The Most Important Survival Gear Under $20?

When it comes to survival, you don't need to break the bank. In fact, in most SHTF situations, people end up having to rely on what they have and use their bushcraft skills do the rest.

We're going to break down survival gear into six categories, and put together a list of gear you can pick up for less than $20. 

Water Filters and Purifiers

Next to breathing clean air, filtering contaminated water is the most important thing. If you are refilling your water bottles in lakes, streams, puddles, or ponds, there is a very good chance your water will be teeming with parasites like Crypto.

There are different filtration methods you can use to eliminate these contaminants on the go.

Filtration Methods:

Activated Carbon Filter (Water Filter Straw and Pump) - This method will remove 99.99% of all bacteria and parasites. However, it can not filter viruses.

UV Filtering (SteriPens) - Ultraviolet purification itself is not enough to purify water down to drinking water purposes. This is because the UV radiation is only effective for treating bacteria and viruses. UV light does not work to eliminate contaminants such as chlorine, heavy metals and VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds).

Boiling Water - Boiling water kills or inactivates viruses, bacteria, protozoa and other pathogens by using heat to damage structural components and disrupt essential life processes (e.g. denature proteins). Boiling is not sterilization and is more accurately characterized as pasteurization.

Using a carbon filter after boiling water will eliminate any remaining particles.

Chemical and Iodine Tablets - There are a few different places you can get chemical tablets and iodine drops, that when mixed with your water, will purify it after about 30 minutes.  In this case, each Potable Aqua tablet contains 20 mg of Tetraglycine Hydroperiodide (TGHP), which liberates 8 mg of titratable iodine when released into water. Within 30 minutes, the iodine will have penetrated the cell walls of the microorganisms, rendering them inactive and making the water bacteriologically suitable to drink.

The downside to this method is that it is not recommended to do for an extended period of time since you are still ingesting chemicals. These tablets are under $10 on Amazon.

See Water Filters

Fire Starters and Fire Starting Methods

We just talked about boiling water to remove viruses. But that's impossible to do without a fire to boil the water with.

When you're going camping, a lighter is the fastest and easiest way to get a fire started.  However, a lighter has two downsides. It will run out of fluid eventually, and you could ruin it if you get it wet.

Fire Starting Methods

Ferrocium Rods (Fire Starter Flint) - This process uses a type of metal and a scraper to form sparks capable of reaching over 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

While a firesteel is the most reliable and longest lasting fire starter, it's also the most difficult to master, because you're starting a fire using only sparks.

Waterproof Matches - The best part about using matches is that you've got your kindling and tinder built right into the starter. You can even buy huge box of regular wooden matches and waterproof them yourself like this.

The downside here again is that matches are finite and eventually you will run out.

See Fire Starters

First Aid and Medical Supplies

via Gfycat

When it comes to putting together your First Aid Kit it's almost best to customize one yourself. In fact, you can make a kit from items found at the dollar store and the 20 most crucial items can be found here.

Your basics should include:


Nonwoven Tape

Alcohol Wipes

Band Aids

Cleaning Wipes

Cotton Balls

First Aid Space Blanket

PVC Gloves


Burn Dressing


You need to be able to handle basic wound care, but you also need to be prepared for things like stomach problems, headaches, and infections.

Make sure you've customized your kit with any prescription medication you should be taking.

Food and Snacks

Even though you've got water filtration covered, it's important to have a fair amount of water on hand.  You can get 24 packs of 8 oz water for about $20 on Amazon.

The best part about these small bottles is that they use a 28mm opening.  This means, you can screw a mini filter or filter straw on them when you're done, and you've got yourself a water bottle filter.

When it comes to food, calories count. While Clif bars and granola bars are tasty, they are only around 200 - 300 calories.

Another option would be calorie bars and MREs. MRE stands for Meal, ready-to-eat.

An MRE like this one by Western Frontier has 1,650 total calories and has a shelf life of about 5 years. This single meal the cost less than $20, however, it would be wise to buy these in bulk.

Calorie bars can be purchased for less than $15, and contain 3600 calories per bar (broken up into 4 servings).

See Calorie Bars

Weapons, Tools, and EDC

People often make the mistake of assembling their bug out bags, the way Rambo would. Heavy on weapons, and not much else.

While weapons are important, you shouldn't focus on them if you're on a budget. It's going to be very difficult to bring down a deer or elk with a $20 bow.

However, if you focus on a good knife or blade, you can work on creating DIY Weapons that are much more durable than what you could have purchased.


Self-defense - Tactical Pen and Pepper Spray

Cutting and Maintenence - Screwdriver folding knife or Gerber Dime Multitool

Flashlights and lanterns - 1,000 Lumens Tactical Flashlight

Clothing and Shelter

This part of your survival kit will take some consideration, as it's going to depend on where you live, and what kind of weather you're dealing with. Thin and light clothing like long underwear, socks, undershirts will be more useful than buying a heavy duty insulated coat.

With a tarp, you can make several types of shelters that will keep the wind and water out and you can pick them up for less than $10. You can also upgrade your basic tarp tent withstand cold conditions by insulating your shelter.

Final Thoughts

There's a ton of fancy survival gear and camping gadgets that will cost you hundreds of dollars, but with a little bit of bushcraft skill and some creativity, you can handle most obstacles with tools that cost you less than twenty bucks.

Survival Gear under $20 on Amazon

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