top 10 prepper debates logo

Top 10 Biggest Prepper Debates

What Side Are You On?

No matter how long you’ve been prepping you’ve no doubt run across some prepping concepts and advice that you disagree with. Preppers are a very diverse bunch of people. Whether they call themselves bushcrafters, survivalists, preppers, off-gridders, or homesteaders, all have different goals, motivations, skill levels, and beliefs.

With the recent political upheaval and changes in economy and weather in the United States and around the world, more and more people are discovering that being prepared is not such a bad idea. While preppers and non-preppers have long argued over the necessity of prepping, there are also many different debates that go on even among preppers.

In this article, we’re going to highlight some of the long-standing debates among preppers. As you read through our list, think about what side of the prepper fence you come down on each of these issues and let us know your reasoning in the comments.

Barter Food & Water or Save for Yourself?

It’s no secret that, when SHTF, the economy is going to suffer in some way. In fact, most preppers are in agreement about the fact that U.S. currency or cash will quickly become almost useless after a major SHTF event. The primary theory is that in order to survive and to get your hands-on items you may need to survive, you will need to be in the position to barter with other people who have what you need.

But that’s where the agreement ends for a lot of preppers. Many disagree over exactly what the best items will be when bartering replaces currency. Food and water are something that every single person is going to need in order to survive, right? And after a SHTF event, many people will be desperate to get food and water so their family can survive. It makes sense then, that food and water could be a good thing to have on hand so you can barter with other people to get what you need. Because of this logic, many people stockpile extra food and water with the intent of using it to barter for other needed items.

But there are those that disagree and will vehemently insist that you should never use food and water to barter with and that you should save all that food and water for yourself and your family. In fact, these opponents of food and water for bartering purposes believe that if you use food and water to barter, you are actually putting yourself and your family at risk for starvation. These folks believe that you should keep food and water for yourself and instead stockpile other items for bartering such as gold and silver, ammunition, or luxury items such as alcohol, cigarettes, and candy.

So where do you stand when it comes to bartering? Will you barter using food and water or will you stockpile something else that you can trade for items you need?

Bug in or Bug Out?

Next on our list of long-standing debates is the age-old debate, is it better to bug out or bug in? Preppers from all walks of life come down on opposite sides of the fence on this issue. The debate over whether to bug in or bug out involves many different factors including location, climate, security, population density, and a host of other issues.

Some bushcrafters and survivalists are counting on bugging out to the woods to survive on their skills and whatever nature provides. Other preppers who are tied to the city for income purposes are intent on bugging out to a more remote bug out retreat they have prepared ahead of time. Most experts will tell you that, for most people, bugging out is more dangerous than bugging in and that it puts your family at risk from other people but there are still those who will insist that bugging out is the best option for them.

Those who come down on the bugging in is best side of the fence will point to their immense stockpile of food, water, and other supplies as testament to the fact that they are better off to stay put. Others who intend to bug in have gone to great lengths to secure their property from intruders including everything from guns and ammunition to booby traps.

There are groups of preppers who believe that bugging in is the answer in most situations but they are preparing to bug out if the situation calls for it. I’m not sure this one will ever be put to rest because there are simply so many varying factors involved, but what say you? When SHTF, what will YOU do?

Talk About prepping or Stay Quiet?

Many preppers will agree that just like in fight club, “you don’t talk about prepping”. They keep their prepping activities discreet and they don’t talk to strangers, neighbors, friends, or even family about what they’re stockpiling. Some preppers even prepare a logical explanation if a cashier or neighbor asks why they are buying so many supplies. Their motto is that each person has the same access to information and the ability to prepare as the next and those who don’t prepare are on their own. The preppers in the “keep your mouth shut about prepping” camp believe that talking to others about prepping simply opens you and your family up to becoming a target when SHTF.

But there are some preppers out there who believe that the more people who are prepared for some kind of SHTF situation when it happens, the better it will be for everyone. It’s no secret that one of the most dangerous threats following a SHTF situation will be people in your area who aren’t prepared trying to take your stuff. Some preppers believe that by talking to friends and neighbors about prepping they are helping to reduce the number of people who will be so desperate and helpless following a SHTF event. So, by talking to others about prepping and even convincing them to prep too, it reduces the number of people in the area coming after your supplies following a SHTF event and could potentially create allies to help boost your odds of survival.

Help Zombies or Shoot Them?

Following a SHTF event, most preppers will agree that there will be huge numbers of people who have not prepared. These people are those who are so dependent on technology and having services readily available to them that they won’t know what to do when the power goes out indefinitely. Believe it or not, there are two camps of preppers for this topic as well.

