Knowledge: The Survivor’s #1 Preparation, by Chad H.

What is a prepper’s number one tool? What is the asset that all preppers need regardless of where they are or why they are preparing? Some will say water purification, others will say food, and either others will give a list of shelter, weapons, or a medical kit. I disagree with all of these. Yes, all of these are necessary to survival and great preps to have; however, they are not the number one prep needed. After searching hundreds of lists and web sites, and watching show after show about survival, and piecing together preps on a budget, I have found the number one tool for a prepper: Knowledge.

Regardless of how well prepared you are, eventually, through time, all preps will fail. You will eventually run out of canned goods. Bullets (regardless of what television would have you believe) are not unlimited. Metal tools rust and break. Water stores will run empty. And shelters will fall. Given time, all of our preps will turn to dust and then we’ll be left with nothing but ourselves and whatever skills and knowledge we’ve acquired.

I have preps that include canned food, seeds for agriculture, extra clothing, shelter, water purification, rope, a bow and arrows, tools, extra bullets, and extra gas, but my number one prep is my book. I have made a book of roughly 2,000 laminated pages full of survival techniques, skills, and knowledge that I may potentially need. I have a section on shelter than diagrams and describes over twenty different types of survival shelter for each climate area. I have a section on water gathering and purification. I have a section dedicated solely to wild edibles and food preparation (canning, skinning, smoking meat, etc). Finally, I have a section that is full of a variety of skills I might possibly need such as how to make your own sapling bow or star charts for directions. Ultimately, the difference between survival and struggle is you.

I would suggest that every prepper make their own survival book, not for publishing, but just for you. Yes, you can go out and buy a survival book and, yes, it will save you on time and paper. However, making your own book offers benefits that buying one. The first benefit is that you will have to personally read and select each of the survival techniques you put into your book to fit your needs and situation. This will give you a general knowledge about techniques you may possibly need to use as well as what is in your book and where it is located. Making your own book also removes a lot of the “fluff” and flowery language that is contained within all books and gets to the nitty-gritty of what you, as a prepper, need.  Another benefit of making your own survival book is that you put in your book only what you need. If a prepper is living in the Southeastern United States, then why would they need a book with a section on how to survive in Alaska? Or the rain forest? Why do you need a book with a section that lists and details edible plants in Mexico if you live in North Dakota? If the situation arises where your prepper supplies will be needed, who is going to travel cross-country? With your own, personal book, you can input only what you need to know, saving space in your bug-out bag or prepper stash as well as saving you time if you need to look for something quickly. Another benefit of making your own survival book is continuity. If you have children and they are a part of your prepper plan you will be able to pass the knowledge you have gathered in your book on to your children who can then teach their children and so on. With this book you will not only be assisting in your own survival but that of your children and future generations. Making your own book that is based off of your own needs and geared towards your supplies is the absolute most important thing you can have in your preps.

As I said, some will disagree and give a large list of supplies and preps which, according to them, will be much more valuable than a survival book. Those people will not survive past a year or two unless they have a large group with a wide range of skills and knowledge. Don’t get me wrong, I am not belittling the need for water storage, food stores, shelter, and defensive preps, all of these things are absolutely necessary for a prepper, however, a person with a wide range of skills and a vast wealth of survival knowledge will last longer than the prepper who has a year’s worth of food and water but no knowledge of wild edibles or agriculture. Take the most needed resource of life; water. The average person needs about 2,250 mL of water per day that is about ¾ a gallon of water. The average prepper will have somewhere between 100- 500 gallons of water storage. If we take the middle and say most people have about 300 gallons of water stored, then those stores will last roughly a year, maybe longer. If you factor in more than one person then those 300 gallons could be gone in 3-6 months. What will you do then? Typical prepper will say build a rain catch or gather water from a river or lake. Rain water, river water, and lake water could be contaminated and your purification tablets or your water purifier won’t last forever. You might need to know how to build a solar still in order to purify your water. You may need to know how to set animal trap such as a deadfall, twitch-up snare, a bottle trap or a gill net in order to procure your family’s next meal. This knowledge will prove invaluable as more and more of your preps fail due to age or use or as situations arise that you were not prepared to handle.

Many of the skills that I feel that I may need based off of my preps and plans in the case of an emergency.  You must go though and find what’s best for you and your family for the area you are in. The information is readily available through the internet for any who are willing to look for it.

Hiding behind your preps and relying solely on them can be as dangerous as not prepping at all. As a prepper we must realize that most of our preps are short-term. Canned food and water stores will run empty. Bullets will run out. Houses will be sacked by groups of bandits and your tools and supplies will eventually break. But having this knowledge should to cause us to despair but rather to encourage us to gather and soak up as much knowledge about survival as we can. Preps are for the immediate survival situation or three months to a year of survival; a survival book is for long-term, rebuilding survival. Your knowledge is what will keep you alive whenever you have nothing and the world is collapsing around you.
In construction your survival book, I would suggest a three inch, three ring binder. I would also suggest that you laminate your pages to protect against water damage. Make sure you include both detailed pictures and descriptive instructions. I would also suggest making a copy of the book so that you can have one in your bug-out bag and one in your home preps. Make sure include food (gathering and prep), water (gathering and decontaminating), shelter, first-aid, as well as your survival plans such as various bug-out locations and directions to get there, plans for defending your home or your bug-out location, and contingency plans for everything. Make sure your survival book will have you prepared for any conceivable situation you may come up against.
To give you an idea of what you may need in your personal survival book, I will share a list of things I have in mine:

  • Food procurement
    • Deadfall trap
    • Bottle trap
    • Drag noose
    • Trot-line
    • Wild edibles in my area of the country
    • Possibly poisonous plants in my area
  •   Water
    • Solar-still
    • Rain catches
    • Natural filtering systems
  • Shelter
    • Lean-to
    • Tepee
    • Swamp bed
    • Debris hut
    • Snow shelter
    • Beach shelter
    • Desert shelter
  • First-Aid
    • Broken bones
    • Stings and bites
    • Cuts and gouges
    • Rashes
    • Medicinal plants
  • Fire
    • Fire walls
    • Fire holes
    • Different fire starting  methods
      • Battery
      • Gunpowder
      • Fire-plow
      • Bow and Drill
  • Food Preparation
    • Canning
    • Skinning
    • Smoking
  • Weapons, Tools, and Equipment
    • Making an effective club
    • Making a stone knife
    • Making bows
    • Making arrows
    • Making natural packs
  • Misc.
    • Making a raft
    • Star charts for directions
    • Making clothing from animal skins

In the end, the only thing that will keep you alive is you. If you are able to adapt to different situations and are able to defeat the obstacles that will plague your post-prepper lifestyle then you will not just survive, you will overcome.