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How to Succeed at Prepping: 11 Tips That Will Help You Survive

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: November 24, 2020
How to Succeed at Prepping: 11 Tips That Will Help You Survive

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These days, you can barely turn around without someone giving you advice on what you should or must do to succeed at prepping.  This is all good news because four or five years ago, most advice you found would likely be highly militaristic, political, or simply over the top unreasonable.

I can recall the days when the #1 survival tip was to establish a remote bug-out-location and prepare to live permanently off grid.  Now really, how practical is that for most of us?  Don’t get me wrong.  There is nothing wrong with permanently bugging out; I am just saying that except in the most dire of world circumstances, doing so will not be practical or probable for most of us.

How to Succeed at Prepping - Backdoor Survival

That brings me to today’s topic: how to succeed at prepping.  I have been thinking about this for awhile and whereas this list is not infallible, it may help you to foster a road map leading toward a positive prepping experience.

How to Succeed At Prepping

1.  First and foremost, evaluate the risks and prepare for that

Let’s face it.  We all have risk tolerances that vary with our geographic location, age, health, and economic condition.

Sit down and make a list of the top five things that worry you the most and prepare for those things.  I am not going to give you a laundry list to choose from, you know what keeps you up at night!

2.  Build a stockpile of food, water, medications, first aid supplies, and cash

The stockpile you build is your “survival” insurance plan.  Build up a modest stockpile in each category and add to it over time.  You do not need to do it all at once.

Resource:  20 Items to Kick Start Your Food Storage Plan and Survival Basics: Water and Water Storage

3.  Decide what skills are needed to meet the risks in #1, and learn them

Once you have your list of probable and/or worrisome risks, back into the skills you need to acquire and hone in order to meet those risks head on.  They may include old-fashioned pioneer-type skills, fire-making, or simply people skills.  Or something else entirely.

Your list, your skills. Don’t be tricked into adopting a skill set that does not address your needs.

Resource:  5 Uncommon Skills That Will Be Useful After the SHTF,

4.  Develop various emergency kits for varying purposes.

Putting together a big kahuna survival kit when you first start to prep is often number one on the priority list.  Before you jump in with both feet, consider putting together a minimum of three or more smaller, more basic kits instead.

Most likely you will need a Get Home Kit, Every Day Carry Kit, and Three Day Kit.  You may also need a vehicle kit, a trauma kit, and a carry on your back and get out of dodge bug out kit.

The nice thing about kits you build yourself is that you can pick and choose the gear according to your needs and budget.  That is not to say that there are not some excellent all-in-one kits out there, because there are.  Just be aware that one size does not fit all and after starting with a modest all-in-one kit, you may want to customize and update your kit over time.

Recognize that your emergency kit will always be a work in process.

Resource:  8 Essential Items: The Perfect Portable Survival Kit

5.  Learn extreme coping skills

You may have noticed that I have not said that survival following a disruptive event will be easy.  There is no way that I, or anyone else, can guarantee that being an extreme prepper will ensure your that you make it through a horrific disaster.

On the other hand, you can learn coping skills and you can learn to take things in stride and roll with the punches.

Resource:  13 Ways To Roll With the Punches

6.  Develop a survival library and store it in a format that is comfortable for you

No matter how good your memory, during times of stress, it will be humanly impossible to remember everything.  Acquire and maintain a survival library and do so in a format that makes sense to you.  Print books are great, but with today’s inexpensive solar charging devices, you can also maintain a portable library of eBooks.

As with everything I have addressed so far in this article, you want to stay within your own personal comfort zone.

Remember those risks?  If an EMP is high up on your list, then perhaps an eBook reader or tablet will not be the best option for you.  On the other hand, if you live in a flood plain and are worried about losing everything to the rising waters, print books may not be your best option.

The message should be clear:  you decide.

Recommended Books:

The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster
Preppers Long-Term Survival Guide  and other Survival/Prepping Books by Jim Cobb
Doctor Prepper’s Making the Best of Basics Family Preparedness Handbook

7. Organize your preps in a manner than makes sense

I am guilty of stressing over a lack of organization when it comes to my own preps.  As much as I try, I do not have list upon list of everything I own.  As difficult as it is for the perfectionist in me to not know exactly what I have, spending the hours, days and weeks it would take to get everything perfectly organized is not something I am willing to do.

