Hoarding versus Prepping


Here’s a line that might be typical from the mainstream: “Those crazy hoarding prepper’s!”

The action of building a deep inventory of consumables (among other practical items) by “prepper’s” is often entirely confused by the mainstream with the word, ‘hoarding’. People often believe that prepper and hoarder are synonymous. If someone has extra ‘stuff’ beyond what they consider ‘normal’, they must be a hoarder. Right?


A definition of hoarding:
Hoarding is the excessive and often compulsive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them. Hoarding often creates such cramped living conditions that homes may be filled to capacity, with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter. A hoarder will buy or acquire things not necessarily associated with any practicality, rationale, or logical reason. It is a compulsive disorder.

A definition of prepping:
Prepping, in part, includes the acquisition of extra consumables and supplies that are stored for rotation and/or for future use, and is considered an insurance policy of sorts for maintaining a level of survival during a disruptive or disastrous period of time. A prepper is building supplies with a practical purpose.

A non-prepper may consider a prepper to be a hoarder if they walk into their house and see ‘extra stuff’ in plain sight. Because it seems out of the ordinary, they may presume the prepper to be a hoarder. In reality though, if they took a hard look at the prepper’s stuff, it will usually make sense – extra food storage and somewhat normal supplies. A hoarders stuff will often appear cluttered and irrelevant to everyday use or preparedness.

Another definition of someone who is hoarding may be someone who grabs as much of a particular supply (food, gas, water, whatever) DURING a period of shortage. A prepper, on the other hand, is someone who buys/acquires those supplies when there is NO shortage. Big difference – the prepper is not taking a limited supply item out of circulation at a time of others’ needs, whereas the hoarder is doing just that.

That all said, the big problem for prepper’s is that during a period of shortage/emergency, just the fact that they have a plentiful supply will automatically (in the minds of others) make them a hoarder. All the more reason to exercise as much OPSEC (operational security) as possible at all times, not just when there’s a problem. That “friend” you told about all of your food stores or (whatever else) may be the first to show up at your door for a handout (having not prepared him/herself), probably with lots of his/her loved ones, and will be the first to rat you out if you don’t share equally.

…food for thought.


  1. “A hoarder will buy or acquire things not necessarily associated with any practicality, rationale, or logical reason.”

    Okay, I must be a hoarding Prepper. I frequently buy foods that we should not be eating on the off chance that we will be responsible for family that may end up staying with us. :)

    1. @PG, But your reason is logical and rational (buying for family) – so you don’t fit the definition ;)

  2. We often buy and stock what we call decoy food supplies. We keep them stocked in the normal fashion while our real food supply is located elsewhere.

  3. Had an interesting conversation with a student prepper I’m mentoring somewhat (someone I trust). When we first started I asked him how much Insurance he was paying for a month, $450 on vehicle (4 vehicles), $1200 on medical family, $100 on home and fire, $50 on personal liability. So around $1800 on Insurances for his family of 5 per month.

    Now that’s a LOT of dang money. Next I asked if he had ever collected on any of those insurances…… NADA dime over the last 10 years except for a couple of doctor visits (kids ya know). We’re talking $216 THOUSAND over the past 10 years. I called him an Insurance Hoarder, he got the message.

    Now I understand the need for Insurance, but I also convinced him to have Preps for his family if the JIT crashes (after explaining what JIT was of course) or what would happen if he lost his job, the economy collapse, so on and so on. The discussion to show some people what it really means to be prepared is an easy one, but it can also be rather dangerous. Know when to keep your mouth shut, and when and who you can trust and help. OPSEC.

    Personally I boarder-line on Hoarding, When I see a GREAT sale on item I want for my preps, I buy a LOT, LOT, LOT of them Such as Ken’s article on candles, I just HAD to have 216 10-hour burn candles HAHAHA, So I guess I’m guilty as charged and if the .gov wants to confiscate my hoarded candles they can pull them out of the fire when I see them coming.

