Stealth Prepping: Preparing for the Worst without Raising Suspicion

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Did you know that more and more people are turning to stealth prepping as a way to prepare for unexpected disasters? It’s true: stealth prepping is becoming increasingly popular as a way to build an emergency supply of food, water, and supplies without drawing attention to yourself.


Well, prepper paranoia is a real thing.

Some of us look and live 100% like everyone else. We stay under the radar. You would never know stealth preppers have six months’ worth of stored food, bug-out bags at the ready, and a self-dug well in the backyard. They don’t even want it to be known that they can hunt, field dress an elk, and have a dozen other survival skills. When you watch their lifestyle, it seems carefree and oblivious to anything but enjoying the modern consumer lifestyle.

I’d say they have mastered “stealth prepping” pretty thoroughly. Here’s how you can do it better.

image: woman with curly hair with pointer finger to her lips shushing about stealth prepping and prepping under the radar

What is Stealth Prepping?

Stealth prepping, also called guerilla prepping, is all about learning survival skills and becoming fully prepped, all while staying under the radar. Unless you like the idea of being an obvious prepper and possible target, start thinking about how you might incorporate this concept into your own life and prepping.

To help you get started, everything on this list doubles as a “fad” AND an important survival skill, but not one eyebrow will be raised when you sign up for a class, buy necessary supplies, or start checking out related books at the library. It’s how to prep without drawing attention to the fact that you’re prepping.

Organic Ways to Stay Under the Radar

Organic Gardening

Organic gardening is very trendy right now. Gardening never totally goes out of style, but it seems like more and more people are recognizing the benefits of growing your own food and digging in. No one will give a second thought to you tilling up your soil and starting a garden when everyone else is doing it too.

Install Rain Barrels

If you’ve started a garden, installing rain barrels is the most natural thing in the world. For rain barrels that are incognito, you can install these that look like planters or rocks. Check the laws in your area. As ludicrous as it sounds, it’s illegal to collect rainwater in some places. Ending up in the crosshairs of some municipality’s legal system doesn’t do much to keep you under the radar.

Raise Chickens

Would anyone suspect owning a flock of egg-laying marvels is stealth prepping? Nope! Instead, raising chickens is a huge “fad,” even in upscale circles. Interestingly, this trend seems to be growing despite many HOAs and local governments prohibiting backyard chickens, but that is changing.

Know your local rules before you start, and check out these tips for getting started with chickens. Raising chickens is a fantastic source of both protein and fertilizer. Plus, you can feed them kitchen scraps which means less “information” in your garbage for people to discover. With the current rising cost and scarcity of eggs, backyard chickens is a smart move.

Buy Meat Directly From the Ranch

Buying organic meat directly from a rancher is another trend that doubles as prep. In fact, supply chain issues make it even more logical to stealthily prep in this manner. Not that your neighbors need to know what’s in your freezer, but if you want to stock up on meat and still look like everyone else, buy a whole or half animal from a local rancher. It’s a healthy choice that gets you a LOT of meat all at once. See here for tips on buying straight from the ranch.

If you don’t have enough freezer space, consider canning meat and poultry; it’s a great way to set aside and store extra meat at room temperature and is one of the easiest canning projects there is. With the purchase of a pressure canner and jars, you’re ready to go. This book is one of the best for learning this skill.

Edible Landscapes

Edible landscapes truly are next-level stealth prepping. It’s the ultimate in food camouflage! You can create an edible landscape in one of two ways:

  • Plant flowers, bushes, and trees that are edible, or
  • Plant edible fruits and vegetables amongst your flowers, bushes, and trees to camouflage them.

Either way, the end result is a beautifully landscaped property that can secretly feed you. Creating an edible landscape takes a savvy gardener and a lot of work, but it’s an excellent way to deter people from helping themselves to your garden. Others won’t take what they don’t notice. 

Don’t Be A Couch Prepper, Get Out and Get Healthy

Getting in–and staying in–good physical condition is foundational for any prepper. A short-term emergency, let alone a long-term disruption or true SHTF event, can test even the most physically fit. Sadly, watching survival shows on Netflix doesn’t build our ability to actually survive. Getting in shape is always in style, however, and you’ll have plenty of company while doing it.


