Getting Started in Survival Preparedness: Ultimate Guide

Getting started in survival preparedness can be a daunting task filled with lots of questions. Here at we want that process to be smooth and as easy as possible for you. To that end we have put together this Getting Started Guide with answers to some of the most popular questions and concerns.

What is Survival Preparedness?

Essentially it is self-reliance. It involves obtaining skills, knowledge, and gear to better prepare yourself for the unknown. There are two general types of preparedness that are talked about.

  • Survival Preparedness: This tends to deal more with your classic survival situations. Getting lost in the woods, plane crash, etc. Basically, a survival situation is thrust upon you in which you are trying to get out of.
  • Emergency preparedness or disaster readiness. This is used more for events that can affect our daily lives. This includes being prepared for emergencies like a vehicle accident, power outage, or a natural disaster.

What is important to know is that many skills, knowledge, and gear items transfer between these two categories.

Why would I want to be prepared?

Unfortunately, help may not always be available, or it may not arrive in a timely manner. It is important to know basic survival skills and to have the proper tools on hand to take care of yourself, your loved ones, and your community at large.

You could be stuck on a deserted island, dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster, or navigating through an uncivilized landscape. Pick your scenario but what matters is that sometimes the only person you can rely on for your safety, is you.

The Rules of Three

Adding to the above category as to why you would get involved in learning survival skills, it is helpful to know the rule of threes. These are a set of general rules that help people prioritize what they need to accomplish when in a survival situation.

  1. You can survive three minutes without air
  2. You can survive three hours without maintaining core body temperature.
  3. You can survive three days without water.
  4. You can survive three weeks without food.

Please remember that these are not absolutes but guidelines. You can read more on the Rules of 3 in this detailed article.

The Survival Triangle.

The Survival Triangle is another tool used by outdoorsmen to help visualize and prioritize what is important in a survival situation.

The triangle is made up of three parts.

  1. Gear. This makes up the smallest top portion and is considered the least important. That is because gear can become lost or broken. In other words, do not solely rely on gear for your survival.
  2. Knowledge and Skills. This makes up the next larger middle section. Knowledge and skills cannot be taken away and will always be with you.
  3. The Will to Survive. This is the foundation of the triangle because without the proper mindset, the will to survive, then the rest of the triangle does not matter.

Is it expensive to be prepared?

Like anything else, you can spend as much or as little as you want on being prepared. If you have expendable income for eating out or going to the movies, then you can afford to be prepared. Below is a very cost-effective example of how you can get started today.

Each time you go to the grocery store pick up one extra can of soup (or whatever item you wish to have in your supplies). Place that extra can of soup into your designated emergency supplies. If you shop once a week then by the end of the month you will have four cans of emergency soup put away. Easy and cheap. The real trick is to remain disciplined.

Bryan Lynch, writer for

Survival Scenarios To Prepare For

A quick internet search will provide a whole host of situations in which to be prepared for. Below is a list of just a few examples.

Gear Requirements for Survival Prepping

With the amount of survival gear out there it can be confusing as to what you should get first. Below is a list of items to have that will cover the basics. We also linked to various articles we have written in-depth on these topics:

  • Knife. Due to their versatility, a good knife is considered by many to be the most important survival tool to have.
  • First aid kit. Meant to cover simple ailments. The good news is you probably already have one of these in your home.
  • Backpacks. This will help keep your supplies organized and easy to transport.
  • Flashlight. Always helpful to have in the dark.
  • Water bottle. Water is critical to life so having a means of transporting it is essential. Choose between a bottle with a filter or a metal one that can be used for boiling.
  • Water purification. Add in water purification tablets and a filter.
  • Food. Canned goods will provide the cheapest means of creating emergency food stores that will last a long time and do not require cooking.
  • Shelter. Have a portable means of sheltering yourself like a tent or a tarp.
  • Clothing. Have extra clothing that is suitable to your region’s weather as well as rain and cold weather gear. Boots are a must-have.
  • Multi-tool. Like a knife, this is an incredibly versatile tool that can help in more situations than you can count.
  • Firestarters. Being able to start a fire provides a multitude of benefits and is a skill everyone should know. Always carry a lighter, matches, and ferrocerium rod.
  • Map and compass. Have a map in hard copy form of your region and a compass to always know what direction you are traveling.
  • Whistle. A simple whistle can be heard over distances and sounds that the human voice cannot.
  • Communications. Luckily, most of us have a smartphone that allows for phone calls, video calls, texting, and email. This is a good start. A simple AM/FM radio will also enable to you know what is going on during an event.

Advanced Gear

After you have the basics covered start looking at the following list to beef up your gear.

