Survival, Prepping, & Homesteading Experts

72 Items That Will Disappear First When The SHTF

Do you know what to grab *FIRST* when all hell breaks loose? Looking at recent events reveals a pattern of items that always disappear first.

There are many “xx items that go first after SHTF” lists out there on the internet. Most are the same old outdated stuff rehashed over and over. Some are just terrible, written by bloggers looking for something else to write, and some are decent but usually contain items specific to one scenario or another that may not apply to other situations.

Eventually everything will be gone if you wait long enough, but if you look at actual events such as a major hurricane here in the USA, the Greece financial meltdown, the collapse of USSR, the war in Syria, the situation in Venezuela, or any poor country that has been hit by a major disaster you’ll quickly see a pattern of items that disappear at the very beginning of a panic buying rush.

I have tried to condensed this pattern down to only 72 items and categorized them, here they are in no particular order.

Food & Supplies

  • Bottled Water will be the first to go without fail.
  • Canned Foods. People will just shove them into their carts without even looking at the labels. Another good barter item.
  • Rice, Beans, Wheat, Flour and Yeast. All these basic ingredients will be traded in mass and quickly hoarded.
  • Other grains whether marked for human or animal consumption will be hoarded quickly.
  • Water Filters/Purifiers including bleach will be impossible to find after the first few days.
  • Charcoal. Anyone without access to firewood will begin hoarding this immediately as they will see it as the only way to cook their food.
  • Deer and wild game may be shot and wiped from your local area quickly. This is a heavily debated topic but at the very least all the non-hunters trampling through the woods will make them harder to find.
  • Chickens, goats, cows, pigs and all other other forms of livestock will be worth their weight in gold, if not more. They will be hidden, hoarded, stolen, slaughtered, traded and sold quickly.
  • Cooking Oils will go fast. They can also be used to make oil lamps.
  • Milk,  both powdered and condensed.
  • Salt is a precious and portable commodity. Salt has long been a cornerstone of economies throughout history. Greek slave traders often bartered salt for slaves, giving rise to the expression that someone was “not worth his salt.” Roman legionnaires were paid with salt—salarium, the Latin origin of the word “salary.” It is a vital nutrient and is used to preserve meat. At less than $.40 a pound salt makes a great barter item to stock up on, especially if it goes back to its pre-modern prices.
  • Cast iron frying pans and dutch ovens are long lasting and are made to be used over an open fire.
  • Gardening Supplies such as seeds, books, and tools.
  • Canning supplies including the jars, lids, pressure cookers, pectin, and other supplies. Most stores do not many canning supplies (even walmart has at best one shelf full?) so just a small handful of people could easily clean out an entire store.
  • Jerky and other long lasting meats. Could snappin’ into a slim-jim save your life? Doubt it, I think roadkill has more nutrients (and more meat).
  • Teas, Coffee, Gatoraide and Koolaides. Instant, ground, bagged, and the pouches will go fast but not as fast as other items.

Medicine & Health

  • Hygiene supplies such as shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, mouthwash, floss, etc
  • First aid kits
  • OTC meds. Tylenol, Advil, cold & flu, cough syrup. Caffeine and sugar withdrawals are going to make everyone feel like crap at first. Expect heavy pain reliever use the first few weeks (especially for headaches and general soreness).
  • Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Toilet Paper, Paper Towels, and Toilet Paper. Did I mention toilet paper?
  • Vitamins and Herbal Supplements. Taking a daily vitamin could mean the different between surviving comfortably or dying from a nutrient deficiency disease such as scurvy.
  • Wine/Liquors will not be on the shelves for long. They are also good bartering tools, can be used medicinally,  and are useful for making many herbal medicines (vodka is good for this).
  • Gas masks, if they can be found, will fly off the shelves because of tear gas etc, and for the non-preppers, the “cool factor” of having a piece of actual survival gear will compel them to grab one.
  • Baby/Toddler Supplies Things like formula, cloth diapers, wash cloths, and even cheap toys can mean a lot as barter items if you do not need them yourself.
  • More Advanced Surgical and Medicinal Items. I’m dealing mostly with store bought items in this list but hospitals, urgent care, and veterinary clinics will be cleaned out quickly once they are shut down.

