What is a Survivalist? Definition and Meaning of Survivalism

What is Survivalism?

Survivalism is a lifestyle and mindset focused on preparing for a potential apocalyptic disaster. Survivalists are often referred to as ‘preppers’ as they focus on stockpiling resources, making plans for an escape route, and even owning remote properties to ‘bug out’ in the face of disaster.

This movement has its origins in the aftermath of World War II and the advent of the nuclear age, and has since developed into a multibillion-dollar industry. It often has associations with the militia movement and far-right radical politics. Survivalism focuses on practical steps for surviving a disaster without a functioning human society, and has become increasingly popular as concerns about ecological disasters, economic collapse, civil war, nuclear attack, and foreign invasion have grown.


What are the Different Types of Survivalists?

1. Tactical Survivalist

A tactical survivalist is a person who believes in ensuring his/her personal survival of a catastrophic event through self-defense tactics and tools, as well as by arming oneself and often by living in the wild. They focus on surviving short-term disaster scenarios and prepare for such calamities that could potentially result in physical harm and require immediate attention. Survivalists combat these disasters by attempting to prevent and mitigate the damage caused by these disasters.

Tactical survivalists are often well-versed in self-defense tactics and tools, and typically have a good understanding of John Boyd’s OODA loop: observe, orient, decide, and act. They are also familiar with martial arts and have a strong sense of danger awareness. Furthermore, they are knowledgeable in methods of shelter and outdoor survival, such as wilderness navigation, building fires, and finding food and water sources.

Tactical survivalists tend to be resourceful and resilient, possessing the ability to think outside of the box while looking out for their safety and well-being. They also have a keen eye for detail, as well as the ability to assess and evaluate the situation quickly and accurately. In addition, they are often well-equipped with survival gear and the necessary weapons to defend themselves and their loved ones if necessary.

2. Doomsday Preppers

Doomsday Preppers is a lifestyle characterized by fear of a world-changing event, the stockpiling of supplies and resources, and a readiness to be self-sufficient in the event of emergency. The prepper culture has grown in popularity in recent years, and has been subject to both increased attention and scrutiny. Doomsday Preppers is an entertaining National Geographic show that follows the lives of individuals who are preparing for disaster. It has been described as “ratings bonanza” and has attracted criticism for its perceived negativity and anti-life attitude.

The lifestyle has its roots in the Cold War, when many Americans were encouraged to be prepared in the event of a nuclear attack. It has been further popularized by shows such as the National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers, and books such as The Ultimate Suburban Survivalist Guide and PREPAREDNESS NOW! The prepper lifestyle often involves stockpiling food, supplies, and weaponry, as well as preparing and equipping shelters. It can also involve learning survival skills such as self-defense, foraging, and fire-starting. Some preppers also follow religious or spiritual beliefs, such as those espoused by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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3. Survivalists

There are several different types of survivalists that approach their practice in various ways depending on their mindset and personal circumstances. The first is the Safety-preparedness-oriented survivalist, who focuses on learning the principles and techniques needed to survive life-threatening situations. This includes preparing for disasters and mitigating their effects.

The second type is the Wilderness Survival Emphasis, which focuses on surviving in the wilderness, such as plane crashes, shipwrecks, and being lost in the woods.

The third type is the Self-Defense-Driven survivalist, who focuses on surviving violent activity, such as personal protection, danger awareness, and martial arts.

The fourth type is the Natural Disaster, Brief Survivalist, who prepares for possible emergencies and invests in materials for fortifying structures and tools for temporary shelters.

The fifth type is the Natural Disaster, Prolonged Survivalist, who focuses on weather cycles of 2-10 years, stocking food and supplies and having a greenhouse.

The sixth type is the Natural Disaster, Indefinite/Multi-Generational Survivalist, who is concerned with possible scenarios such as global warming, environmental degradation, or a period of severely cold winters.

The seventh type is the Bio-Chem Scenario Survivalist, who is concerned with the spread of fatal diseases, biological agents, and nerve gases.

