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20 Prepper Mistakes to Avoid

It's always a good idea to understand what pitfalls can lie ahead for a new prepper, or even a seasoned one. We recently did an episode on this very subject. Below are our top 20 prepper mistakes to avoid. These were taken directly from our show notes, so enjoy the chaotic nature of the format.

1. Lack of organization/planning

  • Sometimes people just start buying stuff willy-nilly. It’s best to have a plan when you are prepping.

  • Let’s start with my fav, the Family Emergency Plan

    • You need to have a baseline plan to start with when it comes to prepping.

    • It is a mistake if you haven’t set out some basic rules and procedures for an emergency.

    • It doesn’t matter how much food or water or bullets you have if its a circus as an event hits.

    • Get a plan together. It will be worth it

  • Personal Risk Assessment

    • Conduct a personal risk assessment which includes basic info such as -

      • What things are most likely to happen to you and your area?

      • Are you prepping for hurricanes but you live in Minnesota?

      • There can be some crossover, but why not actually do a personal risk assessment first?

      • What natural disasters are most likely in your area?

      • Are you on daily meds?

      • Do you have a long commute?

      • Are your financial preps in order?

      • Take the biggest risk, mitigate it with preps or plans, and move down the list

  • Inventory

    • How much food do you actually have? Do you know?

    • How much food and water do you actually need?

    • Grabbing some food here and there is great, but you will be sorely disappointed when you actually count up those calories in your stash

    • It’s always a good idea to have an inventory of some sort so that you know what you have, when it expires and have a rotation schedule

    • This is the same for your gear. Have a list. Know what you actually need and have and keep it up to date

2. Don't overlook prepping for the most likely scenario (personal apocalypse) and realistic scenarios

  • Sometimes preppers stock up for WWIII, alien invasions etc. and overlook the most likely scenarios like job loss, financial crisis, unexpected health issues etc.

  • Prepping is fun when you think of the extremes, but the most important and most likely for you and for your family in your area (home fire, wildfire, flood, tornado, hurricane etc) can lead you to prepping some of the best ways possible.

  • Be better prepared for the things around you. It helps to focus on the essentials rather than get overwhelmed with all the other crap.

  • The most life-sustaining things - food, water, financial security etc. will not only get you further in minor issues, but likely further than most in extremes as well.

3. Missing the focus on the essentials (food and water)

  • This one is an easy trap to fall into

Food and water are the least sexy things to prep on the planet.

  • But if Cam and I have learned anything over the last 5 years, it’s that EVERY situation comes back to the basics - food and water are at the top of the list.

  • Make sure that your plan and your preps revolve around food and water.

  • We have seen A LOT of preppers through the years that have a one-track focus - guns and ammo come to mind.

  • You can’t eat bullets.

4. Too much focus on bugging out

  • It sounds way more manly to bug out, take all your gear to your bug out location via your homemade tank, live off the land, eat grubs, shower in a waterfall, kill a bear, make a bear-hide bed and chairs, talk to the animals, ride a wild moose into town to resupply. It all sounds amazing but it is much much harder and much more risky and uncomfortable then just staying at home where everything is available including comfort, security, roof etc.

  • You may need to bug out, but the best plan is to stay put. You know the area, the people, most often what your threats are etc.

  • The bulk of your supplies, especially food and water are at your home. This makes surviving way easier and a lot more comfortable, especially if you have a family of any size.

  • More likely to stay alive.

  • Yes plan for both, but definitely heavily plan for the most likely, bugging in.

5. Lack of skill development, proper gear use, and/or too much focus on one skill (Armchair warrior, keyboard commando)

  • The key to being a good prepper is to be well-rounded.

  • I hate to keep harping on the guns and ammo preppers, but they are the most obvious.

  • When your focus is on one skill or one type of prepping, you may be prepared, or you may be totally unprepared for a certain apocalypse

  • You can train like crazy to be the greatest sniper known to man with 8 million rounds, but that won’t be great when a flood washes your house away or a fire burns through town.

  • If you love to do that, awesome, keep on shooting and keep on training. You need to do things that you love, But if you think that should be the extent of your prepping, you’re wrong.

  • It’s best to have the basics down on a wide range of skills. It will really help you be as prepared as possible.

6. Storing all your preps in one location

  • We just said the best thing to do is bug in, but don’t put it ALL in that location.

  • All your eggs in one basket makes several specific scenarios much more costly to you.

  • Natural disasters take homes all the time, everything you have prepared, inventoried, organized, can be gone in an instant.

  • Easier target for looters or even the government.

