Start your retreat stocking effort by first composing a List of
Lists, then draft prioritized lists for each subject, on separate
(Or in a spreadsheet if you are a techno-nerd like me. Just be sure
to print out a hard copy for use when the power grid goes down!)
It is important to tailor your lists to suit your particular geography,
density as well as your peculiar needs and likes/dislikes. Someone
setting up a retreat in a coastal area is likely to have a far different
list than someone living in the Rockies.
As I often mention in my lectures and radio interviews, a great way
to create truly commonsense preparedness lists is to take a three-day
weekend “TEOTWAWKI Weekend Experiment” with your family.
When you come home from work on Friday evening, turn off your main
circuit breaker, turn off your gas main (or propane tank), and shut
your main water valve (or turn off your well pump.) Spend that weekend
in primitive conditions. Practice using only your storage food, preparing
it on a wood stove (or camping stove.)
A “TEOTWAWKI Weekend Experiment” will surprise you. Things
that you take for granted will suddenly become labor intensive. False
assumptions will be shattered. Your family will grow closer and more
confident. Most importantly, some of the most thorough lists that you
will ever make will be those written by candlelight! (Note:
I've posted the two preceding paragraphs before, but it bears repeating.)
Your List of Lists should include: (Sorry that this
post is in outline form, but it would take a full length book to discus
all of the following in great detail)
Food Storage List
Food Preparation List
First Aid /Minor Surgery List
Nuke Defense List
Biological Warfare Defense List
Hygiene List/Sanitation List
Tactical Living List
Survival Bookshelf List
Barter and Charity List
JWR’s Specific Recommendations
For Developing Your Lists:
House downspout conversion sheet metal work and barrels. (BTW, this
is another good reason to upgrade your retreat to a fireproof metal
Drawing water from open sources. Buy extra containers. Don’t
buy big barrels, since five gallon food grade buckets are the largest
size that most people can handle without back strain.
For transporting water if and when gas is too precious to waste, buy
a couple of heavy duty two wheel garden carts--convert the wheels to
foam filled "no flats" tires. (BTW, you will find lots of other uses
for those carts around your retreat,
such as hauling hay, firewood, manure,
fertilizer, et cetera.)
Treating water. Buy plain Clorox hypochlorite bleach. A little goes
a long way. Buy some extra half-gallon bottles for barter and charity.
If you can afford it, buy a “Big Berky” British Berkefeld
ceramic water filter. (Available from Ready
Made Resources and several
other Internet vendors. Even if you have pure spring water at your
retreat, you never know where you may end up, and a good filter could
be a lifesaver.)
Food Storage List
See my post tomorrow which will be devoted
to food storage. Also see the recent letter from David in Israel on
Food Preparation List
Having more people under your roof will necessitate having an oversize
skillet and a huge stew pot. BTW, you will want to buy several huge
kettles, because odds are you will have to heat water on your wood
stove for bathing, dish washing, and clothes washing. You will also
need even more kettles, barrels, and 5 or 6 gallon PVC buckets--for
water hauling, rendering, soap making, and dying. They will also make
great barter or charity items. (To quote my mentor Dr. Gary North: “Nails:
buy a barrel of them. Barrels: Buy a barrel of them!”)
Don’t overlook skinning knives, gut-buckets, gambrels, and meat
(Make a separate personal list for each family member and individual
expected to arrive at your retreat.)
Prescription and nonprescription medications.
Keep dentistry up to date.
Any elective surgery that you've been postponing
Work off that gut.
Stay in shape.
Back strength and health—particularly important, given the heavy
manual tasks required for self-sufficiency.
Educate yourself on survival topics, and practice them. For example,
even if you don’t presently live at your retreat, you should
plant a vegetable garden every year. It is better to learn through
experience and make mistakes now, when the loss of crop is an annoyance
rather than a crucial event.
“Comfort” items to help get through high stress times. (Books,
games, CDs, chocolates, etc.)
First Aid /Minor Surgery List
When tailoring this list, consider your neighborhood going for many
months without power, extensive use of open flames, and sentries standing
picket shifts exposed in the elements. Then consider axes, chainsaws
and tractors being wielded by newbies, and a greater likelihood of
gunshot wounds. With all of this, add the possibility of no access
to doctors or high tech medical diagnostic equipment. Put a strong
emphasis on burn treatment first aid supplies. Don’t overlook
do-it-yourself dentistry! (Oil of cloves, temporary filling kit, extraction
tools, et cetera.) Buy a full minor surgery outfit (inexpensive Pakistani
stainless steel instruments), even if you don’t know how to use
them all yet. You may have to learn, or you will have the opportunity
to put them in the hands of someone experienced who needs them.) This
is going to be a big list!
