The Ultimate Prepper's SHTF Supplies Checklist

The Ultimate Prepper’s SHTF Supplies Checklist

In Prepping and Preparedness by M.D. Creekmore

Reading Time: 27 minutes

The Ultimate Prepper's SHTF Supplies Checklist

by Victoria S


Like many of us, I’m sure you have relatives and friends who are not into the whole preparing for disaster thing. There has always been a debate in the prepping community about what to do about those non-prepping friends and family if they show up at your place after a large-scale SHTF situation.

Some schools of thought are to turn them away, perhaps with a bit of food or equipment. Other schools of thought are for bringing them in, even if they scorned your preparing before the SHTF.

The point of this article isn’t to debate the rights and/or wrongs of deciding either way. In the end, that’s a decision everyone has to make for themselves.

For ourselves, we have decided to take in our friends and family, if we can at all manage it, even if it means eating meagerly for a while. However, we have also put some thought into what to tell our family and friends if we have a chance to give them a warning (and directions). It’d be nice if they didn’t show up with absolutely nothing, after all!

With that in mind, I’ve drawn up some instructions and some lists for our family and friends, setting out some thoughts on both what to bring with them as well as how to pack it up for travel. Included with this information are a short cover letter and the various lists.


The letter reads:

Dear family and friends:

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, things are going to hell in a handbasket. As some of you know, we’ve been increasingly concerned about things for a while now, and have spent some effort preparing for various disasters and situations that could cause severe disruption and chaos.

This basically means that we hope we’re in a better position than most folks are in. We don’t want to even think about our friends and family being refugees or worse, so understand that you have an open invitation to come to join us on our property.

This means without any strings but with an understanding that with the direction things are going, we’ll need to band together and agree to live under some general rules. Nothing onerous, just the general undertaking to follow common sense rules (avoid fighting, agree to follow community-made decisions, understand that sometimes it’s not possible to explain everything in a crisis, etc) as well as understand that we cannot possibly accept everyone in the country into our property. Feel free to bring members of your family, and that includes serious boyfriends/girlfriends/best friends IF you are prepared to make sure that they obey the community ground rules also.

We have some supplies stored, but mostly we’ve worked to become more self-sufficient. This means that anyone joining us will need to be prepared to work to grown and raise their own food as well as any other tasks necessary for the defense and growth of the community.

Understand that we welcome ALL our friends and family, regardless of race, creed, gender, political affiliation, etc. This will mean that sometimes you’re going to have to interact with people who have different religious beliefs or political beliefs. Toleration is the word of the day (and week and month and year!). Nor are we pacifists – we do own weapons and will be prepared to defend what we have. This does not mean we’ll tolerate random violence or theft – just that if people try to take what is ours (and ours includes what is yours if you join us) we will fight to keep it.

Obviously, it would have been better everyone in the country had prepared also for situations like this. But, most people didn’t. We’re not going to watch our friends and family suffer because you chose differently than we did – thus our invitation now to you to come to join us.

On the other hand, if at all possible, it’d be great if you didn’t show up with nothing to your name either. So, we’ve included, along with directions to our place, some suggestions for what you possibly have around your house/apartment/etc that would be useful to bring. Also some suggestions on how to pack yourself and your stuff for traveling to us. Hopefully, you find these lists and suggestions as an aid to further thoughts on how best to get to safety – because we very much want you to be safe and here with us in this time of danger.

(end of letter)

Directions of several approaches to our place are also included.

We have the letter and lists available in plain text files on our computers in case we are able to email them. I also plan to print everything out and leave packages of these printouts with family and close friends in case there isn’t an opportunity to email.

I’m mulling including CDs and thumb drives of the files (and some other emergency files, including maps) being included with the printouts, but haven’t decided either way yet. I suspect that the decision will be that it depends on the computer literacy of the recipients – some of my older relatives are not exactly safe to be around computers.

The following are the various sheets included with the packet. I also have the EPA’s sheet on emergency water purification saved and printed to go with the information. (file from the EPA is at

Suggestions on packing: (file/sheet 1)

These lists are arranged in four sets, and then by priority within each set. You can roughly consider the priority of the four lists as: carry on your person, emergency bag, car, trailer. Obviously, most people won’t have a trailer, but if you can beg/borrow/steal/etc one and have the car to pull it, do it.

The absolute essentials should be on your person at all times. That should cover emergency items to make a fire, defensive items, sturdy clothes, and well broken in and sturdy footwear. If you have a way to secure money/valuables to your person and have them NOT visible, that’s a good thing. If the weather is bad, include outerwear as person-essential.

Then you should select the sturdiest/strongest backpack or similar pack for EACH person and pack it with more essentials. Do NOT overpack this bag! This is the bag you grab if the car breaks down/runs out of fuel/is carjacked/etc. Every person should have one, even children, although what is inside them will obviously be different for children.

Then the car or cars. If you have bicycles, first secure them to the vehicles and if you can, add any spare bike parts. Ideally, you would have these in a bike rack, but chances are good you don’t have one. Use rope/bungies and secure to the roof of your vehicle, running the rope/bungies through the doors to the inside.

