If you are a prepper, or just know a prepper, you’ll know that there is always something that is needed. A piece of equipment, a certain item of gear, provisions, something that is missing from the ever-growing mountain of stuff in the survival stash.
It is such a time-worn idea that is becoming something of a cliché; preppers acting like magpies, always bringing in some new shiny to add to the collection.
But, jokes aside there is a lot to be said about being well and truly prepared for the unexpected. Improvisation is fine, but you don’t want to be forced to improvise during a major SHTF event.
Accordingly, it pays to always be on the lookout for that one item that is going to better prepare you to handle those situations.
This means you’ll probably spend a lot of time shopping on the internet, and at the big box outdoor stores looking for gear. But certain things you can find in the most unexpected places… like the hardware store, for instance!
In today’s article will be sharing with you 12 survival items that you can score at the Home Depot on your next visit. Whether you are buying incidentals or just in a mad rush to get prepared there are quite a few items you can find there that will help when the shit hits the fan.
Anywhere You Go, There’s Always Something That Can Help You
If you have been prepping for any length of time you probably have your favorite “stomping grounds” when it comes to scoring gear and other supplies you need.
Maybe it is the Army-Navy surplus store, if one still exists in your area. Maybe it is your favorite online repository of prepper-centric survival gear.
Perhaps it is even your local big box camping, hunting and outdoor store, stuffed to bursting but the newest, shiniest, and most expensive apparel and gear around.
That’s all well and good, and I have my favorites too, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking you could only get genuine survival gear from stores and retailers that brand themselves as sellers of survival gear.
Survival gear is as survival gear does, and the only metric for suitability, for your purposes, is your assessment of what is best for you and your context, and whether or not the gear or tool in question can hold up to use. That’s it.
Accordingly, you should keep your eyes open for suitable gear wherever you are. You might find an excellent backpack worthy of service at your local Goodwill. Your standard large department store might carry knives of excellent quality at a very affordable price.
Don’t get wrapped around the axle thinking you got a shop somewhere to rate a certain lifestyle, or to call yourself by a certain title. When you fall into that trap you’ll know that all the slick, multi-bazillion dollar marketing has gotten its hooks into you.
Anyway, here are 12 examples of worthwhile survival gear you can score at the Home Depot.
10 Survival Items to Score at Home Depot
Your local Home Depot will typically carry at least two varieties of automobile escape tools.
If you are unfamiliar with the concept, these are small tools that typically feature a pointed glass breaking punch, and an integrated cutter designed to slice off a stuck seat belt in the blink of an eye, all without posing a cut or stab hazard to the occupants of the vehicle.
They are furthermore intended to be securely mounted to the seats, near the dashboard or even on the sun visors for rapid access by either front seat occupant.
My favorite version that is commonly available at HD looks like a small, orange mallet with a pronounced conical point on one side, and a flat hammerhead on the other.
The handle of the hammer contains the integrated seat belt color and the whole thing is rendered even more highly visible by an integrated glint strip it will help you find it in dark conditions or times of reduced visibility.
I keep one handy for the front seat, as well as the back seat in my personal vehicles and they are worth every penny.
There is one thing you’ll be sure of finding at the Home Depot it is work gloves, because no matter what kind of work you are doing, chances are you’ll have cause to wear some type of glove to protect your hands from damage.
Preppers need gloves too, because the business of survival is both hard and often hazardous. Any kind of disaster can result in a landscape that is littered with sharp, dangerous debris that will easily lacerate tender flesh. A good set of gloves will form your first layer of defense against such an unhappy outcome.
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Matter of fact, you can make a good case for getting two kinds of gloves, the heavy, overbuilt leather work gloves like your granddad used to wear and the lighter, thinner so-called technical work gloves as popularized by the Mechanix brand, though other good brands exist.
The first kind offers maximum protection against bumps, scrapes and punctures, while the second kind affords you a degree of protection while also preserving your dexterity when it comes time to use tools or weapons.
No man should go through life without an axe, and one of mankind’s oldest tools still remains viable even necessary for survival today when the chips are down.
Simply stated, there is no better manual tool for chopping down most trees and then processing the trunks. Once you have reduced a tree to a more manageable size, you can then split what remains into suitable firewood.
It is a heck of a workout to be sure, but that is why the old timers used to say that chopping your own wood would warm you twice: the first time when you chop down the tree, and then when you throw the logs into your fireplace!
But axes are good for more than just chopping wood. They are capable demolition tools for wooden structures, and naturally serve as positively ferocious close combat weapons that still afford you some reach.
Compared to more specialized weapons, even if you screw up a swing with an axe you are still slamming someone with a massive chunk of steel and that is going to have some effect on target. A direct blow with an axe will inflict a grievous wound that is likely to be fatal.
A wrecker bar can be thought of as a more specialized form of crowbar, often consisting of a thin, protruding beak-like attachment that is intended to be driven into smaller spaces or gaps when swung, or hammered in conjunction with a mallet.
This long beak provides a big “bite” on whatever you are attacking and consequently greater leverage. They are ideal for prying open doors, windows, locked containers and more.
Wrecker bars oftentimes include a more traditional nail puller and pry bar head on the opposite end and sometimes include a small, spike like protrusion on one side or the other for puncturing.
Generally, everything you need to know about these tools is in the name. They are designed for wrecking stuff, demolition, or dealing with things that are already wrecked.
These tools can prove invaluable when the time comes to interact with damaged vehicles or damaged structures, so I recommend you nab one while you’re at Home Depot.
The business of survival often entails fixing the various boo-boos you’ll incur along the way, and occasionally dealing with some pretty significant injuries.
Since you are now your own paramedic and doctor for the foreseeable future, you’ll need to obtain the supplies required for treating various injuries, and also have the know-how. Dealing with someone who is seriously injured is not the right time to play “I’ll figure it out”.
