To answer that question, I found myself in the Siloam Cafe in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, seated across from Martin Fletchall, a disabled veteran who says God called him and his family to the Ozarks from Montana. He prefers to be called Fletch. Fletch is in his 40s, wears a white beard, a camouflage hoodie and matching hat and orders toast, eggs and steak, which costs less than $4. He agreed to meet me after a few weeks of exchanging emails and vetting that I wasn’t actually a “social justice warrior.”
We have our core. They’ll buy. Cyber Monday is usually the big day for us, but it’s not as huge as you might think. It’s not like Amazon, you know what I mean? When the weekend is over, they’ll do over $10 billion or something. They’re so huge now! But yeah, there have always been ups and downs, business cycles. If we get a Democrat in 2020, business will pick up for us tremendously.
To find out, Mills placed ads on some popular prepper websites, recruited his cohort, and started his road trip. His goal wasn't a quantitative study; it was ethnography, which is largely talking to people, spending time with them, and seeing whether there are commonalities in how they think. It's important to note that regardless of how popular these prepper sites are, they probably won't produce a full cross-section of the prepper community, either, nor will selecting people based on willingness to talk to a researcher. That said, you'll still probably get more depth than you would by selecting for great TV.
Further interest in the survivalist movement peaked in the early 1980s, with Howard Ruff's book How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years and the publication in 1980 of Life After Doomsday by Bruce D. Clayton. Clayton's book, coinciding with a renewed arms race between the United States and Soviet Union, marked a shift in emphasis in preparations made by survivalists away from economic collapse, famine, and energy shortages—which were concerns in the 1970s—to nuclear war. In the early 1980s, science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle was an editor and columnist for Survive, a survivalist magazine, and was influential in the survivalist movement. Ragnar Benson's 1982 book Live Off The Land In The City And Country suggested rural survival retreats as both a preparedness measure and conscious lifestyle change.
Adherents of the back-to-the-land movement inspired by Helen and Scott Nearing, sporadically popular in the United States in the 1930s and 1970s (exemplified by The Mother Earth News magazine), share many of the same interests in self-sufficiency and preparedness. Back-to-the-landers differ from most survivalists in that they have a greater interest in ecology and counterculture. Despite these differences, The Mother Earth News was widely read by survivalists as well as back-to-the-landers during that magazine's early years, and there was some overlap between the two movements.
Revealingly, however, many doomsday preppers’ fears are not based on speculative, sci-fi-style catastrophes but on disasters that have already happened. “Watch a documentary about Katrina. Look at something about Sandy, years afterwards. Look at Puerto Rico right now,” Scott Bounds, a member of N.Y.C. Preppers, says. “You have to realize that people are not going to come take care of you. You really have to be able to take care of yourself.”
Is it stereotypical that the AARP crowd would be the ones to spend three hours talking about metal detectors and canning and caving at a Pizza Hut on a Monday night? Probably, but that’s what I bore witness to in this event room; its combination of exposed wood and stock-photo decor felt like an Olive Garden inside a pirate ship. Up front, the scraggly white-bearded, Bad Santa–lookalike Andrew: rested one foot on a chair, gripping the mic, just like Randall said he would be.
"So you know, I'm not a survivalist nor am I really very outdoorsy in general. I'm basically a relative novice prepper, but what I was looking for with this book was more like "have a plan after the plan" resource. I got to thinking that survival would be necessary after an emergency, but at some point, it would need to become how to live your life with whatever changes there had been in the world. So this was more like an "ok, I survived, what do I do now?" pick for me."
Some of us may prep a little and others may prep a lot. Along the way, we may make some of the mistakes I have listed above, and most assuredly there will be others. At the end of the day, however, we all want to live a life filled with growth, opportunity and the ability to take care of oneself physically, mentally and spiritually. To me, that is what prepping is all about, mistakes and all.
If you are bugging in over the long-term, you will need a water-collection system of some kind. A rain barrel is the simplest option. Be sure to have at least one or two of these on your property and you can capture rainwater. Even if you live in an apartment with a balcony, you can use a rain barrel to collect water. Just don’t catch it as runoff from the roof as most roofing tiles contain chemicals that can contaminate the water.
In the wake of these insights, I called a family friend in Ohio, himself half-a-Prepper, and he advised me to purchase a quantity of Silver Eagle coins as an inflation hedge, which I did. Not long after came the hundred-dollar, home-delivered month’s supply of freeze-dried food — in the standard and the vegetarian options — from Costco.com. I bought my wife, which is to say, myself, John Seymour’s homesteading classic, “The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It.” I began the conversation about acquiring a gun.
