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Tips & Tricks

Guys, Buying Cheap Survival And Prepping Gear Is OK

We all want the best gear, but usually the “best” is expensive. Not everyone can afford high-end gear, and finding low-cost quality gear really is possible.

We all want to be more prepared, but there is no doubt that prepping can be costly.

Since most people live paycheck to paycheck, once the bills are taken care of it’s hard or nearly impossible to put much (if any) money at all into prepping.

To make things worse, there’s an interesting phenomenon in prepping where everyone believes that we must have the most expensive and very best gear, that if you don’t spend $$$ on Product X you’re throwing your money away, even when Product Y is just as good and usually a lot cheaper.

We obviously don’t feel this way in other parts of our life, yet when it comes to prepping and survival gear the general idea is if you don’t buy the most expensive you’re simply wasting your money.

All of this develops into “Budget Paralysis”, where everything is too expensive and there’s never enough money after the bills to buy anything so you never prep.

If This Is You, You’re Right… And You’re Wrong Too

Here’s a test, is this you?

“I know I should stockpile food, water and survival gear but after I pay the bills, buy groceries, and put gas in the car I can’t afford to buy anything. It just isn’t possible!”

In fact you’re right, prepping can be very expensive… if you want it to be.

If you insist on the very best (there is nothing wrong with that, btw) and most expensive you really will have a big bill at the end, and usually an angry wife too!

But it doesn’t HAVE to be that way, there is a way to prep cheaply…

It’s important to know this because if you can’t afford $2,000 survival food kits or $200 backpacks and don’t know how and where to cut costs you’ll fall into that “Budget Paralysis” that we talked about earlier and you’ll never buy a thing.

That, or your wife will kill you when the bill comes in….

It Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive

If you’re on a tight budget and get your prepping ideas from tv shows like Doomsday Preppers or listen to others (with fat wallets) in forums and Facebook groups who swear that any knife under $400 is junk, you really will spend an absolute fortune prepping!

The thing is, some people really do have a fortune to spend and don’t mind paying for the very best. $10,000 in preps to some people is a good start and for others it’s an impossible fortune because the car is broke down, the roof is leaking, and the kids are going back to school.

Again nothing wrong with buying the most expensive gear if you can really afford it, if you can afford the best then you should buy it. Just make sure you get the best value for your buck and don’t simply buy the most expensive assuming it’s the best because that’s foolish.

That $400 knife is well worth it to those who can afford it, and that’s fine because I bet it will be high quality, but that’s simply not possibly for everyone nor is it necessary to spend that much for a quality knife that will do the job just as well.

Essentially we would all like to drive a Lexus, but a Malibu will get us around town fine.

Yes, a $400 custom made knife or a $200 backpack may be higher quality (sometimes only slightly) than a $20 Morakniv or a $20 backpack from China, but the cheaper counterparts will still cut amazingly and carry your gear around just as well AND you can put that other $560 into other gear (or groceries and car repairs).

You hear it all the time and sometimes you have to wonder where it all started….

“when your life depends on it, buy the most expensive gear!” – Some survival gear peddler, as he rubs his hands together and smiles at your wallet…

Actually it comes from the idea that you should always “buy the best”, which you really should do. Buying the best is the goal!

But, and it’s a big but, “the best” to some people sounds like “the most expensive” so they think a $15 knife could never compare to its more expensive counterpart.

In reality a Morakniv Companion Heavy Duty Knife is the best bang for your buck in the knife market with a perfect 5 star rating and over 1,200 reviews, is world renown for it’s quality and ability to hold an edge and baton even the hardest woods, is praised and carried by many famous (and true) survivalists, and only costs about $15 and some change.

The honest truth is not everyone is in the same bank account range. The feeling of “you have to spend big bucks to get quality gear” simply isn’t true because money isn’t an accurate judge of value and quality, far from it actually.

Prepping On A Budget

The truth is simple. You can buy low cost gear and it will serve you well!

There are three simple caveats to this truth,

1. There is some gear that will suffer in quality if you go too low in price, this is because it costs the manufacturer a certain amount for good materials and quality control.

2. The highest cost of making survival and prepping gear nowadays is by far the labor, so buying from overseas lowers your costs significantly.

3. Some things are worth spending extra on or are best bought locally.

In the 21st century most survival and prepping gear is very simple to make with modern manufacturing. Nowadays it can be made at nearly the same quality anywhere in the world if the manufacturer has good quality control.

The Secret

The secret is you MUST absolutely know what can be manufactured at a high quality overseas and what can’t. You must also absolutely know what matters and what doesn’t when it comes to your safety and survival.

So, What To Do?

We’re going to talk a lot more about what to buy and how to find deals in an upcoming post a few days from now, but today I’ll simply ask this question….

Does it really matter if you buy a $50 flashlight or a $10 light that looks and works identically (and is probably even made in the same factory)? Usually not.

Does it really matter if you buy a $25 insulated tumbler or a $10 insulated tumbler from Wal-Mart or Amazon that looks and performs the exact same (and is most definitely made in the same factory)? Absolutely not.

