How to Survive the Apocalypse

These suddenly chic survival satchels, also known as go bags, are typically lightweight military-grade backpacks stocked with provisions for at least 72 hours. Ready-made bug-out bags containing staples like water purification tablets, a 20-hour body warmer and a multifunction shovel are available on Amazon for under than $200.

Hard-core preppers, however, would never leave their survival up to a mouse click, which is why some sites suggest endless creative tweaks to the standard equipment. Graywolf Survival recommends a chain-saw blade stashed in an Altoids tin to harvest firewood. Survival Life touts feminine hygiene products, even for men, to soak up blood from wounds.

“As long as the gear gets the job done, that’s what matters,” said Andrew Pontius, a marketing consultant and disaster preparedness instructor in Kansas City, Mo., who helps run a site called Bug Out Bag Academy.

2. Go for the Silver

Two years ago, Greece was forced to shutter banks and limit A.T.M. withdrawals to 60 euros a day during a debt crisis that threatened to shatter Europe’s currency union. In the United States, prominent authors like James Rickards, a hedge fund veteran, and David Stockman, once the budget director for the Reagan administration, insist that an even bigger crisis will soon tank Wall Street and torpedo the dollar.

No wonder so many preppers, some of them wearing pinstriped suits, consider gold and silver to be a crucial hedge against a crisis.

While Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies make news, many preppers are quietly packing their bug-out bags with rolls of pre-1965 American dimes, quarters or half-dollars, which are 90 percent silver and available from coin dealers and precious-metals websites (silver is currently about $17 an ounce). “My preferred form of precious metal post-financial collapse, that is, besides high-speed lead,” wrote one prepper on SurvivalistBoards.com.

Unlike gold, which is hovering around $1,300 an ounce, these old silver coins come in small enough denominations to barter for a loaf of bread or a socket wrench in an economic “Mad Max” scenario. Even so, some survivalists remain silver skeptics. “For $100, let’s say you get five silver coins,” said an urban preparedness expert who goes by the nom de guerre Selco. “Why not buy 100 cans of soup?”

3. Alt-Currencies for the Apocalypse

Imagine a true economic apocalypse, one that makes the German hyperinflation of the 1920s,…

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