5 Pieces of Overrated Prepper Advice

I’m a skeptic of just about everything. My wife will tell you I was born disgruntled and contrary, so when I hear certain pieces of prepper advice, again and again, I can’t help but question it. In no particular order, here are 5 pieces of overrated prepper advice that drive me crazy.

  1. Stock up on lots and lots of wheat. Okay, we did that and then realized that our family eats very little bread and we feel a lot healthier on lower-carb diets. My wife buys one loaf of Ezekiel bread (tastes like sandpaper to me, but she likes it), keeps it in the freezer, and it lasts for 3-4 weeks. Here I am, sitting with 10 5-gallon buckets of wheat, almost ready to open a commercial bakery, because that was “the prepper thing to do” when we first started out. Yes, if there is ever a total economic collapse or EMP attack, we will eventually make it through that wheat, but in the meantime, it takes up a lot of space in my food storage pantry. Preppers who have since discovered they or someone in the family is gluten intolerant or has celiac disease could have spent that money on something else. Stocking up on a lot of wheat? Totally overrated advice.
  2. Focus on preparing for worst-case scenarios. Some time ago I received an email from a woman asking, “How do I prepare for when we don’t have electricity anymore?” Huh? I think someone has been reading too much prepper fiction. Yes, an EMP attack could take out the power grid for quite some time, but focusing on that as a prepper is short-sighted. I mean, people with this point of view aren’t interested when I recommend something like rechargeable batteries (this set can be charged using any USB charger) because they’re convinced we will shortly be living in the stone age, so why bother. “The end is near” — yeah, probably not. You’re a whole lot more likely to get stranded by the side of the road, flooded by a massive rainstorm or hurricane, or have to shelter in place for one reason or another. Get fully prepped for those, first, before you follow this particular piece of prepper advice.
  3. Stock up on “survival food”. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s scammers, and there are plenty to be found in the prepper/survival niche. They prey on people’s fears. My wife’s aunt is one example. Somehow, she got on the mailing list of a well-known “survival food” site and began receiving emails that terrified her. Naturally, she began forwarding them to us asking, “What should I do??” The text and videos in the emails were designed to scare her into spending thousands of dollars on so-called survival food — freeze-dried meals in pouches. Now, I’m not against this type of food and we have a bit in our pantry, but the truth is, freeze-dried meals are usually not the very best type of food to store. These meals have their place, but you are limited to those specific recipes — spaghetti with meat sauce, turkey tetrazzini, mashed potatoes. You’d better love those foods more than life itself because you’ll be eating the same things meal after meal after meal.
  4. Better get a bug out location or you’ll die. This one really kills me because in reality, a “bug out location” is a second home. If you’ve ever owned a lake house, a cabin, or another second home, you know it can be a real financial burden. You first have to buy the house/property, make payments, get insurance, furnish the house, pay certain utilities even when you aren’t there, worry about vandalism and other property crimes, and, as a prepper, equip the house and property with everything from stored food and water to medical supplies, fuel, self- and home defense, and so much more. It’s just not practical and for many people, not even desirable. Now, the pro bug-out-location people are going to say, “You’re not supposed to just visit your BOL, you’re supposed to live there.” Well, again, if it’s that easy, most preppers would do it. The truth is, most of these armchair survivalist warrior types work regular 9 to 5 jobs like you and me, and very few of those jobs are possible from some remote BOL. Better advice? Have a number of “safe houses” in mind, varying from 5 or 10 miles away to 100 miles or so. These could be homes of relatives/friends or familiar campsites. Just anywhere you could head to if you really do need to evacuate your home for a few days. After Hurricane Harvey hit, people living in flooded 2-story homes simply moved everything upstairs during the mucking-out and rebuilding so their kids could continue with school and they could continue with their jobs. Their BOL was right under their noses, so to speak.
  5. Read prepper fiction to get some really good prepper advice. Here’s yet another overrated piece of advice because what tends to happen is that people read these books and then take them as gospel truth. Try to convince a die-hard fan of One Second After that most vehicles will continue to run just fine after an EMP and that airplanes won’t fall out of the sky. William Forstchen wrote a compelling book that tugged on their emotions so everything he wrote must be true. There are millions of variables at work in the scenario portrayed in One Second After, and many experts agree that, perhaps, just 30% or so of vehicles would be fully disabled with the others experiencing no effects at all or just needing a quick turn of the key to restart. All prepper fiction comes from the imagination of authors who are only human. They do their research, some more than others, but their main purpose isn’t to provide training but entertainment. Entertainment equals sales, which is very smart on their part. Enjoy prepper fiction but before you stake your life on any particular piece of advice, weigh it against information from experts and your own common sense and experience.

