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.
In the previous decade, preparedness consultant, survival bookseller, and California-based author Don Stephens popularized the term retreater to describe those in the movement, referring to preparations to leave cities for remote havens or survival retreats should society break down. In 1976, before moving to the Inland Northwest, he and his wife authored and published The Survivor's Primer & Up-dated Retreater's Bibliography.
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.

The stove I have in my prepper gear is a Camp Chef Alpine which is also one of the more popular brands because of its good price, installation, and reliable platform to cook on. These stoves are also very popular with the hunting community, who take these out to fixed campsites when they are out for days or weeks and use the cooker for pan frying fish, boiling water, or cooking steaks from any game they have hunted.
Here’s an idea that is very useful. I found at the dollar store some space bags. I used one per person and filled it with winter gear, a multi tool, matches/lighter, a small solar light, a bit of emergency food, an emergency blanket, some basic first aid supplies, etc., then removed the air. If you pack it right, you will be able to fold it over and (I used a bungee cord) place over a strap for easy carry. Now you have an instant (and weather proof) instant kit. I also did this with a pillow (small personal one), blanket, sheet, towel, etc. Not only are they portable and protected, they store in less space.
Also in 2011, Finelli started running the Get Prepared Expo series at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds, bringing in hundreds of exhibitors and more than 70 preparedness seminars. Before doors opened, he’d host a get-together at Ziggie’s Cafe on North Glenstone, which he soon moved to Jimmy’s Egg on East Battlefield to accommodate the crowd. At Jimmy’s Egg, Finelli found another platform from which to preach preparedness. He started drawing a crowd—more than 330 on expo weekends—so Finelli made Jimmy’s Egg a weekly affair. On Monday nights, his radio instructors showed up or Skype’d in to mold the minds of 50 to 100 students. The meetups—a name borrowed from Ron Paul’s 2012 community get-togethers—were also social events, although Finelli kept the BS to a minimum. 
And so, while I don’t think I’m newly paranoid, I am newly...prepared. Fortunately, the internet provides both camaraderie and online shopping for people who can vividly imagine literally every terrible scenario, and I quickly found myself down a rabbit hole of opinions on what I, my husband, and two small kids need, for, say, two weeks in an apartment with no access to food, water, heat, or medical attention. Or what we’ll need for a fast skedaddle out of town. But I persevered, and bought what I think is the bare minimum for health and safety in the event of a disaster. Below, everything I have in either my emergency supply kit or our “go bags,” or both.

What Jennifer, a self-described prepper who declined to share her last name for security reasons, didn’t anticipate was the sheer force of Maria’s rains and 155 mile per hour winds — and how little the storm shutters would do to protect her home. “I was taking water out of the bedrooms, the living rooms, the hallways,” she says. “The house was flooded.” At one point, a piece of debris flew off a neighbor’s roof and got stuck between the outside wall of Jennifer’s pantry and the storm shutters, ripping off a pair of windows in the process.
Another best practice is to store a variety of foods in a single bucket.  So, for example, instead of creating a bucket filled with a single food type, create a bucket that include a variety of foods plus appropriate condiments.  If you are ever forced to use your food storage, you can pull a single bucket with everything you need to get by instead of riffling through a dozen or more buckets to gather what you need for meal-preparation.
This one surprised me that it showed up as one of the top sellers but I’ve actually had a few people in the past few weeks asking me about it. This particular one gets stellar reviews too. If you need a bug out bag, this is a great choice. A lot of people get a bag like this for the quality and details and just change the color. It’s pretty easy to do, and that way you’re not skimping on function and form by choosing something else that’s in the color you’re looking for. Here’s a pretty lengthy video on it:
Yup, rocket stove DIYs are easy to find, but to each his own and if I can afford to spend $150 on a good knife, I can also afford to spend the same on a rocket stove that’s good looking, lightweight, extremely portable and a one-time buy. It’s the kind of thing I wouldn’t mind pulling out in front of the sheeple to have a BBQ or go camping with, and that makes me happy one way or another. Just like the rain barrel, I could DIY one myself, but it’s unlikely to look even a fraction as good (especially with my incredibly poor DIY skills), and so I’d rather just buy one and be done with it.

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’s Doomsday Clock time again. On Jan. 26, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its annihilation estimation to 2.5 minutes to midnight, meaning the group believes we’re closer to oblivion that we’ve been since 1953-60. This ritual has been going on since 1947. That’s 70 years of scary (and sometimes less than scary) analyses of global threats.

Ned in the comments reminded me that a bike really should be on this list. Of course, I don’t really need to say, but a good mountain bike is incredibly useful in a SHTF situation where fuel is hard to get. Ned mentioned that it’d be a good idea to couple the bike with a carrying rack on the front or back, and if you can, an electric generator. I think that’s a pretty damn great idea; only problem is I haven’t managed to find any electric generators for bikes that actually have good reviews. If you know of one, please recommend one down in the comments section.


Purchasing survival gear is a necessary part of the prepping process but it should not be done to the exclusion of food, water, and medical supplies.  The exception to this rule is water purification and fire-making tools both of which can be acquired for very little cost. For example, consider pool shock for water treatment plus a magnesium fire tool and dryer lint for fire-making.
Obviously, solar panels by themselves are quite useful things to have, and since both Broadwing and Ned in the comments suggested that Goal Zero is quite overpriced, I’d be remiss to leave out mentioning another, more price-sensitive option. Ned recommended Aukey as a brand that makes solar power equivalents to Goal Zero gear for far cheaper. In his words, Aukey “make the exact same thing for a fraction of the cost.”
It’s impossible to carry all the food you will need for a week unless you’re eating very high density proteins like nuts.  Nuts and dried meat are two of the easiest off-the-cuff meals.  Canned food has a lot of water that is wasted during the cooking process.  Stay away from heavily flavored or salted nuts.  The amount of salt present in the unsalted nut mixes is still sufficient enough to replace electrolytes.
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