The Difference Between Prepping and Survivalism (And Why You Need Both Skill Sets)

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Author of The Blackout Book and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted

If there’s one thing I learned in Croatia a couple of years ago when I took Selco’s Urban Survival Course for Women, it’s that survivalism and preparedness are two entirely different animals. If there are two things I’ve learned, it’s that I have mad skills in one of these disciplines and I was a complete novice in the other.

There is absolutely some crossover between the two worlds. And although they have the same destination in mind, they’re also very different disciplines and both are as old as human history.

So, what’s the difference between prepping and survival? And do you really need both skillsets? Here are some of the things I learned in the Balkans about being more thoroughly prepared.

What is prepping?

Prepping is the act of getting ready for emergencies large and small. Those of us who do this are called preppers.

Preppers prepare by gathering supplies, gear, food, and skills to see us through a crisis. That crisis can be anything from a job loss to a natural disaster to the end of the world.

Preppers are usually heavily focused on supplies. Many times, preppers plan to stay home or go to a designated bug out retreat if things go sideways. Preppers tend to spend a great deal of time repackaging food to last for the long term, gardening, and preserving. Preppers like to remain aware of current events and are ready to batten down the hatches fast if the situation warrants it. Quite often, the goal is to defend the homestead/retreat and stay put, so guns and ammo are often an expensive and large part of the prepper package.

Preppers have plans in place for dealing with things like power outages, localized civil unrest, and long-term production of necessities like hygiene items and food. Many also plan to thrive in a barter economy. They tend to plan to be comfortable during an emergency and its aftermath.

What is survivalism?

Survivalism focuses more on skills than supplies. A survivalist can generally hunt, forage, fish, and snare. Survivalists are good at moving stealthily through a variety of environments.

Survivalism is quite minimalist because most of the time, during an emergency, a survivalist will keep moving. You won’t see a bunch of camp stoves and generators at the home of a survivalist because he or she will use items in the environment for their needs. A survivalist values high-quality basics like knives, lighters, and first aid necessities.

Survivalists aren’t focused on comfort. Instead, they work toward being comfortable in a spartan environment. Survivalists focus on the lean basics that they can acquire on the move in different settings: food, shelter, heat, and water.

How are survivalism and prepping the same?

Survivalism and prepping are different roads to the same end – getting through a disaster. So the similarity lies in the goal. Preppers and survivalists are determined to survive whatever may come.

Another similarity is their commitment to independence. You won’t see either a survivalist or a prepper standing in line for a government handout or signing up for a cot at Camp FEMA. Both of these people fully intend to look after themselves, their families, and possibly look after others, too. They will be long gone or hunkered down well before the government convoy rolls into town.

Long story short – preppers and survivalists both intend to be here to pick up the pieces after all hell breaks loose.

How are survivalism and prepping different?

The biggest difference, in my opinion, is the primary focus: stuff or skills?

Survivalists don’t have a lot of stuff. They’re the ones who could head out to the woods and actually live off the land. No, I’m not talking about the coach potatoes whose last trip to the woods was taken in the comfort of an air-conditioned car. I’m talking about the folks who really get out there every chance they get. The ones who hunt. The ones who hike. The ones who camp. (In a tent, not an RV.)

Preppers do have a lot of stuff. Their primary plan is hunkering down and bugging in. They could live for a long time off the supplies they have stashed away in their closets. And usually, they have a self-reliance plan to supplement those supplies. Most preppers rely on stuff and staying in one place to use that stuff.

We can throw a couple of other labels in here, too. A lot of preppers are also homesteaders, but not all homesteaders are preppers. In the modern sense of the word, a homesteader has a property they use to produce food. Most of this food is raised for their own families, although some homesteaders produce enough to sell some of the surplus to others.

As well, with the confidence I gained in Croatia, I began traveling extensively. Due to that, I’ve become extremely adaptable and resilient in different urban environments.

Do you need to be a prepper and a survivalist?

If you want the best of both worlds, you will expand your skills beyond the basics of only one category. One of the things I learned from Selco’s course is that while I know a lot about prepping and homesteading, most of my survival skills are based on being home to use my supplies.  Drop me off in a remote area with my everyday carry kit and I’m far less confident.

Sure, I know how to filter water and start a fire (finally). I have a good sense of direction and can get around well in urban environments, but I don’t know a whole lot about navigating with a compass and topographical map. I’d much rather pee inside than outside. And sneaking around the woods without sounding like a herd of elephants performing a series of grand jetes isn’t my strong point. I never really considered whether someone else could see my fire or the smoke from it, and I didn’t think too much about threats from wildlife because I was going to be safe at home.

When it all hits the fan, sure, Plan A is to stay in the comfort of my home and use my preps.  But if Plan A isn’t viable for a wide variety of reasons, then Plan B could include using my the survival skills I learned from Selco and Toby.  And heck, in many situations, you could start out the emergency in Plan B mode while trying to get to the safety of your home and family.

  • Everyone has a get-home bag in the trunk of their car but has everyone walked home from their regular weekday locations carrying that bag?
  • Has everyone used all the gear from their bag? I mean every single piece, not just “something similar.”
  • Have you tried going for a full day on the food you keep in your bag?
  • What would you do if you had to lay low in a remote area with only the gear you have in your bag?
  • What if you were so far from home, getting back was completely unrealistic and you had to start from scratch using only what you had on hand?

Could you survive in the situations above?

If not, you have a serious weak point in your plan. And you’re not alone. A lot of the preppers I know have focused so much of their attention on gathering supplies, learning to garden, preserving food, and setting up off-grid systems that they’ve totally neglected their survival skills.

You have to be at home to use the comforts of your home. If you’re not home you have to get home and in an epic disaster that’s going to be more difficult than you think. And we all know about one disaster causing another disaster until there’s been a whole series of awful (and potentially deadly) events.

Another thing I learned in the Balkans is that “home” may not be the sanctuary you imagined. Selco shared his experiences of leaving home with nothing more than the clothes on his back. There were many heartwrenching stories at a museum about the genocide accompanying items that were the only thing a person could grab as they were dragged from their homes. We like to think this can only happen across the sea, but it wasn’t that long ago that American citizens of Japanese descent were rounded up and put in camps right here in the USA.  Whether a person is put in a camp or able to flee and avoid that camp, home is no longer safe. You need survivalist skills for all of these scenarios.

But not so fast, survivalists. If you don’t have anything extra put back and your entire plan is to book it out to the boondocks, string up a hammock, and live off what you can hunt and forage, that’s a problem too. Not all disasters are the type where the best answer is to head for the hills. What if it’s something like getting laid off from your job? If you have a family, getting lost in your nearest national park is not the answer. With the common sense supplies you have put back, you’ll be able to survive an interruption in income without major changes in your family’s lifestyle.

Being out and about when it’s hitting the fan can be rife with danger. As Selco said in a previous article, you should have enough supplies that you don’t need to be out and about in the early and most dangerous stages of a crisis.

There aren’t any one-size-fits-all answers in the world of survival and preparedness.

Every situation will have unique variables and then on top of that, every household with have more variables still. (Check out The Prepper’s Workbook to identify your special needs.) If you want to be truly prepared, you need to figure out your weak points and focus on those for a while. I’m not saying to halt your stockpile efforts or to forget about going out to the forest.

I’m talking about balance. If you want to be ready for anything, you will find some balance between the two worlds. You may have some reason that you feel you are only suited to one of these pursuits, but you are shortchanging yourself.

If, for example, you don’t have the money to stockpile, there are ways you can turn your regular grocery bill into food storage money. You might need to take on a gig of some sort to make some extra cash for stocking up. It may take some additional effort or some new ways to shop, but if I could stockpile with a single mom minimum wage budget, I think that nearly everyone can put a few things back.

On the other hand, if you need to work on your survival skills you may have something physical holding you back. We live in a country where chronic illness and disability are rampant for a wide variety of reasons.  If this is you, you are going to need to adapt within the limitations of your body. You don’t have to be particularly agile to practice building fires, navigating with maps, and cooking using primitive methods. You can also push your limitations by walking a little bit further every day, figuring out how to transport the supplies you need, and spending some time outdoors. If you can’t walk easily, then you need to figure out how you’ll get around in a worst-case scenario.

Don’t get down on yourself if you can’t do the things you want to – figure out ways to do those things. One of the things I heard repeatedly during the Urban Survival Course was “train with the body you’re in.” That goes for all of us. Trust me – I was quite humbled when I got out there in unfamiliar terrain with the guys. Just begin to get out of your comfort zone, a little bit at a time.

What about you?

Do you consider yourself a prepper or a survivalist or both? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. If you have something getting in your way, please feel free to share that too – maybe we can help!

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • I’m an old dog. I’ve been doing this since the 80s. Survivalist believed in both stockpiles and skills. The term survivalist went out of favor after the OKC bombing. Too many got over focused on government hatred. (Sound familiar?)
    Preppers, when they came on the scene, wanted to buy their way out of it. Most were middle class and out of shape and more worried about the economy and their lifestyle than just staying alive.
    The pendulum is swinging back towards the middle yet again which is good for everyone.
    You need to be as well rounded as possible. Skills, fitness, organization, working practiced knowledge, logistics and teamwork.

    • “Too many got over focused on government hatred. (Sound familiar?)”

      sure does. see, some individuals are attracted to survivalism not because they’re looking to survive economic failures, but because they hate people and are trying to avoid people as much as they can. they focused on rejecting “government” because that was something they could name without revealing their real motivation, and also because “government” was a class of people they could not fully ignore or fully escape.

      • I don’t hate so much as I’m in fear of people, for their stupidity and their hate.

        The more i come to know my neighbors the more I love my dog, and the more I isolate myself.

        Then again, I’m mostly a prepper, not a survivalist.

  • At age 60, I’m beginning to realize that all my prep and survival skills have outlived their shelf life. For realistic personalities, vanity is the first casualty of old age. We’ve lived long enough to remember the beauty of the world we’ve already lost and have little desire to participate in the Orwellian nightmare we see right around the corner. A world without freedom, or privacy, or peace, or trust in your fellow Man.

    Solomon had the Right of it…ALL is vanity, and a striving after the wind. There is no new thing under the Sun.

    If you think you’re going to survive? You aren’t. If you think you’re going to start over from scratch? You CAN’T. THEY will never allow it. There are simply too many variables in life to even begin to make predictions and assumptions based on the limited knowledge you can process.

    I have observed the many lives that came before me and moved on. Our stories will be little different. In time, no one will care. Who’s right and who’s wrong will matter not a whit. TIME is the one Enemy no one will never defeat. The Immutable Law of Entropy will hunt you down, take everything from you and there is NOTHING you will ever be able to do to stop it. Try to prolong it if you feel you must, but know this…even the circumstances of your death are ultimately not in your control.

    Jesus said it best…Matthew 6: 34: Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

    • Of course I will die. But between now and then, I can work to make the world a better place. Better to die fighting the good fight than to take the attitude that it makes no difference. And we all have the power to die free.

      Conservatives in this country still have the power to oppose the NWO, socialism/progressivism/communism, militant Islam, the Deep State, and foreign invaders. We have not lost yet. The American people still remain the greatest power block in the world, more powerful than our government; more powerful than any other government; more powerful than any other people. We will each “lose” eventually in that larger sense, but we can defend the Constitution, Western Civilization, honor, justice, and liberty. It looks likely that the blood of some of us will be required to maintain the tree of liberty. I will go with Patrick Henry’s comment on the subject.

      Only the leaders of those who oppose us are prepping; or rather, using our tax dollars to provide “continuity of government” which translates to “prepping for political leaders to survive”. But those lost souls who are simple followers of Marxism or Islam or Socialism are not prepping or learning survival skills, and have beliefs which stand in the way of rational thought, and thus prepping. In the face of SHTF, we must outlive them or the world will return to barbaric conditions. To accomplish this, we do not have to do anything impossible such as “live forever”.

    • Love this. I’m 64 and have been loosely a prepper/survivalist for about 30 years. In the last 15 years or more, I kind of let it die down because, as you say, you can’t really predict. I love knowing what I know, and having the things I have, but I have no illusions. If I survive, it will be shit-pot-luck plus the Will of God. Fortunately, I know there is no “death”, only a transference of my “vehicle/body” into whaterver is next, per the Will of God and the Universe. We each will either make it or we won’t, but fear not. Have as much “fun” with it as you can but realize you are an Eternal Being (religion not necessary, being “saved” not needed), and do not fear. This alone will make you much more ‘bulletproof’ than your neighbor who thinks this is the only game. Namaste, peace, and much love.

    • Jesus also said in Mat 24:
      16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.

      Why? because the mountains of Judea were the refuge, that people fled to in times of invasion. Verses 17 – 21, suggests you should be preparing for this, not prepping at the last moment.

      Though you might think people are not going to survive, God’s word says otherwise. Maybe you should read more of it.

      You are only 60…. not to old yet…

      Joshua 14:10,11
      10) …So here I am today, eighty-five years old,
      11) still as strong today as I was the day Moses sent me out. As my strength was then, so it is now for war, for going out, and for coming in.

      There are many people that are fit and in shape up in their 80’s and 90’s even today
      It is up to you, what you choose to be.

    • “If you think you’re going to start over from scratch? You CAN’T. THEY will never allow it.”

      we built it before, against “them” and we’ll build it again, against “them”. and maybe this time we’ll make sure “they” are expelled “in every generation”.

  • There’s a man on YouTube (and Patreon) called The Meat Trapper. His videos show you the various ways of setting traps to catch animals not for their fur, but for the meat. Unlike lots of similar “survival” videos, his material takes all of the mystery out of the various types of traps, pros and cons of each, how and where to set them. He doesn’t have any use for “handmade” snares from cordage or paracord–they won’t work. If you want to learn to SILENTLY feed yourself off of the land, this guy has the answers!

  • All I can say is all the supplies in the world won’t help you if you can’t use them, or if you have to leave on foot with only what you can carry. You need a variety of skills and supplies and experience. Start by taking the kids camping. Be able to sleep in a tent and start and cook on a fire. Build an emergency shelter and know how to stay warm and dry if everything else fails. Just a modification here and there in mindset goes a long way. Fancy tools won’t save your bacon…

  • I guess I’ve always been what I would call a short term or seasonal prepper, just didn’t know it. Once I had kids I always had enough food and supplies to get us through a blizzard or power outage. When we moved to a rural area I kept snacks, water, blankets, and cold weather gear in the vehicle at all times. Now that I’m older I’m back to growing and preserving, but need more supplies and survival skills are sorely lacking. I stand a better chance of making it through a natural disaster then man made.

  • As someone that grew up on a small family farm is southern Indiana. I grew up learning survival on the farm and then in the military. It took me a few years about 30 to finally realize
    That I needed to start also being a Prepped also. I have learned that for either skill to prosper post incident you need to use both skills to truly survive. Eventually food stores will run low and you need to know how to hunt or become a vegetarian ( I prefer steak over Kale). On the other hand if you only live off what you can hunt or gather what will you do in the winter? Meat will feed you but unless you have some sort of starch or vegetable stored away to use steak will get pretty boring not to mention possible medical effects of not having a carb or vegetable in your diet.
    Prep for anything
    Train for everything

  • in the 1980s survivalists were primarily focused to take by force what they needed. Believe me when I say those folks are organized, well stocked with weapons, of ALL types, ammo and squad and platoon level military weapons and skills. They have list of what they want and where to go to steal it and make no mistake they will use whatever force is required to take what they want. The top of their list is military all wheel multi fuel trucks and heavy weapons. Don’t just think your guns are to protect you only from the starving hordes. These hardcore survivalists are more dangerous than you can imagine.

    • “in the 1980’s”

      oh they’re still around.

      “These hardcore survivalists are more dangerous than you can imagine”

      pointed that out in numerous blogs, but everyone just dismisses it. “I have my rifle and my training and I’m determined, they don’t stand a chance against me.”

      • We know they are around.

        They run their sucks, pretend to be all big and bad, but have no real experience aside what they watch on TV or youtube vids.
        We know who they are, we make note, tell everyone else and avoid them.

