Many discussions revolving around survival supplies are focused on efficiency, finding something that can do the job better, do it lighter and do it longer, or finding multi-purpose solutions that can radically reduce the amount of room or carrying capacity you must devote to your supply cache.
This is definitely a smart approach most of the time, but as with all things it is possible to become too zealous in the pursuit of a singular goal.
Taking that ideology regarding survival supplies to its logical zenith means you will have adopted an approach to choosing survival gear that often eliminates consideration for the most crucial element in any SHTF situation; the human element!
You might be a salty, gritty mountain man or a dead-hard survivor born- someone who not only embraces the suck but wishes that the situation would suck even more such is your fervor, tenacity and stoic outlook.
While that might be admirable in the strictest sense, it is not entirely practical, as surviving is not just a business of tending to physical needs. Accommodating mental and emotional needs is just as important, since more people fall apart mentally than physically in survival situations.
In many cases it is definitely worth the expense, weight and space to provide for items that can make you more comfortable or improve your mood, items that can ward off the doldrums, despair, or just remind you of happier times past, and hopefully yet to come.
In this article we will be discussing 10 comfort items that can make a SHTF situation more bearable for you and yours.
Should I Really Worry About Comfort in a Survival Situation?
If you have been tooling around the prepping world for any length of time you might have noticed a distinct thread of severe self-discipline among some adherents.
There seems to be a notion that affording any effort, finances or interest towards accumulating supplies or skills that are not strictly focused on the most primordial matters of survival is worse than a waste.
To some of these dower and stern souls this borders on heresy: After all, survival is serious business! Right. Right?
Survival is of course serious business when it is time to get down to surviving or else face death, and though I can admire the clenched teeth dedication toward putting in the work and disciplining oneself in the face of disaster, it has always seemed to me that for going any comfort items entirely chose a remarkable lack of self-awareness.
I mean to say that you should strive to very literally know yourself. That includes your weaknesses, vices and every other potential shortcoming.
Do you get majorly grumpy without regular snacks? Are you a particular sleeper that won’t get any good rest unless your bed is just right? Maybe you have a meticulous grooming routine, and failing to adhere to it seriously damages your calm.
We all have these quirks and flaws, and many more besides. It is one thing to say stop doing it or stop feeling that way, and another thing entirely to actually not fall prey to your own essential wiring.
It begs the question why you would not spare a little bit of extra room to accommodate yourself or the people you care about.
Assuming that playing your favorite piece of music on your vintage grand piano is not that “one thing” you just can’t live without, many of these small creature comforts are easy enough to pack or carry without breaking the bank or blowing your weight “budget” in the case of a bug-out bag.
Speaking from my own experience and the observed experiences of my fellows and associates, people who plan for and accommodate these desires, even in a small way, are happier (or at least less ferociously unpleasant) even in the midst of terrible circumstances.
Trust me; you will be wise to take any mental edge you can get however you can get it when you were in the middle of a long-term SHTF situation.
10 Comfort Items to Make SHTF More Bearable
1. Extra Socks and Underwear
Most survival packing lists you encounter on the internet and elsewhere will encourage you to include additional clothing in your cash, particularly socks and underwear.
Having a spare set of clothing will enable you to change into fresh, clean duds when your originals get dirty, and also allow you to stay clothed when doing the laundry in austere conditions. No surprises here.
But I would encourage you to include several extra sets of both socks and underwear, beyond the typical one or two that has become something of the Doomsday standard in the preppers fear.
Why? Simply stated, you will have cause to go through multiple pairs, and there is hardly anything more demoralizing than failing to take care of your feet or wearing nasty, grungy skivvies.
Consider that the business of bugging out or just putting in work in the aftermath of a disaster is going to be hell on your feet; you’ll be trudging for miles and sweating into your increasingly filthy footwear for a long time.
This is a recipe for some kind of infection, but also distinctly unpleasant
Also keep in mind that the stresses of survival, including the consumption of “natural” water supplies, novel food items and ever-present anxiety will work over your guts in a bad way, leading to intestinal distress.
