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Being Honest with Yourself: A Prepping Reality Check

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Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Chevyguy. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.


The more articles and prepping books I read and the YouTube Videos I watch I find a very obvious question that I don’t think people are asking themselves. The more I start to question if these people have anything valuable to say or worthwhile to show. What is this huge imposing question? Are these preppers being honest with themselves?

Now I realize in the Survival lifestyle there is a lot of ways to break it down. From bugging in or out, which kind of food storage to have, how to defend yourself, which weapons to own the lists can go on and on. But the word Survive itself is where I think people are completely missing the point. Survival! It’s not a TV show, it’s not a video game, there are no restarts and no second chances. You do or die, make the right call or fail, eat or starve. It’s not glamorous it’s not pretty and if it happens to you,  it won’t be the Hollywood version you have seen on movies. With these thoughts in mind, I have compiled a selected few topics I think people should reevaluate in their lives and make and give yourself a prepping reality check.

Why are you prepping anyway?

First and foremost what in the hell are you prepping for and why? Do you live in area prone to floods or hurricane alley? Is your home in a place that has regularly harsh winters or some other kind of recurring natural disasters? If so, then you have an easy to envision goal to strive for. When part of your normal life could be that you’re snowed in and can’t get out for two months, its nice to have food, water and heat that you can provide for yourself. If you live in flood zones its nice to have sand bags handy that are all ready filled and ready to go and other natural methods of water diversion. But then I read of people who prepare for this TEOTWAWKI and I take a step back and wonder what that means to them.

For my wife, the end of the world as we know it is a world without Facebook. To a guy at work it’s no TV and no way to charge his vape batteries. To others it’s a nuclear holocaust as is portrayed in the Fallout video games. Before you start prepping, you need to have a vision of something realistic that you are preparing for. I find it easy to think of a certain problem, for example how will I stay warm, and go forth from there. Find a simple problem and then find several different ways to fix that particular problem. Keep your problems small and you can tackle them more easily. Don’t start with how to heat your house, focus instead on how am I going to stay warm – how am I going to keep my safe room warm? Because honestly you don’t need your whole house to be warm. You don’t even need your room to be warm, all you need is your body to be warm to survive.

Once you start breaking basic problems down you’ll see that you are a lot better off and better prepared to face your challenges. This is also great for somebody who is just starting out in prepping or maybe have been doing it for a while but feels like they are missing something or there is a giant hole in their supplies. Focus on the little things because you start adding a bunch of little things up and they become a very big thing. Would it be cool to have NBC gear and gas masks for Nuclear Fallout, to have full body armor and a diverse array of weaponry at your disposal? Sure it would be but that’s all it would be, cool. For most people, it would not be practical. When you’re wearing all that cool gear starving or dying from dehydration you will wish you would have used that money to prepare for something that could have been used not something tacticool.

Your supplies won’t last forever.

Second, realize that everything you hoard will run out, it’s not a lifeline, it’s a buffer. There is no way the average person has enough room and space, let alone money to stockpile roughly 50 years of food and water nor have the ability to move it around if needed. The most common responses I get from people when asked what they’ll do in an emergency is, ‘we have rice and beans well be fine’, or ‘we’ll just garden we won’t need the grocery store’. The problem with these people is that they don’t consider the amount of water for rice and beans or the amount of time food takes to grow.

The one, single, solitary thing that will keep you alive are skills. Having a stockpile is great and I myself am working on creating one, but you must have the skills and the materials to replenish that stockpile before it’s all gone. Many people who garden, rarely stockpile plain empty canning jars and lids or know of or have the skills to persevere garden harvests from spoiling. Folks who plan to hunt either haven’t done it in a while or only know how to use a firearm. They’ve never used or considered a bow, traps, snares or other methods. They are just planning on being able to go hunt and survive. They don’t consider how skilled (and lucky) you have to be to even see game, let alone how much competition from other people trying to survive they will encounter.

Another huge problem with stockpiling is people become targets to looters. Chances are someone has seen you unloading your massive amounts of beans and rice at one point or another. Or someone you know is aware of that root cellar you have outside. When you have so much crap that you can’t easily hide it, others are going to look at you as their lifeline or their target. Last note on stockpiling is stop stockpiling crap. Will a hundred empty peanut butter jars be helpful, probably not as much as you think because there going to be so many other empty peanut butter jars out there. Will a hundred cheap flashlights from the dollar store be the cure-all for lights? Good reliable gear is not cheap. I am not saying you have to spend a million dollars to have decent gear as a lot of it is way over priced but have something that’s quality built not just crap. You will appreciate it one day.

