Running low on survival gear and even lower on your budget? Never turn down the dollar store and you might be surprised at the amazing items you’ll find! There’s no denying that prepping for and stocking up on your survival supplies can quickly become costly. But never fear! That’s why we’re here. You can save money (and time) by snagging some crucial survival items at your local dollar store. You’d be surprised how many survival tools they actually carry.
Dollar Store Survival Gear for Budget-Friendly Prepping
I’ll cover survival tools and equipment that you can pick up on your next visit to your local dollar store. These items include:
- Cotton balls and Vaseline
- Steel Wool
- Matches and Lighters
- LED Flashlights
- Aluminum Foil
- Heavy Duty Gloves
- Socks and Other Under Garments
- Baby/Sanitary Wipes
- Bottled Water
- Coffee Filters
- Trash Bags
- First Aid Supplies
- Seed Packets For Your Survival Garden
Let’s get started!
1. Cotton balls and Vaseline
Cotton balls covered in vaseline make excellent fire starters! Check out our article DIY Fire Starter: The Cotton Ball to learn more!
2. Steel Wool
Here is another fire starting technique that is guaranteed to get a fire up and going in just seconds.
What you’ll need:
- Steel wool
- 9 V battery
- About 6 inches of toilet paper
- A small tinder bundle
Get your tinder bundle ready to go and lay a piece of toilet paper on top of the tinder bundle. Next, touch the terminal end of the 9V battery to the steel wool. It will instantly ignite. Once it’s started, make sure to keep the flame against the toilet paper and tinder bundle, and there you have it! Instant fire!
3. Matches and Lighters
No survivalist should be without matches and/or lighters! Every home, vehicle, and bug out bag should be stocked with them. They make the list of my top five pieces of survival gear.
Having an assortment of batteries is a must! We need them for everything from flashlights to weather radios…and so much more! However, we all know just how expensive buying batteries can be, so during the next few trips to your local dollar store grab a few packs each time you go.
5. LED Flashlights
LED flashlights are another must-have survival item! Granted, the quality of LED flashlights at your local dollar store won’t be the best, but grabbing a few just to have as extras is a good idea. It’s one of those just-in-case purchases.
In a true survival situation, any type of cordage is good cordage. There are unlimited uses for cordage, including building a shelter and fishing. Twine is a good substitute for the absence of paracord but, in my opinion, it’s great to have both.
7. Aluminum Foil
Aluminum foil is one those multi-purpose household items that no survivalist should be without. It can be used for anything from signaling for help to keeping your matches dry. In my opinion, this item should be added to every bug out bag and emergency kit.
This is another must-have item for any survival kit. They have so many uses, but my favorite use for bandannas is making char cloth, which is a must-have for any fire starter kit. Plus, it’s super easy to make!
To learn more about how to make char cloth, check out our article How to Start a Fire with Char Cloth | Survival Basics for step-by-step instructions. While this article covers how to make char cloth using denim, you can also use bandannas with the same process.
9. Heavy Duty Gloves
A pair of heavy-duty gloves is yet another must-have item for every bug out bag. In a true survival situation, they provide great protection against wood splinters, blistering, and other weather-related injuries.
10. Socks and Other Under Garments
It’s also a great idea to pick up extra socks and other undergarments such as thermals. These make great additions to your bug out bag and/or your emergency car kit.
Ponchos help protect you against the elements in all seasons and are a must-have item for anyone! They can also be used for other things such as waterproof shelters and collecting rainwater.
Bleach can be used to disinfect surfaces and to purify water. Click here for exact measurements and instructions on how to purify contaminated water with bleach.
13. Baby/Sanitary Wipes
These are a must-have for every household and personal bug out bag and will prove their worth in every survival situation. Both baby and sanitary wipes can be purchased at your local dollar store at a great price!
14. Bottled Water
Never leave your home without at least a few bottles of water. Every household, every vehicle, or used individually in every bug out bag and/or emergency kit needs water or some way of making found water safe to drink. Every dollar store across the country carries bottled water that you can purchase at a reasonable price. Make it a habit to grab a pack every time you go shopping, and before you know it, you’ll have an impressive stash of emergency water.
15. Coffee Filters
Coffee filters are getting a lot of attention lately with their many survival uses! Their ability to be everything from a funnel to a fire starter makes them a great addition to every survival kit!
16. Trash Bags
Trash bags are another household item that has multiple uses in survival situations. Check out our article 30 Uses For Trash Bags In Your Bug Out Bag to read more about their many uses.
17. First Aid Supplies
Many of the items you need in a well-stocked first aid kit can be purchased at great prices from your local dollar store. If you are looking for suggestions on what items to add to your first aid kit, check out our great articles: First Aid Kit List and How to Make Proper First Aid Kit for some great suggestions!
18. Seed Packets For Your Survival Garden
Let’s talk about survival gardening! At the beginning of Spring, you can purchase seed packets at your local dollar store for almost nothing! Consider looking there first before you visit your local garden center, and you may just save a few bucks!
