What’s the best prepping advice you have ever received?

Sharing the best advice that we have received will help new preppers and also teach us what others have found most helpful as they got started. 

The best advice my wife has ever received is: “Start with the basics” and “It doesn’t matter how much money you have if you don’t have food”

The best advice I’ve received is the advice found in The Prepared’s Sane Prepping article. It really helped me out at a time when Prepping was overwhelming and stressful. It helped me have a level headed look at prepping and made it seem attainable for me. 


  • Comments (33)

    • 14

      Take an inventory of what you already have, understand the basic areas that you are trying to cover, and strengthen your weakest links before going crazy in other areas.  Ie; if you have 10k rounds of ammo but don’t have a one year supply of food… work on food preps.  If you have 3 ways to purify water but no water on hand… work on water storage.  Cover all your bases (fire starting, tools, cold weather gear, etc) before buying another 10k rounds of ammo.

      • 10

        GREAT ADVICE! I see many people focus on one area of their preps that they are comfortable with, understand, or that is fun, and neglect so many others. But I like how you say you can go back to your favorite later, but make sure you have the basics down.

    • 10

      Start preparing for the most likely scenarios first. There’s no point in preparing for an EMP attack if you aren’t financially prepared to weather a job loss.

      • 8

        This is good advice. Mine is somewhat similar of prepping for reality.

        “Store what you eat, eat what you store.”

        Don’t store hundreds of pounds of beans and rice. Sure you will technically survive, but you will hate life and that isn’t really surviving. I want to thrive! 

        So my family has been working on their 6 month food storage of food we regularly eat and rotate through it. 

    • 13


      I don’t particularly have a quote or any specific advice, but I’ve grown up my whole life outdoors. Since a young age, my parents have brought me into the mountains and taught me how to respect, appreciate, and love nature. There are SO many lessons you can learn from being outside.

      I challenge you to give it a try. Go outside today and within 5 minutes of being still and just observing, I promise you will learn or feel something. It sure is awe inspiring.

    • 12

      My best advice, get help.  Find like minded people who have the motivation to work on this topic, get them together and see where you can go as a group. Remember not everyone has the same resources, financial or materials and that’s OK as long as the motivation is there to get where you want to go.The more I do this the more I realize it truly takes a community. Small is not good, big is good. 

      An unusual example but one I’ll give to prove the point. I have property that is 1.5 miles by 1.5 miles. If I wanted sentrys at each corner working 12 hour shifts I’d need 8 people just to sit and watch. If I wanted two people per corner then I need 16. If I tried to place sentrys at halfway points then I need 32 souls, get the point? 

      Add to this count the number of people we need for everything else the number just keeps getting bigger.

      If you think you’re going to go out into the woods to survive, hunt and gather, so does everyone else. There is a limit on the number of dear, rabbits, squirrels and watering holes available, who gets there first and is most capable of keeping it?

      My best advice, GET HELP!

      My second best advice, know who you are and what you’re willing to do? What is your skill level for the different topics discussed on theprepared. Can you shoot, hunt, garden, build, trouble shoot issues, lead, walk long distances, be a medic, mediate issues among the group? I don’t know but you should……….

      My third best advice, have a hierarchy, one that everyone agrees with. Someone who makes decisions but is not a dictator (hard to find that person, especially one who everyone agrees to). Who in the group is willing to defend the group at all costs? Willing to shoot someone if needed? How do all group members feel about lethal force. I bet your findings will be as enlightening as mine. How are chores determined? What happens if someone in the group wants to leave after contributing time and resources to the group? How are supplies dolled out? Sit down, make a list, what is important to you if part of a group? Do you have members that are medically trained, electricians, plumbers, organizers, construction workers, gardeners, strong backs, solar person, reloader, psychologists, and so on?The list is endless but having an understanding of these things prior to a real life situation may save the group.

      I can keep going but I refer you back to my first best advice, GET HELP!

      I am happy to discuss/provide any information I have accumulated over many years in reference to group dynamics if anyone is interested?

      • 9

        This is KEY. The community is ALWAYS stronger than the individual or lone family.

        Most of us live surrounded by other people. To not make them an essential part of our plans, and anticipate both good things and challenging things in relation to them, is to miss an essential part of preparedness. Not to mention an essential part of being human.

