And why shouldn’t they? National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers doesn’t exactly help viewers understand the plight of the average prepper, the one without 60 guns, scuba diving equipment, a bunker and an armored personnel carrier. “I knew going into it that they would try to sensationalize a lot of stuff,” says Allen, a Springfield, Missouri survivalist who refused to divulge his last name; he appeared on the show in 2012 showing off his aquaponics setup. “If Doomsday Preppers had shown typical preppers on a typical day, it would’ve been pretty boring.”

Further interest in the survivalist movement peaked in the early 1980s, with Howard Ruff's book How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years and the publication in 1980 of Life After Doomsday by Bruce D. Clayton. Clayton's book, coinciding with a renewed arms race between the United States and Soviet Union, marked a shift in emphasis in preparations made by survivalists away from economic collapse, famine, and energy shortages—which were concerns in the 1970s—to nuclear war. In the early 1980s, science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle was an editor and columnist for Survive, a survivalist magazine, and was influential in the survivalist movement.[17] Ragnar Benson's 1982 book Live Off The Land In The City And Country suggested rural survival retreats as both a preparedness measure and conscious lifestyle change.
Unfortunately, some outdoor enthusiasts find themselves being threatened by nefarious people or dangerous animals. This leads some to keep a weapon or self-defense tool in their survival kit, in order to be better prepared for a worst-case scenario. Your self-defense tool may take the form of a knife or gun, but be sure to consider less-than-lethal items too. This would include things like stun guns, pepper spray, and telescoping batons. Just be sure to follow all local laws and regulations before packing any type of weapon or self-defense tool in your survival kit.
I also began to realize that I needed to prep for something that's increasingly as likely as earthquakes: large-scale civil unrest, which I witnessed a taste of in the streets that night. I began to think of how people act when they're scared, including and especially law enforcement. I started to think about home security, transportation options if fuel was limited, how to access information without the internet. I studied natural disasters and their repercussions around the world as a way to understand how to keep myself and my community safer.
Judging by that rationale—“people are not going to take care of you”—the impulse to prep is as much a response to governmental failings as it is to apocalyptic fantasies. During Hurricane Harvey, Houston residents relied on the “Cajun Navy”—generous volunteers with boats—to evacuate them. After Hurricane Maria, a Harvard study found that the Trump Administration’s neglect of Puerto Rico caused four thousand six hundred and sixty-five deaths, many because of interruptions to medical care. And, this week, as historic fires engulfed huge areas of California, the President accused the state of “gross mismanagement of the forests.” Charles, outlining his vision of a doomsday scenario, says, “It’s when law enforcement stops going to work, that’s when the breakdown begins. Now you’re talking about a free-for-all, every-man-for-themselves kind of deal.” Whether or not the apocalypse comes, it seems like that breakdown is already under way.
The undisputed experts when it comes to key survival gear? The rangers who save hikers who go astray. Jeff Webb, a search-and-rescue ranger at Yosemite National Park, has worked on more than 200 rescue missions. He's also seen action in Big Bend, Yellowstone, Canyonlands, Joshua Tree, and Rocky Mountain National Parks. With his advice, our editors put together this ultimate survival kit for hikers.
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Cigarettes will also be hugely useful for starting fires and saving coals (as any fan of post-apocalyptic literature knows, this is of great importance). The filters can be used to clean water, although you'll need the patience of Stephen Baldwin to pull it off. If you do manage to live for longer than a few weeks without plumbing and Internet, you'll be able to protect your budding prepper garden by soaking cigarette butts in water and spraying the resulting chemical-laden tobacco juice on your produce. This is a technique already in use by people too impatient to wait for the apocalypse, though it is ironic and entertaining that they consider using cigarette-butt sludge a "natural" way to ward off pests.
In arctic or alpine areas, survival kits may have additional cold weather clothing (winter hats and gloves), sleeping bags, chemical "hand warmer" packets, sun glasses/snow goggles, snowshoes, a collapsible shovel, a snare wire for small animals, a frying pan, a camp stove, camp stove fuel, a space blanket, matches, a whistle, a compass, tinder, medical equipment, a flint strike, a wire saw, extra socks and a tent designed for arctic use.

Judging by that rationale—“people are not going to take care of you”—the impulse to prep is as much a response to governmental failings as it is to apocalyptic fantasies. During Hurricane Harvey, Houston residents relied on the “Cajun Navy”—generous volunteers with boats—to evacuate them. After Hurricane Maria, a Harvard study found that the Trump Administration’s neglect of Puerto Rico caused four thousand six hundred and sixty-five deaths, many because of interruptions to medical care. And, this week, as historic fires engulfed huge areas of California, the President accused the state of “gross mismanagement of the forests.” Charles, outlining his vision of a doomsday scenario, says, “It’s when law enforcement stops going to work, that’s when the breakdown begins. Now you’re talking about a free-for-all, every-man-for-themselves kind of deal.” Whether or not the apocalypse comes, it seems like that breakdown is already under way.


Remember 2012? The Mayan calendar predicted the world would end in December. Doomsday Preppers premiered in February. The country was in an apocalypse mood, and thanks to Finelli, Springfield’s former Boy Scouts and ex–Tea Partiers came out of the shadows to mix it up with doctors and dentists. They had little else in common, but to borrow Finelli’s term, they were preparedness-minded. Springfield, MIss community was born.


Craig Compeau is a third-generation Alaskan who is prepping for a government takeover. Craig has set up a remote bugout InterShelter in the Alaskan wilderness. We also meet 44-year-old adventurer David Lakota who depends on his intuition and connection to nature to survive a giant tsunami and the mountainous terrain of Hawaii. During the program David and his girlfriend Rachaelle bug out with minimal supplies from the Kalalau Valley on Kaua'i to the 4000' high plateaus above.
When he gets up to show me about his cabin, Pense stands with the height and permanence of the dignified trees that encircle the property. He doesn’t say “um,” or “well”—the slow, deliberate syllables that emanate from his jowls feel like historical record, perhaps with a sprinkle of Americana, but not quite jingoism. Listening to him talk about his life is like having R. Lee Ermey recite your high school American studies textbook, but gentler.
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