Monday, September 6, 2010


I've never really seen this articulated anywhere before...but it seems to me that as I work on my being prepared for whatever may come...that my preparations fall into 3 basic categories. primitive.  Each have their pro's and their con's.  But all are important to a well rounded preparedness plan.

Here is how I would define them...

Modern prepping makes use of the latest gadgetry and technology.  The goretex's...the high tech filters...the synthetic fibers that wisk sweat away...amazing metals to make knives out of that can bend without breaking and still keep a good edge...etc.  Awesome!  Science and capitalism have brought us some amazing things that can greatly enhance our preparations.  It is remarkable how so many things have become lighter and stronger and smaller making them easier to pack and transport.  The potential downsides that I see to modern prepping are...

1.  Many people purchase the latest and greatest gadget out there...which gives some level of peace of mind...but then they never actually practice using it.  Will they know what to do when an emergency happens?

2.  A lot of these gadgets are really expensive.  With the increasing stranglehold on the average families is may be hard to amass the "stuff".  Go to REI and tell me I'm wrong!

3.  I fear that strictly modern preppers will come to rely upon their gadgets too much.  What if they end up separated from their gadgets when disaster strikes?!

4.  I also think that it is possible to when using these separate yourself from the experience of the natural world.  We can end up like those people who try to experience Yosemite on a sanitized and aloof tour bus...viewing deer through plate glass...instead of getting down and dirty in nature and really gaining a better understanding of what is going on.

5.  A lot of modern gadgets rely upon electricity.  With the likelihood that a natural or manmade disaster could take out the grid long term...unless someone has a way to generate their own electricity...they will have a lot of non-working junk.

(Tip.  You know...there are lots of high tech preparedness gear items that can be picked up for a song on craigslist...and at local thrift stores.  People that never camp and clear out their closets...or they buy the latest and greatest and want to get rid of last years model.  If you can stomach being seen in last years Marmot sleeping bag...this might be a good choice to save a buck).

Pioneer prepping involves looking to those that lived before electricity came into the picture.  How did people wash their clothing before washing machines?  How did they stay warm indoors?  How did they live without running water?  etc..etc..etc...  Basically all of those things that that the pioneers used to make life easier and more comfortable.  It involves lot's of hand crank contraptions (see picture!) that work with some elbow grease.  A lifestyle that stresses frugality and makes use of means provided.

The good news is that a lot of the tools used by the pioneers are still available and generally are less expensive than their electric brothers.  One can actually find vintage pieces that are so well made...that they will work for you just as they did your great grandma.  There are even companies like Lehmans that specialize in reproductions and improved versions of those tools.

Downsides...well...not many I can think of.  I will say that...

1.  It still can rely on having "stuff".

2.  A lot of items in this category can be big and heavy duty.  This can be just fine if your staying in place...but not if you need to carry it somewhere!

Primitive prepping makes use of the technology that nature provides.  With knowledge and practice...given the proper can learn to provide all of the necessities of life with their own two hands. I see the ultimate of self reliance.  Knowing the natural world so well...that you can make use of it's bounty to provide.


1.  To solely rely upon primitive skills for long term survival could be really rough...and for most unrealistic.  Most people do not have the skill sets to find and make use of all of the calories they would need to stay alive.  Most don't have all of the skillsets that would help them not to just survive...but to flourish.  It seems much more plausible to survive if there were a small group of knowledgeable people working together.  Don't forget that America has been raped of many of it's natural resources that helped the natives of this land survive.  Rivers overflowing with fish...acre upon acre of oaks...neatly tended fields with edible roots.  Accounts of preoccupation America paint a very different picture of the landscape than the one we now live in.

Examples of Modern...Pioneer...Primitive....

Electric mill...hand crank mill...mortar and pestle...
Lighter...flint and steel...friction fire (sticks rubbed together)
Trail mix...pemmican...some seeds in a satchel...
Goretex jacket...wool jacket...twisted rabbit skin blanket...
Freeze dried food...dehydrated food...smoked
Nylon tent...canvas wall tent...structure built from sticks and debris...
GPS...compass...natural landmarks
Washing machine...tub and scrubbers...river and rocks...
Hybrid seed...heirloom seed...tending the wild...
Irish spring...lye soap...soaproot
Traveling in a car...with handcarts...on foot...
Flashlight...kerosene lantern...torch...
Toilet paper...a rag...a leaf...

I don't intend to throw out my nice insulated jacket anytime soon and try to kill enough rabbits to make a blanket to stay warm!  I appreciate my jacket too much!

I also don't intend to do my weekly bread baking milling my wheat with my hand crank mill...when I also have an electric one as well.  But hey...when the electricity is out...I know full well how to use the hand crank models...and if I get separated from that...well...I'll go and find a mortar and pestle to grind my grains!

Making use of the knowledge and tools of all three of these preparedness areas will help a person to be prepared much more than just studying one.  It provides a the peace of mind that comes with having a plan A...B...and C.


  1. Having a backup A, B, and C is always a good idea! knowing how to use all the tools you have in whatever situation arises is what it's all about!

    Enjoy the modern if you have it, but understand and know the rest as well...just in case!

  2. I intend to go forward with the most logical choice available, from whatever era. I do not have rooftop solar panels, but I do have a solar pad for recharging batteries. I think enough technology to get past the first tough introduction period to post-disaster living is a good thing. primarily, I see myself living like my Great Grandmother, with a washboard and the cast iron skillet I use now that was once actually her's.

  3. Yes. Two is one and One is None. Highly functional non-electric backup all the way!

  4. I'm probably 40% modern, 40% pioneer and 20% primitive. Even if you don't have a lot of money some modern stuff makes sense, for example LED lighting.

  5. I am a blend of all three, I do use some technology (computer, LED lights, solar panels...), I do a lot of things using hand powered gadgets (redneck washing machine-bucket and plunger, hand crank grain mill, I like wool...), and some primitive methods (mortar and pestle, navigating with natural landmarks, making natural medicine with local plants...)


  6. I would love more information on solar systems. I'm a dummie when it comes to electrical and I want a backup system.

  7. 2Sammi, I'm not sure if you are asking me or just asking in general, but I'm happy to answer your questions as best I can.

    I would say to start small, try getting solar panel kits, they usually come complete and are fairly inexpensive, the only thing they don't have is a deep cycle battery. This way you can learn about solar setups without having to spend a lot of money. You can get a kit from Harbor Freight, or Amazon, I'm not talking about building your own solar panel, these kits come with solar panels (pre-wired), a frame to mount the panels, a charge controller, most of them even come with a few CFLight bulbs. I will say up front that the weakest part of those systems is usually the charge controller, so if this is something you really want to do, you might want to consider changing out the charge controller for a better quality one, but to start out with, the kits are just fine and will help you to get you started.