May 15

Maximizing Space with Multiple Use Items

By The Maj

No matter if you have been prepping for years or are just getting started, one thing that you are going to realize quickly is that supplies take up a lot of space. It does not matter if you are talking about stockpiles for a bug in location or the size and weight of a bugout bag or the cube of a vehicle, there is no such thing as “unlimited space”, unless you happen to have unlimited resources. Even with unlimited resources, a vehicle or bag is only going to be able to hold so much and there will be a maximum weight associated with it. Most preppers constantly grapple with the issue of space/weight and some are better than others in their ability to cram the right amount of stuff into the smallest amount of space possible.

The market place has responded by trying to make everything smaller, lighter, and more efficient with varying degrees of success. In many instances we become victims of clever marketing in our ever ending search for the smallest, lightest weight gadget or most cleverly packaged supplies and end up sacrificing quality. When we are preparing for post SHTF, sacrifices are to be expected but quality should be demanded. As a prepper, you will find yourself in a quandary many times over and it will be up to you to determine where sacrifices can be made for the sake of mobility or limited storage space or limited funds.

One area that is often ignored or overlooked when trying to make these decisions is seeking out and finding multiple use items. As preppers, we tend to develop tunnel vision and assign an item to one of the key areas of the prepping pyramid when we acquire it and move on to the next item. This will lead to having items in one category that would work as an adequate substitute for an item in another category. When it comes to tools it is almost second nature to consider secondary uses for the tool and I would imagine that most reading this already have a “multi” tool of some type in their possession. What other tools and supplies in your stockpiles right now can be effectively utilized as substitute or multiple use items?

Some items often overlooked include:

Cheesecloth: poor man’s mosquito netting, water strainer/pre-filter, broth strainer, covering for sun drying meat, fish net, char cloth, gauze/bandage, sling, bag for foraging….

Cloth Diapers: bandage material, bandana, wash cloth, water strainer/pre-filter, broth strainer, char cloth, big time barter item…

Snare Wire: snares, general cordage, pot hanger, emergency boot laces, fishing line, blowgun darts, antenna…

Metal Coffee Cans: storage container, camp stove, cooking/boiling pot, rainwater catch, wax catch, forage container, pitch/resin catch, perimeter signal, water conveyance,…

Braided Fishing Line: snares, general cordage, sutures, fishing line, thread, choke / trip lines,

Petroleum Jelly (Vaseline): lip balm, treatment of rashes, lubricant, fire starter, rust preventative, temporary seam sealant, ….

Panty Hose: insulation layer, sling, mesh bag, wear under socks to help hot spots heal, outside layer of a compression bandage, lashing, water strainer/pre-filter, minnow netting,….

The list above is not all inclusive as it pertains to the individual item(s), nor should it be considered all of the items that have multiple uses. There are hundreds of other items out there that have multiple uses or uses for other than their designed and intended purpose(s). There are probably items that you use every day that do not add to the financial burden of prepping that with a little thought could be converted to fill a need. If SHTF is today, you are going to have to work with what you have and if you find yourself in a bugout situation, identifying and packing multiple use items will save weight and space in most cases. This weight and space may make room for additional items or more essential items that will make life easier for you.

Next time you are conducting an inventory, critically examine the items in your stockpile and ask yourself “What else can I use this for?” and “Can I substitute this item for other items that take up less space and have other uses?”. Your answers may surprise you and you may find you can garner more shelf or bag space in the process.

As preppers, we have got to be smart in our preps, take the time to adapt to changes in our lives, and adjust our plans accordingly. I thoroughly believe we all have a lot to learn from each other and I would be very interested in hearing what those of you reading this article see as common use or multiple use items. So, please post any suggestions that you might have at the bottom of the page.


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1 comment

    • PJ on May 15, 2013 at 10:18 AM
    • Reply

    Maj – Thanks for the post once again. I like the idea of cheesecloth, especially when used for mosquito netting. If I’m in the woods one of my “must have” items is a headnet which I use while sleeping. I’m one of those guys mosquitoes LOVE to feast on, if I don’t have some way to protect my face it almost always ends up being a miserable night. I woke up one morning with a bottom lip which had swollen to at least 3 times its normal size, not a great look.

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