They can call preppers crazy all they want. But no commonsense person can catch up with the latest news without thinking: “You know, I really need to put together a SHTF list.” Because on some days, it seems more like a matter of “when,” not “if.”

Not that anyone wants to see something bad go down. That’s another thing people get wrong about preppers. They don’t want things like a financial collapse or nuclear war to happen. They just want to prepare in advance in case they do.


Before taking a look at the items below, it’s a good idea to review the 10 items already listed in this article about SHTF. Those items include:

  • Canned food
  • Charcoal
  • Tents and camping equipment
  • Batteries
  • Hunting and fishing gear
  • The right clothes
  • First-aid kits
  • Medication
  • Paper and booze

You may also want to look over some thoughts about what to carry when bugging out with pets. Those items include:

  • A sturdy leash, harness and carrier
  • Food (dry and vacuum sealed) and drinking water
  • Medications and medical records
  • A first aid kit for your pet
  • A photo of your pet in case they get lost
  • Bedding and their favorite toy(s)

With those items covered, the following expands on the things you want to include in a SHTF list. Remember that every list has variations depending on your bug out destination, the local terrain, and many other factors (availability of water or game for hunting, for example). The best,  first step in putting together a SHTF list is to consider your own area and the resources you can put to use.

Even starting to gather some of these items, or the ones listed above, puts you ahead of most people. Most people don’t plan well even for minor events, much less the collapse of society.

20 Items to Consider for SHTF List

Many of the most essential items were covered previously, but people should also consider the following items (some ideas come from a U.S. Marine). Some items are essential. But you’ll wish you had all of them, essential or not.

  • This is considered essential. You’ll want plenty of those batteries mentioned above, as well.
  • Knives and non-lethal weapons. The Marine suggests having a dependable knife as well as some self-defense weapons on hand, including pepper spray, a stun gun, and a dog that doesn’t run from intruders.
  • Food. Beyond the canned food, consider Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) and freeze dried food.
  • Water filters. Also, water purification tablets. In short, whatever you need to make sure that you can sterilize or filter water, making it safe to drink.
  • Flashlights and headlamps. If you ever have gone any length of time with no electricity, you quickly realize how reliant society is on an easily accessible source of dependable power. Without it, you’re going to want to have the ability to see at night.
  • Duct tape. It’s never a bad idea to have duct tape right now. It’s sure to prove useful with SHTF.
  • Lighters and matches. Unless you want to conduct your own personal replay of Tom Hanks trying to light a fire in “Castaway,” have a strong supply of lighters and matches to start fires.
  • Female hygiene products. Essential for women, but also great to have on hand to help stop blood loss, in case of deep cuts.
  • Cooking oils. It’s going to be a lot easier to cook over the fire with a bit of oil, whatever type you prefer.
  • Face masks. If you still have a trove of N95 face masks from the early days of the pandemic, they will become very useful now. Depending on the type of disaster, all types of materials could remain in the air (think about Manhattan after 9-11). Masks can protect your lungs from damage.
  • Pain killers. Make sure you have plenty of aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen for the aches and pains likely to occur after SHTF.
  • Vinyl gloves. Sorting through debris and rubble is much safer if you protect yourself from cuts (and you’ll want to avoid all cuts and scrapes with medical services likely limited or non-existent).
  • Socks. Heavy duty socks will keep your feet dry and provide some level of protection from scrapes, both big issues in a disaster scenario.
  • Soap. This might not seem essential, but people have been known to barter for soap in war-torn areas.
  • Baby formula. Absolutely essential if you have any babies in your group who are either without their mother or who have a mom who cannot breastfeed.
  • Hand sanitizer. Again, anything that fights germs is good for you.

This list is not exhaustive, because everyone will have different items they want. But for a SHTF list, it’s a good place to start.