7. Basic Supplies, Bugout Bags and Commerce
A “bugout bag” is a backpack full of goodies and necessities a person can take immediately to survive for a few days. There are many basic supplies that are good to keep around, whether or not someone is worried about the future. The basics include food, water, clothing, medicine, first aid supplies, vitamins or supplements and all the other basic supplies. Tape, tools, rags, glue, candles, flashlights, batteries and baggies can be added to the bugout bag, as well as knives, guns or other defense items. Considering such supplies should last months or more, the cost can be large and difficult to estimate. Hundreds of dollars for a simple restock of basic goods could easily become thousands if someone is buying enough to live off of for months or years.
Many people, not just preppers, own bugout bags or evacuation kits. This is especially true in areas where residents might be forced to leave their homes at a moment’s notice because of severe weather — storm or natural (or manmade) disaster. The cost for a basic bugout bag, including the backpack or satchel, could easily run well over $100 and exponentially higher, even before adding the self-defense costs. The Red Cross has a checklist for emergency survival kits. TheReadyStore sells a 72-hour two-person kit for less than $120.
If things deteriorate quickly, many preppers would rather have gold, silver and other barter materials than paper money. History suggests that these metals can be exchanged for food, shelter and other supplies. No formal estimate exists about how many preppers keep gold and silver stashes — or how much they might have — but ten ounces of silver costs more than $200 and an ounce of gold is worth more than $1,300 at current prices. In a disaster, neither $200 nor $1,300 would last very long.
8. Communication, Computing and Electronics
If the power grids are gone or cell towers and communications lines are down, smartphones, TV and Internet obviously will not work, even for solar-powered devices. In such a case, there are other basic tools for communications (and computing) already on the market today.
Communication is important to get news and information, if there is any to be had. What most preppers have as a communications device with the outside world in disaster areas are hand-crank or solar emergency radios. These cost less than $75, some significantly less.
Two other systems can be used, but how they will work depends on many “doomsday” variables. One is ham radio and another is satellite phones. Ham radio equipment varies widely and requires knowledgeable people to use. Satellite phones are tricky because the satellite communications stations keeping them in orbit have to be operated, and eventually all satellite and orbiting systems will fail without ground personnel running them.
Walkie-talkie or two-way radio systems are also available on the market very cheaply. Many basic systems cost less than $50, and some better systems are under $100. Those radio distances of 15, 20 or more miles are all based on perfect conditions, without signal interruption from trees, buildings and the like, and they will need power sources of some sort. Satellite phones cost up to $1,000 or more from Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: IRDM) and as low as $500 from from Globalstar. Buying minutes, however, may be hard to do if the infrastructure has crumbled.
The doomsday prepping economy is vast. We did not assign any value to how much would be spent on all-terrain vehicles, dirt bikes or backup cars or trucks. What about tallying up the cost of firearms training or survival and self-defense classes and workshops? Or the cost of greenhouses to grow foods? The list can go on and on, with preppers effectively spending as much as it would cost to replicate their entire lives on a minimalist and survivalist scale.
Do you believe yet that prepping is a multibillion business? When you start considering the costs for 3 million or more people, each category we have outlined can run into the billions of dollars, and that is without many big-ticket items.
Want to find out how long you would survive in a doomsday scenario? National Geographic has a test for you that will give you a Prepper Score.