*Preparedness Versus Survivalism*
Preppers Versus Survivalists

By: Warlord
05 September 2011

What's the Difference Between Preparedness/Preppers and Survivalism/Survivalists?
I'm asked that question all the time; by readers of the site, by the Press, and by a multitude of people "doing research for books" (It seems EVERYONE is writing a book about Preparedness/Survival nowadays).

This is one of the few questions I'm asked that doesn't require me to use "Hedge Words", or to leave myself some wiggle room when answering... I don't even have to work out carefully crafted answers which just inevitably boil down to some form of: "The answer is whatever makes me sound cool, and/or generates the least amount of hate mail!" ;)

From my years of experience, If they've thought about it themselves enough to care what they're called, the main difference I've noticed between Preppers and Survivalists is that Survivalism tends to be more "Military Oriented", with more focus on Guns and Camo and "living in the wilds" after making it through a scenario that forces them to "Bunker Down" or "Bug Out" (Real Survivalists have a place to bug out TO, they don't just leave home blindly with no real plan).

Preparedness (or Preppers) tends to be more focused on preparing a Homestead (IE: "The place you're living in RIGHT NOW") to be more habitable and self-sustainable, during and after, aCOMS ("a Collapse Of Modern Society"), so that they don't have to "Bug Out"...

And there ya have it... When it's all said and done, it's really that simple. You could even go further with relative safety and add that both "Survivalists" and "Preparedness-Minded" ("Preppers") treat Learning/Preparing as a lifestyle. You'll frequently hear Members say things like: "Preparedness is about the journey, not the destination".. That's a good way to sum up the daily endeavors as far as I'm concerned.

...As a side note; regular readers here know my motto when it comes to "Bugging Out": "Anyone leaving their home without a pre-prepared place to go to is called 'a Refugee'", which is something I absolutely don't advocate!

I also think that focusing on "Bugging Out" and carefully Packing/Re-Packing "Bug Out Bags" ("BOBs") is just a stage that most people new to Preparedness/Survivalism go through until they gain some experience and really think things through; for the person new to Preparedness/Survival it's something they can do "Right Now" to make themselves feel a bit more prepared... Luckily, they tend to "Mature out of it" as they learn more and gain experience. They may always have some prudent plans and specific equipment ready to "Bug Out to their Retreat", or to "Bug Back Home" if they are caught away from home when a disaster strikes, but as they learn and grow, "Bugging Out" is no longer their main focus.
...And don't think I'm Diss'in Bug Out Bags here, because I'm not... a "72 Hour Pack" can be a nice thing to have in an Emergency if set up correctly! I Do Not, however, have any respect for anyone that plans to take off on foot with a heavy bag of junk on their back with no specific destination in mind... and before you start, "headed to the wilderness" is NOT a 'Specific Destination'! A 'Specific Destination' is a Prepared Retreat that is already stocked and waiting for you.

As most of you will already know, that's my usual advice... "Find a Homestead where you can ride out pretty much ANY disaster/crises, and then be good to your neighbors! Do your best to be the type of person that people in your Community can respect, and help your Neighbors and fellow Rubies during a disaster or crises!

Having Answered the primary question we sought to address in this article, We could stop right here... but if we do you'll be missing the definition of a HUGE "Third Group" of people who are also preparing against disaster!
There are Huge groups of people who label themselves as "Prepper" or "Survivalist", that aren't really one or the other; they just don't have the time/experience yet to know it. Let me toss out a definition of this group, because it's an easy one also...

