Now that prepping has become mainstream, one of the recurrent themes I find is the tendency to apply high-tech solutions to high-tech problems. It’s a lot of fun, after all, to figure out how the latest whiz-bang technology can be used in case of service failures. If your problem is a lack of electricity, what’s the highest-tech solution you can come up with? If your problem is a lack of food, what’s the highest-tech solution you can find? – that kind of thing.
As I see it, these solutions can all too often be expensive, limited, and prone to either breaking down at inconvenient moments (with parts and service unavailable) or otherwise be non-renewable (such as MREs).
Through economic necessity, our household has (mostly) taken the opposite approach when it comes to prepping. We’re searching for low-tech solutions to high-tech problems.
Please don’t misunderstand – I love modern technology. I adore electricity. I love having a washing machine. I think the internet is one of the greatest inventions since sliced bread. Clean, running water is absolutely wonderful. Grocery stores? Fabulous.
But if all those things are taken away, I don’t want to be miserable or otherwise unable to function because services are down. That’s why we prep. But nor do I want to be miserable or unable to function because my high-tech solutions broke down or ran out, and I had no alternatives to fall back on. That’s why we’re looking for low-tech options to all our modern conveniences.
Almost invariably, high-tech solutions are expensive. For the cost of a solar array or even a generator, I can buy a whole lotta beans, bullets, and band-aids. If your finances are limited, then it’s far more economically worthwhile – LOTS more bang for your buck – to search for low-tech options.
Remember, the more moving parts something has, the more likely it is to break. Unless you have the knowledge and spare parts to fix what’s broken, it might be better to either skip the thing with moving parts, or at least have multiple backup options if it should fail. While high-tech solutions can be wonderful, you also have to be practical and realistic. Ultimately it’s better to learn to live with LESS than to be dependent on MORE.
That said, you also have to balance high-tech solutions against whatever physical limitations you may have. Many low-tech solutions are low-tech because they’re labor-intensive, so they won’t work for everyone. However since a lot of people (even those in robust health) instinctively know that low-tech solutions usually mean more work, they’re less inclined to seek out those options no matter how much proven historical tract record they may have.
I advocate what I call the Seven Core Areas of Preparedness (water, food, heat, light, medical, sanitation, and protection). While these Seven Core Areas are not entirely comprehensive, they cover a vast amount of territory in terms of making your life comfortable in the event of an emergency. It’s also essential to think in terms of backups to backups to backups (otherwise known as the Rule of Three). If your first option fails, you need to have a second option, and a third.
It’s not easy going low-tech in modern houses. The most obvious low-tech solution for heating, for example, is a wood stove… a solution that’s difficult in the suburbs (where will you get your wood?) or impossible in the city (high rise apartments frown on wood stoves).
In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to everything. We all have different circumstances, which means we must all search for whatever low-tech solutions will solve our high-tech issues. The low-tech solutions we come up with here in rural Idaho will differ vastly from the solutions for someone who lives in a suburban home in Dallas or in an urban apartment in Boston.
In our modern culture, and with the vast ignorance we have about low-tech living (ourselves included!), the best we can hope for is a blend of high- and low-tech answers. I’m not about to give up the convenience of flashlights (a high-tech gizmo) in favor of a hurricane lamp if I’m trying to find out what kind of predator is harassing our livestock at midnight. But if my flashlight fails, at least I have a hurricane lamp available.
I’m concerned that if preppers focus only on high-tech solutions, then (a) they may be in trouble if parts or service isn’t available for those high-tech options; or (b) they won’t bother to acquire the skills, knowledge, tools, and supplies necessary to provide a low-tech answer if something goes wrong with the whiz-bang option.
I’m interested in hearing how others respond to the call of low-tech prepping. Readers of this blog range from the impressively self-sufficient to the utter novice – we embrace the entire range of living situations – so what do you do to low-tech prep in your particular circumstances? What are your low-tech answers to high-tech problems? Let us know so we can all benefit from your knowledge and experience.