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.
he bald snow tires on my ’06 Accord struggled to achieve the grip needed to summit Len Pense’s long, steep driveway. If the grid goes down the way he thinks it will, you’d need a tank to ascend the eroding gravel path because the 83-year-old Army veteran knows exactly which oak tree he’d fell across the route, lest the marauders come for his cache of, among many other things, 44 raised-bed gardens of food. One way in, one way out; that’s what sold Pense and his wife on the 21-acre hilltop property in Strafford some 25 years ago.
One thing younger preppers may want to consider too is babies. Assuming prescription birth control will not be available, it will be important to have other methods on hand to ensure that you can prevent pregnancy (if you want to). Additionally, some people may want to network with local midwives and doulas (or even become one yourself!). This is an invaluable skill to have in an emergency SHTF scenario. Every family is different, but as a currently pregnant woman, it’s something that I’m thinking about right now. 🙂
During his 45th Infantry Division, Pense taught field wiring, instructing G.I.s on setting poles and stringing wires to rig together a communications network from scratch. After the war, he was an electronics engineer in the private sector, sometimes on military contracts, learning the frailty of the nation’s power grid firsthand. On one government contract, he witnessed a nuclear warhead knock out power in Hawaii after detonating high above the Pacific.
Perhaps for that reason, many of the practices that bloggers like Luther and Nygaard describe as prepping seem to blend into the world of homesteading, a brand of self-reliance more closely associated with living off the land. According to Gaye Levy, the Arizona-based writer behind the blog Strategic Living and the founder of Backdoor Survival, one of the longest-running woman-run sites in the space, the two aren’t exactly the same thing. “I think prepping is pretty clear: You’re preparing for a disruptive event that’s gonna turn your day-to-day world upside down. Homesteaders typically will have a plot of land. They attempt to grow their own food, they raise farm animals, and that is their job.”
It is has been a couple of years since I wrote about some of the mistakes and goofs we all make while prepping. Since then, a lot of things have changed. For one, the mainstream media has caught on to “three-day kit” mania which means more and more families are now ready for short term disasters. On the other hand, threats from wacko foreign leaders have escalated to the point where terrorist-driven EMPs, pandemics, and outright wars have become more of a possibility, if not a probability. Talk about two very different sides of the same coin!
The one thing which hits home to me is a reminder to keep following what Frank Herbert wrote in his Dune series. “Fear is a mind killer.” A little fear helps motivate but we, humans, seem to overdo even or especially in our emotions. Whether it’s the ‘net’ or the news, it seems people want to push that fear button to motivate others. So now when it happens, I teach people to take 3 deep breaths in and out s l o w l y. This allows the dino rational self to catch up with the emotional lizard. Having experienced a few ‘events’ in life. This had helped me through. Thanks for the list. Am going through these as an evaluation 😉 and reminder.
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.
And what better place to prepare than the Ozarks? Strafford got 47 inches of rain last year; the mean temperature was a mild 59 degrees. The Springfield Plateau has a 200-foot-deep aquifer for when rainwater gets scarce. The region is largely insulated from natural disasters—save the odd tornado or benign rumbling from the Bootheel’s New Madrid Fault Line—and the low population density of like-minded folks means preppers, survivalists and homesteaders get left alone. A Lebanon real estate agent tells me remote acreage is an increasingly hot commodity for city dwellers eager to go native. Conversations with locals and time spent on survivalism forums reveal a religious cohort who believe the Ozarks are God’s country—sacred ground upon which one can wage a last stand against the sins of a rapidly globalizing world.
People who carefully and painstakingly prepare for mass extinction don't exactly seem like the type of people who plan great parties. At least, with those vast collections of guns, ammo, and other terrifying armaments, I certainly hope not. Then again, I suppose everyone will need a drink or 10 to get through the inevitable horrors of forever navigating the "what's for dinner" question without Seamless or, you know, realizing that your urban-dwelling family members will probably never arise from the blasted pit of rubble where their apartments once stood.
The Modern Lifestyle Prepper is another one to avoid. It’s not just a game of stock up enough to maintain creature comforts until normalcy is restored. A genuine situation will require the skills and abilities survive with what is available. Can you build a shelter, how long will it take, can you make fire, do you have basic medical knowledge, can you actually trap an animal, can you walk into the woods right now and get dinner?
However, if some tales of survivalist stockpiling are to be believed, our nutty neighbors have enough of the social lubricant squirreled away to hold the most epic end-of-the-world-party of all time outside of Edgar Wright's social circle. It might not be practical, but who needs practical when you and everyone you know is doomed to die from radiation poisoning or cancer?
“I’m actually responsible, indirectly, for the end of the meetups,” Dr. Shealy tells me inside his Springfield clinic off Chestnut Expressway, and not just because he thinks the earth is more than 6,000 years old. (Andrew: says you can’t trust anyone who believes that.) He sports a red crewneck, navy blue sweatpants, a stretchy metal watch and rectangular glasses. The 85-year-old—he’s more energetic than most people half his age—specializes in holistic medicine; the first thing he asks me is my birthday, and do I know what my astrological sign means. On my way out, he asks if he can hug me, and when I oblige, a toothy grin pulls wide the spritely doctor’s cheeks. “I believe it’s an important part of human contact,” he says.
Preparing for catastrophic or short range survival is extremely personal and most of us keep it tight to our chest. I think PowderKeg says it best – Invisible and then Nuttus who knows that not all of us are the same skill or wherewithal stage, yet as a TEAM we shore up each others weaknesses, learn off each others strengths and it is a continual building process going forward.
