Richard Mitchell Jr., professor emeritus of sociology at Oregon State University, is probably America’s greatest academic authority on prepping. He says modern-day survivalism as we know it is a relatively recent phenomenon, born out of the U.S. real estate boom of the late 1960s and early ’70s and the concurrent rise of guns-and-ammo magazines. Together, he says, these developments gave rise to a baby-boomer fantasy: moving to your second home in the country and learning to protect yourself in the great outdoors.
It may not be legit prepper gear, but for the money a pair of Crocs is an excellent value as a camp and walking shoe. Sure, they’re ugly as sin. So were my last three girlfriends, and like them I came to love the Crocs through long experience. They go for about $30, are easy to put on, keep on, dry out, and maintain. Even though I’d much rather have a good pair of boots, Crocs are a great “prepper” shoe since they’re light, cheap, durable, keep the top of your feet from getting sunburned, and are an ENORMOUS relief when you have a blister that moleskin won’t handle (ask me how I know). Get the ones WITHOUT the holes though. If you need more airflow drill a couple holes on the sides, not the top. Also, unlike your “go boots” which you have to wear occasionally to keep to the shape of your feet, you don’t have to break them in. Leave them tied to the outside of your BOB and when “IT” goes down, just grab your bag and head out.
It turns out that when you're down to your last moldy hunk of bread and giardia-laced mud puddle, letting it all melt away in a cloud of smoke for a few precious moments can mean the difference between giving up and giving the rat (eating) race another go. If history has anything to say, it's more common than you think for people to happily give up MREs and gunlord harems in return for hastening their ends with carcinogens wrapped up in tidy paper packages. In traumatic situations like war, cancer sticks are often valued more highly than food. Even in the current (more or less) pre-apocalyptic global economy, cigarettes are one of the stable forms of currency.
A portable, 2.6 pound stove fueled by naturally occurring scraps sure would come in handy after society breaks down. Voila: the BioLite Camp Stove. Feed it biomass like twigs, pinecones, or wood pellets, and the resulting smokeless fire from this portable grill can get a pot of water boiling in under five minutes. It also generates enough electricity to charge a mobile phone or other gadgets with a USB port. Included is a USB-charged FlexLight, a light with bendable stem that can be positioned to illuminate the cook surface.
Remember 2012? The Mayan calendar predicted the world would end in December. Doomsday Preppers premiered in February. The country was in an apocalypse mood, and thanks to Finelli, Springfield’s former Boy Scouts and ex–Tea Partiers came out of the shadows to mix it up with doctors and dentists. They had little else in common, but to borrow Finelli’s term, they were preparedness-minded. Springfield, MIss community was born.
This portable water filter and purification system lets thirsty doomsday survivors drink water found anywhere. Fill up the bottle at a stream, press for 15 seconds, and proceed with hydration. The water will be clear of viruses, bacteria, protozoa, particulates, chemicals, and heavy metals. One filter is good for 300 uses. After that, if you haven’t stockpiled them, you’re on your own.
Several years ago, a New York City firefighter named Jason Charles read the novel “One Second After,” by William R. Forstchen, and decided to change his life. In the book, an electromagnetic pulse goes off and sends the United States back into the Dark Ages; in its foreword, Newt Gingrich writes that this technology is not only real but terrorists know about it. “It was pretty much a green light for me to start prepping,” Charles says. The latest episode of The New Yorker’s “Annals of Obsession” video series centers on doomsday preppers—people who aim to equip themselves with the skills and materials they would need to survive a world-ending calamity. Charles is now the organizer of the group N.Y.C. Preppers, which teaches city dwellers how to fend for themselves. He says that he has stockpiled enough supplies that, if the worst came to pass, he would be able to be self-reliant for a year and a half.
For now, he broadcasts Monday through Friday, 9 to 11 a.m., and Finelli invites “instructors”—doctors, dentists, survivalists, a man who carries no identification, an Australian woman who talks about seceding from the government—anyone who has something relevant to preparedness. To Finelli, there’s little that isn’t relevant. He doesn’t sell merchandise or accept donations, as fellow GCN hosts such as Jones do.