Several years ago, a New York City firefighter named Jason Charles read the novel “One Second After,” by William R. Forstchen, and decided to change his life. In the book, an electromagnetic pulse goes off and sends the United States back into the Dark Ages; in its foreword, Newt Gingrich writes that this technology is not only real but terrorists know about it. “It was pretty much a green light for me to start prepping,” Charles says. The latest episode of The New Yorker’s “Annals of Obsession” video series centers on doomsday preppers—people who aim to equip themselves with the skills and materials they would need to survive a world-ending calamity. Charles is now the organizer of the group N.Y.C. Preppers, which teaches city dwellers how to fend for themselves. He says that he has stockpiled enough supplies that, if the worst came to pass, he would be able to be self-reliant for a year and a half.
Finelli sits across from me at the food court picnic table inside the Sam’s Club on Sunshine Street, where he requested we meet. The retired computer systems designer-turned–radio show host and homesteader has salt and pepper hair, wears a plaid shirt and jeans and carries a .45-caliber automatic firearm on his person (he won’t say where). Below his strong jawline hangs a leather bag full of crushed sapphire, meant to enhance his overall health.
Survivalists' concerns and preparations have changed over the years. During the 1970s, fears were economic collapse, hyperinflation, and famine. Preparations included food storage and survival retreats in the country which could be farmed. Some survivalists stockpiled precious metals and barterable goods (such as common-caliber ammunition) because they assumed that paper currency would become worthless. During the early 1980s, nuclear war became a common fear, and some survivalists constructed fallout shelters.
Opinel knives are a classic in bushcraft circles and they have huge following in Europe. Like Mora knives, they are typically very affordable and very effective cutting tools. The most commonly seen Opinel is the #8, which hasn’t changed a bit in almost 130 years. But that doesn’t mean that this French company isn’t paying attention to today’s outdoorspeople. The Opinel #12 Explore is a folding knife designed for hunting and survival. The convex grind stainless steel blade locks into an open or closed position with Opinel’s patented twisting collar lock. The knife also has a retractable gut hook and a shrill 110 decibel whistle integrated into the handle.
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What programs like Doomsday Preppers have accomplished, or at least contributed to, is turning sometimes well-informed, sometimes totally unwarranted paranoia into a booming prepper-industrial complex. Each year, swap meets pack hundreds of convention centers and fairgrounds across the nation—they’re like camping shows with a dose of military surplus and hands-on instructional sessions. The September 2017 Kansas City Survival Expo & Gun Show, for instance, had tips on seed saving, “Overcoming 900 Health Diseases” and “A Devastating Street Self-Defense System.” The latter was taught by Norman Cantwell, who inspired Patrick Swayze’s character in Roadhouse. You get the feeling that he and Steven Seagal would be friends.
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The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that the average homeowner should store at least three to five days of water and three days of food in case of an emergency or natural disaster. However, assembling an emergency kit, especially if you’re not entirely clear on what to purchase, can be a challenge. Wise Food Storage, thankfully, offers a line of emergency kits for the home and the car that are perfect for surviving emergency situations. Wise Food Storage specializes in preparing long-term, ready-made emergency meals and snacks. From freeze dried meats to dehydrated vegetables, Wise Food Storage carries a number of easy-to-prepare food items that prepared to last for years. Many of the food items are stored in specially designed pouches and extra-durable buckets that effectively seal out moisture and heat—in fact, when stored correctly in a dark, cool environment, Wise Food Storage meals and snacks can last for decades. Wise Food Storage offers a number of different emergency kits to meet a variety of different needs, including a five-day, one-person emergency kit as well as a survival kit that can meet the needs of six people for five days. The five-day kit for a family of six features nearly everything a person could need to survive during an emergency event, including 32 gourmet, ready-made, long-term entrees, water, a stove, cups, flashlights, first aid kits, blankets, matches, playing cards, and five extra-rugged backpacks. Wise Food Storage also offers emergency kits for particular needs or situations, as well. For example, the hunting survival kit features everything an outdoors enthusiast may need to survive in the woods, including an emergency sleeping bag, waterproof matches, an emergency candle, rope, a shovel, a first aid kits and a 4-in-1 flashlight. Wise Food Storage also carries a car emergency kit, which features jumper cables, robe, a first aid kit, duct tape, a survival whistle and a emergency blanket. By storing a few basic supplies in your home or car, you can ensure that you and your loved ones will remain safe and healthy in the event of a natural disaster or unforeseen situation.