      • 5

        Your post reminded me of an audiobook series I’ve been listening to, the Survivalist / Going Home series. In the later books, it goes into thier little survival group and the hard decisions that they have to make. This is a very good survival fiction book series that follows this one guy and his family of rebuilding after an EMP knocks everything out. I highly recommend it.

        My family has always wanted to buy like 100+ acres in the middle of nowhere and make a family compound where we all live together and raise our own families too. All our kids would grow up together and learn farm/offgrid chores, and we would all just help eachother out. But in the mean time, i’m trying to make like minded prepping friends. That is one of the reasons why i’ve gotten into ham radio. I’ve met many people from there on our weekly preparedness net.

    • 10

      My late husband always told me:  “Remain calm.”  You can’t think properly, or plan if you panic. 

      • 4

        That’s why one of the few acronym memory tricks I like is STOP: Sit, Think, Observe, Plan. The key parts being the idea of stopping / sitting / thinking. 

      • 2

        Yep.  That’s why I prepare; so I don’t panic.  

    • 10

      I have to say much of the best prepping advice I’ve received has come via this website.  Particularily the very sound advice of considering your financial and physical health as part of your prepping process.  That, and the reminder that prepping isn’t just about earthquakes and zombie apocolypses, but also flat tires, lost jobs, illnesses, and the very real and common crisis we all experience throughout our lives.

    • 12

      My best prepping advice–know yourself.

      When I first started prepping, my preps were more suited to a strong/young/middle-aged man, vs the older woman that I am. I finally swallowed my pride and admitted that there are some disasters I won’t be able to out-hike, out-fight, or out-live.

      I also lightened up my go-bag pack. Because hips. Because knees. I have walking poles strapped on, too. I am adding an insulated inflatable sleeping pad because it’s light, and it’s very unlikely I’ll be huddled next to a fire (though yes, I have the stuff to make one) and it’s much more likely I’ll be at a shelter or on a friend’s floor where that pad will play more nicely with my bod.

      So currently my preps are for max 2 days on foot, headed for an evac shelter or friends. Have a truck/teardrop trailer for up to 2+ weeks for vehicle evacs. Driving to an international airport, dicey as that would be, is usually a 2-hour drive and during an emergency that could turn into days in gridlock. So I have LOTS of shelter-at-home preps, because that’s where I’ll most likely be, barring it being destroyed.

      I keep both our packs next to the bed, for now, but am moving everything to a closet near the front door so I can also grab even more coats and boots, if fleeing by car. Also for car evacs, I have a wheeled bag with a wider range of daily type clothing and bath items, plus space for my laptop, etc. Every evening, I close down all my devices (laptop, iPad, iPhone) and pop them into what I call my “electronics bag.” All sorts of needful plugs, batteries, etc. there, too…and ready to go.

      I also focus on the disasters most likely in my area. I live in the Pacific Northwest, so rain gear and warm clothing is needed nearly year round. Natural disasters tend to be clustered around wildfires, tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. Manmade disasters tend to be of the riot and pandemic varieties. (Boy, have I learned a lot from this pandemic, ESPECIALLY about the importance of half-mask respirators and goggles) Keeping warm and dry is key. Even in summer my pack has rain gear and fleece.

      Regarding knowing myself and food–Home prep is easy, I’ll skip that, but I carry PROBAR – Meal Bars (Wholeberry Blast) because most meal replacement bars make me nauseated (yes, I taste-tested a slew). So the PROBAR things are more like granola bars and not at all like those gluey powerbar-type things, which I find completely indigestible.

      That’s it. Sorry for the length, but I’ve been working on this stuff for a few years and, frankly, I love it. It fascinates me. It makes me feel more prepared for disasters. It makes me feel a bit less vulnerable within the context of indeed, being very vulnerable. But I have go-bags and practical plans and that makes a world of difference.

      • 8

        I love everything you said, A2! So much more important to know yourself and tailor your preps to your skills/fitness level, etc than just accumulate gear, or expect to survive out in the wild like your ancestors did ™, if you’ve never practiced those skills.

        Similarly, I know that I wouldn’t be able to carry or walk over long distances with a BOB heavier than 30lb (I used to be able to, when I was 20 years younger), so I have to be mindful and prioritise.

