Emergency preparedness from a Counterintelligence Agent

Use double duty prepper gear to save weight and space

Crazy knifeChoosing prepper gear that solves two problems means half the weight

When you’re deciding on the stuff that goes in your survival or camping gear, you should do more than just make sure you have all the bases covered. You should try to overlap the problems that they solve. Let’s say you had a bug out bag that had 30 items to cover 5 categories of problems (fire, water, shelter, medical, communication – or whatever categories you want to segment them into). If you were able to find items that would cover more than one survival situation, you could theoretically cut down your bag to 15 items. Ultralight campers are really good at this (I suggest finding a copy of this book – I learned a ton of tricks from it).

There are myriad items that can pull double-duty and I’d love to hear some of the creativity of you all on how you’ve figured out how to do this. I just want to get the word out there that with proper planning, the size and weight of your bugout bag can be drastically cut without compromising your capabilities. Here are a few examples to get your prepper juices flowing:

Things that work under many conditions

I came up with a great way to power my batteries and small electronics using a small portable  power kit I put together that can power my stuff pretty much in any conditions.

It can charge AA batteries with solar or being plugged into a wall, it can charge  small electronics with solar, it can charge small electronics with AA, and a bunch more. It’s a great system you should check out to see just how varied your system can be if you choose things correctly. Check out Almost unlimited power for your camping or bug out bag electronics.

Potassium permanganate

potassium permanganate (KMnO4) is used in some water purification methods. It may not be the best purification method but works ok in conjunction with other methods. What it will do well, however, is help start a fire (in some cases but it’s not as easy as people make it out to be) because it’s an awesome oxydizing agent and will sterilize wounds, making it a great choice to pack.

Mixing some of this stuff with some glycerine-type of fuel will start a fire in even the dampest environments. Here’s a great little video by Dryad Bushcraft, showing how to do it:

Man, I love Aussies.

Glycerine, simple alcohols or other fuel that will start a fire with  can be found easily in such places as:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Antifreeze
  • Gel tablets
  • Brake fluid
  • Certain lotions and creams
  • Sulfuric acid – Explosive though

Because it’s a triple-duty item, I recommend getting some of it.


When you’re deciding which flashlights or other small electric items you’re gonna pack, try to get things that use the same battery. If everything you have takes a CR123 or AA battery, then that’s all you have to pack. You won’t need spares for each and everything at that point so your battery weight will go down, and batteries weigh a lot per square inch.

Multiple-use items

Good stuff

What I’m talking about here are things that have like a flashlight and a knife together, or a compass on a lighter. These may seem like great ideas, and the can be, but they’re usually crap. A good multi-tool like the Gerber multi-tool is an excellent choice but a lot of the “survival” gear out there with stuff all crammed together just plain sucks.

Olive Oil

Makes a good sling too

I may be the only prepper who carries olive oil but hear me out. Olive oil packs 251 calories in each ounce. That’s over 32,000 calories per gallon! You don’t have to carry very much to be able to gain back your strength if you were without food for a while.

Olive oil is obviously good for lubrication and can be used for not only machinery, it’ll usually unstick a stuck zipper.

Again, obviously, it would make a good oil lamp. All you need is some kind of wick to stick down in it and you’re golden.

Olive oil also can get off camouflage makeup. Try it next time.

Also, if you’re lucky enough to run across a bunch of Swedish cheerleaders after SHTF, there are plenty of other uses for it.

550 cord

Ok, I may be stretching the theme here a little bit but 550 cord is a must-have. Not only can it be used to tie up multiple things (I’ve used it as a replacement for a broken throttle cable on a jeep and a Harley in the past), it’s made up of several strands that can be pulled out and used as string for items such as field-expedient fishing line or trap cord.


Not only can these be used for their original intended purpose, they’re clean so they can be used for wounds, and they burn easily so they can be used as tinder.


This is also called a tactical desert scarf. It’s in the pic above and to the right, wrapped around old dude’s head. These are good for keeping the sun off  your head, keeping your neck warm, and can be used as a sling.


This should at least get your mind wandering about inside your head. There are many things that can be used for multiple uses. What you need to do is look at what you have and see if you can find an item that will replace two items. Keep in mind that you always need backup items, “two is one and one is none,” but you shouldn’t have to have four items to cover two uses in all cases.

I know you guys have come across things that serve more than one purpose in  your bugout bags or home preps. I have an article that may spark your creativity called 57 bug out bag gear ideas you may not have thought of.