How much is too much?

Good reliable gear brings us into our third topic, don’t be a gear whore. Is having some back up gear nice to have, yes, but don’t we all get that momentary high from getting new things? All that gear you have stocked away is great but do you know how to use it? What good does it do you to have an AR and all the ammo in the world if you don’t know how to shoot it? Can you properly tear it down, clean and lube it? What usefulness does a fully loaded medic bag do if you don’t even know basic wound care, CPR or even what’s in the bag?

I find a lot of people will buy these “ultimate anything bags” and throw em in the corner and think they are good to go without ever really knowing what’s in them. They have never used any of the supplies before, hell sometimes they haven’t even unwrapped some of the components inside. The best way for gear to assist you is if you have the skills to use it properly. You want a sure-fire way of knowing what gear you need for a 72 hour bag? Throw in some minor stuff and go survive out of it for 72 hours. Try and build a shelter by testing out that weirdo from YouTube’s latest and greatest shelter design. Try and build a solar still and see how much water you get. Live in an urban environment? Pack a bag and try to leave the city. See how fast and how far you can get each day on foot. Find safe places to hole up for the night.

There is a reason why highly skilled military operatives go through so many mock training courses, because that is the only way you’ll know how you will react in that situation. You train over and over and then reflect back on the experience. It builds muscle memory. Do you really need that 400-dollar ultra light tent or is a tarp that much better to use? Sure flint and steel are a good idea but should I have some matches to use too? Only by going out and trying out your gear will you know if it fits your plan of action and if it actually works for you. Most of you will probably be pretty disappointed.

What shape are you in?

You don’t want to have your health working against you in an emergency.

Now lets talk about physical fitness levels. I work on my feet for 8-10 hours a day -eat like a typical mid twenty year old and weigh 150 pounds. Can I throw on an extra 20-pound bag and walk for 15 miles a day, then sleep on the cold ground and eat crappy food and walk another 15 miles the next day? The answer is no, and if you asked yourself that question, your answers still probably the same. Everyone has the crazy idea of running to the mountains and living like the old school mountain men. The problem is that most mountains are a few hours if you are lucky in a vehicle and a few weeks by foot. Can you make that distance?

I’m not saying that you need to spend 8 hours a day in a gym working out getting ready for SHTF but a few hours a week is probably not a bad idea for anyone. Getting to know your body’s physical limits is a good idea but pushing them is even better. Once you think you know how much you can take, it allows you to start breaking down those mental barriers that are preventing you from achieving more.

A part of overall fitness is physical health as well. This is especially important to those of you who are dependent on medications to survive. I am not talking about medications to just make life a little easier or lower risks of certain types of things but to physically stay alive. In a survival situation there is no drug stores, no pharmacy and there will be no way to renew that medication. If your health is dependent on these medications, in the short-term you die. Everything you have stockpiled will be of no help to you. I’m sorry but the laws of nature and natural selection are what a survival situation really comes down to. The strong survive and reproduce. The weak die off and the ones who have bad traits die off. There is no way around this problem. Now for those who take a blood pressure medicine to prevent risk of heart attack. You’ll probably die of a heart attack once your meds run out and you’re in a high stress situation. But you can still go on, still fight and survive because you are not dependent upon your meds to stay breathing. For those people who are in that category you need to seriously reevaluate your plans and your expectations as you’ll have the hardest and shortest of times.

It’s time for some to have a reality check

Last I want to talk about some people’s grand plans and ideas they have to survive a SHTF scenario. I’ll break this up into two sections bugging in and out.

Bugging Out

Lighter is always smarter.

Lets start with bugging out. A 72 hour bag, bug out bag is supposed to get you to a well supplied location within a 72 hour walking distance. It’s not meant to live out of for the rest of your life. It’s not meant to stock your bug out location. Its to get you from your home to your bug out location or some other safer location. People over complicate the hell out of a bug out bag. Light and fast should be the motto when building a bug out bag.