Camping & Outdoor

  • Guns, cleaning kits, ammo, misc hunting and camping supplies. Pretty much anything in hunting and camping isles will be cleaned out and gone almost immediately.
  • Flashlights, lanterns, and glowsticks. And don’t forget the batteries or fuel.
  • Bow saws, axes and hatchets, wedges, machetes, hunting knives, sharpening stones and honing oil.
  • Fishing supplies/tools Hunting wild game requires more knowledge than fishing.  Everyone knows or can quickly learn how to fish.
  • Camo and hunting clothes, kevlar body armor.
  • Bug traps and sprays, and mice traps. mmmmm, rat stew.
  • Tarps, plastic rolls, stakes, duct tape, twine, nails, rope, hammers and spikes or anything that can be used to fasten down something or improvise an shelter.
  • Survival and medical related magazines, books and guides. All those lacking even the basic skills needed to grow food and survive will look for any information available.
  • Wagons, wheelbarrows and carts (including shopping carts) will become a great way to transport things around.
  • Gasoline Containers or anything that could be a gas or water container.
  • Lumber and other building supplies.
  • Clothes pins/line/hangers are often overlooked but important prepping items. They make life without a washing machine and dryer much easier.
  • Insulated ice chests are half decent makeshift baskets and can keep items from freezing in the winter.
  • Gloves. Gloves, gloves, and more gloves. They can keep you warm and protect your hands.
  • Work boots, belts, blue jeans, thick socks.
  • Cold weather clothing and weather clothing. Look for wool or polyester. Avoid cotton in the winter.

Household Odds & Ins

  • Candles Lots of them, but unscented and long burning. Stocking up on scented candles can be a real mistake. That fresh linen smell or peppermint orange will really get annoying after several weeks of daily use.
  • Bleach. Make sure you get plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite bleach. Read the labels because, yes, you will be using this to purify your drinking water.
  • Knives & Sharpening tools are worth mentioning on their own. Carbon steel knives are better than stainless. Sharpening stones are a must. Possibly the best all around knife you could ever buy is a high carbon steel Mora knife ($10 on Amazon with free shipping). The material is harder than stainless steel and they have a Scandinavian grind that makes them extremely sharp, durable, and even easier to resharpen than most knives.
  • Backpacks, Duffel Bags. Don’t miss this. Everyone in your house should have at least one good quality good backpack or even a hiking bag. Hauling, supply runs, and bugging out are some of their many uses. Duffle bags might be cheaper but are a real pain to walk with compared to a backpack.
  • Large garbage cans and garbage bags can be used for trash, storage, water collection, hauling goods etc. Garbage bags have dozens and dozens of uses, the thick 55 gallon size being the best.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting supplies
  • Paper, pads, pencils, sharpeners, pens, and solar calculators
  • Sleeping Bags, Blankets, Pillows, Mats and Inflatable Mattresses. A manually operated handheld pump is a must if you want an inflatable mattress.
  • Buckets of all sizes and shapes. They will be used extensively.You never know how bad you need a container until you do not have one.
  • Plastic Wrap and Insulation
  • Glue, duct tape, nails, nuts, bolts, screws
  • Portable Toilets or 5 gallon bucket toilet lids.
  • Weapons, not just guns and ammo but also pepper spray, knives, clubs, bats, tasers, slingshots, pellet rifles.
  • Washboards, plungers, mop buckets with a wringer for your laundry.
  • Aluminum foil. The regular and heavy duty kinds can be used for cooking and to harness some power from the sun for purifying water and cooking.
  • Brooms, shovels, rakes, pitchforks, pick axes, hoes, general gardening tools.
  • Animal Control Products such as cage traps, dog collars and runners, etc.