    For I’ll be damn if some bureaucratic POS is going to decide to take what they think is theirs. Not that I don’t trust the .gov now…… “we’re from the government, we’re here to help you”, truer lies have never been spoken.

    Finally Ken is right, don’t be a Hoarder, be a Prepper, organize your mess and do an inventory so you can find those 216 candles. :-) :-) :-)

    1. Ha Ha NRP. I guess every prepper has to have a bit of a hoarder in them to be successful, but heck, that’s a lot of candles. Just about rivals our 50 pounds of cheese.

      1. @ Peanut Gallery
        Cheese?? did you mention Cheese?? I can see 50# of Cheese coming soon :-) :-)

        1. Just ordered 60 lb wheel of Romano cheese. We go through one a year so I get the cheese “hoarding”….but interesting point: this year it was hard to come by and the price had greatly increased. We buy it this way because it is normally half the price of buying a few pounds at a time. It can be cut and waxed and stay good for well over a year.

          Our grandmother said they used to always have a wheel that was covered with an oiled clothe to keep it “fresh”. It was kept in the basement with their huge poundage of sugar and flour.

        2. Dang Damed in NY, that’s even more cheese than we get. We also keep ours waxed and in the basement.

  4. The definition of hoarding according to several dictionaries used to mean ‘putting a large amount of “valuables” in a safe guarded or hidden place, or having a large amount of valuables in a safe, guarded or hidden place.’

    Nowadays “hoarding” has been converted to mean anything not hidden with non-valuables and trash, along with the new meaning “the socialist envy of greed” against those who have stored valuables. It has been viewed by those “have-nots” to mean a bad word.

    I see where “prepping” replaced the new modern version of the word hoarding, and now that has been turned to a bad word as well by the have-nots, especially socialist government and non-prepping societies.

    But in the “true” meaning of the word, I come from a family of hoarding. My ancestors stocked up on food and supplies being pioneers where stores were far away and hard to find. They stored tons of grain and hay to feed their livestock and families of 10 to 13 kids, canned their produce, had fruit cellars to preserve fresh produce just to survive the 3 seasons until harvest season starts.

    It was required of miners traveling to pan gold in the Yukon and Alaska to have a years worth of food with them. It is still done today with those who live far away in the wilderness and above the arctic circle.

    Native Americans also hoarded food they preserved to survive harsh winters. Those in my area still hoard their wild rice to last them for the year until rice harvesting season starts again.

    The original meaning of “Hoarding” is a way of life, and the government is against it, even though it has been stored long before a crisis. This is socialist envy at it’s worst, and why modern preppers should hide their “hoards” of food and valuables and keep it to themselves.

    1. It’s yet another example of the mainstream (and .gov) twisting and changing the meaning of a word or phrase – so as to further their agenda of dependence, subservience, and control.

    2. Many Americans’ definition of rich is anyone who has a dollar more than they do.

      1. The funny thing is, they don’t equate “less debt” with “more money.” If you have less debt you are obviously incapable of getting loans and therefore poor and a bad money manager. Weird, but that’s the way it seems to work in the minds of many sheeple.

        1. Your’e right, even banks won’t loan you money if you have no large CC or loan debts to pay and pay cash for all your regular bills on time. It is an oxymoron.

        2. They look at the available credit on the credit cards. If you have no credit cards it works against you on your credit rating, which can affect you obtaining a loan. It is all about your overall debt ration to your available credit. Unlike the old day it is recommended that you not ever close a credit card account because it drops your credit rating. Crazy but true!!!

  5. I love being self reliant. I just brought up a qt. of canned sour cherries from 2012. For the last 2 years there have not been any cherries from our local orchard but I still have some from 12 & 13. The 12’s got mixed in with the 13’s. Does that make me a H word. Really though that is how we survive here. When the harvest is bountiful preserve lots because we know in our climate there are both abundance & nothing. That is how people that depend on the store should think also.

