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Prepper and survivalist are not synonymous terms. Yes, there is a lot of cross-over between the two types of individuals, but the skill level and focus of each makes them mutually exclusive terms.
Preppers are focused on stockpiling supplies to use when bugging in or at a bugout location – and having the skills to use them. More often than not, the quantity of supplies outweighs the amount of survival skills honed.
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Survivalists are more heavily focused on the skills they possess to get them through an SHTF scenario – with usually no more stockpiled preps than can be carried in a rucksack on their back.
That being said (well, typed) there surely are a lot of preppers with essential survival skills. In fact, being a prepper with skills is the best of both worlds and will surely enhance your chances of breathing longer during a doomsday disaster.
Generally speaking, it is newbie preppers, suburban preppers, and urban preppers who most squarely fall into just one category when dividing up the preppers, survivalists, and prepper-survivalists.
There are exceptions to this rule, of course, especially when it is a military veteran, first responder, or Eagle Scout that is new to prepping or living in a non-rural area.
What Is The Difference Between Preppers And Survivalists?
The term “prepper” was coined to describe individuals who are focused on preparedness. These folks may be planning to bug in during a long-term disaster or are stockpiling shelf-stable food, weapons, and other survival supplies at a bugout location.
Unlike survivalists, preppers often raise livestock and gardens as a part of their SHTF plan. A prepper is focused on remaining in one spot during a disaster and does not plan to move about and travel light like a survivalist. If the prepper is living in a suburban, small town, or urban area, backyard chickens and meat rabbits often replace the goats, sheep, and cows kept by rural preppers as a source of protein.
Most preppers also have a bugout plan with a scaled-down version of their gear going with them if the doomsday event, be it large or small, forces them to relocate. But, the portion of the prepping stockpile that will move with the prepper will fit in vehicle(s) and not in a rucksack – unless absolutely necessary.
Preppers will stockpile not only water, but create rainwater collection systems, dig ponds or buy land with at least one natural water feature on it – in addition to a well, and have an ample amount of water purification supplies at their disposal.
Survivalists may live in a rural area that allows for natural water features and wells, but their self-reliance plan is not dependent upon them. Lifestraws and often DIY water purification supplies that fit inside an INCH (I’m Never Coming Home) bag AND the ability to find water in the woods are what a survivalist will rely upon for this basic essential.
Preppers not only grow and preserve their own food by canning and dehydrating it, they also have garages, basements, and storage buildings filled with long-term storage food buckets, buckets of wheat, powdered milk, and from-the-shelf grocery items that can last about two years before going rancid.
A survivalist cannot carry a 25-pound bucket of wheat in his or her rucksack, therefore it is not a vital part of his SHTF plan. To garner the protein, calories, and nutrients required to stay strong and alive, a survivalist will have honed the skills necessary to hunt, trap, fish, and forage for the vast majority of their food intake.
Keeping livestock for milk, eggs, and protein is not a priority for a survivalist. If a survivalist does keep some livestock, walking away from them during a bugout situation will not cause great worry due to the hunting, fishing, trapping, and foraging skills he or she possesses.
While a prepper will spend a lot of time and money safeguarding their land and home from intruders, making it as difficult to penetrate physically or with weapons as possible, a survivalist might also spend some effort and funds on securing a bugout location, but he or she is unlikely to feel a great need to be tied to a certain location in order to survive.
This is perhaps the most difficult aspect of being prepared for what may come for both preppers and survivalists – unless there is a medical professional of some type in their group.
A prepper with the funds available to do so, will not only have stockpiled over-the-counter medications, made natural herbal remedies, but perhaps even purchased fish or livestock medications to create an SHTF medical clinic.
A designated room inside the home or bugout retreat or even a detached enclosure set up in a manner where surgery could be conducted is any prepper’s dream. A survivalist, on the other hand, prefers to travel light. A first aid kit with only the essentials and the skills to use them, even on themselves, is far more likely to be a part of a survivalist’s SHTF plan.
A survivalist will usually have the supplies to make a tourniquet, sew stitches, stop intense bleeding rapidly, and disinfect wounds in a rucksack – and the skills to make splints and crutches along with a solid knife to help them do so, tucked away in their emergency bag.
Fuel And Power
Preppers stockpile all types of fuel in great abundance – along with fuel stabilizers. It would not be unusual to see dozens (if not more) cans of gasoline, diesel, propane, and kerosene stored in a garage or outbuilding.
A prepper will also have at least one generator, likely a multi-fuel type and perhaps even a solar generator to help power their bug in or bugout location.
A survivalist will be prepared to rely upon the matches and tinder stored in the rucksack to build a fire to provide warmth and to cook from as he or she walks on foot or rides a horse from place to place while securing food, water, and shelter.
There are pros and cons to being either a prepper or a survivalist. A prepper with a huge stockpile of food or a big garden can lose it all due to a fire, weather, bugs, or a crop disease. A survivalist, no matter how accomplished at hunting, trapping, and fishing, could find themselves in a healthy forest that has been overly taxed by others trying to score food in the same manner – or shot by a marauder.
In the end, neither being a prepper nor a survivalist is better. It will ultimately be our skillset—and that of our self-reliant tribe members—that determines if we will be a survivor or a statistic.
By reviewing the major components of the prepper life vs the survival life detailed above, you should be able to determine which category you best fit in based upon your type of preparedness activities and skills. Perhaps you have your feet planted firmly in both worlds. If so, congratulations. Your chances of surviving a disaster either short or long just increased substantially.
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