Is there any prepper advice that has rubbed you the wrong way? You know everyone believes it, authors and bloggers pass it on like it’s truth with a capital T, but you aren’t so sure it’s 100% reliable and something everyone should follow without question. What’s on your list of overrated prepper advice?

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21 Responses to 5 Pieces of Overrated Prepper Advice

  1. Linda says:

    I’m always happy to see a new post from you. Thanks

  2. Tired Hobby Farmer says:

    You can get mighty creative with that wheat! I rarely eat bread either, but I like chicken pot pie occasionally and could use the wheat to make a nice crust. Wheat grass is supposed to be good for you, too. How about a bit of pasta once in a while? Yup, make it yourself when your other supplies run out. How about growing the wheat to feed your chickens? I get free wheatgrass sprouts from a friend after they’ve aged too much and the chickens go crazy over it. I do agree with the rest of your list, though. Becoming more and more self sufficient is the best prep I know and it’s healthier, too, regardless of what’s going on in the rest of the world!

  3. vocalpatriot says:

    yeah, not convincing on several points.
    #1. low carb diet is great for you, not me. So, the wheat advice
    is subjective. As is your rebuttal.
    #2. survival food, again subjective. We make our own sausage and pickled, smoked and canned everything..so we stock our own pantry with our own “survival food” everyone should keep a stock of food to sustain then in lean times..but as you’ve said buying readymade meals is maybe not the best idea…unless it is.
    #3. Where it is fairly obvious we can’t all buy second properties to bugout to, a list of safe houses seems pretty inconclusive to me.
    It seems you are arguing the whole prepping thing as a whole based on the emergencies YOU see happening. Which is fine..and not wrong.
    Other folks see things differently.
    Anyone that bases how they live on dystopian novels is not in reality anyway, and not likely to listen to contrary advice.

    • survivormann99 says:

      Spot on, vocalpatriot. This blogger asks, “What’s on your list of overrated prepper advice?” My answer is, well, this posting.

      He is certainly setting his sights quite low by giving an impression to preppers that there is little need to prepare for worst case scenarios. Frankly, I am shocked to see some of these ideas being put into print on a survival website.

      Over 50% of Americans do not have three days of food in the house. FEMA is trying to encourage Americans to have at least that much on hand. Baby steps are involved here.

      The idea in the preparedness movement is to get people to prepare for a three day emergency, then for a month long emergency, and then a for year long emergency. EMPs, whether solar or nuclear generated, are capable of causing chaos for years. Is it foolish to be prepared for them since reputable experts say that, especially with solar EMPs, it’s a matter of when, not if. (You know, that whole Carrington Event thing.)

      Most people have a financial problem in getting prepared for a year long emergency, so it is better to encourage them to buy food like wheat berries, rice, and oats and to supplement the basics with other foods, either canned, freeze or air-dried, or fresh from the garden, than to have them sitting on only a month’s supply of food, if that.

      He says that he has ten 5-gallon buckets of flour. Why he is storing that much flour instead of wheat berries is a totally separate issue and is beyond my poor abilities to explain. Yet, let’s go the flour here. A 5-gallon bucket holds a little over one 25 lb. bag. Flour comes in 5 lb., 10 lb., 25 lb., and 50 lb. bags. Let’s assume that he can get 35 lbs. of flour in a bucket, even though I believe 30 lbs. is likely the limit. If he has 10 buckets, as he says, he can make one loaf of bread for his family for just about each day for a year. In a post-SHTF situation, that is not all that much bread for a family.

