The following list was written by Grave Pleasures vocalist Mat McNerney.
Survival used to be something that came naturally to people. Older folks will call it household keeping, living with nature, and not being dependent on a brittle modern consumerist society to provide for you. Basic instincts and survival were part of growing up and being self sufficient. Sadly these things have been lost for a couple of generations. Tom Hodgkinson at The Idler (I site we love) writes about these kinds of things. I'm happy that there is a culture to bring this slow living, homestead culture back, and nobody should be afraid of certain political groups co-opting the imagery or ideology of survival for nefarious means.
Growth, foraging, hunting, preparation and storage. Own a good book on edible plants and fungi. Know how to grow your own potatoes and vegetables and make sure you have a good cold and dark storage bunker to keep them (this will be essential when the refrigerators and freezers have no power). Stockpile grains, sugar and luxury items like tea and coffee if you can't live without them. Though making your own tea and dandelion coffee isn't hard, as is oat milk, etc.
Stockpiling is only a short term solution. But dried foods, canned goods are good. Knowing basic trapping and hunting skills are essential. Knowing how to use a gun (it's possible to obtain a licence here in Finland and there are shooting clubs to learn how) for hunting and defence is a very necessary skill to have. Knowing how to fish is also important – fishing line and some hooks are all you need. Know your forests and local wild areas (if you live in a city, make sure you know where you need to travel to) to forage for berries, edible plants and wild herbs. Berries are very good for nutrition and here in Finland they are plentiful if you know where to look.
"Come on baby light my fire"
Woodburner, camp stove, dry kindle and fire steel, matches or refillable lighter. Wool blankets, insulation, sleeping bags etc. Biolite has a selection of portable camp stoves which use wood as their fuel and also charge your USB devices (phones, speakers etc). Otherwise make sure you have a decent working fireplace that can warm your home. Wood-burners can be bought and installed cheaply in almost any home. Stockpile wood!
"Slaughter is the best medicine"
Medicine, this includes antiseptic (rubbing alcohol), antibiotics, painkillers, and wound dressings. In our case we also stockpile Potassium Iodide because we live on the border to Russian nuclear terrorists.
Water, Water Everywhere
One of our requirements when finding and purchasing our homestead was, aside from owning the land (which is affordable for most people if you are not too picky about where you live and don't try to live somewhere fancy near a city etc), that it has a hand-pump well to provide natural fresh water. You should also invest in water purification equipment, the most simple of which is a water boiler or large pot to boil water on the fire, to things like Steripens and UV water purifiers. Depending on where you live, equipment and knowledge of building solar stills and distillation is also handy.
Dig A Hole!
Outside composting toilet. The composting element can be leaves and organic garden waste, sawdust and mulch from your log pile. These are simple to build yourself from a simple hole in the ground to a small hut with a proper bench etc. Most people in Finland know how a composting toilet works, because of the culture of keeping a summer house.
"I'm on the Mexican radio!"
Two way radios and a wind-up or solar powered radio. I also include an iPod stacked with as much music as possible, able to be charged via solar panel with a speaker. It's important to maintain communication when the phones and internet go down, and make sure you get any public broadcasting, but also to keep up hope, happiness and enjoyment.
Personally I can't live in a world without music, and besides an acoustic guitar or a piano, I would want to be reminded of the greater aspects of humanity and the wide range of beautiful art we are able to create.
"I've got a bike, you can ride it if you like"
A working bike with basket or trailer (we have a Copenhagen bike with a front box for the kids, but works also as a great way to transport things like wood from the forest, or supplies from neighbouring farms etc). How else are you going to get around when the transportation network grinds to a halt and there's no fuel for cars?
Bug Out Of Here!
A "bug out bag" ready to go pack with a knife, axe, cup/utensils, tarp, tent, torch and sleeping bag plus any essentials like dry socks, waterproof clothing and dry foods. You need to be ready to leave in a hurry, prepared for any eventuality.
Candles, lanterns, flashlights, reflectors (when the street lights go out, you don't want to start getting hit by vehicles). When you read books at night you will need a light, or finding your way to the food storage, checking your traps etc.
Know your neighbours, know who can help you, who has a shelter (bunker etc), where the local shelters are. Also make sure you have skills that can help your neighbours and remember to take care of your elderly folk, as they often have life-long skills that can be necessary in helping your community to survive. There is no situation in the world where you could survive on your own forever, holed up in a bunker. Human beings have only survived with the help of others and by working together.
This is a great list of essential books (but be careful that bushcraft and foraging books are specific to certain areas and dependent on a lot of factors like climate etc. Don't make the mistake of thinking the same plants grow everywhere), which you can check out here. Happy Preppers also have this handy list of free prepping items.
Grave Pleasures will release their new record Plagueboys on April 21. Pre-orders are available here and you can check out their latest single "Heart Like A Slaughterhouse" below.