What programs like Doomsday Preppers have accomplished, or at least contributed to, is turning sometimes well-informed, sometimes totally unwarranted paranoia into a booming prepper-industrial complex. Each year, swap meets pack hundreds of convention centers and fairgrounds across the nation—they’re like camping shows with a dose of military surplus and hands-on instructional sessions. The September 2017 Kansas City Survival Expo & Gun Show, for instance, had tips on seed saving, “Overcoming 900 Health Diseases” and “A Devastating Street Self-Defense System.” The latter was taught by Norman Cantwell, who inspired Patrick Swayze’s character in Roadhouse. You get the feeling that he and Steven Seagal would be friends.
And now, there are Democrats. Fear of the Trump administration is largely responsible for an urban and liberal renaissance within prepping; left-leaning Facebook groups and urban survivalism YouTube channels brim with freshly paranoid Americans who attend the same expos, talk the same shop and wipe with the same bulk supply of toilet paper as the conservatives who voted the other way. That said, I met no openly liberal preppers in Springfield.
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.
I have also heard that a lot of homesteaders stock an air rifle in their prepper gear as it is an easy-to-use gun with very cheap ammunition and much fewer regulations on it. Some time ago I came across a prepper who had a Gamo Hornet Air Rifle in his prepper supply. He said that while this was for allowing him to hunt small and big game, it was also a great weapon for home defense.
Comparable to the SOL, this does the trick for less money. It is a bit heavier than the SOL (which I also have) but it does the same thing. I have this one in a get home bag and I feel comfortable that it will not fail when needed. One tip, keep your head outside of the bag if at all possible. The moisture in your breath will condensate and cause wetness in the bag.
Jim: do you have a book about surviving in the woods? I understand your recommendation to avoid gong it alone, but simply cannot stomach the idea of crapping in a bucket in a boarded up house, surrounded by humans in survival mode who are just waiting for the opportunity to kill me and my daughter and take everything we have.... The diseases that people have, ugh just all of it. We are woods people! Always will be. Far far away from others, far far away from help too... Sigh.
As someone who reads a lot on the internet, you have likely come across many authorities with “expert” advice on one topic or another. This is where the gray matter between your ears becomes the most important tool in your box of prepper skills. Think it through before you unilaterally apply someone’s expertise to your own situation. Let me repeat: this includes advice and suggestions from this website!
As I got to know him better, Mr. Edwards told me the story of his own interest in disaster preparation, which began, he said, in 1972, when he went to see “Deliverance” on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. (“I thought it was a camping movie.”) He entered the theater as a relatively normal 10-year-old, but emerged as a Prepper: “I said to myself, ‘Gee, I should get to learning everything possible to prevent that situation from occurring.’ ”
The other thing I want to point out is that there is a bit of redundancy to the solution and resolution of some the listed prepper mistakes. It stands to reason that a mistake doing one thing will overlap with something else, and so, for the purpose of this article, I felt it was important to maintain those small redundancies. Now that I think about that, isn’t that the prepper way?
What’s the bare minimum you need to navigate across land? For most people, that would be a compass and map. A basic road map is sufficient to get a rough approximation of the lay of the land. More detailed relief maps can help plan for elevation and estimate possible water sources but they also take up more room in your pack. Waterproofed or laminated maps are also extremely helpful. Lensatic compasses are the most reliable for little money. If possible, a compass and protractor are also extremely helpful for route planning. Obviously, not as essential but nonetheless useful.