In Praise of Preppers

In Praise of Preppers

Hoarding food and supplies has suddenly become mainstream. But as any prepper—one whose lifestyle revolves around preparing for the day when the SHTF (shit hits the fan)—will tell you, the coming apocalypse requires more than just an ample supply of toilet paper. Think guns, bunkers and hand-powered drinking water purifiers. 

While waiting for the apocalypse, preppers have needed to continue to make a living, and some have done so by authoring websites and YouTube channels for teaching survival skills. What was once a quaint cottage industry of homemade DVDs and conspiracy theory ranting has blossomed into a multi-billion-dollar industry selling all the goods you’re going to need to survive. Prepper products are increasingly available at non-prepper sites, from Amazon to Nordstrom’s, and are touted by mainstream influencers, including the Kardashians.

Business has been more than brisk since the coronavirus crisis began. “We are getting Black Friday levels of traffic almost every day,” one prepper executive told Wired. Here’s a sampling of what’s on offer—but act quickly: The shelves at online prepper stores are increasingly empty.

“Bug Out” Bags

In prepper-speak, to “bug out” means to run for the hills, or wherever you end up running to when the SHTF. A bug out bag is what you bring with you. Ready to grab at a moment’s notice, it should be stocked with everything you need to be self-sufficient for the first days of the apocalypse—food, water, shelter, N95 masks—buying you time to prepare for long-term survival. This model from Echo-Sigma, available in brown, red and black for around $600, includes a tent, sleeping bag, first-aid kit, knife, hand-crank radio/flashlight and a week’s worth of food and water.

Food Buckets

Unless you’re prepared to forage from the land, consider stocking up on freeze-dried food, which prepper sites tend to sell by the bucket. A dozen buckets with 19 different menu items from Survival Cave Food—the company says it’s a year’s supply for one person—will set you back around $4,000. With a 20-year shelf life, you’ll be set with “Fluffy Scrambled Eggs” and “Refreshing Orange Drink” as the world burns.

Pre-Fab Bunkers

You might wish to stockpile your food buckets and other supplies in a safety shelter, such as a Swisher ESP (Emergency Security Preparedness) model, which range from the size of a walk-in closet to a small bedroom. Currently available at Sam’s Club (the largest models run north of $10,000), they are available with a built-in gun rack and, in case of extreme weather, have been tested to withstand the impact of a 2-by-4 moving at 100 miles per hour. 

Water Filters

You may want to stock up on bottled water (prepper sites usually offer it in cans—longer shelf life), but the hardcore among us are prepared to make any water source drinkable. At the low end, a LifeStraw ($12) will let you sip safely from most lakes and streams. But if you need water for the whole family, consider this hand-powered system ($550, ebay) that pumps out 90 gallons per hour and fits in the included backpack for easy transport.

Hunting and Gathering Supplies

If the going gets really rough, you may need to tap mother nature’s larder. Prepper sites are replete with information on wild nuts and berries you can eat, plus tutorials on how to skin a squirrel. Guns (for both hunting and self-defense) are ubiquitous in prepper culture, but if bullets aren’t your thing, you can still prepare by learning to fish, trap and eat roadkill. If it gets down to subsisting on rodents, you might find yourself wishing you had a “slingbow”—”there has never been a more adjustable and stable shooting platform,” says bugoutroll.ca, which offers the product for $75.

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