About a month after I left meetup 2.0 at Pizza Hut, former attendee Garland Fitzhugh called to tell me it’s become more of an ‘eat-up’ than a prepper meetup—fair, considering there’s been no local calamity to keep the survivalist group on its toes. Allen emails meeting suggestions to a prepper listserv, asking them to focus on prepping situations they can actually influence. He may as well type in Wingdings. A former Navy technician, Allen spent most of the meeting on his phone; his ears only perk up when Andrew: says something about naval intelligence that piques his interest. “I try not to do that too much,” he tells me later.
Come experience the adrenaline rush at our outdoor paintball facility sprawling over 20 acres of play space. With our state-of-the-art paintball markers in hand, as you walk, crawl and run through the forest or the obstacle fields, the stage is set for a real battle experience. Build a team and play all day, or choose a package that best suits your “Survival” Instincts.
"Disperse!" came the command from the helicopter hovering above us. Every exit point seemed blocked by clouds of tear gas or the loud kapow! of flash-bangs. Every explosion startled me; I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin. Rubber bullets were being shot at us from every direction by cops dressed in SWAT gear, as if this was a war, not a protest. Someone next to me fell to the ground grabbing his face. I saw he was bleeding and scared, and I dropped next to him, telling him he was going to be OK, that I was a medic. It was my first time treating a wound in the street during a fray. Looking down at my hands and seeing a stranger's blood on my gloves chilled me, but there wasn't time to feel anything. My legs moved on autopilot, going from person to person to check on them. "Do you need a medic?" I found myself shouting over the noise every time I heard a scream.
Here are just a few choice gems from The Prepper Journal's 11 Ways A Condom Can Save Your Life: starting fires (they're great at protecting tinder from moisture), hunting for food (sexiest slingshot ever!), and transporting up to two liters of water (yes, rule 34 applies; no, we won't provide the link). They also make serviceable stand-ins for rubber gloves and can be used to protect the muzzle of your other essential survival tool (killing it right now).
What’s a bivvy? Glad you asked. The modern term refers to a weatherproof bag that is used in the wilderness or in an emergency setting to provide shelter (typically for one person, like a sleeping bag). We get the word from the UK (where they spell it with two “V”s), and it’s based on the more familiar word bivouac (meaning a temporary encampment). A bivy can be used in conjunction with a sleeping bag, to create a more weather resistant shell, or a heat reflecting liner. Or the bag can be used as a standalone shelter. Items like these have been on the market for years, but as materials improve – their weight keeps dropping and their effectiveness is increasing. Enter the TACT Bivvy Emergency Sleeping Bag from Survival Frog. This tight-packing bivy is made from our HeatEcho™ thermal reflective material to hold in your precious body heat. Like a space blanket, these remarkable materials can reflect back as much as 90% of your body heat. The bag is also windproof, waterproof and reinforced with taped seams. These are a great survival resource for your vehicle (particularly in the winter), but they’re a great fit in your survival kit or bug out bag too. Each one packs down small into nylon stuff sack provided, and they weigh less than 5 ounces each. There is a bright orange version, perfect for assisting SAR crews in finding you. You can also get a green version, for a lower profile in the wild. Either way, it’s a feather-weight shelter that fits in the palm of your hand!
According to Hobel, shelter is your first priority. Lay down cardboard and other materials to insulate yourself from the ground. (Even in summer, the ground can have temperatures that lead to hypothermic conditions.) Use tarps, blankets, pillows—whatever you can find—to build the shelter on that layer. It should be as low to the ground as possible, and you shouldn’t be able to sit up when you’re inside, Hobel says. Other than the airflow you need to breathe, block all openings to keep cold air from coming in. It’s a matter of conserving heat. A lot of people don’t realize that their bodies are heat sources, Hobel says. You’re almost 100 degrees. Trap that heat around you instead of letting it rise in a tall shelter, and you won’t need a fire to stay warm.