Choosing the “good enough” method is what I recommend.  There are a number of inexpensive planners out there (here is one) that you can use, or you can use an old-fashioned pen and paper or even just the “walk-around and visually inspect what you have” method.

No one can (or should) judge you by the method you use to keep track of your stuff.

8.  Take a periodic prepping break

This is easier said than done.  I get that.  But that being said, burnout comes easily within the prepping world.  I have suffered extreme prepping burnout myself and for that I have been both embarrassed and ashamed.  Like there is some prepping-god out there judging my efforts – not!

Don’t fall into a trap where you live and breathe prepping 24/7.  If you do, you will suck at prepping for sure.  Take a breather.  It can be a day, a week, or a month.  When your prepping sabbatical is over, you will resume refreshed and renewed as well as more focused.  Trust me on this one.

9.  Run, don’t walk, from websites, videos, periodicals, and books that foster fear or attempt to shame you into spending your hard-earned cash on some over-priced turkey

Nothing makes me angrier than the greed I have seen within the preparedness niche.  Pick and choose the items you feel will be useful.  Spend wisely on quality where you feel it will do the most good, and be mindful of the budget with the rest.

10.  Have faith and confidence in your own ability prevail in a survival situation

Someone once reviewed this website and made a point of stating that I often dealt with the mental aspects of preparedness.  And so it is that I unequivocally state that in order to succeed at prepping, you need to have confidence in your ability to think on your feet, make decisions, then carry those decisions through to their logical conclusion.

Call me a cheerleader if you want, but I know that when push comes to shove, setting insecurities aside will ensure your ultimate success at preparedness.

11.  Do not be afraid to ask for help if and when the time comes.

As much as you may be confident in your stockpile of food, water, supplies, gear and skills, the time may come when you know in your heart of hearts that you can not do it all.  Do not be afraid to ask for help.  There is no shame in saying, “I need help” when you have gone as far as you can in taking care of your own needs.

The Final Word

With preppers, two things commonly occur.  First, you start out like gangbusters then later give up in frustration because of the time, cost and effort involved.  Or, in another scenario, you prep for awhile, totally burn out, and decide to stop.  In both cases, you end up feeling a sense of guilt and failure.

I am not saying this happens to everyone, but I know it happens a lot.

What I suggest today is that you step back, take a deep breath, and start anew.  Perhaps the pace will be slower and the fervor a bit less animated.  So be it.  Preparedness is a lifestyle and there is no rule book I know of that says you have to be perfect.

The goal of this website is to help you evaluate your options then move them forward with grace and optimism.  The very last thing I want is for you to suck (aka do a bad job) of prepping.  We are, after all, in this together.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider voting for Backdoor Survival daily at Top Prepper Websites!  In addition, SUBSCRIBE to email updates  and receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

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 Below you will find the items related to today’s article.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter:  The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultra light personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out. It weighs only 2oz.  making it perfect for the prepper. For more information, see my LifeStraw review.

Sunferno Flintstone Portable Solar Panel with Rechargeable Battery Pack:  This study solar power pack is lightweight and small enough to be used in an EDC kit.  I especially like that it has 2 USB ports.

RAVPower 15W Solar Charger with Dual USB Ports: This compact, three panel, solar charger will charge two devices at once, including tablets, smartphones, Kindles, and even AA/AAA battery chargers.  For more information, read: Gear Review: RAVPower 15W Solar Charger with Dual USB Ports.

RAVPower® 3rd Gen Deluxe 15000mAh External Battery: Use the sun to power an external battery pack.  By doing so, you will always have battery power to spare without being dependent upon electricity.  Perfect to have on hand for dark, stormy days, night time, or when you don’t have the time to wait around for a full charge in the sun.

Kindle eBook Reader:  I resisted purchasing a Kindle for the longest time.  I don’t know why I waited so long. I adore my Paperwhite for its long battery life but many prefer the Kindle Fire tablet.