A bonus is that you can then stuff lightweight items into the space between the ropes and the roof of your car! Blankets/etc are a good way to pad between the bike and the roof. If you have tarps, secure them over the bikes – or in a pinch plastic sheeting will work – the heavier the better. Be sure to tuck as much as possible under so that it doesn’t flap in the wind – not only will it be annoying as all hell, it will also fray the tarp/plastic/blanket/etc to shreds.

If you have more than one person who can drive and you have more than one vehicle, bring both – even if you’re not sure how to get fuel. If you’re worried about fuel and are more than a tank-distance away from us, pack one vehicle with the more important stuff and the second/third/etc vehicle with less essentials, so that you can abandon the other vehicles if you can’t get all of them fueled up.

The bikes are in case you cannot get ANY vehicles to our place … biking is better than walking. If you have any sort of fold-up cart/bike cart/etc … bring it if at all possible. Walking with a cart is better than walking with a backpack and allows you to walk with a lighter backpack AND the stuff in the cart/etc.

If you have access to a motorcycle and can spare a driver for it (after drivers for all the vehicles you can get), bring it. Pack it lightly but with stuff similar to that carried in the emergency packs. Bring helmets if you have them.

Important note! If you have a camper of any kind – make it a priority to bring with you to our place. We will NOT necessarily have space at the start for everyone to have their own house/cabin/etc…. if you can bring something to live in, so much the better.

The one exception to bring every vehicle you can is true sports cars. Miatas are not exactly noted for their packing space, so unless that’s the only vehicle available, it’s probably not worth the hassle to bring a two-seater sports car.

Diesel vehicles are slightly preferred over gasoline cars because diesel can be made from biological stuff and it stores much longer than gas.

If you can, make sure your spare tires are in good shape and filled up. Same with all fluids and oils. Take ANY gasoline/diesel cans you have (or can find along the way)!

Actual packing:

Try to make sure any food and/or valuables (including farm animals/etc) are NOT in sight from outside the vehicle. Covering those things with clothes, etc, is a good idea. Make sure you still have good vision of all sides of your vehicle so you can keep track of what’s going on around you.

When packing, try to avoid letting everyone watch you pack up. Less chance of confrontations/trouble if your neighbors aren’t aware that you’ve got valuables and/or food.

But if you make the car look like its full of useless items, it might prevent incidents where folks try to steal your car or your items. The less likely it is that you have anything that is food/firearms/valuable, the less likely people are going to try to steal what you have (and, more importantly, hurt YOU in the process.

If ya’ll turn up totally empty-handed but alive, we’re ahead and happy. Lives first, then stuff, people). The same goes for trailers – if you can make it look like there is nothing valuable in the first foot or so of all openings, you can make things easier.

Stuff valuables in out of the way places – inside the spare tire space, under the mats (if things are flat – but put them in ziplock bags before putting them under floor mats. If you can take off the panels of your doors (AND get them back on and looking like they were never removed!), you can secure valuables in there. This would include prescription drugs and spare firearms and ammo!

If you have things tied on top of your vehicles (like bikes, etc), and have run the rope securing them through your car – you can use the ropes to also secure light things (clothes, coats, etc) to the ceiling inside also.

Anything you put on the outside of the vehicle (on top, on the trunk hood, etc) needs to be protected from weather (tarps are best, then heavy landscape plastic – only use trash bags if you have nothing else that will work and double/triple/quadruple bag things in trash bags.) You don’t want to let others see what you have if you can avoid it.

Stick things like plates/silverware/pencils/small tools, etc in any door bins. Things like that also work well under seats.

If you have an SUV/Minivan – consider taking out the back row of seats unless you need them for seating. Leave them behind if you take them out. If you are bringing more than one car though, consider keeping the back row seats in even if you don’t need the seating right then. You might need it later if you have to abandon other cars. The ideal situation would be to have one vehicle with enough seating for your entire group if possible – that would let you get here safely if you were forced to abandon other vehicles.

Stuff things everywhere you can find a spot. Pack around the seats – just allow enough space for your passengers, and crowd them a bit.

Fill a (one, not many) cooler with any perishable foods that you can eat in the first day or two. Unless it’s winter and you have a sure way to get more ice (or have a plug-in electric cooler) don’t bring more than a few days worth of perishables as without ice/cooling they will go bad. Obviously, eat these items first (and then put stuff in the cooler to free up space).

Figure out how long you think you’ll be on the road to here, double that estimate, and only bring bulky foods (breads/cereals/fresh fruit/fresh veggies) for that amount of time. Avoid bringing too many bulky canned goods (except canned meats) in the cars … canned goods do keep well, but they also take up a lot of space. Obviously, if you have space for more bring them, but canned veggies especially are low priority.


One last word – pets. Bring them if you can, but make sure you bring leashes/cages/etc for them too. Bring feeding bowls and food – as much as you can. But, unless you can figure out a way to safely transport them, fish are probably not a great idea, nor are more outlandish pets such as spiders or snakes. In fact, we’re going to have to insist on no spiders at all – since at least one of the residents on our property is deathly afraid of spiders.

