Selecting Your Survival & Tactical Gear

Emergency ChecklistHow do you select the best survival and tactical gear you need to prepare for any emergency, disaster or other life altering event? PLANNING!


Being prepared for emergencies, disasters and life altering events, whether natural or man-made, first requires assessing the threats you are most likely to face and the many factors that may exist. When creating your emergency survival preparedness plans, consider the geographic area where you live and take into account the population size, roads or waterways access in and out of the area, location and distance of nearby medical facilities or other emergency services, the average climate, topography, and anything else nearby that might add additional danger or could be of help in an emergency situation.

Once the threats are assessed, your next step is conducting a threat analysis to determine what the impact of those threats will be on your immediate family over the next 3-days, 3-weeks, 3-months, 3-years and beyond. What will the impact be on others outside your immediate family, would you be prepared to reach out to your neighbors and friends if they needed help? Can you depend on local utility companies to restore power, water, communications or sanitation services? Can you depend on law enforcement or other government resources to come to your aid, or will you more likely be on your own for a while? Will the impact mean you need to stay home (bug-in) or leave home (bug-out). If bugging-in, do you have all the necessary provisions and security you and your family will need to survive following a life threatening emergency? If you need to bug-out, will it be by foot, by vehicle or by other means?

Whether your plans call for leaving your home and getting to a bug-out location (BOL) or sheltering in place, consider how long you might need to be there, will it be a few days, weeks, months, or will you need to prepare for long-term self-sustainable living? What provisions will you need for long-term water, food, shelter, communication, medicine, energy and power needs? Do you need to hide equipment caches along your escape route? Do you have adequate firearms and ammunition for hunting and security, and have you trained on how to safely use them? From a tactical perspective, will you be able to defend your location without rule of law (WROL) when social unrest persists?


Since most of us spend the majority of our time between three locations; our home, our place of employment, and our vehicle, it stands to reason we should have preparedness gear stored in each of those locations. We should also consider other places where we spend our time such as; schools, church, the grocery store, etc. You can organize what gear you’ll need to be prepared in each location by using the following as a guide:

  • Every Day Carry (EDC) – Basic gear you should carry on your person every day, everywhere
  • Vehicle Every Day Carry (VEDC) – Gear you should carry in your vehicle
  • Home or Bug-In Location – Gear you should store in your home to shelter in place
  • In-Route to Bug-Out Location – Gear you may need to hide (cache) along your route(s) should you need to leave your home
  • Bug-Out Location (BOL) – Gear and provisions you should store in your remote bug-out location
  • Long-term self-sustainable living – A worst-case end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario (TEOTWAWKI). What gear will you need for homesteading to settle and live in a new and different world?


If an emergency, disaster or life altering event where to happen today, where would you be when it happens, and what time of day would it be? Would you be at work, at school, at the store, on the road, at home, in church, asleep in bed? What about your surroundings, is your location crowded with people or is no one around? Is it morning, afternoon, evening? What’s the weather like, are you prepared for inclement weather such as extreme heat/cold, rain, flooding, snow, ice, fog, wind?

Since none of us know the answers to these questions we have to think through each scenario and figure out what essential gear we would need in each location at any given time, and then figure out where we would be going from there (if anywhere). As you make your disaster preparedness plans, take time to go through the following list for each of the location scenarios above:

  1. Assess the Threats
  2. Determine their Impact
  3. Make Plans to Address the Impact
  4. Make a list of the essential gear you’ll need
  5. Purchase and test your gear
  6. Package your gear so it is ready for use in each location


It sounds impossible doesn’t it? Not really! As you identify each threat and its potential impact, you can break things down and build a priority list of gear and provisions you will need to increase your chances of survival in phases. Start with a goal to obtain the necessary gear and provisions you need for you and your family to live on and survive for 3-days in a wilderness or urban setting based on your threat assessment. Gradually add more gear and provisions as you can until you have enough to live on and survive for 3-weeks.  Continue from there to 3-months, then 3-years and beyond as your plans deem necessary. You may find that you actually need less gear than you initially thought.