The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster: This is a comprehensive A to Z manual that will take your through what  you need to do to become a confident and successful prepper.  Written by my blogging colleague, this is one book that should be in every preparedness library.

Other book options are the Preppers Long-Term Survival Guide  and other Survival/Prepping Books by Jim Cobb plus, the granddaddy of all prepper manuals, Doctor Prepper’s Making the Best of Basics Family Preparedness Handbook.

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20 Responses to “How to Succeed at Prepping: 11 Tips That Will Help You Survive”

  1. Gaye:
    Your articles and website have been an inspiration to me from the beginning of my pepper journey. Thank you so much for your common sense approach and for being the voice of reason we all need so much, especially now.

  2. Recently I spoke to a retired International Banker (40 years in the business) who is still a paid consultant to banks in our area. He pulled me aside and told me to stop putting any savings I have or will have into banks. He said we are going to have a huge recession in two years time and that we will need cash on hand. I mentioned that we are slready in a recession and he just said, “A HUGE recession is coming”. I believe this man. He did not say the banking system would be impacted but why stash cash if they will still exsist?This man has given me bits of advice about what was going to happen in the economy for the last few years and all of it came true. He said no one could yet verify the rumor that China and Russia have decide to use China’s monetary form to conduct trade between them but to be careful. Right now the only thing holding up the U.S. Dollar is that there has been no other currency strong enough to take its place and oil producing nations have agreed (for at least 2 more years) to keep the dollar as the means of transacting oil the oil trade. Based on this and other government indicators, my current top concern and what I am now prepping against is a depression unlike any have seen. By the way, I sell nothing prepping related so this is not a scare tactic.

  3. Laura,

    I completely understand the feeling and burn out that you speak of. I did some extra prepping for Y2K and was ridiculed for it by family and friends, including one family member that was my “prepping buddy” until they passed on earlier this year. Yes, there is also that real possibility of preppers passing on and having everything left to heirs, who may not share similar prepping goals, or simply having everything thrown out. That is a possibility with anything though, nothing is guaranteed.

    None of that bothers me too much though since I’ve never worried as to what someone else thinks about what I’m doing or why. I usually listen to my own “gut feelings” or “sixth sense”, not to other people. Yes, I seek out advice but in the end I look inward for that final decision as to what’s best for me and mine. In fact I’m infamous in my family for my “gut feelings” that often are premonitions of future events. I’ve shocked more than one friend and family member as to how spot on I’ve been with many of my “gut feelings” through the years.

    One thing I would suggest that everyone keep in mind is that China announced, not all that long ago, they would not carry future US debt. Japan is now the major carrier of US debt and that will eventually come to an end as well. We are eventually headed for a Greece type financial downfall. When that happens and exactly what sets it off I don’t know, but when it happens the Great Depression will end up looking like child’s play in comparison.

  4. Me and friends prepped in late 90’s for y2k, and none of these folks will even discuss it now (burn out) as nothing happened, because they think it’s hype or promoted to make money selling food storage, water purifiers, and tactical gear. I prep some but not like in late 90’s. Some of these folks have died and preps were thrown out or donated by heirs. Besides, many of us just don’t have the space or finances to hoard stuff or to possibly have it thrown out someday.

  5. Gaye,

    Thank You for this article, the common sense advice is VERY appreciated!! I do have a question that I’m hoping you or one of your readers might be able to offer some advice on. Until a few months ago I had a family member who was also my “Prepper buddy” that I knew I could count on when SHTF. This was an important issue since I live in a major metro area apartment that would definitely not be very safe if/when civil unrest hits. Am now faced with a family who are somewhere between “prepping indicates a person lacks faith in God to provide” and “keeping up with the Jones'” to be worried about “prepping” in any form. With all that being said, what would you suggest as far as possibly meeting up with others in a situation, similar to mine, who are at least trying to be prepared for SHTF?? In case this might have an affect on anything, I walk fairly good but I don’t drive since a serious accident some years ago left me unable to maintain pressure on the gas/break peddles. So “bugging out”, if it comes to that would no doubt be done on foot and I’m not of a mind to leave all my prepping supplies behind unless there is no choice. Advice is welcome and encouraged, please.

