As a prepper, I have often wondered to myself and aloud to my associates and friends just how many of “us” are out there. How many citizens are taking the task of preparing for the inevitable Big Boom and resulting hard times, or the slow slide into the post-empire phase of a society?
It should concern us all: a self-sufficient and rugged people will survive and endure to rise from the ashes. The stronger each individual cell is the better the chance that the body will survive.
So how many doomsday preppers are there?
The total number of actual, committed preppers in America is roughly 3.2 million. All told, some 65% of Americans are preparing for natural or man-made disasters.
A recently commissioned survey from Finder.com revealed that an estimated 68 million Americans have purchased “survival gear” as a direct result from political unrest or natural disasters. That is more than a quarter of the population.
Some 160 million American adults in total either have recently purchased survival gear or already had it in their possession at the time of the survey because they reported always keeping it on hand.
That is an enormous amount of people who are at least passingly concerned with being prepared for tough times.
But are they Doomsday Preppers?
It is a good question, and the answer altogether depends on how you define a “doomsday prepper” against a vanilla, regular prepper.
When preppers hear the term “doomsday” used in the context of describing preppers, they think of the category of prepper who has enormous stockpiles of food and water, self-sufficient homesteads, power facilities and other big-ticket, elaborate preparations and plans.
“Normal” people hear doomsday prepper and most likely just think of the people that most preppers think of themselves as: everyday, normal people who don’t want to see their lives ruined and families suffer from a bad break.
Are the two perceptions synonymous? One cannot after all be said to be truly ready for doomsday with a case of bottled water, a case of MRE’s and a pack of flashlights.
So to answer the obvious question, how many true doomsday preppers are there, we will have to dig just a little deeper.
Practice Makes Permanent
The above cited survey does shed a little light on who is spending regularly on “survival” items, though this is not the whole story.
Of the participants who answered in the “affirmative” for keeping survival gear on hand (the 65%) roughly half of them recently spent $400 on survival gear; not a very descriptive term and does not reveal much data, but that is the scientists’ term, not mine.
That tells us a few things: first, $400 is not enough money, not even close, not even in the same zip code, for providing enough material resources to survive a major crisis.
Second, it does not illuminate how many preppers are not spending because they are already equipped for surviving rough events. Third, spending financially is not an indicator of who is prepared to survive and thrive in the aftermath of a disaster based on skills and training.
Yes, plenty of preppers spend money to sharpen their skills and learn new ones, but it in no way quantifies how much “sweat equity” a prepper puts in to learn and refine their skills.
It is skills and knowledge that make the difference in austere conditions. Gear and provision certainly helps, and can blunt the worst of a disaster’s initial effects, but long-term survival is only guaranteed if a prepper has a thorough knowledge of the requirements of long term survival and the systems that can provide them.
Money can, truly, not buy that. So from the study above trying to infer who is a “doomsday” prepper versus someone who is merely prepared to a greater or lesser degree is probably foolhardy.
Doomsday is not job loss, it is not a little riot resulting from what ball team lost, or who was elected president or what thug got shot by the police.
Real doomsday survival is an endeavor almost entirely apart from typical survival and self-sufficiency. The preppers that adhere to such a goal are likewise almost an entirely separately breed.
We can rely on your trusted author’s own anecdotal experience. I spent years advising, training and equipping preppers in order to keep them safe during the really, bad, hard times.
Extrapolating what I know about the statuses and situations of thousands of clients, I can say that most preppers are not what you would call true “doomsday preppers.”
That isn’t an insult, either. All of them were at least preparing for short-duration, high-impact events (hurricanes, major flooding, blizzards, riots) as well as longer-term, low-intensity crises like job loss, economic collapse and societal upheaval.
That being said, even among the most dedicated, diligent and well-financed perhaps 1 in 50 were taking steps to attain true long term survivability in the event of a society-toppling Big Boom.
I would define this as seeking to obtain remote, secure, and self-sufficient land, and then stock it with enough material and more importantly enough trusted, like-minded people to effectively form their own communities; a durable and enduring hedge against apocalypse.
Comparing that ratio against the stats gleaned from the survey, we can make an informed guesstimate about how many preppers are doomsday preppers.
It might be a little on the high side, but as many as 3.2 million American adults could be called proper doomsday preppers, those who are actively preparing their families and self-selected communities for the apocalypse.
That’s A Lot of Preppers
There are at least 3.2 million doomsday preppers in America, they being counted among the 160 million plus adults who are preparing for man-made or natural trouble in lesser but no less vital ways.
Depending on how one qualifies the “doomsday” descriptor there could be a great many more or far fewer.
At any rate, 3.2 million is likely pretty close by most people’s standards. It is comforting to know that so many of our fellows are dedicated to surviving and preparing against the worst of the worst.