Survivalism is approached by its adherents in different ways, depending on their circumstances, their mindsets, and their particular concerns for the future. The following are some examples, although many survivalists fit into more than one category or orientation:
Safety Preparedness Oriented - Learns principles and techniques needed for surviving life-threatening situations that can occur anyplace, anywhere. Makes preparations for such common calamities as structure fires, dog attacks, physical confrontations, snake bites, lightning strikes, car breakdowns, Third World travel problems, bear encounters, flash floods, home invasions and even train wrecks. Reads: Survive Safely Anywhere series, Worst-Case Scenario handbooks.
Wilderness Survival Emphasis - Stresses being able to stay alive for indefinite periods in life threatening wilderness scenarios. These can include: plane crashes, shipwrecks, being lost in the woods. Concerns are: thirst, hunger, climate, terrain, health, stress, fear. Prepares with: knowledge, training and practice. Survival kit often includes: water purifiers, shelter, fire starters, clothing, food, medical supplies, navigation and signaling gear. Reads: Nessmuk (George Washingto Sears), Horace Kephart, Bradford Angier, and Ray Mears.
Self-Defense Driven - Individuals concerned with surviving brief encounters of violent activity. Focus is on personal protection and its legal ramifications, danger awareness, Boyd's cycle (also known as the OODA cycle - observe, orient, decide & act), martial arts, self defense tactics and tools (both lethal & less-than-lethal). They often read: Rex Applegate, Massad Ayoob, Jeff Cooper, Bill Jordan, James Wesley Rawles, Mel Tappan, Chuck Taylor, and Sun Tzu
Natural Disaster, Brief - People that live in tornado, hurricane, flood, wildfire, earthquake or heavy snowfall areas and want to be prepared for the inevitable.Investment in material for fortifying structures and tools for rebuilding & constructing temporary shelter, perhaps have a custom built shelter, food, water, medicine, and supplies, enough to get by until contact with the rest of the world resumes.
Natural Disaster, Years Long - Concerned about long term weather cycles of 2-10 years, unusually cold or warm periods, that have happened on and off for thousands of years, and that cause crop failures.Might stock several tons of food per family member and have a heavy duty greenhouse with canned non-hybrid seeds..
Natural Disaster, Lifelong or Multi-Generational - Possible scenarios include: severe global warming and the coming ice age, the greenhouse-effect-gone-wild, environmental degradation,warming/cooling of gulf steam waters, large meteor strike, shift in earth's axis or reversal of geo-magnetic fields... Owns maps of previous ice age glacier patterns and hopes that where they live will be south of the permafrost line. May have purchased snowshoes. Reads reports by the National Academy of Sciences and Wood's Hole Physical Oceanography Department.
General Social/Political Decline, Liberal Outlook - Concerned about growing cultural problems and the slow destruction of both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.. Into anti-crime strategies, both passive (alarms) and active (Neighborhood watches). Most often anti-gun, pro-choice, pro-environment, anti-war, against prayer in school, against the death penalty. Supporters of the ACLU, Amnesty International, The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and Greenpeace.
General Social/Political Decline, Conservative Outlook - Concerned about growing cultural problems and the slow destruction of both the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Into anti-crime strategies, both passive (alarms) and active (Rottweilers and guns). Most often pro-gun, anti-abortion, pro-business, pro-national defense, for prayer in school, pro-death penalty... Supporters of talk radio’s Rush Limbaugh, the National Rifle Association, and the Alaska Support Industry Alliance.
Cold War Carry-Overs - Fear homeland invasion by nation's enemies, whether foreign or domestic. This was a group of substantial size before the fall of the Soviet Union.True-believers currently suspect the U.N. of one-world domination plans and fear Black helicopters, government intervention and taxation. The majority of these people have relocated to safe Survival retreat areas. Favorite movies: Red Dawn and the Mad Max trilogy.
Nuclear War Preppers - These folks know all the primary, secondary and tertiary targets, and downwind fallout patterns. They often chose to live in locales they deem to be safest in the event of all out nuclear war. They've built fallout shelters and have the necessary food, water, tools, radiological monitoring equipment, and skills to see them though. Other groups also prepare for nuclear war as an exercise, in that if you are prepared for nuclear war, you are prepared for all other scenarios. Reads: Cresson Kearny, Bruce Clayton and Dr. Arthur Robinson.
