There is a fine line or gray area for survival and preparedness. There is also confusion that somehow outdoor survival training and preparedness are one in the same. I’ll admit there is a bit of an overlap between outdoor survival and prepping. However, learning how to stare down a charging bear is not the same as having a woodstove or a home emergency kit.
Outdoor Survival is just that, learning how to survive outside your home. Most outdoor survival courses are designed to show and teach the students how to survive if lost in the woods. That’s kind of a no brainer right there being as the title of most of these classes addresses something related to the outdoors.
Prepping or preparedness is not outdoor survival. Being prepared for something is not the same as outdoor survival. There is some overlap. A good example is that both prepping and outdoor survival mention a sheath knife of some kind and possibly a multi-tool. They both address EDC or Every Day Carry. However, EDC for outdoor activities is not the same as EDC for prepping.
And that brings us to Armchair Preppers.
An Armchair Prepper is what some of us refer to as an ‘expert.’ Personally, in the prepping or disaster mitigation field there are no true experts. The field is always adding something new, be it a class or some new certification. Therefore, no one can actually claim they’re an expert in the field. I’ve been in that field for over 10 years and I’m constantly being bombarded with information about some new courses, classes, or certifications are available. Outdoor Survival is pretty much the same thing. Sure, there are the basics that most people teach and then there are the advanced subjects but in reality, there are always new things to learn or new ways of doing the old methods that might be better.
Armchair Preppers are people who hang out at online prep boards then repeat what they’ve read to others making themselves look like they have vast knowledge and experience. This type of prepper or survival ‘expert’ has no real world experience. They’ve read all they know and haven’t ever put all this new found knowledge to real world, practical application. What’s worse, is that some of the armchair preppers or chairborne commando are total gear queers. They have all kinds of equipment that they purchased because they read how great it was. They probably read how great it was from yet another armchair prepper. Some of the things I’ve seen repeated are missing key elements or components that if a newbie prepper were to implement said protocol/technique the results would be less than favorable. In one case, there was information about distilling water that was missing some vital steps that if followed as described and using materials as recommended, would have made the situation worse.
Then there are the prep ‘scammers.’ These people fall into the same category as the armchair preppers. They’re pretty much useless but sadly, they prey on the newbie prepper and focus on ways to separate them from their money. We’ve all gotten those emails about something then followed the link only to find out that the alleged free information or item has some kind of shipping or processing charge that ends up being more than the item/information is worth.
What that means is when someone is just starting out with prepping, all they have to do is google prepping and millions of hits will come up. For the most part, the flashy sites are pretty much geared up to take their money and return to them some mediocre product or advice. What’s worse is that some of these sites will advertise about some kind of magical list for all BOBs, Survival Kits, Emergency Kits, Get Home Bags, Get out Dodge bags, or whatever they want to label them. That same site will then espouse how the person who pays something like $99.99 will get free advice for life or some other bullshit. My favorite sites are the one where services are advertised that will train you to survive in any disaster. No matter how well trained you may be or how much gear you have, shit happens. You could be the most experienced person with all the ‘right’ gear and there’s no guarantee that you’ll make it through unscathed or even alive. Some of the worst I’ve seen are the sites that try to sell a total survival package for only $1999.99.
Before you or anyone you know who is interested in prepping hits sites that want to charge you for information that is normally free or try to sell you some line of products that you probably don’t need, take the time to put out feelers. Go to some of the free sites and look around. Don’t be in a rush to sign up for a class that is run by someone who’s only skill is fast talking and pushing you towards buying their whole disaster preparedness package. Find out through your local Chamber of Commerce if there are any preparedness expositions in your area. Take the time to attend one or more and get a feel for what’s going on before you start opening your wallet and forking over the cash. Research to find local preparedness groups in your area. Attendance is usually free or a donation of canned food that ends up going to the local food banks. Don’t be afraid to ask around.
The reason I posted all this information is that there are far too many people out there that are looking to make a quick buck by offering products or services to the prepper however new or experienced. I’ll put this into perspective. Having been in the Disaster Prevention now Mitigation field for a long time and having more than a passing interest in preparedness and outdoor survival, you shouldn’t have to pay for information about how some so-called ‘expert’ created the ultimate list for what you need in your BOB. It’s your BOB. That means whatever you put in it outside the 10 Essentials, is what you deem necessary. Don’t pay for some wise ass telling you what he or she thinks you need in your supply chest, pantry, BOB, BOV or at your BOL. They aren’t using it, eating it, driving it, or staying there with you. How could they have any kind of useful input?
Think people, use that gray matter between your ears.