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Pat I felt the same way you did about becoming a prepper. One day something inside of me said ok look, it’s time to start making a list and to get going on this endeavor. I started with the basics. I have been prepping for about a year + and have collected quite a lot of supplies. I educated myself in ways to store food. I am a You Tube watching fool, always looking at videos on how to do this or that. I’d like to know how to meet others who are prepping as well. I don’t really know… Read more »
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.”
Gerald Celente, founder of the Trends Research Institute, noted how many modern survivalists deviate from the classic archetype, terming this new style "neo-survivalism"; "you know, the caricature, the guy with the AK-47 heading to the hills with enough ammunition and pork and beans to ride out the storm. This [neo-survivalist] is a very different one from that".
Of course, one of the most rewarding things about learning to make something with your own hands is that you can pass that know-how to other people. As students put the finishing touches on their shelving units and sawhorses, I get to chatting with Kathleen Lokey, a flannel-clad farmer from Greenville, Tennessee, who works for a nonprofit called Rural Resources. Through a series of workshops and training programs, the organization equips low-income, food-insecure teens in her area with the skills they need to take care of their nutritional needs, including many of the old-timey ones Daisy Luther teaches: growing their own fresh fruit and produce, canning, pickling, and making jams.
Yet the preppers he worked with are in many ways not what most stereotypes suggest, Huddleston adds. They are generally well-educated and fully employed: “Lots of tech, computer programmers, web developers, that kind of thing,” he says. Most of them care a great deal about giving back to the world. They host information sessions on how to deal with radiation poisoning, for example, or teach people how to make “bug-out bags” (backpacks that contain emergency items for 3–5 days) in case of evacuation. Even though many of them are personally motivated by ideology, they are careful about staying out of political debates, explains Huddleston.
Whether Ancestral Puebloans had any preppers among them is unknown. But Kohler points out that in one fundamental way their response to disaster echoes our own: “People are really reliant on each other. It’s not just one household, one family against the climate, against the world. It’s communities, societies working together that will make for our persistence or our failure to persist.”
I found this practicality attractive. I liked how Preppers were given to debate (bear spray or baseball bats? Water purification or water filtration?) and how they were versed in esoteric areas of knowledge (fish antibiotics, New York City knife laws). I was especially enamored of the jargon: “GOOD” (Get Out of Dodge) or “TEOTWAWKI” (The End of the World as We Know It). And yet, I must confess, there were moments that gave me pause.
Popular at this particular show were bug-out bags, the vendors tell me, because the casual interloper can purchase a lot of peace of mind all at once. For $449, Lenexa, Kansas retailer Game Plan Experts sells a bag with waterproof matches, a flint fire-starter, energy bars, utensils, a camp stove, water pouches and filtration, a first-aid kit, masks, a survival whistle, a pry bar, a folding shovel, an emergency blanket, toilet paper, a toothbrush, a hand-crank radio, survival candles and more. For the über paranoid, they’ll find a discreet contractor in your area to dig a hole in your yard and install a doomsday bunker.
However, a few unintentional similarities to the Quiverfull movement doesn't mean that preppers can't still care about safe sex. Hunting, canning, and digging your own latrines does nothing to make the threat of an STD less real. After all, gonorrhea and genital warts are going to be a whole lot harder to treat without reliable access to medical care. And there must be at least a few survivalists out there rational enough not to want to endure the horrors of premodern pregnancy and birth unless absolutely necessary.
Another key difference is that the preppers didn't have any specific expectations for a particular disaster that's likely to happen. Some of them lived in flood-prone areas but would invariably mention additional fears like terrorism or outbreaks of new diseases. And for many of them, those risks didn't produce a sense that disaster was inevitable. Preparing was more a just-in-case activity. As Mills concluded, "Their concerns tend to emerge in response to numerous disaster risks that are widely reported and recognized in wider American culture."
Dozens of websites and books offer advice on supplies to have on hand and in stock if "the end of the world as we know it" – TEOTWAWKI, as it's known in survivalist circles – comes to pass. Here, then, is a rundown of the supplies you'll need to ensure that this proverbial "end of days" is not an end for you and yours, but rather a new beginning. [Could Cockroaches Really Survive a Nuclear Blast?]