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An Ultimate SHTF Prepper Supply List [Updated 2023]

Last Updated: February 24, 2023

The recent pandemic and food shortages throughout the world make clear the importance of preparedness. Remember what a million covid-19 deaths did to the state of the world.

Preparedness begins with practical caution with an eye on “safety first”. You never know when you’re going to need something.

If you don’t have the right emergency stock & gear, your family’s lives will be in danger.

How Do I Begin Preparing?

There are plenty of everyday things I normally take for granted. Like bottled water, baby wipes, and toilet paper, not having them when you need them is just uncomfortable. On the other wipe, having a good-sized supply is a certain measure of comfort.

In situations where violence and fear run amok, people make irrational choices. And, good people do whatever they have to in order to survive. Your self-defense measures extend to your family and your household.

The simplest way to begin is to prioritize by what disasters your family needs to be prepared for, and the rule of threes.


The Ultimate SHTF Preparedness Supply Checklist

The value of a checklist is setting parameters. If you know what you’re already prepared for, the next item or preparation project becomes easier to scope, plan, and execute. This is a list of the main survival categories for sustained life in dangerous situations: urban or wild.

Be logical in your choices upon an analysis of the biggest potential interruptions to your life in your local area.

Should you be prepared to buckle down in a hurricane?
Or do you have to be prepared to move your family because your area is prone to wildfire?
Are your food and water options going to be limited or do you have a running stream on your property?

The answers to these questions are helpful in completing your own personal SHFT checklist.

As you prioritize and customize to your personal, financial, and loved ones’ needs, keep in mind that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all definitive guide on the exact steps and equipment you’ll need for your survival.

#1 Water

Humans can’t survive more than 48 to 72 hours without water, making this the #1 item on any prepper list. Whether it’s filtered running water or it is your storage of potable water, water is the most important item to make sure you have around.

The human feeling of thirst evolved after the feeling of hunger. When you are hungry, that’s the best time to refuel. When you are thirsty, you’re already on your way to dehydration.

How Much Water Will I Need Per Person?

Determine your water needs by storing at least one gallon of water per person for a week (ready.gov/water, 2021). Each person in your supervision will require at least three-quarters of a gallon for drinking and the rest for minimum sanitation. Depending on your metabolism, physical condition, age, health, activity, diet, and climate, your water needs will vary. Additionally, in emergencies or warmer weather, your water needs may double.

Running Water

Not all of us live by a “drinkable-right-from-the-river” running water source.

The first priority in survival on your homestead (or away from it) is to locate the nearest source of running water that can be filtered for drinking, sanitation, and injury treatment. In case your tap stops running, or your water stores dry up, then that source of running water is going to be what keeps you and your family alive.

Colorado Valley

FDA Approved Canned, Bottled, and Packaged Water

Remember to set up your storage early, before the onset of any panic-buying or disaster. The greatest benefit to prepping is decreasing inconveniences from external events. Keep costs down and trips down to a minimum in times of fear by stocking up early.

Blue Can Pure Water has the longest shelf life of any commercially available packaged water. Easy to stack, and protected from vermin and oxygen, this makes for the best option in long-term water storage for your family.

Blue Can Pure Water with a shelf life of 50 years.

With a shelf life of five years and an extremely easy packable pouch of water, Datrex’s Emergency Drinking water is in every kit, bug-out bag, and pack at our homesteads.

Remember to always rotate your stocked items based on the expiration date and on your normal usage basis.

With stored water ranging in expiration dates — 2, 5, and 50 years with all three of the above packaged water options — Fiji Water is the best bottled water option to rotate into your daily water usage.

Mid-Sized Portable Water Containers

In a dire survival situation, 5 gallons of water will provide one person with the minimum amount of water needed to survive for about 15 days. Death can occur when you lose 20% (about 8 liters) of your body water.

If you lose 1 liter of water per day and drink 1 liter each day, 2 gallons, 7.5 liters could essentially provide you with enough water to live for 7 and a half days.

There is a wide range of “minimum amounts” of water for survival, but note numerous factors are unique to each person and situation.

In preparedness, it’s better to stock a gallon per day per person (cdc.gov, 2021), and adapt the amount of water stored based on your household’s needs.

Your Large Water Storage Tank with a Spigot

The next ideal water container is your large BPA-free long-term water storage.

Always used with a spigot, you can keep your stored water sanitary and easy to access.

Any water stored for long term in a resealable container should be checked for treatment and filtration safety measures. When the hose stops running, you’ll be thankful for the 55-gallon drum stacks in your storage.

The Lightest, Portable Water Filter

Water is heavy. On the move, remember that every gallon of water weighs about 8.3 lbs. You might not be able to carry enough water along with the rest of your supplies and gear.

The Lifestraw weighs 56 grams (0.12 lbs).

From a questionable murk of water, a portable water filter like the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter pulls clean water. As of 2023, it is the most effective portable water filter available on the commercial market.