Don't worry about having lots of food when you first start out. The average American family has less than a weeks worth of food in their home. I highly recommend working towards having two weeks as a first goal. Look at what you already have and use. Determine what stores the best and start buying a little more of it each time you go to the store. Eat the oldest food so you rotate your stocks. I have over three months of food in my house by only using this method. This is one of the easiest things you can do to become more prepared today.
This 54” hickory survival staff is a multi-tool that can lend its carrier a super-tough silhouette while hiking desolate apocalyptic landscapes. With six lightweight stainless steel tool head attachments, the bearer is prepared for anything: it’s a fishing spear/frog gig, hunting spear, axe, saw blade, slingshot, and shovel. The staff breaks down to two pieces for portability in a pack or camping roll, and the set also includes a compass attachment, a rubber grip, and an allen key for changing the heads.
As I got to know him better, Mr. Edwards told me the story of his own interest in disaster preparation, which began, he said, in 1972, when he went to see “Deliverance” on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. (“I thought it was a camping movie.”) He entered the theater as a relatively normal 10-year-old, but emerged as a Prepper: “I said to myself, ‘Gee, I should get to learning everything possible to prevent that situation from occurring.’ ”
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This bug-out motorbike may be just what a city dweller needs to run for the hills, with its ability to weave through traffic around miles of cars with occupants also trying to escape. Its oversized universal rack accepts bolt-ons to mount survival gear or harnesses of the rider’s choice, and with the addition of two optional fuel tanks, this baby can go for 250-300 miles before you’ll have to battle other looters of abandoned vehicles to get more gas.
Your run-of-the-mill shoe stank might not pose much of a survival threat, but trench foot certainly will; baking soda is great at absorbing the moisture that might otherwise literally cause your feet to rot off your legs. As for the health of your teeth -- it will be pretty hard to get through your day's rations of homemade jerky and hardtack without some high-quality chompers. And you certainly don't want to rely on that pesky fluoride that will "kill your brain over time" (um, what?).
“That’s a major problem,” says Gene Louis, a New Jersey expat who attended his first meetup in 2013 after moving to Springfield to begin ventures in real estate brokerage and digital marketing. Plus, Jersey is expensive, and he doesn’t like the fact that its residents don’t pump their own gas. “You don’t know what people are going to define as a threat, don’t know what people at survival meetings are going to talk about,” he says. “You can’t prepare for 100 percent of what’s on that list—well, you’d need to be Donald Trump to afford to.”
Today, Luther says she keeps a pantry with three different levels of “defense.” The first consists of boxes of cereal, frozen foods, and other items you might fall back on if you couldn’t make it to the grocery store for a week or two. The second, her “short-term” food storage, includes canned goods and other items with a longer shelf life — “Stuff you’d use if perhaps you lost a stream of income and times were tight for a few months,” Luther explains. The third is her long-term food storage: Mylar bags full of dry goods like beans, rice, and wheatberries, as well as some freeze-dried fruits, vegetables, and meat. Layer three, she says, is for “a situation in which all hell has broken loose.”
OK, so you have decided that you want to take steps to protect your family from unseen events. You may not know what events to plan for or you could have a much defined idea of the threats you see, but regardless you recognize a need. There are people who come to the Prepper Journal after they read something on another prepping blog or they may have been visiting our site for a year. The newer visitors are usually just getting starting in this crazy world of Prepping and if they are anything like I was at the beginning, knowing where to start can be pretty daunting. Prepping isn’t the same for everyone but most people eventually look for a simple guideline to follow so I have pulled together this preppers list of supplies.
To the unprepared, the very word “prepper” is likely to summon images of armed zealots hunkered down in bunkers awaiting the End of Days, but the reality, at least here in New York, is less dramatic. Local Preppers are doctors, doormen, charter school executives, subway conductors, advertising writers and happily married couples from the Bronx. They are no doubt people that you know — your acquaintances and neighbors. People, I’ll admit, like myself.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in their "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign says that "the public should report only suspicious behavior and situations...rather than beliefs, thoughts, ideas, expressions, associations, or speech...". However, it is alleged that a DHS list of the characteristics of potential domestic terrorists used in law enforcement training includes "Survivalist literature (fictional books such as Patriots and One Second After are mentioned by name)", "Self-sufficiency (stockpiling food, ammo, hand tools, medical supplies)", and "Fear of economic collapse (buying gold and barter items)".
What’s the bare minimum you need to navigate across land? For most people, that would be a compass and map. A basic road map is sufficient to get a rough approximation of the lay of the land. More detailed relief maps can help plan for elevation and estimate possible water sources but they also take up more room in your pack. Waterproofed or laminated maps are also extremely helpful. Lensatic compasses are the most reliable for little money. If possible, a compass and protractor are also extremely helpful for route planning. Obviously, not as essential but nonetheless useful.