Other Items Worth Having

  • Bibles. 83% percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians, and many more will find their religion when the SHTF. Bibles will be in demand and can be used to barter items. A box of 100 small Bibles cost about $20.
  • Prescription medications. How will you continue your medications without a pharmacy?
  • Duct Tape and Electrical Tape can fix just about anything.
  • Bicycles with tires, tubes, repair kits, pumps, chains, etc Bikes will become extremely valuable as they are the most efficient method of transportation.
  • Hand pumps & siphons for gas, water, oil.
  • Cigarettes A good bartering item, but salt is probably a better one.
  • Generators will fly off the shelves. Buy now cause nothing will be available when they are needed. Options include solar, gas, diesel, propane, and kerosene. Generators are loud and people will kill over generators.
  • Seasoned Firewood seasoned for 6 – 12 months.
  • Lighters, matches, flint and steel fire starters, fire pistons A good rule of thumb is get 3x more than you think you will need.
  • Batteries Buy all sizes and look at the expiration dates. Rechargeable batteries are ideal but more costly. Don’t forget about 12v car batteries and solar recharger stations.
  • Solar Power.Most people cannot go full solar but a basic (and portable) system could be build for a few hundred dollars and could power a few basic necessities when necessary.
  • Smoke house and a root cellar can be invaluable for processing and storing food.
  • Gold and Silver will be the new currency when things begin to settle but not so much during an ongoing situation. Gold and silver coins don’t matter much when you have no food.
  • Motorcycles cheap(er), easy to maintain and gas goes a long way.

Extra items worth mentioning

A good manual or belt operated grain grinder would be a valuable tool. A fire piston is a handheld device that can start a fire with just air, it makes a great addition to any plan. Put together a bug out bag (BOB) for every member of your family and set up multiple meeting areas around your neighborhood.

Walkie Talkies are great but remember to buy rechargeable batteries and a solar battery charger. Print out or copy any important documents you may need (especially ones online) now instead of later. Build any buildings you need ,such as a smoke house or root cellar, now instead of later. Stock up on some motor oil, it can be used to lubricate and protect metal items and tools.

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Sergeant Survival

Sergeant Survival

I spread the news of disaster preparedness and homesteading skills to the masses. My mission is to teach the keyboard commandos out there some real life skills.


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  1. I was surprised to find out how many of my female prepper friends had given no thought to stocking up for their monthly needs. Come on girls…stockpile those tampons. They’re pretty cheap.

    1. Tampons are good firestarters too!

      1. Great points all around. Tampons also make a decent pre-filter or gravity wick filter for your water bottle.

    2. Also good for stopping bleeding of a gunshot wound

    3. Tampons are a silly thing to stock pile for your monthly needs, actually. A much better solution would be a menstrual cup and washable pads so you don’t have to every worry about finding more.

  2. Bugout bags I dont understand purpose where will u go ? All your prep stuff will be home not getting it

    1. Sergeant Survival

      Sometimes you must leave your home and “bug out” to a safe area, such as you backup location, and this is where Bug Out Bags (BOB’s) come into play. There is a chance you can’t stay in your house (fire, tornado, riots, etc) and you don’t want to be caught packing for an emergency at the last minute.

      Home preps, BOB’s, and a secret/safe second location with more preps are all important in a complete plan.

    2. BOBs also go in the car trunk. You will not necessarily be home when SHTF. Maybe call that one BHB…Bug Home Bag.

      BOBs could also be used to get to your Bug Out Home / Hunting cabin.

      1. GHB is get home bag (should be within reach no matter where you are)
        BOB is bug out bag (holds 72 hours to 1 week of supplies to get you through until you reach bug out location or can return home)
        Car BOB- stays in your vehicle and holds spare parts, fluids, etc. for your vehicle along with some first-aid supplies and emergency food and water.
        GOOD- (Get out of Dodge) is more comprehensive than a BOB–a bag or several bags/tubs and is used when you are uncertain you will be able to ever return home.

  3. The thing I find pretty sad about a lot of these prep sites is the thought that society falls apart once something like this happens, in my experience of natural disasters, these times are when humanity is at its best and everyone helps thier neighbours. Good people become better people. But then I live in Australia, and have never been to America.

    1. You’re right that a small scale natural disaster does bring a community together. We had a tornado in our area last year and the outpouring of help was amazing. We were a part of the cleanup and it was great to help and see so many people willing to give whatever it took to help complete strangers.

      Unfortunately that doesn’t translate well to larger scale disasters. Opportunistic looters and thugs come out to do what they do best, and if things are bad enough that society breaks down totally the normal people will go to extreme lengths to protect themselves and their families. That’s what we usually talk about when we say you should be prepared.

      Hurricane Katrina, the Ferguson riots , Syria, Ukraine… Even Black Friday sales show us the sad reality of human nature in mass.

      Imagine how it would be if there was no food, power, water, or some other society infrastructure that we all depend on every day. Imagine a father watching his children starve to death, and imagine what he would do if he found out that you had the only food available.

      Evil men do evil things, and good men will do worse in desperate times.