      Then he says, “Preppers who have since discovered they or someone in the family is gluten intolerant or has celiac disease could have spent that money on something else. Stocking up on a lot of wheat? Totally overrated advice.” Well, duh, but wouldn’t anyone have a grasp on that issue before buying flour/wheat berries?

      Eight years ago, I was buying wheat berries from a Mormon warehouse (that sell to all, Mormon or not) for $5.60 for a 25 lb. bag. (The price went up after the Russian wheat crop failure a few years ago, but it is still cheap.) What else could I have purchased so cheaply that would have provided so many calories?

      If a person can lay aside freeze-dried food and canned goods in massive quantities, more power to them. If not, they should go the Mormon route, http://www.providentliving.org, and put aside huge amounts of food for very little. Better to have a year’s supply of basics, augmented by canned goods and such, than to have only a month’s supply of one’s normal diet and to hope for the best.

      As they say, hope is not a strategy in most circumstances. It surely shouldn’t be in survival matters.

      P.S. I do not expect that this message will ever see the light of day.

      • Noah says:

        Just a couple of quick notes. You misquoted me with the statement about buckets of flour. Flour has a markedly lower shelf life than wheat and is something no experienced prepper would ever recommend. People can, and very often do, develop gluten intolerance and celiac disease well into their adulthood, so, no, you might not know about these health issues until after you’ve stocked up on plenty of wheat. I’ve received many questions from people over the years, asking about this issue. They have tons of wheat, their loved ones can no longer eat it, so what now? Since this site is written by preppers, FOR preppers, it really isn’t of any interest to me how little food the typical American may or may not have on hand. I’m addressing long-standing pieces of advice that many people take for granted, without question.

        • survivormann99 says:

          I admit when I am wrong. You are correct on both points. Your post does say wheat, and, yes, celiac disease and gluten intolerance can develop over time.

          Having said that, the amount of wheat, 10 buckets, given the modest expense, is not all that much. In a situation where it suddenly became inedible due to digestive issues with someone in the family, I would have to think that the barter value of the “staff of life” would be excellent. Others in the family could shift their diets to eat more bread, and leave, say, rice to the one who is affected.

          Were wheat an expensive commodity, then certainly priorities would change.

    • Novice says:

      Exactly.

  4. Mic Roland says:

    There are a couple common bits of Prepper Advice that I’d put in the myth category. They’re related, but have their differences.

    One: You must be a warrior — ready to fight running gun battles for days on end. Some blog authors who are ‘gun guys’ insist that everyone must be equipped like a front-line soldier: AR-15 (or two or three), a dozen mags, body armor, Glocks in Kydex holsters, etc. One of my identifier phrases in those articles is: “Train, train, train.” Some writers may honestly imagine that an ‘event’ bad enough to prep for will become all-out-War, so they’re constantly practicing for war.
    ‘ While some means for self-defense is good (and know how to use it), it’s commonly pushed that a ‘real’ prepper must have 10 5-gallon buckets of guns.

    Two –and it’s related to the first one — is that a ‘real’ prepper must be buff. When they say ‘physically fit’, they seldom mean: not overweight, a healthy-balanced diet, able to preform daily homestead chores, no damaging habits or addictions, etc. No, they usually mean Army Ranger buff: able to march 15 miles a day with a 50 lb backpack, run 2 miles, bench press…whatever. One of my indicator phrases for those articles is: “…or you won’t make it.” Again, the picture is combat, as if you will be chased by platoons of enemy.
    ‘ It is certainly true that everyone should strive to be as healthy as they can be. It’s a common myth that only the buff will survive. When you read real survival stories (plane crashes, disasters, etc.) the survivors are almost always ordinary people.