      • 7

        “It’s very unlikely I’ll be huddled next to a fire (though yes, I have the stuff to make one) and it’s much more likely I’ll be at a shelter or on a friend’s floor…”

        YES! I really try to keep the most likely scenarios front of mind. I live in the urban PNW, so I’m much more likely to be sheltering in place or walking to and then living in a high school parking lot after a significant earthquake than I am to be surviving in the wilderness with my ferro rod and gill net. I also really like your idea of having the electronics in a bag ready to go each night.

    • 8

      The best advice! Practice, Practice, Practice. I am in the Pacific Northwest. A great place to test your skills. You should practice daily or weekly, some exercise related to prepping. 
      My wife and I walk different terrains, and hike all types of places. 
      We also read and work on survival skills. Learn something and perfect it as much as possible. Read articles, books and take advice from different forums. Disregard noise and ideas about zombies or movies. Prep for real life scenarios. What to do after a hurricane, earthquake, riots etc. Plan and test your plan.

      This goes for every aspect of your preparedness life. Food, water, emp, job, and societal collapse. This past year has taught everyone that being prepared is necessary. You never know when your skills will be out to the test.

      • 5

        Yes! Owning all the gear but never developing a deep understanding of how to use it or the limits is a big one I think.  My advice..take it out of the box.  Also, work on your skills.  I’ve been inspired by my Sons who work on skills in Boy Scouts.

      • 3

        Your post made me realize that I “practice” more than I give myself credit for— I just call it “doing outdoorsy things”. I’m also realizing that there are a lot of ways to bake prepping practice into those weekend hikes— e.g., carry your BOB when you go (and see how it feels after 4 miles instead of a few laps around the house), and instead of just bringing energy bars or sandwiches, bring something like oatmeal or one of those freeze-dried backpacking meals, bust out the mini stove from the BOB when you get to the halfway mark or a nice vista, and see how long it takes to heat up lunch…

        I’ve also been tempted lately to actually sleep outside in a minimalist BOB camping kit (tarp, lightweight synthetic quilt, foam pad, emergency reflective bivvy) and see how cold and uncomfortable it actually is… like, I could do that on the deck and bail if I get too cold at 1 a.m., lessons learned.

        Thanks for the inspiration!

      • 8

        Camping in your backyard is a great idea to test out some gear. Here is a blog article from one of our staff members about his experience camping in his backyard with his go-bag.

    • 5

      “Know thyself” and “If you have one, you have zero. If you have two, you have one.” Know thyself because we’re all different. As an older woman, I don’t have the strength to carry heavy things very far. This affects what I pack and how many bags I pack for a bug-out situation. I would certainly prefer to bug in. I need to refresh my memory about what is where more often than I would have as a younger person. I recently obtained a ground-floor living space because down the road, I’m not going to want to climb stairs (especially in an emergency evacuation making multiple trips in a short time).

      The other advice I quoted is something that I read in a post here. It reminds me about the importance of reasonable redundant systems and having alternative ways to do things. Things break and get forgotten. Don’t depend on just one thing or just one way to do things, wherever possible. Versatility is a virtue. I appreciate this site and everyone who posts on it.

    • 7

      “Don’t overthink it.”

      Best advice ever.

      • 8

        Whoa there, Matt, you’re messing with my raison d’etre!

    • 8

      Not an exact quote, more an amalgamtion of different statements on the same idea: “If you’re hoping disaster strikes so you can be the pepper hero, then you’re a jerk.” — One could use a stonger insult, but wanted to keep it classy.

      Prepping is a paradox, because everyone should hope all the gear acquired, skills practices, plans made, and food stockpiled goes unused. But there are people who, deep down, just a little bit, want to be able to say “I told you so” when the neighbors, who spent their extra money on cars/pools/vacations/clothes/whatever instead of prepparing, are stuggling during a disaster. They want to be the hero, helping neighbors to feed egos, not out of a spirit of charity and community.

      In the spirit of knowing one’s self, a preparedness-minded person should look out for this toxic, but seductive, mentality, which springs from insecurity and emotional fragility. It gets to the core of why one is preparing, and how one will behave when things get dodgy. It’s the best advice I’ve heard.

    • 7

      I received this advice from my wife, who is not a prepper, after she read One Second After.  She said, we need more food in storage.  That was music to my ears and within a few years, my long term food stores are measured by the thousands of pounds.  I prepare not only for my friends & family but also for neighbors on our rural dead end lane.

      As I matured as a prepper, I’ve tried to become more realistic in living after a severe crisis.  Biggest aspect of that is considering my neighbors.  I feel too many preppers don’t have a plan as to how to handle neighbors that are starving and desperate.  Sure they have guns & ammo & plans to be Rambo to beat back all attackers but what about neighbors?  You really think they are gonna just starve silently?  IMO, desperate neighbors would be a preppers greatest challenge.  You can’t shoot them as one might would invaders.  They have every right to be out & about.  The way I see it, at any time they could take you out, especially if your neighbors are rednecks… and avid hunters.  I personally would rather have my neighbors as an asset as opposed to a threat.

      My advice to other preppers is to be realistic in your abilities and your security.  Rambo is fictional.  One should do everything in their power to lessen the possibility of conflict.

    • 11

      This is an investment quote, but I think the mindset applies to prepping in general:

      “The stock market has predicted nine of the past five recessions.”

      If you dabble in preparedness-related circles for a while, you will likely pick up on a general narrative that bubbles to the surface every so often: Society has been going downhill for decades, and the “the big one” is just around the corner. [insert expert here] has been sounding the alarm bells, and [insert incident] is the first domino to fall. Prep now, before it’s too late!

      Of course, “the big one” changes depending on the year and who your talk to… but the sense of urgency and desperation is the same. This year, it’s Coronavirus and post-election unrest; at other times the crisis is hyperinflation, market crashes, Y2K, Climate Change, etc.

      In reality though, if you look through the long lens of history, society is better off now than it ever has been- by almost every objective measure you can think of. The trick is that bad news tends to be sudden, dramatic, and it gets increasingly more coverage from news media… while good news tends to be slow, incremental, and easily overlooked or taken for granted. For example, we are ~90% less likely to be killed by a natural disaster than we were 100 years ago, and global rates of poverty, hunger, etc have been plummeting over the past century.

      That’s not to say that progress is guaranteed, or that crises and setbacks don’t happen (or why else are we reading these sites?) But when we are awash in news about the next crisis around the corner, it is easy to slip into a sense of panic, worry, or even fatalism. But predictions of impending doom fly in the face of 100 years of data to the contrary- and the popular doomsday prophets are almost never held to task for their incorrect predictions.

      • 10

        The really unfortunate part about the constant crying-wolf is making people numb to when they really should be listening to valid alarm bells. Plenty of examples this year alone.

      • 8

        As I was saying to my sweetie last night: Best case scenario, we never have to use these things. Worst case scenario, we’re prepared.

    • 9

      I heard this on a submarine:  PPPPPPP (proper prior planning prevents piss poor performances).  

    • 11

      A riff on one of the most important articles on this site – community involvement.  I’ll copy-paste it here:

      If these people really wanted to be prepared for some cataclysm that would “end the world as we know it” instead of stockpiling rice and beans in the middle of the night, they’d be having barbecues with their neighbors and getting to know them.  Become people to them, instead of just “those crazy people whose house I’m going to rob if it all goes downhill”. 

      A lone survivor is nothing more than a supply pickup for a group of survivors.  And no, your family of four does not count as a well-prepared group.  Community involvement is key.

    • 8

      Be Practical. 

    • 7

      Study the ways of the Amish community for sustainability.  

      • 7

        My best preparedness advice received;

        Well prior to having field clothes and inventories of the necessaries, is to spend time on preventive health aspects.

        The 2 speciality categories are dental health and immunizations.

        Dental health is ultra important since it’s really limited to clinic settings.  Excellent – medical – care can be provided by EMTs, Paramedics and related but dental requires an evacuation to a clinic and being staffed.

        Immunizations are necessary and relatively speaking easy to get, less cost planning unless a member of a preparedness group where thinking and research are primary functions.  If I anticipated a field or water evacuation as part of emergency preparedness plans, a pre-rabies vaccination series (forgot; 2 or 3 shots?) is paramount.  There are (probably now “were) discount methods to get this rabies “shot(s).  I got ’em from company paid need for field work.


        The follow-ons to above are clearly written up here at TP.com.

        Feet Notes:

        Footnote1; Remember that snakes and sharks are not the main thread in an evac.  Our species main predatators are 1.  the mosquito, 2.the fresh water snail and 3. other members of our species.

        Footnote 2; Much DEET in loadout in case of vacating this place.