Preparing for when the SHTF is an interesting and complex question, one I have considered for some time now. Please remember, all standard caveats are in place–I am speaking as and for myself and not claiming any expert status. Adopt these ideas at your own risk.
There are several primary questions to be considered;
- How bad? How much S, what kind of S, and how fast is the F spinning?
- Survive or thrive?
So, for #1, what are you preparing for? Do you anticipate the disruption of infrastructure (power, water, communications, supply deliveries) but a continuation of municipal authority (Police still patrolling/on call, medical services still available as best they can, etc)? Or are you planning for a complete breakdown of infrastructure, technology, and social order? Every person for themselves; root, hog, or die?
Deciding this will tell you what goods and materials (G&M) to prioritize beyond the basics.
#2: Is your goal to survive or thrive? Survival could mean simply having food, water, sanitation, shelter from the elements, and defense. Thriving would include these things plus the ability to engage in useful/productive activities with the goal of improving comfort, security, and longevity, to name a few.
#3: DURATION: How long are you expecting to continue in “prepped” conditions? Are you waiting out a period of disruption, after which life in general will return to a semblance of pre-SHTF conditions? Or are you anticipating a civilization ending paradigm shift in which you will be responsible for ALL your own needs indefinitely, if not forever? Between these two options there is a vast disparity in the type and quantity of G&M to be gathered and stored (and protected).
4: WHERE: Are you planning to shelter in place or would it be better to bug out? If you stay put you mostly have to accumulate and store your G&M and having a way to secure and defend. Bugging out open up many cans of worms, such as: How? By vehicle? On foot? Alone? How far can you go before fuel/security become an issue? How much can you practically carry with you?
These first four questions are the essentials, and the first thing they do is lead to hundreds of more questions dependent on how they are answered. For some years I have engaged in a thought experiment I call “Apocalypse Village”, in which I try to answer these questions and then go on to imagine the necessary preparations to fit the conditions I have settled on.
More later if people are interested in continuing the discussion in depth.