Small rodents are also probably not that good an idea – except for ferrets (as they can help keep down pests). Cats and dogs are welcome – especially larger dogs that can help guard. In fact, if on your travels you can acquire a suitable guard dog safely, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring with if you can. The same goes for any chickens/goats/rabbits/other farm animals. The important caveat here is “safely”.


Hopefully, you have good quality maps. Do not rely on GPS or similar – if things get really bad they may not work. (Or worse, they may not work before you leave to travel if the grid has gone down). If you can, print out maps of the route – a set of maps for every single person. Get alternate routes if possible.

Driving here:

There is no good way of knowing what road conditions will be like. It could be simple and easy or it could be Mad-Max like. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

Some advice – avoid big cities. Avoid choke points like bridges/tunnels/etc unless you absolutely MUST go across them (The Mississippi is a major pain in this instance). If you must cross a river, choose a small town or barren stretch if you can. Be careful approaching overpasses, underpasses, crossroads, and hills. If you are traveling with two vehicles – one can scout (ideally the one with less important items) and the other can follow.

Set up some sort of signals between the vehicles for common outcomes – such as “all safe”, “avoid”, “Danger”, “run away”, etc. You may have to run without lights if things are very dangerous at night – so bear that in mind when setting up signals and have some that do not use the lights or the horn. (Colored cloths waved out the window might work).

Before leaving, plot out at least two likely routes to your destination and make sure all adults and teenagers know the routes. If you can, set up meetup points in small towns or crossroads where you can meet back up if separated AND leave notes if need be.

If you stop along the way – try to get off the road out of sight – ideally in a deserted area. Avoid lighting a fire unless you absolutely must – light travels a very far distance at night, and smoke is very visible.

Be careful what you burn – some wood lets loose nasty fumes and furniture/building materials often have been chemically treated. If you make tracks while getting off the road to camp, try to cover them up or sweep them away … best would be to scatter leaves/etc over the tracks. Remember that the smell of cooking and/or fires carries a LONG way.

If you get a chance to fill up your water supplies – do it whenever you can. You can live a good bit of time without much food, but going without water is difficult past a day or two. Be careful to purify/filter/boil any water from streams/etc as you have no idea what’s actually in the water. Most streams in the US are not free of harmful bacteria – boiling will often rid water of them, but best is a combination approach. Diarrhea is NOT a joke.

Treat ANY wounds as soon as possible. This includes blisters, cuts, scrapes, bites, etc. This goes doubly if you’re hiking/biking … it’s very easy to get a wound infected when traveling, especially in less than optimal conditions. Try to wash your hands often also.

If you end up walking or biking – railroad tracks are a good way to avoid crowds while still having relatively level travel routes. Also useful are utility right of ways or pipeline right of ways, as these are kept clear of brush but yet aren’t on most people’s radar. The main problem with these will be that they are often not marked on maps.

There is a chance that if a disease is rampant, we may have to insist on a quarantine when you arrive. This is not only for our safety, but yours also. This would apply, not just if there is a pandemic raging, but also if the disorders are widespread enough that diseases are spreading in their wake.

This is one reason for bringing tents/etc if you have them. We’ll try to avoid the necessity for a quarantine, but we wanted to let you know its a possibility. This is yet another reason to avoid cities – in any widespread disaster, disease is more likely to occur in cities where people are crowded together.

This also brings up the problem/issue of operational security. Please please please remember that “loose lips sink ships”. Do NOT tell people you are traveling to a safe place or that you are going to where you have friends and family that are preppers.

Feel free to lie about where you are going. In fact, ALWAYS lie. Decide on a story of where you are going and make sure everyone knows it AND that they are to use THAT as the location/place/people that you are driving too. Pick a place 40 or 50 miles away from our location (at least).

Make sure you never let on that you’re going somewhere where there might be supplies. Do not leave directions/maps/etc out in plain sight in your vehicles or flash them around outsiders.

Remember that anyone you bring with you will be vouched for by yourself. Chances are good you’re going to be spending long periods of time living cheek-and-jowl with whoever comes with you. Don’t bring people who you can’t handle being with that much.

This also goes for people you meet along the way. We’re not opposed to helping others, but we must make sure that our friends and family are safe first. And disaster situations bring out the worst in people who are just trying to survive. Be charitable and helpful, but keep yourself and your group safe first and foremost.

Carry on your person at all times: (file/sheet 2)

Note that it is extremely unlikely you’ll have ALL of these items, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t.