  6. This is to inform you that prepper pam has passed on. She willed all her prep stuff to her low life cheating ex-husband. The federal government should be told that he now has a ton of stuff but that he is a huge liar and will claim he never got any of her stuff. They should expect to waterboard him if they want any info. (PS to all my good friends on this website. I probably can be found on some Caribbean island) but don’t tell the feds. Thought ya all could use a good laugh as the topic has been a bit depressing.

    1. Pam, who got the boat? I was kind of reminded of a guy in San Francisco who ran off with his secretary. Wrote his wife and said sell the boat, you keep half. She sold the $100,000.00 boat for a grand and sent him $500.00. Back to the topic, wife thinks I’m a hoarder and preferred it when we had very little and lived aboard our little sloop in Mexico. Now that I’m on land I have too much stuff in her eyes and the garden “anchors us” to our land. Yet she doesn’t want to sail anymore either.

        1. Actually the boat was a marital asset. He got it in the divorce and sold
          it at huge loss because he wanted out quickly. And who says there isn’t justice. His justice went right to the bottom line.

          He thought I was going to take it so he got an appraisal that was well in excess of its worth. Then when he got stuck with it.. he wanted out quickly and took the huge loss. Only down side is that I really loved that boat. Oh well, one can always buy another boat. And I did get justice. Never underestimate a determined woman. :-) Sorry to be off topic Ken.

      1. Yea my live-in gf of 17 years thinks I’m a nut job, too much stuff, never mind that it is all part of a fully equipped wood shop, full compliment of welding equipment, leather tools and hides and rolls of canvas and sewing machines and such or enough carpentry tools and farming stuff to choke a high-school shop class.
        But yea, its just stuff to her.

    2. @PrepperPam
      My condolences on your loss of PrepperPam, not a “trick that’s easy to partake, have known a couple of people that tried. First was caught by the wonderful IRS, was his own stupidity though, hard to be dead and still get a SS and a disability check each month. The second owed some “not so nice” people a LOT of money; let’s just say he got his wish of being “not of this earth” anymore a second time. And people say ya can’t attend a funeral twice… hummmm bummer I guess.

      If ya happen to find that Caribbean Island, give me a call, I can build a hell of a bullet proof Bungalow HAHAHA.

      FYI, waterboarding??? Naw, once you’re missing a few finger and toenails he’ll tell em anything they want to hear, guaranteed.

      Either than that…. What could ever possibly go wrong?

      1. Hey NRP Ya got a deal! If I ever do buy some land on a Caribbean Island,
        you will be the first to know. :-)

    3. @The late Prepper Pam, thanks for the laugh! If anyone wants to confiscate your “hoard” of food and other items we’ll direct them to the ex, and let them know that they can interrogate him at will since he will stubbornly deny that he has any preps!

      Meantime, I will continue to prepare and know that I am being smart about what we have stored. I refuse to think of myself as a hoarder – preparing, yes… hoarding… NO!

  7. All my closets and shelves are full to capacity. I keep having to reorganize to add to my hoard. I breathe fire from time to time, so that’s two points toward proof that I’m a dragon. Now all I need is a cave to keep my hoard in. :)

    1. Me, too Lauren. We are very tight for space… I mean really tight. I am starting to think more creatively about how to store, and I keep moving and shuffling things trying to make the most of the space we have. As we accumulate a larger food supply I am going to have to really buckle down on what stays and what goes.

    2. Hey, space is a premium for me too currently. I’ve seen several YouTube videos on some people’s creativity in hiding/storing preps.

      One guy rebuilt his bed frame to hold the big 5-6 gal buckets underneath. You’d never know to look at it, but had nearly 20 of those buckets under there.

      I’ve got LTS food waiting for canning in those rolling under bed totes stashed under tall furniture. Once repackaged they’ll go to the basement to keep cooler.

      Check YouTube for some ideas, there’s lots out there :)

  8. The term “hoarder” is someone who acquires many items that are similar or the same but doesn’t really need or use those items. A “collector” is someone who acquires many items that are similar or the same but doesn’t really need or use those items. It’s a viewpoint that is defined differently by the observer and the acquirer.

