The Prepper Continuum

I’ve been doing this prepper thing for a long time now, roughly thirty years and counting. While I missed the heyday of people like Kurt Saxon and Mel Tappan, I did get started right around the time Ragnar Benson’s books became wildly popular. We’re talking the mid 1980s or so.

This was back when the Cold War was still at its height and survivalists near and far were concerned about the Soviets finally pushing the button. There was a lot of talk about underground bunkers and fallout protection.

Flash forward a little less than two decades and the concern became Y2K. Oh no! All the computers are going to crash because some nitwit forgot to account for the year 2000 in the electronics and programs.

Today, the threats have changed a little. Now, for end of the world type threats, we talk about EMP, the Yellowstone caldera, increasingly severe weather, the New Madrid fault, and yes, even nuclear war, primarily thanks to the window licker currently in charge of North Korea.

At the same time these threats have morphed into other concerns, my own prepping style has changed. In talking to other preppers and survivalists, I’ve learned many of them have gone through the same developmental process, at least to one degree or another.

We’ll call it the Prepping Continuum.

It all starts with building a survival kit. Call it a bug out bag, a Get Out Of Dodge (GOOD) kit, or an I’m Never Coming Home (INCH) bag, it all amounts to the same basic thing — a collection of gear and supplies to keep you alive. From there, the plan becomes focused on bugging out. Head for the hills and live in a debris hut, eating food you’ve caught or hunted.

As the prepper gets older, and hopefully wiser, he begins to think, Y’know, I’m not 20 years old anymore. Living in a grass hut just doesn’t appeal, at least not as a long-term solution. By this time, the survivalist may have a wife and children in tow as well, which obviously complicates things. So, the focus shifts to more of a shelter in place plan. After all, that’s where all the gear is, right? Better to be ensconced at home than become a well-equipped refugee.

Go a little further down the Prepper Continuum and you’ll see things change even more. Now, instead of just thinking about hunkering down at home, the prepper is looking to connect with others and maybe set up a group of sorts. Many hands make light work, y’know? By coming together, the group may be better able to meet everyone’s needs, especially when it comes to someone watching your six while you zonk out for a few hours.

Eventually, at the far end, opposite the bugging out forever stage, you come to the idea of living in a settled and established village or small town. One that already has a doctor’s office or two, a dentist, and a whole ton of rural folks who know how to do more with less and make do or do without. In other words, a community of preppers, though they might think of themselves as homesteaders if anything at all.

Where are you in the Prepper Continuum?

Published by

Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

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