Lastly, the Monetary Disaster Investors focus on hard assets such as gold and silver bullion, coins, and mining shares. In conclusion, the various types of survivalists have different focuses, such as preparing for disasters, wilderness survival, self-defense, and more, in order to ensure the best chances of survival.

4. Bug-Out-Bag (GO Bag) Owners

GO Bag owners are typically people who are conscious of the possibility that disaster can strike at any time and are prepared for it. They have learned foraging, hunting and other skills to help them survive in the event of an emergency. They also have a bug-out bag (GO Bag) filled with various supplies such as long-life foods, water, clothing, seed, firewood, weapons and ammunition, agricultural equipment, and medical supplies.

Additionally, they may have a secret or defensible retreat or a bug-out location (BOL) that they can go to if needed. They may also have an everyday carry (EDC) which includes a pistol for self-defense as well as a range of items they carry at all times. GO Bag owners may also use specialized terminology such as OPSEC and SOP, as well as terms related to gun culture and peak oil scenarios. Lastly, they may also have an INCH pack, which is a sub-type of a Bug Out Bag, designed to allow them to survive indefinitely in the wilderness.

5. Preppers

Preppers are people who prepare for potential disasters and catastrophes by gathering and stockpiling resources and supplies. They are motivated by the idea that they will be able to survive and thrive in difficult times, and they use survival skills on a daily basis in order to be able to do so. This lifestyle is becoming increasingly mainstream due to the recent pandemic and other global threats.

The characteristics of preppers include the ability to plan ahead, self-reliance, adaptability, resourcefulness, and resilience. Prepping allows individuals to be better prepared for catastrophic events and to be able to survive and thrive in difficult times. It also has implications for society as a whole, as preppers are often seen as a source of inspiration and a reminder of the importance of being prepared in a world where things can change in an instant. Prepping also has economic implications, as the prepper industry has become a booming business.

6. Survivalist Information

Survivalism is a lifestyle that is focused on being prepared and adapting to survive in hostile conditions. It involves gaining knowledge and skills on how to live off the land and be self-sufficient. It also involves having a survival kit and being aware of potential disasters.

Survivalists can be divided into two distinct groups: those who are focused on conservation and preservation of the planet and those who are preparing for a doomsday scenario. Those in the former group are often referred to as “preppers” and are more likely to focus on having a bunker or safehouse stocked with supplies. Meanwhile, survivalists that are focused on the latter are often referred to as “gray men” and are more focused on being able to live off the land.

Regardless of which group they fall into, survivalists have a common mentality, typically centered in faith, honesty, knowledge, wisdom, and patriotism. They have accountability over their minds, bodies, and souls and are always learning and expanding their personal knowledge. They are also generally very community-oriented and understand the importance of being able to build a shelter, start a fire, and treat wounds in order to survive.


7. Prepper Movement

The prepper movement is a group of individuals, some of whom may be survivalists, that prepare and equip themselves in an effort to survive any potential natural or man-made disasters. Preppers believe that it is important to be prepared for any eventuality and strive to be self-sufficient and resilient in the face of emergencies. Preppers typically stockpile food, supplies and weapons, and may build or purchase preparedness shelters.

The prepper movement is important because it provides a way for people to take control and responsibility for their own safety in the face of unpredictable events. In an increasingly volatile world, it is important to be prepared for the unexpected, be it a natural disaster, civil unrest, or pandemic. Preppers believe that arming oneself with knowledge and supplies and having an emergency plan can make all the difference in a catastrophic event. Prepping can also be a community-building activity, as preppers often join with like-minded individuals to share resources and discuss strategies for dealing with emergencies. This is an especially important element of prepper culture, as it allows individuals to share ideas and benefit from the collective knowledge of a larger group.

