Asking people in the prepping culture a simple question such as “What is the best survival method for prepping? Bunkering, Homesteading, Wilderness Survival or Other” will generate a great many discussions and even more very intense and well thought out replies and arguments. Most people will answer this question very quickly based on their own opinion or position in life, which is realistically the best way to answer the question. For those of us in the “business” of prepping we sometimes have to take a step back and look at the big picture. This is difficult for so many of us because we have spent years of time and vast amounts of resources building up our own preps and knowledge based on our own opinions and situations.
Instead let’s try to view this from the prism of a person NEW to the prepping movement. A person with no discernible skill sets and no stored foods or items. The new prepper feels something bad is likely to happen in the “next few years”.
There are still a large number of people out there that are buying bunkers and building hidey holes to jump into if the shit hits the fan. Some of these bunkers are fantastic for severe weather survival but living long term in a bunker is fraught with issues. Needless to say I am a firm believer that bunker prepping is a short term solution to a potentially long term problem. The end result is that preppers diving into bunkers may be well protected from initial problems in a SHTF event, but may very well find themselves behind the 8-ball in a long term event when their power systems begin to fail, their stored foods run out, their water runs dry and they begin to suffer from some of the many psychological affects of bunker life.
This one is tough to discount because people have survived in “the wild” since the dawn of man and continue to do so in many parts of the world. The skills involved in proper wilderness survival are second to none and obviously provide the Wilderness Survival Expert with the tools and know-how to live for years off of the land.
My biggest argument about Wilderness Survival/Bushcraft is that I don’t personally believe it is in and of itself a “prepping” methodology. I believe that wilderness survival is a very broad set of skills and expertise that all preppers should have some knowledge and experience in relative to their specific environment. I personally believe that these are the skills that are to be called upon at the on-set of SHTF, or after an event in which your preps have become unusable or lost to you. Some of these skills such as tracking, trapping, hunting, fishing etc can be used in parallel with other prepping methodologies to increase survivability.
The downfall of Wilderness Survival as a prepping methodology is the difficulty of living off of the land with a family in tow. As time grinds on the family will have to move in order to secure the resources that are required. Movement itself brings inherent risk but mainly it makes life quite difficult when you are slowly roaming from space to space in order to provide enough sustenance for your family.
Again, I do believe there is GREAT value in the wilderness survival / bushcraft skill sets. I simply don’t believe that people new to the prepping movement should be looking to this area as a complete prepping solution.
What exactly are we talking about?
If we were to take the base question: “What is the best survival method for prepping?” and place it in the context of a SHTF event that will last years if not decades the picture will start to become a little more clear. Bunkering and Bushcraft are not likely contenders for new preppers when viewing the problem from a long term angle. Once you have established you are prepping for a long term event your available prepping options narrow.
As of late there has been a bit of talk about bugging out on boats or even living at sea for long periods at a time. I have no issues with using a boat as a bug out vehicle. I believe that it’s a great idea if properly utilized within your bug out plan. I do not believe people should plan a boat into their bug out plans so much as determine that using a boat to bug out is more feasible based on their current situation. If you happen to live near a large body of water and your bug out plans will take you across large stretches of that water, then yes, a bug out boat would suit you. However, if you live 200 miles from the nearest large body of water and you plan your bug out to utilize a boat because you just want to use your boat, you really should rethink your plan.
Living at sea or sailing open waters for long periods is a different beast altogether. The knowledge and skills and equipment necessary to accomplish this are vast and not easily accumulated. If you have zero sailing experience today, and you are wanting to prep for an event that you feel could happen soon, this is probably not the route you want to travel with your prepping plans. If you happen to have 20 years of open water experience and a $4 million boat full of equipment specifically designed to survive long term at sea and the years of knowledge required to keep all of those systems running and repair them when they fail (which they will) as well as the knowledge and experience to captain that vessel across vast stretches of open water… well then you are probably not reading this article.
Once again this article is for NEW preppers. I just don’t see the value of the long term open water boating solution without years of lead time and vast amounts of resources.
This brings mean to the last category that I have listed in the opening question. In a post SHTF situation the single most well prepared person in the world is the one that can live off the land by growing food and raising livestock. Yes, there are many other concerns such as shelter, small equipment repair or manufacturing, security, governance, medical attention, sanitation, etc. The list goes on and on and on. However, if you grow your own food you can sustain your own life and have a viable means of trade. If you raise livestock you will have more food available as well as goods such as wool, felt, skins, hair, etc. Livestock produces manure which is also a trade good. Apples, pears, peaches, cherries, berries, honey, milk… the list is never-ending. All of this can be grown and raised on a farm small enough for just a couple of people to manage it, with enough left for small amounts of trade for other things.
Although it may take years to learn to produce a high yield of crops and a large number of livestock the rudimentary skills are simple enough that even people with very little knowledge and experience can grow enough to sustain life. This can also be supplemented with hunting and fishing where available. Homesteaders also have the advantage of open space for movement and growth, root cellars for storage and canning and preserving for long term food stores.
This is the very base of the argument. In bunkering you are producing nothing and your finite supplies will certainly run out. When you emerge from your hole you stand the very serious likelihood of emerging at a severe disadvantage. The great expense of a large bunker with extended survivability is out of reach of most people in the first place.
The wilderness survival expert can survive on his own. He can provide items for trade with locals and live a decent life most likely. Introduce a family into that situation and things change quickly.
The captain of the SS BugOut will do well and survive as long as his equipment continues to function and is maintained. Eventually the years will catch up and the equipment will fail and parts will be unavailable and there will be no more materials to make the parts. The captain is doomed to rely on outside sources for survival in some respects.
The homesteaders can survive, and have done so for generations. There is no doubt as to why the rise of mankind followed so closely with the knowledge and technologies of small and medium scale farming. Read your history books and you will find that farms and grist mills became the backbone of communities that later developed into towns and cities. How many bunkers have become a city? How many boats have become a community?
Before anyone jumps in and says “wait a second, homesteading isn’t easy!” You are correct, however if the SHTF event occurs six months from now, is your bunker stocked and ready? Do you have the knowledge and experience to live in the wilderness? Is your boat outfitted and are you properly trained to survive open waters long term? In regards of starting up and being able to survive, my money is on the homesteader any day.
In the big picture, long term, resources, trade and community are what will drive survival. All of the above mentioned methods of prepping will work for short duration. Some will work longer if the person has the proper knowledge and equipment. Only homesteading can be approached with so little training and knowledge and also provide so much in return.