by Aden Tate
You’re new to the world of prepping and have finally concluded that you need to build a bug-out bag. Or maybe you’ve been prepping for a while but are trying to figure out how to build another bag on a budget. You might be surprised at the Harbor Freight bug-out bag supplies you can get for twenty bucks or less.
Perhaps an EMP has just struck, and you have the foresight to rapidly transition your cash into tangibles before people realize the dollar bill no longer has any value. (If you’re new to building a bug-out bag check out this article and this one.)
In all of these cases, you’re walking into a Harbor Freight with nothing other than a $20 bill in your hand.
What Harbor Freight bug-out bag supplies can you get for $20 or less?
So what Harbor Freight bug-out bag supplies can you get with a $20 bill in hand?
A hatchet makes a great addition to a BOB if you think there’s a chance of spending a sizable amount of time out in the woods. These not only help you to gather firewood, can help with clearing a campground, and can be used to pound in tent stakes, but hatchets have something of a history of being used as a weapon as well.
Check out the history of the Boxer Rebellion if you don’t believe me.
Here you can get a small, fiberglass handle hatchet for all of $7.99
Camouflage tarp ($3.49)
Personally, I prefer hammock camping to other types, and for such, you need a tarp. If you’re bugging out you want to stay hidden, and the bright blue and gray tarps at Harbor Freight aren’t going to be the best deal for the job.
I picked up this camouflage tarp instead. It’s 4’x6’, meaning it’s a tad on the smaller side, but it fits within a BOB well – even if it’s just an assault bag size – and only cost around $4, which is hard to beat. Perchance you end up with a broken window in your car too, this makes a convenient means of covering it up until you can get a new pane of glass as well.
Maybe you laugh at that last application, but I’m telling you, keeping a tarp and some duct tape in your vehicle can save your bacon. Windows only break when it’s raining.
I picked up this inexpensive little flashlight which could easily fit into a pocket for all of $5. I’m a fan of ultralight backpacking, and though I’m by no means as extreme with it as some other guys I’ve seen, I’m always looking for new tricks and tips for lightening my load. A little flashlight like this can help you to do such.
It can easily nest in some little cranny within your BOB until it’s needed, isn’t going to break the bank, and can help you get the job done – such as with changing a flat tire at night – when you need it most.
50’ Paracord ($2.99)
This isn’t as strong as the “official” paracord you’ll find out there – I don’t think this is 550 paracord, I mean – but it’s cordage, and that was mainly what I was looking for here. For hanging a tarp, a 160 pound work load can most certainly get the job done.
Personally, I’ve yet to have any task while out backpacking that required anywhere near that amount of tensile strength. I totally understand the importance of overengineering, but I think for $2.99 this paracord will work perfect in a budget BOB.
The final cost
I walked out of that store having spent less than $20 ($19.46) on BOB gear and feeling as if I had covered my bases with some of the more foundational aspects of a bug-out bag pretty well. I have shelter, cordage, a hatchet, and light. Not bad for less than $20.
I considered tossing in a magnesium fire striker or a small knife, but my math was showing me there was a good chance I’d be a few a bit over $20, and I wanted to stay true to the challenge. If all you have is a $20 bill in your pocket, this is what you can get. And I think you’ll agree it’s a pretty good amount.
The point of these types of challenges is to show you that prepping doesn’t have to be expensive. Prep to fit your budget. Even if all you have to spend for the moment is $20, don’t despair. You can get quite a good number of preps covered with $20, you just have to know where to look.
Harbor Freight is a great place to start despite the bad reputation it tends to have amongst tool snobs. Though there’s no denying this isn’t the thickest of tarps, the hatchet isn’t an Estwing, and the flashlight isn’t a Maglite, you don’t always have to shoot for the best of the best.
Again, use your budget to determine what you can get that falls within your means. Hopefully, this challenge has gotten you to think about your own prepping habits.
Try the challenge out and see what you think?
What would you get with $20 at Harbor Freight? Let us know in the comments below!
Aden Tate has a master’s in public health and is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com, TheFrugalite.com, PewPewTactical.com, SurvivalBlog.com, SHTFBlog.com, ApartmentPrepper.com, HomesteadAndPrepper.com, and PrepperPress.com. Along with being a freelance writer, he also works part-time as a locksmith. Aden has an LLC for his micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has two published books, The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.