Accidents happen, and even if they don’t, the ability to keep your private places cool, dry and clean is priceless.
If you cannot afford the time to properly get clean, simply changing into a fresh pair of socks and underwear can work wonders for keeping spirits high and infection at bay.
2. “Luxury” Hygiene Items
You might think this is another head-scratcher on the list since the vast majority of experts will recommend you include the necessary hygiene supplies of deodorant, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste.
Those selfsame lists will also advise you to avoid carrying extraneous hygiene supplies that fill out your morning or evening bathroom routine. Things like colognes, shampoos, lotions, and so forth.
As it turns out, you might have a good reason to include one or two choice hygiene items that you just can’t live without.
While it is true they might not have much in the way of real survival value, but as mentioned the impact on your psyche can be profoundly positive, especially when you don’t want to stink.
For myself, this is a proper shaving kit, though a compact one. I am simply not happy unless I can keep my face clean-shaven on a regular basis.
A telescoping safety razor, small brush, a small collapsible bowl and a puck of hard shaving soap along with a pack of blades and a small vial of aftershave takes up very little room, and affords me the opportunity to carry “civilization” with me even in the midst of a dire situation.
It is true that I might not have time or inclination to shave, but if I do you had better believe that is how I am starting my morning so long as I have the water to spare.
Consider what your “must have” hygiene items are and figure out a way to store or carry them in a space efficient way.
There will be plenty to do during any legitimate survival situation. But then again, there might not be. If you have all of your ducks in a row depending on the situation, there might not be any pressing needs that need taking care of.
Maybe you just need some rest, or downtime. Maybe your own survival situation might be best handled by sitting tight and waiting for the cavalry. In that case, useless, frantic activity just for the sake of being active could it simply be wasteful.
I know that plenty of my readers will be more than happy to bed down and while away the hours with a good book, one that they actually enjoy reading, and is not necessarily survival-centric, although it might be!
Depending upon your family or group situation, it might be a source of entertainment for others as well, with a particularly adept reader reading aloud for others to enjoy, or group members taking turns reading various sections of the book. This is especially ideal for small children.
Considering that books are not particularly weight or space-efficient, you should not plan on hauling along a library. One, perhaps two small books can be justified as they can also make excellent fire-starting tinder or toilet paper in a pinch.
You might also consider a tablet or e-reader, as these can hold an entire library’s worth of text in an extremely space-efficient envelope, so long as you can provide it power.
If you have a little downtime and want something more engaging to do than reading a book, so long as you have someone else to play with games can be a great option.
Most proper video game consoles and computers are going to be too power intensive to run in grid-down situations, but good, old-fashioned analog board games and card games never run out of power, and have enough variety to suit any player preferences.
Probably the most quintessential “survival” game is a simple deck of cards. Ancient, with endless variety in what kinds of games can be played with one as well as being endlessly replayable.
The entertainment and social value of cards is obvious and hard to over sell. Best of all, for mobile preppers or for inclusion in a bug out bag a deck of cards takes up hardly any room at all.
For preppers who are staying put during a survival situation, you can call upon any number of classic board games from such stalwarts as Monopoly to timeless games like chess, checkers, or go.
Some of these traditional games like chess and checkers even lend themselves well to travel as both their boards and their pieces can be shrunk into smaller sizes intended for travel or “proxied” using simple materials.
So long as you have enough light to play by and interested players to play with games can provide fun, fellowship and plenty of morale boosting benefit to preppers.
5. Sweets, Treats and Junk Food
You’ll need plenty of calories to fuel your body if you want to make it through a long-term survival situation, and even though you can survive for a lot longer without food, than you can with water, your energy levels, physical capability and mental acuity will all plummet if you are forced to go without food.
For this reason, many preppers spend a disproportionate amount of time acquiring, stockpiling and rotating their food supplies. While it is true you can hunt or gather your own food in a survival situation, you are far better off having a sizable supply on hand.
Most preppers focus on shelf-stable staples that can be kept in dry storage, or in cans or pouches that are ready to eat with no or minimal preparation. Empty, wasteful or inefficient food sources are typically avoided as both a waste of space and a lack of nutrition.
