20 Mistakes Even Experienced Preppers Make

by Tommy Grant

Being wrong hurts. It hurts the ego. For years being a prepper meant hearing words like “paranoid” and questions like, “what are you worried about.” It took me a long time to realize that those questions and insults came from people who were scared and knew they should be acting but were not.

As we travel down our often-lonely preparedness road, our own ego gets bruised along the way. This road is littered with potholes and washed-out sections. It’s not an easy journey and you can lose the path. You can do things out of fear or some illusion of scarcity.

We have put together a list of 20 mistakes that even serious preppers make. Open yourself up to these concepts and consider whether you have areas where you can improve on your own journey.


1. Not Enough Water Storage

Water storage is a tough prep to manage because of the weight and bulk. Rain catchment should be a part of every prepper’s plan, but you also need access to lots of water inside the home. Should a disaster affect both the tap water and the water stored in your rain barrel then you need an answer inside the home.

Most people do not store enough water inside the home. Once the tap shuts off, if you cannot leave the home to find more water than you are left with only the water that you have in your home. I recommend storing both bottled water and gallon jugs of water at home.

Store at least 2 weeks of water to meet all your family’s needs at home.

2. Water Storage Tank Problems

The desire to strike a line through water storage can push preppers to make bad decisions. One example is that you might consider burying a large water storage container on your property. Maybe a few thousand-gallon tank sounds like the size that could solve your water issues.

That is, until it arrives, and you realize that a tank that size needs to be moved using heavy machinery! Ask me how I know.


3. Cooking

Probably the most underrated prepper skill, cooking answers so many questions. The deeper your relationship with ingredients, knife skills, and cooking methods, the better your food storage and preservation will be.

Cooking is literally something we need to do several times a day. It blows my mind that we learn so many useless things in a lifetime, but many people eat at restaurants or microwave dinner. If you are looking for real freedom, it’s in the pots and pans!

4. Comms

The biggest problem with prepper communications is that we so rarely hammer down what it is we are trying to achieve. Most preppers go right for the HAM radio when it comes to communications. They get their hands on an affordable Baofeng radio and decide they will learn to use it at a later date.

What are you going to use that radio for? Who do you need to communicate with?

If your goal is to communicate with a family member in a disaster, then it might be more effective to invest in a satellite phone which will work even if cell service is compromised. As preppers we often fall into the trap of buying the stuff that other preppers have. Worse yet is when we buy things preppers tell us we should have.

Why invest in a massive comms system you are never going to use? You can buy a lot of food for the price of a legit HAM radio setup.

5. Ignoring Fitness

There is no end to the list of excuses that people will come up with to avoid working out. It’s painful, it’s sweaty and uncomfortable. It’s also one of the most important parts of everyday preparedness. People hate it though, so they cover it up with things like prepper gadgets, weapons, and other purchases to make them feel better prepared.

Workout every day. Just do something to get your heart rate up each day.

6. Ignoring Mental Training

There is no guarantee that your mind is even capable of dealing with something like a full-scale collapse of society. Your world and everything you know will change so quickly.

In the here and now you can do things like building mental toughness. This works hand in hand with fitness in many ways. However, there are things you can do that test your willpower outside of the gym.

Cold plunges can be an incredible way to build your mental toughness. Start with cold showers or sub cold showers. The cold puts your body and mind in an extremely uncomfortable place and gives you the ability to practice controlling it each day.

Meditation is an underrated practice for mental training, too! Meditation will have all types of wonderful effects on your body, mind, and wellbeing. Don’t forget to train the mind!

7. Focusing Too Much on Bushcraft and Primitive Skills

This may burst some bubbles but if your family is living in a shelter you built from saplings, with a roof made from bark and leaves, they are not going to be happy. If you are building a home in the woods from sticks and paracord then SO MANY THINGS have gone wrong.

Preppers across the board tend to overvalue bushcraft and wilderness survival skills. You should have several layers of plans in place to keep you and yours from ever living in the woods and sleeping in an A Frame shelter made of wood.

This is a miserable way to exist, and it is no kind of plan for a family.


8. Forgetting About Animals

The pet industry is a $232 billion dollar behemoth. We love our pets. One of the biggest mistakes that preppers make is to not put of food, water, and medical supplies up for their pets. It is easy enough to keep a few extra bags of food, bedding and treats on hand for your animals. These can be rotated when you buy new ones but assure you always have a few extras on hand for your pet.

You could also talk to your veterinarian and see what they can do to add some medications to your stockpile if your dog needs them.

9. Overestimating Your Preparedness

It is very common for us to overestimate our level of preparedness and our preparedness skills. Maybe we think we are going to bug out and live off the land or maybe we assume since we have chest rigs, body armor, and an AR15 that we are John Wick.

One of the most important things we can do is test our might.

When was the last time you did a hard workout? Have you ever played a serious match of paintball to see what your run and gun skills really look like? How’s that cardio?

How about a week in the woods? Have you gone camping with minimal resources before?

10. Not Having People

We always need people. We don’t just need people for the end of the world but for our lives in general. The outbreak of depression and suicide in our nation has been born out of isolation. Both in our prepping plans and our life plans we are making the critical error of the lone wolf.