There are those preppers who believe that prepping is a personal responsibility and anyone who doesn’t take on that responsibility and prepare for themselves and their family, deserve what they get. Many of these preppers also feel that when these unprepared people or “zombies” come knocking on their door looking for food or some other handout, the best course of action is to turn them away or even shoot them if they refuse to leave. Preppers in this camp see the

On the other side of this debate are the people who realize that shooting unarmed and desperate people might not be the best way. Preppers in the “help those in need” camp believe that every person has value and should have an opportunity to prove themselves useful. The preppers in this camp typically stockpile extra supplies to pass out to the zombies before asking them to move on.

Also on this side of the debate there are also some preppers who believe that there is strength in numbers. This subset in the “help zombies” camp are making plans to invite or accept zombies into their own survival group by giving them responsibilities and chores in exchange for food and a place to sleep. This subset of preppers believes that by making their own group larger they will be better able to defend against the roving gangs and thieves.

Survive Alone or in A Group?

When it comes to debates among preppers one of the longstanding debates is whether your chances of survival are better alone or in a survival group or community. On one side are the bushcrafters and the hardcore survivalists who believe that they are better off alone after a SHTF event. These preppers believe that depending on their skills, rather than on other people, is the best course of action. Many of the preppers in this camp are former military men or are lone wolf types who are already living a pretty isolated lifestyle. These guys may do okay on their own, just them against nature, or at least they think they will. But only if their skills are truly up to par and they don’t get any serious injuries that render them physically incapable of making a fire and doing the many other chores that are needed to survive in the wild.

On the other side of this debate are the preppers who believe that it’s beneficial to have a group of people to share the immense workload involved with long-term survival after a SHTF event. These are the prepper families, those who have loved ones and can’t imagine leaving them behind. This group of preppers believe that pulling together a group of people who have a diverse range of skills and knowledge puts them at an advantage after a SHTF event. This group understands the concept of “no man is an island” and they have a group of people that they trust that can plan and train together for a whatever the future may hold.

What Disasters Are We Prepping For?

One of the things preppers have in common of course is that they are all preparing for some emergency or other event in the future where life won’t run as smoothly as it does now. But the agreement on a need to prepare is where the harmony ends and the debates begin.

Some preppers are simply preparing for the next emergency, whether it be a natural disaster, a storm, a home invasion, or terrorist event. They are getting ready for a short-term period where they will need to protect themselves from those who intend harm, survive without power, without running water, or without the usual amenities modern life holds. This group of preppers may or may not have an interest in preparing to bug out or leave their home on a short-term basis. They often don’t believe that there is some catastrophic event that is coming for the country or the world that will change life as we know it. They are preparing for a short-term local emergency and they believe after such an event, life will return to normal.

On the far side of this debate are the doomsday preppers. This group is preparing for the TEOTWAWKI (The End of The World As We Know It). They believe that there is some cataclysmic event looming in our future which will alter the course of history and change the world forever. This group of preppers is not only stockpiling food and supplies but they are working toward a way of life that is completely independent of the economy that they fear will collapse when this event occurs.

Knowledge and Skills versus Gear?

Another longstanding debate among preppers is the one over knowledge and skills versus gear. Some preppers, especially those new to the whole concept, get caught up in having the newest, greatest, best gadget to accomplish any post-SHTF task. These gear gurus believe that they will be fine after a disaster because they have an EDC kit, a get home bag (GHB), and a bug out bag (BOB) filled with all the best gear. They may have large stockpiles of water, food, and other supplies in their bug out location or home. If they need to handle it following a major disaster event, they are confident they have something in their stockpile of gear that will get the job done.

But on the other side of this debate are those who believe that the more knowledge and skills you have under your belt, the less gear you will need to carry with you. These preppers recognize that depending on gear to get you through a crisis is a dangerous thing in the chaos that will follow. They travel light with just the basic gear and intend to survive on what can be found in the environment. These preppers focus on mastering the foundational survival skills and then learning as much as they can in other areas they feel are important.

Join a Prepper Network: Yay or Nay?

There is strength in numbers, right? Or is there? The decision to join and participate in a prepper network is one that has been long debated among preppers. On one hand, joining a prepper network gives you access to the varied skills and knowledge of a wide group of people. As part of a prepper network, you have the opportunity to meet preppers at all levels of experience and you can learn from the mistakes of those who have been prepping longer than you have. Being part of a prepper network can give you the opportunity to get together with people in your area and practice the skills you are learning and gain confidence in your ability to survive when the time comes.

