10 Household Items You’ll Need After The SHTF

After the SHTF (sh*t hits the fan), there are some unusual and unexpected items that you might find useful in a long-term grid-down situation. While they may not be on the top of anyone’s priority list, they can prove to be indispensable in such scenarios.

One of these items is cutting tools, such as scissors, shears, loppers, pruners, wire cutters, fencing pliers, and other devices with opposing blades for cutting. These tools will come in handy when your knife isn’t the most suitable option. While we often have scissors in our desks, sewing bags, workshops, and kitchens, it’s less likely that we carry them in our bug out bags (though EMT shears might be an exception). Additionally, for gardening purposes, having pruners and loppers will prove to be useful, and in a workshop, wire cutters, tin snips, and fencing pliers can be beneficial.

It’s important to note that these items are not only convenient to have but also challenging to produce by hand. While a skilled blacksmith could make them, it wouldn’t be without difficulty. Casting the two components would require extensive handwork to create a finished tool. Therefore, it’s wise to stock up on these items, especially pruners and clippers for harvesting and pruning garden vegetables, berry bushes, and fruit trees. Not only will they be valuable tools after the SHTF, but they might even become valuable trade goods.

Remember to consider the context of a long-term TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) scenario, where working outdoors in rural areas is likely. While these items may not be as necessary for short-term local or regional disasters, they can play a significant role in a more prolonged post-SHTF situation, where self-reliance is key.

Keep in mind that the “big three” (food, water, and shelter) and the “next three” (self-defense, medical/first aid, and communications) should always take priority when it comes to prepping and stocking up. However, considering these less obvious items can provide additional support and enhance your preparedness efforts.

Plastic buckets

Plastic buckets are incredibly versatile and useful. The generic 5-gallon pail, especially when equipped with a lid, serves a multitude of purposes. I personally utilize them for tasks such as carrying water to the chickens, transporting food for their feeder, storing grains, and during our honey harvest. Furthermore, I have a separate set of buckets designated for tools and even made a chicken slaughtering funnel from one.

If you require a container for water, it is crucial to have buckets with lids to prevent spills. They are convenient to fill and can be easily transported using a cart or wagon if carrying them by hand is not feasible. Moreover, lids are effective in sealing the contents and keeping out bugs or other pests.

When going out to harvest wild foods, a bucket can be a handy receptacle. And if you find yourself with surplus buckets, you can repurpose them as planters by drilling holes in the bottom. Many people successfully grow potatoes using this method.

In addition to the standard 5-gallon buckets, we also have some two-gallon versions. These smaller buckets are ideal for collecting kitchen scraps destined for our compost pile, and they are just the right size for harvesting berries.

While you can typically find them at big box stores, I recommend checking with your local grocery store’s bakery. They may give away or sell used buckets for a nominal fee. Do keep in mind that while the white buckets are usually food safe, models of various colors might not be. It is important to ensure that you choose a food-safe bucket if you plan on using it to hold food or transport water.


Now, let’s talk about ponchos. If you don’t have a Gore-Tex rain suit, I believe a military poncho is an excellent alternative for reliable rain gear. Personally, I wear mine every time it rains, which happens quite often.

Military ponchos, made from durable ripstop nylon, are heavy-duty and can withstand rugged conditions. I’ve been using mine since before 2010. I highly recommend investing in a military-grade poncho, as opposed to a cheaper imitation. Here’s a good option I found:

In addition to my military poncho, I also keep a less expensive PVC poncho in my vehicle’s emergency kit. It can be quite useful if I need to change a tire during wet weather or find myself having to walk home.

While not specifically designed for snow, in a pinch, a poncho can provide an extra layer of waterproof and windproof protection over your clothes, as well as a hood.

It’s important to remember that when rewriting, it is crucial to preserve all factual information to ensure accuracy.

Mud Boots

These boots are more than just ordinary galoshes or cheap rubber boots you might buy for your child. They are heavy-duty work boots with a seamless rubber design that extends about six inches up, paired with a neoprene upper that goes up to the top of your calf. Every inch of these boots is completely waterproof.

I wear these boots when it’s raining, when I’m working in the chicken coop, during muddy conditions, and even when I’m working in or around streams. My wife wears hers for all the same reasons, but she also wears them when we go hiking, especially if we expect to ford a stream or if it has been wet outside. And why not? These boots come with a Vibram sole that provides excellent traction. When I wear them with my poncho, the only part of me that gets wet is a two-inch strip above the boots where the poncho doesn’t quite reach. As an added bonus, I believe they also offer good protection against snakebites.

Both our boots are from a European brand that I haven’t come across since. It’s a shame because our boots are already five years old, and I know they will eventually wear out. You can find them in classic black, like ours, or you can opt for a camouflage set if you plan on using them for hunting. If you live in a cold area, it’s a good idea to have a standard pair for warmer weather and an insulated pair for winter.

In any case, these boots are incredibly useful on our homestead, and I’m certain their usefulness will only increase if a catastrophic event were to happen. In fact, if someone told me that the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) was coming on Tuesday, I would rush out and buy an extra pair on Monday.

