Let’s face it: prepping is a complex matter and it can be overwhelming to the newbie. Which knife to get? What foods should I stockpile? What disaster is most likely to affect me? How can I convince my spouse to join my efforts? Do I really need to buy all of this stuff? Where am I gonna keep everything? Should I buy MREs?

The truth is, there are a lot of newbie mistakes to be made and, some of them could cost you a lot of money… or worse.

Let’s see what some of the biggest ones are so you can side-step them.

7 survival mistakes

Survival Mistake #1 – Don’t Buy Anything (Yet)

The best piece of advice I can give you is not to buy anything until you get to read more about survival. You need to figure out what your priorities are and what you should prep first because you can’t do everything at once. Since the prepping market is mainstream now, there are thousands of survival companies trying to sell stuff. You only have to buy what you decide you need, not what some sales letter tells you to.

Survival Mistake #2 – When You Do Buy, Perform Thorough Research

Doing research is actually really easy, it’s just that those who aren’t tech savvy don’t know how. All you have to do is do a few basic Google searches like these:

best survival knife

site:survivalistboards.com which knife is best

Then go to YouTube and Amazon and type the same thing. The cool thing about Amazon is that you can go through dozens and dozens of reviews from other users that tell you every problem they had with them. Negative reviews are the first ones I look at but beware some users have a habit of giving negative reviews to all products.

For example, once you’ve set your mind on 2 or 3 knives, you can do a few searches for each like so:

[knife name] review

[knife name] problem

[knife name] what do you think?

These will reveal potential problems with the knives you’re about to buy as well as alternative products.

Survival Mistake #3 – Don’t buy MREs

MREs sound like a good idea because – hey – if they’re good enough for the military, they must be good enough for you. Not only are MREs expensive but they taste very, very bad (more on why that is here). This is no way to start a stockpile as there are other foods that are cheaper, tastier and more nutritious. You can pick from: freeze-dried food, hard candy, energy bars and other snacks with a long shelf life are all good for your bug out bag because of the weight.

Survival Mistake #4 – Not Focusing on Their Skills

Buying things is easy; that’s why the vast majority of preppers do it instead of focusing on long-term survival plans. Well, purchasing survival tools and gear is only half the story. A fool with a tool is still a fool, the saying goes and skill will always trump guns, gear and a generous stockpile.

Some of the skills to work on include:
  • developing your awareness (very useful in big cities where, more recently, there’s been an increased risk of riots and terrorist attacks in recent years)
  • self-defense
  • finding food and water in your vicinity (whether you live in a town or a city)
  • being a better driver (in case you need to bug out in a hurry using your car)
  • having good reaction time when SHTF (by doing drills, imagining how you’d react or, even better, by doing both)
  • making shelter (though you may use the tarp you probably have in your BOB, you might be forced to make one out of natural resources)
  • starting, keeping and then putting out a fire
  • …and many more skills.

Survival Mistake #5 – Putting Too Much Stuff in Their BOBs

Man, I can still remember throwing my printed copy of the SAS Survival Guide in my bag – it was HEAVY. The whole thing felt incredibly light once I removed it! Right now, the heaviest thing in my BOB is my stainless steel water bottle, filled with water, of course.

Not everything belongs in your BOB. There’s a high probability that you’ll be bugging in during the next disaster and you need to have the necessary survival items to hunker down for days, even weeks.

The best ways to assemble your first bug out bag is to start with a checklist. Of course, before you add anything to, think really well in what scenarios it might be of use to you. Once you have it, start adding items one by one in decreasing order of important.

Survival Mistake #6 – Not Being In Shape

Speaking of heavy backpacks, do you know how long you can carry yours during a bug-out? Regardless of how much it weighs, you’ll find out just how exhausting it can be.

I found out the hard way when I tested it a couple of months ago. It was me, a friend and two girls. I was the only one with a backpack and I was left behind most of the times because of the weight I was carrying, despite me also wearing hiking boots and the trail being wet and even muddy at some point.

Survival Mistake #7 – Not Having an Emergency Plan

There are three types of preppers: those who will bug in, those who will bug out and those who will bug out but have no idea where. You don’t want to be in the latter category and if you’re prepping to bug in, you should still consider bugging out as an option. You just never know when your home or town becomes uninhabitable. I think the secret reason why most people decide to bug in is because it’s easier to prep for. Still, I insist you give both scenarios (bugging in and out) some serious thought.

Having an emergency plan is not complicated. You start by prepping for personal emergencies and small-scale disasters that can last up to 72 hours: tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, car crashes, heavy snow, flash floods etc. Just the ones that are more likely to happen to you, of course. You need a bug in plan, a bug out plan, a get home plan (in case you’re not at home when it happens) as well as a communications plan (so you stay informed with the latest developments).

Final Word

Did you make any of those mistakes or others as a newbie? Leave a comment below.

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