Bio-Chem Scenario - Concerned with the spread of fatal diseases and terrorist use of biological agents and nerve gases. Examples: E.Coli 0157, Solanum, Botulism Dengue Fever, Cruetzfeldt-Jacob, SARS, Rabies, Hantavirus, Anthrax, Plague, Cholera, HIV, Ebola, Marburg virus, Lhasa virus, Sarin, and VX Might own NBC (nuclear, biological & chemical) full-face respirators, polyethylene coveralls, PVC boots, Nitrile gloves, plastic sheeting and duct tape. Reads: CDC reports, HazMat manuals, Richard Preston's The Hot Zone and Jane’s Chem-Bio Handbook.
Technological Mass Destruction Concerns - Concerned with unintended consequences of genetic manipulation, nano-technology, transgenic crops, psychological engineering, genome hybridized cloning, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, engineered organisms, self-replicating molecular robotic assemblers (“gray goo problem”)... Techno-Luddites fear human extinction. At the other end are the bioethicists who believe policies and self regulation will avert disaster. Reads: Ray Kurzweil, Ted Kaczynski, Hans Moravec, and Freeman Dyson.
Malthusian - Soaring increase in world's uncontrolled human population growth impacts available fresh water, food, health-care, environment, economics, consumerism, spread of diseases and just about every other facet of life. Projections indicate that world population of 6.6 billion may again double in fifty years. Some warn that this will result in a Malthusian population crash. Survivalists in this camp range from those who've foregone children and have had voluntary sterilization to those who've had large families and later sounded the alarm, like Al Gore, David Packard (Hewlett-Packard founder) and Sripati Chandrasekhar (India's best-known birth control advocate). Supports: Family planning, birth control and voluntary sterilization.
Monetary Disaster Investors - Believe the Federal Reserve system is evil. Newsletters suggest hard assets of gold and silver bullion or coins and in some cases other precious-metal oriented investments such as mining shares. They are preparing for paper money to become worthless through hyperinflation. This is presently a very popular scenario. Most survivalist in this camp have a good burglar alarm system and enough food and supplies to last a couple of months, or perhaps even a year, until a new monetary system (formal or informal) is re-established. Reads lots of Barton Biggs, Peter Schiff, Ayn Rand, Howard J. Ruff, and Ludwig von Mises.
Biblical Eschatologist - These individuals study End Times prophecy and believe the Savior is going to return soon, and that the final battle with Satan on the Plains of Meggido might occur in their lifetime. Most believe that the rapture will follow a period of Tribulation though a smaller number believe that the rapture is imminent and will precede the Tribulation. ("Pre-Trib rapture".) There is a very wide range of beliefs and attitudes in this group. They run the gamut from pacifist to armed camp, and from no food stockpiles (leaving their sustenance up to God's providence) to decades of food storage. A small subset are Messianic Jews, and an even smaller fringe subset follow a charismatic leader's interpretations of the Bible. The Branch Davidians are one such sect.
Peak Oil Doomer - The Doomers are convinced that Peak Oil is a genuine threat, and take appropriate measures, usually involving relocation to a Survival retreat region that is agriculturally self-sufficient.
Rawlesian - Readers of SurvivalBlog editor James Wesley Rawles often prepare for multiple scenarios with fortified and well-equipped remote rural survival retreats. Most are politically conservative. Nearly all place an emphasis on both being well-armed as well as being ready to dispense charity in the event of a disaster. Most take a "deep larder" approach and store multiple years of food. They also emphasize practical self-sufficiency and homesteading skills.
Medical Crisis Oriented - Has very complete medical pack in house and in car.Donates blood and is active in the Red Cross Has taken CERT, paramedic EMT, and CPR courses, knows vital signs, stockpiles medicines, etc. Concerned with vehicle accidents and emergencies involving injuries. Focus is on helping family, friends and community survive medical emergencies.