End of the year musings on prepping and survival


As we come to the end of another year, I was remembering the Y2K discussions. Now I see people talking about preparing for civil unrest, and some the the discussions are similar.

Being a gun nut, it is easy to focus on weapons. Nice to have a stack of guns and a larger stack ammunition. People like me would joke about building a fort of of your ammo cans to fight from.

Back when Mosin Nagant rifles were dirt cheap, I would read about people buying a crate of them with the intent to arm their friends, neighbors, and harem of liberated soccer moms after the end of civilization.

If you are prepping for the SHTF, or the zombie apocalypse, civil war II, etc, it seems to me that there are so very many items other than a stack of guns that would be useful.

I think in this sort of case the person wanted to buy something, and had to rationalize a reason for it.

Hey, if you want something, and can afford, why not get it? If you can’t afford it, wait.

If you are really trying to prepare for bad times, look at the areas you are weak in. Think about stuff you would not be able to get if supply lines or power were cut.

A simple example would be that many people could make a silencer in their garage with a hand drill. But not very many people could build night vision from scratch. If not night vision, how many people can make a good flash light from the stuff around their house? Similar for body armor or gas masks.

It is like that comical joke of the body builder that always skips leg day. Seeing a tremendous amount of upper body muscle mass atop tiny spindly legs.

It is no fun to acknowledge our weaknesses. I’ve been working on my personal fitness for example, always been a weaker area for me. I have a little food and water stashed away. I keep a pile of ammo. But for me, a realistic bad SHTF event would be an extended period of unemployment. Fortunately I have various job skills that I would like to believe would keep me employed even in a bad recession.

For prepping, we gotta be honest with out selves and ask if we are buying what we want, or what we would need to cover a realistic problem. Are we buying the stuff that gives us a big improvement in our capabilities, or stuff that is just cool to have?


  1. There was an blog article I read years ago (I thought I saved it somewhere…have to find it again…) that planned around multiples of 10. As in ten cans of food and ten bottles of water will get you and your family through a few day long weather type emergency. It used this thinking as the building block for beginner prepping and for purchasing and planning. Got a generator? Ten gallons of fuel and so on and so on. It talked of setting goals from going to a 10 level to a 100 level. It’s not for everyone because people don’t have the same resources and abilities but I liked the article because it put it into perspective for someone to not just randomly buy stuff.

  2. Because I fell under the influence of a couple of Marine vets of the Pacific island-hopping campaign as a pre-teen, I heard opinions borne of horrible experience about what was truly important in an extended time in the field.

    It went like this:

    1. Good boots and better socks are very, very important. “If you don’t think so, go for an all-day hike with 40 pounds on your back, knowing you’re going to do the same thing tomorrow, and the day after that, and after that… and we’ll talk this evening. Your opinion will change.”

    2. After “good boots and better socks,” came water that doesn’t make you expel the contents of your guts out both ends. These guys had tales of horrible water in the Pacific campaign. Absolutely undrinkable water – and conditions so hot, you’d drink it anyway. Today, I think a good water filter, water purification tablets, a way to boil water and a way to carry clean water are high priority issues.

    3. A good knife. Or a couple of good knives. They had their Ka-bars, of course, but they said that a good pocket knife often came in handy for all manner of things.

    After these three things, they said that, depending on your situation, you could learn to live without it for a bit – and in their three years in the Pacific, they often had done so. Do without a gun? Sure, you can pick one up soon enough. Do without clothes? One guy did without any shirt for some time on Guadalcanal, but took the boots off more than one corpse.

    As a kid, I could not believe how much time they spent talking about socks. Dry socks, more than one pair of socks, clean socks, socks without holes, three pairs (or more) of socks per day, socks sent from home, fistfights over stolen socks. After I was a grown-ass man who had been on several extended hunting trips? I will lavish money on socks before I get some idiotic doo-dad that hangs off my gun(s).

    • years of working 8 hours a day 6 days of week on cement with wet feet all that time in the detail/body shop made me a believer in good shoes, socks and feet care

    • I remember seeing a Marine return from the field and he took his blouse off. His undershirt was just the section around the neck that was viable with a thin strip going down tied to his belt holding it in place. When I asked about it, he explained he didn’t have toilet paper.

  3. The most important thing you can do, as a “prepper”?

    Build community. You ain’t going to survive on your own. Period. You need to have a network of folks that you can rely on, when the time comes, and you need to be someone they can rely on, as well.

    Autarky isn’t where it’s at, I’m afraid. Individual “He-Man” survivor types? They’re not going to. Survive, that is–There’s always going to be something, injury, illness, mishap, to where you need the aid of others. You don’t have anyone to help, when you need it? You’re dead. Don’t want to help others? When the time comes, and you need help in turn, you’re toast.

    Most “preppers” are doing a fantasy LARP, more than they’re getting ready to deal with things falling apart. If you want to play at it, fine, go ahead: The reality is that you’d be much better off networking with other people beforehand, finding those you think you can trust, and then working out where you’re going to relocate to from what might be presumed to be a decentralized untenable location. The internet is a wonderful place to network, but when the time comes, you need physical proximity to do it. You’re also going to need a range of skills and the right sort of land–Either you set up as a small light industrial operation, or you farm. Being a financial consultant ain’t going to do much–You need real skills like welding or metalworking, medical knowledge, veterinary, farming… Whatever. The range of skills necessary to enable community survival when the lights go off is vast.

    There are a bunch of fairly realistic organizations you can learn from, figuring out what rebuilding after an apocalypse would look like. The shooty-shooty stuff and the zombie/urban youth problem goes away pretty fast, once the food trucks stop running. The aftermath of that, you need to be paying attention to things like what the folks at the Open Source Ecology outfit are doing, which is developing ways to bootstrap modern industrial civilization from scratch and some scrap.

    It’s an interesting website, and an even more interesting effort. People like this are the ones you need to have in your “survival clique”, because they’re going to keep you and yours alive and healthy in the aftermath of the whole mess going down.



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