  • Intrenching tool/shovels. For digging and moving materials, shelter building, etc.
  • Fixed blade knife. The most important survival tool to have.
  • Tactical knife. Used more for self-defense purposes.
  • Dry bags. Meant to keep supplies dry in wet conditions.
  • Ferrocerium rod. A small rod made from rare earth materials that create sparks when scraped.Useful in starting outdoor fires.
  • Magnesium rod. When scrapped will produce a pile of magnesium shavings that will burn extremely hot. Useful in starting an outdoor fire.
  • Pocket knives. Compact and lightweight for quick cutting tasks.
  • Axes (choppers). For processing wood and a variety of other tasks. A must for the serious outdoors person
  • Snares. Used for catching food in the wild that requires minimum energy expenditure.
  • Alternative energy sources. Wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, and thermoelectric provides power when conventional energy sources are unavailable.
  • Firearms. For hunting and self-defense. We cover the best survival rifles that you can check out.
  • Camp stoves. Used for warmth, cooking and boiling water when in the outdoors. Will double as a backup when primary cooking methods are unavailable.
  • Communications.Two-way radios (walkie talkie), HAM radio, FM/AM radios.
  • Sharpening stones. A means of keeping knives and other tools sharp.
  • Bow and arrow. Used for hunting and self-defense.
  • Slingshot. Used for hunting and self-defense.
  • Watches. Keeping track of time helps for a variety of purposes that include, boiling water, cooking, maintaining a schedule, and first aid applications.
  • GPS device. Can pinpoint your location and can map out travel routes.
  • Water bladders. An additional way of carrying water.
  • Topographical maps. Gives a more detailed description of your region.

Food and Water for Survival

Whether it be a short term or long term emergency, there is a great deal to learn about being prepared when it comes to food and water. Examples include:

  • Types of food to store. Some types of foods are better to store than others. 
  • How much you need. When shopping at the store becomes unavailable you will need more emergency food on hand than you realize.
  • Portable food (MREs, dehydrated pouches). These are prepackaged complete meals for home or can easily be packed for travel.
  • How to safely store food. Several food items, including the staples, must be stored differently than how they are bought from the store. Learning how to safely store food items will maximize their shelf life.
  • Keeping track of it. Keeping track of what you need, what you have, and expiration dates are essential with food and water storage.
  • Long term food options. A few examples would include smoking meat, curing meat, vacuum sealing, and mylar bags.
  • Gardening is not nearly as difficult as some believe and provides a safe, renewable food source.
  • Storing water. Critical to life and storing it is not as simple as having a jug sitting next to the refrigerator.

Skills to Know for Survival

Skills and knowledge are more important than gear because gear can become lost or broken. Whereas skills and knowledge cannot be taken away. Plus, there are a ton of online resources, like SurvivalCache, where you can learn for FREE. Some important skills to know include:

Glossary: Must Know Terms

Being new to the survival community is going to expose you to terms that may be unfamiliar. Below is a short list of some of the most common terms you will see or hear.

  • Bug Out. A term used to describe quickly leaving one’s primary area of operations. Ex. “A wildfire is headed this way; we need to bug out.”
  • Bug In. A term used to describe sheltering in place. Ex. “Because of a biohazard, we need to bug in.”
  • GHB. Stands for Get Home Bag. A bag or pack of supplies meant to get you home.
  • BOB. Stands for Bug Out Bag. A bag or pack of supplies that one can grab when bugging out.
  • BOL. Stands for Bug Out Location. A preplanned safe destination you will go to after bugging out.
  • BOV. Stands for Bug Out Vehicle. The vehicle you will use to bug out.
  • CCW. Stands for Concealed Carry Weapon.
  • 72 Hour Bag. A bag or pack of supplies meant to last a minimum of three days.
  • I.N.C.H Bag. Stands for I am Never Coming Home. This is a bag or pack of supplies that are meant to serve for an indefinite amount of time.
  • MRE. Stands for Meals Ready to Eat. A long-term prepackaged food item. 
  • EMP. Stands for Electromagnetic Pulse. An invisible force that negatively affects electronics. Affected electronics can be taken completely out of commission.
  • Survival cache. A stash of supplies hidden or buried for future use.
  • EDC. Stands for Everyday Carry.
  • FAK. First Aid Kit
  • GOOD. Get Out Of Dodge.
  • NBC. Nuclear Biological Chemical.
  • SHTF. Shit Hits The Fan
  • TEOTWAWKI. The End Of The World As We Know It.
  • WROL. Without Rule Of Law
  • Grid Down. This means that the power grid is not functional.