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By Claude Nelson
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Tools You Will Need When SHTF

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Even though there are many different SHTF situations possible, there are general-purpose tools and equipment that every prepared individual should have. I’m going to list not only the tools that everyone should have, but how to keep your list of SHTF equipment orderly and efficient. I’m going to show you a template for equipment planning that was taught to me when I was learning survival and security work.

Defensive Tools

1. The Bug-out Vehicle – Your ability to move out of the way of danger can be the first and most effective defense measure against any myriad of threats. For this reason, keeping a well-maintained vehicle is absolutely paramount to cover lots of ground quickly. I recommend having a survival kit to keep your car alive should you need to “bug out” ASAP. I would keep the following in a carton ready to throw in the trunk:

  • Automobile Fluids (1 Quart Size): Oil, Transmission, Brake, Coolant
  • Common Automobile Tools: Wrenches, Socket Set, Screw Drivers, Etc.
  • Tire repair: “Fix-a-Flat” Can
  • Jump-Start Cables & Chargeable Jump-Start Battery
  • Jack Stand and filled Spare Tire

2. The Bug-out Mule – When is the last time you went for a long walk (5 or 10 miles)? If your vehicle is disabled during SHTF, can you regroup and walk where you need to go? You’ll become a pack mule for the family, and you’ll need the right gear to carry the . . . gear:

  • Hiking boots & Cushioned socks
  • Hiking Pack (to carry some of the gear that was in the disabled car)
  • Moleskin (to mitigate blisters)

Related: 11 Smart Tips to Make Your Bug-Out Bag Lighter and Smaller

*While fitness level is not a physical “tool” per-say, it will help or hinder a family who is trying to escape an imminent SHTF situation. Now is the time to get yourself in better shape, regardless of how many survival items you’ve acquired. One can always be in better physical condition.

3. Self-Defense – Moving out of the way of trouble isn’t always feasible. There are plenty of criminals that would take advantage delayed law enforcement response if SHTF. Along with training to use force in self-defense, the family protector should lawfully keep tools to deal with deadly threats:

  • Shotgun, Carbine and/or Pistol – 1 per adult
  • Applicable magazines or ammo carrier
  • Appropriate defense ammunition
  • A cleaning kit to maintain said firearm(s)

*While it should go without saying, responsible citizens spend time reviewing and demonstrating firearm safety as well as seeking qualified firearm self-defense training. Having a firearm without proper training is like having an operating room without a surgeon.

First-Aid Tools

While the use of force skills and tools are completely necessary, appropriate time must be spent learning to save a life. During a SHTF event, there will likely be little to no emergency medical response. You may be the only “EMT” available. That being the case, each person in the family should have a personal first-aid kit with the minimum items:

  • (2) Tourniquet
  • (2) 6” Compression Bandages
  • (2) Compressed Gauze Packages
  • (1) Roll – Surgical tape
  • (2) ABD Gauze Pads
  • (2) Occlusive (vented) Chest Seals
  • (1) Nasopharyngeal Airway w/ surgical lube
  • (1) Pack of Hemostatic Agent (QuikClot or Celox)
  • (1) Pair of Rubber Gloves

*Along with a basic first-aid kit, the family should have an expanded medical kit. The important thing to remember is that one will not magically know how to use a first-aid item under stress. Administering first-aid takes training and practice, but saving a life is worth the effort.

Observation and Communication Equipment Tools

During SHTF, the individuals and family that can observe happenings from afar and communicate with the outside world have a chance to formulate a plan to handle less than ideal situations. In the professional world of security, observation and communication equipment help process information into intelligence which helps leaders make decisions. At a minimum, here’s what you need:

  • FRS/GMRS radios – for each family member. Find out how to double your radio’s range here.
  • (1) HAM radio (and the requisite licensing and training in use)
  • Equipment to repower dead batteries (solar power)
  • (1) 60x Spotting Scope
  • Inexpensive 10x Monocular – for each family member
  • Emergency Signaling Devices – Road Flares and a couple cheap laser pointers

*Having alternate communication equipment is great, but it’s necessary to have a communication plan in place with other families and neighbors prior to SHTF.

Related: The Only Form of Communication After T-SHTF

Land Navigation – Land navigation along with first aid training may be one of the most underrated skill sets for SHTF prepping. When SHTF, there will probably be some folks that can stay on the homestead, while others will be forced to flee to safety. If GPS fails, and you’re forced off your route, then what shall you do? Luckily there are plenty of land navigation tutorials on the internet. Orienteering can be a lot of fun as an activity for the family to do together. Here’s what you need:

  • GPS (it may or may not work post SHTF)
  • (2) Compasses (with declination feature)
  • Several large water resistant area maps
  • Map tools: Protractor, pencils, scale

*It’s not enough to have maps and know how to navigate land. Just like a proper communication plan is necessary, so is having several contingency bug-out routes planned on your way to that family cabin.

Related: The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs

Extreme Weather Clothing Planning

If the power goes out in the winter and it stays out, how will you keep you and your family warm? Does your family have the clothing to stay warm when there’s no external heat source for long periods of time? A family should have the following:

  • (2) Sets of Layered clothing (socks, underwear, long johns, top & bottom)
  • Wind and Water Resistant Parka (and/or rain gear for warm climates)
  • Polypropylene or Wool hat, gloves, facemask
  • Boots (mentioned in the “bugging out on foot”, should be insulated in cold climates)
  • All-weather 10×10 shelter / rainfly
  • Sleeping bag and ground-pad (1 each per family member)

I recommend having the following survival tools at a minimum:

  • Smoke masks (things catch fire, and if there’s no firefighters to put them out . . . )
  • All-weather shelter tarp / rain-fly (at least 10×10)
  • (1) each sleeping bag per family member appropriate to the climate
  • Fire steel, striker, lighter, tinder
  • Compact wood stove, steel canteen cup with lid, tea and bouillon cubes
  • Water filter and purification drops & tablets
  • Food rations – have 3 days’ food in your pack and a year’s worth of food at your home, and another year’s worth at your retreat / other family member’s houses.
  • Compact Sanitation Kit – (feminine hygiene products for women), soap, oral hygiene products, compact washcloth, Sani-wipes, mineral salt deodorant, and toilet paper when you have space. Keep a year’s worth in your home, and several weeks of sanitation items in your pack.  While you may not have enough sanitation products in your pack to last 3 years, the longer you stay clean, the better your morale will be, and the less the chances are of you getting sick.
  • Tomahawk with rear side hammer
  • Bush-craft knife
  • (1) Large Multi-tool per family member
  • Paracord – LOTS OF PARACORD
  • Duct Tape – LOTS OF DUCT-TAPE

*The internet is filled with survival tools, some are ingenious in design, others are not as useful as they are eye candy or good marketing gimmicks. The only way to know for sure is to get that survival tool out for some use in the outdoors. Experience rules over theory.


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