Same trip as yesterday, same store, just to see what kind of a survival kit I could put together for a sawbuck.
My $20 got me:
1 gal. Crystal Geyser water in a jug.
1 qt. btl. of same, with a sippy top
16 oz jug of Clorox standard concentrated bleach
(5 qts. of water gets me a canteen, and water for a day; the bleach gets me water for weeks, as long as I can find liquid to purify. I can also use the SODIS method with the 1qt btl.)
1 standard steak/butcher knife (Pillsbury, about 6" long)
1 utility knife (also Pillsbury, about 4" and skinnier)
1 4'x6' poly tarp (it's blue...great for Smurfland, but green or brown would be preferable)
7 33 gallon hvy duty garbage bags
1 25' roll hvy duty alum foil
1 compact mirror (2@ 3" mirrors, and it comes apart)
1 pr. hvy plastic whistles
2 x 250 ct. kitchen matches
1 3-way can opener
1 bag of 100 cotton balls
1 6 oz tub of petroleum jelly
1 standard rat trap
1 12 oz stainless steel bowl
1 metal garden trowel
30' utility rope (heavier than paracord, but unk. if it has any usable inner core strands.)
1 sun hat
and money back.
If I ever get a YouTube channel going, maybe I'll go over using it all sometime.
So for less than $20, I've got shelter, fire, water, knives, signaling, a cooking/eating pot, and a digging tool nailed down. Guys routinely make it through military survival schools with far less. I'm more concerned with sun and rain hereabouts; if I were somewhere colder, or where snow was any sort of possibility, I'd skew things that direction.
If they'd had it, I would have gotten some wire, for snares.
I'd also add about 4-9 more rat traps. They work just as well on tree rats (squirrels) as they do on the sewer kind of actual rats, and a guy in wooded or chapparal country can catch an awful lot of tree or ground squirrels with almost zero effort, and no harm to their population, with nothing more than some cheese or peanut butter.
Bird seed instead, some string, and an ad hoc drop box, and you can have pigeons by the bushel as well.
I'd happily augment it with $5-10 worth of hooks, fishing line, and sinkers from anywhere. Drugstore clearance areas are full of the stuff in the off-season, and sinkers and fish hooks don't go bad.
They had stainless unpainted coat hangers, and diagonal pliers; the combination will yield about any cooking implement you can think of, limited only by materials and imagination.
I'd have added a washcloth and towel too.
Then I hit the food aisles:
10 oat bars
1 bag banana chips
1 bag raisins
1 bag cranberries
1 bag cashews
1 bag salted and shelled peanuts
3 squirt bags of Treetop apple sauce
1 can fruit salad
1 can peach halves
1 can pineapple slices
1 small jar peanut butter
3 cans Chicken of the Sea chunk tuna
1 small can ham
1 can of chicken breast chunks
1 can of beef stew
1 can Chef Boyardee beef ravioli
1 can Chef Boyardee spaghetti w/meatballs
1 can Van Kamps pork and beans
1 can sweet potatoes
2 bags hard candies
$25 and tax, and I've got at least three and probably closer to five days' food, small enough to fit in a knapsack. Or a pillowcase, come to it.
All I'd add would be a squirt bottle of mayo for the tuna, a few cups of Minute Rice pre-loaded into single meal portions in zip locks, some crackers, and a camping spice shaker.
I live in SoCal; in 3-5 days even on foot, I can be 100 miles from here.
On a bicycle, I can be in another state.
In a vehicle, I can be as far as gasoline and cash get me.
That's a lot of GTFO in just a daypack, and for about $46. $66 or so if we count yesterday's "luxury" first aid kit. Everything but the food fits into a standard hard briefcase. (James Bond, eat your heart out.)
As you improve this stuff, it also becomes hand-me-downs to less-prepared family, friends, or neighbors. Or a great excuse to hit the road with it for a long weekend, see how you do with the stuff, and get your money's worth out of it before you replace/upgrade it.
Fresh air, sunshine, and a day or three outside are just happy extras.
And if you can't spare $20-$40 for something this simple, you're already just surviving right now.