Waterproof bag with maps and directions to us, some strike anywhere matches (or a matchbook or regular matches with box), a couple of coffee filters, some bandaids, some cotton balls, and some spare socks.
Cigarette lighter
Long sturdy pants
Long-sleeved shirt
Water canteen or small non-breakable bottle for water
Some money (include silver/gold coins if you have them)
Can opener (smaller the better)
Firestarter (flint and steel or the more modern magnesium and steel)
Any REALLY valuable jewelry (wrap up and stick into coat or somewhere else it will NOT get lost)
Any identification (passport, drivers license, etc)
Vital papers (or copies)
Fishing line and hooks (wrap hooks carefully)
Flashlight with batteries (or the headlamps on heabands if you have them)
Small windup radio (if you have one – key is SMALL)
Cell phone and charger
Any absolutely required prescription medicines
Small bottle of aspirin/advil/benadryl/any anti-diarrheals/antacids/multivitamins
A couple of family photos
Outerwear to match weather – sunhat in summer with rainjacket that is waterproof, sweater with winter coat and gloves/hat/scarves in winter.
Sturdy well-broken in shoes suitable to hiking/walking long distances. Waterproof is a bonus.
Thick socks
Pocket knife
Multi tool
Any dried food with high caloric content – jerky, nut packages, etc
Hard candies
Small bottle hand sanitizer
Small tubes of antibiotic ointment (if you have any)
ANY body armor or other protective items (even stuff like lightweight baseball helmets or catchers’ chest protector and masks)
Any prescription glasses

If you don’t have these items, you can improvise – this is a good starting point. The idea is that you have at least something on your person that will help you survive a bit longer if you have nothing else but what you are carrying.

Also – defensive items. Ideally, this would be a handgun and a shotgun/rifle. However, most folks aren’t going to have enough of those to give every adult capable (and trustworthy with firearms) a handgun AND a long gun. If you have handguns and carry them, make sure they are safely carried and carry some ammo on yourself.

If you don’t have firearms (or aren’t comfortable with carrying them) … mace/pepper spray/bear spray is a good substitute. A baseball bat or something similar will also be useful, if you can’t find something else. If you have a hunting bow or target bow – carry that any time you’re away from the vehicle. Slingshots also work. BB guns or air rifles also work. Worst case, a long kitchen knife in a makeshift scabbard is still better than nothing.

Ideally, much of this would go in a small bag – fanny packs are ideal. Some of it should be in your pockets. Wear long pants, and if it’s at all chilly, layer your shirts – wear a t-shirt with a long sleeved shirt over it and a sweatshirt/sweater over that. This list is not the ideal “can live off the land” list – but it at least is better than having nothing. The key is to dress well and be ready for anything.

A quick explanation of items:

Coffee filters are to filter water. The can opener is in case you find cans – it would really suck to not have a good way to open them. Cigarette lighters are handy ways to start fires. Having multiple ways to start fires is a good thing! Extra Ziploc bags would be great – they are wonderful for protecting paper and other things you don’t want wet – like spare socks and electronics.

Hard candies are a good source of calories in a small package that keeps well. If you can, put any food in a waterproof container/bag – to help hide odors.

Obviously, if you have small/light camping/backpacking tools (cable saws, etc) carry them either on your person or in the emergency bag.

IF you have time – you can make handy fire starting tinder by taking cotton balls and soaking/dipping them in petroleum jelly (until they are well coated) and then putting the balls into a small pill jar. This makes a handy and light way to carry something to light fires in damp conditions.

Feel free to add to this list but remember, worst case you would be carrying whatever you have on you, so carrying too much is as bad as carrying too little.

Emergency bag: (sheet 3)