That being said, we all have our favorite treats and delicacies that help give us that feel-good boost when we are stressed out or just craving some salty or sweet snacks.
You’ll never see serious prepping websites recommend you stock up on junk wood and other “wasted” calories.
And it is true that all kinds of sweets, treats and other junk food have become altogether too common elements of American diets, but it is those very same foodstuffs that can provide you with a much-needed mental boost, as well as some quick energy.
Candy, soft drinks, and other items might have very little survival value according to their on-paper statistics, but the emotional fortitude or sustainment they can provide is an x-factor that cannot be denied.
These luxury items also make great trade fodder after stocks dry up in a long-term survival situation, and they are also ideal for cheering up scared or upset children. Consider keeping a small portion of junk food handy for the purpose.
Pop-Tarts are great for the purpose, and also serve double-duty as a quick source of carbohydrates that are easy to transport.
6. Better Bedding
Sleeping bags, bivys, tents and other assorted shelter supplies are perennial inclusions for almost every prepper, even those who plan on bugging in instead of bugging out.
Shelter considerations are huge concerns indeed since you can die in as little as a few hours from exposure if conditions are perfectly terrible.
Especially when outdoors, even mild temperatures might result in hypothermia if you are soaking wet from water or sweat, and hot, arid climates make obtaining shade a potentially life or death endeavor.
Unfortunately, much of the equipment needed for shelter in any form is both bulky and heavy, and considering that your average BOB will already be heavily laden, or the typical prepper stash already represents a significant investment it is easy to omit high-end, luxury or plush bedding and shelter materials as extraneous.
I could make a good case for not going quite so far as that. It might very well be worth investing in a lightweight air mattress, compact camping pillow and flyweight blanket if it means the time you do spend resting is more comfortable and more recuperative.
What good is a minimalist bedding setup if it does not protect you from the cold, hard ground and you sleep like crap? If you go to bed exhausted and wake up feeling exhausted and also beaten you have defeated the purpose!
A couple of extra pounds and a few extra hundred dollars might mean the difference between maximizing what rest time you do get.
Whatever hazards, trials, and tribulations you might be facing knowing you can at least always look forward to a decent night’s rest will be quite a comfort.
7. Hot Hands or Hand-warming Device
If you are a prepper who might have to deal with a cold climate or a major seasonal cold snap, you’ll need to be extra prepared with all the equipment required to stay warm no matter what is happening.
Invariably this means specialized clothing, including gloves, but for preppers who still might have to bug out despite wintry weather you’ll face additional challenges in the cold because all of the many survival tasks that you’ll have to attend to will not wait.
Working with your hands in cold conditions is made even more challenging due to loss of sensation and dexterity brought on by prolonged exposure. This is naturally something of a catch-22 under the circumstances.
Obviously, you can wear gloves or mittens and jam your hands in your pockets to warm them up slowly, or warm them up more quickly near a fire or other heat source, but this is not necessarily the most efficient use of your time.
Take a tip from hunters and other people who pursue their endeavors for extended periods in cold weather: Invest in some Hot Hands hand warmers or a liquid-fueled hand warming device, such as the one made by Zippo. These ingenious items fit easily in a pocket and will keep your hands comfortable and usable no matter how cold it gets outside.
Though some people deride these as extraneous and wasteful (in the case of the Hot Hands), or just another example of gadgetry run amok (in the case of the latter) if there is any possibility you might be facing temperatures cold enough to impair your coordination and motor function you’ll definitely want to invest in some of these as a just-in-case comfort measure for cold weather survival.
8. Body/Foot Powder
This is what you might call a comfort item for most of us, but one that is an absolute necessity for people who spend a lot of time working hard outdoors, and an item that members of our military are doubtlessly already very familiar with. All-purpose body or foot powder works wonders for absorbing moisture and helping to keep you dry, and it also affords you a clean, fresh feeling when you don’t have the time or the resources to really get clean and fresh.