One way to quickly identify what your short-term needs will be is to conduct what I call a “bug-in drill” and turn off all utilities (power, water, phone) for three days. During those three days, no one in your household is allowed to leave your  house or yard and you must all do with what you have available. As each day passes, take note of the things that you take for granted everyday and recognize the difficulties you will have when living without. Think about those who recently found themselves in this very scenario after loosing their utilities in a hurricane, snow storm, or other natural disaster for days, weeks and sometimes months at a time. Discuss each family member’s essential needs and write them down so that you can address those needs later when you make your preparedness plans. Discuss how those needs would be different if you actually had to leave your home and bug-out. Spend time outdoors and learn basic bushcraft, wilderness and urban survival skills.

Remember; it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be prepared for every single life altering event. The world is ever-changing and your family’s threat assessments will be ever-changing. Strive to at least prepare for the threats that are most likely to happen in your geographic area. Then review and adjust your preps regularly. Your chances for survival will depend on your ability to adequately plan and prepare.


While basic needs for survival will be common to both WILDERNESS SURVIVAL and URBAN SURVIVAL scenarios, the gear needed to address your particular threats will likely differ based on your own needs analysis. Use The Survival Rule of Threes …you can only survive 3-minutes without air, 3-hours without shelter (in extreme heat/cold), 3-days without water, 3-weeks without food. Prioritize your needs by considering what essential survival gear you should have in each of the following categories:

Immediate Survival Needs (Up to 3-hours)

Short-Term Survival Needs (3-hours to 3-days)

Long-Term Survival Needs (3-days and beyond)

Remember that items listed in each of the above categories may need to be moved to another category based on your specific threat assessments and impact analysis.


You have to be able to count on the gear you buy. Your life may well depend on it! Don’t waste your hard-earned money buying inferior gear or gadgets cleverly marketed for “survival” that are likely to fail when needed in an emergency situation. Save up your $$ and buy only the best gear as your budget allows. My very first preparedness item was a good high quality everyday carry knife. I researched, made a choice, and waited until I had the money saved up to buy that item. Start by getting items in your “Immediate Needs” list and add as you can. Don’t let your lack of funds discourage you or keep you from putting together your preparedness plan … the planning exercises alone will help you to be better prepared.


Cool, all the stuff I need in one easy and affordable survival kit! NOT …the problem I found with MOST survival kits is; they either contain stuff you don’t really need, or they are missing stuff you really do need. Most kits tend to include cheaply made items that can appeal to the price conscious, but fall short of containing quality gear that your life may depend on. It’s not to say there aren’t good kits out there, but like anything else, you have to think about your specific needs and then evaluate the quality and value of a kit’s contents. Some people purchase these survival “kits” as a quick fix thinking it will solve all their problems. The bottom line is; there are no one-size-fits-all survival kits! Take time to DO YOUR HOMEWORK, get what you really need, and buy only high quality gear.


The most important advice I can offer is to test your gear as soon as you acquire it! Open the packages, read the owner’s manuals, and learn how to use your gear properly. Make sure it works as you expected and develop proficiency for using it under stress in emergency situations BEFORE they happen. It could save your life one day!

Once tested, be sure to organize and pack your gear in whatever pack or storage solution that suites your particular plans. Make certain your packs are easily and quickly accessible in case of an emergency and be sure to let family members know where your gear is located and what to grab in case you are not at the same location when disaster strikes.


As you plan and prepare, don’t allow yourself to fall prey to fear. Turn to the Word of God for salvation and hope! Reliance and trust in Him is the spiritual component of preparedness. If you don’t have a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ, then I encourage you to seek Him out and change that. Our life on this earth is short at best; your eternal salvation is the most important prep of all!

I pray always, that you may keep God first and be guided by the Holy Spirit in your preparedness endeavors and that you do not allow preparedness to become your idol.

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