    • Hi Flo. My husband and I don’t have any prepping buddies either but at least we have each other. Our daughter and family are but they live on the east coast and we live in eastern Washington state. Some church people say that God will provide and He definitely can. The KJV Bible says to take no thought about what you will eat, drink, or wear because your Heavenly Father will take care of you. I take that to mean don’t worry or have anxiety or stress over it. I like the example of when Joseph ended up in Egypt by God’s plan and gave him the wisdom to store up food for seven years because the next seven would be famine. Also, there was the parable of the 10 virgins (KJV again) 5 wise And 5 foolish. The wise ones had oil in their lamps and the foolish ones did not. I personally “have faith” that God will give me wisdom and lead me to the people such as Gaye, who can and does give good advice. Don’t let anyone discourage you. I would love to correspond with you by email if you are interested. You can do a friend request on Facebook if you like. Judi Ulin Stellwagen. I am in my 60’s and am a beginner prepper. You could reply here also.

    • Judi,

      Thank You so much for responding to my comments. I will indeed be sending an email (with much more info about myself) as well as a Facebook request. I enjoy communicating by both means. Will tell you much more then.

  6. Gaye, thanks so much for the information. I’ve often thought of myself and other ‘senior preppers’ and our special needs. For me, supplies to add to my preps include denture adhesive (non-denture people – don’t knock it – it’s great adhesive and water proof), the essential oil I use for the arthritis recipe I put on my hands, extra pairs of my glasses, etc. Anyway, thank you for the article…prep on!

  7. Thanks Gaye. That was what I needed today. We began prepping about 4 months ago. It is overwhelming. Also, we are dealing with loss and grief. It began with a little over a year ago with my job being eliminated. Then over the next 10 months five family members passed away; my elderly parents, my husband’s younger brother was killed in a freak accident, another brother by suicide, and my sister’s husband from an unexpected medical issue. It’s hard for me to stay focused. Your article today will help keep me on track. One concern I have is that we don’t know any other preppers in our area. From the free e-book yesterday, he said that just two people alone won’t be safe. I grew up on the Olympic Peninsula and currently live in Eastern Washington. Anyway, I guess I am rambling. Thanks again for today’s article. I look forward to your articles every day.

    • Judi, may I suggest and then search for something like prepper,survivalist, self-sufficiency,etc. That’s how I met up with like-minded people in my area. Hope this helps and good luck.

    • Hi Bill. I looked up all words I could think of having to do with prepping etc. and there are no listings for anyone within 50 miles of me. I know there have to be some. Maybe they don’t want anyone to know who they are.

    • Judi, I can’t help you with finding people, I’m on the other coast. But if you’re looking for more information on how to start prepping Gaye has a series of articles on this site that are excellent for starting prepping. You can find them under the “12 months of prepping” tab at the top of this page.

  8. I should clarify that the reason I would like text capabilities is because one of the people is very hard of hearing. A traditional walkie-talkie would work great for the intended purpose except they cant hear worth a hoot.

  9. Great article Gaye. You have such a talent for giving us great info in s concise was that saves us all time. On a side note, I would like to increase my options for comms (ya know 2 is 1 and all that). Well I am looking at another set of walkie-talkies to be able to communicate with someone fairly nearby. The thing I was wondering is, do you (or any of your very smart readers) know if there exists such a thing as walkie-talkie type devices that allow you to send a message in text for from one to another (not relying on cell tower service). Thanks in advance

    • In the old days (1980’s) text messaging was done via handheld pagers and transmitted by radio frequency. These days, texting is by SMS and to the best of my knowledge does require an active cell tower.

      Here is some information about SMS: //

      Because I have an interest in the technology, I will continue to research your question. For now, suffice is to say that Ham radio is the way to go. 2 Boafeng’s will cost about the same as 2 walkie talkies and are far more versatile.

  10. Regarding comments you receive about the mental aspects you focus on: GOOD!! Too many people have gadgets, goodies, food, water but the most important skill it has been said to have is a positive mental attitude. Couple that with a good skill set and then all those gadgets and there is a much better chance at getting through. It does one no good to be loaded to the hilt with everything imaginable if you have stinkin’ thinkin’ as the saying goes. Just my opinion!

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