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  • Sean Gold

Extreme Preppers: How Far is Too Far?

Extreme preppers have always been in the spotlight whenever preparedness, prepping, or survival comes up. To the casual outside observer, it is easy to compartmentalize all of prepping as an ‘extreme’ activity.

If you are not prepared, the perception is that being prepared is not mainstream.

This is the most dangerous perception since preparedness and risk analysis are already an important part of what everyone does each day, and prepping is simply conducting those with clarity.

Contributing to the ‘extreme’ perception of prepping is counterproductive, and we are going to have some self-reflection going on in this article to dissect how we can help eliminate this problem.

Doomsday Preppers Contribution

The classic National Geographic Channel show “Doomsday Preppers” that aired from 2012-2014 is culturally the largest thing to happen to prepping. There are many TV Shows focused on prepping and survival, but this one was the most culturally influential:

The New York Times described the show as “an invitation to laugh at lunatics tunneling into mountainsides to escape a Russian nuclear attack.” The aloofness of that comment and reporter is plain to see, but his description was accurate if you have seen the show.

The CDC actually paired up with National Geographic to share practical advice during the show- but they failed to realize that people were laughing and marveling at the show rather than tuning in to learn about prepping.

The obscene budgets and spending habits of participants on the show give those who are interested in prepping a convenient excuse not to. The show illustrated that prepping is really expensive. In my experience, the contrary is correct. The prepping community is frugal and is simply willing to budget small amounts today to prevent large expenses and burdens later.

A Tale of Two Extremes

When it comes to prepping, ‘extreme’ can go two ways. Extreme prepping can describe specific over-preparedness for near-impossible risks… or it can describe a complete lack of preparedness.

Doomsday Preppers illustrates the first option, and that is what is so often on people’s minds when prepping is brought up.

The second option, however, shows up so often that we are almost blind to it. A large-scale lack of preparedness is visible almost every time there is a local emergency or regional disaster. Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Florence, and Michael show us how millions of people were unprepared for hurricanes in the peak of hurricane season. Puerto Rico showed the public how an entire territory can depend on the government for disaster aid.

Yet, none of these examples brought about lasting conversations about how little prepared the general public is. Prepping is still ‘for the crazy extreme preppers.’

How We Can Help

Ground your conversations with would-be preppers and ‘newbie’ preppers with practical solutions for practical risks. Skip the bunkers, zombie response vehicles, and tin foil hats for simple, broad preparedness.With a basic emergency plan, you could get a great start on your food storage, put together a survival kit, or start your bug out bag. These are all core pieces of any preparedness plan regardless of the situation you may encounter.

How you prep affects the prepping community as a whole. Get a solid foundation with practical prepping and ignore the scenarios entertained by extreme preppers.

What About Zombie Prepping

So, is zombie prepping bad?


I used to teach preparedness and emergency response in the military. In those lessons, I would often use zombies as an example ‘worst-case scenario.’ Sometimes, you have to go a little extreme to get people’s attention.

This was before the Walking Dead and many other mainstream zombie shows, so the idea that we were prepping for zombies rather than disasters or CBRN attacks was novel and captured everyone’s attention quickly.

The problem arises when people discount zombies as farcical, and use the extreme case to not consider basic preparedness.

The Final Word

The more people that are prepared, the better off the entire world is. Extreme preppers may make for a good punchline for a joke, but practical preppers are much more common than you may think. Prepping gives our way of life, society, and our families a resiliency that is, unfortunately, uncommon today.


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