    Both the “hoarder” and the “collector” have value attached to the items, but the terms are bandied around so much that one can be a negative term while the other (“collector”) can be construed as an eccentric pastime or even a profession. Being a “hoarder” can have a social stigma attached and as such, the matrix is indoctrinating people to not accept them in proper society. Same with being a “prepper”. But, in general, being a “collector” is acceptable, sometimes even envied.

    All of them are nothing more than adjectives or nouns. If we start to get rattled by the “collection” of negative-names that the govt. is using to pidgeon-hole a segment of society, then we need to understand that it is that same govt that FEARS us.

    Remember, this is the same govt that has unconstitutionally declared “hate speech” to be a law, that we have safe zones where “free speech” is not permitted, that “bullying” is punishable by law, and that people are free to IDENTIFY with whatever sub-group or tribe or sex they want to.

    So let the name-calling continue. Those who engage in this practice show their hand and it’s weak. They have nothing to play and resort to name-calling. There is sooo much more to worry about than another adjective that dot-gov throws our way.

    1. Re-use and re-purpose everything as part of the “green movement”. Just be saving as not to waste…and don’t leave any big containers out, only enough for the week/or a few days…flower in a canister a bit of sugar in another…milk out of date in can… several cans out of date…

  9. So is it prepping or hoarding if you can safely bury food and supplies underground? I can’t find any articles on how to do this. I have a lot of land, no basement and my water table is high. I have a small house and would like a safe cache.

    1. @lilangelsmom
      I think that’s called squirreling something away :-)

    2. you could dig under foundation and place sealed/waterproofed/ containers under the ground. Vacume pack it all to save space, and pack it tight!..and not worry about it…could also use pvc pipe tubing, with sealed ends.. There is space…in between studs in closets, bathrooms, bedrooms..in between the rafters,

    3. all in tightly sealed / vacuum packed/ water proof containers

      -crawl space?
      -lots of land? — create a hill
      -build a monument to something – make it hollow – put in stores
      -any hollow trees on all that land?

    4. You can build a raised bed to plant veggies. Build it high enough in order to bury your supplies in the bottom of the bed. This way it will stay above your high water table but still be buried.

      1. Thank you for the ideas. The raised beds sounds good. What would I put them in to be rodent water free. I’m looking to store grains, veggies. Stuff like that. Maybe freeze dried stuff. Just as insurance but what can not be found by intruders if they take over my house. I don’t want to put in my attic as it can get to 120 degrees. And what if the .gov looks for things to be in my walls? Not paranoid but I’ve seen a lot of those postings.

        1. A couple of ways you can do it. First, PVC pipe with end caps sealed will keep water out, so you can pretty much put anything in them. Canned goods (unless you worry about people with metal detectors), freeze dried foods, and prepackaged foods that are at least double wrapped in plastic. If you are worried about critters chewing through the PVC you can always brush a mixture on cayenne and water all over the outside of the PVC tube. I would take one PVC tube and cut it in half or thirds. It’s better to have several small caches versus one large one. In case one or two do get compromised, you most likely will still find some intact.

  10. Most Bible famines lasted 7 years. At l pound of food per day that’s about 1 1/4 tons per person. Add in the number of persons say 5 and that’s 5 tons of food. Should one count on gardens and animals for food, if say, the earth and atmosphere is contaminated or if the animals all die? I don’t have the answer. It’s a lot of food. Keep in mind the tribulation is 7 years so the famine could be joined to the tribulation for 7 years. Something to think about.

    1. I mean 6 1/4 tons of food for 5 people for 7 years. One famine in the Bible prices became $500.00 for a donkey head and $35.00 for a cup of pigeon droppings. These prices are based upon current silver prices which are depressed and below production costs. So these prices are the minimum prices one could expect to pay.

