February 20, 2020

Some thoughts on the Prepper Niche


I've been a prepper for a long time and have transitioned through different phases of it.

When I started, prepping was still called survivalism. In the midst of the 2008 financial crisis and after reading some old books about the cold war, I was fully indoctrinated into the survivalism universe. I started reading about everything I could via survivalistboards.com, a site founded in 2002 back before Reddit was even a thing. Slowly I began to accumulate "preps": food, water, guns, ammo. At one point I got to a 6 month food storage supply for me and my girlfriend. I built a bug out bag and tried wilderness backpacking a few times.

After many years of changes and downsizing my life so that I could travel, my new minimalist mentality dissolved my extensive long term preparedness style. Everything I owned fit in my car.

Travel was great, particularly when backpacking since it taught me about how I could get by just fine with carrying very little. Four months in the Philippines with one bag. Travel backpacking isn't the same as wilderness backpacking, but it will definitely teach you that you can go a long long time without your "stuff".

When I settled down a bit from my nomadic lifestyle, once again back in Austin, TX, the prepper in me had not left. But I had gone from a 3 bedroom house in the suburbs to living in a small studio. There was no way a 55 gallon drum of water was going in there. I updated my prepping style to reflect the minimalism I had committed to. New strategies, new ideas.

My attitude about prepping had changed as well. I had stopped thinking about nuclear war and economic collapse - my mind had moved toward the topics of artificial intelligence and biological disaster. I became less of an alarmist and much more of a pragmatist. My views on prepping today could be summed up as:

A prepared world makes us all safer.

I'm no longer filled with the anxiety about the end times as I first was, but still feel that being able to deal with a catastrophe, no matter how small, is way better than it taking you by surprise.


The survivalism world had changed too - when I came back to it, they had changed the name to "prepping".

"The end of the world as we know it" or TEOTWAWKI, and "shit hits the fan" SHTF changed to "collapse" and existential risk. More on that here:


The prepperverse was changing.

Still, if you search for the basic things like "bug out bag essentials" or "how to start prepping", you'll be bombarded with websites that look like they were built during the 2000s dot com era. Just a bunch of e-commerce resellers of subpar Chinese goods, bland emergency food, and Amazon Affiliate "blogs" playing the Google Game.

Where were the good blogs? Where was all the podcast talent? Why were youtube prepper channels still just a bunch of product reviews and basics about firemaking. Where are the personalities?

Why was I still seeing huge 60 lb bug out bags when during the same period, lightweight backpacking had become ultralight and advanced through 3 entire eras of materials technology?

For a niche as big as prepping, it doesn't make any sense.

I hope that Never Astray can be a small step forward in the prepperverse.

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