Bicycling is a growing sport, and there are many options to help you get on the road: road bikes, mountain bikes, cargo bikes, and ebikes just to name a few. Attach a bike trailer or saddlebags, and your bike is perfect for stealth bugging out. Learn more about using your bicycle for cargo and transportation here.


Yoga improves your health, fitness, agility, and even mental focus. In a crisis, such things count. And talk about a fad!


Hiking not only gets you in shape, but it also builds confidence in new environments. Where I live, nearly everyone hikes on a regular basis, so I fit right in when I go out on the trail. And knowing your way around maps, trails, and wilderness improves self-reliance. So do yourself a favor and get out on the trail, build up some endurance and break in those hiking boots before you need them for bugging out. Bonus: you can bring along the First Aid Kit you put together.


Foraging is identifying and harvesting wild, edible plants. As such, this is the perfect activity to engage in while hiking. Consult a book or app to help you learn about common edible plants in your area. Learn more about foraging here.


Camping (and by camping, I mean out in the wild with a tent and a fire) is great fun and comes with several prepper perks. For example, a camping family can:

  • acquire survival gear without seeming strange,
  • learn to actually USE said camping gear, and
  • naturally acquire survival skills.

Done properly, camping is the best training available for living without electricity or running water and cooking on a camp stove or open fire. And it’s the perfect way to stay under the radar while also learning to build fires, use axes and knives, and find ways to weather the elements.

Acquiring these skills before a crisis will flatten your learning curve during an actual event. Also, camping gear is eminently helpful for a range of catastrophic events: sleepovers, blizzards, ice storms, power outages, and, of course, SHTF scenarios.


Orienteering is an activity during which you use a compass and paper map to navigate an outdoor course. It is a fun prepping under the radar type of activity that teaches map and compass skills. All the more important because in the Age of Siri and Google, map and compass skills–once considered basic life skills–are dying.

Why not engage your whole family in learning these skills before they are needed? To make it more interesting, there are permanent courses and competitive events for orienteering all over the country.

Extreme Sports

Extreme sports such as rock climbing, cave exploring, glacier hiking, cross-country skiing, fishing, kayaking, etc., can take your survival skills and physical fitness to the next level.

Try A New Stealth Prepping “Hobby”

Everyone has a hobby or two. Just make your hobbies a skill you can use in a grid-down situation. Find a whole slew of hobbies here. Some ideas are:

Wilderness First Aid

Take a wilderness first aid class. REI offers this class on a regular basis at their stores. If the “cool kids” are all getting into extreme outdoor sports/adventuring, it’s the perfect cover for a prepper.

Learn Herbalism

If you and your family are like most Americans, you are way too dependent on the medical and pharmaceutical industries. What if you could decrease that dependence by learning how to stay healthy, treat simple maladies, and improve overall wellness with herbalism? This is a great way to increase your level of self-reliance and stealth prepping. The Herbal Academy is a trusted source of training and information with courses at different levels.

Start “Antiquing”

Shop estate sales & auctions to find high-quality tools and supplies. You may even find items like washboards, hand-cranked grain mills, and other pre-electric appliances. No one will suspect you’re prepping under the radar, because you’ll look like every other average person out there looking for a good deal. And unless they follow you home, no one knows where you live. Just don’t go too crazy, or you may end up as the neighborhood hoarder. It’s stealth prepping in plain sight.

Conduct “Climate Conscious” Stealth Prepping

Put Solar Panels on Your House or Barn

Adding solar panels to your house or barn will get you plenty of pats on the back from the green crowd while edging you closer to being off-grid. The battery bank you installed allowing you to be off-grid during a power outage does not need to be discussed. Obviously, it’s not cheap to install solar panels, but credits from governments and power companies can help, and they do pay for themselves over time.

Take Up Beekeeping

Beekeeping in your backyard is a sweet way to fit in with the environmental crowd while furthering your long-term preparedness. Bee Colony Collapse Disorder is a real thing affecting honeybee hives all over the country, so backyard beekeepers are essential for keeping up bee populations. Therefore, starting a hive or two in your backyard will garner you both accolades and honey. To help you get started, see Beekeeping for Beginners.