            • There they are now! Oh wait that’s the dog. Or is it!?! Lmao
              Couple on here got quips to say bout everything but say nothing.

              • But Matt in OK,
                I got to thinking about what gman said, and he might be right . . . my one Amish neighbor, he just might be a hardcore survivalist infiltrator, hell bent on taking me and mine stuff!
                Then once all our stores are depleted, he will move on to our next unsuspecting neighbor and rape and pillage them!
                Matt, if I give you my Amish neighbors last name, can you run it through your LEO contacts/database and see if he has a hardcore survivalist record?
                His last name is Yoder (for you following along at home, “Yoder” in the Amish community is like “Smith.”

                • LEO database lmao oh wee
                  Yeah we can’t even get all the states to put data into NCIC on criminals and terrorist much less “survivalist” a perfectly legal activity.
                  Yoder yes here it is right here made an illegal left turn in a cart though he claimed the horse blinked on that side. Bhahaha
                  Face it you’ve been infiltrated by the underworld in fact I’m one of them. Music please “bababum”

  • Daisy,
    This is not a survival/prepping comment, but a question/suggestion regarding the ads on your site. I usually have Adblock Plus on, but my installation of an app yesterday must have crippled Adblock Plus, because today I can barely read your article due to the horrendous number of intrusive ads. I don’t mind ads that run down a side of the page, and will sometimes be interested in the products. But these were large ads inserted between paragraphs that were extremely disruptive while reading, and others in blocks at the bottom of the page that were difficult to delete. Is there a way you can ban such ads, while leaving the ones on the side?

    • I can speak with my ad network, for sure. Thank you for letting me know – I do not see the same things that you see because I’m logged in and mostly on the backend. There should be no more than 3 ads in the body of the article. Could you let me know how many you’re seeing?

      • The first time I “tried” to read the article, I didn’t count the ads, but there were loads. Then I removed the apps I had installed yesterday, which seemed to lessen the intrusions. But each time I return to your article, the number of ads seems to change. The latest click (this one) on your article gives this count: 3 large ads in the body; 2 ad blocks elsewhere that don’t seem to be deletable; 2 large “promoted content” ads. They’re ALL annoying! If you have been allowing 3 ads within the body of the article, along with the others that aren’t on the side, please reconsider that policy. It makes reading an article akin to playing dodgeball. The disruptions make it hard to concentrate and absorb the content.

      • I just reinstalled Adblock Plus and can now read your articles without interruption. The ads on the side are still there and I’m fine with that because some interest me.

        • Yeah, all ad blockers are different, or block differing ads.
          I did not know there were any ads at all in the main body of this site till you mentioned them.
          I do see the ones on the side.
          Unless Daisy wanted/asked readers to pay for content to keep the site running, ads are a necessary evil.
          But everyone gets to read them for free.

      • At a time when Google and social media outlets punish sites like mine, I still have the same amount of expenses to run it. I’m sorry you are bothered by the ads but the only other option for me is charging readers for access. I hate to do that and will keep my content free for as long as possible. Best wishes to all of you and thank you to 1stMarine for your support.

        • Daisy, I find the ads annoying also, but I get that they are a ‘necessary evil’. They don’t bother me enough to not want to keep reading (I know some sites that are much worse). Advice to fellow readers, as mentioned above, try different ad blocker apps to suit your needs.

    • Get the browser called “Brave”. Comes with a great ad blocker–I don’t see the ads you are reporting…

  • Prepping, survivalist, bush craft, all employ skills and techniques that are means to the same ends. All have value and can and will enhance one’s ability to overcome adversity. “Adapt and overcome” is the attitude that is necessary, and make no mistake attitude is what will give a person the determination to succeed, or destine them to fail.

  • You concentrated on survival. Good, but there’s another element. The ENEMY. People, gangs, the lone intruder and even an invading army that want your stuff and you!

    And will kill or hurt you to get it. But not before raping or torturing you, your family or friends. Many will be psychos, sociopaths or just desperate people. Or God forbid, Democrap supporters.

    Democraps thrive in a lawless state.

  • Matt in Oklahoma said it best……

    “Survivalists believed in both stockpiles and skills.”

    And he’s right that the term “survivalism” just become politically incorrect, because it recognized government as the biggest (but not the only) potential threat on the horizon.

    To imply that prepping and survivalism are different disciplines is a false dichotomy. Prepping is a sub-category of survivalism.

    Optimally, both skills and stockpiles should be incorporated. In reality, one “may” not need a full measure of both.But, it’s “better to have it and not need it………………………..” 🙂

  • I pinned down the definitions to the two groups, which are related, and still both necessary to get through what is coming. When people ask, however, and want some kind of more definitive answer than ‘Well, they are similar but different…’ and then a long list of minor details.

    My answer now is simply:
    Survivalists prepare to do without, preppers prepare so they do not have to do without.

    Just my opinion.

  • Right on Daisy!
    Everyone needs a good balance.

    I have known more than a few “survivalists.” I have no doubt they do have the skill sets to survive in a wilderness setting. But can they do it for a prolonged period of time, with the significant other and the kids in tow? Or even a larger group? They need to have some longer range plans as to what kind of existence they are going to have: Hunter-gatherer, nomadic (I am assuming a low or no fuel existence, and unless you have experience with horses or have horses now, likely you are on foot), agrarian?
    The shoot and loot paradigm may work for a little while, but the law of averages will catch up.

