Prepping for the end of the world? Here are 15 things you need


Preparing for disaster can take many forms. The mind often conjures visions of men in tinfoil hats, hunkering down in their parents’ basements with nothing but a crossbow and a lifetime’s supply of baked beans for company. There are the tech billionaires with their doomsday designer-bunkers: the likes of Peter Thiel and Open AI’s Sam Altman who, short of jetting off to Mars with Elon Musk when Armageddon strikes, have hatched plans to hightail it to a remote lodge in New Zealand — where they’ll presumably survive on a diet of kiwi and caviar and wait for it all to blow over.

And then there is Oliver Dowden. The UK’s deputy prime minister, AKA Hertsmere’s answer to Mad Max, who outlined his thrifty approach to facing down the apocalypse earlier this week, involving nothing more than a torch, some candles and a wind-up radio.

But it turns out that “prepping”, as this practice is known, isn’t only about readying oneself for the apocalypse. “When the word ‘prepper’ is used, people always think of people with bunkers full of gear preparing for nuclear disaster, but that’s not our everyday customer,” says Polly Tucker, general manager of Preppers Shop in Cornwall. “It’s people making sure that if the supermarkets are closed, or the electricity goes out or there’s no fuel, they can look after themselves and their families, keep warm, have something to eat and survive.”

Preppers have been around since the dawn of the nuclear age, but the associated retail industry has boomed since the pandemic. Between chemical, biological or nuclear attacks, disease, climate change, extreme weather, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and meteor strikes, existential threats are more prevalent than ever before, and “prepping” has entered the mainstream. We spoke to two experts to find out the items every household should have in their prep kit.

1. Winter Sleeping bag

In case of a cyber-attack in which power infrastructure goes down, or indeed if there is a fuel shortage caused by global conflict, the heating will soon go off, warns Justin Jones, director of UK Prepping in London. He therefore recommends getting hold of a good-quality winter sleeping bag. “It packs up to the size of a football and can stop you catching hypothermia – it’s also more convenient than putting on loads of layers,” he says. Sleeping bag prices vary massively, but Jones says you can get hold of a reasonable one for £40.

UK Prepping Shop sells an Easy Camp Orbit 300 Winter Sleeping Bag for £39.95. 

2. Warm waterproof coat

This may sound obvious, but if “s— hits the fan”, as Tucker puts it, and power supplies go down or fuel sources run out, one of the first knock-on effects you will notice is the cold. “Taking it right back down to the basics: if there was some sort of issue, you would need to keep warm,” says Tucker.

Preppers Shop stock ex-military cold weather coats for £29.95.

3. Three-in-one survival whistle

Providing remarkable versatility, this multi-purpose tool is a whistle (obviously), a compass and a thermometer all rolled into one. The device could prove useful in any form of disaster, explains Tucker: “It could be that you have found yourself in a survival situation because you were trekking or hiking and couldn’t find your way back.”

Preppers Shop sells a Kombat survival whistle for £2.90.

4. Military-grade compact fishing kit

BCB Compact Fishing Kit
The BCB Compact Fishing Kit

If supermarket stocks are running low, you may have to unleash your inner Robson Green to catch food – and that’s where this comes in handy. The kit contains everything needed to become an amateur angler, including a fishing line, a winder, swivels to stop the line from becoming knotted, weights and lures. “If you ‘ve run out of food and you have to catch fish, this would provide a source of food for you,” says Tucker.

Preppers Shop sells a BCB Compact Fishing Kit for £2.96.

5. A wind-up torch

Better than a regular torch, these will keep going even if the shops run out of batteries. “Think Ray Mears,” says Tucker. “If you’re in the wilderness and you need to be able to see, you’re probably not in a position to go into a store to buy batteries,” she says.

This £8.94 Silverline 3 LED Dynamo Wind Up Torch will do the trick.

6. Paracord

Resembling a sturdy ball of twine, this light-weight nylon cord gets its name from being used by American paratroopers during WW2. “If you are out in the wilderness to survive, you can use it to erect a hammock, to strap your goods to your backpack or to set a trap – you can do all sorts of things with it,” says Tucker.

