20 Useful Items to Get Before the Stores are Empty

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20 Useful Items to Get Before the Stores are Empty

Imagine life without Walmart, Amazon or any other store. You wouldn’t be able to buy the little things that make the world go round or your life function in general. You never really understand how important a shoestring is until you’re trying to walk and your shoe keeps falling off. Little things. Cheap things. They matter. They are the things that will ensure your survival after SHTF

Head to the dollar store or get online and buy them in bulk. Don’t be afraid to visit secondhand stores for some of this stuff. It doesn’t need to be pretty. It needs to be functional. There’s no reason to spend a bunch of money when you can buy this stuff for a buck or two. Use your budget to buy food and high-ticket items. 

Also, just as a side note, when you are spending money on anything related to survival, you want it to serve multiple purposes. Not only is it a waste of money to buy one-hit-wonders, but it’s also a waste of space. 

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Aluminum Foil

Buy a lot! Seriously, you will run through the tin foil. The uses are endless but check out why you want to have it on hand. 

  • Make a solar oven
  • Cook in coals
  • Fishing lure
  • A protective bandage
  • Ground cover
  • Fire reflector
  • Window covering to trap in heat or block the heat
  • Signal mirror
  • Insulation when wrapped around a jar or bottle to keep food hot or cold
  • Sharpen blades
  • Emergency candle

Baking Soda

The common kitchen staple is easily one of the most important things you can put in your stockpile. It has SO many uses beyond the kitchen. 

  • Bee sting pain reliever when made into a paste
  • Cleaning agent
  • Toothpaste
  • Odor absorber—imagine no sanitation
  • Deodorant
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Heartburn relief
  • Handwarmer (here's the recipe)
  • Hand soap

Bungee Cords

These are a little more than a dollar, but buy in bulk and you can save money. Bungee cords are a critical item to have. 

  • Shelter construction
  • Tourniquet
  • Split support
  • Traps
  • A makeshift pack, use a blanket and a bungee
  • Hang food in trees
  • Secure gear to a sled, cart, bike and so one
  • Vehicle repair
  • Keep a door closed
  • Cordage

Coffee Filters

Head to the dollar store and buy these. It doesn’t matter what brand or what coffee maker they fit, you want them. 

  • Water filtration 
  • Tinder
  • Wound dressing
  • Seed starting
  • Tea bag
  • Sun protector, add to the back of a hat or cover your ears
  • Absorbent pads aka paper towel
  • Toilet paper

Dental Floss

Good oral hygiene will save you a lot of trouble, but dental floss can be used for many other things. 

  • Fishing line
  • Sewing a tent, shirt or sock
  • In a pinch, could be used as suture material
  • Make snares
  • Emergency cordage, can be made stronger by braiding several strands
  • Tie gear together
  • Use to put together a bow drill
  • Clothesline

Duct Tape

Another prepping and survival favorite. There are easily a hundred different ways you could use duct tape. The saying if you can’t fix it, duct it is legit. 

  • Cordage
  • Blister prevention
  • Gear repair
  • First aid
  • Sliver remover
  • Belt
  • Waterproofing your shoes or clothing
  • Mark trails
  • Make a bowl
  • Fire starting
  • Seal up your sleeves or pant legs to prevent bugs
  • Boot repair
  • Emergency split
  • Vehicle repair
  • Seal a slash in a tent
  • Mend a hole in a coat, pants and etc…

Glow Sticks

They aren’t just for kids! Buy in bulk and store in a dark closet for when you’ll need them. 

  • Trail marking
  • Night light
  • Fishing bobber
  • Warning light for a hole in the ground or even a body of water
  • Lantern
  • Insect repellant


They could be worn as a heat layer or used for a variety of other uses. Check thrift stores and the dollar stores and load up on these. Runs don’t matter. 

  • Use as a water filter before or after boiling water you’ve collected
  • Great for a tourniquet
  • Can be used to carry gear
  • Wear over mouth and nose to keep out bugs, you can pull it over your head as well
  • Wear over ankles, calves over your pants to keep out ticks and other bugs
  • Compression bandage
  • Belt
  • Hair tie
  • Cordage


This is a given. Everyone knows cordage is one of the most important items you’ll need in any stockpile. 

Plastic Grocery Bags

If you live in a state you still get these for free with your groceries, you’re in luck. These little suckers can add up quick and they are so useful. 