  • Make sure you use alternative locations, caches, vehicle bags, workplace bags etc.

7. Being a know it all and not willing to help others or receive help (Lonewolfer)

  • This pisses me off. It’s the reason we started the podcast.

  • In our opinion, being a good prepper means helping and sharing with everyone that you can anything you have learned along your prepping journey.

  • There are many people out there that just want to belittle or trash people because of their prepping choices.

  • The more people you can help as a prepper before SHTF, the better off you will be.

  • This is even more important for the people around you. The more you help your friends and family, the easier an emergency will be for all of you.

  • And, if you plan to lone-wolf it, cuz you hate people - Good Luck. Read Survival Theory by Jonathan Hollerman. He is a bad ass ex military SERE instructor. He says that you should never lone wolf unless you have no other choice.

  • The more you involve people, the more you help, the more you share knowledge, the more fun prepping will be. And if it isn’t fun, it won’t be consistent and it will be hard to keep prepping.

  • You can talk about being a gray man all you want, in my opinion, you need to help other people. It only helps you. Say that I’m making myself a target, I just don’t care. I’ll take that chance.

8. Not involving your family in prepping

  • Your spouse might think its stupid that you have a sword and grenade in a bag under your bed, but they should know why and be included in your plan.

  • Unless you are a selfish psycho and plan to ditch them, you need to make them aware of your plans, items and purpose to your prepping.

  • Kids especially like the ideas, teach them why you do it, where stuff is and how and when to use it. You could be incapacitated, don't spend all that time to leave your family unprepared.

  • Get them involved with even just simple emergency plan, if they're not even interested in that, then you probably do want to leave them behind.

9. Focusing too much on weapons, but also not knowing how to use them

  • We’ve already talked about this in a few different sections.

  • There is a whole community of “Gun Preppers” out there.

  • There is NOTHING wrong with being a gun prepper….as long as you supplement that with some additional prepping.

  • Guns and ammo and firearms training are VERY important, but they are a VERY small part of prepping.

  • I have NO issue with people enjoying shooting and training and amassing an arsenal, just don’t think that is where prepping ends.

  • Also, many people have the gear, and just don’t train with it. Or, they really don’t understand it.

  • I’m guilty of this. I don’t get to the range like I should. Mostly because I don’t want to take out a second mortgage to pay for ammo.

  • But train with the gear you have. Know the consequences of using it. And broaden your prepping game beyond that.

  • If I hear another person say “Nice, keep buying that TP and water. I’ll bring my guns over and take it when SHTF happens.’ I just might puke...

10. Ignoring the importance of a prepper library (books, pdfs, saved videos etc)

  • “Why waste space in your bag with a book, learn the book and skills”

  • We aren't the matrix, and can't download knowledge and remember it all. Nor does one have time to practice every aspect of survival day after day.

  • A good prepper library is essential. I have books on surviving nuclear fallout, how to field dress animals, how to reload guns, fix my truck, cut out an ingrown toenail.

  • PDFs, print lists, buy books, download slides, tons of ways to store information and skills to learn later or in a pinch.

11. Expecting to live off the land, hunt, or bushcrafter style only

  • This is the most seggsy and romantic version of surviving the apocalypse there is.

  • I don’t blame anyone for thinking this would be awesome or even doable.

  • But, again, take it from an expert - Jonathan Hollerman - It won’t last long for 99% of people.

  • When the cold hits, snow falls, or the fish aren’t biting, its going to go downhill fast.

  • Also, don’t you think every other redneck in the area has the same idea?

  • The lakes will be overrun with hillbillies and weekend campers from the city thinking that will sustain them.

  • Also, Cam can attest, hunting isn't easy. Especially when the whole world is hungry and will be out trying to shoot a deer at the same time.

  • Bushcraft skills are SUPER IMPORTANT. But, they are, again, just a small part of prepping.

  • Listen to our Bushcrafters for Preppers episode.

  • Bushcrafting isn’t super useful with a short term power outage or a car breakdown.

12. False sense of security or getting too comfortable (procrastinator, normalcy bias)

  • Its good to have some confidence in your prepping, but don't assume you have it all figured out.

  • Always be thinking of ways to improve and be more resourceful and skillful.

  • Most of the ones that are cocky, are typically unhelpful and will shoot you if you come asking for help. I know a few that are just douchebags...

  • Don't expect to have couple 72 hour kits and figure the government or community will help you. Normalcy bias. They may help but don't plan on it. We've seen this many a times. Hurricane Katrina?

  • Don't wait to get what you've been feeling you need. Do it now. One morning you might hear of a pandemic and go to the store to find all the TP is gone...