      Also, please keep in mind the Bible states this tribulation will be worse than any former or future famines so to compare past famines from the Bible is somewhat appropriate. Also Revelation says 2 quarts of wheat will sell for a days wages. A days gross wages at McDonald’s is about $64.00. Right now you can buy the same wheat based upon commodity prices for well under a US dollar.

      Some would say we are not going through the tribulation as believers, but I personally disagree. Take a look at Mark chapter 13. It’s the most clear passage. Best to everyone. Sorry for the poor sentence structures. I was in a hurry.

    2. One thing to remember about those Bible famines is that they often coincided with wars where the enemy was destroying the crops or the army taking them for their own use. When that happened, it took years to build up to “normal” crops again. If they hadn’t kept seeds, they then needed to import or purchase seeds so they could plant, putting them two + years behind in normal production.

  11. Ken,

    Do you have any thoughts about the possibility of the .gov finding out from suppliers or shippers who has been ordering long term storage?


  12. I was able to haul away an overloaded (way overloaded) full size truckload of from a friends father in-law. He was going to a home, and was a a 20 plus year prepper. #10 cans, commercially packed, MREs, ext.. My friend just didn’t want it to go to waste.

    I am opening cans of hard winter wheat to feed to my chickens, and disappointed that it appears wilted. Chickens still love it. Milk powder, sugar, flour, honey, 2 seed vaults. Beans of all colors. All 20 plus years old, and most stored improperly in a warm basement.

    MREs from the late 80s look and smell like hell, FYI, but the chickens still pick away at it. Some is being saved for hog food. We plan on using one of the seed vaults this year to determine the germination rate.

    Point is, you can always use what you have. Rotating stock is great, but just having a backup supply is the best if you don’t want to maintain. Plus if they play the confiscation game you can hand over all you have…

    Hell, I even feed 1950s rancid crackers to them, small doses, but they seem to enjoy. And what they don’t eat becomes fertilizer as it is scratched.

  13. Saw a video on youtube of some guy who had about two hundred pmag 223 30 round magazines and about a pallet of ammo, that is hoarding, but at the same time I saw that I thought… do I have enough, lol.

    Stay safe everyone!

    1. @ Texaslurker
      And yet in 2015 the .gov purchased 1 BILLION 5.56 with our tax money… and they call us Hoarders??? How interesting huh?

      1. Ooh! What else does the gov’t hoard? Land, buildings, businesses. Even roads. Loans (Fannie Mae) illegal immigrants, votes, inmates. This could turn into a long list.

  14. “A non-prepper may consider a prepper to be a hoarder if they walk into their house and see ‘extra stuff’ in plain sight.”

    Unless that ‘extra stuff’ is a decoy, I wouldn’t consider someone who leaves their preps in plain sight to be much of a prepper.

    1. I think you mean to imply “common denominator”. A Cd if you will.

  15. I have an extra bed in the bonus room set up for the grands when they spend the night. My daughter is coming to get it tomorrow. Needs it at her house.

    Now what am I suppose to do with all the home canned goods I have stashed under it??

    Can’t put it under the guest room bed. That’s where all the dog food is stored.

    Can’t put it under my bed. That’s where all hubby’s guitars are stored (his idea of prepping is diff from mine).

    All closets are full. Even the other bathroom is stocked to the max.

    Oh well, I’ll figure out something. :)

    1. grandee

      -under the couch
      -in box marked road salt
      -take out the bottom drawers in your dressers, there is usually enough room under there to put a layer of cans on side….same for any other drawers

        1. —-kitchen cupboards almost always have a kickplate on the bottom. this can be pried off, and shove cans in, or rig up a sliding sort of tray for cans.

          —do you have a stove? drawer in bottom of stove…often room under that…

          —I have night tables, with nice finished wood on bottom. When I lifted them up to clean, I realised there is a lot of room in hollow space under them..enough for a soup can to stand upright, maybe more.

          –do you have spare tires? lots of room inside spare tires to store things…Then you might want to keep the tires clean by putting them in a tire bag, or covering them..