  • Waterproofing your boots, hat or around your legs
  • Makeshift shelter
  • Trash bag
  • Emergency shelter
  • Insulation
  • Collecting food
  • Ground cover
  • Emergency patch for clothes
  • Protecting phone or other electronics
  • Keep kindle wood dry

Plastic Wrap

While it’s great to use as intended in the kitchen to preserve food, it can also come in handy for many other things. 

  • Waterproofing electronics
  • Bandage/bandage cover
  • Splint support
  • Waterproof foot covers
  • Sealant for leaking pipes
  • Window repair
  • Shelter repair
  • Cordage
  • Greenhouse
  • Solar oven
  • Solar still
  • Water collection

Whenever you’re browsing the dollar store, Temu or wherever, you’ll want to keep your eyes open for any great deals. Always think out of the box and get creative about the many ways you can use something. 

Rubber Bands

You can buy these in bags of a hundred or more. It doesn’t hurt to have a few bags lying around. 

  • Hold a bandage on
  • Tourniquet
  • Use as a grip on wooden tools
  • Hair tie—good luck getting it out but it’ll work in a pinch
  • Slingshot
  • Cordage
  • Clothing repair
  • Fishing gear
  • Keeping gear together

Safety Pins

Another very basic item you’ll walk by and not think twice about it until you need one. 

Steel Wool

You probably have this in the garage, but you’ll want more. 

  • Rodent deterrent when stuffed in little holes
  • Fire starter
  • Rust removal
  • Knife sharpener
  • Compass
  • Insulation around doors and windows 
  • Water filter
  • Cleaning your cookware
  • Fishing lure

Super Glue

You can pick up three packs of single use super glue tubes at the dollar store. The single use tube are perfect. They are very small and will fit in your bug out bag, glovebox or first aid kit. You don’t need to worry about them drying out. 

  • Wound closure (only use to close cuts that have been thoroughly cleaned out)
  • Blister preventer, put a drop on areas that are prone to blisters from friction
  • Quick band-aid to keep out dirt 
  • Fix eyeglasses 
  • Seal holes on shoes
  • Seal slices on tents, tarps
  • Create fishing lures by gluing stuff together


Another self-explanatory piece of gear, but it can be used beyond the obvious. A good quality one is nice, but even some of the cheap, flimsy ones will prove useful. 

  • Ground cover
  • Poncho
  • Emergency blanket
  • Solar still
  • Water collection
  • Drag a harvested animal back home
  • Household repairs i.e. roof, broken window or door
  • Stretcher
  • Sunshade
  • Hammock
  • Gathering wood

Trash Bags

You cannot have enough trash bags. The standard kitchen bags are good, but if you can swing it, buy some of the yard bags that are a little thicker and durable for big jobs. Garbage is going to happen and having bags to keep it tidy is crucial. 

  • Wear as a poncho
  • Use as a ground cover if you need to sit or sleep
  • An emergency shelter
  • A dry bag for food, fire wood and gear
  • An emergency sling
  • Wrap around lower legs to keep pants and top of shoes dry
  • Collect rainwater
  • Heat layer if it’s cold


It’s a household staple, but you probably didn’t know it could be used to make survival a little easier. 

  • Chapped lips
  • Chapped skin preventer
  • Wound care, a slick over an open cut can keep out debris
  • Rust prevention on your tools
  • Leather conditioner
  • Waterproof matches
  • Insect repellant
  • Lubricant for noisy hinges
  • Preventing blisters

Zip Ties

While you can buy different sizes, don’t be afraid to buy the cheaper, smaller ones. You can always make them bigger by hooking them together. 

  • Emergency splint
  • Shelter building with a tarp
  • First aid
  • Use for no-tie shoelace
  • Replace a popped button or use as a zipper pull
  • Shelter repair
  • Securing a door closed
  • Bundle gear
  • Vehicle repair

Ziploc Bags

It’s a good idea to have a variety of sizes. The gallon size bags are usually sturdier, but sandwich bags will have their uses as well. 

  • Water collection
  • Wound protection 
  • Protecting gear from getting wet
  • Store hygiene items
  • Food storage
  • Trash disposal
  • Pillow when filled with grass, leaves or water
  • Insulation, again fill with leaves and what not and stuff in clothes
  • Protect phone or other electronics

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