Our world is facing uncertain times. Rumors, distrust, and bad information are everywhere you look, and the last thing preppers should be doing is making things worse. No, I am not talking about Coronavirus, but the never-ending drumbeat of how we need to “curb the spread” prompted an idea in my mind today for how that phrase can apply to something preppers should be mindful of.
Preppers are frequently painted as people who are making fear-based decisions which usually manifest in an overreliance on buying stuff. Now, I will be one of the first to admit that some part of prepping should involve increasing your resources. We absolutely have articles on prepper lists and, in this day, and age, it’s almost always easier to purchase things than make them. The emergency preparation market is a 10.5 billion industry so there is some truth to that perception we give.
Initially, when I started prepping, I just wished for some windfall so I could buy the perfect piece of property, build a house that could withstand the apocalypse, and fill it with supplies to take care of my extended family for decades. Some of that dream is still valid but my outlook on prepping and what supplies are really needed has changed. For the past several months in the prepping community, I have noticed that there is still a priority on acquiring supplies, but I think we can make smarter decisions and curb our spread so to speak.
Today, I want to get into 5 things preppers can do to pare down what we feel we need to purchase, store and be smarter with the supplies we think we can’t live without for our family’s survival.
Avoid purchasing too much gear
One of the most overused sayings in the world of prepping and survival circles is two is one and one is none. It makes sense in a lot of ways. If you only have one magazine for your survival weapon and you lose it, you could be in trouble. At least having two gives you one spare in an emergency.
Preppers take this way over the top in some things and purchase (and carry) multiples with them in their bug-out bags, tucked into tactical compartments in their vehicles and on their person. I have seen too many photographs of bug out bags that had 5 different survival knives in their contents. You have to ask yourself, is it really worthwhile to stockpile like this.
Redundancy is a valid goal though and I am not suggesting you only get one of everything but if you have two or three survival knives, perhaps you should consider not purchasing more unless you plan to distribute them to your larger survival group.
This can apply to just about all the survival gear you can think of. Do you really need 10 different survival medical kits? What about one really well-thought-out kit and several resupply options for the disposable items. So, purchase or build one good kit and make sure you have additional bandages, medicines that you can rotate through as opposed to purchasing multiple kits.
How many bug out backpacks do you have? If you have more than 2, I am talking to you (and myself honestly). I got rid of one extra pack and created a get home bag for my other vehicle with another spare. Now, those awesome bags from 511 are not constantly in my Amazon shopping list. I have more than I need and as long as those items are in good condition and serviceable, I stop buying them. Check them off my list and continue with other items.
Buy quality, not quantity
There was a sale on knives at the flea market this weekend, so I picked up 20 of them. Now I have enough to last me forever. Really? If you have ever uttered words like this, I think you should reconsider your position. First off, there really is a reason why you pay more for quality. Sometimes you do pay more for a brand name, but items that you count on for survival don’t usually fall into the same category as fashionable or trendy.
There is a different side to this also and you can easily pay a lot more money than is necessary for essentially the same quality and functionality. There are $400 raincoats that won’t keep you any drier than a $75 raincoat. Your job as a prepper shopping for these items is to do the research and make a good decision.
I’ll give you just a couple examples here.
Survival Knife – There are literally thousands of knives you can purchase at any one time. The functionality of each knife is essentially cutting things that all can do to a certain point. There are differences in materials and craftsmanship obviously but above a point, you are paying for the X factor.
You can absolutely get a knife for less than $10 and you can get a knife for over $400. A really great knife that will last you forever is somewhere in between that range. Do you need a $400 knife? Will a $50 survival knife last you much longer than a $10 knife?
Handgun – This is a similar situation. Assuming you can find them, handguns can go for a couple of hundred bucks to several thousand. The sweet spot is probably closer to $500 – $700. Can a $200 handgun work for you? Probably, but will it last as long and be as reliable as one a little more expensive with a rock-solid history of actual use in the military? Will, that $3000 Wilson Combat last even longer or kill people better than your $500 model? I doubt it, but it sure is beautiful!
I think you can spend too little and end up with a lot of junk that will crowd your house and gear bags with useless items. I also think you can spend too much and reduce your resources to purchase other gear. You have to do what’s best for your situation but it’s worth considering.
Avoid purchasing the wrong food
I have shared the story of my own food storage mistakes before but essentially, I broke this rule myself. I went to Sams with some spare cash and the goal of stocking my pantry with items that my family could eat if we were unable to get more food at the grocery store. It sounded like a good plan.
I bought flats of canned goods and big bags of rice and beans. I also bought large #10 cans of fruit and condiments. As I loaded the pantry shelves I was proud of my accomplishments.
