Prepper Myths Vs Reality: 7 Common Ones Discussed

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By Bryan Lynch •  7 min read

I was brought up a certain way and exposed to ways of living that are deemed more and more unconventional. Roughly two decades ago that lifestyle developed a label that is now popularly known as being a “prepper.”

Since then, the misconceptions of people living under this label have only grown.  I thought I would take the time today to set the record straight, at least in my opinion and through my experiences.

Since preppers usually get a bad rap, I am first going to start with a quick definition of what I think a prepper is.

The term prepper comes from the word preparation. It is used to describe someone who prepares for tough times or emergencies. This is done by having extra food, water, and other essentials on hand as well as learning pertinent survival and outdoor skills.

Now that we are on the same page, I am going to jump right into some of the popular myths surrounding preppers.

7 Prepper Myths Vs Reality

A quick note: I would like to mention that the following are based on my personal experiences. While I do not speak for all preppers, I think I can speak for many. There will be some that fall into the myth side of this article but from what I have seen most are on the reality side.

Also, please keep in mind that many of these myths are derived from popular television shows and movies, which should give you an indication of their validity.

Countdown to Doomsday

Myth: Preppers sit around pining and longing for the doomsday to happen.

Reality: This myth is probably the least accurate one on the list and it annoys me to no end. If doomsday, whatever that is, happens, it is going to affect everyone in an extremely bad way. I do not wish harm on people like they would experience in such an event, especially friends and family.

Also, even though preppers are ready for bad times, experiencing doomsday would really suck.

Apocalypse or Bust!

Myth: Preppers only prepare for the apocalypse.

Reality: This one is similar to the above myth, but I have heard both. I usually do not throw the word apocalypse around lightly and I am not exactly sure what it means as it is used today. But my understanding is that it means the utter destruction of the world.

I do not care if you are a professional prepper, no amount of preparation will get you through the apocalypse. Logically, one cannot prepare for the end of the world.  

In reality, most preppers prepare for everyday occurrences such as losing a job, a car accident, medical emergencies, and natural disasters.

However, some prepare for more widescale and devasting events like civil unrest, war, pandemics, and solar flares just to name a few.

But know that basic preparations like having food, water, and first aid skills will cover a lot of bases no matter what the disaster is.

Locked and Loaded

Myth: Preppers are gun-toting maniacs that sit on caches of weapons and ammunition that would rival a military depot.

Reality: Not even close. Most preppers do have firearms but believe it or not there are some preppers do not even like firearms.

Many preppers are active in the outdoors, so they have firearms, in part, for hunting. And yes, firearms are the most effective self-defense tool, hands down.

If you think you are going to stumble into a massive John Wick style weapons vault when meeting a prepper, think again. It is more likely you will find a few hunting rifles and shotguns.

Are They Looking at Me??

Myth: Preppers are paranoid conspiracy theorists that see danger everywhere.

Reality: While I have heard some doozies in my life, most preppers are level-headed individuals. They are usually well informed in local, national, and worldly news because that is how they stay prepared for possible future events.

But shouldn’t everyone be well informed? Our world is so interconnected now that something that happens halfway across the world can affect you here at home.

Also, while I do like to think our world is a good place, there are a lot of bad people in it that want to do bad things. I do not consider being situationally aware of one’s surroundings as being paranoid but as being safe. To do otherwise is naïve.

Lock the Gate

Myth: Preppers live in impenetrable fortresses behind fortified walls.

Reality: Do me a favor and look out your living room window. Do you see that completely normal-looking house across the street? The person living there is likely a prepper.

Out of all the preppers I have known in my life, none were wealthy enough to afford a fortress. Most preppers are hard-working, average people that you see every day.

Even if we wanted to live in such a place, which most do not, many preppers simply cannot afford it!

Off to the Bunker, Missile Silo, or other Bug Out Location

Myth: Preppers have secondary safe locations like bunkers or refurbished missile silos that they can retreat to.

Reality: Seriously, how much money do people think preppers have? Yes, many preppers indeed have a secondary safe location that they can go to in case of an emergency, but I guarantee you it is not some extravagant underground bunker where we plan to live comfortably for twenty years.

For most of us, our secondary location is a friend’s or family member’s house that is across town or in a different state. Investing in property is expensive enough let alone constructing or refurbishing an underground structure. Again, this is financially unfeasible for most preppers and a lot of us do not want to live underground.

Lastly, and believe it or not, retreating to such structures has some major negative consequences. 

Hoarding on Aisle 9

Myth: Preppers hoard everything and cause product shortages.

Reality: Okay, so there is some truth to this myth but overall, it is wrong, let me explain. Many preppers do not have the finances to go out and buy a year’s worth of food or other supplies all at once.

The people that I have met, built up their supplies over many years using discipline, hard work, and exercising frugal spending habits.

I have an issue with the word hoarding because these supplies were built up over time and they are used up by rotating items out. In my opinion, having the foresight to plan for bad times by storing food and other necessities is not hoarding, it is simply good planning.

Preppers often choose to invest in long-term food supplies rather than going out to lunch every day. They choose to invest in extra home essentials rather than going out to the movies or buying the newest cool gadget.

What I find interesting is that I often hear about this when there are product shortages, and preppers are blamed for it.

The thing is preppers already have their supplies during normal times as well as during a time of shortages, this is why they are called preppers. But I guess people need someone to blame when they are caught unprepared and need something they cannot find.

Wrap Up

I wanted to share one final thought with you about this topic.

To not be a prepper is not normal when you consider human history. Look at how our ancestors lived.

They had firearms or other tools for hunting and personal protection. They preserved as much food as possible because they knew bad times could lay ahead. They were self-reliant, knew how to fix things, knew how to make clothes or whatever else they needed, and took care of medical needs as best they could.

What we call survival skills, emergency preparedness or prepping today, was just the way of life throughout history.

Thanks for reading and stay realistically prepared!

Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021.