Skills and Knowledge That Make Preppers Resilient and Self-Reliant

What would you say if I told you that the most valuable prepping tool you can have is actually free? Not only is it free, but it has an indefinite shelf life and is 100 percent portable.

What is the most valuable prepping tool for emergency preparedness? The most valuable preparedness tool is knowledge. The skills and knowledge you attain will never spoil, require no storage space, weigh nothing at all, are not at risk of being stolen or destroyed, and are completely portable.

I recently had a conversation with a very wise woman that goes by the name “Bear River Mama.” She shared the following:

“I think knowledge is the greatest prep we can stockpile because it is the one thing that can never be lost, stolen, destroyed or go out of date. I think of it like this, if I can’t ever go to the store again, how do I make cleaning products, clothing, tools, food, and … well … everything that we need to live?

I love to learn new skills and once I feel I have grasped a good basic knowledge, I pick a new skill to explore and learn. Knowledge is free, you never run out of space to store it, and you can take it anywhere.”

Bear River Mama

Thank you Bear River Mama for sharing those profound words of wisdom.

Now that we have established just how important knowledge is, let us review some of the knowledge and skills that every good prepper should work to acquire.

How Basic Skills Can Help When Disaster Strikes

Skills are something that money can’t buy. Only time and experience can provide you with this incredibly valuable resource. Skills give you the power to trade or acquire needed supplies by providing a necessary service to others.

When you barter with goods, you may eventually run short. On the other hand, your skills are limited only by the hours you have in a day to offer them in trade.

Building your own skillset will make you less dependent on the knowledge and skills of others and you will become more resilient and self-reliant.

Self-reliance will enable you to better weather the storms of life and lessen the impact that social, economic, and environmental factors play in your life.

Now let’s explore some skills that you may want to add to your list to increase your resilience.

Mental Power

The thought processes that take place in your brain will have an enormous impact on your level of success and happiness today as well as when disaster strikes. Maintaining a positive, can-do attitude is an important skill that is sometimes overlooked. Of all of the survival skills we consider, I think this one is the most critical to your survival in challenging times.

Positive mental attitude skills may encompass these basic mindsets:

  • Hope in a brighter tomorrow.
  • Creative thinking that enables you to look outside the box to find workable solutions.
  • Willpower to continue to put one foot in front of the other when you feel unable to take another step.
  • Determination to make the best of hard times and to help others.
  • Talent to willingly adapt to changes in life and make the best of things.
  • Ability to remain calm and in control of your emotions during high-stress events.
  • Willingness to cooperate with others, openly listen to opinions, lead as appropriate, and follow as needed.
  • Decision-making skills including the ability to evaluate problems, explore possible solutions, and implement appropriate actions in a timely manner.
  • The desire for self-improvement and allowing ourselves to learn from mistakes (ours and others) and recognize our potential.
  • Every day I will be a little bit better than I was the day before.

The list goes on but these examples illustrate my point. You have to work hard to develop these mental skills. It takes practice and repeated self-coaching. Master a positive mental attitude and you can do anything.

Physical Strength and Endurance

Your body is an important asset. It is important that you take the time and resources that are required to become as strong and healthy as you are able.

How can you take your current physical condition and increase your level of fitness, endurance, strength, flexibility, balance, and health? Many crisis scenarios will place additional physical demands on you. Set a few realistic goals and take your body to the next level of fitness so that you can better enjoy today and tomorrow.

Ability to Work Hard

Hard work can be a great source of satisfaction in life. However, sometimes our society does not promote or provide good opportunities for hard physical work. Digital entertainment is often chosen over physical labor.

Find ways to nurture the love of hard work. Learn to take pride in a job well-done and sacrifice for the good of others. As challenging times knock on your door, the ability to work hard will reduce the impact many of those challenges have on your family. You may want to check out our post, Raising Confident Self-Reliant Kid Preppers for a few ideas.

Food Storage Acquisition and Management

One of the best ways to protect your family from economic downturns, food shortages, and unexpected challenges is to build a family food store in your own home. This actually takes quite a bit of practice and skill even though it is a physical resource you are building.

It takes skill to learn what foods to store and how to store them. The inventory in your food storage needs to be effectively managed in order to ensure that you have what you need when you need it. Learn how to start building your food supply here.

Food Production

The ability to produce your own food is a basic survival skill that allows you to control your food source and produce delicious fresh organic foods. Some skills related to home food production include; gardening, farming, horticulture, permaculture, composting, seed saving, beekeeping, and organic pest control. Check out our post, The Best Strategies for Growing a Reliable Survival Garden.

