What to Pack for the Apocalypse


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“This ain’t no party / this ain’t no disco / this ain’t no foolin’ around,” as David Bryne of the Talking Heads once reminded us in the song “Life During Wartime.” 

And indeed, when you’re getting ready for what you believe to be the impending demise of civilization and perhaps the planet itself, the to-do list can seem endless. You’ve got to make sure your gas masks are stored in an accessible place, and that you’ve got an adequate supply of arrows for your crossbow.  You’ve got to make sure to feed the tilapia swimming around in the solar-powered aquaponic greenhouse that you’ve built in what used to be a backyard swimming pool. You’ve got to stock up on freeze-dried, dehydrated food and seeds to grow your crops, once large-scale industrial agriculture and supermarkets wither away. You’ve got to practice your bartering skills, since after the government and the economy collapse, money is going to be worthless. And that’s just off the top of our heads. (For a more methodical approach, check out this helpful checklist of doomsday recommendations posted at Abovetopsecret.com).

If it’s any consolation, though, scores of other “doomsday preppers” across the land have been laboring to get ready for the big day, too. The wary include even celebrities such as actor Ashton Kutcher, who told Men’s Fitness magazine recently that he is training in Krav Maga, the martial art ultilized by Israeli commandos, in anticipation of having to protect his family after the inevitable collapse of civilization. With the self-assurance of a confirmed prepper, he warned:

It will not take much for people to hit the panic button. The amount of convenience that people rely upon based on electricity alone. You start taking out electricity and satellites, and people are going to lose their noodle. 

Of course, the belief that the end of the world as we know it–TEOTWAWKI, in Internet survivalist parlance–is nearly upon us is not a new one. Predictions of the impending apocalypse go back, well, to the Book of Revelation itself, which was writen by John of Patmos in the late First Century AD. From Beliefnet, here’s a fascinating list of 25 prophets who predicted the end of the world, right up to Howard Camping, the radio preacher who recently proclaimed–errantly, it seems, since we’re still here–that the End Times would begin with a devastating earthquake on May 21, 2011. 

Over those 2000 or so years, there’s been an evolution of apocalyptic thinking. When the Millerites prepared for the prophesied end of the world on October 23, 1844, they sold their possessions, dressed in white robes, and climbed the highest mountains and hills they could find, in order to make their ascension to heaven easier. But they saw their fate as a given, a product of Divine will that they could not hope to alter.

20th and 21st Century apocalyptic thinkers, in contrast, more often tend to see the approaching demise of civilization and order as the inevitable result of human misdeeds and miscalculations. They also tend, a bit optimistically, to see the collapse of civilization as a survivable event, akin to the fall of Rome or the zombie epidemic in George Romero’s 1978 horror film Dawn of the Dead, in which non-infected holdouts barricaded themselves into a shopping mall and, for a time, enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle.

As Daniel Wojcik noted in his 1999 book, The End of the World as We Know it: Faith, Fatalism and Apocalypse in America, recent decades have seen the rise of secular survivalists, who see the end of the existing order as a transformative, cleansing event, and expect that human society will resurrect itself in a purer, more idyllic form. Some white-supremacist groups, he notes, envision an apocalyptic cataclysm as an opportunity to eradicate Jews, blacks, Hispanics, and others whom they blame for the decline of the present civilization.

Not all Preppers, it should be emphasized, harbor such extreme and virulent beliefs. But regardless of one’s ideology, there’s still a lot of work to do to get ready for the day when all the clocks stop. Fortunately, at least until the Internet goes on the blink, there will be plenty of doomsday online superstore websites such Survival Unlimited, offering the latest in accoutrements for Armageddon. The forewarned can also find useful DIY information at Undergroundbombshelter.com,  a site that  offers articles with titles such as “Group Dosimetry: Keeping Track of Radiation Exposure” and “Finding and Covering Up Leaks in Bomb Shelter Gamma Shielding.” For those who are concerned about both surviving and staying Green, there’s the Organic Survivalist Site, which offers a don’t-miss article on a “Natural herbal remedy for internal and external bleeding control” and a recipe for homemade high-protein vegetable crackers to augment the freeze-dried soups that you’ll be sipping in your redoubt. 

Watch Doomsday Preppers on Monday, June 27 at 10 pm. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak:



  1. allnitelonggirl
    June 28, 2011, 7:33 am

    I really love your ideas, I am in aww in the way you have build your life.

  2. firebasecody
    June 28, 2011, 10:03 pm

    When is this going to air again, or can I download the video or buy a dvd of the show? Ayup, I missed it last nite.

  3. dougscott
    July 1, 2011, 3:59 am

    Dr Jeremy Leggett interview (Catalyst – Oil Crunch, ABC TV)
    a geologistby training, began his career as a consultant for the oil industry, while teaching at the Royal School of Mines

    Chris Skrebowski interview (Catalyst – Oil Crunch, ABC TV), editor Petroleum Review journal
    is a well-known commentator on the oil industry and an expert on global oil supply.