But people do spend crazy amounts of money on gear every single day when many times the only difference is who’s logo is on the side. Take the famous Yeti tumbler for example, it’s made in the same factory that makes far cheaper tumblers and they all perform just as well (makes sense, since the same guy made both).

The only difference is the price tag and the logo. Don’t believe me? Watch them get put to the test in this video.

So now the question is, which would you buy? And don’t think it’s only tumblers either, it’s nearly every piece of survival and prepping gear. It seems like 60% of the price of high end gear is marketing.

Break the mold, do your research and buy based on usable value and not because of the logo or price range.

Final Thoughts

I hope this has been a bit of an eye opener for you, and I hope it will break down some hate and barriers against people who buy cheaper gear too, some preppers can be real snobs about how much they spend.

Most importantly, I hope you see that just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s low quality.

I do get that some people really do want the absolute very best and will pay anything for it. I also get that some people refuse to buy nothing but “made in USA” gear, maybe because of (very good) moral reasons or perhaps because wal-mart and ebay has shown them the worst of overseas buying and they think it all must be like that.

That’s completely fine, I respect that and you should do what you want and buy what you like. This country is indeed free.

Many can’t afford to do that however, or they feel that part of prepping is being a good steward of your money so every dollar spent counts, or they would simply rather buy a $20 backpack and put $120 on other gear or on this week’s grocery bill or their kid’s clothes.

Everyone is in a different situation.

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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.


  1. Holy crap, I always knew those Yeti tumblers are a waste of money! What is so expensive about ice that you have to pay $400 for a cooler anyways???

  2. Exactly! So glad someone finally said it! I don’t have to spend $300 of my hard earned money on a backpack for it to work.

    I actually bought one of those backpacks that you recommended in a previous post for like $20 off of amazon and it is amazing! Thank you so much for the find.

    Quality doesn’t always equal high price.

  3. Yeah you can prep for cheap, but why? I bought a $600 custom bowie knife for my preps and I love it, a $20 knife is going to suck ass. Screw people who buy cheap stuff, they’ll be dead first anyway. Why spend $50 on a backpack when the best rated is only $250? Get the best rated, it’s not like it’s much more money. Buying the most expensive is the best way to get the best stuff.

    Yeah I have the money to spend if I want so I do. All total I have probably spent $15,000 in my preps not counting my $8,000 ’72 f-100 bug out vehicle. Next summer I’m putting in a bunker/ root celler in my back yard and I bet it’ll cost $10,000 to build and another $10,000 to outfit.

    I’ll be the one alive while everyone else is dead because I spent the most money and my gear is the best. Period.

    1. Wow you’re full of yourself aren’t you. Bragging about how much you spent isn’t going to save your ass.

    2. Do you actually know how to use any of that gear? Sounds like you’re just throwing your money away at the most expensive stuff because you think it’ll save you when in reality the best prepping is free…. KNOWLEDGE!

      Good gear doesn’t have to cost $15,000. Learn how to survive instead of throwing money at it dude.

    3. you’re exactly the dumbass the article is speaking against. you’ll the the first one looted when SHTF cause you throw money around.


  4. I can agree with much that is said in this article … except… buying a cheap backpack. Do not skimp on the quality of your backpack. A cheap backpack will not only fall apart within a few weeks of regular use, but it will wear you out due to its lack of functional design in weight distribution.I have 3 older cheap (popular brand) back packs that I refuse to torture myself with any longer. I bought a 5000 cubic inch Osprey Expedition pack a few years ago and will never go back to a cheap pack again.

    The Osprey line is expensive, but you get a computer designed suspension system that balances and distributes a load of 50 or more pounds to perfection. Go cheap on the other bug out and prepping gear if you must, but don’t get cheap when buying your portable house/backpack. Then again, if you’re just planning an overnight bug out, just buy a cheap duffel and hand carry it… won’t be any more effort involved than with a cheap back pack.

  5. I think the main point here is about getting the most out of your money. A $250 backpack is great, but not if it leaves you with nothing to put in it. Spend that $250 on a cheap backpack, knife, food, sleeping bag, whatever. Get a variety of things. Then, as you have money, go back and upgrade individual items. A $20 knife may be crap, but is infinitely more useful than no knife.

  6. If you want a simple backpack (i.e. not a tacti-cool or special hiking bag), I highly recommend L.L. Bean’s backpacks. I have one of their larger bookbags. I carried it 3 years in high school (and under some heavy loads!), 4 years in college, around Ireland for a summer, then my mother used it while hiking out west, and I have occasionally used it when going to flea markets or traveling. It is in my car now as my BOB and it holds everything I need to live for 3-4 days (the time it would take me to walk home from work in a worst-case scenario).

    As I said, you can seriously load it down. It is warrantied for life and the only thing I have had to do to it over the past 23 years is replace the clips on the waist belt (which do break if you step on them often enough, but they are easily replaced). None of the rest of the bag is showing any wear or damage. Prior to having it, I got a new bookbag every year and the straps were ripped out before the end of the school year and sometimes the zipper was broken as well.

    The last time I checked, the backpack I have is $40–the same price it was 2+ decades ago. I think that’s a hell of a deal for a backpack that will last so many years, including years of hard wear (because you know a teenager is rough on something like that).

    1. nothing wrong with used bags either… just sayin

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