When it comes to readiness for anything that life throws at you, there are survivalists and there are preppers. These terms are often used interchangeably, but they are actually very different. Survivalists and preppers have a common goal for sure, but there are major differences in the overall sentiment and outcome of their behavior.
A Common Bond
There are many commonalities between survivalists and preppers. At their core, both have the similar ideal of being ready for a disaster. Both survivalists and preppers alike spend time and resources to prepare for impending disasters such as major weather events, war, and even statistically unlikely disasters. Both of these types of people have a strong will to live and make preparations for themselves and their families not only to survive a potentially disastrous event, but also after the event. Many of the preparations will involve supplies to allow them to continue to live without aid for an extended period of time.
The difference between them comes down to how seriously they take themselves. Make no mistakes about it: both of these groups of people are quite serious about their preparations for the future safety and comfort of themselves and their families. The core difference is really how seriously they take it, and how extreme their plans and preparations are. There are also differences in how both of these groups prepare for unforeseen events and disasters. For example, one group might stockpile huge amounts of non-perishable foods while the other will have a smaller stockpile and rely heavily on seeds to grow their own food.
Survivalists differ from preppers in the way they make their preparations and their overall idea of surviving after an event. They, for example, tend to look to the Earth and wilderness for much of their survival needs. A survivalist will learn about the area around them and look to live off the land rather than having huge stockpiles. These people will likely hunt, forage, and grow their own food for their survival needs. A survivalist is really exactly what their name suggests. They will do what needs to be done to survive. They do not expect to rely on the comforts of civilized life to sustain them during or in the aftermath of a disastrous event.
Preppers differ from survivalists in how they plan to survive and even thrive after a disaster. They will usually have large stockpiles of supplies, non-perishable foods, and other items that will help them remain safe, alive, and even comfortable during and after such an event. A prepper will typically have a stockpile large enough not only to get them through the event, but large enough to sustain them until rescue. Preppers are usually considered to be the more “serious” or “fervent” in their preparations. This might be because their preparations are often more visible to the people around them. The lengths at which preppers will prepare and stockpile are extremely varied from person to person.
As you have noted, they are different in the way that they make their preparations and their overall ideals for how to survive, but at their core they are very similar. Both groups do the work and planning necessary to ensure that they not only survive a potential disaster, but thrive in the aftermath. What is important is to be prepared when an eventual catastrophe or emergency happens so, survivalist or prepper can survive (and help family and others in your community) no matter what happens.