Matches (ideally strike anywhere but strike on box will do)
Cigarette lighters
Coffee filters
ANY backpacking equipment – backpacking stoves, backpacking cookware, backpacking silverware/plates/bowls, backpacking water containers. Make sure you bring fuel for stoves. I know most of you won’t have these but if you do – they are high priority for your emergency bags
Water purification tablets, if you have any
Sturdy lightweight plate/bowl/cup and one set of silverware. Plastic or aluminum is best. If you bring aluminum (which actually lasts better than cheap plastic), wrap it in some cloth to prevent rattles
Important papers (wills, insurance policies, titles, deeds, vital records, bank records, etc) – in at least one ziploc bag, better if you double bag them.
Boy scout manuals/how to live off the land/etc books. Include anything on traps/etc. Don’t overload yourself with books, but if you have these type of books, bring them in the emergency bag
First aid books – same as above
Any books on foraging for wild plants or on medicinal wild plants
Spare pocket knives.
Any hunting/fishing knives, especially with sheaths. Failing that, make a sheath for a couple of kitchen knives by cutting out heavy cardboard and duct taping the heck out of it. Make sure your makeshift sheath doesn’t stick to the knife blade though!
Any sharpening items for knives – you may have one for your kitchen knives. Better are true sharpening stones.
Can openers
Flashlight and batteries
Radio – small. Windup is better but battery powered works too
Any walkie-talkies – spread them out between the adults and teenagers. Batteries for same
ANY backpacking foods – if you have them
Peanut butter – very nutrious, and keeps pretty well
Dried soup mixes
Dried milk
Other dried foods – jerky, etc.
Prescription medications (all of your supply except what is on your person, especially for anything you must take)
Any leftover antibiotics you have lurking around your medicine cabinet
A small amount of first aid supplies – band-aids, ointments, etc. If you have some first aid kits around the house, those are perfect.
Over the counter painkillers
Antacids, antidiarrheals, anti-nausea drugs
Muscle rub ointments
If you have a good quality sleeping bag, tie it up tightly, wrap it in something waterproof, and hang it from your bag. If you don’t have a good quality sleeping bag, get the best quality blankets you can and do the same. Wool is better than cotton, if possible.
Sheet plastic and/or trash bags
Sunscreen (not tons, but some)
Insect repellant (if the season)
Lightweight rope – paracord if you have it is ideal
Fishing line and hooks (make sure to wrap the hooks well or have them in something that will keep them from hooking you)
Extra socks (at least three pair – five or six is better) Sturdy well made and thick.
Extra t-shirt (at least one, two is better)
Extra long-sleeved shirt
Extra sweatshirt
Duct tape
Super glue or gorilla glue (put in baggie if possible) Small tubes
Extra underwear
Any gold/silver coins
More cash if you have it
Some small jewelry pieces
Pool shock (see EPA directions for using it to purify water – need specific type)
Bible or other religious items
One favorite book you won’t mind re-reading
One favorite toy for children
Family photos (in Ziploc bags) – ideally you’d have photos of everyone coming with you, as well as any real special memories.
Any solar charging items for your electronics – such as cell phones and tablets
Tablet (such as iPad/etc)
A couple of pens – sharpies or other waterproof best
A couple of pencils
A small notebook for recording things
A small pad of paper for leaving notes
Spare pair of sturdy shoes
Spare sunhat
Spare winter outerwear if the season
Rain ponchos if you have them
A small set of basic tools – Phillips head and regular screwdriver, small hammer, a small hacksaw if you have it, etc.
Something to use as a water bottle – at worst case use a cleaned out soda bottle
Something to cook in – a small pot is perfect.
Granola bars/etc – high caloric small weight food items. Wrap in plastic to disguise odors.
Small packages of kleenex or a Ziploc bag with a stack of them
Spare bandanas and handkerchiefs
Work or garden gloves
Tweezers and/or fingernail clippers
A small pair of scissors
Small mirror for signaling – ideally non-breakable but a small makeup compact will work in a pinch.
Small sewing kit (even those cheap ones you get from hotels sometimes)
Bar of soap and a case/bag for soap
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Space blankets (those silvery emergency blankets that help reflect heat back to yourself)
Eyeglass repair kits, if you wear glasses

And … firearms. And ammo for them. Even if you’re not comfortable carrying it, it’s better to take it with you and have it close. The defensive items mentioned in the list to carry on your person also work well here – and add any hunting bows you might have.

You may not have all of these items. Don’t despair. It’s meant to be a helpful guide to things you might have that would help you if you lost everything but what you’re carrying on your own person. The guiding principle is to keep it light but focused on items that will help you reach us. The Bible and fiction books (and toy for children) is for comfort.

Things to pack in the car: (file/sheet 4)

First a few words on priority. You may not have all of these things but the priority on categories of what you bring should be:

1. Items to purify water and fuel to get you to us
2. Medical items
3. Food items and things to make food, preferably lightweight
4. Firearms and ammo and other defensive items
5. Clothing for all weather
6. Footwear
7. Bedding
8. Shelter and power
9. Personal care items
10. Instructional books
11. Family mementos
12. Tools
13. Valuables (all important papers should be in the emergency bags)
14. Household supplies
15. Entertainment items
16. Bulky foods

Some things will be a higher priority than they would be just based on their category – pressure canners are much higher on the list to bring than most anything but seeds and firearms, but there are no real hard and fast rules.

1. So – first, water purification items.

Pool shock – IF it’s granular calcium hypochlorite (ideally 100%, but 80% or even 50% works). Other types of pool shock are NOT suitable.
Water purification tablets (typically used for backpacking)
Water filters that filter out bacteria and chemicals
Coffee filters (every single one you have – they are used to pre-filter water for dirt/etc)
Tincture of iodine or household iodine
A pot to boil water in
Water bottles, especially sturdy ones

On how to purify water, see the EPA sheet attached.

2. Medical items:

This one’s simple – anything first aid related (band-aids, gauze, cotton balls, alcohol, etc) and any medications in your medicine cabinets should be packed. Any ace bandages. Any medical equipment – thermometers, blood pressure devices, canes, etc should also come if at all possible. Any old prescriptions in your medicine cabinets. Any pet medications – INCLUDING fish meds (fish antibiotics are usable by people!). If it can treat something whether it’s over the counter or through a prescription, bring it.

Or, in a nutshell, take everything in your medicine cabinets and any other medical drawers and dump them (okay, not dump, but pack carefully) into something sturdy and bring it. If it LOOKS medical, bring it.