It even works as impromptu shampoo, though by the time you are finished you will look like you have the world’s worst possible case of dandruff, so that is the least of your problems if you are using it in a survival situation.
Rubbing your body and your feet down with powder is very refreshing and will help you feel better pretty much right away, but this is far more than some simple self-pampering: wherever you have moisture you have an increased possibility of breeding nasty, gribbly germs and fungus, both being skin infections that can quickly spread and rampage out of control. This will certainly be painful and unpleasant but it can also lead to you becoming incapacitated if it goes untreated!
Having powder appropriate to the task will serve as a hedge against such an unfortunate affliction and also help keep you feeling good no matter the situation.
9. Personal Memento
Even those of us who are not particularly sentimental, nor particularly superstitious, can at least admit to having a personal token, good luck charm, talisman, or simple reminder of something that is important to us.
It might be a small gift given to us by a loved one or friend. It might be a tiny item that reminds us to hold fast or to cling to our principles. Whatever it is, you would be foolish to disregard the value of such an item when facing a sustained period of pain, suffering and loss.
So long as you are not hauling around a bronze statuette or your lucky concrete planter that your grandma gave you before she passed, you can always justify keeping this item on your person or in your kit somehow, someway.
If it fits in your pocket, your wallet, or around a necklace, add a chain to help prevent loss. Bonus points if this item is actually a usable tool that serves a valid survival purpose.
Perhaps it is a Swiss army knife handed down to you or gifted to you by a departed relative. Perhaps it is a shotgun or rifle that is a family heirloom, kept in good repair and ready for service. It could even be something as simple as a family photo, or meaningful letter written to you by a loved one.
Anything that keeps you motivated and reminds you of what the stakes are, and what you are suffering for will only help focus and energize you.
10. Baby Wipes
It is astonishing to me how many preppers do not include baby wipes as part of their kit.
I see them haul soaps of all kinds for impromptu baths using ponds, streams or rivers but believe it or not these sources of water will not always be convenient or even usable, and you cannot be so profligate with any carried, potable water that you use it for bathing, even for a sponge bath.
This is where baby wipes are worth their weight in gold. A small package of baby wipes will provide more than enough for several improvised baths and using nothing more than a handful you can get your entire body clean, or at least cleaner.
If you don’t have time or inclination to stop and break down for a full bath, you can easily use baby wipes just to hit the trouble spots on your body, typically the face, under the arms, feet, groin and back side.
This will go a long way towards staving off odor and infection. Baby wipes are also invaluable forgetting truly clean after using the bathroom in an austere setting.
A package (or brick) of baby wipes might seem like it takes up too much room to justify inclusion in a bug-out bag, or they are not cost effective as part of a survival stash when you can just buy toilet paper instead.
But I’m begging you, take my word for it: these things are worth their weight in gold in a survival situation, and you will be thrilled to have them when the time comes.
Just because you are preparing for a survival situation doesn’t mean you have to abstain from including among your supplies certain items that are intended only to provide relaxation or a mental boost in the form of your favorite foods, physical creature comfort or emotional well-being.
Everybody has their preferences, and you should be well acquainted with yours. Considering that survival is predominantly a mental game you can make a very good practical case for provisioning these comfort items accordingly.
Take a look at the list above, and see which ones will fit the bill for you, or include your own.
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2 thoughts on “10 Comfort Items to Make SHTF Survival Bearable”
My suggestion for a foot/body powder is corn starch. It does not clump up in moisture like talcum based powders can. Take that from a Marine. Baby wipes are also critical. you can do a lot of cleaning with baby wipes. Try to get them as unscented as possible if you are bugging out. Bad guys can sniff you out. Another reason corn starch is better than talcum based powders. Use unscented soaps too for exactly the same reason. The more “natural” you smell, the safer you are. Leave your foo-foo juice and spray at home.
If you are just camping, smelling like a French you-know-what is OK, but not when you are avoiding trouble.
After 25 years in Search and Rescue (SAR), I’ve found that a foam pad is preferable to any kind of air mattress – they don’t leak! A foam pad can also be used medically as padding around a fracture that is being splinted.