    Someone mentioned of preppers buying their way into survival. I have seen the same with the tacti-cool crowd of Rambozwannabes. They buy a tricked out AR, some plate carriers, knee and elbow pads and they are as good as any SWAT team. Or a high end customized Remington 700, with a big scope and they are the next American Sniper, Clint should be calling them any day now for a sequel.

    I think everyone needs a baseline of survival skills and put to practical application. Then a good long range, logistic prepper mentality and plan, but Semper Gumby. Geo-physical location, terrain, climate, local resources might dictate what that looks like along with what skills and items are stockpiled.

    If SHTF, what kind of life would you like to live? And the family?
    I have a feeling, after 6 months of only eating MREs and cooped up in the bunker in the name of OPSEC, more than a few families might go a little Lizzie Borden on their survivalist.

    • “after 6 months of only eating MREs”

      some guy said his sole prep was storing up laxatives, to sell (exorbitantly) to people that had been subsisting on mre’s. a deficient plan to be sure but sounds like a great supplemental.

      • Oh, I have no doubt there will be more than a few survivalist who die of bowl blockages from eating only MREs.

        I have seen more than a few cases during field exercises, one so bad requiring a trip to the ER.

  • By your definition it is difficult to be a survivalist without being a successful prepper. It is also difficult to be a prepper without being a successful survivalist.

    Being prepared is having enough to weather a reasonable situation. Survivalist is being capable of going without and/or making do with limited resources.

    Humans naturally are locusts. Anyone that thinks they can live off the land is crazy. Ever been firearm deer hunting on public land? It is like going to a park on 4th of July. Anyone that thinks they are going to live off the land conflict-free is delusional. One bad winter and you’re toast. One bad interaction with someone better than you and you are toast.

    Humans naturally are lazy opportunists. So if they can avoid pain they will. One way to mitigate said risk of pain is to buy insurance (stuff).

    The only way to do it is both. You have to plan accordingly and work said plan. But you need to be adaptive and capable of coping with limited resources. No matter what, you need to be sufficiently educated in both and be able to execute both.

    • “Anyone that thinks they can live off the land is crazy”

      well it can be done if 1) the game population is high and 2) the human predator population is very very low and 3) the weather isn’t too bad. the problem is when 10 million people try it.

      • 10 million people try it?

        There is an estimated 14 million actual hunters in America. That would be those who buy a game tag every year, have a rifle, have a good idea how to shoot it, and know something about hunting.

        All those unban/subburban types, especially those first time buyers in 2020, dont know how to shoot, finding ammo is hard already if you didnt have it prior to 2020, or dont know how to hunt.

        And how are they going to get from metro areas or the subburbs to places with serious game?
        More likely they end up eating pets, strays, or rats.

        • “And how are they going to get from metro areas or the subburbs to places with serious game?”

          that’s why I said 10. and it doesn’t matter if they can or can’t, they’ll try, and a lot of them will succeed.

          imagine a permanent hunting season with no bag limit and the number of hunters doubled, with half of them wasting 90% of what they shoot.

          • “that’s why I said 10. and it doesn’t matter if they can or can’t, they’ll try, and a lot of them will succeed.”
            Right! Sure! You say so! LOL!

            “imagine a permanent hunting season with no bag limit and the number of hunters doubled, with half of them wasting 90% of what they shoot.”

            Serious hunters are also environmental conservationists. They understand the need for proper game management. They take only what they need, and no more. The use up as much as they can of the game.
            Those few, if any who make it out of the city, the rural locals might take issue with waste.

  • I can see that this opportunity was very educational for you Daisy, and I can’t wait for your posts on all that you learned. You are quite spot on with your explanation of prepper/homesteader/survivalist ‘ideology’. I often explain that homesteading and prepping are not mutually exclusive, and have more in common than not. I could include ‘survivalism’ in that spectrum as well. In either of the three, it boils down to skills, and being able to use the tools available. As a homesteader/prepper, I choose my ‘tools’ to be stores. I am well aware that I need to expand my ‘skills’, which I am actively working on by learning to identify local plants for both food and medicinal purposes. As lifelong campers, we have a ‘bit’ of an edge in dealing with ‘situations’. But at our age, even with our experience, life on the run is not going to be a pleasant experience. That’s why I tend more towards homesteading and preparing in place.

  • In my day we didn’t have fancy schmancy terms like prepper/survivalist. There were refugees and then Displaced Persons.

    One term that’s been around since history that I really haven’t read often on SHTF sites.


    Not the slave to usury (mortgage, debt). It’s still around. Human trafficking, population spillage, even ‘useless eaters’ are spin-offs. Indentured servitude in Colonial times. Rhode Island was base to some very wealthy ship owners.

    In Selco’s region people were slaves to the Ottoman Turks for centuries up until WWI, then to the Communists (Fascists, same thing) til’ 1991. Or, you were at the bottom of a cave shaft. (How would Selco’s situation be referred to during the siege?).

    During Vietnam the attitude was as long as you had a gun, that land was yours. So, not to sound grim but it is something to be considered in SHTF after the patina of the Nation State’s veneer wears off and you miss the Rule of Law.

    Ps. Unfortunately, the Ads are an annoyance plus scrolling down to where you want to be then getting bounced somewhere else. Granted OP is worth it …

  • First, apologists for the multiple posts

    Second, call me a slow learner but by using the derogatory term ‘Refugee’ above, derogatory as I heard it said by people, and knowing displaced people, it hit me that some posters on various SHTF sites who use the terms ‘Survival’ and ‘Prepper’ are actually using the term ‘Refugee’ whelter they may realize it or not, not knowing what it means.