Preppers shop sells a 15m roll of Kombat UK Paracord for £1.60.

7. A gas mask

This may make you look and sound like Darth Vader, but Tucker assure us that it could one day come in handy. “It could be a situation where there was tear gas, so probably to do with warfare,” she explains.

Preppers Shop gas mask deals start at £11.84 for a vintage “Yugoslavian Military Gas Masks + Filter”.

8. NBC suits

A British Army NBC suit
A British Army NBC suit

Standing for nuclear, biological, and chemical – these military grade suits are designed to provide protection against weapons of mass destruction. It may sound a little far-fetched for your average survivalist, but Tucker assures us that there is a market for it. “There are a lot of people genuinely worried that if, at some point, somebody hits a nuclear button, how do they keep their family safe,” says Tucker. “As soon as Russia-Ukraine happened, we saw a huge increase in people buying these.”

Preppers Shop sells British Army NBC suits for £11.54.

9. An axe

Although many preppers outlets including Preppers Shop sell crossbows, Tucker is clear that she does not advocate hoarding weaponry in case of global fallout. However, she does recommend keeping a small axe in your basic grab bag. “We have a small axe in one of our kits so you can chop wood for fires,” she says. Jones adds that self-defence is a “grey area”, and only sells crossbows for “target practice”. They are not recommended for a survival situation.

This Prandi Segurin Traditional 400gr Hatchet Axe for £79.99 comes recommended.

10. Freeze dried food

“Years ago, everybody used to grow their own food in their gardens and have their own chickens. Now everyone goes to the supermarket or has their food delivered – we’ve become so used to convenience,” says Jones. In case of a black-out due to electricity rationing or a cyber attack, he recommends stocking up on freeze-dried meals from Fuel Your Preparation. The packets last 25 years and contain a whole meal inside, from pasta bolognese to chicken tikka with rice. “If you put it on a plate at a restaurant, you couldn’t tell the difference,” he adds.

UK Prepping Shop sells four days-worth of Fuel Your Preparation meals for £84.95.

11. Medication

Jones recommends keeping a basic first aid kit to hand with a week’s worth of personal medication, in case of a cyberattack or another pandemic. “If everything goes down and the hospitals are overrun, they will be using generators and won’t want to deal with minor scenarios – the hospitals will be focusing on life and death stuff,” says Jones.

Boots sells a basic first aid kit for £16.

12. Cash

Short of storing wads of cash under the mattress, Jones recommends stashing around £500 around the house in case the internet goes down. “There is definitely going to be a massive cyber attack in the next couple of years,” he warns, somewhat ominously. “Online banking is going to be the first thing to go down, so you just need enough cash on hand to buy food and a tank of fuel before it all runs out…”

13. Wind-up radio

The Emergency Solar Wind Up USB Radio
The Emergency Solar Wind Up USB Radio

Thinking along the same lines as Oliver Dowden, a wind-up radio will keep going even if shops run out of batteries and could be essential for tuning in to government press briefings. “The digital communications network would be quite easy to knock out I’m sure,” says Jones, knowingly.

UK Prepping Shop sells an Emergency Solar Wind Up USB Radio for £21.95.

14. A map

Having a map of your local area and one of the UK is sensible practice in case the communications networks are brought down and Google Maps or your Satnav no longer work, explains Jones.  “Everyone used to carry them, but these days we all rely on our phones for everything. Most people can’t even get to the shops without checking their phone,” he says.

The 2024 Collins Road Map of Britain can be purchased for £6.50 on Amazon.

15. Gas stove

A staple of outdoor campers, a gas stove is essential for cooking food and sterilising water, with Jones recommending it for a wartime situation or in the event of some sort of nuclear fallout, which forces people to leave their homes.

An ASAB Portable Camping Gas Cooker Single Burner Stove is available for purchase on Amazon for £22.99.