4. Shelter and Power, Tents to Fortresses
Shelter is a broad topic. In doomsday prepper terms, a shelter might refer to a country house; a large, ship storage container configured for living; or it can be a concrete bunker. Some preppers have decided to live in the rough — off the grid as far as electricity and life’s normal amenities are concerned. While others have gone the luxury route, with multimillion dollar facilities. Former missile silos are one example, one with a $3+ million plan shown here.
While many preppers buy their supplies from places like Home Depot or Lowe’s, others have gone to much more expensive sources for power generation, insulation and power supplies. To power their shelters, some preppers plan to use generators from companies likes Generac Holdings Inc. (NYSE: GNRC), but these may be more appropriate for shorter periods of power outage rather than long-term solutions because of the fuel needed to power them could run out.
While many preppers own generators, renewable and self-reliant power solutions are better options for longer-term power needs. Solar panels and the battery systems attached to them can help maintain basic electricity needs, but they will not be able to power every household seamlessly. They require converters and can cost up to tens of thousands of dollars for full systems. Smaller solar power charging devices or packs can be purchased for as little as $200 to $300. Other power sources that run easily into the thousands of dollars are smaller wind turbine systems, hydroelectric systems and even biomass power systems.
The cheaper prepper options would be simple camping gear. Millions of tents, sleeping bags, bug nets and other camping items have been sold each year. Cheap tents can be bought for $40 or $50 and sleeping bags can cost as little as $20, but campers and preppers also can spend exponentially higher amounts for more durable and specialized gear.
Cargo shipping containers are abundant and can provide the bare bones for a sturdy structure. Mobile Mini Inc. (NASDAQ: MINI) storage containers can be used for storage as rentals. Larger shipping containers from other sources can be used as living structures and can be purchased for as little as $1,000, or for more than $5,000, before delivery costs.
5. Media, Books, Events
The media certainly has been a beneficiary of people who are preparing for the end of the world. The National Geographic channel has a show called “Doomsday Preppers,” which just kicked off a new season in August. Men’s Journal forecasts that some 1.3 million people watched the first episode of Season 2.
Advertising agencies and preproduction outfits also make commercials that market goods and services to preppers. They pay to place these commercials on TV and all over the Internet, especially on conservative talk shows and websites about guns.
There are also many books and magazines for survivalists. Amazon.com lists hundreds of titles around the theme. There is even a Preppers magazine website, as well as Geared magazine. Mother Earth News and Backwoods Home magazine could even be included in the prepper’s economy because they have many tips about remote living and self-reliance.
At gun shows, too, freeze-dried food and other prepper items are sold. There are actual “prepper conventions,” such as Survival Preppers Expo and PrepCon.
There are many websites for extreme survivalism. Some are doomsday prepper websites, some are middle-of-the-road survival information sites. Many have online stores. One site, SHTFplan.com, ranks the 50 top websites and blogs for preppers.
6. Security: Guns, Knives and Surveillance
Security will be key for any prepper who expects a doomsday scenario. Gun stores went down to bare shelves after the Sandy Hook massacre, and that was over gun control fears rather than a doomsday scare. Preppers may not just have a few guns, but dozens of them. Gun sales have been strong for years now, as evidenced by the financial results and guidance of Smith & Wesson Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SWHC) and Sturm, Ruger & Co. (NYSE: RGR).
Alliant Techsystems Inc. (NYSE: ATK) may say that its business from hoarders and preppers is small, considering that it sells to law enforcement and military, but it is the largest munitions maker in America. Gun store workers have told us that part of the recent demand for bullets is hoarding. Some families have in excess of 10,000 rounds of ammunition, depending on how many different types of weapons they own. This stockpiling likely is considered essential by preppers for hunting as well as for self-defense.
Entry-level rifles can be purchased for just under $1,000, while shotguns, pistols and other rifles can be purchased for less. Just keep in mind that many advanced or specialized guns and items like scopes and sound-suppression devices can cost several thousand dollars. Basic ammunition can be purchased for $0.20 to $0.75 per round, with a very wide price range based on bullet type. A $2,000 gun and ammo stash is unlikely to satisfy a serious prepper.
Security and surveillance systems might not seem that important if power systems are down, but those who take their prepping seriously have security systems already in place. Some have Web-monitored video surveillance. For now, these systems can monitor the thousands of dollars of stored food, supplies and equipment. Entry-level security camera systems can be bought for a couple hundred dollars, but also can go much higher.