Becoming a Prepper

How To Get Started Once You've Decided To Become A "Prepper"

Decided that you'd like to become a prepper? Or maybe you just want to become a little more self-sufficient? There are a number of good reasons why a person would.

But how to get started?

Well, that depends on exactly what your level of commitment is! However, there are a few basics that we'll go over to get started becoming a prepper, survivalist or if one just wants to stop having to rely on so much besides themselves for their survival.

Prepper, Survivalist or Generally Crafty Person: Which Are You Looking To Be?

What sort of prepper do you want to be?

The terms "prepper," "survivalist" and so on imply a lot of different things, some of which aren't the most flattering.

A "prepper" could be someone stockpiling supplies in case of disaster like food, water, and other items. A "prepper" or "doomsday prepper" could also be preparing for the end of civilization.

The latter group is who you're encouraged to think of by television; the former is not.

A "survivalist" could likewise be nearly anyone. "Survival gear" could describes most of the stock at REI. A survivalist could describe someone looking to learn how to really live off the land, including identifying edible plants, learning to hunt and trap, build primitive shelters and so on. It could describe someone keeping emergency supplies on hand in case, again, of some sort of disaster preparedness.

Also, some people want to be a bit more self-sufficient. Our grandparents or great-grandparents relied on skills to make it through every day that are lost today, such as food preservation (canning, dehydrating, etc) and other skills of thrift (how many people change their own oil anymore?) that can save money or otherwise help greatly during hard times.

Why is this important? Because your goals determine what you need to do to achieve them. However, for the total newbie, these are some of the things you'll need to start obtaining.

First Among Prepper Supplies: Food, Water And Cooking

essential supplies for a prepper

Among all prepper supplies, creating a store of food and water is paramount. No matter what your motivation/end goal is, having adequate supplies of food and water in case of emergencies (or possible societal collapse) is vital.

You should have at least 2 weeks worth of water on hand, if not much more. If you have property where it's possible, look into having a well. Presume 1 gallon per person per day. For a couple, that's 28 gallons. A family of four, 56; you get the idea.

You also need to learn how to purify water and get supplies to do that with. Iodine is the classic one, but there are more recently devised water purifying water methods that work better and don't leave the aftertaste.

As to food, there are a few ways to go about it. First is to store canned goods, which is easy (you just need shelves) but requires a lot of space and aren't as portable as dried goods. Storing two weeks of food on hand is also a good idea, but larger stores can be created if desired. That is especially a good idea if planning for longer-term contingencies. A pantry, garage or root cellar can be devoted to food storage if desired.

You'll also want some cooking methods that don't depend on a powered kitchen. Some sort of gas-powered stove is a good start, but make sure you have plenty of fuel on-hand. Solar ovens are also popular in the prepper set, so look into those. If you have a remote location that you'll be fleeing to, keep a woodstove there.

Put Together A Bug Out Bag

have your bug out bag ready

A good bug out bag is a prepper essential, as well as a good disaster preparedness essential. However, what sort of bug out bag are you going to want to put together? That's the question.

With some people, it's a duffel or other piece of otherwise easily portable luggage with a small amount of essentials in it. The idea is to put in a change of clothes, maybe some food and water and a few other sundries to throw in the car and get to safety.

Other people put together an expedition pack, capable of carrying enough gear to live in the woods almost indefinitely. Other people select something in between.

You'll have to figure out which is most appropriate. If your plan is to get out into the backcountry on foot then you'll want to opt for a larger pack, but with plenty of supplies for staying safe in the backcountry and thriving.

Learn About First Aid and Survival Medicine

know basic medicine

One of the first bits of infrastructure to go in a state of emergency will be the health care system. Therefore, you're going to need to know basic first aid and survival medicine. Anything that goes wrong will be up to you to fix.

Ambulance services, unless you're down the street from a hospital, will not be available. In the event of a natural disaster or societal breakdown, electricity may not be available, meaning that hospitals may not be able to help anyway.

Therefore, you're going to need to know how to fix things on your own, including people if necessary. This includes a working knowledge of medicinal plants. Essential oils, known to have healing properties for thousands of years, are good things to keep in store as well as OTC remedies.

Have An Evacuation Plan That Will Work

Know your evacuation route

Should flight be necessary from where you live, an evacuation plan that you can execute is vital.

Familiarize yourself with multiple routes to where you're going or to multiple locations, should you have options. Get a feel for which one allows the fastest travel times, but is also least likely to be clogged with traffic. You should also know which will be least compromised in winter weather, as people in northern areas will need to know which routes won't be closed due to snow, should that apply.

You should also practice evacuations from time to time, to get an idea for travel time and how quickly you'll be able to get on the road and/or to your destination.

Do Some Survival Reading As You Need All The Knowledge You Can Get

It's also a good idea to brush up on survival reading, including bushcraft, first aid, sheltering, gardening and everything else in between.

A lot of wisdom is available in bookstores everywhere. If you don't wish to have a whole bookcase filled to the brim, an e-reader or tablet can be easily filled and if need be, charged with solar chargers or by a charging device that takes batteries.

Army field manuals are a good starting point, and they are commonly found on prepper's bookshelves. The "Foxfire" series, which document the lifestyle, wisdom, culture but also practical skills of people who live deep in Appalachia, are also popular and a trove of knowledge of living in the backcountry.

Stock up on the reading material and enhance your knowledge.

Arm Yourself For Defense And Hunting

Arm yourself for need of defense or hunting

Another important step in becoming a prepper is to arm yourself, and for two purposes.

The first, which many survivalists and preppers are concerned with, is to be your own security. In the event of natural disaster, societal breakdown and so on, you may not have the benefit of police protection. Response times can be slow in large cities with large departments; if the fabric of society has broken down, you may as well forget it.

Therefore, you'll need to arm yourself for your own protection.

Additionally, you may need to get game to eat.

Many discussions have gone on concerning what the best gun is for this purpose. For hunting, long guns are best and ideally you'd have a shotgun for small game and fowl, and a rifle for big game and protection. A scout rifle could be useful, as could an AR-platform rifle but the .223 Remington/5.56 NATO round is a poor bullet for anything beyond coyotes. An AR-10, which is chambered in 7.62 NATO/.308, is more appropriate as that round is good for game up to elk, moose and black bear and certainly is effective on people.

However, some surplus and/or curio and relic rifles are adept at both roles for various reasons. Mausers, such as the Yugoslav M48 and so on, are good choices, though they hold only 5 rounds. An Enfield, which holds 10 (for the Mad Minute!) is also a fantastic choice. Due to the holding capacity, so is a .30-30.

You might also want to choose a good sidearm, and have plenty of ammunition for every gun you'll have along.

Keep In Touch With Like-Minded People

Find yourself a prepper group

It's also a good idea to keep in touch with like-minded people. A good tip for becoming a prepper is knowing that survival on one's own or with little help is less likely than with numbers. If you have some like-minded people in your circle of family and friends, keep in touch with them and especially if they live nearby.

If you know any other preppers in your area, become acquainted. The more knowledge you can soak up, the better. If you can make a contact for potential trading or mutual assistance should anything happen, so much the better.

Sam Hoober 

About The Author


Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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