8. Survivalists on Social Media

Survivalists on social media can be divided into two main categories: those who are focused on conservation and preservation, and those who are preparing for a doomsday. The former emphasizes sustainable practices such as reducing consumption, conserving resources, and finding alternatives to disposable objects. They may also look to the government for ways to reduce their environmental impact.

On the other hand, those preparing for a doomsday tend to focus on stocking up on supplies, becoming self-sufficient, and learning skills that would come in handy during a crisis. Both “survivalist” groups place a high value on self-improvement and personal accountability, but their approaches to survival are quite different. Ultimately, survivalists are united by their commitment to survival, no matter their individual beliefs or lifestyle choices.

9. Off-the-Grid Living

Off-the-grid living is a lifestyle that completely shuns reliance on public utilities and services such as electricity, water, sewage, phone lines, etc. It is typically seen as an extreme form of sustainability, where individuals strive to be completely self-sufficient. Off-the-grid living is similar to survivalism in that both lifestyles seek to reduce reliance on modern systems and technologies and living a more sustainable lifestyle. However, off-the-grid living is often seen as more extreme, as it involves entirely cutting off access to the public utilities, while many survivalists still access some public services. Additionally, survivalism is often associated with preparing for emergencies and risks to civilization, while off-the-grid living is a lifestyle choice, often taken up in response to environmental concerns or a desire to live a more independent life.

10. Backdoor Survivalists

Backdoor survivalists are individuals who practice survivalism without overtly identifying as survivalists. They are important to understand because they are often the ones who are best equipped to handle emergencies and disasters. They may not be public about their beliefs but they still possess the skills and knowledge to stay alive in extreme situations. Backdoor survivalists are often more prepared for crises than the average person, because they are more likely to possess the resources and knowledge necessary to survive in an uncertain environment.

Additionally, they often have access to the latest information and technology, including communications systems. This puts them in a position to share the latest information with the public, which can be invaluable in an emergency situation. Finally, backdoor survivalists can provide a useful source of inspiration and knowledge to those who do publicly identify as survivalists. By observing and learning from others, they can gain valuable insight on how to best prepare for difficult times.

How to Deal with Survivalists in a Crisis Situation?

1. Understand the survivalist mentality

Step 1: Understand the Mindset of a Survivalist: To understand the mentality of a survivalist in a crisis situation, it is important to understand the mindset of a survivalist and how they think. Survivalists tend to be prepared both mentally and physically, and are always looking to improve their knowledge and skills. They are independent thinkers and are willing to take responsibility for their life. They also possess a strong sense of community and rely on the resources of their environment for survival.

Step 2: Be Prepared for Anything: Survivalists are always prepared for anything. They have a deep understanding of their environment and the resources available to them. They are also familiar with building shelters, starting fires, and treating wounds, in order to survive in any environment. In addition, survivalists are able to locate food, water, and shelter from their surroundings, and are always looking for ways to live sustainably.

Step 3: Be Flexible and Adaptable: A survivalist must also be flexible and adaptable in any situation. They must be willing to adjust their plans if needed and be willing to explore new options as they arise. Additionally, they must be able to think on their feet and act quickly when necessary.

Step 4: Create a Plan: A survivalist should create a plan for any crisis situation. They should consider the possible scenarios, plan an evacuation route, and decide how they will respond in the event of an emergency. They should also be prepared for the worst-case scenario and have a back-up plan if the first plan fails.

Step 5: Remain Calm: In any crisis, it is important for a survivalist to remain calm and think through the situation. They should consider all the risks and possibilities, and make the best decisions they can while remaining mindful of their own safety. Remaining calm will help them stay focused and allow them to make better decisions in the face of danger.

2. Investigate common prepper supplies

Common prepper supplies that should be investigated during a crisis situation include a clandestine or defensible retreat, havens, bug out locations (BOLs), non-perishable food, water, water-purification equipment, clothing, seed, firewood, defensive or hunting weapons, ammunition, agricultural equipment, medical supplies, bug out bags, freeze dried foods, solar powered energy forms, generators, and money. Additionally, people should have their own first aid kits, shovels, and extra clothes in their cars, as well as a small kit of emergency items like food, water, a space blanket, and other essentials. Gardening is also a factor, as it allows for growing food for tomorrow. Lastly, some people may even choose to raise livestock like cows, chickens, and other animals for milk, eggs, and meat.