    You can be isolated in what you assumed was your country or time when there is a paradigm shift, ie. SHTF. Even in your bug out location.

    While I am not a prepper, survivalist or have been a refugee, gonna say, a lot of people who do not know what the term ‘refugee’ means are in for an enormous enormous shock. The little I understand is from listening to people who made it through that experience. I know I won’t make it. Too soft.

    If you think that by reading about it and prepping, which is a good thing, you have some notion of what it is, please talk to someone who survived. The “lucky” ones who survived still might want to talk about it are good people, but their lives are shattered. It leaves a mark that doesn’t go away. If you have the least bit of empathy listening to their stories you’ll realize that it can happen to you.

    Luckily we have Selco’s writings.

    Ps. Learn a language(s) amongst your other skills.

  • All the canned goods in the pantry will be worthless if you can’t open them. That’s how I view the difference between Survivalism v. Prepping. A balance of supplies and skills will be needed. The learning curve is very steep, and failure will mean death at some point. Relearning the skills our grandfathers (for some it’s great grandfathets) used on a daily basis, that our modern world no longer uses or has the tools needed to recreate will be a necessary skill in a TEOTAWKI world. Learning to get a long without the receptacles and switches that are an every day convenience will be a big hurdle to step over, because given enough time, our solar and gas generators will stop chugging away, and then it’s going to be the second wave of technology loss and the repurcussions of that event will winnow the field.

  • I’m a little of both but definitely more prepper. I have been learning to forage for the last year or so but it’s hard work. I am sure, at some point, I’ll know enough plants that it won’t be as tough to find edibles from nature but you have to start somewhere. I’ve been a come cook and baker for years, just be cause I like it and and love eating good food (it’s hard to beat homemade). I really got a kick out of all the people trying to make their own bread, etc. for the first time at the start of the pandemic and hope a lot of people keep up with that kind of thing. I’ve been saying for years I totally don’t understand making things from a box mix…making pancake batter, muffins or cake is the same amount of work as using a mix practically (and literally in some cases). Hopefully more people realize that now and don’t worry that they “ran out of mix”.

  • I am more of a prepper. My husband is more of a survivalist, but we both have skills that overlap.

    Also, he learned a LOT about “survivalism” when he hiked the 100 Mile Wilderness section of the Appalachian Trail. There weren’t a lot of opportunities to restock, and he had to go for a few days with just what he was carrying. It was eye-opening.

  • All the stuff you have, doesnt mean anything. If you are surviving in the woods, it will definately put you into reality. It will let you know real QUICK of what your made of, and what you fear.

    You can have food and water and shelter in the woods, but If a mother mountain lion and her cubs walk up on you AND you have no firearm, YOU GOT A REAL DANGEROUS PROBLEM. If a mother bear and her cubs walk up on you, YOU GOT A REAL PROBLEM. If you get bit by a poisonous snake, you got a real problem.

    Main thing,.. have a firearm. Make you a spear, but dont attach your knife to it. You have to have a way to defend yourself.

  • There is a big disconnect here.
    A true survivalist needs nothing at all in the way of supplies, not even a knife. Every thing can be done and made, cave man style.
    Now it is far easier (but not required) to survive with a modern knife, water filter, fire starter, some food, etc.

    That is the big difference between a Survivalist and a Prepper.
    A Prepper needs their supplies to survive.
    A Survivalist uses any supplies they may have, as a convenience to make survival easier.
    Now you may be more of an Urban survivalist or a Rural survivalist.
    An urban survivalist may face greater problems in trying to survive. They may turn to looting and/ or raiding, in order to survive in that environment.

    A combination of both being a Prepper and a survivalist is the best choice.

    • Unless that true survivalist/cave man has long and intimate conversations with a volley ball, give it a year, maybe two and he might be surviving, but he is not living.

      First time he comes across a woman after a year . . . she better have the firearm skills, or some kind of self defense to keep a gone feral mad man off her.
      If your community suddenly finds a young girl missing, get the dogs, organize a CSAR team.
      The merciful thing to do would put him down like any other gone mad animal.

  • “A survivalist can generally hunt, forage, fish, and snare”

    this approach works in empty wilderness areas. when 100 million americans with guns are out looking for food, this won’t work anymore.

    “during an emergency, a survivalist will keep moving”

    not with any kind of family. “mountain man” seems more appropriate than “survivalist”.

    • They might have a gun, does not mean they know how to shoot or hunt.
      I believe it was Matt in OK who said even hunters he knew did not know how to dress out game.

      If SHTF, 100 million people are going to leave the safety of their homes, or familiar area to travel out of the metro or subburbs to an area unfamiliar to them? IF there is still fuel in their tanks?

      Oh, and mind the locals out in those rural areas. They might know a thing or two.

      • “If SHTF, 100 million people are going to leave the safety of their homes, or familiar area to travel out of the metro or subburbs to an area unfamiliar to them? IF there is still fuel in their tanks?”

        yep. lot of ’em are coming up to speed on awareness and they’re planning on leaving before the situation becomes overly critical. sure many won’t make it but many will. saw quite a few making a practice run during the covid19 hysteria.

        “mind the locals out in those rural areas. They might know a thing or two”

        or ten. but they’ll be outnumbered. every local will face 5-10 rv’s stuffed full of armed refugees each fully aware that they and their kids have nowhere else to go but forward.

        hard fight, if you fight, and you’ll be weaker even if you win. maybe you could accommodate them somehow, incorporate them and make them part of the team. it’d make you stronger ….