The third group is a Huge segment of (mostly newby) information hunters. In actual fact, they don't even much like being labeled "Preppers"! In their minds they're just "Preparing some supplies to ride out a local disaster"... It's not a lifestyle for them, they just want to find solid basic lists of what to have onhand to survive at home for a target time that seems to usually be 'Three Days to Two Weeks'... Due to their lack of hands-on experience, these folks believe that gathering lists of supplies to have onhand, and saving instructional articles about Survival, will somehow allow them to Survive whatever Disaster they have in mind (and it's usually a VERY specific disaster that they have in mind). They believe that when the disaster they're preparing for happens, they'll take their lists and run down to the local Wally World ahead of the crowds and get more supplies to add to the basic 3-Days of supplies they've already stocked. Later, in their copious amounts of free time during said disaster, they'll thumb through their carefully printed and indexed scrap-book of survival articles and find solutions to whatever problems they're facing at the moment... kinda like holding open a "Grey's Anatomy" book in one hand while holding a scalpel in the other, preparing to do surgery... Yeah ... kinda like that... The indexed scrap-book of Survival Articles doesn't work very well in the real world either.. :-/

Anyway, for this group of people, the difference between "Survivalism" and "Preparedness" is: "We don't want to be labeled as Survivalists!"

It's very often really just that simple! ...And up front let me say that I'm not really making fun of these people; I'm not belittling them, or even saying they're wrong (Sorry, I was attempting to be PC and I went too far there... I AM saying 'they're wrong')...
From time to time this group approaches being a majority of the people looking for Preparedness Information... All I'm saying is that they are clearly a group unto themselves every bit as much as the Long-Term "Preppers" and/or "Survivalists", but once they feel they have enough information, and they've stocked a solid amount of supplies to get them through their target time period (Usually '3 days' initially), "They're gone", "Done", "No need to practice, no need to discuss it further".

What's left are the longer-term, Serious, Preparedness-Minded-People ("Preppers")/Survivalists that have been doing this for a while; people who have actual experience, people who live it as a lifestyle. These folks are clearly "one or the other", "Preppers" or "Survivalists". Even if they do touch upon each other's training and unique Skill-Sets once in a while, you can't mistake one for the other, but that Third Group IS usually wrapped up in the mix also and is often mistaken as being Preppers or Survivalists, when they aren't really either one.

"Preppers" or "Survivalists", Which is better?
Personally, I don't have a preference. Both have merits. In fact most people will dabble in both as they prepare throughout the years. Many "Survivalists" end up as "Preppers", and many "Preppers" go through a "Survivalist" phase at some point as they widen their scope of training. Who can say whose outlook will be the correct one come the next emergency? What will the next emergency even be?

What's Up With The Military Training That Survivalists Tend To Like?
The Military "slant" of "Survivalism" comes because various branches of the Military have a Survival Course that lasts a few weeks, the best known is probably the Survival Course for Pilots and other members of an Air Crew. I've found over the years that Non-Military people seem to think that the Military gives these courses to everyone in the Military, and that all Soldiers "Live off the land" when deployed... It doesn't, and they don't. The Military has a HUGE supply chain that focuses on nothing else but bringing up TONS of supplies on a regular basis for just about Every Soldier, no matter where they are. It doesn't matter if you're a Basic Trainee in the Baracks, or a Combat Soldier in a Forward Operating Base, Food and Supplies get delivered just the same... If they don't, it's the exception and not the rule.

And to put a little light on Military Survival Training, the skills they teach don't translate very well into the Civilian world. Military Survival Training tends to focus on Evading Capture if you find yourself behind enemy lines, or escaping if you are captured, or how to survive if you find yourself adrift at sea, or in the middle of a desert. While I believe those are usefull skills to know, I've never even come close to actually having to use them. If I ever do find myself in one of those situations, I've learned many more ways to survive them better over the years. Of course I've had Years to learn better skills whereas the military only has a few weeks to teach you skills (After which you are encouraged to learn more on your own).

MANY of our members have been through Military Survival Schools, and then they come "here" to learn the best ways to get through a Hurricane or Tornado, how best to protect their families from a variety of threats, how to grow food outdoors and indoors, how to keep their homes safer, Better ways to handle Chemical Disasters, how to get through a pandemic, what to do if stranded in a blizard, and on and on and on...

Finally! Questions with SIMPLE answers! ;)

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