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3. Prepare for potential disasters

Step 1: Educate yourself. Educate yourself on potential disasters that could occur in your area and the potential risks associated with them. This includes researching the types of disasters that could happen, such as earthquakes, floods, power outages, blizzards, avalanches, wildfires, terrorist attacks, nuclear power plant accidents, and hazardous material spills.

Step 2: Get a first aid kit. Make sure you have a first aid kit with essential items such as bandages, wound dressings, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers.

Step 3: Have an emergency supply kit. Store non-perishable food items, a space blanket, and other essential items in an emergency supply kit.

Step 4: Make a plan. Make a plan for what you will do in the event of a disaster. Identify a safe place to go, how you will get there, and who you will contact in the event of an emergency.

Step 5: Consider setting up a survival retreat. Consider setting up a survival retreat if you live in an area that could be at risk of a disaster. Make sure the retreat is well-stocked with seed, fertilizer, canned food, medicine, and clothes.

Step 6: Stay informed. Stay informed about the latest news about potential disasters. Pay attention to the news and official warnings from your local authorities and emergency services.

4. Have a backup plan for emergencies

Having a backup plan can help you deal with survivalists in a crisis situation by providing additional security and resources that may be difficult or impossible to obtain during the emergency. Preparations such as stockpiling non-perishable food, water, medical supplies, emergency bag, weapons, and other necessary items, as well as having a plan to escape or retreat to a safe location, can give you the advantage during a crisis. Additionally, learning skills like foraging and hunting, which are often practiced by survivalists, can be beneficial in helping you get the resources you need to stay alive. Being prepared ahead of time may mean the difference between life and death in a survivalist situation.

5. Stockpile food and water supplies

  1. Purchase non-perishable food items such as canned goods, dry goods, and freeze-dried food that can last for several months.
  2. Purchase water purification systems such as a water filter or water treatment tablets to ensure that your drinking water is safe during an emergency.
  3. Purchase bulk items such as rice, beans, and grains that can easily be stored and have a long shelf life.
  4. Invest in a generator and fuel sources such as gasoline and propane to ensure that you have a reliable energy source in the event of a power outage.
  5. Stock up on medical supplies including first-aid kits, bandages, and over-the-counter medications to help with minor ailments.
  6. Acquire tactical and defensive items including guns, ammunition, and flashlights to increase your level of security.
  7. Invest in a reliable bug out bag and car kit that are filled with essential items such as food, water, clothing, and important documents.
  8. Collect necessary tools and equipment needed for outdoor survival such as a compass, maps, fire starter, and knife/axe.
  9. Set aside a location that you can use as a safe haven in the event of an emergency. This can include a shelter, underground bunker, or even a designated area in your home.
  10. Practice safety drills and emergency protocols to ensure that you and your family are prepared for any situation.

6. Learn survival skills

Learning survival skills can help deal with a crisis situation involving survivalists by equipping individuals with the necessary knowledge and tools to stay alive in dangerous environments. By understanding the basic needs of a survivalist, such as food, water, and shelter, and knowing how to source these items from the environment, people can adapt to any situation and be ready for any eventuality. Furthermore, survivalists can also practice their skills by going camping and learning how to hunt, forage, and even grow their own crops. By being prepared for any disaster, people can be better equipped to help with a survivalist in a crisis situation.

7. Build a survival kit

Step 1: Gather your gear. A bug-out bag (BOB) should be lightweight and easily transportable, so consider the amount of gear you’ll need for your journey. Common items that are included in a bug-out bag are non-perishable food, water-purification equipment, clothing, seed, firewood, defensive or hunting weapons, ammunition, agricultural equipment, and medical supplies.

