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11 Overrated Prepping Items You Don’t Really Need

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As preppers, we accumulate and stockpile stuff. In fact it’s what we’re most famous for – the public perception of preppers is people with an arsenal of guns and a basement full of canned beans.

In fact a lot of prepping is about acquiring skills and knowledge, but collecting and storing items is important, too. Without food, water and tools it gets pretty difficult to survive any sort of real crisis.

Not everything preppers like to stockpile is equally valuable, though. Have you ever read a discussion or article and wondered exactly why people are so focused on making sure they have enough mousetraps to last until Judgment Day? I certainly have.

So, just to provoke some thoughts and maybe start some helpful discussions, I’ve made a list of the top prepping items I think are massively overrated. Here we go:


OK, let’s get the controversial one out of the way first: You don’t need a bunch of guns!

One of my first introductions to preparedness and survival was reading Jerry Ahern’s “Survivalist” novels back when I was a teenager.

The protagonist, John Rourke, routinely carried five guns on him. Many years later – including 15 as a professional soldier – I just have to laugh at that.

Carrying two rifles and three handguns is certainly possible, but it’s also pretty uncomfortable and completely unnecessary.

Honestly, even owning five guns is unnecessary from a prepping point of view.

Related: Guns Preppers Need To Buy Before The Upcoming Gun Ban

If you enjoy shooting and collecting them that’s great, but if your main interest in guns is how they’ll help you stay alive after TEOTWAWKI don’t go down that road.

What you need is one good gun, and the first choice has to be an AR15-style rifle. It’s ideal for self-defense, and you can also hunt small and medium game with it. Get one chambered for 5.56mm, because there are billions of rounds of that caliber in the US (plus a lot of .223 that will work in it too).

If you have the budget and inclination you can get a good high-capacity 9mm handgun too (for the same reason – it’s the easiest ammo to find), but remember, for every handgun you carry you could have two extra rifle magazines instead (sorry, John Rourke).

If you don’t fancy a rifle, go for a pump shotgun with a 20” slug barrel. Then, instead of buying more guns, buy more ammo for the one you have. You can never have enough ammo. You can definitely have enough guns.


11 Overrated Prepping Items You Don’t Really NeedI’ll qualify this and say I don’t mean all multitools here. A good Leatherman is a really handy thing to have.

Unfortunately I can’t say the same for all the multitools that masquerade as bracelets, credit cards, snowflakes and other unlikely objects that are sold online for $9.95.

Either get a Leatherman or carry a good, solid pocket knife with a locking blade; either will be a lot more useful than a gadget that tries to squeeze usable tools into something that fits a credit card slot in your wallet.

Faraday Cages

When it comes to protecting your electronics from the threat of an EMP, the traditional Faraday cage might seem like the go-to solution. But let’s face it: they’re bulky, unwieldy, and frankly, not as reliable as we’d hope.

That’s why I wish more people knew about the EMP Cloth. This cloth was developed after years of extensive research by top U.S. scientists and it provides 98% military-grade protection against electromagnetic waves. You can cover everything in it – as long as you’ve got enough of them – from credit cards, laptop, a fridge and even your car!

The thing is, the EMP Cloth isn’t always available. They don’t restock them that often because they’re pretty hard to produce, so it took YEARS for me to finally get my hands on it. I found a reliable website to order it from, as I wanted to make sure the material is the right one. I recommend you secure your own cloth from here. It’s a rare find and not many people get to own it, which is a shame.


11 Overrated Prepping Items You Don’t Really NeedI’ve heard a lot of people say you should buy wheat instead of flour because it lasts longer. That’s true; it does, and it’s cheaper too.

On the other hand it takes a lot of work to turn your wheat stockpile into flour when you actually need it.

Is it worth it? I don’t think so.

Just bake your own bread and rotate your flour stockpile. Honestly, the chances of you stockpiling so much flour that it seriously deteriorates before you’ve used it all are pretty remote anyway.

Emergency Food Buckets

We’ve all seen them advertised: Those big plastic buckets that promise 60 or 80 or 120 meals. They’re not cheap, but they look like a good idea: For just $430 you can get 120 servings of freeze-dried food with a 25-year shelf life.