Chem/Nuke Defense List
Dosimeter and rate meter, and charger, radiac meter (hand held Geiger
counter), rolls of sheet plastic (for isolating airflow to air filter
inlets and for covering window frames in the event that windows are
broken due to blast effects), duct tape, HEPA filters (ands spares)
for your shelter. Potassium iodate (KI) tablets to prevent thyroid
damage.(See my recent post on that subject.) Outdoor shower rig for just
outside your shelter entrance.
Biological Warfare Defense List
Colloidal silver generator and spare supplies (distilled water and
.999 fine silver rod.)
Natural antibiotics (Echinaecea, Tea Tree oil, …)
One important item for your gardening list is the construction of a
very tall deer-proof and rabbit-proof fence. Under current circumstances,
a raid by deer on your garden is probably just an inconvenience. After
the balloon goes up, it could mean the difference between eating well,
Tools+ spares for barter/charity
Long-term storage non hybrid (open pollinated) seed. (Non-hybrid “heirloom” seed
assortments tailors to different climate zones are available from The
Herbs: Get started with medicinal herbs such as aloe vera (for burns),
echinaeca (purple cone flower), valerian, et cetera.
Sacks of powdered lime for the outhouse. Buy plenty!
TP in quantity (Stores well if kept dry and away from vermin and it
is lightweight, but it is very bulky. This is a good item to store
in the attic. See my novel about stocking up on used phone books for
use as TP.
Soap in quantity (hand soap, dish soap, laundry soap, cleansers, etc.)
Bottled lye for soap making.
Toothpaste (or powder).
Fluoride rinse. (Unless you have health objections to the use of fluoride.)
Hoof rasp, hoof nippers, hoof pick, horse brushes, hand sheep shears,
styptic, carding combs, goat milking stand, teat dip, udder wash, Bag
Balm, elastrator and bands, SWOT fly repellent, nail clippers (various
sizes), Copper-tox, leads, leashes, collars, halters, hay hooks, hay
fork, manure shovel, feed buckets, bulk grain and C-O-B sweet feed
(store in galvanized trash cans with tight fitting lids to keep the
mice out), various tack and saddles, tack repair tools, et cetera.
If your region has selenium deficient soil (ask your local Agricultural
extension office) then be sure to get selenium-fortified salt blocks
rather than plain white salt blocks--at least for those that you are
going to set aside strictly for your livestock.
“Buckshot” Bruce Hemming has produced an excellent series of videos
on trapping and making improvised traps. (He
also sells traps and scents at very reasonable prices.)
Night vision gear, spares, maintenance, and battery charging
Salt. Post-TEOTWAWKI, don’t “go hunting.” That
would be a waste of effort. Have the game come to you. Buy 20 or
blocks. They will also make very valuable barter items.
Sell your fly fishing gear (all but perhaps a few flies) and buy practical
spin casting equipment.
Extra tackle may be useful for barter, but probably only in a very
long term Crunch.
Buy some frog gigs if you have bullfrogs in your area. Buy some crawfish
traps if you have crawfish in your area.
Learn how to rig trot lines and make fish traps for non-labor intensive
One proviso: In the event of a “grid
down” situation, if
you are the only family in the area with power, it could turn your
house into a “come loot me” beacon at night. At the same
time, your house lighting will ruin the night vision of your LP/OP pickets. Make plans and buy materials in advance for making blackout
screens or fully opaque curtains for your windows.
When possible, buy nickel metal hydride batteries. (Unlike the older
nickel cadmium technology, these have no adverse charge level “memory” effect.)
If your home has propane appliances, get a “tri-fuel” generator--with
a carburetor that is selectable between gasoline, propane, and natural
gas. If you heat your home with home heating oil, then get a diesel-burning
generator. (And plan on getting at least one diesel burning pickup
and/or tractor). In a pinch, you can run your diesel generator and
diesel vehicles on home heating oil.
Kerosene lamps; plenty of extra wicks, mantles, and chimneys. (These
will also make great barter items.)
Greater detail on do-it-yourself power will be included in my forthcoming
Buy the biggest propane, home heating oil, gas, or diesel tanks that
your local ordinances permit and that you can afford. Always keep
them at least two-thirds full. For privacy concerns, ballistic impact
and fire concerns, underground tanks are best if you local water
table allows it. In any case, do not buy an aboveground fuel tank
visible from any public road or navigable waterway. Buy plenty of
extra fuel for barter. Don’t overlook buying plenty of kerosene.
