6 Survival Items To Buy Second Hand From Thrift Shops, Garage Sales, Estate Sales

Being properly prepared can be an expensive endeavor. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you are willing to put in a little extra effort.

There can be some great finds at second-hand stores, thrift shops, estate sales, or garage sales.

Survival Items To Buy Second Hand

At these types of venues, sellers are usually looking to get rid of items at a discounted price. 

All that is required of you is the time to find these items and to possibly refurbish them. Additionally, many older made products are of higher quality than newer made products of the same. 

Here are six of the most useful items that I keep an eye open for when buying second-hand. 

6 Second-Hand Survival Items To Buy

Fishing Gear

I have been to more than a few second-hand sales that had a plethora of fishing nets, poles, tackle boxes, and other assortments of gear. 

Usually, the poles are taken care of well with only the fishing line needing to be replaced. 

Artificial tackle can become gummy but hooks, sinkers, and other hardware can easily be salvaged. 

Tackle boxes are easily cleaned out and a sour eye should not be turned to them just because they look “gross.”

This type of gear goes fast so be sure you are first in line when fishing gear is advertised in a newspaper or other social media platforms. 


I have found all sorts of containers from secondhand sellers. Water containers, five-gallon buckets, tackle boxes, ammo boxes, to footlockers. 

Containers are incredibly useful items that are durable and stand the test of time. 

Most people turn a blind eye at containers because they are unsightly or gross. But a little bit of soap and elbow grease can go a long way in saving you some money. 

For just a few dollars and a little bit of your time you too may be able to add some valuable containers to your collection for pennies on the dollar. 


There are a few items that I am particular about when it comes to secondhand clothing but there are a lot of good buys out there. 

Hats, gloves, scarves, coats, boots, and work clothes just to name a few. 

There have been a few occasions where I found some thick blankets that after washing, were perfect to place in a vehicle or as a roll-up in my pack. 

Just because someone else has used it or has worn it does not mean it is no longer useful


Axes, tomahawks, hatchets, and mauls seem to always find their way into second-hand venues. Someone is a user or collector of them and when they are no longer around the person left responsible wants only to get rid of them.

In fact, I recently picked up three hatchets and a froe/shake axe for $10! All they need is a little scrubbing and I already hung a new handle on one of them.

Older chopping heads tend to be of higher quality than newer ones but furbishing work may need to be done to the metal and a new handle hung.

However, when considering the quality versus the low price these tools can be picked up for, they should always be on your radar. 

Speaking of tools…


Because hand and power tools are expensive to buy brand new, it can be difficult working them into a budget. 

But I have found awesome second-hand deals on tools. Power tools are nice but good hand tools should always be sought after.

Just like the choppers above, the tools may need to be cleaned up a bit or slightly refurbished in some way. But again, older tools are of higher quality than most newer tools today so in the end, you come out ahead. 

Saws, hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, files, drills, and gardening tools are all very affordable second hand.

Camping Gear

You can sometimes find great deals on camping gear at garage sales. Many people like the idea of camping so they buy all sorts of gear and try it out.

But then they realize they liked the idea of it more than camping itself. So after limited use, they simply want to free up some space by getting rid of it.

Like new sleeping bags, tents, stoves, and more can be picked up second hand.   

Wrapping It Up

These are just a few of the top items I like to look for when shopping at second-hand venues. What items do you like to look for? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know. Thanks for reading and stay prepared!

Written by Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021. Read more of Bryan's articles.