A lot of people will argue against this idea and try to pack as much prepping supplies as they can carry. If that’s you,  then you don’t have a 72 hour bag you have a INCH bag (I’m Never Coming Home) bag were you will need extra things to survive because you do not have a survival stash location. Your plan is that you are heading out the door and you will be forced to survive with everything on your back. Another question I hear frequently is ‘what if your location isn’t 72 hours away – what if its five or six days away?’ Well then you need to have a resupply location in between your home and your location, a temporary bug out location if you will that some people call a cache. A survial cache is a place that you have another fully loaded 72-hour bag ready to go, or at least additional items to resupply what you have used already. If at all possible, this cache location is also a place where you can rest for a little while and regain some strength and stamina. People might wonder why this is necessary and the answer to that is weight. If you have a resupply location, you can carry only the items you need to get you to that point. You don’t have to add-on the extra 3 days worth of water and food. Instead of having a 60-pound pack you can now have a nice 25 pound pack that you’ll be able to travel a lot faster with. Obviously stashing a pack takes some planning and thought process but its much easier on the back if the mind does all the work. Seriously reconsider what your bug out plan is I realize that sometimes 72 hours away isn’t far enough distance away from a problem so plan ahead of time.

Bugging In

Now lets cover bugging in. I like bugging in because it doesn’t involve as much walking plus there are softer beds to be slept in. But the thing with bugging in is security from a number of aspects. First, when you are on the road in a survival situation, you’re a target. Some loser will think he can come and take what you have and you will need to be ready to take a life if it’s required unless you want to jeopardize your safety or your supplies.

The Second risk is a theft situation, you and your supplies need to be locked up tight from anyone trying to break in which means a better built door and windows to start with. Whatever it takes to keep people locked out. Third is a smoked out situation, in the old days people would die from being trapped in a house because looters or a mob burned it down and they were trapped inside. The solution isn’t to have a secret escape route out of the house its to have a fire-proof house. They make metal roofs and concrete siding all of which are fireproof and if enough money is spent on windows not even small arms fire can get through them. Bunkers are nice but unpractical as the cost of construction and they pose their own set of problems with airflow and sanitation. Consider the construction of your house to determine the safety of your house, remember the home is your castle and that’s what needs defending and they sure didn’t build em out of wood back in the day. Maybe go back through the house and analyze how you would survive your firefight or a Molotov cocktail incident.

To conclude I just want to bring reality back to people. I myself get caught up with having a huge stockpile of stuff. The best gear I can afford in my BOB, and planning for a highly unlikely scenario when there’s a more probable one to plan and prepare for. I want people to be able to take away something positive from this article that will help improve their chances of life in a terrible situation. It’s easy to get caught up in all the hype and the latest and greatest survival gear but ultimately it comes down to you and your skills, mental ability and your planning that will let you see another day. If you take the time to go back through your check lists and evaluate with an honest heart, how well you have things together and have prepared I promise, you wont regret it.

23 Comments

  1. the Deplorabel Cruella DeVille

    May 31, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Good one!
    Most of the topics mentioned are on my “considerations” list. I fully plan on bugging in, and have made the property and house as inconspicuous, and inaccessible as possible within my budgetary and commuting constraints. I have also made fairly decent preparations for water, heat, food supplies, and defense.
    If we absolutely must leave we can do so, but that possibility if far down my list.
    My more pressing concerns are the get home issues, given that I spend roughly ten hours daily forty miles from the homestead.
    As noted it’s a lifestyle, not a specific task that ends once completed.

  2. NRP

    May 31, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Absolutely FANTASTIC article, good job; this is your contest winner for sure.

    I agree with the Author and the Deplorabel Cruella DeVille, this is a ‘Lifestyle’ NOT a contest to prep for TSHTF. Ya had better start thinking of your lifestyle before you try to prepare, most lifestyle’ers have already figured all this stuff out.

    Again, GREAT JOB Chevyguy

    NRP

  3. robert nogle

    May 31, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    I think you got it,Ihope a lot of people get it now.great job!!!!!!!

  4. Flattop

    May 31, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    This is a very good article. Its time to start thinking for ourselves. All the good advice, good books, articles on survival can assist you, but in the end its about YOU. Are you prepared mentally for what we have no idea is going to happen. Everyone thinks and reacts differently to any given situation, so its really about you. If you have confidence in yourself, you will come out the other side a winner.

  5. anonymous

    June 1, 2017 at 7:16 am

    Good one. I’ve recently had to face this reality, as I now take blood thinners due to a mechanical heart valve being installed some years back. When blood thinner meds run out, I’ll probably stroke out in time without them. So i guess I have a real ‘expiration date’, lol.

    So I guess I prep for my family and hope for the best – what else can I do except find methods of blood thinning without meds ?

    • the Deplorabel Cruella DeVille

      June 1, 2017 at 7:25 am

      Strong teas made from the bark of the Willow tree is a blood thinner containing salicylic acid, ie; the active ingredient in aspirin. Garlic, and Turmeric as well, although the last is not as well researched.

