I had the blessing of knowing my grandparents who lived through the Depression. I was a prepper before it was a ‘thing’. I always had a pantry to rely on. When I actually ‘got into’ prepping, I went overboard, was a bit fanatical, and then I got burned out. Too many ‘doomsday’ articles and sites. I have since changed my approach to more of a ‘homesteader’ mindset. Homesteaders and preppers have a lot in common, and the ultimate goal is the same, to be more self sufficient.
It’s one thing to have solar panels, another to have a generator, and quite a remarkably nice thing once the best of both worlds are mixed. Yes, this is high up there on my dream wishlist. No, it’s not at all a necessity, but would it make life one heck of a lot easier if you had this even during a power outage – hell yes. Also – “It takes the same amount of time to charge your device from a Goal Zero power pack as it does from the wall.” How cool is that??
If the day of reckoning stretches on beyond a few months, however, the ability to grow one's own food will become paramount. Seeds and gardening tools, therefore, should be on everyone's doomsday supply list. Opt for so-called heirloom seeds. These seeds yield disease-resistant crops that produce yet more seeds season after season, unlike hybrid seeds used for mass-cultivated, commercial crops, which can develop into sterile plants.
I only recently got a cabin stove after a recommendation from another prepper as a way to cook without power or gas. Sure, it’s pretty easy to make a fireplace outdoors with bricks and place a grate over the top, but fire stoves are an innovative tool to regulate cooking temperature, boil water and cook meals indoors. Because of their enclosed design and external chimney, you can fix one indoors with a chimney leading to the outside and have an off-grid cooking platform indoors.
Jennifer didn’t get into prepping with a hurricane like Maria in mind. Her own personal SHTF moment — the calamity that spurred her to start stockpiling and growing food in the first place — was one that most people can relate to: the sudden closure of the law firm where she’d worked for several years. “We were down to only one income, so I said, ‘I have to really do something to help us get through this,’” Jennifer recalls.

I bought these candles after we experienced a prolonged power outage. We had headlamps that all had charged batteries so we used those to see in the dark. It became apparent to me that candles are nice because you can place them on a table and have permanent low light where you can sit and work. It is a lot more peaceful than the blinding light of headlamps shining on your face.
While close friends visiting my home might be allowed a look at my haphazard bug-out bag, I mostly kept quiet about prepping, aware of the embarrassment I was courting. It was, therefore, with a measure of relief that I found myself this month among brethren Preppers who intuitively understood my desire to have at hand a packed supply of power bars or a LifeStraw personal drinking tool. You do meet Preppers in New York who are preparing for extreme events like solar flares or an eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera, but most say their concerns are more immediate, more local: chief among them being terrorist attacks, natural disasters and economic collapse.
James England is a former United States Marine Signals Intelligence Operator and defense contractor with over two tours spread over the Al Anbar province and two more operating across Helmand and Baghdis. He is presently a writer focused on Western foreign policy and maintains an avid interest in firearms. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, he presently resides in New Hampshire – the “Live Free or Die” state. He is finishing up his first novel, “American Hubris”, which is set to hit shelves in Fall of 2015.
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