An X-Mas & Chanukah List from Grid Down (Prepping 101)

My approach to prepping has always been about harnessing resources. Even the most basic needs in our lives are about using the resources at our disposal.

This could be the money you have available to put food away. My approach has always been to figure out calories per dollar, on anything you plan to acquire. It could be expensive freeze dried prepper food at 100 calories per dollar, or Walmart flour at over 4,000 calories per dollar. Everything boils down to approach.

These are a few things I don’t think most people consider when prepping for future instability. Right now it might feel difficult to shake lose some funds for a new flatscreen or another pair of slippers, but these are the kinds of family purchases that could be bought as a gift to the whole gang. It is just a question of where your head is at, and right now a lot of people are thinking about a very difficult future.

Water Carriers

Perhaps you are on city water, but nearby might be a water supply not connected to your faucet. I assume everyone on GunsAmerica is armed to some extent, so going on period forays to get water probably is not a terrible idea. You just want to do that infrequently.

You can carry water in old two liters bottles, or really any beverage bottle, but you have to have a good pack. My choice is the USGI ALICE pack, which was used from the Vietnam war up until the early 2000s. There are a ton of these on surplus, and they are almost always on Ebay. Just make sure that you get the whole pack, the frame, the shoulder straps, and ideally the waist belt. A few holes are no big deal. Very few new commercial packs have straps that can withstand the weight of water. At 8lbs a gallon, even a few days supply of water is a lot to carry, and it needs a sturdy pack.

An X-Mas & Chanukah List from Grid Down (Prepping 101)
This ALICE pack is on Ebay right now for $85 all in, and there are updated models of this pack you can find by searching “rucksack.” Some have a plastic exoskeleton frame, not metal like the ALICE, but they are sturdy nonetheless. Just be careful of modern copies, even when they claim they are milsurp. They do not have the sturdy frame of the real military packs, and the straps often can’t bear upwards of 100lbs which is manageable in a pack for one person.

There are also a number of options for carrying water at Starr & Bullock Hardware. They also have water filtration options that are very cost effective compared to what is out there from Berkey and many of the big affiliate sponsor companies.

An X-Mas & Chanukah List from Grid Down (Prepping 101)
Starr & Bullock has this 2 liter canteen as well as many other water carrier options. This is a subject you should figure out if you are serious about surviving after we lose all of life’s conveniences.


If you have followed Grid Down and Prepping 101 before it, I frequently cover cooking options for wood, propane, diesel fuel, and now even coal. These products all live at the same Star & Bullock Hardware stove category, where I have made sure that when I cover something, it is available in the US.

An X-Mas & Chanukah List from Grid Down (Prepping 101)
I have covered these kinds of diesel stoves here on Prepping 101 for years. Diesel, even at $6 a gallon is a great storage fuel compared to wood. You can throw a match into it and the match will go out. You don’t need specialized containers like for gasoline, and the fumes are not flamable. This stove is available in the US with a whole pack of extra wicks.

There are also tons of rocket stoves available on Ebay and Amazon. Everyone has some wood available, even if it is pallets or furniture. That should be where you start.


Solar, wind and hydro are all decent producers of electricity, but on a budget, you can’t expect to run your whole life on them. I know a guy in northern California whose house was featured on the cover of an alternative energy magazine, but these days, all three sources of power are not giving him enough to run his home. A refrigerator alone takes upwards of 700 watts. So even a 100 amp/hour storage battery can’t even hold a day’s worth of electric.

Nonetheless, for pumping water, and lighting your home, all three of those are a manageable expense in a prepping budget.

An X-Mas & Chanukah List from Grid Down (Prepping 101)
Right now is a great time to find deals on solar panels and wind turbines on Ebay and AliExpress. Just make sure you get the ones with 4 or 7 day shipping. China has mass protests going on right now so long term shipping is probably sketchy. Just do your homework about charge controllers, and check out my recent article on solar.

I recently covered an inexpensive LED solar system. And I also gave you guys an overview of what a solar system consists of in components. All of that stuff is on Ebay and Amazon. Once you understand it, there will be much less a chance of buying something for your family that you not be able to use.

I am working on an article and video for wind power right now. So stay tuned for that. But you can do the research yourself as well. There are tons of Black Friday deals on wind turbines right now, and many come with charge controllers and even dump loads, which I’ll explain the article. Just be careful right now with ordering things from China. It is popping off.


Holiday times are a great opportunity to skip the toys and superfluous nonsense, and buy the family a woodstove. You don’t have to have a huge budget. Ebay has a lot of rusty old woodstoves that work just fine. The gasket may need replacing, but the heat resistant rope is cheap and available. And if you work on drafting it properly, you won’t have to worry about much smoke in the house anyway. Just be careful with a good and easily cleaned chimney, because a build up of creosote can burn your house down.

A pellet stove with an electric auger is not what I would call a good choice for off-grid alternative heating. The point is to have a backup.

For a second choice, I have to choose coal. Recently I covered a tiny coal and inexpensive coal stove that can heat even a decent sized space In the article and video I show you how I figured out how to reliably light anthracite coal, which will easily burn overnight, and in a larger stove, for days. Anthracite burns clean, with no smoke whatsoever, so it is perfect for off-grid. And if you do the research, you may find that delivering several thousand pounds of coal to your home is both possible and affordable. It keeps forever, and it doesn’t invite termites into your space.

An X-Mas & Chanukah List from Grid Down (Prepping 101)
A coal stove is my surprising 2nd choice to a woodstove, and for many people it would be a first choice. Coal stoves need air from below, and they usually have a shaker grate to drain out the ashes as the coal burns. I figured out anthricite coal even, which is considered a clean fuel by the greenies, and it’s great for a prepper because no smoke.

Third for me is diesel even at $6 a gallon, but there are very few diesel options out there. The kerosene stoves from Kerosun/Kero World and others have fiberglass wicks, and they just don’t like diesel. So that leaves old heaters from Alladin, Perfection, and dozens of other names that have come and gone. I see Perfection heaters all the time on Ebay, and you have to find one that is whole, and that wasn’t converted into an electric lamp or something. Shipping right now is expensive, but everything you need or might need is expensive now.

An X-Mas & Chanukah List from Grid Down (Prepping 101)
This Perfection heater is currently on Ebay and will probably pop for under $200 with shipping. It uses a cotton wick which works great with diesel and home heating oil, and extra wicks are readily available online. If you are in the norhtheast on an oil burner, these are a no brainer. The newer Kero World heaters come with a fiberglass wick that does not like diesel and home heating oil, but perhaps the replacement wicks are cotton I don’t know.

I still have a couple Alladin Blue Flame heaters that I got when I covered this topic years ago on Prepping 101, and there is one of those on Ebay right now listed as “poor” condition, but looks whole to me.

The good news is that you can get wicks for all of those heaters at As long as the wick is cotton, it should burn diesel just fine, and even home heating oil. Otherwise you will have to have a source of K-1 Kerosene, also known as jet fuel.

Off The Wall

Look no further than the CHINESE EXPLODING GRAIN PUFFER! More than anything I wanted to expand your horizons about what could be considered a prepper tool. It’s pretty nifty.

An X-Mas & Chanukah List from Grid Down (Prepping 101)
If you are looking for a gift for the guy or girl who has everything, I can assure you that they don’t have this popper. It is found in Chinese villages as like a street vendor thing, and these small working models are kept in Chinese households as a sign of wealth and prosperity.

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