    Fatih Birol (IEA) interview (Catalyst – Oil Crunch, ABC TV)
    Dr Fatih Birol is the Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency

    United States Joint Forces Command:
    Full report http://www.fas.org/man/eprint/joe2010.pdf
    “A severe energy crunch is inevitable without a massive expansion of production and refining capacity. While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both Chna and India. At best, it would lead to periods of harsh economic adjustment. To what extent conservation measures, investments in alternative energy production, and efforts to expand petroleum production from tar sands and shale would mitigate such a period of adjustment is difficult to predict. One should not forget that the Great Depression spawned a number of totalitarian regimes that sought economic prosperity for their nations by ruthless conquest…By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day…The implications for future conflict are ominous, if energy supplies cannot keep up with demand and should states see the need to militarily secure dwindling energy resources.”

    Charles Maxwell: Natural Gas: Abundance or Mirage

    Acknowledging Peak Oil, featuring Sadad al-Husseini

    Peak Oil Reality: Discovery & Production Won’t Meet Future Demand, featuring Sadad al-Husseini

  4. doug brumfield
    somewhere in Ohio
    February 8, 2012, 2:09 am

    Im A prepper, hes a prepper, wouldnt you like to be a perepper too? I wish I where rich so I could build a shelter properly and stock it. Guess Ill just have to do what I can.

  5. Lacretia Ballance
    Oakland, OR
    February 8, 2012, 3:42 am

    So far, of the first two episodes, I noticed one mistake that most all of the preppers are making. If there is an earthquake, the jars of food on the shelves are going to end up broken on the floor, or ground, or broken by banging against each other. At minimum, there needs to be retaining ropes, or bars, or doors keeping the jars on the shelves. Just sayin’…

  6. BobSelf1
    No. Cal;ifornia
    February 8, 2012, 7:33 am

    1. You are making yourselves targets just by appearing on this show.
    2. Not one “Prepper” has said anything about advanced MEDICAL TRAINING being an absolute requirement. Not just first aid, but advanced (Like military) training.
    3. I wonder how many of our gun owners have experienced what it is to actually face another human being, and be willing to kill them? Without anger, without mercy, and instantly, in self-defense.
    4. What about prescription medications? What about long term storage?
    5. To those who think they have a chance of survival as a “Lone Wolf”, GOOD LUCK. The gangs will eliminate you the first day! “In numbers there is strength” (And safety).

  7. kevin wolden
    central mn
    February 18, 2012, 4:51 pm

    we have our own gangs in the country, come test the cowboys!!

  8. dina rae
    February 19, 2012, 1:49 am

    Pack a copy of The Last Degree by Dina Rae-available on Amazon. The protagonists are Doomsday Preppers!

  9. Mike
    South East Texas
    February 25, 2012, 3:57 pm

    I just cant beleive how nieve some of these stupid assholes are! Like the dumbass lady and Curly head guy saying they dont need guns! We will Barter my apple cider. I will charm them ! They wouldnt last a day! Weak weak weak!How can you have someones back when you cant even take care of your back! They will be killed right off and really that is good because we dont want stupid people breeding mankind!Are they sheltered ?Do they ever go outside in real world? Mankind is the cruelist species ever.There is more crime than ever with all the wetbacks and burrhead bluegummers running around! People wake up ARM your dumbass selfs!!!!!!

  10. SB
    New Jersey
    March 6, 2012, 9:45 pm

    Prepping in a country where warm water is available and you can eat for 2 dollars?
    Maybe these preppers should visit some countries where people don’t have a choice BUT to PREP every day: will I have a glass of clean water to give my child, will I get shot today, am I sleeping on the cold dirt floor again…bottom line, it is what it is, and a box of Cheerios will not make a difference in a catastrophe. I love National Geographic TV, but this show is an absolute negative to human everyday reality.

  11. The Silver Survivor
    March 11, 2012, 9:23 pm

    Allow me to share my down-to-earth opinions on Doomsday survival. No ads, just me. Enjoy.


  12. Prepping in Delaware
    Newark, Delaware
    March 15, 2012, 9:34 pm

    I find National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers very interesting. I thought Mr. Hall and his remodeled ICBM silo “Doomsday Condos” was the best episode of all. The major problem that I see with the smaller bunkers is that a few scoops of dirt from a front end loader could block the entrance(s) thus turning them into tombs.

    If you take nothing else from the series keep at least three days worth of provisions at the ready so you can Bug Out of harms way.

    Also, I wonder if Nat Geo will have any preppers utilizing either private aircraft or customized vehicles that run on railroad tracks as a means for bugging out of town?

  13. garath kenyon
    wales uk
    November 9, 2012, 6:06 am

    the time to worry is the year 2029. this is when the asteroid apofis will pass us within the orbiting sattalites casing sunamyes earth quakes and thousands of metiorit impacts globally devastating all continents. this is a guaranty look on the NASA near object tracking list this is going to happen im an armature astronoma and this is what im concerned with