Corporals Corner shows this video on dollar store survival gear:
It won’t be a surprise if you missed some of these survival items in your list, but if you ever drop by your local dollar store, might as well take advantage of the value you get from these cheap items. You’ll never know when you’re going to need them. These things will surely be useful one way or another.
Have you purchased any of these survival gear from your local dollar store? Tell us in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2017 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
I buy all my medical stuff there as I can get large bottles of hydrogen peroxide and alcohol.
Plus, bandages, slings, gauze, and surgical tape, these places are gold mines!
You might want to do a follow up centering on items people can get from Harbor Freight. Some tools can be particularly handy clearing away debris and repairing the house after a disaster.
Also, the quality of Harbor Freight tools varies greatly. YouTube videos are good for telling the good from the bad.
Kill two birds with one stone instead of vasoline on your cotton balls use triple antibiotics ointment
BAG BALM is far superior clinically with dramatic efficacy on wounds of all kinds and less expensive. As a military trauma surgeon I never deployed without it
I have been using Bag Balm for over 55 years. Great stuff and inexpensive! Buy a large container available pretty much everywhere now (used to be only farm stores sold it) and put it into smaller (pill bottle) containers for first aid kit! They sell it in small metal tins but they leak in hot weather and are expensive.
Dont forget the amazing swap meet / flea markets. Make a trip to the dollar store on your way home from these venues. Also dollar store loaf pans…great for bottom of pack and MANY water / cooking uses…
Loaf pan, GREAT idea!
As an elderly woman with grandchildren I need all the help I can get. Who knows what can/will happen
Great grandma here. I have most thing mentioned in multiples. Don’t forget multiple sizes of safety pins, a tiny sewing kit, nail clippers and files, something to moisten your lips, and epson salts.
Chapstick can keep small wounds clean in emergencies, on a cotton ball its a firestarter, Vaseline does the same but a Chapstick in the pocket is small and easy to carry. We girls learned young to always carry a few safety pins. Hold your clothes together if a seam breaks or a button happened to come off, keeping a bra strap from showing used to be important. When I’m working I sometimes pin a bandana to my clothing till I need a sweatband to keep sweat out of my eyes. We’ve been close to 100 everyday for weeks. When necessary sewing needles or safety pins have dug a splinter out where I couldn’t wait for it to fester out.
Don’t forget to buy duct/duck tape at the dollar store. Make camping easier by keeping it handy. Break a pole, tape it. Need a.splint, tape and sticks can do it. Tape a rip together on your tent or your pants. You get the idea. My boys showed.me many creative ways to use duck tape. I guess the prize would go to the oldest. His brand new Navy uniform pants hadn’t been hemed for his wedding. He duck taped them. They looked perfect.
I have bags for my husband, friends, seasonal, important papers and pictures and records on memory sticks, a full medical bag plus small first aid packs in most other bags. Then a bag of dry and canned food. Packs to grab and go on foot or most packed ready to go by vehicle. Plus seasonal packs in the vehicles along with tools and jumper cables and car jacks. Water in every vehicle. Snacks and first aid kit in every vehicle. A case of bottled water with the packs so its ready to grab and go. Lots of the items in the packs have come from dollar stores, discount stores and yard sales. Backpacks were $2-$5 each new on after school sales at Wal-Mart. I’m on social security but I shop carefully and watch sales. I have a Harbor freight machete. I clears brush on areas of my land and the saw along the back may or may not saw limbs but it sure saws through heavy old growth cacti. Dollar store cookie sheet is small.but fits in the surgical first aid back pack and would suffice to lay out tools in the kit. It could double as a signal device. A bread pan holds pasta mixes in the bottom of that pack and could be used for a cooking vessel. A cooling rack drains my dishes when camping. If I’m not carrying my cast iron pans when camping the cheap light weight bakeware from the dollar store works quite well. I bought a set that had a cookie sheet, cooling rack, loaf pan, and 2 round cake pans. With a bit of creativity I can cook almost anything for the two of us with that set. It weighs little. Yes it can bend or warp if heating or cooling quickly. It doesn’t compare to a good cast iron frypan and Dutch oven. But it’s cheap, lite, and easy to pack. Two of those little cookie sheets could be a reflector oven and bake biscuits. Prop up one with sticks or rocks. Set the other nearer the fire on rocks. Think creatively and buy carefully. You can do well without a large outlay of money. Do it slowly. Anything beats nothing.
And yes guys bag balm is wonderful stuff..
Very interesting website; easy; concise and complete..THANKS!!
One thing about stocking up bottled water is that keeping it in a vehicle that gets uber hot every day that you leave it in a vehicle allows it to leach out chemicals from the plastic. That water can be used later for other purposes but it is always a good idea to take (fresh water) with you on any journey away from home and keep it separate from the water that has been through several heat cycles. Storing water at home for extended periods should also be kept in an area where it doesn’t go through extreme heat. There are many techniques that can be used to store potable water if you search it out. I am just trying to make people aware that this could be a hazzard. Hopefully we will not have to deal with a SHTF situation but we all need to be prepared. Thanks to the authors of this article and to those on the links along with those in their comments for their thoughtful ideas on what and where we can get to be prepared.