Once the food is grown, food preservations skills come in to play. Dehydrating, bottling or canning, freeze-drying, cold storage (root cellar management), fermentation, salting, smoking, curing, drying meats, liquor distillation, and other techniques extend the life of the foods you produce.

Foraging skills including plant identification and how to identify poisonous plants is a valuable survival skill.

Meat Procurement

The ability to procure meat is essential to provide fats in a survival diet. The ability to raise and harvest chickens, rabbits, and livestock are all valuable skills. Other skills that are valuable include hunting, tracking, fishing, trapping, archery, blow darts, butchering, tanning hides, and leatherworking.

Nutritional Management

It takes a bit of knowledge and skill to learn how to maintain optimal health. Understanding basic nutritional needs and implementing them in your everyday diet can help you to avoid many diseases as well as maintain optimal health.

Basic Cooking

Cooking with basic food storage and garden produce is very different from picking up dinner at a local drive-through restaurant. Cooking with basic food storage, baking, bread making, cheese making, yogurt making, slow cooking, and pressure cooking are all great skills that can help you create delicious meals with basic staple ingredients.

Alternative Energy Cooking

The ability to cook during a power outage using alternative cooking methods is a fantastic skill to acquire. Some of these methods might include cooking over an open fire, Dutch oven cooking, barbequing, solar cooking, retained heat or thermal cooking, cooking on a wood-burning stove, and cooking on a rocket stove.

Water Procurement and Purification

Water is critical to survival. Every family member should work on building these basic skills regarding water.

  • Water storage and use. How to build a safe water storage program at home including initial storage, disinfection, and accessing and using the water during a disaster. For ideas to get you started click here.
  • Water disinfection and purification. How to disinfect and filter water to ensure it is safe to drink. Learn a variety of techniques to ensure you can create safe drinking water with limited resources. Start by reading, Making Water Safe to Drink: 17 Potential Sources.


The ability to look, feel, and smell clean is a skill that all of those around you will appreciate. Emergency sanitation skills include personal hygiene skills with a limited water supply.

Learn how to wash clothes by hand and use a solar dryer (in other words, the traditional clothesline) to dry your clothes. Learn how to keep your home clean and sanitize surfaces to prevent the spreading of germs. Safe disposal of garbage and human waste are important skills.

One skill in this area which may save you money or bring in a little extra cash is that of a barber or beautician.

Basic Survival

Some good basic survival skills include camping, backpacking, and swimming. Learn basic shelter construction and how to prevent hypothermia (low body temperature) or hyperthermia (high body temperature) when out in the wilderness.

Daddy and Daughters Backpacking

Communication Skills

Good communication skills are a requirement for almost all jobs as well as for success in your interaction with others. You must perfect both verbal and written communication skills. Critical disaster preparedness communication skills include:

  • Receiving important communications from others including updates from authorities.
  • Sending communications to others to get help or to pass along critical information.
  • Communication devices; how to use, maintain, power, limitations, and troubleshoot.

Our list of communication skills worth exploring include:

  • Amateur radio, also known as ham radio. The use of amateur radio equipment requires a license which can be easily obtained by taking a class and passing a test. The world of ham radio operators is full of helpful people who are willing to take rookies under their wing and teach them the ropes. With the right equipment, you can talk around the world and send and receive valuable information.
  • Social media can be a vital form of communication during disasters. It is possible for family members to leave a message stating where they are and where they are headed when they have an opportunity to use a computer or phone. This has been proven to be quite effective in recent events.
  • Computer use is an essential skill in our modern world. Emails, chat, social media, and VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) can all be effective ways to communicate. Brush up on your computer communication skills and set up the necessary software and contacts in order to be able to make the best use of these tools.
  • Survival communication techniques such as Morse code, smoke signals, signaling mirrors, and use of whistles may be important skills in some situations.
  • Foreign language skills may come in handy in a variety of situations. Everyone should do what they can to pick up basic communication skills in a foreign language if possible.


Self-defense is a necessary skill set to obtain in order to keep yourself and your family safe. There are a variety of self-defense skills and you need to select the skills that are appropriate for you and your circumstances.

Self-defense skills you may want to consider include weapons training, tactical defense, martial arts, kickboxing, weapon construction, situational awareness, strategic thinking, and marksmanship.

Home Security

Learn how to secure your home and create a fortress without it looking like a fortress. Understand how to operate the security system you have in place. Evaluate your weak points and turn them into strengths. Learn how to manage your lighting even during a power outage.

