Top Prepping Mistakes to Avoid

Prepping refers to getting prepared in case of a catastrophic event. For some people, this is an afterthought, but for some it is a way of life. For some, it is just a hobby. Regardless which category fits, you will want to be as efficient as possible so the time and money you put into prepping do not go to waste.

There are some common mistakes that are made by people who are eager to get started on prepping. Of course, not everyone will make the same mistakes, but of a group of preppers, there will almost certainly be some that will make one or more of these common errors.

The first, most obvious one is that some do not properly research what they need – and do not need. Learning about prepping is the best way to start getting prepared. This should involve creating a prepping library. It is a great idea to have physical books for this rather than digital, since if a catastrophic event occurs, electricity may very well be one of the first things that goes, at least for a time. Having physical books will allow preppers to have the crucial information available whenever it is needed, as well as something to pass the time during downtimes. 

The main thought for many people who are new to prepping is to stockpile food and other supplies. While this is a big part of it, it is far from the only – or even most important – part. Things do not last indefinitely, and if a catastrophe lasts very long, supplies will run out or expire. The more important factor is to learn the skills needed to survive. You may have books about it, but what if they become ruined or inaccessible? Knowing the skills is far superior to simply having information about them.

Just learning skills is not sufficient, either. Practice regularly! Knowing how to do something academically does not always translate smoothly to actually doing the thing. You can read about hunting all day long, but until you actually do it, you may not realize how many things play into being successful at hunting. You may have read that a fishhook can be made out of a paper clip, but unless you have done it, you may struggle to create one if it becomes necessary.

Other skills that should be learned and perfected as much as possible include making a fire (preferably more than one way), setting up shelter, and foraging for wild edible plants.

Water is one of the most important things needed to survive. People need a lot of water daily, and it is much more difficult to store. While it is easy to stockpile months’ worth of food, an equal time period of water would be much more difficult (and take up much more space). It is possible that you do not have space to store more than a couple weeks’ worth of water. In this case, store purification tablets and learn ways to collect water, should it become necessary. A human can live over a month without food, but only about a week and a half without water. 

Food is usually the main thing that preppers amass. This is also where some of the biggest common mistakes rear their ugly heads. 

  • If all you store up is beans and rice, flour, and salt and sugar, you will get tired of it quickly and be miserable. Plan for a variety of meals. 
  • If you store six months’ worth, in six months, some of it will be old enough to taste old. Instead, have the foods you choose be things you like anyway, and use them. Use the older ones and replenish with newer ones regularly, and if something catastrophic happens, you will have fresh food to enjoy. 
  • Taste the food. If you get something like MREs to hold you over, but never try them, you could get to a point where you need them and find out you dislike the taste, texture, or other factors. Find out beforehand, instead. Many companies offer a low-cost trial package so you can see which will work for you before purchasing large amounts. 
  • Include supplements. Vitamins and minerals may be less available if these preparations become needed, and having supplements available could be lifesaving, but will definitely be a help to good health. 
  • Remember your pets. Animal food can be stored, too, and if your pet is a small one, it should be easy to have enough to last a while. If you do not remember to store up food for your pet, then you will end up feeding your pet from the food planned for the family, which will reduce the amount of time it will last. 

Sometimes there will be a prepper who does not store food or water, but rather stocks up on weapons and ammunition. While it is possible that these things may be needed for hunting or defense, it is a huge mistake to rely on these alone. Hunting may be exhausted by the sheer quantity of hunters. Some think they can trade the excess guns and ammo for food, water, or other supplies, but chances are, others will be more interested in supplies than weapons when the time comes. It is good to have what you are likely to use but going overboard and stocking an arsenal is probably not the best idea.

Last, but not least, remember your family. You may be wholly and completely prepared in case of a catastrophe, but if your family has no idea what to do when the time comes, and you are incapacitated for some reason, or not at home at the time, then they are at a deep disadvantage. They do not have to be into prepping, necessarily, but they should at least know what you have prepared and how to use it, as well as basic survival skills. Make a game out of it, or go primitive camping and teach skills there, but make sure they know enough to be able to survive if the necessity arises. 

Because there are a lot of people who understand the potential need for being prepared for a disaster, there are many resources available to help with getting there. These range from help for complete beginners to advanced information for those who have been into survival for years. 

Where to Buy
The Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat
Bugging Out and Relocating
Build the Perfect Bug Out Vehicle
Realistic Bug Out Bag, 2nd Edition
100 Deadly Skills: Survival Edition
Camping & Wilderness Survival, 2nd
Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties
Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America
A Peterson Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs
Where There Is No Dentist
Where There Is No Doctor
Just in Case
The Prepper's Water Survival Guide


The Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat: One Man’s Solution

This book explains how to find a low-cost bit of land and a travel trailer and turn it into a retreat of safety. He covers alternate power, water and waste, security, storage, and more. 

Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying Put is not an Option

This author, writing from personal experience, explains how to handle having to leave your home due to factors beyond your control. 

Build the Perfect Bug Out Vehicle: The Disaster Survival Vehicle Guide

If the necessity arises to bug out, will your vehicle get you where you need to go? This explains what your vehicle will need to be able to say yes to that question. The author gives advice on practical and affordable ways to outfit your everyday vehicle to make it work in case of catastrophe.

Realistic Bug Out Bag, 2nd Edition: Prepared to Survive

A Bug Out Bag is a satchel or backpack that contains necessary survival equipment to grab and go in a hurry. The information in this book helps to consider what you can carry, since it is possible the bag may need to be carried a distance on foot. It includes lists of what to include and what to leave behind, but more importantly, it explains how to decide for yourself.

100 Deadly Skills: Survival Edition: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Surviving in the Wild and Being Prepared for Any Disaster

The skills to work on and preferably perfect are explained and taught in this comprehensive book. Illustrated for greater comprehension, this book has everything you need to survive the apocalypse. 

Camping & Wilderness Survival, 2nd: The Ultimate Outdoors Book

31 chapters of techniques for camping and survival. Pretty much everything you need to survive in the wild is contained in the pages of this book. 

Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties: The Classic Guide to Building Wilderness Shelters

A roof over your head is one thing that makes everything easier. This book explains how to build one, of all different types and styles. Whether you build under, on, or above the ground, there will be a how-to for it in this book.

Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America

Many plants and herbs have medicinal properties that can be of utmost importance when a disaster hits. Being able to find the ones you need can make the difference between misery and comfort, between life and death. This guide has information and photos to help identify the plants that will help, and those that will hurt. For those in Western North America, this guide has that information: A Peterson Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs

Where There Is No Dentist

This resource covers dental health and treatment when there is no dentist available. It covers diagnosis, making and using equipment, fillings, and anesthetics, and removing teeth, as well as oral health. It is updated regularly to reflect the newest information.

Where There Is No Doctor

Those who want or need to care for others in a place where doctors are not available can find the practical information in this book useful for diagnosing, treating, and more importantly preventing many common diseases. Updated regularly for current information.

Just in Case: How to be Self-Sufficient when the Unexpected Happens

When disaster strikes, knowing how to be self-sufficient is a key to survival. This book covers all the important factors that will get your whole family through a crisis. 

The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource

People can survive without food for several weeks, but usually barely over a week without water. This book explains how to store fresh water, collect rain, purify lake or river water, and dig a well, among other things.