          —and speaking of bathrooms…well… tubs almost always have a fair bit of space under them, around the edges…Take a look at your tub..bet the inside is smaller than the outside? Quite often that front panel on modern tubs can be pried off (I think it is snapped on when installed)…

        2. oh.grandee

          sometimes when you take out the dresser drawers, all you see is a flat wood under..Lift the dresser up. Likely enough room under the dresser to put cans upright…

        3. Just put it in the pantry. You can have a really full pantry. Lots of people do regardless if they’re preppers or not.

  16. From Ken’s blog post in 2016 “Another definition of someone who is hoarding may be someone who grabs as much of a particular supply (food, gas, water, whatever) DURING a period of shortage. A prepper, on the other hand, is someone who buys/acquires those supplies when there is NO shortage. Big difference – the prepper is not taking a limited supply item out of circulation at a time of others’ needs, whereas the hoarder is doing just that. That all said, the big problem for prepper’s is that during a period of shortage/emergency, just the fact that they have a plentiful supply will automatically (in the minds of others) make them a hoarder. All the more reason to exercise as much OPSEC (operational security) as possible at all times, not just when there’s a problem.”

    I don’t think there was a time this spring and summer where I ever took the last of anything thanks to preparing. I am heading to the grocery store one last time for fresh meat and produce. My food and consumable storage is extensive – year or more. Got my Berkey! along with buckets and a wheelbarrow with new tire. Just in case.

    Storing more than usual of toiletries and OTC. This morning I realized I needed a rotation system for these items where many are just stored in covered tubs. It would be easy for someone digging through the dental care tub to shuffle the oldest to the bottom. A couple ideas come to mind. First, I have colored dot stickers. I think I will pick a color for this year and slap a dot on each item. That will give me a visual on what to use first. A chart on the lid to the tote will eliminate any questions. Second, I think I have posted this before, but for all the OTC that are stored shelved, I determine the “extended” life based on various studies and write the extended date on the box or bottle.

    These days our preps are a form of insurance. I want to avoid letting anything lapse and go to waste.

    1. We want others to prepare by keeping their stock of food and consumables plentiful. In that spirit I encouraged my sister to do the same and she said that was hoarding and was wrong. I asked her how long she could go without a trip to the grocery store, “a few days”.

      1. “Well, after a week of no food let me know how you’re doing with that.”

        The “hoarding” narrative has been in the programming for a while, and a lot of people have internalized it. One of my nieces didn’t eat some of her dinner one day and kept it for later. Her sister accused her of hoarding. She didn’t get that you can’t “hoard” something that already belongs to you. Still insisted it was hoarding.

        So when farmers hold back their crop, by that definition they’re “hoarding,” or when someone cans what they grow, etc.

        Of course, it’s different when the accusers do it.

        1. She mentioned pizzas being an item that is hoarded. We don’t buy pizzas, we make them. What we stock our shelves with is ingredients, not processed prepared food. It is astonishing to realize how many people do not know how to or just don’t cook. If you look at camping forums, which I consider to be test preparation experiences, just see how many women are in a panic because they don’t know how to prepare a meal without a microwave.

    2. MamaLark, I use a permanent black marker and date all canned goods with the expiration date on top (I.e.x12/23). For other items that I just want to rotate properly, even toiletries, I put the date of purchase (I.e. p 10/20). That helps me a lot. I still have other family members that don’t always pay attention and mess with the order, but this has worked pretty well for us.

      I do the cans with expiration date because we donate to the food pantry in town a couple different times. I will rotate out by older stock first. Types of items donated are jarred pasta sauces and pasta, peanut butter and jelly, canned chili with beans, canned chicken and tuna, canned soups. One pound bags of rice. I do not donate bags of beans because they just don’t want to cook them but I do donate canned beans. Also cases of canned corn and green beans. The food pantry people will now accept canned goods past their expiration date, but I try to get them to them before expiration date.

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