a winning part of a hunting and trapping setup.
But thinking out of the box, the powerful and robust mechanism of the common body hold mouse trap can be put to ingenious use with a tripwire as an early warning mechanism or as part of a larger trap.
By combining a snap light or a blank shotgun shell with a mouse trap and a suitable tripwire it is possible to make a discreet or obvious early warning alarm.
7. Dryer Lint
Dryer lint is probably a little more than trash to you if you don’t know this trick. Although it is most infamously a dryer fire in waiting, the hazard that it poses to the appliance that creates it is a clue to what we can do with it in a survival situation.
Dryer lint is extremely flammable, lighting easily, burning hot and for a reasonable amount of time, making it a picture-perfect tinder that is easy to store and use.
Once upon a time I liked to keep dryer lint in an old, used film canister as part of my fire-starting gear, but today you could just keep it in a ziplock bag, a waterproof box, old Altoid tin, or something similar.
In fact, you might find dryer lint so effective and so plentiful that you stopped buying or sourcing other kinds of tinder all together.
8. Garbage Bags
Garbage bags are another seemingly odd but in reality sublimely multi-use survival item. First things first, you’ll definitely have a need for garbage bags during any bug-in survival scenario.
The trash and other sanitation services might be offline or out of commission for the foreseeable future, human habitation always entails the creation of garbage and other waste that can quickly turn into a significant health hazard if not dealt with.
If you do nothing else but bag this waste and get it out of your house, you’ll go a long way toward winning the war against filth and pestilence.
But beyond the prescribed usage, garbage bags can be used to fulfill a variety of other survival requirements.
First, they are a great way to hold a sizable quantity of collected or caught water, or when used as a component in a larger rain-catching system.
Next, garbage bags can be fashioned together with a little bit of tape to create a large sleeping bag that can be filled with crumpled paper, dried leaves or other insulating material to help keep you warm in cold environments.
They also serve as ready-made waterproofing or additional insulation for other shelters you might create.
Don’t get me wrong, floss is still important as part of an ongoing hygiene routine in accordance with its intended purpose and woe betide the prepper who believes they can omit hygiene and personal cleanliness just because they are in the middle of a society rattling survival scenario.
But aside from this mundane usage floss can also function as limber, fine but extremely strong cordage for its bulk.
It is just the thing for lashing arrowheads, creating fine snares, braided into fishing line, and any other purpose where you need tough but slender string or thread.
Floss can also pull double duty as strong stitching when you are mending clothing or other cloth gear such as a tent or pack.
Where common thread won’t quite get it done without substantial reinforcement, the floss will hold up wonderfully, especially when exposed to the elements.
10. Panty Hose
Now we are getting into the really weird stuff! pantyhose might seem like a strange, even whimsical, inclusion in a survival kit, but you can ask any veteran hiker and they will tell you that they are the perfect solution for helping to prevent blisters, especially when your feet are already tender.
Reducing friction is the name of the game and pantyhose do that well.
Aside from this, the ultra-fine mesh of pantyhose works wonderfully as a second stage pre-filter for cleaning larger solids and other debris out of founding water supplies.
Dumping questionable water directly into your water filter won’t necessarily keep it from working, but it will greatly accelerate the degradation of the primary filter that is doing the hard work of getting the really nasty stuff out of the water.
In a survival situation, keeping your gear operational for as long as possible is an important concept.
Although it takes a little bit of work, I have even seen pantyhose sliced open and configured as an impromptu mosquito and bug screen for keeping biting, aggravating insects off of skin, particularly the head and neck.
Bleach is a true survival standout on this list, and though it is best known for getting and keeping your white clothing and linens sparkly white on laundry day, and actually serves two additional and far more important purposes.
First, plain, unscented, undoctored sodium hypochlorite bleach can be added, very sparingly and imprecise proportion, to a quantity of water in order to sterilize it by killing any microorganisms that might be lurking within.
This is vital for health and wellness during a long-term survival scenario where you might have to draw water from contaminated natural sources or rely on public water supplies that are no longer completely clean.
Second, bleach is a powerful and certain cleaner for sterilizing surfaces, tools and skin that might have come into contact with germs and other biohazardous agents.
A strong solution of bleach and water, sprayed or mopped on and left to sit for a short time, will give you a guarantee that every, single germ in the vicinity is history.
Whether you are cleaning up after dealing with bodily fluids or human waste, you can depend on bleach to get you and your surroundings clean.
12. Steel Wool
Steel wool is a common fixture in workshops and around kitchen sinks all over the country and I would suspect the world.
Eminently useful for scraping hard, stuck on deposits or rust from a variety of objects, it might yet come in handy in the same way during a survival scenario but you can make use of it in a way that the designers never intended to fulfill another critical survival requirement.
By using steel wool in conjunction with a common disposable battery, and preferably a 9-volt battery, you can easily and quickly start a fire in pretty much any condition.
By drawing out the steel wool and rolling it up into a compact, thin bundle and then touching either end to both the positive and negative terminals on the battery you will create a glowing hot section near the middle of the bundle.
This screaming hot piece of steel will easily ignite your tinder and subsequently your kindling, getting your fire going in no time flat with very little effort required on your part.
You must take care when using this technique as it is possible to get burned, but lacking any other better option for starting a fire you will rarely find one that works so quickly with so little effort.
Never leave home without a prophylactic! All jokes aside, condoms might come in very handy during a survival scenario and not for any of the prescribed reasons that one typically carries them, although you can still use them that way.
Condoms are highly elastic, completely waterproof and tough, three attributes that recommend them for several purposes.
First, you can use condoms as a sort of improvised water skin or carry a surprisingly large quantity of extra water so long as you carry it with just a little bit of care.
Second, condoms work amazingly as a muzzle cover on Long guns to help keep water, dirt, mud and other debris out of the bore.
When the time comes to shoot, you can shoot without any impediment because the condom will shred immediately before it creates a dangerous pressure spike as an obstruction.
Condoms are another item so small and light that you can add them to any existing kit, even when you were watching ounces in your overall complement.
Survival gear is what we make of it, and whatever our preferences in over the counter equipment and supplies, it is nice to know that we can use the unexpected and the mundane to reliably fulfill a variety of survival tasks.
Whether we are pinching pennies or desperately looking for an alternate option after all others have failed, you can depend on the 13 items on the list above to take care of business when called upon.
Tom Marlowe grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, He has the experience in helping civilian shooters figure out what firearms work best for them.