        • Really?
          A bunch of people, little or no experience (awareness is not the same)in weapons, tactics or logistics, in RVs (note, RVs are not MRAPs but very THIN Skinned vehicles) that require a whole lot of fuel.
          In SHTF, where they getting the fuel? There is not going to be a just for them Quiki mart open.

          Weaker if I win? Explain to me, how?

          • “In SHTF, where they getting the fuel?”

            your golden horde presumptions are out-of-date. it’s not like the preppers are the wise ones and everyone else is stupidly ignorant anymore – lots of people are waking up and clueing in as to what they’ll have to do, and that starts with getting out to where they think they need to go. you’re in amish country? such regions will be target one. you’ll be inundated with people who are half-ready to survive but are as ready as they can be to face you. you might want to adjust your plans to accommodate that.

            • “your golden horde presumptions are out-of-date.”
              You the one who determines what is, and what is not out of date when it comes to all things prepper/survival?
              I never said “preppers are the wise ones and everyone else is stupidly ignorant anymore.”
              Yes, people are waking up to the limitations of our BAU/JIT system, and thankfully come to places like TOP to learn.
              But it is one thing to clue in. It is quite another to put into practical application, like marksmanship or even how to handle a firearm properly and safely.

              So, all of PA is going to be target one, eh? Pretty big Amish population there.

              • “But it is one thing to clue in. It is quite another to put into practical application, like marksmanship or even how to handle a firearm properly and safely.”

                sure. and they’re moving forward. you’re not the only one playing the game anymore.

                anyway. good luck.

  • actually, if you’re dumped without warning into a wilderness or equivalent, even with a backpack full of stuff things are looking terminal.

  • “I’m beginning to realize that all my prep and survival skills have outlived their shelf life”

    you can always help someone else. don’t be like hezekiah – “peace in MY time!”

  • Firstly-great article! I’m only about 18 months into my prepper “reboot”, although since about 2007 I’ve been concerned about “Peak Oil” & civilization/economic collapse. I certainly sway to the Prepper side, and I’m less than a yr away from retirement (hopefully get there!), and looking to learn & improve my Homesteading skills-gardening, chickens, etc.
    My younger brother & I often go mtn bking on the wknd. While riding over the summer once, my brother would keep stopping at every Blackberry bush & gobbling down. I learned the bigger berries are the sweeter ones. Later we came upon a horse water trough that had a water pump timer. My brother being a master mechanic, disconnected the hose from the pump, and proceeded to hose himself down & refill his water bottles. It was in this moment that I realized while I may have more preps & resources, if push came to shove & it REALLY hit the fan, my brother would be much more able to survive on foot, out in the wild. So while I’m a prepper & aspiring homesteader, my brother ‘s the true survivalist, and would much more likely survive in the “wild”. I’ve got a lot of survival skills to learn-and I never imagined I’d be learning to start a fire while retired on my acre in the Sierra Mtns-high dessert-but now I can’t wait to get started. Great read & knowledge as always Daisy TY!

  • I thought this looked familiar. Still a good article for those who haven’t seen it.
    I’ll re-read it for anything that slipped by the last time, plus the new comments.
    It seems that many times I learn as much from the comments as the article itself.

  • Preppers will start out with a bunch of supplies, That’s “Plan A.” But once these supplies run out, they will become Survivalists which is a Prepper’s “Plan B” and using learned skills for survival. If you fail at both “Plan A and Plan B”, then you become a Refugee which is “Plan C”. And if you fail at “Plan A, B and C”, then “Plan D” kicks in at a FEMA Camp and prepare your physical enslavement. “Plan F” is for Failure and Death. So how prepared are you for all of these plans? Failure at any one of these plans, takes you to the next plan, whether you like it or not.

    • @FL Prepper/ Surivialist/ Homesteader,
      But is it not the Prepper who while they have a Plan A, within Plan A is not just a limited amount of supplies, but subset of plans to augment, add to their supplies. Part of being a prepper is not only having a stockpile of things, but the knowledge and skills to not have to be relying on only that stockpile. That would be knowing the prepper has to grow a garden X big to feed the family for a year. Having Y many small livestock to feed the family for a year. Having Z amount of wood on hand to make it through the winter.

      Prepping is not a question of having stuff or a stockpile but a question of economics and logistics.

  • Let’s suppose for a moment that FL Prepper’s Plan A, B, C, D to F sequence may not be set in stone as suggested.

    For example, If one rather either chooses, or is forced to, go nomadic (such as Daisy has done), one either postpones accumulating a lot of “prepper stuff” or puts most of already accumulated stuff into storage where it may or may not be readily accessible or sells it off for cash to avoid the ongoing storage bill while awaiting a better day / year / decade and/or location where the original Plan A accumulation might begin anew. Those are strategies that may well precede the non-mandatory Plan A as described. Just as accumulating prepper stuff has a learning curve for how to do it well and cost effectively, so does going nomadic. And going nomadic (whether because of a business strategy, getting evicted as millions are now vulnerable to, or because it might facilitate a deliberate but later international move) requires its own research, knowledge base, gear list, and how-to skills set to cope with issues not typically part of prepperdom.

    Jose Martinez’ case has been highly instructive for those of us absorbing his many articles about fleeing a devastated Venezuela and coping with survival in a different country. He didn’t have a Plan A that failed — he was forced to go nomadic / refugee while bypassing the A through F sequence. He remains in that expat status in Peru for some indefinite period. Whether Venezuela will ever recover into a sufficiently liveable country within his lifetime is yet to be determined.