Medical Intervention

Health is a top priority. Each of us must clearly understand how to provide medical treatment and first aid when medical help is unavailable. Consider building skills in each of these areas and others that make sense:

  • First aid
  • Emergency hydration
  • Suturing
  • Cold and flu treatment
  • Allergic reaction protocol
  • Snakebite treatment
  • Spider and insect bite treatment
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Rescue breathing
  • Basic life support
  • Herbal medicine and natural remedies
  • Home treatment and remedies
  • Hypothermia (cold) and hyperthermia (heat) prevention and treatment

Fuel and Fire Management Skills

Fire management is another basic skill that everyone should master. It is important to have the knowledge and skills to start a fire using a variety of ignition sources. Understanding the basics of the fire triangle (fuel, oxygen, and heat) is foundational knowledge needed in order to safely manage or extinguish a fire.

The safe storage and use of fuel is an important skill for the entire family to learn. Practice fuel conservation skills so that you can do more with less. Learn to safely use alternative heating methods so that you can stay warm during a power outage. Learn to make your own charcoal.


You can save a lot of money if you take the time to learn basic handyman and mechanical skills. Some of these skills include basic home repair, plumbing, electrical, welding, carpentry, woodworking, whittling, knife sharpening, blacksmithing, toolmaking, tinsmithing, working with clay, making cordage or rope, knot tying, basic mechanical skills, vehicle repair, generator or pump repair, and the list goes on and on.


Good negotiation skills are definitely an art form and they take time and practice to master. These are the skills that just may save a life by de-escalating a dangerous situation.

Relationship skills may include; bartering, conflict resolution, sharing, basic negotiation skills, good interpersonal skills, building community relationships, establishing an honorable reputation, and social interaction skills.


Homemaking skills were once commonplace in homes a hundred years ago. They are the basic skills needed to take care of the home and those that live in it.

Clothing construction, soap making, candle making, sewing, mending, knitting, crocheting, shoemaking, shoe repair, weaving, spinning, and creating natural cleaning products are all examples of valuable homemaking skills.

Financial Management

Financial management is a basic life skill that makes an incredible difference in the quality of your life. Learn money management skills including; saving, living within a budget and developing streams of income to make your income a little more resilient.

Practice frugality by learning how to upcycle, reuse, recycle, and make do with what you have. Learn to be satisfied with less. Check out our post, 12 Ways to Prepare to Survive an Economic Collapse.

Renewable Energy Management

The advancement in technology has given us a variety of great new tools that greatly simplify our lives. Building skills around solar and wind energy and other renewables can make a tremendous difference for you and others.


The ability to safely transport both people and supplies is an important skill. You may just take some of these skills for granted.

Examples of transportation skills include: driving a car, commercial driver’s license, operating a motorcycle, driving an off-road vehicle, driving an electric golf-cart, riding a bicycle, riding a horse, driving a wagon, operating heavy equipment, and the list goes on.

Clearly understanding how to safely operate and maintain your choice of transportation is a great skill to master.


Don’t forget to add relaxation skills to your to-do list. Life is full of challenges and we need to learn to relax to prevent our minds and bodies from becoming overstressed. What ways do you manage your stress?

Hobbies, yoga, meditation, massage, music, relaxing on a porch swing, taking a hot bath, or watching fish swim back and forth in a tank are all examples of relaxation techniques. Whatever relaxation techniques are the most effective for you, be sure to take time to develop those skills.

Playing musical instruments is a great way to regulate emotions. They can be used to create a calm, soothing mood or give us a reason to dance and celebrate. Another skill you just might want to consider.


Siri is a wonderful tool to help you navigate your way. However, she may not always have your back. It is important to develop basic navigation skills such as map reading, celestial navigation, orienteering, GPS use, compass use, scouting, and piloting.

Make Time to Explore and Develop New Skills

Don’t be overwhelmed by this long list of valuable knowledge and skills. You don’t need to have all of these skills. Make a list of skills that you already have. Are there any of them that you might want to improve or brush up on? Next, decide on a couple of new skills that you would like to acquire.

Many important skills can be learned as a family while having fun and building relationships. Camping is a great example of that. Remember, the more valuable skills you have, the more self-reliant you will become. The knowledge and skills will help you to handle the challenges that life throws your way.

What new skill do you want to work on building today?

Thanks for being part of the solution!

Jonathan and Kylene Jones


Kylene Jones is a blogger, content creator, published author, motivational speaker, homesteader, prepper, mother, and grandmother. She practices self-reliance, provident living, and emergency preparedness in her everyday life. She loves working with her husband, Jonathan, and is committed to helping our community be prepared to thrive during the challenges that lie in our future.

Recent Posts