Feel free to post your ideas in the comments below so everyone can learn…

About graywolfsurvival.com

I am a former federal agent and military veteran who has deployed to combat theaters in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan and have almost three decades of military and military contracting experience.

My goal is to help families to understand how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life against real threats, without all the end-of-the-world doomsday crap.


  1. Great tip on olive oil, never even thought of that. I’ll be adding that to my bag.

    • I actually figured that one out when I was doing exactly as I’m suggesting in the article: look at what you need and what will cover more than one category. I was trying to pack as many calories into the smallest amount of space and ran across olive oil and thought, ‘man, I could not only save space with a crapload of calories but use it for a bunch of other things.

      What I haven’t done, however, is figure out the best way to pack it. At the moment I have it in a 3.5oz plastic massage oil bottle. It works so far but the wrong bump will open the spout and I’ll get oil everywhere.

  2. Olive oil is also a good skin conditioner… Tampons ARE CLEAN but NOT STERILE never use directly on a wound, combined with any oil they burn like a wick… also their shape makes them impractical as a wound dressing

  3. I don’t have a Shemagh however I do use a military surplus wool scarf that is tubular shaped. The scarf is OD in color is long enough to wrap the head in to keep warm and works well with a winter hat to keep the cold out of your coat, of your neck and can be pulled up as a partial face covering.. Since it is in tube shape you get double thickness/layering automatically and can be used as a hand warmer pulling it inside itself for 4 layers.. I got mine at a military sale for $1 however have seen them from $3-$12 each in surplus stores.

  4. I never thought about Tampons however the large overnight pads are made clean not to stick will hold blood with a backing so it does not seep through to the wrapping and has a sticky back to keep it from sliding like bandages can under a wrap like an Ace bandage over time.

  5. I prefer Leatherman tools over Gerber I have had multiple Leatherman tools with mostly only small inconveniences however the only Gerber I owned became a pain to use when the pin rusted over time making the blades hard to open.. This was years ago so maybe this has been remedied however I will stick with what had never let me down. I will say all tools in both were of the highest quality and on that are good choices.

  6. Kirstin Kimball says

    Thanks for the extra information about olive oil, I also hadn’t considered it and will add it to my stash. Weight is a huge consideration in any bag I pack, as I pack for myself and my preschooler alone. It is going to save me a ton of weight and space, THANK you.

    As a woman, I thought I might pipe up about tampons. I, too, had the discussion that tampons aren’t sterile with friends deployed overseas requesting tampons in their care packages I’d send. While not “medically sterile,” they’re clean enough, come in their own plastic packages, and if it’s safe enough for me to use internally every month I don’t see why you wouldn’t use it as a TEMPORARY solution.

    Think about it. Bullet wound. Gushing everywhere. Shove a tampon in that sucker, and worry about infection AFTER you aren’t bleeding to death. “Surprisingly”, tampons are perfectly shaped to go into bullet wounds, spiral and expand to stop blood-flow, and indeed have many uses beyond stopping that gusher bullet wound on your inner thigh. Where a sterile gauze might wick blood away and become all mushy and squishy, a tampon acts like a cork when inserted and pushes back against the walls of a wound. (You will never hear the phrase “put a cork in it” the same.) They even come in different sizes (widths / absorbency). You can surf and find out for yourself what will work for your situation without having to stalk the female hygiene aisle. You’ll want individually sealed ones with no applicators.

    Be cautious about pads, though – those are not sealed in plastic and come with a firm fine print disclaimer that they aren’t for internal use. Some of them even have gel cores in them similar to baby diapers, or deodorizing chemicals, and I would not want that in any wound. I would stick to a good old fashioned (sterile!) Israeli battle dressing / nonstick gauze pad if it is a large area.

  7. derek leverknight says

    Vasaline. Its a good topical antibiotic, and healing salve. But when mixed with a cloth or cotton ball it makes a great fire starting tinder. Dry bags. Great for keeping sensitive gear like radios and matches out of the weather, but also make good water containers. Fishing line, preferably something heavier like 10lb test or higher. Good for snares, fishing (duh) and sutures.

    I don’t use many day-to-day but up here in the Great NW I line all my packs with them. Other uses:
    Emergency Rain Gear
    Water-proofing for shelters
    Carrying fish, game, etc
    Food preparation (brining)
    Water reservoir
    Cut into strips for make-shift binding
    Fill with water and leave in sun for heating
    through the night (generally last 4-6 hours)
    Use as plumbers tape around metal threading to
    keep leaks from occurring
    ……. is there anything they can’t do?

  9. Harry Torvald says

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