But on the other side of the debate are fears and distrust surrounding the decision to join a prepper network. There are different levels of prepper networks from those that are community based to those that are loosely organized online. Some preppers believe that sharing information about your preps, your location, and your plans when SHTF can make you a target. In reality, it is a big risk to put yourself out there, to let complete strangers into your planning process and alert them to where they could go to get supplies if they themselves get desperate. For this reason, even if you do join a prepper network, make sure you limit the amount of detailed information you share about your plans and preps. Follow basic opsec and don’t tell people how to get to your bug out or bug in location, how many guns you own, or where your food stockpile is hidden.

Guns Over Bows for Hunting and Defense?

When SHTF, most preppers agree that security and defense will be a priority issue for just about everyone. Even those in remote locations will occasionally have to deal with intruders who might wish to do harm. The majority of preppers plan to deal with defense by stockpiling guns and ammunition. This is definitely something worthy of consideration because there’s no denying that having access to firearms gives you an advantage. But since ammunition is finite and you can only stockpile so much prior to a SHTF situation, some think there’s another option for defense and hunting.

Bows, whether recurve or compound, are an option for many. Those who are experienced know the limitations of this method but they also recognize the advantages. Firearms are loud and will alert people to your location or at least let them know that you have the ability to hunt food, which they could possibly steal. Bows are quiet and there’s something to be said for stealth after a SHTF situation. One of the most dangerous threats will be other people, so some preppers figure silent is better. There are preppers who believe the other advantage of bow hunting is that they require less maintenance and in a long-term situation, ammunition can be made by hand.

MREs: Are They Worth It?

Another of the major debates many preppers have is over food for a long-term survival situation post SHTF or TEOTWAWKI event. MREs are “Meals Ready to Eat” designed by and for military field troops. MRE’s come pre-packaged so that they don’t need refrigeration and can be eaten with very little and sometimes no preparation at all. They can typically be bought online or through companies that have commercialized the “ready to eat” meal packaging. Each one contains about 1200 calories and MRE shelf life is about three years. Many preppers purchase and stockpile them because they are easy to store, caloric intake is already considered in each package, and they require little preparation.

One of the downsides to MREs is of course the taste. Military troops have giventhem many different nicknames including “Meals Rarely Edible” and “Meals Rejected by Everyone”. A number of the MREs are considered inedible, and would be especially unappealing to children. Companies have begun mkaing them very similar to the military style and have improved upon the taste somewhat. These are prepared by adding boiling water. But the downside of these are the expense. Many preppers believe that while having a few MREs might be beneficial in a pinch, it’s much cheaper and far more nutritious and better for morale to be in a position to stockpile, grow and cook your own food.

What’s the Best Way to Filter and Purify Water?

Water after a SHTF event will truly be the lifeblood for any prepper and their family or group. Public utilities may be shut down or operate sporadically. Wells and other water sources could be contaminated depending on the type of disaster. A normal healthy adult can only survive without water for about three days. So, it’s not surprising that preppers argue over the best way to filter water for drinking. They know how critical fresh drinking water will be following a SHTF event.

Some preppers swear by their LifeStraw filter while others insist the Sawyer Mini Water Filter is the way to go. For others, the best way to purify water in a survival situation is through boiling or distillation. It’s a debate that’s been going on for a number of years and I doubt it will ever be settled.

So, where do you stand on these top ten biggest prepare debates? Are you stockpiling MREs? Will you use food and water to barter when the time comes? Will you bug in or bug out? When the zombies show up at your door, will you help them or shoot them? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Megan Stewart

Born and raised in NE Ohio, with early memories that include grandpa teaching her to bait a hook and watching her mom, aunts, and grandmothers garden, sew, and can food, Megan is a true farm girl at heart. For Megan, the 2003 blackout, the events of 911, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, spurred a desire to be more prepared for whatever may come along. Soon to be living off-grid, this mother of four and grandmother of six grandsons, is learning everything she can about preparedness, basic survival, and self-sufficient homesteading. She is passionate about sharing that knowledge so that others can be increasingly prepared to protect their families.

8 comments

  1. ne of my biggest complaints about the whole prepping/survivalist scenario is that ther issue of people with disabilities is rarely addressed. An estimated 48.9 million people, or 19.4% of the non-institutionalized civilians, have a disability. In prepping circles, it seems to be assumed thast everyone is 35 years old, physically fit and loaded with prepping and survival knowledge. This is not the case. Americans are, if anything, an obese and out of shape population. Are these members of society destined for extinction? Does anyone care abut this population? I, for one find this a bit on the deplorable sidem, and it is an issue to be addressed. Many of these disabled people are veterans, with a buttload of knowlede and skills and would be a great addition to any prepper society or network. I am one of those people. Why is this not spoken to?