Next Level Stealth Prepping

Build an Outdoor Kitchen

Few people will think prepping when you say “outdoor pizza oven.” And as it turns out, you can be all about raising your property values while pursuing your prepping goals. Outdoor kitchens are a huge trend, especially at the high end of real estate. And they make under the radar off-grid cooking easy-peasy. Begin building and using one, and no one will ever know it’s your EMP survival plan being activated! It’s guerrilla prepping at its finest.

Create a “Water Feature” on Your Property

The soothing hum of a small waterfall or the irresistible lure of koi swimming in a pond can do wonders to upgrade your property. The fact that they are also extra sources of water and (possibly) food in an emergency does not need to be discussed with your neighbors. You may even inspire inadvertent prepping in your community. Learn about ponds as emergency water here.

Prepping in Plain Sight

Guerrilla prepping is really about keeping your preps on the down low by finding a good cover story for what you are doing. If you want to share what you’re doing with neighbors to encourage them to think about being prepared, by all means do so. But for any judgey or nosey people in your life, you can easily appear as trendy as they are while still staying under the radar.

Perhaps you have a different problem. Perhaps your partner doesn’t share your belief in the need for preparedness. If that’s you, read this post for some ideas about how you can still take preparedness steps and woo your partner to the “prepping side.”

What are ways that you keep your prepping under the radar?

4 thoughts on “Stealth Prepping: Preparing for the Worst without Raising Suspicion”

  1. Dear Valerie
    Since “law school warps your brain”* I think you’ve done a good job of changing the focus of prepping from “doomsday” to “do it today”.
    And as another former home school mom I like the various options you’ve given.
    *been there done that. And have the licenses to prove it.
    Nice to know I’m not the only one.

  2. As most preppers know, or should know, you can’t do it alone! The lone wolf mindset is suicidal! So, with that in mind, what is a person to do? Even stealth prepping while keeping just family in the loop is problematic. If like me you’re a prepper with no family in the immediate area, the problems are magnified three or fourfold. Prior to moving to my current digs, I was a prepper allied with ONE single friend and the family I had in the area. Family finally decided I was in need of a tin foil hat and pulled back, opsec took a hit. Then the friend, who was privy to literally everything I was about decided to get out of prepping. He gave all his food stuff and gear away, sold his guns and ammo, and quit everything about prepping. Maybe he went deep stealth, but he fooled me if he did. I often wondered how much he shared with others, but it was a moot point because I moved to another state. I was cautious about who I confided in or befriended, but again, a lone wolf is not good. I made the acquaintance of a dedicated prepper, and I groomed another individual in the prepper life. He took to it like a duck to water, and we became a group of three. While I never shared everything with either person, the one I groomed suddenly went off the rails, and quit speaking or having any contact with me or the other party. No idea why, I never bothered to ask what he was up to. At least I didn’t share everything with him. I’m definitely in stealth mode now, but…….if the shtf he had better not come around looking to get together…….

  3. I think one of the greatest ways to be stealth mode is to align interests with certain friends. Your gardening friends, your hiking friends, your shooting range friends, your canning friends, etc. This way, you are not alone in the skill or allies, but no-one outside your home really needs to know everything and how it all comes together for your plan.

    And a pond is great for other fish than koi. We plan to have tilapia, crawdads and edible plants in our future pond. Just like with plants, think of each space as doing double duty.

    Additional “fad” hobbies with prepper ramifications include archery or air soft, seed collecting, home renovation/DIY building, hunting, raising rabbits or quail, cooking and baking (from scratch), making cheese… The list goes on and on.

    I am often asked why I can, garden, bake, etc… For me, i’m allergic to corn and soy, it made sense to take control of my health. And taking control of your health is such a great reason to stop everyone from saying or asking anything. 🙂

  4. I’m total stealth. If anyone asks I have enough for our household for a few days. We are in hurricane alley, so having supplies is or should be normal. I’m retired LEO. Anybody who comes for my stuff gets made dead. Period. I worked in Miami. Violence is known to me. Survival of the fittest means just that. If it’s me or someone else. Bye, bye to them. Reading Forstchen’s One second after series (3 books) should be a requirement. Also, Ted Koppel’s book, Lights out. His book is not political. Both were written about 2015 and seem current to today!
    Ask any combat vet or police officer who was in tough situations. “Nice” doesn’t cut it. You have to survive.

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