At approximately 99.9% bacteria and virus filtration by design, you can stick this personal water purifier into dirty water and drink clean water.

The Best Mid-Sized Portable Water Purifier


Hung from a vehicle in the image above, a mobile and portable water filter is potentially the only water preparation needed. The LifeStraw 8L Gravity Water Filter can be used with a straw as a water bottle or as your complete on-the-go water filtration system.

The Best On-Site Water Filter

In most homes throughout the world, having a water filter integrated into your tap water system is starting to become standard practice. By direct connection to tap water systems or filling a water tank, you can ensure a source of ever-flowing drinkable, potable water for your family.

The LifeAdvanced purification technology removes Rotavirus & Hepatitis A and protects against bacteria such as E.coli & Salmonella. Capable of filtering 26,000 gallons of contaminated water over 3-5 years, the LifeStraw High-Volume Water Purifier is the greatest protection against microcontaminants.

Requires no electricity batteries, or replacement parts.

Rigorous independent testing with WHO, US EPA, NSF, and ASTM drinking water protocols.”


Water Purification Tablets & Bleach

Small, easy to pack inside of a first aid kit, water purification tablets stored in an unopened bottle have an average shelf life of five years.

Bleach. Two drops of 8.25% chlorine bleach will kill most germs per liter of water.

Note that too much bleach (higher concentrations) will result in caustic injuries and potentially death. With a pH level of 11-13, bleach burns.

Water Purification Standards in a Pinch

Boil. Historically the best way to purify water, add a pinch of salt for the surest, oldest method in purifying water. All organisms cannot survive in boiling water (160+ degrees Fahrenheit) for longer than 30 minutes.

DIY. Before boiling your water, even coffee filters can be used. They won’t kill germs, but they can help remove dirt, silt, sand, and critters.

Lastly, when boiling your water, if there’s a way for you to “catch” the evaporated water inside a tube, you’ve got water distillation.

#2 Food

The average American apartment or condominium household generally has less than three days worth of food stores. The ease and access of food delivery have dramatically changed the way people prepare and obtain food.

But, what if there are no more delivery guys willing to deliver food to your door?

Food storage preparedness is essentially three segments of time. After the first three days, you’re looking to prepare a food inventory that would last your household more than three weeks. Beyond that, you’re focused on long-term independent sustainability.

Survival Food Kits

Otherwise known as a survival food kit, your food bug-out bag is the fastest way to emergency food preparation. Long-lasting, easy to prep, and designed for durability, these kits are packaged for the long haul.

In the event of a disaster or time of civil unrest that requires your group to move, you’ve got your absolute minimum for avoiding starvation.

Canned Foods

Having secured your kits that can be taken with you, it’s best to look at your household’s normal food needs and store them based on what your family likes to eat. If it’s consumed in normal times, that food item could be a well-rounded & nutritious hot meal. Protein tends to be consumed regularly, and even harder to come by when SHTF, so plan on stocking up on kidney beans and canned meat.

Stored properly, these can last 5 years or more.

Long-Lasting Common Foods

Some staple foods have incredibly long lifespans for storage. In building your long-term food storage, a prepper saves money on stocking purchases due to cheaper prices before the impacts of inflation or demand. When properly stored, rice, oats, and beans can last more than 15 years.

Cooking Oil

Don’t forget this critical cooking item from your supply list. Cooking food without any oil at all is a surefire way to eating burned food all the time. If you only have your dusty half-full olive oil bottle, it’s time to pick up a new one, a can of Crisco just in case, and look into how much longer cold-pressed coconut oil lasts than most oils.

Kept as far away from light as possible, most oils and fats have a shelf-life of one to three years.

Vitamin Supplements

Even though vitamins are best collected through the fresh food we consume, there is no way to ensure a completely balanced nutrition in a survival situation with limited food options. Bottled vitamin supplements act as “insurance” against any potential mineral or essential nutrient deficiencies you may face from a lack of a well-rounded diet.

Cooking Gear

The difference between cold, raw food and hot cooked food is real. The impact of deliciously prepared survival food is the difference between a glum, negative group and people who WILL survive in a survival situation.

As a prepper chef armed with your skillet, survival lighter, and essential cooking/eating utensils, a relatively small kit is all that is needed for most recipes in or out of the kitchen.

#3 Communications, Internet, and Power

Arguably, your smartphone and access to all of your digital assets and important documents is the most important item to have with you at any time in the 21st century. While placed at #3 on this ultimate survival prepper list, your phone is actually the most important tool you can possibly have at the onset of a natural disaster or civil catastrophe.

Remember that a survival situation doesn’t just happen upon you. There’s a timeline of key events that lead to the days, weeks, months, or even years (covid-19) of prolonged milestone events. It’s not like one second your money is completely worthless and you’ve nowhere to go. Even in the event of societal collapse and nuclear apocalypse, your ability to trade and get relevant news from the Internet is paramount. In any military campaign where a subgroup is disconnected from the main group, establishing communications is ALWAYS the first priority.