(For barter, you will want some in one or two gallon cans.) Stock
firewood or coal. (See my previous blog posts.) Get the best quality
chainsaw you can afford. I prefer Stihls and Husqavarnas. If you
can afford it, buy two of the same model. Buy extra chains, critical
spare parts, and plenty
oil. (Two-cycle oil will be great for barter!) Get a pair of Kevlar
chainsaw safety chaps. They are expensive but they might save yourself
a trip to the emergency room. Always wear gloves, goggles, and ear-muffs.
logger’s helmet when felling. Have someone who is well experienced
teach you how to re-sharpen chains. BTW, don’t cut up your
wood into rounds near any rocks or you will destroy a chain in a
Now that you have all of those flammables on hand (see the previous
list) and the prospect of looters shooting tracer ammo or throwing
cocktails at your house, think in terms of fire fighting from start
to finish without the aid of a fire department. Even without looters
to consider, you should be ready for uncontrolled brush or residential
fires, as well as the greater fire risk associated with greenhorns
who have just arrived at your retreat working with wood stoves and
Upgrade your retreat with a fireproof metal roof.
2” water line from your gravity-fed storage tank (to provide
large water volume for firefighting)
Fire fighting rig with an adjustable stream/mist head.
Smoke and CO detectors.
Tactical Living List
Adjust your wardrobe buying toward sturdy earth-tone clothing. (Frequent
your local thrift store and buy extras for retreat newcomers, charity,
Dyes. Stock up on some boxes of green and brown cloth dye. Buy some
extra for barter. With dye, you can turn most light colored clothes
into semi-tactical clothing on short notice.
Two-inch wide burlap strip material in green and brown. This burlap
is available in large spools from Gun Parts Corp. Even if you don’t
have time now, stock up so that you can make camouflage ghillie
Save those wine corks! (Burned cork makes quick and cheap face camouflage.)
Cold weather and foul weather gear—buy plenty, since you will
be doing more outdoor chores, hunting, and standing guard duty.
Don’t overlook ponchos and gaiters.
Synthetic double-bag (modular) sleeping bags for each person at the
retreat, plus a couple of spares. The Wiggy’s
(Flexible Temperature Range Sleep System) made byWiggy's of Grand
Junction, Colorado is highly recommended. (See my recently posted
Night vision gear + IR floodlights for your retreat house
Subdued flashlights and penlights.
Noise, light, and litter discipline. (More on this in future posts--or
perhaps a reader would like to send a brief article on this subject)
Security-General: Locks, intrusion detection/alarm systems, exterior
obstacles (fences, gates, 5/8” diameter (or larger) locking road
cables, rosebush plantings, “decorative” ponds (moats),
ballistic protection (personal and residential), anti-vehicular ditches/berms,
anti-vehicular concrete “planter boxes”, razor wire,
Starlight electronic light amplification scopes are critical tools
for retreat security.
A Starlight scope (or goggles, or a monocular) literally amplifies
low ambient light by up to 100,000 times, turning nighttime darkness
into daylight--albeit a green and fuzzy view. Starlight light amplification
technology was first developed during the Vietnam War. Late issue
Third Generation (also called or “Third Gen” or “Gen
3”) starlight scopes can cost up to $3,500 each. Rebuilt first
gen (early 1970s technology scopes can often be had for as little
as $500. Russian-made monoculars (with lousy optics) can be had for
$100. One Russian model that uses a piezo-electric generator instead
of batteries is the best of this low-cost breed. These are best used
as backups (in case your expensive American made scopes fail. They
should not be purchased for use as your primary night vision devices
unless you are on a very restrictive budget. (They are better than
nothing.) Buy the best starlight scopes, goggles, and monoculars
you can afford. They may be life-savers! If you can afford to buy
one, make it a weapon sight such as an AN/PVS-4, with a Gen 2 (or
better) tube. Make sure to specify that that the tube is new or “low
hours”, has a high “line pair” count, and minimal
scintillation. It is important to buy your Starlight gear from a
reputable dealer. The market is crowded with rip-off artists
and scammers. One
dealer that I trust, is Al Glanze (spoken “Glan-zee”)
who runs STANO
Inc. in Silver City, Nevada. Note: In a subsequent blog
posts I will discuss
and implications to
Range cards and sector sketches.
