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.
I don’t encounter any preppers at the school that day, but I do meet women from all over the United States and with all kinds of reasons for wanting to learn how to cut and drill wood, including a young yoga studio employee from Wisconsin who is building some custom shelving for her kitchen appliances and cookbooks, as well as two seniors from Washington, DC, who want to build a set of matching cabinets to house their prized collection of vintage wine glasses. Down by the garden, I meet a pair of women from Missouri who are hoping to go into business flipping houses. “We’re tired of waiting for our husbands to do it,” one of them says.
Despite a lull following the end of the Cold War, survivalism has gained greater attention in recent years, resulting in increased popularity of the survivalist lifestyle, as well as increased scrutiny. A National Geographic show interviewing survivalists, Doomsday Preppers, was a "ratings bonanza" and "the network's most-watched series", yet Neil Genzlinger in The New York Times declared it an "absurd excess on display and at what an easy target the prepper worldview is for ridicule," noting, "how offensively anti-life these shows are, full of contempt for humankind."
For Erica Nygaard, an Iowa-based mother of four who started storing and growing her own food after a divorce 11 years ago, the desire to prepare for the future stems directly from the vulnerability one can feel as a single mom. “When you become a single parent, that weight really hits you: I am completely responsible [for my children,] no matter what. No matter what happens, these four people have to be taken care of.”
Not surprisingly, the storm attracted numerous recruits to his group and joined a list of totemic prepping moments that already included the much-hyped Y2K fiasco, 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. I learned that New York Preppers prep for reasons as varied as their anxieties and experience. “It was a pragmatic response to certain things I know,” said Robert Segal, a wine salesman between jobs, who once worked as an electrical technician on a nuclear submarine. “As an engineer, I’m sort of a student of how things fall apart.”
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.
Personal hygiene is even more important in emergency situations than during everyday life. We have so many conveniences at our disposal in our society. Yet many people don’t realize the challenges when those conveniences are no longer available. Personal hygiene is really about keeping clean and avoiding unsanitary conditions that can lead to illness.
With can foods, there seems to always be either a lot of fat, sodium or just a tonne of preservatives in the foods. I live quite an active and healthy lifestyle and I generally eat quite healthy, so the reason I bought a dehydrator is so that I can take my own fruits, vegetables and my own cooked meals and dehydrate them for a later date. This works well for me as I find I am being a bit more frugal by taking my own easily made meals and snacks to work, outdoors and even having them when I am too lazy to cook at home. That, and anyone else in the family that enjoys snacks seems to like it as well.
If you spend enough time on the survivalist internet, you’ll stumble upon a number of woman-run blogs specializing in a softer side of prepping, one that combines aspects of survivalism, healthy eating, and home economics. They have names like Survival Mom, Apartment Prepper, and Organic Prepper and can boast Facebook and Pinterest followings in the tens and hundreds of thousands. Together with a number of online forums and private Facebook groups, they form the basis of a loose-knit community with a shared interest in a constellation of traditional and contemporary domestic practices, including long-term and short-term food storage, growing and preserving food, frugal grocery shopping, family first aid, and basic self-defense. It’s a community found primarily online, but it also includes the occasional in-person trade expo or foraging class. For Jennifer and other mothers who partake in this feminine strain of survivalism, being prepared is more than a means of shoring up for some unseen future disaster. It’s a form of self-empowerment in the present.
Prepping is more about planning, knowledge, and skills than actually purchasing a lot of useless gadgets. I walked away from the consumer lifestyle many years ago and now live on an off-grid homestead. That said, there are always items that preparedness-minded people, like myself, keep their eyes open for. We are always looking for good deals on all things canning, such as jars, lids, pressure canners, and water bath canners. Or perhaps a higher-ticket item, such as a food dehydrator.
Hopefully, you will be able to bug in for an extended period of time. Having bottled water stored away will help ease the burden when you are getting your footing in tough times. You should have a minimum of two weeks’ worth of bottled water stored away, but as much as a couple of months. Again, if the emergency is short-lived, this will be enough to get you through.
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.
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.”
After there’s no one left to text and no more Instagram, you can still look at your digital photos by charging up your phone with this solar powered charger and light. It takes 12 hours in the sun to juice up the Power+, then its LED light can shine for up to 150 hours, and it will charge up a smartphone in about two hours. It can also charge cameras, MP3 players, and tablets. Plus, for every unit sold, another is donated to a family living without electricity.
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.
For ideas, take a look at 12 Months of Prepping: One Month at a Time. Here you will find links to articles that take you though the process of gathering what you need in terms of supplies, gear, tasks, and skills to set you on a positive path of preparedness. It may not seem like a lot, but at the end of the year you will will be better prepared than 95% of your neighbors.
Keep in mind is that temperature fluctuations can be as bad as a sustained high temperature. I don’t claim to know the science but what I have found is that food stored at a constant 80 degrees will hold better than food stored at 30 in the winter and 90 in the summer. Anecdotally, this is especially true of canned goods I have stored in my home.
I’m sure I really don’t have to explain why a crossbow would make for a great prepper gear item to add to your stockpile. Hunting and defense applications when things get really bad – oh and regardless, practicing with one of these would be so much fun in and of itself. Regardless of prepping, this is one cool item to have and train yourself to use. As a side note, since we live in the UK, this one of the easiest long-range hunting tools we can obtain.
Practical Preppers, LLC is a survival and preparedness consultative company that sells products and services for those interested in advancing their skills and resources. Practical Preppers, Scott Hunt, or any of its affiliates provide these resources as is and under the protection of copyright. The website has been produced and is maintained by Rapptor Studios. Copyright 2015.