What is a Prepper 2: How to plan like a prepper

In the last post, we learned that survivalists and preppers are mostly the same groups. They are driven by two visions. The first vision is one of fear. They are driven by concerns of threats to their way of life and wish to prepare for as many threats as seem likely. Their second vision is one of hope. Preppers believe that by storing supplies and developing critical skills they will survive all threats and perhaps live to see better days ahead. The vital space in between these two visions is one of action. This is what truly defines preppers, their actions to overcome the complacency of the world, their acceptance that like Noah they are building a boat on dry land and waiting for the rain.

Here are the key elements of prepper preparations.


U.S. Airmen with the 376th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron check and maintain concertina wire at the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, Dec. 12, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman George Goslin/Released)

More important than food or water is security which includes shelter and safety. You can live without food for three weeks or more, without water for up to three days, but if you are exposed to the elements like cold and rain you can die in hours and a bullet in the head will kill you instantly. So security is the first and highest priority.

Security begins with the clothes on your back and the items you carry every day. Consequently, preppers not only dress for the weather, but they also aim to bring along extra items to adapt to changing weather with hats, gloves, jackets, raincoats, umbrellas, sunglasses, bandana/buff. In fact, I carry all those things every day, except for gloves – I really need to get some gloves.

The next security preparation is what a prepper carries every day, such as a flashlight which can not only provide light but also disorient a foe to allow evasion or attack. Aside from a flashlight, there are a number of nonlethal items which can be used as a means of self-defense which includes a tactical pen, mace, a taser, a baton a kuboton, and even some forms of jewelry. But most preppers favor the power of lethal weapons like knives and guns. Guns are illegal in where I live as are knives in public or at night. Although I carry a pocket knife in my day bag, I prefer to carry a small multitool in my pockets. That’s the best I can do within the law.

Another vital area of security is the home. Preppers are quite concerned about home invaders as well as local disasters, so they do what they can to harden their homes. Aside from strong locks, doors, and windows, the best practice is to appear completely normal and uninteresting, so that potential troublemakers pass by without stopping. Some people build hidden or safe rooms to escape from danger, while others keep a gun nearby to directly eliminate threats. I prepare by having strong locks on an inconspicuous apartment door. The apartment itself is built to withstand earthquakes, typhoons, fires, and floods.

An often overlooked but vital concern related to security is health and hygiene, which can kill more people than bullets in wars and calamities. Preppers store up medicines and homemade remedies, such as honey and olive oil. Bandages, toiletries, and cleaning supplies are an important part of a preppers storage system. I have a small first aid kit at home and also carry another in my day bag.

Waterwater filter system

After security comes the importance of water. Few people except preppers have enough potable water on hand for three days. If the water supply stops or is contaminated, most people have to run to the store to fight for dwindling supplies. The prepper not only stores up water for immediate needs, they also have a water filter system which can clean polluted water, and they usually have a backup system to at least boil water, on a camping stove if necessary. Drinking unsafe water is one of the main vectors of disease. Also, soap and water are the most convenient way to remove bacteria from ourselves and the things we touch every day. So clean water is essential not only for drinking and cooking but also for good hygiene and long-term health. I have three days of water stored in my apartment and have an excellent water filter that can even remove radiation.


This obvious item is on every preppers list of supplies, but the amount of food stored can vary greatly depending on the events they are preparing for. An urban prepper worried primarily about a temporary blackout only needs food for a few days. However, a rural prepper concerned about long winters with no access to the grocery store can keep months of food on hand. And extreme preppers concerned about the end of life as we know it (TEOLAWKI) will attempt to store a year’s worth of food, or even more. Along with food storage, preppers are concerned with hunting and farming to provide continuous fresh food, so they must store up extra seeds, tools, and weapons and ammo for the future. Many preppers have a small farm and raise livestock. I have three days of food in store and am looking to expand my supplies.


Once the basics of security, water, and food have been dealt with, the prepper is concerned with transportation and communication. When one has to bug out quickly, even food and water may have to be left behind and transportation becomes the priority. Appropriate shoes are a vital but often overlooked item. Dress shoes or high heels make traveling on foot miserable. Preppers always have sturdy hiking boots or running shoes nearby. I only have to dress nicely for church but even then I carry a gym bag with sneakers and gym pants, just in case.

Many preppers have cars or trucks that can get them out of local trouble assuming the roads are clear, some even have motorcycles or boats. A motorcycle, though bad for stealth, can go far on a small amount of gas and is small enough to go around obstacles that can block the roads. Also, they are easy to store or hide. Boats, on the other hand, are very specialized. But if you live near water, they can be the safest and even the most luxurious was to travel.

In my opinion, the humble bicycle to the best way to travel. While they cannot match cars for speed and carrying capacity, they are in many ways more versatile and adaptable for preppers. Bicycles are much faster than walking and use less energy/distance. They require no fuel and cannot only travel on roads but almost everywhere that is not wilderness. They are quiet, cheap, easy to hide or abandon if necessary. Ironically, though I have a car and a motorcycle, I haven’t gotten around to purchasing a bike.


In modern society, we are surrounded by a multitude of near instantaneous communication devices, from phones to radios, to television. They make it trivially easy to know what is going on. But during an emergency, regular communication may be down or filled with false information. With rapidly changing situations and the increased need for news, any news, wild rumors spread dangerously fast with no way to confirm what’s really happening. Preppers have ways to deal with this. Of course, they have their cell phones with extra power supplies, but they also keep a weather radio nearby so can keep informed and ready to act. Additionally, preppers may have walking-talkies, CB radios, police scanners, or satellite phones. Some preppers go farther and buy ham radios which can work independently of any phone system or power grid.


These are the main elements of preparation the survivalists and preppers acquire before trouble comes. There is a lot of hard work and expense to prepper life. But guided by the two visions of disaster and survival, preppers are willing to be like the proverbial ants while those around them are like grasshoppers. In the next section, we will examine the skills preppers need to develop in addition to their preparations to be successful.

As always, your comments and questions are welcome in the space provided below.

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2 Responses

  1. Jaime says:

    It’s kind of sad that our world creates so much fear that so many people feel the need to prep like this. I think about it all the time, and even more so in the current international and political climate. Anyway, I love that you have everything organized here because I honestly wouldn’t think of all this. Do you have any recommendations on prepackaged preparedness kits that sort of encompass everything?

    • Peter Barban says:

      Yeah, life is tough, but we prefer to imagine that paradise is within our grasp. The modern world has unparalleled safety and luxury, but when the system fails, we have so much farther to fall. 

      Sadly, there is no prepackaged kit that includes everything a prepper needs, as it would have to include preps for a one day blackout, a new ice age and everything in between. We have to prepare in stages. In the future, I will post about everything you need to prepare for certain scenarios. Bring a checkbook!

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