If you live in the boonies, piece together nine of the USGS 15-minute
maps, with your retreat property on the center map. Mount that map
on an oversize map board. Draw in the property lines and owner names
of all of your surrounding neighbor’s parcels (in pencil) in
at least a five mile radius. (Get boundary line and current owner
name info from your County Recorder’s office.) Study and memorize
both the terrain and the neighbors’ names. Make a phone number/e-mail
list that corresponds to all of the names marked on the map, plus
city and county office contact numbers for quick reference and tack
right next to the map board. Cover the whole map sheet with a sheet
of heavy-duty acetate, so you can mark it up just like a military
map board. (This may sound a bit “over the top”, but
remember, you are planning for the worst case. It will also help
you get to know
your neighbors: When you are introduced by name to one of them when
in town, you will be able to say, “Oh, don’t you live
about two miles up the road between the Jones place and the Smith’s
ranch?” They will be impressed, and you will seem like an instant “old
Guns, ammunition, web gear, eye and ear protection,
cleaning equipment, carrying cases, scopes, magazines, spare parts,
gunsmithing tools, targets and target frames, et cetera. Each rifle
and pistol should have at least six top quality (original military
contract or original manufacturer) full capacity spare magazines.
detail on firearms and optics selection, training, use, and logistic
support will be covered in a forthcoming SurvivalBlog posts. In the
interim, read my FAQs.
When selecting radios buy only models that will run on 12 volt DC
power or rechargeable nickel metal hydride battery packs (that can
from your retreat’s 12 VDC power system without having to use
As a secondary purchasing goal, buy spare radios of each type if
you can afford them. Keep your spares in sealed metal boxes to protect
them from EMP.
If you live in a far inland region, I recommend buying two or more
12 VDC marine band radios. These frequencies will probably not be
monitored in your region, leaving you an essentially private band
to use. (But
never assume that any two-way radio communications are secure!)
Note: More detail on survival communications gear selection, training,
use, security/cryptography measures, antennas, EMP protection, and
logistical support will be covered in forthcoming blog posts.
Auto mechanics tools.
Bolt cutters--the indispensable “universal key.”
Emphasis on hand powered tools.
Hand or treadle powered grinding wheel.
Don’t forget to buy plenty of extra work gloves (in earth tone
Systematically list the things that you use on a regular basis, or
that you might need if the local hardware store were to ever disappear:
wire of various gauges, duct tape, reinforced strapping tape, chain,
nails, nuts and bolts, weather stripping, abrasives, twine, white
glue, cyanoacrylate glue, et cetera.
You should probably have nearly every book on my Bookshelf
page. For some, you will want to have two or three copies, such
as Carla Emery’s
Encyclopedia of Country Living. This is because these books are so
valuable and indispensable that
you won’t want to risk lending out your only copy.
Barter and Charity List
For your barter list, acquire primarily items that are durable, non-perishable,
and either in small packages or that are easily divisible. Concentrate
on the items that other people are likely to overlook or have in
short supply. Some of my favorites are ammunition. Jeff Cooper refers
to it as “ballistic
ammo will be worth nearly its weight in silver. Store all of your
ammo in military surplus ammo cans (with seals that are still soft)
it will store for decades. Stick to common calibers, get plenty of
.22 LR (most high velocity hollow points) plus at least ten boxes
of the local favorite deer hunting cartridge, even if you don’t
own a rifle chambered for this cartridge. (Ask your local sporting
goods shop about their top selling chamberings). Also buy at least
ten boxes of the local police department’s standard pistol
cartridge, again even if you don’t own a pistol chambered for
Salt (Buy lots of cattle blocks and 1 pound canisters of iodized
(Stores indefinitely if kept dry.)
Two cycle engine oil (for chain saw gas mixing. Gas may still be
available after a collapse, but two-cycle oil will probably be like
Diesel antibacterial additive.
50-pound sacks of lime (for outhouses).
1 oz. bottles of military rifle bore cleaner and Break Free (or similar)
Waterproof dufflebags in earth tone colors (whitewater rafting "dry
Semi-waterproof matches (from military rations.)
Military web gear (lots of folks will suddenly need pistol belts,
holsters, magazine pouches, et cetera.)
Pre-1965 silver dimes.
1-gallon cans of kerosene.
Rolls of olive drab parachute cord.
Rolls of olive-drab duct tape.
Spools of monofilament fishing line.
Rolls of 10 mil "Visqueen", sheet plastic (for replacing
windows, isolating airspaces for nuke scenarios, etc.)
I also respect the opinion of one gentleman with whom I've corresponded,
who recommended the following:
Strike anywhere matches. (Dip the heads in paraffin to make them
Cooking spices. (Do a web search for reasonably priced bulk spices.)
Rope & string.
Candle wax and wicking.
Lastly, any supplies necessary for operating a home-based business.
Some that you might consider are: leather crafting, small appliance
repair, gun repair, locksmithing, et cetera. Every family should
have at least one home-based business (preferably two!) that they
on in the event of an economic collapse.
Stock up on additional items to dispense to refugees as charity.
Note: See the Barter Faire chapter in my novel Patriots for
lengthy lists of potential barter items. I will have lots more on barter
in a forthcoming blog posts. (BTW, I would greatly appreciate your
suggestions via e-mail to add to the preceding list!)