Have you ever thought sometimes that Prepping is all work and no play? To the uninformed, prepping and preppers by association are consumed with fear and doom. Who wants to live a life where all you think about are bad things happening to the people around us? Many people I have talked to, who don’t understand preppers think we just sit around scared, paranoid and in fear of that knock on the door or the plague that could wipe out 80% of our nation but that isn’t true at all. At least for most of us. I think in some ways it is the people who never consider prepping that walk around in fear. Fear of terrorists, of people who have different opinions, of those who aren’t vaccinated, of someone who might own a firearm, of people who want more freedom and, well you get the point.
I have said before that the message of prepping is hope, not doom although you must choose how you look at things. I prepare because I want to be ready if something horrible happens, but I am prepping to survive whatever “it” may be. I don’t have a fatalistic view on my chances of survival, only what may necessitate me having to employ measures to ensure it. My wife and I had this same conversation back in the beginning as she saw (put up with) my ongoing efforts to get my family more prepared. She viewed my outlook on the future as extremely bleak. She couldn’t imagine a world like I was preparing for and wondered what was the point in living through those conditions. Since then she has seen that I am actively engaged in trying to protect my family to the best of my ability so that we can survive and hopefully help others in a calamity. She knows that I want to be part of the team helping others and that I don’t want to depend (or myself become a burden) on emergency services.
But other people can focus on the negative and get mired in the events we are prepping for, more so than the outcome we are trying to achieve. So with this post, I want to give you some ideas for hobbies that preppers can participate in that can do two things. First, these hobbies for preppers will give you skills that you can use in a survival situation but can also enrich your life right now. Second, these hobbies will help you focus on the goal of surviving if for some reason you have gotten a little mired in the thoughts about the future and have become a little negative in your outlook.
Below I have listed 16 of the best hobbies for preppers in no certain order that can give you training and encouragement in your abilities.
I lumped these three together because they are so similar but I have often advocated backpacking as a way to both test and practice your bug out plans. There are some that disagree with me, but when you are preparing for a backpacking trip into the woods, you need to consider all the same things you would as a bug out. The only exception usually is security.
Backpacking trips require you to lay out and plan for one or more days living in the environment, usually away from civilization and returning safely. You have to carry everything on your back, navigate trails, inclines, declines, obstacles just as you would in a bug out scenario. Best of all you get to see how carrying all your gear will feel at the end of a day. How far did you make it each day? Is there anything you realized you forgot once you got out into the woods? If you had to do it all over again, what would you change?
Hiking and Camping are similar but with a good bit less risk. With hiking, we are usually talking about day trips out and back so minor preparations are needed, but it is still a great activity that can teach you a lot about yourself and your physical ability. Camping, when done from the convenience of a car and a camp site is the least like bugging out on foot, but could mimic a vehicle bug out scenario and it’s just good to get out of the house, into nature and spend time away from it all with family and friends.
Geocaching is a fun activity that I started a few years back with my children and passed the interest down to a son-in-law who is now sharing it with his children. Geocaching is a great way to learn how to use a GPS unit to find items hidden and this ties directly into your own plans to stash prepping supplies in caches along your bug out route.
While playing this “game” you learn simple navigational skills but perhaps more importantly, how people hide items, how to find them and it really makes you think out of the box in some cases. Finding a hidden ammo box in the woods is one thing but finding a micro cache in the middle of a downtown business district that is no bigger than a lifesaver candy is something altogether different. Another great activity to do with kids as they get to join in with finding the hidden caches and discovering the interesting objects people have left behind.
In a grid down scenario, any activity that makes you more adept at bringing home food is a good one in my book. Hunting is a natural in that respect and it can teach you more than simply shooting at game. You can learn how to stalk prey, how to appropriately camouflage yourself and your movements, you can learn to identify game trails and habits of the game you are looking for.
Hunting allows you to employee various tools and methods to achieve your intended results. Firearms, bowed weapons, snares and traps are all useful and can give you great experience if you must depend on hunting to feed the family.
Can you fix things? When is the last time you changed your own oil? Do you even know how to do that? While I can admit that some of the newer cars aren’t really set up for you to perform your own maintenance easily, that shouldn’t stop you from learning if you have the notion. As I have gotten older my need to work on my own cars has decreased but I still have manuals and have been known to turn a wrench when it’s necessary.
Knowing how to do basic repairs to your vehicle is a great skill and it can start with simple things like changing tires, belts, batteries and hoses to more complex projects like replacing water pumps, alternators or half-shafts. With the right tools and a manual for guidance or YouTube, anyone can do practically anything you need to repair your vehicle. This can save you money and could be vital if for some reason we aren’t able to take a vehicle to the shop to get it fixed.
Like hunting, this hobby can put food on the table as well as be a simple, enjoyable way to get outside and spend some time either alone or with friends. Fishing can take on many different styles, but the basics are the same. Sometime the gear is different.
In terms of putting food on the table and being in a place where you are able to store food away, gardening is one that we should all be doing. As I mentioned in a post the other day, in a disaster, your food won’t last forever so you need a backup plan for your backup plan.
Gardening can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Many people start with a small plot and grow tomatoes, but if you are aiming to be able to put up enough food to last your family through the winter and up to the next harvest, a little more land and time will be required. Start learning how to grow your own food now, what your soil conditions are like, how to compost and you will be one step closer to being ready to have your garden provide everything you need.
