Prepper or Packrat?

No two ways about it, prepping takes up space. Food, water, gear, it all needs a home. That would be no problem if you lived in a 20,000 square foot home, complete with a full basement in which you could have aisles set up to such a degree you’d make Walmart envious. But, I’m betting most of you don’t have that luxury, right?

When we prep, we accumulate a ton of stuff. Sometimes that is by design, such as if we purchase a case lot of canned goods. Other times, we fall into a deal so good, we can’t pass it up. Perhaps we hit a rummage sale and found a guy is selling off all of his grandpa’s camping gear. The prices are outstanding so we snap it up. While we may have planned ahead for those canned goods and cleared out a spot in the pantry for them, suddenly we have a trunk load of tents, sleeping bags, camp stoves, and other goodies that needs to go somewhere. Then, it often becomes a matter of shuffling. Move item A here, B goes over there now, C gets stuffed on this shelf with D and E….

It doesn’t take long before you have very little clue what exactly you have, let alone where it is. Many of us can relate to having to run to the hardware store to pick up a tool to finish a project, only to later discover we already had three of the damn things.

Organization is the key difference between being a prepper or a packrat.

Few of us are probably as organized as we’d like to be but we all could improve at least a bit with just a little effort.

Start small, tackle one room, even one closet, at a time. Make a list of everything you have in that closet, noting quantities, expiration dates if applicable. Take the time to restack items while you’re in there, tidying up the area. Then, move on to the next room or closet and do the same.

Spread this out over the course of a few days or weeks so it doesn’t seem overwhelming.

Once you’ve covered all the storage areas, compile your notes into some sort of master list. I’ve seen people do this one of two ways. Either they create a list by item, such as having a tab for “food” and then list quantities and locations. Or, they go the opposite route and just keep it all organized by location. Either will work, pick whichever one makes the most sense to you.

I highly suggest you keep your inventory using old fashioned paper and pen, rather than on some elaborate computer spreadsheet. If the grid goes down, you still want to be able to access the data. Should you insist on using MS Excel or another computer program for your inventory, do yourself a favor and print out a current copy at least monthly if not weekly, depending on how often you rotate your stockpiles.

Remember, all the preps in the world will do you little good if you can’t find them.