13. Disregarding financial preparedness (believing money wont matter, debt will disappear etc)

  • This is so critical.

  • Please go back and listen to our Financial Preparedness episode if you haven’t yet. It may be one of the most important we have done.

  • This is always something we try to preach early and often to new preppers and old preppers.

  • You MUST get your own financial house in order! This is huge as a prepper and for your preps.

  • Some may think SHTF is just around the corner, and so who cares about my credit card debt or lack of emergency fund?

  • But, that is NEVER a great way to view things.

  • Get that emergency fund, pay down the debt, never live above your means.

  • This will all make you a better prepper and better prepared.

  • NEVER go in to debt for prepping.

  • The world almost always continues on. Don’t let prepping take over your life and say that you don’t need to worry about it.

  • It’s hard to regularly add to those preps when you are always so worried about finances.

14. Believing everything and everyone on the internet (do your own research)

  • Ignore the fearmongers. Youtube is FULL of them.

  • Keep in tune with the news, but know your sources, know who to trust.

  • Forums can be helpful but also damaging. Be careful.

  • Facebook can give you a heads up, but most often it's horrible confusing information from one moron that spreads like wildfire.

15. Physical Health (discuss rx meds dependence and avoidance)

  • So important, but so hard.

  • Getting yourself healthy is great for a prepper, but its just good for anyone.

  • Avoiding your health is NEVER a good idea.

  • This doesn’t mean that you need to be a Crossfit champ or a marathon runner.

  • But, if you are obese, if you are dependent on daily meds because of a preventable situation, work your hardest to get out of it.

  • Being generally healthy will make ANY SHTF situation so much easier.

  • Staying physically fit will give you an upper hand in SHTF and in life. This isn’t just a prepping thing.

  • Cam knows this better than anyone being in the medical field. So many people depend on meds when maybe if you ate better and exercised, you’d be just fine.

  • That 40 lbs. bug out bag won’t carry itself. If you are huffing and puffing walking up a short flight of stairs…..that isn't going to be good in an emergency.

  • This may be the hardest one out of all of the mistakes, because it takes the most willpower and it affects you every single day.

  • Start slowly. Change something here and there. I find that I need daily motivation to stay healthy. Listen to inspiring podcasts, read books, get yourself around the kinds of people that help you, not keep you where you are.

  • Find something you love to do that can help keep you fit.

  • Find a buddy.

  • Go back and listen to our prepper fitness episode. There are some great tips in there

16. Mental health

  • The pandemic has brought a lot of issues, but the one I see the most probably because of my position, is mental health issues.

  • Many were unaddressed or unrecognized before, but this was a catalyst.

  • Depression has been huge since visits have returned to normal.

  • Confusion of - what is important, who they are.

  • If you are borderline before any SHTF and haven't wanted to seek help or started too, it will get far far worse for you, this is a guarantee.

  • You need to learn how to cope. If medication is the answer great, plan for it and keeping it going.

  • If past trials have been rough, they wont get easier.

17. Overlooking the importance of prepper comforts (entertainment, snacks etc)

  • This is CRAZY important.

  • Especially if you have kids.

  • Board Games, candy, books, cards, coloring stuff.people mentally happy..

  • Board Games, candy, books, cards, coloring stuff

  • Make a plan for this in all aspects of your prepping plan from EDC to Bug Out.

18. Failure to plan for hygiene needs

  • TP is a luxury, don't let 2020 pandemic happen again.

  • Bad breath, stinky bodies will be a nightmare to live around in a powerless house ,sleeping near each other.

  • Huge health risks if you are pooping in one corner, and preparing food in the other.

  • What if there is sickness with puke and poo, how do you keep safe and clean?

  • Living in your nastiness can cause health issues, dental issues, rashes.

  • No urgent care, medical supplies, Walmart.

19. Forgetting there is life beyond prepping

  • Crucial!

  • Sometimes prepping can take over a person’s thoughts and life.

  • Especially when someone gets fixated on a certain SHTF event or possibility.

  • But, it’s always good in our opinion to prep well, but prep casually.

  • When prepping takes over, it can really burden you financially, time-wise, it can push away friends and family.

  • Don’t let yourself become a crazy doomsday prepper that can’t hold down a job or won’t allow themselves to eat anything but prepper food or have any fun.

  • Keep prepping to something that is manageable and doesn’t take over.

  • Most likely, its all going to be just fine. Take the vacation. Enjoy life.

20. Not expecting Prepper burnout

  • I'ts gonna happen.


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