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Then about two years later I was in the pantry and decided to rearrange everything and clean it out. I saw a lot of the cans I purchased still sitting in the pantry. For starters I had no food rotation plan at the time so as new groceries came in, my cans were pushed to the back repeatedly.
Worst, I purchased a lot of things that sound good if you are freezing cold, in line at the mess tent, but my wife rarely uses canned food items, outside of staples. She prefers fresh food – a fact I completely neglected. So, I worked in what I could, ate a lot of chili, threw away a lot of bad fruit, and regrouped.
I decided to invest my long-term food storage in freeze dried food, which is tucked away, and nobody worries about it, but our pantry is full of food items we do eat, they are rotated more frequently now, and I don’t waste a lot of money.
Standardize on weapons platforms
I like Firearms and I own my fair share of them. Would I purchase more if money was no object? Absolutely! But, what I wouldn’t do is start buying a lot of new and different calibers. I would purchase more of the standard calibers I have for redundancy or to give to others in my group.
How is this different than what I was talking about above? One main reason, they aren’t talking about making it illegal to buy knives or water filters, or backpacks.
Standardizing on weapons gives you a few advantages. First, there are spare parts. If you choose an AR-15 in .556 your entire rifle almost is interchangeable with parts from any other AR-15. Now, what if you decided to get a .308 or a FAL or Kriss Vector? You would have some amazing firearms, but they don’t share any parts.
Secondly, by standardizing on my AR, if I run out of ammo and my buddy has a spare magazine, it fits. This is also why I choose the Glock 17 or 19 as the primary handgun.
Shotguns are a little more forgiving if you have the same caliber and hunting rifles also because I don’t expect to swap parts on those.
Lastly, ammo is hard enough to find now and more expensive than ever so if you do have some spare money and want to stock up or purchase some ammo for practice, would you rather focus on 3 kinds or 10 for all your various calibers?
You do not have to stock up on everything
Food, water, shelter, security and first aid are the priorities that you should focus on first when you are looking at how to prepare for disasters. Once you have a handle on those items, what do you need to look at? For most people, I would suggest further reinforcement of those standards, but some people feel like if you are prepared for survival, you should be prepared for other things too.
I have seen people asking for tips on how to store sunscreen and shaving cream long term, or how to dehydrate marshmallows. Others have taken the bug out bag concept and tried to apply it to numerous other examples like a Hospital bag, unannounced company bag, making your own Fire extinguisher, etc. These might seem like they could be helpful, but are you obsessing about prepping or just trying too much of a good thing?
Most often I see this abused in the food and “entertainment” aspects of prepping usually along the lines of “for morale purposes”. I agree that having some entertainment saved for the kids is important. It might be a great distraction in an otherwise stressful or boring situation. That being said, it can go overboard quickly. If your game cabinet turns into the game room stacked floor to ceiling with games you never play, maybe you should rethink that.
For food, yes, it’s nice to have a sweet from time to time. I know I certainly appreciate it and that is part of my preps, but dehydrating marshmallows for a morale boost if the grid goes down? Certainly, there are more important things.
One area of prepping is the term prepper burn out and I think so cases could come down to behavior like this. When you can’t turn off the prepping monkey on your back and it goes into every facet of your life, it could be more harmful than helpful.
Watch your own spread
It is a self-evident fact that the healthier you are, the better and longer your life will be in a lot of ways. I know so many preppers that have health issues and many of these are caused by being overweight. When the Covid crisis first started, you used to hear that it was impacting those with preexisting health issues worse, and then the narrative seemed to change to show just how many healthy people were also succumbing to the effects. As if we were picking on those with health issues unfairly.
Just recently, word started coming out that in fact the risk of death from Covid-19 is about 10 times higher in countries where most of the population is overweight, according to a report released Wednesday by the World Obesity Federation. Additionally, they found that people with obesity who contracted SARS-CoV-2 were 113% more likely than people of healthy weight to land in the hospital, 74% more likely to be admitted to an ICU, and 48% more likely to die.
Covid aside, if you are diabetic, the threat of living in an environment where you are unable to acquire or refrigerate your insulin is a big concern to preppers. For those and a whole lot of other reasons, if you are overweight, you need to curb the spread of your waistline.
Start a simple exercise program and most importantly, watch what you eat. You don’t have to have muscles like the Rock, go to the gym 5 hours a day or look like a swimsuit model, but if you get out of breath climbing a couple flights of stairs, you need to do something to change that.
Stressful situations are bad enough without you physically being unable to cope due you’re the state of your current health. You can start out slow but start getting in better shape today.
Hopefully this article was able to share some tips about how you can refine your prepping and curb the spread of items you have to keep up with. I know that personally, I have changed how I prep, and it’s impacted our supplies in a lot of ways.
By building in quality, we reduce waste and some excess that we must plan for realistically. Now, I can focus more on how we can build our stores in scalable ways.