You don’t need an Avengers level group of TEOTWAWKI warlords. You just need numbers. People in the community and connections outside are all very valuable.

11. Debt for Preparedness

Fear can make a person do some very interesting things. It’s easy to get worked up and want to buy an armory with 30,000 rounds of ammunition. As preppers we all understand that kind of feeling. However, if a purchase like that puts you in high interest debt to a credit card, then you are probably doing yourself more harm than good.

The money you lose on interest could cost you more preps in the future. Debt can become something of a prison if you are not careful and before you know it you are surrendering huge monthly payments to your creditors that could be going towards preparedness.

12. Taking on Too Much

There are times when you simply take on too much as a prepper. It can be in the early days of prepping, or it can be when threats change drastically. Has nuclear war appeared on the horizon again? What do you need to be prepared to survive a nuclear holocaust?

What about another pandemic? Is it time to build that infirmary? Meanwhile the garden is coming into harvest, canning and pickling and preserving is about to take off and you need to keep up your firearms and tactical training. Don’t forget, you have a life outside of prepping, too!

If you take on too much then you could risk screwing up everything!


13. Limited Fats and Oils Storage

There are a number of different companies that sell long term food storage. Even if you don’t fancy premade food storage then you might bucket up your own rice and beans. Most meals and foods we store require water for cooking and rehydration.

It’s rare we concern ourselves with healthy fats and cooking oils. These are not just essential for cooking, but our body has to have fat, too. Things like cooking oils, coconut oil, and even tallow can last a very long time. Despite what you might think, healthy fats are really good for you.

One of my favorites is real lard, rendered from delicious pig fat and jarred up for storage.

14. No Cooking Fuel

Preppers understand the importance of putting up food. As long as you are putting up food that your family enjoys eating you are doing that right. However, we often forget about the resources it takes to cook food. We have already talked about water, but what about fuel?

Most American homes are outfitted with electric stoves. When the power goes out your capabilities dissolve. Learning to cook over fire, having a charcoal grill, or storing propane fuel for a camp stove can all be great options for cooking when you are off grid.


15. Regular Healthcare Checks

It cracks me up how many books and how much gear we store for first aid and medical and then neglect our day-to-day health. What kind of sense does that make? Your number one health goal as a prepper should be to face the next disaster as healthily as possible. Why go into the apocalypse on six different medications?

Get yourself checked up today and make appointments for everything that needs to be taken care of.

16. Dental Work

Dental work is the same concept. Everyone hates the dentist but now is the time to get that dental work all scheduled and taken care of. You do not want to face the fallen world with a painful abscess in your mouth.

Use the marvel of modern medicine now while you can!


17. Planning to Fight from your Home

So, you got the concealed carry license, you are doing tactical training with your AR-15, and you are feeling pretty good about yourself. If a threat comes to your front door, you feel like you have taken the right steps to be able to handle that threat, right?

Well, the problem is if a threat makes it to your front door, then you have already failed.

If you are planning your defense effectively then you will be able to address threats well before they wind up at your front door. In times of great chaos this can be done by denying access to your community through things like roadblocks and barricades.

In times of law and order this can be done using surveillance and other detection methods that help you keep tabs on your neighborhood. The odds of someone just pulling up outside your home and then trying to break are very low unless they know exactly what they are after.

Most of the time homes and neighborhoods are cased long before any kind of break in happens. You need eyes on the streets and communication amongst neighbors to decode the sneaky criminal element. You should never be fighting from your home. Most certainly not without backup.

18. Not Learning to Fight

Learning to fight has never been easier or more accessible. Thanks to the rise of MMA gyms there are places all over the nation where you can go study things like Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. You don’t have to become a black belt to be effective but if someone should put their hands on you or someone you love, you should be able to hurt them, severely.

19. Depending too Much on your CCW

Not all problems can be solved with a gun. In fact, you can create MASSIVE problems with your firearm if you do not know when to brandish it and when to use it. If you think that shooting someone who is trying to rob you will somehow make you a hero, then you better check your local laws.

Do not go off what you heard. You must know the laws in your area. You can’t do your family any good from a jail cell. 

How trained are you with your CCW weapon? Under the stress of life and death is certainly possible to miss your target and have your weapon taken from you. Your CCW is a tool. It is not the answer to every alteration.

20. Home Maintenance

Your home is your survival shelter. It is likely the greatest investment you have ever made in your family’s survival. Treat it well.

Home maintenance is a lot like health for the average American prepper. If we entered a disaster or emergency with a home in tip top shape, then we would be much better off! Instead, we tend to limp along with a home that has some issues, but we will “take care of it” another time.

Get your homes’ many systems inspected and up to snuff. This way, if we find ourselves in a situation where the world is all messed up then at least your survival headquarters will be running optimally.

Final Thoughts on Prepper Mistakes

It’s hard not to list 20 mistakes that preppers can make and not feel like you are overwhelming people. Just remember, you are not going to fix all your problems in a single day. However, minor changes to what you do each day go a long way.

Now is a good time to grab the ol’ pen and pad to write out which of these mistakes you are making. This article can become your own personal Todo list.

Preparing for uncertain times is not about being perfect. It’s about keeping the people you love safe and healthy. Remember, that when you are prioritizing mistakes and improvements.

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