It was not by chance, Mr. Edwards said, that prepping first took root in New York in the black community: he himself is black, and in the 1990s he became a frequent guest on “The Open Line,” a call-in radio show on the “urban adult” station WBLS. Around the same time, he started giving classes in disaster preparation at the National Action Network, the Rev. Al Sharpton’s civil rights group. “Obviously,” Mr. Edwards said, “because of our history, black folks know that bad things happen.”
If you want to keep the entire home running without any disturbance during a power out situation, there is a huge 20,000w home standby generator by Kohler powered by natural gas or propane and is an asset to a property and starts whenever the power goes out. However, these are quite an investment. There are options for cheaper generators that use fuel such as a Champion 3800w generator which, while much cheaper, make a tonne of noise, which I wasn’t into when shopping around for a generator to add to my prepper gear.
"This fire starter just exudes value. If this unit was only the fire starter itself, it would still be more than worth the sub-seven dollar price point. Throwing in the compass, whistle, and very comfortable handle and in my humble opinion, this is one of the better survival values on the market. Is the compass tiny? Yes. Does said compass sometimes need some coaxing? Yes. Is it better than a dedicated, large-dialed compass? Of course not. Is it better than not having a compass with you at all? Of course, it is."
Rather, this preppers supplies and gear list is meant to cover all of the items that a normal person would need in order to survive virtually any disaster. Since there are multiple items which can perform the same task (such as matches and a flint both being able to start fires), I’ve divided up the items into categories by the survival task that they perform.
Still, there’s quite a bit of overlap between the two. “There are preppers that are homesteaders, and there are homesteaders that are preppers,” says Levy, who identifies more as a straight-ahead prepper. “If there’s any difference, it’s just a difference in the environment in which we live. If there’s commonality, [it’s that] we still all have this real need to be self-sufficient and not dependent upon others, no matter what happens.”
Perhaps the most unusual thing about the female prepper lifestyle is that it suggests a counterintuitive movement through time: a return to a slower, more elemental way of life, one that eschews the conveniences of modern consumer society in favor of the empowerment that comes from doing things yourself. Some of the women I spoke to said being a prepper helped them carry on the same old-fashioned life skills — like gardening, canning, and smart budgeting — that helped their mothers and grandmothers during the Great Depression. Others harkened back to the homesteaders of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, whose pioneering settlement and cultivation of the Great Plains form the backbone of the American myth of self-reliance.
But that image is fostered in part by the public's biggest route to being made aware of preppers: Doomsday Preppers, which aired on the National Geographic channel. (The show has also infiltrated the academic literature, as Mills cites a study that analyzed the psychology of people who appeared on the show.) Although Mills doesn't explicitly say it, it's reasonable to wonder whether one can get an accurate cross-section of the prepper community purely from watching people who were chosen to appear on the show based on whether they make for good television.
Regarding the general category of water purification, you have essentially combined reverse osmosis with UV disinfection PLUS the necessity for solar and/or gas generated power. Take away the essential electrical power and you still have to boil your water. If you do the math, you could invest up to $2500 for your version of water purification. That’s a “big ticket” indeed. Once again, there are abundant information sources that provide instruction for long term water purification that cost far less.
As with everything in life, don’t take prepping to the excess. Hoarding is not the same as prepping and the accumulation of useless or marginally useful items can take up every spare corner of your home or apartment. Although it is wise to keep extra on hand for barter purposes. be realistic about your ability to prep for the long term while maintaining a clutter free home enviroment.
I would like to add, buying too much of something at one time. I have lots of water and food stored. Toothpaste, soap, qtips and such. How much medical and bandaid? NONE. Make a list most definitely. But include stuff you HAVEN’T BOUGHT yet. Checkmark items you have with the amounts. Also I have 3 non bullet weapons and have a 4th on the way. A regular size crossbow (with a broad head it will penetrate any class of body armor) A pistol crossbow which is actually more powerful than the large one, but you can’t get broad head for them. They will however penetrate 3/4 pressed plywood particle board. Good for human threat or rabbit get. A wrist rocket slingshot with “hunting” rubbers and I’m waiting on a new item called a “Pocket Shot”. It’s a new type of slingshot that self centers the ammo. You can fire almost twice the ammo in the same amount of time. All 4 will be valuable to be quiet during the first month. After the hordes have been thinned, noise from a gun will bring less attention.
Great list 🙂 The only thing I would suggest to add would be applied knowledge- for example there is no point in having seeds if you don’t know how to grow what you’ve got. Even if you don’t have access to land or a garden atm try growing crops in pots. Learn about the different soil and nutrient requirements for your selected plants, how to make fertlisers etc. If you are collecting tools know what to do with them, if you have info on foraging apply it now or go on foraging walks with local groups. Whatever skills you think… Read more »
Personal defense items – such as rifles and heavy firearms – are going to be increasinly hard to manage the farther you move from steady supplies. Ironically, it’s firearms that help acquire more food, provide personal protection, and deter others from attacking. In a SHTF scenario, heavy armament is only good within fortified areas. If you want to stay highly mobile, switch down to a .22LR polymer rifle such as the Savage survival rifle or similar. Lightweight, collapsible, and perfect for hunting game. Loaded with subsonic rounds, it can also be a lot more efficient than heading off a target with a loud 30-06.