Also, include:

Medical gloves
Face/dust masks
Insect repellant

3. Food items:

These are HIGH priority:

Seeds for EDIBLE items – herbs, veggies, etc.
Hand gardening tools.
Any lightweight foods that are NOT in your emergency bags
Empty out your spice racks and cabinets – bring them all.
Any powdered drinks – milk, kool-aid, etc.
Coffee – beans and instant
Any condiment packages from restaurants
Cooking oils (pack carefully)
Dried pasta
Dried beans
Canned or dried meats
Hot cereals
Pudding and jello mixes
Extracts – vanilla, lemon, etc. Pure ones are better, but any are good
Dried yeast
Dried Grains
Cocoa mix

Farm animals:

IF you have things like rabbits or chickens or goats – BRING THEM

Animal care supplies – leads, halters, etc even if you don’t have the animals anymore

If you have space later (but AFTER items under numbers 4 through 11):

Gravy Mixes
Flavoring sauces – sirracha, ketchup, etc
Hard liquors

Equipment for food (pack any of these as the same priority as food and firearms):

Pressure canners – and any supplies for same
Canning lids (don’t bring the glass jars unless you have a LOT of space)
All your kitchen knives – bring them all.
Any sturdy non-breakable plates, bowls, cups, glasses
Silverware – bring at least a set for every person – more if you can find ways to stuff it in
Can openers, manual
Aluminum foil

Cooking equipment (pack AFTER items numbered 4 through 13)

Frying pan
A couple of pots
Cast iron cooking gear

After all the rest of the items here, you should consider manual cooking equipment (bring these after everything but items under number 16):

Manual egg beaters
Manual pasta makers
Metal cooking utensils – spoons, ladles, etc.
Thermos bottles
Coolers (pack items inside them)
French press coffee makers
Apple corers
Biscuit cutters
Bottle openers
Manual Juicers
Vegetable peelers, manual

4. Firearms and defensive items:

ANY firearms.
Any air rifles/bb guns/etc
Ammo for the above
Gunpowder and/or other reloading supplies
Hunting Bows
Blowguns and darts
Any edged or similar weapons that can stand up (not that cheap tin sword you bought but replica weapons, etc)
Anything that can be used as a weapon – metal or wood baseball bats, a heavy golf club, etc.

Binoculars – any you have

Make sure your defensive items are in easy reach.

5. Clothing

Sturdy clothing – and not just for the current weather. Bring winter clothes as well as summer. Thick socks. Underwear. Especially warm clothing – bring plenty. Include outerwear. If its summer – bring a winter coat for everyone. Bring mittens, gloves, winter hats, scarves and earmuffs. Bring wet weather gear – good waterproof jackets and boots. If you have wool sturdy sweaters – bring them. You can always pack clothing around items that would rattle or that are fragile. At least two full sets of winter and summer clothing are best. If you have more and can bring it, so much the better (but only bring sixth or more sets after bringing other items). Bring as much underwear as you can… the chances of us having any extra are slim!

If you have space, bring baby/infant/toddler supplies and clothes, especially blankets and bottles

Handkerchiefs and bandanas are also useful
ALL spare shoelaces – strip them out of worn-out shoes, etc.
ALL belts that are practical
ALL sports bras, whether they fit or not
ALL thermal underwear
Pajamas and a robe
Diaper pins

6. Footwear

Bring every single sturdy shoe or boot you have. No high heels, and only one pair of sandals or flip-flops, but slippers are more useful. Again, not likely we’ll have spare shoes in your size.

7. Bedding

Any sheets in good shape
Pillowcases – all that are in good shape
Blankets and quilts – as many that are in good shape as you can manage
Air mattresses (and pumps for them) – because it’s likely that any you bring are what you’ll be sleeping on
A pillow for each person
Two bath towels and face towels for each person
All your washcloths
Kitchen towels

8. Shelter

Good quality tents
Tent equipment – stakes, etc

Don’t bring kid tents that can’t at least keep out the rain

Any weatherproofing items you might have – that spare can of Scotchguard, etc.
Tarps – all that you have

Also – power supplies

Any camping lanterns – Coleman, etc that use fuel or are rechargeable
Any oil lamps, etc
Supplies for lamps/lanterns – wicks, etc.
Refillable lighters and fuel for same
Disposable Lighters
Sterno/etc cans
Propane Tanks
Fuel cans and fuel – kerosene, diesel, gas
Matches that don’t go in the bags
Battery powered radios
ANY CB radios or other communication devices such as walkie-talkies
Marine radio if you have one for a boat

The rest of this is stuff to bring in the car if you have space after getting items 9 through 15)

Camping Stoves
Propane for camping stoves
Any fuel stabilizers
Bike pumps, manual
Solar car (or other) battery chargers
Cargo straps (use for packing!)
Road flares
Ice scrapers
(if winter) Snow chains

9. Personal care items

Bring these first:
Soap – all you have
Any travel toiletries items – shampoo, soap, etc
Toothbrushes – all you have
Toothpaste – all you have
Dental floss
Combs, brushes, hair bands, bobby pins
Spare sunglasses
Spare eyeglasses, even if the prescription no longer fits – someone might be able to use them

Bring these after filling in stuff from items 10 through 15:

Safety razors and blades for them
Folding hand fans
Sanitary pads

Do not bother bringing makeup/curling irons/hair dryers/etc. If you ABSOLUTELY must bring some makeup, keep it minimal, but it’s really wasted packing space.

