Gallery: Homesteaders vs Preppers: What’s the Difference?

A prepper's bugout bag.

My lack of familiarity with these terms prompted me to do some research (as any good noob should do), and I found that there was a veritable treasure-trove of info to be found on the topic. At first glance, there seems to be a number of similarities between the two: both groups put a great deal of focus on self-sufficiency and off-grid living, but the differentiating factor seems to be the driving force behind said focus.

Image © Julochka

The homesteaders seem drawn to this self-sufficiency because they wish to live more holistically with the world around them; having first-hand experience with their food sources—be that through organic gardens, animal husbandry, or backyard chicken coops—and revisiting the home industry of their forebears. Many of them spin their own yarn, sew their own clothes, and make cheese from the milk given by a few goats or sheep that they keep on a small plot of land. They save their seeds, sew quilts from old clothes, and spend weekends canning and preserving food so they have a hearty bounty to draw from over the winter months.

Image © Remolacha

In comparison, preppers seem to be a more paranoid lot, and their drive towards self-sufficiency isn’t born of a desire to get back to the land, but is rather in preparation for whatever apocalypse is just around the corner. These folks are getting ready for when shit hits the fan, and you can be sure they’ll be well prepared when it does. Many have several years’ supply of canned goods, dried staples, and water in their cellars, along with an arsenal of weapons to fend off the inevitable zombie-like hoards that’ll come after their food and supplies when everything goes to hell. If they do grow any food around their property, it’s hidden in the woods and camouflaged so that invaders won’t realize it’s a food crop, and the razor wire around it will dissuade any trespassers from taking it.


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  1. Uncle B September 14, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    The American Dream, and American styled Capitalism having forsaken them, they have but this to pursue! reference: Google Detroit City Ruins?

  2. joy2b February 24, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Preppers and homesteaders are some of the most visible people in many diy communities. You can compare them to the athletes and the organizers who you need for a friendly team sport. They usually don’t make up the whole team.

    I’ve noticed these categories:
    Farmers – The pros. They grew up on a family farm, they’ve always made their own food, they know what’s worth saving, and they’re used to having enough on hand to get through till next summer. They’re used to living in the country, and not calling repair men. They know how to make it, fix it, cook it, garden it, shoot it, build it, whatever they have to do. (This community is slowly being weakened by the push to monoculture farming, but it still exists, and is to some extent, the paragon of the rest.)
    Homesteaders – They have a lifestyle that in some way resembles romantic rural life. Their family pets may be more useful than average, but they’re still probably cute and lovable. Gardening is probably a full time hobby. Many families went from hobbyists to homesteaders during WWII, and then went back afterwards.
    Hobbyists – There’s a few things they do for fun that make them a little more self sufficient than average. Gardeners, knitters, seamstresses, cooks, home brewers, carpenters, etc… a lot of people do a few things to relax.
    Preppers – Everyone thinks about what to do during emergencies. Preppers just do it more. Many learn the skills of the groups above, because they feel it’s necessary… and they often feel compelled to share skills. They often produce good articles on how to learn a new skill quickly, so they can be pretty great internet citizens and magazine contributors. Many are also hunters. Some are extreme enough to make it on tv, some have a nice camping kit, others just don’t plan to get to the store often. (In rural areas which get real blizzards, being a prepper isn’t optional.)
    Frugalists – When you learn how things are made, you can often save a lot of money. Some people are self sufficient in a lot of little ways, because it seems wasteful to them to do otherwise.
    Religious – Mormons often keep a year’s worth of essentials on hand. They tend to come off as hobbyist or frugalists, but they usually start doing it from a sense of necessity.

  3. jerry030 February 20, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    You could also say that preppers are just prepared for a major conflict if such a thing happens. Homesteaders have always been that, farmers and living on there land while needing little help from the outside. The problem with this on both fronts is mobility in conflict and how one deals with that. Everyone should be self-reflective and not joking about such measures by either people…within a few hundred years ago you would all be dead if questioning any of this. That is less than a pin heads worth of time in human existence! Think about that… The internet and msm news you watch with total confidence does nothing to change the reality of risk in this world.

  4. thelight February 20, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Wow, stereotyping much? You watched a show designed to sell and think that accurately represents a subculture? So everyone from the Jersey Shore looks like an Oompa Loompa? Come on. Like any group, the radical element will get the press, but that does not mean that everyone who self-identifies as a prepper is a radical. You\\\’ll find there\\\’s a lot more overlap than you seem to believe.
    Take a listen to the Survival Podcast. Jack Spirko talks about living in the here and now, and building a self-sufficient long-term future. I\\\’d say her represents the majority more accurately than \\\”Doomsday Preppers\\\” (which most preppers make fun of, btw).

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