Prepping: 17 Survival Supplies You Should Always Look For At Goodwill

by Ileana Paules-Bronet
Ileana is a writer on the Original Content team. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

As spring turns into summer, many people decide to clean out their houses and get rid of clutter. The best way to do this? To have a garage sale!

Tag sales of all kinds make people from all over the neighborhood come together, and they give everyone a chance to pick up some lightly used items for a bargain!

As a kid, I always loved going to garage sales to look at toys and books, but I never realized how useful they could be for adults as well.

Anyone who considers themselves a prepper — or just wants to be well-prepared in case of an emergency — can find great steals at garage sales.

And if you love secondhand sales, chances are you’re also a fan of thrift stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army. These stores are perfect places for picking up secondhand prepper supplies at very reasonable prices, and their stock turns over constantly.

Scroll through to learn which prepper supplies you can find at yard sales and thrift stores!

Thumbnail Photos: Pixabay / Wikimedia Commons

Prepper Supply #1: Sleeping Bags And Bedding

prepping bedding
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Garage sales and thrift stores allow preppers to find great items at surprisingly low prices.

One thing that’s always worth keeping an eye out for? Bedding supplies.

Things like sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, and mattress pads are often sold ridiculously cheap at thrift stores and garage sales. Look for sleeping bags and blankets that will keep you warm in extremely low temperatures.

You should also look for cots and bed rolls, which can make a huge difference if you ever find yourself sleeping outside or on the floor.

Just make sure to wash everything and dry on high heat (if possible) to kill any bacteria or bedbugs.

Prepper Supply #2: Tarps, Canvas, And Tents

prepping tarps
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No matter what you’re prepping for, you can always find a way to use tarps and canvases.

Whether you’re trying to collect rainwater, block flooding, or build shelters, tarps and canvases are essential for survival situations.

You should also keep an eye out for tents — people get rid of high-quality tents all the time because they lose interest in camping and outdoorsy activities.

Even broken tents can still be repaired or used for tarps.

Prepper Supply #3: Outdoor Cooking Equipment

prepping cooking
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Many people think that keeping canned food on hand is enough in a survival scenario. In fact, food only goes so far when you can’t heat it.

While yes, you can eat soup straight out of the can, it’s a lot more satisfying if you can cook it first — plus it will warm you up.

Thrift stores and yard sales are great places to find cheap, fully-functional camp stoves. Make sure to look for cooking equipment that you can also use outside.

Keep an eye out for camping utensils too, especially bottle openers and can openers, that will help you prepare your food.

Prepper Supply #4: Knives And Sharpening Stones

prepping knives
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

If you’ve ever watched any sort of survival show, you know that one of the most important items you can have is a knife.

No matter what type of knife you have, it can be used to cut wood, catch meat for food, create shelter, etc.

Look for good quality knives, multifunction tools, and sharpening stones/steel — lots of people get rid of knives when they get dull, but good quality ones can be sharpened again.

Prepper Supply #5: Canning Jars And Canners

prepping cans
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This won’t come as a surprise to most people, but canning jars and canners are essential when it comes to prepping, because they allow you to put up your own food in anticipation of an emergency.

Canning jars are often ridiculously overpriced, but you can find perfectly good ones at thrift stores and garage sales — just make sure they don’t have any cracks or chips.

It’s also a good idea to stay on the lookout for pressure canners and water-bath canners — and don’t forget to look for racks and accessories that go with them.

Prepper Supply #6: Hiking Backpacks

prepping hiking backpack
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

No matter what you’re prepping for, there’s a good chance you’ll need to carry around a decent amount of stuff.

From extra clothing, to cans of food and water, you need to be able to carry it with you. The best way to do this is with hiking backpacks that can bear a lot of weight.

Why are these better than normal backpacks? They’re built to be more comfortable, carry more, and keep your back and shoulders from hurting too much.

Prepper Supply #7: Gardening, Carpentry, And Hand Tools

prepping gardening
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

If the power goes out, you’ll find that carpentry, gardening, and hand tools are very useful.

When looking for these supplies, make sure they’re in proper working order, especially if they’re battery-operated.

When it comes to gardening tools — like hand plows, rakes, shovels, and wheelbarrows — make sure they aren’t rusty or falling apart. They should be ready for hard use.

These supplies are vital for off-grid living, farming, and homesteading.

Prepper Supply #8: Books

prepping books
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

This might seem obvious, but books are essential items when it comes to prepping. No, you can’t eat them or cook with them, but they can teach you tons of things that are necessary for survival.

In the event of disaster, you aren’t likely to have access to the internet. You’ll be glad to have stored up information the old-fashioned way.

Preparation books, survival books, cookbooks, and gardening books are obvious choices, it’s also a good idea to get children’s books, homeschooling supplies, and books that are purely for entertainment purposes.

Prepper Supply #9: Extra Clothing

prepping extra clothing
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Again, this might seem obvious, but extra clothes are essential for a disaster situation.

You should always keep extra clothes for yourself and your children in multi-weather options. If your children are still growing, make sure you have clothes in multiple sizes.

Things you should always have on hand include heavy duty boots, heavy coats, raincoats, shoes, and clothes that won’t easily wear out.

Prepper Supply #10: Hunting And Fishing Supplies

prepping fishing
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Many people use garage and yard sales to get rid of old fishing and hunting gear — so you should definitely pick these items up.

In addition to the big-ticket items, like weapons, ammunition, and fishing gear, you should also look for compasses, night-vision gear, binoculars, and camouflage clothing.

Prepper Supply #11: First Aid Kits And Medical Supplies

prepping first aid
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

When it comes to prepping, you should always have multiple first aid kits on hand — one in your house, one in your car, and one anywhere else you might spend a lot of time.

You should also look for bigger medical equipment at thrift stores and garage sales, like supplemental oxygen tanks, wheelchairs, and crutches.

You never know when you might need these, so keep them in a good location in your house until you need them.

Prepper Supply #12: Games And Activities

prepping activities
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

You might not realize it, but items that are just for entertainment are very important for unfortunate situations.

Whether you’re dealing with a storm or a power blackout, you’ll want to have things to do so that you don’t go crazy or get too worried about what’s going on outside your home.

Toys, games, puzzles, and other activities will keep you sane during stressful events.

It might not even be a bad idea to get a battery-operated CD player and a few Greatest Hits albums to keep on hand!

Prepper Supply #13: Sewing Supplies

prepping sewing
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Sewing supplies are always necessary in cases of emergency — and not just supplies for sewing machines.

Without power, you’re going to want hand-sewing notions like waxed thread, needles, patches, buttons, and snap fasteners to use if your clothes rip, become threadbare or otherwise fall apart.

Prepper Supply #14: Baby Supplies

prepping baby
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

If you have a baby or are having a baby sometime soon, you need to make sure to have baby supplies with the rest of your prepping items.

Blankets, clothing, bottles, formula, and pacifiers are necessary for any baby — so make sure you have enough quantity-wise, and enough options for a growing baby.

You should also keep reusable cloth diapers on hand; these are much more useful during emergency situations because they can be hand-washed.

Prepper Supply #15: Water Bottles And Barrels

prepping water
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Water bottles are arguably some of the most important items for preppers.

Keep water bottles in a variety of sizes, but also keep an eye out for water barrels, rain barrels, and water tanks when you’re at garage sales and thrift stores.

Keeping a few barrels filled with rainwater might help your family if you lose access to running water during an emergency.

Prepper Supply #16: Atlases And Maps

prepping map
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

If you don’t have power or cell phone service, you won’t have any way to get directions or find your location if you get lost.

Because people depend on their phones and computers for maps and directions, many people are getting rid of their paper maps and atlases, so they’re really inexpensive, especially at thrift stores and garage sales.

Stocking up on local maps is essential; try to pick up detailed local maps, as well as larger regional and national maps.

Prepper Supply #17: Radios

prepping radios
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Finally, it’s important to have radios — this is how you will find out essential information during times of emergency when cell networks and the internet might be unreliable.

Make sure to look for hand-cranked radios, battery-powered radios, and all-weather radios.

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