10. Instructional books

Especially for handicrafts or school instruction if you have kids.
Gardening books (for veggies, not flowers)
First aid books
How-to books – train animals, build things, etc.
Sewing, knitting, etc.
Anything you can build/make/repair/etc
Field guides to animals/plants/etc
Animal care books
Age-appropriate children’s books – a selection

11. Family mementos

Photo albums, etc. Don’t go overboard, but bring some.

12. Tools

Especially hand tools or tools for hobbies. Don’t bring your electric saw or anything really large, but especially bring small tools or specialized tools. We probably don’t need a lot of basic screwdrivers, but if that’s all you have and you have space… bring them.

This includes sewing equipment and other hobby supplies

Sewing pins
Knitting needles
Yarn, especially wool yarn
Crocheting supplies, including hooks
Scissors – every single pair
Magnifying glasses
Twist Ties

Also includes:

Tapes, especially masking or duct tape
Zip ties
Work gloves
Gardening gloves
Saw blades
Razor blades
Plastic sheeting
Bungee cords
Electrical tape
Rubber cement
Cotter pins
Solar powered calculators
Spare eyeglass repair kits

13. Valuables

Gold, jewelry, sterling silver flatware, cash, etc. Bonds, etc. Don’t go overboard but if you can stick it in a corner, do it.

If you have time, backup all family photos and documents from computers (as well as any important files) and burn them to CD/DVD. Put one copy of the info in each emergency bag as well as a couple in each vehicle.

14. Household supplies

Toilet paper – flatten and you can fit more in
Paper towels – flatten and you can fit more in
Concentrated disinfectants
Window cleaners
Pest supplies – insect sprays, boric acid, etc.
Pest traps – ant traps, etc.
Any insecticides
Moth balls
Metal whistles (used for signaling)
Pet supplies – bowls, leashes, crates, etc.
Duffle bags and other “stuffable” luggage
Leather care supplies for shoes, etc.
Mechanical clocks and watches
Fishing tackle and rods
Safety goggles
Outdoor thermometers
Trash bags
Ziploc bags
Steel wool pads
Dishwashing soap (not dishwasher soap, but the liquid stuff)
Hand sanitizer
Saran wrap
Mechanical pencils and lead for same
Laundry bags
Laundry baskets (pack stuff in them)
Cooking thermometers

15. Entertainment items:

Favorite fiction books
Religious items
Favorite music CDs
A few favorite movies on DVD or Blu-ray
Colored pencils
Fountain pens
A few favorite toys
Tablets/kindles with chargers
ONE laptop per vehicle with chargers and the like.
Playing cards
Books on games – card, board, etc
Board games (NOT Monopoly/Sorry/etc)
Chess pieces/checker pieces

Don’t bring game consoles or other similar items.

16. Bulky food

Well preserved foods – things like canned fruits or canned veggies. Avoid bringing green beans, they have little calories. Try for high-calorie items.

Trailer stuff: (file/sheet 5)

If you can secure a trailer or other towed vehicle, obviously that greatly increases your ability to bring stuff. Prioritize by the categories for the packing of the car(s).

First and foremost – bring more canned foods and clothing and household goods. Especially towels, sheets, and clothes. Keep the clothing practical, but a nice dress or suit is certainly something worth bringing if you have space. Extra pillows, any fabric, any shoes except for totally impractical items like high heels.

Any food that isn’t immediately perishable is worth sticking in a trailer. This includes baking soda, gum, candies, etc.

Any Rubbermaid tubs or similar containers along with any laundry baskets – pack things in them.

Outerwear such as spare coats and jackets are well worth bringing. Children’s clothes that are still in good shape but no longer fit your children would be useful.

More kitchen utensils – metal mixing bowls, metal canisters, metal/wooden spoons/spatulas, etc. Manually operated kitchen gadgets also. ALL your trash bags – including those paper yard waste bags. Cookie sheets and metal bread pans

Brooms and mops. Manual carpet sweepers if you have one. Dustpans. Dish racks for drying hand-washed dishes

Any cleaning products not already in the car – pack them carefully.

Also, include:

More instructional books
More fiction that you would want to reread
Maps, road or atlases

More movies and music on CD/DVD. If you have vinyl records that’s not a bad option either.

And personal care items: shampoo, disposable razors, etc. Spare combs, brushes, hair care products, lotions, deodorant, etc. Still, avoid makeup.

Weirdly enough – bring your toilet seats – they are useful for making outhouses/etc.

This is also where you can include bulky items.

If you have a generator, put it on the trailer if you have one.

Winter sports gear like snowshoes or cross-country skis are a good option.

If you have folding cots, they are perfect for a trailer.

Garden tools – shovels, hoes, rakes, etc. make good things to bring on a trailer. Also tools – saws, hammers, etc. If you have nails/screws/etc bring them. Any gardening/farming items that are large are useful. Gas powered cultivators if you have space.

Inflatable rafts, oars, paddles, life jackets are other items that might be useful.

Folding tables, folding chairs, other portable furniture items that pack down. Hammocks.

Entertainment items: cards, games, etc. More of them if you have them.

If you still have space after all of the above are packed – office supplies. Paper, pens, pencils, staplers, etc. Manual typewriters if you have one. Metal or wooden rulers and yardsticks. Anything non-electric that makes life easier.

Any “antique” items you might have that still work – including things like ox yokes, old horse tack, egg baskets, old bushel baskets, scythes, hay hooks, butter molds, washboards, etc.

Things you MIGHT have around that would be good if you have space:

Slide rules
Disposable earplugs
Garden fencing or wire
Garden Hoses
Garden nozzles
Cat litter
Dog kennel panels
Small step stools
Folding ladders
Sausage Stuffer
Manual meat grinder
Watering cans
Garden fertilizer
Plastic garden pots
Blackboards or small slates
Typewriter ribbons
Grease guns
Hydraulic jacks
Sawhorse brackets
Tool belts
Camping toilets
Solar garden lights
Pruning shears and saws
Rain gauges
Chimney cleaning equipment
Small Rugs
Hard hats
Safety Vests
Roll-down escape ladders
Chemistry sets
Animal Traps
Window film
Caulk and similar supplies – sealants, oils, graphite
Flexible plastic tubing
Wire, especially copper or electrical
Stream waders for fishing
Swim goggles
Water wings and inflatable inner tubes
Baby bottles and nipples
Baby care items – including toilet training items
Children’s books – including coloring books and instructional workbooks
Metal colanders
Metal graters
Food dehydrators
Double boilers
Manual grain mill
Manual food mills for canning
Canning supplies such as funnels, etc
Nut-cracking equipment (crackers and picks)
Mortar and pestle
Muffin tins
Plastic pitchers with lids
Cooling racks for cooking/baking
Tea balls
Mimeograph machine and supplies
Treadle sewing machine
Wax – beeswax, paraffin, soy, candle
Duffle bags and other sturdy bags
Small safes
Borax, laundry
Toilet plungers
Air horns
Boot jacks
Microscope and equipment
Draft blockers for doors
Metal trash cans with lids (pack stuff inside)
Brewing equipment and supplies
Kayaks and paddles
Spare parts for cars, even not yours
Car fluids – brake fluid, oils, washer, etc.
Jumper cables
Light bulbs (pack carefully)
Spare bike equipment
Snow chains
Small bells, metal or otherwise sturdy
Sturdy candleholders
Mosquito Netting
Power inverters
Lighter fluid
Propane line converters
Charcoal briquettes
Fire extinguishers
Plastic water jugs
Weaving Looms
Spinning wheels
Other textile tools
Plastic garden pots
Small plastic/etc starting seed pots (those ones you got those garden plants in)
Potting soil
Rain gauges
Padlocks (with keys)
Combination locks (with combos!)
Flypaper and traps
Spare key rings
Metal and plastic pitchers
Metal candle holders
Dust pans (I don’t know about you, but ours seem to walk off all the time…)
Old phone books
Old newspapers

If all of this looks like a gigantic hodge-podge, well, yes, it does. But most of this is very useful in the right conditions. Although we’ve tried hard to anticipate needs, it’s actually impossible to stockpile enough stuff for an extended period of time. And we’re also only human – we will make mistakes and forget things.

Things to acquire along the way, if possible (and safe): (file/sheet 6)

Seeds – especially heirloom varieties, but any vegetable seeds are worth acquiring
Firearms and ammo for same, even if the ammo is in a caliber you don’t have
Reloading supplies for firearms – gunpowder, primers, shotgun shells and wads
Medical supplies
Rechargeable batteries
Farm animals – if you can take care of them!
Large dogs that can guard you
Pool shock (calcium hypochlorite only)
Water purification tablets
Powdered drinks with vitamin C
Lanterns – camping or oil or kerosene
Fuel for lanterns
CBs/walkie talkies/wind-up radios
Toothpaste and toothbrushes
Tampons and sanitary pads
Instructional books – especially on farming, animal care, woodcraft, building, other crafts

Basically, any other item on the various lists are also useful but the above are priority items. You’ll note there is little food on the list – obviously if you can get more food, try for it, but the chances of it being available are not high.

This does NOT mean you should rob, steal, and loot your way to our place. For one thing, it’s wrong. For another, it’s dangerous. But if you can buy something you’re lacking, it’s worth considering. There is a moral aspect to this, however. Is it moral to take advantage of someone who doesn’t see the situation as dire? This is a concern you’ll have to face yourself and decide for yourself.

This also applies to bringing along others you meet on the way. Only you can judge if the situation is dire enough to take in others and bring them with you. It’s always possible that they will turn out to be bad people who are a danger. Remember that in survival situations and disasters, even good people will do bad things to provide for themselves and their family.

Note: To get a nice free printable of this article, as well as three other printables, subscribe to my email newsletter (also free). After you confirm your subscription you will be sent an email with links to where you can download the free printables… enjoy.

M.D. Creekmore

Owner / Editor at
Hello, I’m M.D. Creekmore. I’ve been interested in self-reliance topics for over 25 years. I’m the author of four books that you can find at as well as Barnes and Noble. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about prepping, homesteading, and self-reliance topics through first-hand experience and now I want to share what I’ve learned with you.
M.D. Creekmore