    • Linda S

      June 1, 2017 at 8:08 am

      I agree with Cruella – also cayenne & vitamin C. Internet research is great but sometimes all you hear about is the latest fad. Invest in a couple of good herb books that have been around awhile. All we can do is try. I’m 71 and tho in good health, I have limitations. I, too, prepare for the family.

    • McBunny

      June 8, 2017 at 5:10 pm

      Stock up on Aspirin….it’s a blood thinner too….but it does usually contain caffeine in it also…
      Best of luck…

  6. angelcrest

    June 1, 2017 at 7:54 am

    Well written article! I enjoyed reading it. Appreciate the thoughtfulness and logical progression in each section. No hype, just the facts! And you are right on target!

  7. Tom Walker

    June 1, 2017 at 8:16 am

    Excellent article. Captures the problems and fantasies of many preppers. The most likely scenario being a limited weather related or other natural disaster. Any grid down longer than that and it gets ugly quick and preppers will perish like everybody else, maybe living a bit longer. Prepping beyond the 3-4 day event means significant adjustment in lifestyle, probably relocation and change of job. You ready for that? How about your family. I tend to think of this as more of the homesteading option, self sufficient to the extent possible and with the ability to maintain and defend what you have built. Even in the homestead approach, without a broader community solo families are extremely vulnerable to the inevitable “hordes” or gangs that will form in the aftermath of any grid down (see any novel such as One Second After, 299 Days Series, Patriots etc or any of the Mac Slavo articles on Sarajevo)…you must be working with a broader community to survive that extreme scenario. Thank you for this article I hope it is ready widely and preppers look into the mirror.

    • Judy K.

      June 1, 2017 at 10:43 am

      Thank you for the recommendation on Mac Slavo. I am reading his comments, They are both frightening and enlightening.

    • The deplorable cruelladeville

      June 3, 2017 at 2:48 pm

      My base plans are for an initial 90 days or so, after which it’s back to my grandparent farm style of living. We’ve put away six months of canned or freeze-dried proteins, carbs, and fruits – some commercial, some DIY. Water is either a solar powered 12/24vdc ranch pump, or one of the dug wells with a crank pump. If the pumps work we use the toilets, else it’s the two-holer by the wood line. the wood stove is fine for heat and cooking, and I’ve been collecting all the “antique” wood or metal tools I can find. So cutting wood won’t be an issue either.
      Regardless: I grew up on a remote working farm, and summered with the grand parents whose running water was a hand pump over the kitchen basin.
      We’re far enough out that most of the city hordes won’t make it, and far enough off the highways that those who do will be lost.
      We’ll probably survive

  8. justmeagain

    June 1, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    If you do store extra canning jars, don’t store them empty, fill with water, then store.

  9. ShadowCat

    June 1, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Excellent, well grounded article. In the beginning I too had rather silly ideas on “surviving” whatever comes, but it was like peeling an onion. The deeper you go the more you cry. All the little things we don’t even consider can become very difficult, if not impossible to accomplish. I laugh at the folks who brag about stuffing a handgun, a folding stock AR and 300 rounds of ammo in their BOB to fight their way home…Sorry, on your own, away from home, if you have to fight beyond the first mag, you’re probably already dead………..I have sufficient supplies for perhaps a season or two, but eventually it would be exhausted. I’m fortunate enough to live in the mountains, with game and water available. As you stated, hunting is as much a matter of luck as skill and if every neighbor for miles around is hunting every day or even every week, the game will only last so long……soon you’ll be eating nuts and berries, if you can find any..Lastly, security would become a huge problem at some point. Sooner or later people are going to show up on your property, with more bodies and firepower than you have and you’re going down……….I agree, the best chance for long term survival is to form a working co-op with as many neighbors as you can corral. Help each other, protect each other, work together. I don’t care how smart you are or how bad-ass, you’re going to need help with a lot of things along the way…..Let’s hope and pray this never evolves beyond the point of conversation…….In a true TEOTWAWKI most of us simply won’t be smart enough, tough enough or lucky enough to survive the first year.

  10. JR

    June 1, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    This is yet another stupid article disguised as information, when it is really about promoting select advertisers. Preppers are among the most uninformed, grossly inaccurate people on the planet these days – and they gobble this kind of sh*t up like manna from heaven. They think of themselves as “informed” and “educated” but the reality is just the opposite – they cannot discern garbage information from real, factual, essential information. And the alternative media, especially in the survival genre, is polluting the message with crap articles like this. The whole “bugging out” fantasy is pure unadulterated b.s. for morons and idiots for example. All you stupid fools that try this are going to DIE. GOOD DAMNED RIDDANCE WITH YOU TOO. You’re morons, through and through. If you cannot survive WHERE YOU LIVE NOW you are a stupid fool. Refugees will be SHOT. This article, like 99% of the utter CRAP proposed by “preppers” is absolutely useless and full of lies and disinformation, fantasy filled GARBAGE. WHAT A JOKE YOU PEOPLE REALLY ARE.