Ammo Cans

I have accumulated about fifty ammo cans over time. Previously, I used to purchase surplus cans, clean them up, and give them a fresh coat of paint. However, surplus cans are becoming harder to find and more expensive these days. As a result, I now opt for new ones from Harbor Freight, where they are at least a third cheaper compared to gun stores and Bass Pro.

The characteristics that make ammo cans ideal for storing ammunition also make them suitable for storing other items. They are not only waterproof and durable but also come with a convenient handle for easy carrying. Additionally, you can repurpose them to create a faraday cage or use them as caches.

Ammo cans have a relatively low profile as well. If you were to come across an old, weathered ammo can in someone’s workshop or barn, you wouldn’t immediately think, “Oh, I wonder what’s inside. I should steal it.”

My personal favorite is the .50 caliber size, although I do have a few .30 caliber cans as well. I used to own some large brown ones that were about the size of a small piece of luggage. I believe they were initially used for mortar shells. However, they turned out to be less useful, so I got rid of them before moving. The flat cans that once held 20mm shells are quite convenient in size, though they can be a bit challenging to come by.

A Hand Drill

Among my collection of Ryobi battery-powered tools, I possess a drill, a hammer drill, and a driver. Additionally, I own at least one corded drill. Unfortunately, these tools may become inoperable in the event of a SHTF scenario, unless I manage to arrange some solar charging. Thus, a manually-operated hand drill would prove incredibly useful.

While hammers, wrenches, and hand saws are commonly found in many households, how many people own hand drills? I inherited both of mine from my father, who likely received one from his own father. Its appearance suggests it could have been used for drilling holes for pegs during the construction of barns back in the early 1900s.

Granted, a hand drill may be less practical compared to essential items like boots or a bucket. However, when the need arises to drill a hole for construction or repairs, having a manual hand-crank drill will be greatly appreciated.

A Barometer

Throughout my childhood, we always had a barometer hanging in the hallway. Its design resembled the steering wheel of an old sailing ship. My father would tap it each day to make a weather prediction.

I have owned a barometer for over 25 years. It is part of a set that includes a humidity gauge and a traditional thermometer. I cannot recall how I acquired it, but it hangs on our wall, and I make it a habit to glance at it daily and give it an occasional tap. While not a flawless weather predictor, it certainly alerts me when a low pressure system is approaching or when a high pressure system is overhead. When the barometric pressure changes rapidly, I know to hold onto my hat and ensure I haven’t left the car window open.

In situations where your phone app or Wi-Fi-enabled weather station no longer function, a barometer becomes an invaluable weather indicator. Without one, you are left to rely on the oft-repeated cliché of “red sky at night”.


Thermometers are valuable tools to have on hand, just like barometers. While digital thermometers that display indoor and outdoor temperatures are convenient, I personally encountered issues with two different models. That’s when I decided to switch to the trusty old mercury-filled thermometer with two tubes. This classic model has been consistently reliable without the need for batteries or waterproof seals.

In situations where modern technology fails during a major disaster, these “old fashioned” thermometers will prove to be useful. When you can’t rely on devices like Alexa or remote weather stations due to power outages or limited battery supply, you’ll appreciate being able to glance at a large thermometer dial and say, “Oh, it’s already 58 degrees outside. I guess I don’t need my jacket.”

Let’s not forget the importance of non-electric analog thermometers for tasks like monitoring body temperature for fever, cooking, and other activities. Specific temperature control is crucial for activities such as cheese making, candy making, and roasting meats. Having the right thermometer to accurately measure temperatures in pots or while cooking meat becomes vital.

Mouse & Rat Traps

Now, let’s talk about mouse and rat traps. If you don’t have a capable cat around, it’s highly likely that you’ll need mouse traps and even a couple of rat traps. In case you don’t have any traps available, you can make a DIY trap using a bucket. In hot weather when you leave doors and windows open for ventilation, mice will take advantage of the opportunity to sneak in. Every year, we still catch a few mice in our garage, and I managed to trap a rat near our chicken coop earlier this year, attracted by their feed.

During a prolonged battle with mice before we moved into our current house, I discovered that traditional mouse traps are not always made to the highest standards. The metal components tend to pull out of the wood after a few uses. Frustrated with constantly buying traps in small quantities, I decided to purchase a case of 48 traps. After successfully winning the war against the mice and blocking their entrance hole, those 48 traps should last me for at least ten years. They might even serve as valuable barter items in the future.

Clotheslines & Clothes Pins

Having a clothesline and clothespins becomes crucial when your dryer malfunctions. Without them, you’ll find yourself resorting to hanging wet clothes over bushes and tree limbs for drying. Whether indoors or outdoors, the process involves stringing a clothesline from point A to point B and securing the clothes with clothespins. Even during winter, some people opt for indoor clotheslines to prevent their garments from freezing. Alternatively, you can choose to buy foldable drying racks for indoor use, which can be easily stored away. In addition to the essentials like water filters, lighters, and ibuprofen, it is equally important to have additional buckets, mouse traps, and a pruner on hand.

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