Boom Times

An overview of the US prepping movement from 2012

Meet the preppers, a rattled, robust survivalist movement whose members just hate being called survivalists. Emily Matchar investigates the 21st century’s wildest new apocalyptic scene.

BEING PREPARED is just the sensible thing to do, Scott Hunt tells me. Power outage? Superstorm? Nuclear attack? He’ll be ready. That’s why he has a pickup truck that runs on wood.

Bring it! Scott Hunt on his prepper property in South ­Carolina (Image: B. Finke)

Bring it! Scott Hunt on his prepper property in South ­Carolina (Image: B. Finke)

We’re standing by a toolshed in the backyard of Hunt’s home near Pickens, South Carolina, staring at a tall metal contraption that sits in the rusting bed of a Ford F-100. It’s a generator that can turn wood chips into wood gas, which, in turn, can run an internal combustion engine.

“I look at a tree, I see a battery,” Hunt says amiably, grabbing his yellow Bernzomatic Fat Boy torch and firing up the “gassifier.” He fans the flame with a gush of compressed air and the truck rumbles to life. “It’s my Mad Max backup.”

The 46-year-old Hunt, whose blue polo shirt and neat goatee say soccer dad more than road warrior, believes in backups. He’s got his water supply: a 1,600-gallon spring- and well-fed tank on a hill overlooking his property. He’s got power and heat: an enormous wood-fueled generator, a diesel generator, a propane generator, an old Army immersion heater, solar panels, a wood-burning stove, and solar ovens. There’s food: five rotating vegetable gardens backed by a basement full of canned salmon and refried beans, white and red wheat kernels, potatoes, and dried milk. To turn the wheat into flour, he’s rigged up an old Healthmaster 750 exercycle with a belt and grinding wheel.

“In a grid-down situation,” Hunt says, “I believe you need to be prepared to live like in the 1800s.”

Read more: Outside Online

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