    • Kathy

      June 1, 2017 at 5:41 pm

      Wow JR, why don’t you tell us how you really feel? What’s wrong with making sure you think about exactly what you are prepping for, and re-assessing your gear, skills, and surroundings. Somebody needs a hug.

    • JD

      June 3, 2017 at 8:42 am

      Well, JR the jackass. If youre so fu*#ing smart, why dont you write an article explaining to all of us how its supposed to be done. I wont hold my breath though, because people like you really dont know shit. You like to type posts like the one you did to justify your own lacking ability. The article addressed some of the fantasies abundant in the prepping world. And if you think bugging out is a fantasy, you are one of the stupidest people on the internet. I personally know folks who live in the city because of their jobs, but have a fully stocked location in rural parts of the state. So because they would have to leave to chaos of the city to make it to the sanctity of their bug out location their gonna die?! Hahaha please consider not typing another post, ever. Your ignorance and lack of skill bleed through. Go learn something before you want to open your suck again.

    • McBunny

      June 8, 2017 at 5:15 pm

      And your reason to reply would be just as rediculous…
      If you didn’t find anything to your liking you should have just not replied in the first place….

  11. Mike

    June 1, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    JR, chill man…take your pill, have a drink, go for an F’ing walk…….I do agree, home is in many cases your best bet………that’s my plan…….That said, if you live in an urban area and all Hell breaks loose, you probably want to be someplace else, not in a high rise apartment with no lights, food or water and the streets filled with roving, armed nut-jobs…….Have a pre-determined place to go, family member, friend, whatever, somebody outside the urban area, if possible……..If that’s no go, have a gun, ammunition to keep the wolves at bay and as much water and food as you can afford to stock…..The point is, it ain’t a freekin video game. If “it” happens, have a plan…..As for refugees being shot down in the street, I think you’ve been watching too many movies………. Yes, if the dirt bags are running wild, being on the street would be dangerous, but if you are smart I believe that you could get out of Dodge, so to speak……….As for preppers, in general, at least they/we are aware that the world could turn upside down tomorrow and life as we know it might take an ugly turn. Having a plan, any plan, even a bad plan, probably puts you in the top 20% of people likely to survive a bad situation……..Most people live in la-la land, ain’t gonna happen here, ain’t gonna happen to us, I ain’t worrying about it…….THOSE are the people that wouldn’t survive a month………………IMO there’s no downside to prepping…..worst case, “it” never happens. So what, you always have a full pantry and extra supplies around the house……If “it” does happen, you at least have a head start on your neighbors……………..if you have useful suggestions, I’m sure people would be interested in them. If you’re just going to rant, maybe you need some help my man.

  12. William Goewey Jr

    June 2, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Great article! I have always believed in skill over gear,mainly because I have never had the money for gear. The 5 P’s motto has been my lifetime guide. Gear is ok, but I am confident I can walk out my door and be as well off with what is in my pockets as any gear junkie with a $30,000 pile of stuff.

  13. Jerry

    June 7, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    Excellent article. As you stated, many people will buy a prefilled BOB. Put it in the closet, and think that they’re ready for the apocalypse because they also have a firearm, and a box of ammo. At 63 years and bad knees, if I can’t bug out by vehicle, then my only other choice is bugging in. I’m planning accordingly.

    • Judith Mardula

      June 8, 2017 at 7:15 pm

      I had my first knee replacement at 62 years old. The rehab was so awful, I swore my other knee would go to my grave with me. Nine years later, I had no choice. I can now walk. I am not planning on bugging out, but I can do chores and garden. I can pressure can and make bread. My hope is that my knowledge and skills will help my daughter and grandson survive if it comes to that. Think about what you can do to optimize your health, and don’t shy away from joint replacement if it will help.

  14. Earl Tower (@ErlTyriss)

    June 10, 2017 at 1:54 am

    Good article. I always try to consider my own survival preparation as one for a temporary major civil disorder, or a natural disaster. I live in a tornado prone and earthquake potential area. With all the people in this area, if things are hit hard; it is going to be a disaster and partially lawless.

    I guess each of us really has to assess what we are doing and what are the threats to our families.

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