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A Minimalist Approach to Prepping

Minimalist Prepper… Seems to be a bit of a contradiction there. But I’m not really sure how else to describe it so I’ll just go with it for now. In a lot of ways, I consider myself a minimalist. Not in the extreme sense, like you may have seen on TV or online, I just don’t like having too much unnecessary stuff around clogging up my space and distracting my mind. I prefer to have just what I feel I need to be comfortable and nothing more.

This is where the Prepper part comes in. Having grown up with Boy Scouts and made it to the rank of Eagle Scout, the “Be Prepared” motto is one I’ve never let go of. It’s just kind of a way of life. Having certain things on hand at all times or in my home is something I feel like I need to feel comfortable. I can happily limit my wardrobe, get rid of all my excessive towels and kitchen implements, stick to limited furniture and all other house hold items.

But the thought of limiting the basic supplies for life (food, water, shelter, heat, etc.) on hand to only what I need for a few days or a week is not one that I’m comfortable with. My Minimalist nature also doesn’t allow me to feel comfortable taking it to extremes. I don’t have a bunker, or a giant room full of food, water, batteries, and a extensive arsenal of weaponry to defend it.

I do, however, have a certain limited amount of space that I have allocated to store such supplies that provides enough space to cover the basic needs Kayla and I might have in the event of an emergency and just a little bit extra to share with my family or neighbors who might not be prepared. I suppose I’m violating the top rule of prepping by letting people know that I have such things in place, but given the small amount in question, I don’t feel it’s too big of a risk. That and while I did say I didn’t have a giant arsenal to protect my stash, don’t mistake that for meaning I don’t have any way of defending myself and my family, just that I only have what I need and nothing more.

Back to the minimalism side of the coin, anyone that knows me knows I have all sorts of random but occasionally necessary items stashed in various places on my person. From a first aid kit, to knives and fire-starting materials (several levels deep), I generally carry all the essentials for just about any situation. And If It’s not in one of my pockets, it’s probably in my backpack or my truck. I know this doesn’t sound very minimalistic but its more in the quantity and general volume of what I carry that is where minimalism comes into play.

To look at me, you wouldn’t suspect that I have all those items on me and that’s because I’ve streamlined the things I carry to not be big and bulky and I have gone through my supplies to eliminate all but what I feel is essential. I may generally have at least 6 means of starting a fire on my person at any given time, as that’s one area I’m all for redundancy, but if you were to gather all those items and put them in a small Ziploc bag, it would take up less space than your average men’s wallet. To make up for it, I don’t carry a traditional wallet, just a small cigarette case big enough to hold my license and cards.

My first aid kit has all sorts of commonly used items in it that you would find in most first aid kits, but it is only the size of an Altoids tin. Between carrying a container of breath mints or a first aid kit, I opt for the latter. No, it doesn’t have enough to help in the case of major trauma, but I also have a slightly larger kit strapped to the side of the small backpack I carry that has many of the items the pocket sized one lacks. I can get more of the serious type wound supplies in that one because I always have the smaller one with me in my pocket and can divide the supplies between the two.

In a lot of ways, I think minimalism itself is a sort of prepping just like getting in shape. When I go out into the woods to camp, I take the bare minimum of items possible. I have all the stuff to make a camping trip just as luxurious as a spa day with all the comforts of home, but opting for that route won’t prepare me at all for a time when such things might not be available. By minimizing what I use regularly, I am used to getting by with just the basics so if a situation ever arises where that’s all I have, it won’t be a stressful experience that pushes me outside my comfort zone, it will just be another regular day.

I carry a small 5’x7’ tarp and an ultra-compact hammock that can double as a ground cloth. There is a stainless-steel cup that my Nalgene bottle sits inside on the side of my pack that can be used for cooking if needed. These few items (and the fire starters and knife I carry) are all I need to set up a comfortable camp and survive in the wild. I don’t really need the tarp or hammock to provide shelter as I know how to create one from the natural elements around me, but using them often means less of an impact on nature. The shelters I can set up using them are very basic and very small (minimal), but they serve to keep me protected from the elements when sleeping out under the stars isn’t an option. These items, and various others including my computer and multiple back up batteries/chargers all fit inside of a bag about as big as a large purse that women often carry.

I know I’ve referenced this bag in previous articles and I will get around to doing a write up on it and show you what all is in there soon. But this wasn’t really my intention for tonight. Besides, since taking a slightly more aggressive approach to minimizing what I carry, I have stopped carrying the bag with me everywhere. It’s usually in the truck anytime I go further than outside the small town I live in, but I now often leave it behind unless I need to take my computer along.

Combining Prepping and Minimalism may seem like quite an odd combination, but it serves me well. Having my preparations in place gives me peace of mind knowing that I’m prepared for whatever life may throw my way next. Minimizing my possessions allows me to enjoy that peace of mind more thoroughly without so many distractions. It also helps prevent me from falling into the trap of building up ever more preparations and feeling like there is always something else I need to add to my stash every time I see something potentially useful.

One thing they both have in common though, is that they are meant to be tailored to one’s individual preferences. There is no right or wrong way to go about it, you just do whatever works best for you. I’ve found a balance between the two that works well for me, but that may not be suited to your needs. Only you can decide what is best for you. Maybe minimalism works but the idea of prepping for an emergency stresses you out and you don’t want to live your life worrying about what if. I wouldn’t recommend that personally, as I think everyone should be prepared to a certain degree, but it’s your life, do what you want.

Conversely, prepping may be your way of life and the idea of minimizing things just goes against everything you believe in. Again, I don’t recommend this route either, as you can wind up focusing so fully on what could happen and not on living in the now, missing out on living your life. But as I said, it’s your call to make, not mine. I’m only here to share what works for me and evaluate if what I’m doing is really what I feel is best for me. Hopefully it will inspire you to do a bit of evaluation yourself and make any changes you feel are necessary to find a healthy balance in your own life. Thanks for taking the time to read!