As is appropriate for a store that sells a variety of power tools that can remove digits or limbs in the blink of an eye, they will usually have a small selection of first-aid supplies as well. Usually this takes the form of an OSHA compliant first-aid box that has a variety of band-aids, antiseptics, gauze and common medications inside.
Nicer variations will have eyewash, burn cream and a first-aid manual. Even if you are planning on grabbing major trauma supplies for adding to your kit, and you should be, you’ll never go wrong by starting the core of your kit with these basic supplies.
Survival isn’t just all about having the right tools for the job. You’ll also need fuel for your body.
You’ll need plenty of fuel for your body if you’re actually out getting things done, and trying to improve your situation in the aftermath of a major disaster, and not just lounging around in your shelter watching dust motes float on sunbeams.
Home Depot is not renowned for its culinary section, but every, single register has a good supply of beef jerky on hand for the taking.
Beef jerky is tasty, protein-dense and most importantly for our purposes it lasts a really long time.
Grabbing a couple of big bags of the stuff and a handful of Slim Jims will at least let you rest a little easier knowing you have a good stash of calories that will be there when you need them.
I love tarps. If you are a prepper worth the name you should love tarps too, because despite their innocuous purpose in everyday life these are another multi-use item that clever preppers can employ in all kinds of different ways.
Tarps can be used to patch a hole in your roof, cover a busted window, as a ground cover, set up as a tent or shelter, or even used as a rain catching system to collect fresh drinking water in quantity.
Your local Home Depot will have a positively smashing collection of tarps on hand, everything from cheapskate light-duty lawn mower covers to extra large, ultra-heavy duty tarps designed for commercial construction site use.
You can get tarps in a variety of materials with a variety of options, like reinforced grommets, high-visibility or low-visibility colors and more. Grab several, you won’t regret it. Trust me.
Mastery over fire is one of those requirements that any survival plan must include, and any prepper must obtain. There are all kinds of ways to start a fire, and since time immemorial mankind has relied on friction to get the job done in a natural setting.
Learning how to start a fire in the primitive way is seen as something of a rite of passage for Boy Scouts and preppers alike, but when time is life and you are already dealing with some serious pandemonium you don’t want to resort to that unless you have to.
For that reason, it is far better to simply click a lighter, and put it to your kindling than struggle with starting a fire the hard way.
Consider that you might already be freezing cold, losing both energy and dexterity, when you need that fire and you can see the wisdom and relying on a modern tool for the purpose.
Home Depot will have a wide variety of lighters for sale, everything from classic Bics to the long-nozzle grill lighters that activate with the press of the trigger. I don’t care what you prefer, get several and make sure they stay fueled up.
Propane is an invaluable fuel source for survivors, since it offers consistent, reliable function for a variety of devices that use it. Propane grills are lifesavers in the aftermath of a disaster because they are efficient and easy to regulate, stretching your fuel supply.
This can help you cook food or boil water just outside of your home, or the ruins of your home, in the aftermath of a disaster.
Propane is also the typical fuel source for portable personal heater units, units that might make all the difference and whether or not you survive exposure to harsh conditions after SHTF.
Most of these heater units use the smaller sized bottles of propane, but an inexpensive adapter kit allows you to hook them up to the large, 20 lb. cylinders that are so common. Get at least two of those cylinders the next time you’re at Home Depot.
If you are a prepper that relies on walkie-talkies, flashlights, headlamps, personal radios, wireless cameras, and countless other modern gadgets, you are going to need a small mountain of batteries to make it through a long-term disaster.
That means you need to buy them cheap and stack them deep, and you should be grabbing a pack or two of whatever batteries your devices require pretty much every time or every other time you walk into a store.
Home Depot keeps plenty of batteries in stock because they sell plenty of electronic gadgets that consume them. Much of the time they sell batteries at a small markup, but you’ll also regularly find large contractor packs of batteries for excellent prices and that means you can save a pretty penny on building your backup battery supply.
Just like working on any number of projects, you’ll have plenty of cause to get filthy dirty when dealing with the aftermath of all sorts of disasters.
You might be fishing your possessions out of murky water that has been contaminated by sewage, or trying desperately to stop someone you care about from bleeding to death.
Whatever the case, you’ll want to keep various biohazards and chemical contaminants off of your skin while you work, and that means you’ll need different gloves then your standard issue work gloves we discussed above.
Luckily, Home Depot sells every imaginable kind of disposable glove you could want, from heavy duty rubber chemical resistant gloves to the latest and greatest nitrile blends that are far more resistant to tearing and puncturing than gloves from years past.
You can swoop by the paint department and get any kind you want. I particularly like the Venom brand black nitrile gloves. Tough, and priced right.
Sandbags are a crucial survival tool that is easily forgotten about, and they have multiple uses so long as you have a strong enough backbone to fill them.
They are obviously vital for protecting your home and property against rising flood waters, and in grave extremes of social unrest or outright civil war you’ll be filling these up by the dozens to fortify your home or create dedicated fighting positions that provide cover against small arms fire.
But sandbags have more mundane uses, specifically when it comes to construction, repairs, and improvising various heavy lifting contractions using simple machines.
The good news is you can buy a big old stack of these things for pennies on the dollar and leave them in a compact bundle until you need them. And it is far, far better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them.
If you need survival gear you aren’t limited to buying it from the usual suspects that sell it. What is or is not survival gear is determined by your requirements and nothing else, and many common, universally useful tools and pieces of gear can be found in the most unsuspected places, and one of the best is your local hardware store.
Among hardware stores, Home Depot typically has the best selection on the best variety of tools and other supplies, so if there is one in your area make sure you hit them up the next time you’re looking for an item featured on this list.