    One of the most fascinating examples in history of escaping an intolerable situation was a man and his wife hoping to flee the old Soviet Union. They knew that the border guards would confiscate anything that seemed like obvious wealth — such as cash or gold or silver. So instead they packed up as many clothes as they could possibly carry — not something the border guards would find “interesting.” Oh, they carried every single piece on its own wire clothes hangar. Their attempt to cross the border to freedom in the West was successful. Only then did they dare reveal what strategy had worked for them.

    Prior to that border crossing attempt, the man had used what wealth he had to purchase all the paladium his money could cover. Then he had that paladium formed into as much wire as there was metal. Then he had that wire formed into ….(drum roll here..) clothes hangars! When he and his wife arrived successfully in the West, he reconverted all that paladium wire into western money so he and she could start a new life.

    So was he a doomed refugee? Maybe … if his plan has gone awry. A better characterization would be that he and she were gloriously victorious refugees / expats / temporary nomads / and successful planners for their new life. Again, the rigid A through F sequence previously discussed didn’t apply here at all. I think the lesson is that people’s situations — and their coping resources, imagination and skills — have far more variety to exploit compared with that rigid A through F sequence.


  • How these next few years play out can very so greatly. If we look back historically to see how things play out in a non violent situation like the Great Depression we can glean valuable info from that. I guess wild game levels went to record lows during that time and took decades for them to recover. I would think that small animals like ducks, rabbits, etc, would be the best cause they reproduce at a high level and are easy to clean and preserve. The transition will likely be brutal cause there is so few doing it. If this becomes violent, will be extremely ugly.

    • @BorderPatrol,
      Good observation/comment.
      As you note, the transition could be brutal, as the 1930s America looked much different than the American today. There were many more Americans living on farms and knew how to do things. Those farms also were poly-cultures (hat tip, Joel Salatin) having not just one output (e.g. corn, soybeans), but several. They had the family dairy cow for milk (and or goats/sheep), hogs, cattle, corn, wheat, gardens, etc.
      A farmer back then had to be a jack of all trades. His own mechanic, his own vet, his own woodworker etc. If he did not have the skills, likely there was a neighbor who did or a professional he would have to pay.
      Today, I dunno. A lot of Americans have soft hands, or get squeamish getting their hands dirty. As a matter of fact, today I slaughter and processed a turkey. How many average Americans could do that correctly, without YouTube/Google/internet?

  • It’s true enough both skill sets are necessary especially if you need to bug out regardless if it’s to a predetermined destination or not. But without a fixed Bass survival retreat it’s unlikely many with last long regardless of how good they think their skill sets are. Ever watch alone on the History Channel those are trained survivalists. Some of the best of the best. Not just your weekend Warriors. They barely make it 3 months. They don’t have the stress of a real Calamity taking place within the world. And they’re certainly not in competition with the millions of others who thought they could go to the forests also. Even stealthily moving around in the forest they won’t be as crowded as a large city. And frankly just as dangerous. And what game there is to hunt will quickly be depleted. At that point you’ll have even more Raiders either independent or in a gang they’ll always be there just as food disappears they’ll become more numerous everyone will be at Target it’s not ask for food it will be taking the food and it’s usually shoot first. Even the first few days or even hours in some places bugging to your retreat will be dangerous in some placesa as Anarchy will rule.

    • I have been prepping since the 70s I stepped my game up in the 90s. I have also home survival skills. I could live off the land in the deserts of Arizona for weeks. And did so in the 80s staying two and a half months in the wilderness. Growing up in the sixties our Ranch was next to the Yavapai Indian Reservation. Needless to say all my friends were Indian. I had the opportunity to learn their cultures and customs. They taught me to stalk, hunt and fish our Ranch took in part of a 400 acre Lake. So those skill sets has not only stuck with me, but has been passed on.
      But I have a wide variety of skill sets. I have a BA in animal production and one in horticulture. I also have a masters an Aeronautics and Structural Engineering. And have been a pilot since the seventies as well. So yes I can read a compass. I’m also well-versed in meteorology. When I was in high school and college I worked as a farrier, and a veterinarian assistant actually have a patent in the medical industry. And since I had a forge I used when shoeing horses I got in a knife making as well. I’m certified in all types of welding as well as composite work. I’ve also been a Certified DOT Mechanic, and also have a airframe/ power plant certificate (A/P) I also have a contractor’s license Electrical,Plumbing, excavation and septic tanks. And I have done many shelter installs for select individuals.
      Here in the Ozarks I have a grape and blueberry Vineyard. Peach, Apple, and pear Orchard. Variety of hops for brewing a variety of beer.
      A greenhouse and nearly a thousand sq foot garden all that’s deer fenced. Then I grow a few Acres of Dent corn to feed the livestock. Cows, pigs, chickens. I also have several dozen beehives. And a shipping container full of mushrooms. To say I’m busy is an understatement. But it is a labor of love and a lifestyle. I only raise enough cattle now in Arizona to feed the family there. It simply is not profitable like it used to be.
      And a word of warning for anyone who thinks that they can just go anywhere in the country. If it’s private land you won’t be welcome. That’s not to be mean, that’s just the way it is. And no one knows their property better than the land owner. Rural property is not that expensive. Even if all you can afford is a couple of Acres install a storm shelter to start with. Then add another when you can. They will be underground and you can make them inconspicuous. There you will have a fixed location to bug out too. And you can already have your resources there and waiting.

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