When I think about it I suppose I’ve been a prepper from when I was just a kid. When I first started hiking in the woods I had minimal gear and had to rely on my wits and just plain old going without when it came to material stuff. We weren’t rich, that’s for sure, but what we lacked for in material stuff we made up for in strong family relations. Sure, we drove each other crazy occasionally, but every family does that, right?
Then one Christmas back in the late 70’s my mother bought me a backpack similar to this boy scout pack. It wasn’t quite as heavy duty as this pack, but it gives you an idea of what I had. It was great! I carried that pack all over hell and gone and back again. The canvas straps tore my shoulders up until I got used to it and the waist strap was an inch wide and didn’t work that well, but I loved it. It might even be stored at my Mom’s house somewhere now that I think about it.
Anyway, figuring out the right stuff to put in that bag became an exercise that I still do today. Of course my options were far more limited back then. My knife was a folding Buck Knife that rode on my belt and I cut a whole lot of steak and onions up to fry in my boy scout mess kit with it. I can’t remember if it was a present or if I managed to scrimp and save enough money up to buy it, but I owned it for many years.
After awhile I boiled my gear down to my knife, a canteen, messkit, matches or lighter, a cheap poncho, and whatever I was wearing. Of course I always had to have steak and onions or some hotdogs in there too. Hotdogs, chips, bread, and mustard were a staple for me growing up and they fit nicely into my pack. We didn’t have the luxury of freeze dried goods, so whatever I took had to be eaten within a few days or I was going hungry.
In later years I was the guy who made coffee, pancakes, and bacon and eggs when the power out because I had all the camping gear a bachelor could ever need. I lived on a road where the power out when the wind blew harder than 20 mph, so it was nothing for me to light up a lamp, get my kerosene heater going, and dig out a book when we fell off the grid.
I remember being shocked when I visited a friend’s house when the power was out and they were all cuddled up on the couch under a blanket and in the dark because they didn’t have an alternative way to make light or heat. I remember asking myself how could anybody be so ill prepared?
Then along came Y2K, which got me thinking in a different mindset. I didn’t actually believe anything would come of it, but the stories written at the time did stress how dependent we are on electricity and the other necessities of civilization. And that’s when I really began to think about how our world lives in such a delicate balance of systems and infrastructure. I figured that the chances of something happening to our civilization, while remote, did exist and I decided to take action to protect myself and my family, just in case.
Oh, it didn’t happen all at once, but it seems like one day I looked around and said, “Holy smokes! This whole house of cards could come tumbling down without a lot of prodding.” A few years later the housing market imploded. At that point I was pretty sure that there were things happening in the world that I wanted to be prepared for and that’s when I started doing some serious thinking and discovered that I wasn’t alone. There were lots of people out there who thought just the way I did!
I’d avoided the “crazy-survivalist-in-the-hills” label because it wasn’t what I was about. I just wanted a plan on how to survive if things went south on us, not retire to a mountain retreat with enough guns and ammo to start a war. The prepper movement had a little bit of everything and I liked it because the people – for the most part – had a sensible approach to getting ready for trouble.
And the rest is pretty much history. I think I’ve always had the mindset of a prepper, starting as a kid who loved being outdoors. A lot of time I was by myself in some pretty dangerous circumstances, so having a plan on how to survive was critical.
Why did you get into prepping? Sound off below!