What does paintball have to do with prepping? For starters, it can teach you team tactics, simulate military maneuvers to achieve objectives and deal with some of the stress in combat. OK, before anyone screams at me, I know this does not compare to real combat. Bullets go through walls much faster than paint balls do but if you look at this as training and you treat your surroundings as though the paint balls are real bullets, it can be beneficial and instructive.
Air-Soft is lumped in here too with the same benefits and less mess. As long as you understand the difference between cover and concealment, both of these games can teach you lessons. If nothing else, you can see how out of shape you are from running and hiding behind obstacles.
This hobby might be one of the most expensive for preppers, but if you already have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, getting off-road isn’t impossible and you can learn how to drive off the pavement and see what obstacles your vehicle can overcome. Communities like Overland Bound offer instruction, support, ideas and events to practice the skills needed to successfully go off-road.
Combine off-roading with camping and you have the makings of a really good vehicle bug out practice scenario. When you plan to go out with friends you can practice your bug out load plan, vehicle to vehicle communications with CB or Ham, land navigation with maps or GPS and field recovery when you get stuck in a mud pit that “didn’t look that deep” or break a part on the trail.
One of the most important requirements for owning a firearm is practice so that you are proficient in the safe use and handling of this tool. Part of this I believe, is being able to hit what you are shooting at and when your life depends on accurately hitting a target you are going to wish you had all the practice in the world.
Marksmanship can apply to pistols, rifles and even bows. Starting with paper targets and learning the fundamentals is key to getting better, more confident with that weapon and when the time comes you need to use it for hunting, practice or self-defense you can’t have enough training under your belt.
Orienteering combines racing with map reading. You can do this on your own or join a group like Orienteering.org. Timed races put individuals or teams though a course where you have to find your way with a map, compass and find different points along the way.
Want to create a secret treasure map to your hidden cache in the middle of 10,000 acres of forest? This is a good way to practice. It also helps with terrain recognition, and the obvious skills of map reading and how to use a compass.
More of a chore for some people than a hobby, exercise is one of the most critical components to being able to survive in a grid down or SHTF scenario and it’s one thing we most easily overlook or choose to ignore. Being able to move yourself from point to point, lift heavy objects repeatedly, perform manual labor and still have the strength to stand watch with alertness in the middle of the night is not something we can ignore.
Exercise can come in many forms, from simply walking during your lunch hour each day, to lifting weights, riding bikes, to following a routine from an app on your phone while you watch TV at night. The point is to do something to make sure your body is ready for the rigors of a stressful situation when you are faced with it.
When the SHTF, you already know that violent acts will become more pronounced. We see it every day now even though all the major systems we depend on are functioning normally. Having the ability and skill to defend yourself is important to all preppers. I carry a concealed weapon almost every day and so do many of you, but what if you aren’t able to take that weapon and someone threatens your life?
Self-defense classes help you avoid dying in a fight. You can choose from dozens of activities like boxing, Krav Maga, Judo, Karate, Taekwondo, Brazilian Jui jiitsu and countless others but they can all be used to keep you and your family safe while at the same time giving you focus, increasing your fitness levels and bolstering your confidence level.
You might be thinking that beekeeping is going to be too advanced but in reality, it takes about the same amount of time and means as gardening or other outdoor hobbies. In recent years, beekeeping has grown as a hobby to help families grow healthier plants while also helping the families be more self-reliant.
Keeping bees can not only help your garden and fruit orchards produce more, but you also get the benefits of honey, which can be stored forever and wax which can be used in making soap, candles and healing salves to heal minor scrapes or burns.
Ham Radio operators can still communicate if there is no electric power, satellites or cellular service. That is the primary reason they are the go-to method of communication for preppers as well as emergency response teams in virtually every large city. With the right equipment, Ham operators can talk to people in other countries using technology that was around in the early 1900s. If some disaster knocks out the cell phone service, emergency communications can be routed through Amateur Radio and you can keep in touch with others in your family, group, region or state easily.
Ham or Amateur radios fall under the control of the FCC and there is a licensing process associated with being able to communicate on the radio. To speak on the air legally, you must first obtain your Technician level license and a call sign from the FCC. Your name and information will be listed in at least one public database and this information is freely accessible to anyone who wants to look.
By now you probably are more than aware that if the power grid goes down, just about all of the food preservation capacity we have is lost. Yes, we have canned food, but grocery stores rely heavily on the refrigerated containers to keep meat and dairy product fresh. The freezers we all have rely on electricity too so in a true collapse how will you keep that bounty of vegetables around for longer than a week or two? It must be preserved.
From root cellars to pickling, canning and salting people for millennia have been storing food without the convenience of refrigerators or freezers and with a little work, we can do the same thing. Start small with making pickles from cucumbers you get from the store or better yet, your garden. Move up to veggies, soups, salsa and spaghetti sauce or stews. You can even can meat!
How can piloting one of those annoying remote control gadgets help you in prepping? Well, it is a hobby I have been wanting to try for a while for a couple of good reasons. First of all, it looks fun, but the ability to fly a drone with an HD camera 400 feet up in the air could have serious grid-down prepping advantages. The one drawback is the FAA requires registration and they have a lengthy list of rules. Most of them I see the rationale with, just hate the process.
Mostly it is about the ability for intelligence. You can fly a drown over your retreat location to get unobstructed surveillance to see who is coming from miles away. You can verify threats before they are close enough to do you any harm. Optionally, you could use a drone to advance scout a route you were getting ready to take on foot or to determine if that old logging road you are using has an ambush roadblock ahead. Or get really cool video of your kid’s soccer game.
So who is still with me? There are just 16 hobbies for preppers but I know there are so many more than can be used. What hobbies do you find help your prepping skills?