    As for fiction, I’ve read a lot of them (including One Second After). They can be entertaining, though many are bullt around the warrior myth mentioned above. So, I wrote some prepper fiction about average folks coping with a grid-down world — deliberatly avoiding the super-soldier stereotypes. It was interesting how the warrior-myth-favoring readers complained about there being not enough action or gun play. The warrior myth sells much better than reality.

    Thanks for the thoughtful article, btw

    • CD in Oklahoma says:

      I agree with the 5 points outlined in Noah’s article. His assessment of that overrated advice is realistic.

      I also agree with Mic Roland about the warrior and physical fitness points that were made in the comments.

      Chances are, if running gun battle activity ever breaks out, a little old Grandma with an antique 22L pump can probably have as many AR and AK rifles as she wants to go outside and pick up.

      CD in Oklahoma

  5. DENNIS says:

    Good Article and in regard to the EMP comment, my personal car, since I’ve owned it sometimes performs a self inflicted EMP test. Sometimes, without, warning, there seems to be a surge, the radio resets and the clock resets. Car never stalls. I think it will make it.

    I would like to add that some weapons advise are a little overrated. I see some weapons with so many accessories attached, they themselves become a liability and also I decided to have weapons/parts from the same manufacturer that if a part broke on one I could get a part from another like weapon and I zeroed a scope/red dot sight and a night vision device to my primary weapon to make it multi use platform and switch as the situation changes.

  6. Bill from North Carloina says:

    I agree with your list.
    But the first thing we need to is get people to think and do their own research.
    I went to Vietnam. I learned as a young man that most people do not know what they are doing and cannot be trusted.
    Question everything.
    Do your own research.
    Take ownership.

  7. TCinNC says:

    I read (casually) about 20 prepper sites and your advice is excellent. I had a good laugh because I long ago concluded that fear-mongering drives this market just as it does for the BUY GOLD NOW market.

    Hopefully others have seen the irony of a BOL that you live at — it’s called home, and by definition you aren’t bugging out to that location, you’re already there!

    But aside from the oh-so-true points of these five overrated bits of advice, I’ll add anther on guns. While it’s true that firearms (pistol, rifle, shotgun) are essential, rumor has it that a “battle rifle” is most critical to staving off invaders. AR-type rifles sell from under $1000 to more than four times that amount. I’ve read about and talked to “experts” who claim that this or that top-end AR is really what you need to survive, because lesser guns won’t do the job. A top-notch battle rifle can easily send thousands of rounds down range without missing a beat.

    Two questions come to mind. First, if I’m using 500 rounds a day to hold down the fort (and not being resupplied as I might be in the military), then how many days before I’ve run out of ammo? Second, if I have to fire that many rounds, how many people am I shooting at, and wouldn’t shear numbers eventually overwhelm me regardless of the amount of ammo I have?

    Yes, firearms and reserves of ammo serve a practical purpose, but no, you don’t need to spend more than I spent on my first car for a battle-proven rifle. If things turn that bad, your survival is more likely based on random chance than on the amount that you invested in a rifle.

  8. wonder says:

    I agree with tired hobby farmer on the wheat, you can be very creative with it. You can look on the LDS web site, they have a manual if you will on the different ways to use wheat. You don’t have to agree with their religious believe to see they have some good information. I would also like to point out that while you may have somethings in your area that are more likely to happen,tornado,earth quake, floods etc.. your basic prep’s should cover all of them without going to the extreme. Things like food, water, medicine, defense and others. I also agree that most prepper sites do play on your fears to sale things you really don’t need. I also agree on the bug out location. I would be willing to bet that 90/95% of the people who tell you to get one don’t have one. If you look at what they tell you need at this site I would say 99% can’t afford it. Things like green houses, solar, live stock (cows, goats, rabbits, chicken etc), big pond, well with hand pump, and the list goes on. They also tell you you can do it on 1/4 to 1/2 acre of ground. In your dreams. I believe 20 acres is more realistic. I would say plan for basics and the big ones deal with as they arise. Bottom line the basics will get you through almost anything you will go thru.