Well, the food’s usually OK, and it can definitely be stored safely for years, but when you see the actual serving size they base their claims on you might not be so impressed.

If you go with the recommended serving sizes you’re going to be hungry – and after a few days of hard work in an emergency situation, you’re going to be tired and weak.

I just looked at a 60-serving bucket that contains 22,240 calories. That’s 370 calories per serving. If you eat three entrees a day you’ll be on a grand total of 1,110 calories. That’s starvation level. And this bucket claims its serving sizes are “1.5 to 2 times larger than competing packages”.

Instead of relying on those overhyped survival food buckets with their meager serving sizes and inflated claims, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I turned to this guide to craft my own survival food solutions.

11 Overrated Prepping Items You Don’t Really NeedWith over 100 recipes tailored for long-lasting storage without refrigeration, it became my go-to resource to create meals that truly satisfied and sustained me during challenging situations. So, rather than relying on inflated promises and underwhelming servings, I took charge of my prepping by preparing real, nourishing food using this invaluable guide.

Body Armor

Body armor is great at reducing fatalities from small arms fire, fragmentation and terrorist Improvised Explosive Devices.

It’s also expensive, heavy, hot, uncomfortable, awkward if you’re trying to do physical work, and of limited use in a survival situation.

Body armor won’t do anything if you’re hit in the limbs or head, and it’s really only proof against rifle fire if the bullet hits the chest or back plates. Most of your torso is not covered by the plates.

Rifle bullets will rip right through almost all soft body armor, and you’ll still end up with a wound that needs urgent medical attention that, when the SHTF, you’re not going to get. For a soldier in combat it makes sense. For a prepper, it just doesn’t.

Baby Wipes

Unless these are individually sealed they dry out. They’re also expensive for what they are, and seem to be better at spreading dirt around than actually removing it.

A cloth, some water – hot if possible, but it doesn’t have to be – and a bar of good old-fashioned soap will do a much better job.

Button Compasses

11 Overrated Prepping Items You Don’t Really NeedI keep seeing tiny compasses included in those survival bracelets woven out of 550 cord, or embedded in the pommels of survival knives – because of course the best place to keep a small, unbalanced compass is right next to a pound of steel.

Unless you’re a shot-down aviator trying to escape from enemy troops, through a forest, at night and in a blizzard, they’re not really much of a navigational aid. Learn how to find north using your watch and the sun; that’s more accurate and reliable.

Gold/Precious Metals

Imagine the scene: Refugees from the nearby city are streaming past your home. One of them is carrying a can of 5.56mm ammo, and you’d like to barter with him for a couple of hundred rounds – after all, you can never have too much ammo for your gun, right? So you talk to him, pull a small bar of gold from your pocket and offer to trade it for some ammunition.

There’s just one problem; he’s hungry, and he can’t eat gold. What he wants is food.

Unless you plan to spend the years after the apocalypse running an electronics factory, gold is basically useless.

It might come into its own after a few years when a real economy starts rebuilding himself, and it certainly has a role to play in protecting your wealth from a currency collapse, but for barter in a SHTF scenario it’s a waste of time. When people are focused on staying alive today, they have no use for gold or other precious metals.


11 Overrated Prepping Items You Don’t Really NeedOK, I admit it, I keep a lot of prepared meals in the freezer.

None of that plays any role in my survival planning, though, because I just can’t guarantee that I can keep the freezer running in a crisis.

I think I can, but I’m not sure. So I won’t be relying on it for my next meal.

Tactical Knives

A good knife is an essential survival tool – but why does it have to be “tactical”? Actual soldiers don’t carry tactical knives; they like strong, simple blades that can hold an edge and pry open crates without breaking.

What you want in a knife is a sturdy blade, four to seven inches long, that’s made of good steel and is suitable for processing a deer, cutting string and being batoned through a small log.

A good hunting or bushcraft knife, or something like a USMC combat knife, is just fine. “Tactical” implies combat, and if knife fighting plays any part in your survival plans I have some bad news for you – you’re not going to survive.

As I hope I made clear, I’m not saying all these things are useless. Most of them have at least some uses, and in general you’re better having them than not having them.

However, I just don’t think they’re as important as many preppers seem to think. I’m sure a lot of readers are going to disagree with me, though, so don’t be shy about making your feelings known!

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