Most of us who are in the survivalists “select club” and have been preparing for a long time have the affinity to get emotional when it comes to our survival gear, and we often become too attached to it. Deciding and acknowledging when it’s time to update our survival gear, and most importantly, when to let go of old stuff is rather difficult for us.
I grew up within a family that was self-sufficient, and they would rarely throw something away. They saved pretty much everything useful that can be repurposed, and they would often put things aside that would one day prove useful. They grew up during times of scarcity when you never knew when you could afford to buy the things you need.
📺 The renewing habit
Today, they could have been easily labeled as hoarders, but that wasn’t the case. They didn’t hoard every single item, and they would rather keep only the things that would turn out to be useful. I am somehow similar, and I often try to reuse the gear I own until it is no longer useful or can’t be repurposed. I have to admit that sometimes I have a hard time deciding when things need to be replaced, and I find excuses to delay that moment.
Now, don’t get me wrong, even if your gear might have worn out, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to throw it out and replace it with something new and shiny. In our modern world, where consumerism constantly spreads, people replace their things with the newest stuff that hits the market. It is an ongoing trend, and marketers keep telling us we need to do so.
I know people that buy a new phone as soon as it hits the shelves or a car every 2-3 years because their “old” one just doesn’t do it for them anymore. The same goes for survival gear, and with the survival market expanding every year, it’s easy to understand this impulse buying trend.
Some of these folks will get rid of their old possessions, and that may not be such a bad thing for you, the potential buyer. When it comes to survival gear, I often find all sorts of stuff at yard sales at incredibly low prices. This is a great win for us, Preppers, and it could be the same for you if you know what to look for.
🗑️ Determining what needs to go and what you should keep
The first thing we have to understand and acknowledge is that all things wear out, or perhaps, it doesn’t fit the need anymore. I believe you have to be practical rather than sentimental when it comes to your prepping lifestyle. If you have to decide what you should keep and what you should set aside, there are a few key points that need to be covered.
Is the survival gear worn out?
Does your survival gear still fit your needs, or is there something better you could get?
You have to understand that in a survival situation, you have to be as efficient as possible, and your gear should be dependable and useful. Every tool in your bug out bag must have multiple uses (I’ve written about this in a previous article), and weight and space are important considerations. I used to have an Army surplus rucksack that was great for a while, but it ended up not covering all my needs anymore.
Apply common sense when you analyze your survival gear and leave sentiments aside. Now let’s get into it.
👞 Is it worn out?
Whether it is your clothing, your backpack, your gloves, or a pair of boots, you need to inspect these items closely. Worn-out gear can cause more problems than you imagine, and it can lead to situations that could cost you your life.
You wouldn’t climb down a mountain with a worn-out rope, so why would you trust your survival gear to a worn-out backpack.
I have developed the habit of updating my bug-out pack every season, and when it comes to my clothing, I always check the seams and zippers. In the wilderness, loose seams can let cold air, bugs, and even debris in, while a broken zipper can cause even more problems.
Even with my daily clothes, I regularly check for worn holes in my pockets. This happens more often than you might think and if you are used to carrying keys, EDC items, or any other tools in them, the pockets will wear out pretty fast. You will end up losing items, and that’s how I lost my Gerber Dime mini tool.
The good thing is that repairs are easy to make, and you don’t have to buy new clothes all the time. However, you have to check your clothes in advance and make said repairs before you go out. Now, if your clothes are worn out, and there’s nothing much you can do anymore, it is better to be honest with yourself and replace those items. You can’t mend your clothes forever, and you have to decide when enough is enough.
When it comes to worn out survival gear, I pay special attention to my boots as I consider these a vital piece of gear. I count on my feet to keep me safe in the wilderness, and without a sturdy pair of boots, I’m just another causality waiting to happen. Keep in mind that even the best boots wear out, and you can’t save them all.
Your boots tend to wear out first where the uppers meet the soles, where the stitching or glue are. This is the weakest point on your boot, and if you notice the seam begins to loosen, understand that your feet will soon get wet. Even more, it can pose a tripping hazard, and you may find yourself in a world of hurt.
I have many pairs of boots, and I take proper care of them. I inspect them regularly, especially before a camping or hiking trip, and I get them repaired or replaced if they cannot be salvaged anymore. I advise you to buy boots from brands that offer reconditioning services as this can save you a lot of trouble and extend the life of your boots.
⛺ Tents and other gear
Let’s start with the pack in which you carry all your survival gear. In a bugging out situation, this is your “keep me alive” equipment, and you don’t want to experience a failure of some sort when you have to cover difficult terrain on a trek.
For emergency repairs, you can use a needle and thread as quick fixes, while a zip tie or two may make things durable until you reach safety. As I said earlier, your best bet is to identify the problem before it becomes an issue and replace the item if needed.
Make sure you check your backpack as often as possible and pay closer attention to the shoulder straps. These are the parts that give away the most, especially when you overload your pack. The extra weight you add to your pack puts additional stress on those sown points, and sooner or later, they will snap. Not to mention that many people have the tendency to grab their pack by the straps and sling or jerk it around. This bad habit only puts additional stress on the shoulder straps.
Now when it comes to tents, constant use, and stretching during setup (especially improper setup), weather effects can damage the seams of the tent. Lucky for you, tents have come a long way since their canvas ancestors, and newer models combine a sealant or tape with the traditional sewing to add strength and durability to the seam. However, keep in mind that nothing lasts forever, and you have to do a visual inspection every once in a while to make sure your tent is still in good condition. I usually do this twice a year and every time before an outing.
The zippers of your tent are perhaps the weakest point, and it’s often the case for many tents. They often jam and result in failure, so you need to check the zippers to make sure they are not blocked before closing or opening them. Don’t let them get kinks/twists or overstressed if you want them to last as long as the tent material. If a zipper needs replacing, make sure it’s done by a repair service and don’t try to do it yourself. Your job is to care, and you’re your tent properly.
🛠️ Buying new survival gear
When you decide to replace your old survival gear, you usually go to the outdoors store or shop online. However, before doing so, make sure you check your other options. Often times, you can get “new” (secondhand, slightly used) gear at a fraction of the cost of new. I often do this by checking with friends or by touring yard sales in my neighborhood. You never know when you might find, and I bought a lot of camping gear from “weekend campers,” gear that was sitting unused.
I never buy used gear from websites, forums, and or social media since I can’t easily trust people. I like to see what I’m buying since I don’t want to end up with what I already have. The same goes for all the online shopping I’m doing, and I only buy from reputable sources.
I advise you that before you purchase an item to actually touch that item and inspect the weak points (especially the seams). Check for reinforcement when it comes to clothes and pay attention to the zippers and look for double-stitched pockets. Stay away from bright and shiny stuff and peak the items that are made for action, not for show.
When it comes to boots, I never go for something secondhand, and the same goes for my clothing. I never cheap out when it comes to my feet, and I spend my money on something that is going to last.
⛏️ Buying used survival gear
When it comes to used gear, there are some really good deals out there if you know what to look for. I’ve often visit surplus stores or places that sell used military items. Even though I’ve seen stuff that should have been thrown out, there is also gold hidden in the dirt. I get the items that were used once or twice by people that went on an impulse buying spree, and their mistakes are usually my lucky finds.
I got two used packs that were almost new, and I couldn’t tell the difference between the ones I got and the items sold in the store. One was stained, and the other had a missing clamp strap that I was able to replace easily.
Before you take the plunge, make sure you inspect everything carefully and don’t be lured by the name/brand. This is a common mistake people make, and they end up having buyer’s remorse. Before you spend your hard-earned money on used gear, check the straps, seams, zippers, buckles, and closures for signs of abuse or malfunction. If something is not good, it doesn’t really matter how the rest of the item presents itself. Don’t gamble if you can’t fix a “minor” inconvenience. Knowing what you need and what to look for are two important considerations.
🖊️ Final words
Replacing, updating, or repairing your survival gear should be an important step in the prepping plan of every prepper. Your life may depend on the gear you have and use, and it’s better to have everything in order before the proverbial brown stuff hits the fan.
Sometimes you may have to buy used, and sometimes new gear is the only way to go to stay prepared. Surplus stores, department stores, and even outdoor specialty stores can offer great bargains if you know what you need and what to look for.
Other Useful Resources: