It doesn’t matter how prepared you are; when SHTF comes, there are going to be things that you are going to need which are outside your stockpiles.

Often these will be the raw materials to construct other projects to aid in your continued survival, which would have been impractical to keep a supply on hand.

So once law and order have broken down, and we find ourselves in a proper post-apocalyptic situation, it is time to get creative with our resource gathering.

I have spent a fair bit of time thinking about good spots to scavenge after SHTF, especially when watching post-apocalyptic tv shows and movies.

Disclaimer: Scavenging in any of the places listed below is illegal. It should only be considered in situations where there is a complete breakdown of society. What I present here is a thought experiment regarding what would be the best locations to scavenge in the unlikely event of a widespread apocalypse.

Industrial Areas

If you require any materials for a construction project or DIY survival items, start by scavenging through the yards and shops of the nearest industrial parks.

There is likely to be a wide range of businesses with an equally wide range of materials ready for scavenging.

Related: 11 Looter-Attracting Items You Should Immediately Hide When SHTF

You’ll have access to many grades and sizes of steel, parts, hardware, lumber, and equipment.

Since these areas will not have large stockpiles of food, medical supplies, or water, you will probably have a limited amount of competition as you scavenge for building materials.

Waste Transfer Stations / Garbage Dumps

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. If you are looking for items commonly tossed in the trash, the local transfer station or garbage dump may be worth a look.

If you can find the specific items you need, you could find things that can be repurposed to suit your needs. Many of these places have recycling areas where you can find metal, plastics, wood, or other valuable materials.

Hospitals/Clinics/ Doctors’ Offices / Veterinary Clinics

These locations will be stripped of all medications and narcotics almost immediately. The masses of looters will empty all the shelves probably on the first day of a disaster.

The Best Places For Scavenging After SHTF

However, even when the staff of these places has abandoned the building, there will be many medical supplies left over that the average looter will not see as having any value.

Bandages, gauze, dressings, suture kits, IV bags, blankets, pillows, and bedding will be left behind.

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If you find that you need supplies to treat wounds, checking these spots is probably going to be an excellent option to restock your supplies.

Self-Storage Facilities

Self-storage facilities have hundreds of storage lockers which usually contain people’s useless or unwanted stuff. However, in an SHTF situation, you might be able to find items that you could repurpose or use for barter.

Also, people will need warm clothes and blankets when the grid goes down, and there should be a lot of them in storage lockers.

Distribution Centers

The Best Places For Scavenging After SHTFYou should know where the major distribution centers are in your local area.

Even though they will be ransacked within a day or so of the onset of an SHTF scenario, there will still be goods that looters leave behind, which may be helpful.

For example, think of all the products your local Amazon distribution center has on their shelves. Most of these would seem to be useless to people who are starving, but to preppers with full bellies, the discarded goods signal endless possibilities.


These will be hit by looters almost immediately as well. Still, they will probably leave behind shelf-stable foods they cannot prepare because they need an off-grid cooking method.

Flour and other dry goods, oils, spices, and other goods will probably be left behind by looters.

Ports And Airports

The Best Places For Scavenging After SHTFThe goods that come into our country need to pass through either airports or ports before they get to the store shelves. As a result, there will be thousands of containers that the average person would not think to check. This could potentially leave hundreds of thousands of items you may find helpful after SHTF.


Most schools will have emergency supplies, fire extinguishers, first aid supplies, and other valuable items that most people would overlook.

Related: 50 High Value Items To Stockpile For When SHTF

In addition, high schools will often have metal shops, woodworking shops, kitchens, and automotive shops, which would contain tools, parts, and other items that you would find helpful.

Schools will also be another location that a lot of people would overlook in their quest for supplies.

Hardware Stores

The Best Places For Scavenging After SHTFWhen the local hardware store is looted, those doing the looting will be looking to grab whatever they can carry, which looks valuable.

They will ignore the nails, screws, bolts, lumber, and other items you need to build whichever DIY survival project you wish.

The items for maintaining and repairing your home’s plumbing and electrical will also be largely untouched by the looting public.


For the most part, the retail stores inside of a mall will contain little in the way of useful goods.

That being said, if you are scavenging for raw materials to make clothing, looking for things to repurpose, or need a functional pair of shoes, the mall might be worth a look.

Most malls will be stripped of jewelry, electronics, and anything else of monetary value in the first few days of a disaster.

Imagination is the only thing that is going to inhibit your scavenging options after SHTF.

It is well worth your time to keep your eyes open now, so that you can find and make mental notes of locations where you would target in the event that you need to scavenge some supplies.

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