One of the first bits of information you learn by reading the preparedness forms/articles is that you will need to by some equipment. Some people more than others will need equipment, but we all will want/need some equipment. Of course, the next thing you will read is that you need this brand and that brand, don’t buy cheap Chinese junk, and so on. So you hop on the trusty internet and search up a knife someone said was the best, and it cost $150……..?
For many people in the preparedness community money is a limited resource and for some, it’s a scarce resource. I believe we all want the best equipment, but if you need to buy equipment, start your food storage, and still pay all the bills, it may be tough. If a person decides to save the money for a “good” knife, gun, outdoor clothes, and pack, how long will it take them to save that money? For many the thought is to throw it all on a credit card, but one of the other strong suggestions of being prepared is to get out of debt. What do you do? What follows are suggestions and my opinions on this subject.
First let’s talk about the phrase “good” equipment. Is the $150 knife worth it…..possibly. There are many metallurgical structures of knife blades out there and some are indeed superior to others. However, are there other knives available that are about the same size and grind for much less..yes. This carries over into most equipment that people want. While a more economical knife may not hold an edge as long or stand up to the rigors of the other as well, they will cut.
So how do you get quality equipment?
When starting to shop for equipment one of the first places to start are Garage sales and Estate sales. I have personally been to many of them and to be honest…..have only found a few books. I have heard stories of people getting lucky and finding Grade A quality items at them, so I continue to go. If you can find that $150 knife that someone’s Grandpa had, but are now selling for $15 because he passed away and they have no idea what they have…..you win.
Another place to start is your local Goodwill or thrift store. It is not as cheap as the Garage sales, but it’s cheaper then brand new. In my area, the stores seem to specialize though. One has more clothes than the other and one has more books than the other, so you may have to do some driving depending on what you’re after. This again is luck of the draw and you may have a tough time finding quality equipment regularly. At my local Goodwill and thrift stores I will say that outdoor gear and clothing is a rarity.
The next stop is a Swap meet, but you better know your stuff here. At the two that I have been to, there were no set prices and people were ready to deal. If you don’t know what you’re buying you may be taking home a $150 lemon if you catch my meaning. I would also suggest having a STOP dollar amount in mind, so you’re not tempted to go more. Here again I have a friend that has come away with some steals, so it can be worth it. I have not had that luck though.
Especially for knives and guns a good place to shop at is a pawn shop, but in my experience these people usually know what they have and charge accordingly. While you may find that $150 knife, it will still cost you $130 or something for it. While not the deals of Garage Sales, Good Will, or a Swap Meet, it is still a little cheaper.
What I end up doing is what I call test driving. As I have mentioned before there are cheaper versions out there of the “good” equipment. If you find a $150 knife that you would like, go find one that is about the same size and grind instead, and is at a better price for you. You will then have a knife to use, and if you end up liking the knife, save for the “good” knife. If you don’t like the size or grind then now you know and you didn’t drop $150 on a knife you don’t really like.
You should also read reviews…..lots of them. Sometimes there are $75 knives that perform marginally worse than the $150, but you won’t know unless you read the reviews. In the case of all equipment there are brands that are garbage, some that are diamonds, but there is a huge amount between them that can be had. It will take some research, and reading about all the various brands but, you can find something for you and in your price range.
Throughout this article I have been using a $150 knife as an example, but it pertains to nearly all items. You want an all Merino Wool winter set up? Go buy roughly the same stuff in fleece as a test drive for sometimes a 1/3 of the price or less. While the fleece may not hold up to the water test it should hold up for the cold test. Boots are another area where decent ones can be had for less than the “good” ones. Like a knife, boots can be critical so test drive a little to get by. Maybe you’ll discover you don’t like the mid ankle boots, but like something higher on the ankle.