Are You a Prepper Or a Survivalist

Kevin Felts, blogger and political commentatorWhat is the difference between a prepper and a survivalist?  Some people may think the two names are interchangeable, but they are not.

According to wikipedia, the word survivalist dates back to the 1970s, while the word prepper dates to the 1990s.  The name prepper came about from certain events that happened in the 1990s.

The 1990s was a bad time to be a survivalist. There was the Ruby Ridge incident and the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco.

After the Oklahoma City Bombing, it came out that Timothy McVeigh was associated with survivalist groups. Due to his association with the word “survivalist”, people associated survivalist as being possible terrorist.

The name “prepper” rolled off the tongue easier than survivalist.  There was also less stigma with being a prepper, than being a survivalist who blows stuff up like Timothy McVeigh.  I remember talking to people about prepping in the 1990s.  When I used the word survivalist, the person responded as if I had used the word terrorist.

Over the decades prepping has morphed into a sub-set of survivalism.  Today, preppers are not the same thing they were in the 1990s.


Get into survivalism because its the “cool” thing to be doing. “Oh look at me, I have 2 – 3 months of stockpiled food.” They might have gone down to the local store and bought 50 pounds of rice and beans, a couple of flashlights and all of a sudden their a “prepper”.

They might be a prepper, but their a long way from being a survivalist.

Some preppers are attention whores – “Look at me, look at me,,, I live in my mansion and I have a bunch of rice and beans and a flashlight.”  These are the ones that like to show off for the news media friends, family and neighbors.

A real survivalist does not show off.  When SHTF we do not want hordes of people knocking on our door.  They know you have preps.  After all, you preppers showed off everything you have to impress your friends.

Well guess what, after a disaster those same “friends” you showed off to know everything that you have.  And if they are hungry enough, they will come get your “preps”.

Ever hear of the term “loose lips sink ships”?  That is the motto that a lot of survivalist live by.


Originating in the 1970s and was a direct result of the Cold War and the constant threat of nuclear war.

I know where and what my preps are, and you do not need to know jack about them.  This mindset is from the old saying Loose lips sink ships. We plan, we think, we survey the situation.

To me – prepping is a waste of time, its a joke, its a fad, its the “hot topic of the day”.  In another month or two, “preppers” will move onto the next fad or hot topic.  To a real survivalist, prepping is a lifestyle.

The difference between a prepper and a survivalist, is like brushing your teeth in the morning.

Prepper – goes to work and shows his teeth to everyone.  Then they brag how he/she brushed their teeth before they went to work.

Survivalist – I thought everyone brushed their teeth before they went to work in the morning, so what is the big deal?

Either your in, or your out, there is no middle ground. Either your a survivalist or your not.

Then there are the closest survivalist, the ones that do not want to come out of the closest and say “Yea, I’am a survivalist”. This is mainly because of the stigma that goes along with the word “survivalist”.

If your a survivalist – then stand up straight, hold your head up and proudly say “I’am a survivalist”. And stop using that sissy word “prepper”.