    2. The fact you haven’t been to America, explains why you think in a disaster,good people become better people. They turn into animals that will cut your throat for a can of beans..

  4. One thing that will go if people know what they’re looking for will be penicillin and diabetes meds. If people are stealing from stores and pharmacy’s for things like they did during Hurricane Katrina, you can count on the smart few to be going after those meds if the Country or World is in trouble.

    People can be very mean when SHTF and change just like they do for Boxing Day sales and Christmas Eve shopping for that First I-phone or Play Station or something in demand in the U.S as they punch, grab, and push in hordes. It’s pretty bad when you can’t even trust your neighbor.

    1. Yes, good advice. OTC and prescription medicines will fly off the shelves. Get them first or stock up now (mind the expiration dates).

  5. How does one stock up on medications that are prescribed ? Also, I’ve noticed expiration dates on OTC medications appear to have gotten a shorter shelf life over the years…

    1. If possible, buy you meds for 90 days instead of 30. It will at least give you a starting point if you are lucky.

      1. Great advice Cecily. 90 day prescriptions are available on many meds if your doctor is willing. Especially if you cannot get to town often or just for the convenience.

  6. Several years ago I read a blog by a man who had lived through the Bosnian Conflict(It may not be over).

    First thing he said is lose luxuries. Generators are luxuries but they run out of fuel. You will spend more time looking for fuel and spare parts or rumors of fuel and spare parts. In addition lights and noise attract unwanted attention. Said Toilet paper will be worth its weight in GOLD. Try wiping your butt with some leaves for a few months. Lastly there are several things I never see on Bug Out/In lists is any type of Pest or Rodent Control. Yes rodents ants spiders etc, will be a problem.

    I also never see any type of plant seeds listed in case of severe problems that last longer than a few months. There are no provisions for growing your own food. Bleach is fine for producing drinkable water but also Iodine Tablets. Lastly as the Sgt has said at times it you may have to leave home. But if you can stay home and learn who your neighbors are you will probably be safer.

    Running out of town for no reason where you do not know anybody can get you killed. Staying home and organizing your community will find you with a lot more resources and skill sets. One last thing one of your biggest resources is Old People. They know how to do things. Do not forget them.

    1. Personally I think that good ol TP makes an excellent barter. Water, food, TP, and the usual vices are easy barter items. Forget gold and silver, that’s for protecting your net worth after a crash and will only be good at the right place and the right time (likely way after things have settled down).

      Good point about the seeds. Seeds for growing food are a very important prep. This article is more about what’s on store shelves, but if you can hit up a Home Depot or Wal-mart and see some seeds, grab ’em! Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. Easy to grow stuff that produces a lot.

      Having a long lasting water filter during SHTF will be a money maker. You can fill bottles and sell filtered water by the gallon. It’s a great way to make friends and barter out.

  7. A famous man once said ” this above all to thine own self be true” He was very right there is no one that can be trusted when things go south. You have to be ready , prepared and safe . Then you have to hide in plain sight and wait. Once the majority have passed on and they will and the bad ones move on by and they will and if your smart stay low.

    Then you can move on with you main plans to restart things. Small towns will be best for restarting things. They will listen if you give them something to opt for . get it back on track and watch what happens next .

    Packs of wild and hungry people will still be there and they will try your patience to say the least. Roles will change rich become poor those that had will mainly be the ones that don’t.

    1. You nailed it Wolf. Listen up everyone!

  8. It is interesting how difficult it is to stop people from shopping from your stockpile, before shtf. Every time I leave town for a few days, I loose most of my stored stuff. 1. Put up security lights. 2. Put up a security camera. Stored to a backup drive. 3. Changed locks, added more bolts. Backup drive got stolen, and system was erased. Next I might get cameras to watch the cameras. Ouch. Or perhaps just send events to my phone.

    1. In SHTF, the flash of a gun will deter them more than the flash of a camera.

      OPSEC is the best way. Hide it, make it look like there’s nothing there. Give them no reason to want to come in. Then, be ready if they do.

  9. You missed one, keep quiet, tell no one of what you have, not family,friends. And be careful of what your family ,sons, daughter’s wives and husbands can say way too much without thinking.

    1. Yes. The most important prep of all is OPSEC.

  10. Stock up on kitty litter. Should toilets not work, you’ve got a toilet.

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72 Items That Will Disappear First When The SHTF

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