A Good Phone

Hard Drives & Power Banks

Other than your IDs, credit cards, and passports, every other important document can now be stored on a hard drive. Add your pictures and videos to the hard drive, and all of your main mementos vulnerable to fire are conveniently stored and protected.

Combine your phone, your laptop, your hard drive, and your power bank with your portable solar power set up and you’ve got a modern command center of communications that’ll last you until the sun (or hardware) does.

Solar Power

The easiest option for off-the-grid, portable power, solar technology just keeps on getting better and better. Not only is the setup pictured below able to be zipped up and transported on the fly, but there are also pocket-sized versions of solar power energy sources.

#4 Defense, Weapons, and Tools

In the hand of an experienced survivalist, any tool or weapon can function as a self-defense measure. From a cast iron pan to an ax that can hammer nails, having a healthy amount of handheld, bulletproof items is just common sense. If selected carefully, every tool and weapon can always serve more than one function in both times of self-defense or construction.

Knifes & Bushcraft Tools

Camping Hatchet & Hammer

Guns and Firearms

As humans, protecting the place where we and our loved ones live represents a survival instinct that goes centuries back into human civilization.

While early humans used rocks and sticks to keep danger away, we now have guns by category, range, and purpose.

But what are the best guns and arms for the Ultimate SHTF Prepper Supply List?

The ideal gun armory begins with four different firearms. Whether we are homesteading, hunting, or protecting our family, these guns would make up our complete survival set.

We would go with the Glock 19 in our pistol holster.

File: Glock 19 Gen 4 Pistol made in Austria

The Berretta Tactical 1301 combat shotgun mounted above the front doorway.


Above the oak backdoor, within easy reach for a hunt, our collector’s edition Ruger Mini 30 hunting rifle.

As the last line of defense, in a gun locker in the safe room, our AR-15, the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport II.


#5 Medicines and First Aid

Any first-aid kid should include standard medications, antibiotics, and antiseptics. Along with any tools or bandaging you may need in a life-threatening wound, remember that the first aid kit is useless without know-how. Your supplies are one-half of the battle against time in a medical emergency, and the other half is knowing what to do.

If your family member or anyone in your group is prone to health conditions that need to be treated with specific medications, be sure to stock those as beyond any item on this supply list, specialized medications will be hard to come by in survival situations.

These include:

  • insulin for diabetes,
  • an EpiPen for allergies and overdoses,
  • and blood pressure regulation medication (nitroglycerin).

Other medical and personal protective gear

#6 The Bug-Out Bag Bag

For most of my adult life, my eye always goes to high-quality packs. I always check for seam quality, durability, and utility. I can’t help looking at every single one, testing it to see if it could hold up over the years and under high-performance stress.

A good bag is one of the foundations of your emergency preparedness, and understanding how yours is specifically packed is up to you.

#7 Miscellaneous Must-Haves

  • Light — there’s no need for kerosene or fuel anymore.
  • Nail clippers — always consider items of frequent use
  • Duct tape — authentically all-purpose
  • WD-40 – fire starter, lubricant, and extends the life of your steel
  • Batteries — an old CD player and mini-speaker powered by AA batteries may be your last way to listen to music.
  • Walkie-talkies — no prepping list or camping adventure is complete without walkie-talkies (also replacing the need for a ham radio).
  • Portable shower & hand laundry washer — in prepping, always first focus on what you might use both in your camping excursions AND what you’ll use every week in a survival scenario.
  • 13-in-1 Emergency Survival Kit — the higher the quality all-in-one gear you chose or build, the lighter all of your inventory weighs.
  • All-in-One Bug Out Pack — in case you want to only prepare for emergencies, disasters, and civil violence, this is a very convenient setup.
  • Hygiene Supplies:

Hand sanitizer, soap, shampoo, detergent, tampons, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and toilet paper are high-frequency/demand items — always smart choices.

Prioritize and Kit Out Responsibly

The Ultimate Survivalist SHTF Prepper’s Supply List is the prepper’s wishlist for 2023. With all the advancements in kit/gear technology, your prepping list is fully customizable to your needs and budget.

Kit out your storage, emergency supplies, and gear one item at a time, based on its relevance and how often you’re actually going to need it. Every time you learn how to use a new tool or adapt a new skill is a granular step towards self-confidence & self-sufficiency.

Make sure you know the expiration dates of your food supply.

Be clear on how to use your weapons, gear, and emergency kits.

Understand that you’re preparing for the worst, and learning how to live for the best.

“Always Be Ready” Max

Relevant Articles

100 Days: Your First Week in No-More-Processed Foods [#1/14] | Commonly Forgotten Prepping List Items | The Best Guns for Your Home Defense: Pistol, Shotgun, and Rifle(s) | Medical Preparedness: The Best Emergency Medical Skills to Know

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