  9. Tom Jackson says:

    I never thought much about “survival food”. I think that a Bug Out location is probably better than a shelter-in-place location if you set it up properly. Anyone who thinks they will take a bug out bag and go into the woods and survive for more than 30 days is delusional……and then dead.

    • poorman says:

      Here is the problem ( or several ) with bug out locations. #1 unless you have stocked it with all these supplies you think you will need it is going to take an awful lot of time and effort to move all the food,guns,ammo ect that people seem to think they are going to need to that location. Another ( and this is the biggest problem IMHO ) is in a real SHTF situation if the world blows up unless you are a local or well known you are not going to be welcome in whatever community you BOL is in. I live in a small mountain community and knowing a lot of the people in the area I also know that people in these areas will consider the water, game,wood, ect as their own resource and are not going to welcome strangers with open arms.

  10. Steve says:

    As for the BOL…. as I see it the myth that is way overstated is in the form of not-so-suttle comments that the “American Redoubt” is THE place to move to.
    Secondly, the “two is one, and one is none” myth. Do the best you can with what you have and get extras as the opportunity presents itself.
    Thirdly, I do enjoy reading prepper fiction. I have learned things from what I’ve read, I’ve tried the things out and maybe tweaked them to where they work for me. I also like to read how people respond to different SHTF scenarios and get some food for thought on how I can tweak my preps.
    Thanks for the article as it gave me food for thought.

  11. Novice says:

    None of the 5 items listed hear is “bad” advice. They CAN be over rated for some of the reasons mentioned only if someone hasn’t done their homework and realized the limitations of each. Take wheat for example. Yes, it can get pretty boring but, notice that no alternative solution was offerred. What other food source provides a nearly complete protien that stores as along as wheat and is as cheaply priced? If you are truly preparing for the long haul wheat should be a staple. After you’ve got a good supply laid in THEN you can add tasty alternatives as finances allow. It’s not over rated advice so much as misunderstood.

    • Noah says:

      Hi Novice. There are plenty of articles on this site about wheat options and other ways to utilize wheat. The point I’m trying to make is that maybe stocking up on massive amounts of wheat isn’t the best advice for many people.

  12. Michelle Hedgcock says:

    This is the most sensible article I’ve read today. I particularly liked the part about the bug out location. If I could afford it I’d have a cabin in the woods already. LOL

    • Noah says:

      A lot of us would. Or, since we’re talking second homes, really, maybe a cottage on a remote beach would be nice. I can dream, right?

  13. Charles says:

    There was never a time in my life as part of provident living that we did not have some form of everyday life preparedness. Growing up we always canned produce much from our own garden. What we didn’t grow ourselves we purchased and put it up. Our families little 5 acre property provided enough land to raise yearling farm animals to go into the freezer. Supplement by fishing and some hunting. Having been away from that little farm had a garden for many years, keeping children busy with maintenance and harvesting. Currently living on 1 1/3 acres gives me plenty of room to make as large a garden as I desire. At the same time have had stores of wheat through the LDS resources, dried fruits and vegetables including dried milk, rice, honey, et al. Have all the black walnuts grown on site as well as hickory nuts. Do live in a suburban residential area with subdivisions all around. At the same time being LDS in faith have known all of my 67 year old life it is more than important to set stores aside which include more than food, how about personal hygiene, toilet paper, some sort of alternative heat other than electricity or natural gas. Doing this could be an immediate high cost endeavor. There is so much information out there in the world of Google. Recommend setting a budget, my thoughts are if at all possible 10% of ones monthly income, if not that then 5% but do something. Have known many people of the LDS faith in tough times were ever so grateful they had listened and had followed the counsel to prepare for the future. Having the food storage, money storage, personal and family hygiene saved their “bacon”. They may not have lived at the same financial level but in many cases did not have to resort to using governmental subsidies unless absolutely no other choice was available. In most all of these cases were job loss related. Do believe though my first choice is to stay in place with the hope and desire that family and other trust worthy people of the same thinking and preparation would band together for all our well being and protection. To much to throw in the back of a pickup truck and bug out with. My two cents.

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