With all the money we spend on preparedness supplies and gear, it’s impossible not to cut corners here and there. While it’s true that not all your prepping supplies need to be “top of the line,” there are some that absolutely need to be quality-made and tested.
The last thing you want is to find out something is a piece of junk when you need it most. The strap breaking on your bug out bag when you are trying to get home or a knife that breaks when you are trying to start a fire will only increase the stress of an already bad situation.
This doesn’t mean you need the most expensive products out there, but don’t go the cheapest route either. With a bit of research, we can save a few bucks while also getting preparedness gear that isn’t going to fail in the middle of a disaster.
Below are a few prepping items that come to mind when thinking about saving money without sacrificing quality. It’s easier said than done sometimes, but it is possible.
External Batteries (Portable Power Banks)
External power banks are a great way to store energy for small electronics in any disaster situation. While most of these will work for a while, some don’t last long. The main reason for this is the quality of the rechargeable battery inside or lack thereof. We tend to think about the battery’s capacity first, but the battery’s lifespan is just as (if not more) important.
Make sure that before you purchase one of these power banks, you read some reviews and see what others are saying about the product. You can also buy one and test it out yourself. Just make sure you don’t depend on it in an emergency until you are satisfied that it will do the job.
Water Filters – $20 Filters vs $100 Filters
It seems as though many people in the preparedness community feel like having a Sawyer Mini or a LifeStraw is all you need for safe drinking water in an emergency. While these are useful, and I recommend having a couple, they have their limits.
Over at Survivalist Prepper, I wrote a detailed article about picking the right water filter. Depending on your situation, you may need a filter that removes more than just microorganisms like giardia and cryptosporidium.
If you live in the wilderness, a high country water filter like the Sawyer will work great. In an urban or suburban area, you may need something that filters out chemicals and heavy metals. While water filters like the Big Berkey are more expensive, the lower-cost LifeStraw might be useless in a disaster.
Rambo Style Survival Knives
As with all prepping tools and supplies, you want something to work when you need it most, and a quality survival knife may end up being your most important piece of survival gear. While there are some lower-cost quality knives out there, don’t skimp on quality.
Many aspects go into picking a good fixed blade knife, but you don’t need to worry too much about all the details. The two main things that are must-haves in a good fixed blade knife are a full tang and quality materials.
When it comes to knives for preppers, the biggest doesn’t always equal the best. Just because a Rambo-style knife looks like something the Hollywood preppers use, real-world preppers see these as novelties. The size of the blade you need depends on what you plan on using it for and your skill level.
Folding Saws & Pocket Knives
I used folding saws and pocket knives as an example, but any of your prepping gear with moving parts is more prone to failure. This is why quality is essential with supplies like these. Most of these off-brand, low-cost products are made to get you to hit the “Buy Now” button and won’t last very long.
Along with the moving parts, you should also consider how useful the gear will be. In the video below, I compared folding saws, and you can see a significant difference between the Silky Gomboy and the Walmart brand.
Solar Emergency Blankets
We’ve all seen the little $1 Mylar solar blankets, and we all probably have a few. While these do have their place in prepping, they are not all their cracked up to be. In an emergency, every little bit helps, and these are great for bug out bags; don’t overestimate their usefulness.
Us preppers love our multiuse and lightweight supplies, and these fit the bill perfectly. Unfortunately, we sacrifice usefulness in the process. A thicker, high-quality space blanket will retain more body heat, be more durable for shelter, and be used multiple times.
What you put in your bug out bag is a personal choice, but I recommend having a few higher-quality emergency blankets in your automobile and home at the very least.
Footwear & Foot Care
In preparedness, we talk about bug out bags, what we put in them, and getting home during a disaster, but little is mentioned about our feet. Our feet are the engine that will get us where we need to be, and taking care of them is essential.
Walmart shoes may look the same as good shoes, but if you’ve ever owned any, you know differently. Cheap shoes will not only fall apart, but they will also leave your feet sore and blistered before they do. New shoes can also hurt your feet, so make sure you wear them in before you REALLY need to use them.
It’s also essential to think about good quality socks when it comes to your feet. Make sure you have an extra pair in your car or bug out bag, and also have some MoleSkin just in case.
Bug Out Bags & Go Bags
First, I want to say that there is no need to get a “top of the line” bug out bag unless you feel the need. But don’t go to the other end of the spectrum, get a Walmart backpack, and stuff it with 40lbs of prepping gear.
We should test our bug out bags or go bags to make sure they will be reliable, but in reality, they won’t get used very often, hopefully. I have done testing with my bug out bag, and it now sits in my truck most of the time.
The most prominent points of failure on backpacks are the zippers and the shoulder straps. Unfortunately, without those, the bags are useless. While it’s possible to fix a shoulder strap with a sewing kit, that’s not something you want to do in the middle of an SHTF event.
First Aid Supplies
When it comes to first aid supplies, there are many items where quality is less important than quality. The cheaper supplies are also suitable for practice and learning. There are some, however, that you shouldn’t skimp on.
It’s possible to cut corners with items like Gauze pads, cravats, and some over-the-counter medication, but quality does matter when it comes to tourniquets and specialty dressings. You can’t afford these life-saving first aid supplies to fail on you when everything is on the line.
As I said earlier, there is a lot of money that goes into prepping and many ways to save money, but be wise about where you choose to cut corners. DIY projects, Thrift stores, and bargain shopping are excellent, but sometimes you just need something reliable and trusted.
If you have any ideas or thoughts on cheap or low-cost prepping supplies to avoid, or have a personal experience, leave a comment below.
When to Avoid Cheap Prepping Supplies – Prepper News & Survival Tips with Duff & Dale is written by DaleG for thesurvivalpreppers.com