8 Survival items you should purchase second-hand
By Ramon Tomey // Dec 13, 2021

Many people believe that when it comes to prepping, brand-new is always better. But this is not always the case most of the time, especially when stocking up for an emergency or a bug-out location. A number of survival items can be purchased at a fraction of the price – and still function perfectly.


Scoring these survival items on a discount requires patience, persistence and a stroke of luck. Flea markets, yard sales and thrift stores are the best places to visit for discounted survival items. Online marketplaces such as Facebook and eBay are also good places to buy, but due caution must be exercised when procuring items from there. Below are eight survival items that can ideally be purchased gently used.

Cast-iron cookware

Cast-iron pots and pans are perfect for cooking over a campfire or on a grill, with the added bonus of being almost virtually indestructible. However, most people have no idea how to clean cast-iron cookware – leading them to sell or give it away. Rusted cast iron can be cleaned with scrubbing, drying, oiling and baking: A little elbow grease goes a long way!

Camping stoves

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing camping stoves, such as size, design and fuel type. Online marketplaces such as eBay and Facebook can yield plenty of results. Due diligence is best exercised by scrutinizing the reviews of both the product and the seller. Furthermore, it is best to choose stoves that can be returned if they do not meet expectations.

Sleeping bags

Sleeping bags are a key survival item, and one should ideally be allocated for each family member. Brand new sleeping bags need not be purchased immediately, as gently used versions are available online and in thrift stores. These should be inspected carefully for any rips and tears and their zippers tested. Furthermore, the best temperature ratings – usually on the labels – should be considered.

Knives and multi-purpose tools

Pocket knives and multi-purpose tools are indispensable when it comes to survival. While new tools are ideal, gently used ones can suffice. Used multi-purpose tools should be checked for functionality and signs of damage such as scratches and dents. Price points vis-à-vis other brands and the tool's current market price should also be compared. Gently used sharpening stones or steel is also important to keep knives in shape. (Related: Improvising while prepping: Everyday items that can double duty in an emergency.)


Some spend a lot of money on camping gear such as tents – only to use them once. Because of this, gently used tents can be purchased at a discounted price. Used tents should still be scrutinized for mold, rips, tears, broken zippers and missing stakes. Performing these checks ensures that the tent continues to protect against the elements despite being second-hand.

Outerwear for snow and rain

Yard sales and thrift stores are the best places to look for outerwear against snow and rain. Shopping for clothes to protect against cold weather is best done during the warm weather months. Nevertheless, these should still be checked for working zippers and any rips or tears that cannot be easily repaired. Rain jackets and boots can be bought from the same places. It should be noted that "waterproof" rain gear perform better than "water resistant ones." Brand loyalty comes in handy – and used rain gear from brands known and trusted for water resiliency are definitely good buys.


Flashlights are ubiquitous in most thrift stores and yard sales, and it is definitely possible to purchase a good-quality yet affordable one. A slightly used flashlight should be tested first for functionality before being bought. It should be examined afterward for any signs of corrosion and rust. The seals around the batteries and bulbs ought to be checked likewise if they are intact. Most importantly, a flashlight is useless without batteries – so having reliable batteries is a must.

Portable radios

A portable radio is handy in case there is no power and mobile data is running short. One can simply tune in to a local station for weather updates and evacuation notes. Hand-cranked portable radios are perfect for the job: A few turns are enough to power it for a few hours of service. In addition, used citizens band and HAM radios are also good investments for communication purposes. Just like most electronic devices, testing before a final purchase is always a wise decision. (Related: How to build a survival communication system for less than $50.)

Preparing for any future disasters does not require shelling out huge amounts of money for brand-new items. Being patient and persistent in looking for discounted survival items in great condition definitely pays off when the going gets tough.

Visit Survival.news to read more articles about preparing important survival items before disaster strikes.

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