    • Alden
      It will first depend on the mindset of the host family. Most family groups will have membership criteria that all new member would be judged on.
      What does the requesting person have to offer the group? Will they bring a one year supply of food based on a 3500 calorie per day ration? Do they have guns and ammunition needed by the host family? Is this person’s disposition and moral character compatible with the family? What is the requesting persons relationship to the host family? The list might go on and on.
      I have two friends that are handicapped by health issues but they have prepared so well that in a SHTF event their neighbors will be begging them to come in with their group.
      Therefore, I think it depends on the individual more than the disability. However, most savvy people will not accept a stranger or a perceived freeloader into their group. The people they do accept will have to somehow carry their own load.

    • I think most is not mentioned because people really don’t want to see reality. In a real SHTF situation the truth is that the old the young the feeble and the disabled are going to die. its just that simple. I don’t mean to be an ass about it but it is the truth.

      • I think it depends entirely on the disability and the disaster scenario. Dyslexia may be a disability in these technological times, but if you don’t have to read much then it would have no impact on your ability to survive. And folks with artificial limbs will have a tougher go of it if their prostheses break, there have been wooden legs for centuries and fully articulated protheses since the late 19th century

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegleg

        And if your group doesn’t protect the young, your chances of longterm survival are slim at best….

  2. To A Smith above, I have gone through several survival schools in the military to include SEER school . The hardest lesson I learned is that you must let some people die. Some people will just quit and refuse to do anything to help themselves and will just lay there and cry expecting someone else to help them. They will destroy the group that is trying to survive a difficult situation.
    An obese person or one with tattoos over every inch of their body and face show bad life choices and will not change when life becomes hard and challenging. Sorry but it is the truth you might not like or agree with that but it is what it is.
    If you can’t work or pull your weight in a group your just consuming resorses that others need to keep the group alive and healthy.
    If your disability is self imposed change it now . No one else can do it for you.
    You might think I’m full of it but in the back of your mind you know I’m right.

  3. Alden
    It will first depend on the mindset of the host family. Most family groups will have membership criteria that all new member would be judged on.
    What does the requesting person have to offer the group? Will they bring a one year supply of food based on a 3500 calorie per day ration? Do they have guns and ammunition needed by the host family? Is this person’s disposition and moral character compatible with the family? What is the requesting persons relationship to the host family? The list might go on and on.
    I have two friends that are handicapped by health issues but they have prepared so well that in a SHTF event their neighbors will be begging them to come in with their group.
    Therefore, I think it depends on the individual more than the disability. However, most savvy people will not accept a stranger or a perceived freeloader into their group. The people they do accept will have to somehow carry their own load.

  4. I am 66 years old. I have been ‘prepping’ in one form or another most of my life, though iIdid not always call it that. In a scenario where vehicles are running, I will join a family group bugging out to a property away from town. If vehicles are not running, we, in each family unit, (mine will be just hubby and me) will bug in and each is prepared to do so and cope the best they can. I will not allow my children or grandchildren to endanger themselves or waist supplies trying to get to me and Papa. We all know this. So . . . reality does live here. I know my chances for survival alone will become slimmer as time goes by, but I guess that outcome will depend on the length of the SHTF event.

  5. Interesting article, and you have drawn the lines of disagreement on these issues very well.

    Regarding food, I would be willing to barter one type of food for another. For example, let’s say that someone (that I know and trust) has a surplus of beans and wants to trade for an equal nutritional value of rice. That’s an easy and straightforward exchange. However, if someone without food wants to barter ten sacks of cement for some quantity of food, I will quickly assess that I cannot eat cement. It is, moreover, highly unlikely that my future survival depends more on unneeded sacks of cement than upon food.

    Regarding water, I happen to have a very good well. I would not turn away any transient family that is in need of a drink, or that needs enough water to reach their destination. But therein lies the problem. Anyone that decides to set up camp nearby because they now know that I have water may have made the assumption that they can freely avail themselves of this resource whenever they need. That will not be true. If someone wishes to have recurring access to my well, they must provide something (such as gasoline for a generator) to ensure the continued operation of the well. And, the next time they show up they will need to bring more gas. The bartering of gas for water will not give them the right to tell others about where they obtained their water.

    Fortunately, I live in a very rural area and away from the nearest paved road. It is unlikely that I will see much traffic in a post-SHTF scenario. Nevertheless, I will defend what I have against all comers. Generosity is not limitless and it is not a license for takers.

Leave a Reply to dmwalsh568 Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *