The prepper, living completely off the grid is always going to have certain needs that people living in the larger, urban population centers will not always need … and when they do need them, it is probably going to be a little late for them to begin worrying about it, but then again, that is all the more reason that living off the grid is becoming increasingly popular among many Americans. The list included herein is not meant to be a comprehensive listing, but should give the Prepper a much better idea of things to look out for, whether shopping in the local dollar store, flea markets, auctions or second hand shops.
Cookware and Cooking Supplies
Cast iron cookware is always beneficial for the Prepper. Purchasing it used, at least if it has been adequately cared for, will reduce the need to begin the curing process from the beginning. Sometimes however, there are deals on new cast iron that are such a bargain, a little new cast iron tossed in to the mix will never hurt.
During canning season, it is not at all uncommon for even a small kitchen to have four pressure cookers going at the same time. On some of the larger homesteads and farms off the grid, many more may all be going all at the same time. New pressure cookers can be expensive but are generally sold complete and ready to operate. Used pressure cookers can be more inexpensive, but may be missing vital parts.
Maybe it is just me, but I frequently run in to canning supplies when I am shopping the second hand stores and flea markets. There have been many occasions when I have managed to pick up entire cases of Mason Jars for about ten cents to a quarter per bottle or jar. Occasionally these will even have all of the necessary seals and lids, though that is certainly not always the case. Conversely, at other times, I have come across boxes of lids and seals … and since these are the parts that most frequently need to be replaced, I almost always purchase these when I find them.
Camping Supplies and Gear
Virtually anything and everything originally produced by Coleman has one very common and attractive feature. These items were made to be broken down and rebuilt. While this is not necessarily true for modern, battery operated lanterns and such, it does hole true for all of the original Coleman camping gear. Furthermore, much of the old Red, metallic (original) Coleman equipment falls into the category of antiques and collectible classics.
This was something of a quandary for my dad and I, especially at auctions, where we wanted to purchase many of these items purely for function, while top-dollar antique and collectible dealers would pay top dollar for many of these items for form rather than function. However, this also means that the well-stocked prepper who does happen across such items, also has a particularly expensive market for the antique Coleman equipment once it is repaired and restored as well.
An old Red Coleman Gas Lantern may be worth enough to some of these people to help pay for the construction of the prepper paradise. (This same principle held true for a great many other “antique” prepper or homesteader items that, when no longer functional, were still highly valued by many high-dollar customers)
Canvas Tents tend to be a bit expensive, though military auctions and other similar locations will provide the more aware buyers with many an opportunity to purchase them for about as low a price as they will ever be made available. Even if there is no need for a tent, the canvas alone is generally worth the cost and will serve many useful functions on the prepper homestead off the grid. Some people may also wish to restore and sell these items to top-dollar consumers, though such an option may not be viable to those who live in colder climates and may place a value above and beyond the dollar value of this heavy duty canvas for homestead usage.
Fishing gear that is readily available at second hand shops, pawnshops and other locations will run the gamut from practical to valuable antique and should again, be considered both for practical application and for the possibility for selling and trading by the prepper living off the grid. Antique Penn Reels will often fetch top dollar and can still occasionally be found in second hand shops, flea markets and auctions. Antique fishing rods may not always be as valuable as the attached reels, but there is the occasional diamond to be discovered … and at the end of the day, I have never actually had an antique rod break on me, even when fishing in the oceans.
For the Workshop and Tool Shop
Knives, Axes, Hatchets and other Blades
One can never have too many blades, regardless of whether for work, collecting or for selling and trading. Oddly perhaps, the more decorative blades seem to be sold for a higher cost, despite the inferior quality of the steel, while some very good blades with excellent steel are sold inexpensively because they are not all “prettied up”. Purchasing the more inexpensive blades with the better steel, will allow the home craftsman to make new blades that are both attractive and effective … and that will sell for a much higher price among those who know their steel.
Lead Molds, Smelters and other Items
Lead molds are great for making fishing weights for trot lines and lead rounds for the avid shooter. Furthermore, with a little bit of machining, these molds can also serve as the model for new molds or be re-machined a little and re-purposed to serve other direct needs on the homestead. One of the prized possessions of my dad was an old-time lead smelter that did not have any electrical attachments or other power requirements, requiring only a fire.
It is funny perhaps, but I have seen two hundred dollar beds in second hand stores, marked up to five or six hundred dollars, but I have found drill presses and lathes worth well over a thousand dollars for a couple of hundred dollars each. Our machine shop was practically and largely built from machining equipment purchased primarily at second hand shops, and only augmented by things found at garage sales and auctions. A fifteen hundred dollar standing drill press or band saw is well worth a couple of hundred dollars, even if for no other reason than to have something to resell at a profit.
My brother had a general rule of thumb in regards to hand tools. Knowing that he would never be able to use more than two of any item at the same time, he never had more than two of any hand tools in any shop or tool box. Still, there are occasionally deals that come along, sometimes including snap-on or other name brand tools that come with a lifetime guarantee, to make such purchases irresistible to the smart prepper and prudent bargain shopper.
Around the Homestead
There is no such thing as having too many containers, especially if they are durable and largely water tight. From small containers to hold nuts, bolts, screws and otherwise hard-to-find items, to larger containers for storing water, dried goods or even to serve as portable faraday cages with a complete aluminum foil wrap, there really is no such thing as having too much storage on the homestead or off the grid.
Incandescent Light Bulbs
On top of their zero percent tax bill, General Electric received a lot of money to close American factories and build biologically and environmentally hazardous Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs in China (due to the mercury included in each bulb, which can also be built more cheaply and without all of the environmental regulations in Mainland China) but every once in a while, it is possible to find the occasional single or even carton of more traditional incandescent light bulbs. Apart from the disservice to so many Chicken Farmers, Librarians and others who depended on the heat and de-humidification of the incandescent bulbs, these items are in their own right, something of a national treasure and should be purchased whenever found.
It always pays to spend a little bit of time perusing the available book titles no matter which venue the practical prepper may be shopping in. First aid books are always a good purchase, as are survival manuals, DIY books, books on the local geography, geology and even books about local plant life and local agricultural production. Outdoor living, hunting, fishing and other books that will help the average prepper to become exceptional can often be found in some very surprising locations at very affordable prices.
Being half prepared does not a proper prepper make! Many of the items in this list may be redundant in nature for the proper Prepper who is already adequately prepared, though there are still many great bargains out there waiting to be had, many of which can often be sold for a profit, even if they are not needed on the Homestead or other Prepper Paradise. For those that are just beginning to venture into the world of Prepper Preparedness, this list should not only help you to get started, but also help you in your ongoing and never-ending battle to fund the proper prepper paradise that every prepper dreams of.
Bonus Item: Any old toys that are still in their original containers. Old Barbies, old boxes of Hot Wheels and comic books will often hold numerous surprises, some of which can even be worth thousands of dollars. These are most commonly found in yard sales, though they are not all that common. However, neither is the occasional gold nugget and that requires a whole lot more work to find.