Step 2: Prepare your kit. Keep your bug-out bag in an accessible place, such as a closet or garage. Make sure it is well organized and that you know the location of all items. Consider packing a small portable charger, a compass, and a topographical map of the area.

Step 3: Think about your survival skills. Skills such as foraging, hunting, and how to use your gear effectively will be invaluable in a crisis situation. Practice using your gear, and learn about foraging and hunting if you haven’t done so before.

Step 4: Establish an emergency plan. If you are in a family, make sure all of your family members know the plan, and if you are alone, share it with at least one other person. Make sure to include contact information, an evacuation route, and a safe place to meet up.

Step 5: Test your kit. Regularly test your bug-out bag to make sure all the items are in working order. In a crisis situation, you won’t have time to troubleshoot a malfunctioning item.

Step 6: Stay informed. Educate yourself on the types of disasters that may occur in your area and the steps to take if they do. Stay abreast of any news or updates related to potential disasters, and be sure to have a source of power in case of a power outage.

8. Get training in self-defense techniques

Step 1: Research self-defense techniques and strategies, looking for techniques and strategies specifically designed for survival situations.

Step 2: Look for self-defense schools in your area, or search online for courses and courses offered by national or international organizations.

Step 3: Enroll in a self-defense class, either in person or online, to gain more knowledge of self-defense techniques and strategies.

Step 4: Practice and hone your self-defense skills with a partner or alone to become more proficient in your techniques.

Step 5: Take part in a simulation or mock crisis situation to put your skills into practice and test your abilities.

Step 6: Consult with a self-defense instructor or other professional in the field to get advice and to stay up to date on the latest strategies for dealing with survivalists in a crisis situation.

9. Learn how to survive in the wilderness

Learning to survive in the wilderness is an essential skill for any survivalist. To equip yourself, you will need knowledge, resources, and practice.

Step 1: Research the area you plan to visit.

Before you go, familiarize yourself with the terrain, wildlife, and any potential hazards. Research the plants and animals that inhabit the area and determine which ones are edible and which ones to stay away from.

Step 2: Gather your supplies.

Make sure you have the right tools and equipment for the situation. Bring a first-aid kit, a map and compass, fire starters, a knife and a signaling device. In addition, pack any additional items that you may need, such as food, water, shelter materials, or a flashlight.

Step 3: Build a shelter.

Your shelter should be the first priority in any wilderness survival situation. Knowing how to construct a shelter is essential for staying safe and comfortable in the outdoors. You can build a simple shelter using natural materials or construct a more complex shelter using tarps and stakes.

Step 4: Look for food and water.

You will need to learn how to identify edible plants and animals in the wild. For freshwater sources, look for streams, rivers, and lakes. For food, look for nuts, berries, and other small animals.

Step 5: Start a fire.

Being able to make a fire is essential for both cooking food and providing warmth in the wilderness. Knowing how to start a fire with natural materials, such as sticks and stones, will enable you to stay warm and cook your food when necessary.

Step 6: Practice your skills.

It is important to be prepared for any situation in the wilderness. Practice your skills in a safe environment before venturing out. Hone your navigation skills, build shelters, and learn how to identify edible plants and animals.

By following these steps, you can begin to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to survive in the wilderness. With practice and dedication, you can become a skilled survivalist.

10. Stay connected to the rest of society

Staying connected to the rest of society through communication, tools, services, and infrastructure can help deal with survivalists in a crisis situation. By keeping in touch with the rest of the community, survivalists can stay informed of any changes in the environment, risks to civilization, and potential disasters. This can help them make decisions based on the best available information and maximize their chances of survival. Additionally, staying connected to the community can provide them with access to resources such as first aid, shelter, food, and water that can help them during the crisis. This can be beneficial in ensuring the survival of both the individual and the community. Lastly, staying connected can also provide an opportunity to share knowledge and skills with other members of the community, increasing everyone’s preparedness and resilience in a time of crisis.