Prepper Fest AZ Observations and Opinions

Its been a spring full of expos and shows for Exurban Doug.  The latest event I attended was the Prepper Fest AZ Expo, which was held last weekend at the Arizona State Fairgrounds.  I had a chance to check out the exhibitors to see what was new and exciting in the preparation realm.  Here are some of my thoughts on the event.

The Good

There were some noteworthy exhibitors that bear mentioning.  Alan Korwin from Gunlaws.com was there, who is one of the authorities on gun laws in the USA.  If you own firearms, consider purchasing one of his books on gun laws in your state.

Joel Ho from Mobilesec Solutions was there with his Starfish Defender line of EMP shields.  These mesh Faraday enclosures allow you to operate electronic devices while being protected from EMP.  Another helpful feature of these shields is it prevents your NSA mobile tracking device cell phone from being triangulated via RF signals.  Go to his website to find out more but this was perhaps the most fascinating product from the show.

ProtectmyPapers had their flash drive on display as well.  This is a credit-card sized device with a memory chip on a hinge that flips out so it can be attached to a computer.  It includes all the software necessary to securely store important data on the card.  The data is encrypted too, making it more secure from hacking.

Then there was the Biffy Bag™.  The best way to describe it is a portable toilet in a pouch, it is simply brilliant!  This can really come in handy during camping trips, hunting trips, vacations, hikes, and other outdoor adventures.  It can also be helpful in a disaster situation where both water and sanitation are in short supply.  Great product in my opinion.

iTAK Medical was there with their line of medical kits.  These are designed for traumatic injuries from gunshots and other penetrating wounds.  They have two kits for under $100 and are an Arizona-based company too.  I plan to pick one up for my range bag in the coming weeks, it could be a life-saver.

The Bad

This event was at the Fairgrounds, which is a lousy facility in a very sketchy part of town.  The whole area saw its best days over thirty years ago and as an expo venue it is marginal at best.  There are better locations out there that would draw more people and present a better face for the preparedness movement.

Also, the level of professionalism by the various exhibitors varied a great deal.  Some looked and dressed the part of a business, some looked like hobbyists, while others looked like wacky survivalists.  For preparation to become more mainstream, exhibitors need to present themselves in a professional manner to be taken seriously by Middle America.  Preparation is serious business, exhibitors need to treat it that way and not as an excuse to act like amateurs.

Some of the products I have my doubts about too.  When a lady told me “wait until my husband gets done talking with that guy.  He builds these in his garage and can answer all your questions about them…” it did not fill me with confidence.  If I am buying a product, I want to know there is more than just one guy standing behind it in case I need support.

I also noticed several exhibitors selling “off the grid” land for bug-out situations.  I’m not convinced that bugging out of town (with hundreds of thousands of others) is the best idea in most situations.  The money spent on land could be more effectively used on a multitude of preparations around the house for situations that are likely to happen (ex. power outages).  Fear and paranoia are being used to sell expensive things most people aren’t going to be able to use in an emergency, which I find disturbing.

The Ugly

There was a lot more camo-clad attendees at this expo than the recent gun shows that I attended.  Hey, I like my Woodland pattern BDUs too but I don’t normally wear them while I am out and about.  I think doing so reinforces a negative stereotype of a prepper;  that of a militant, somewhat paranoid person who is obsessed with doomsday.  Wearing camo doesn’t help make preppers seem reasonable and normal to our neighbors.

There were a lot of fat and out of shape people at the expo too.  While this reflects American society as a whole, it shows that many preppers are emphasizing gear and tools over self-discipline and fitness.  Emergencies test the body’s ability to respond under stress, which is why the military subjects its personnel to physical and mental stress to prepare them for duty.  Civilian preppers need to concentrate more on fitness and overall wellness in order to be ready for the unexpected.

Another thing that bothered me was the use of the term “sheeple” by some of the exhibitors.  Using this term does not help because of its use by conspiracy theorists and political extremists.  When I hear that word, I get the impression that the person using it is attempting to assert superiority over others.  This kind of arrogance and self-righteousness is unbecoming and does not belong within the prepper community.

The Cray-Cray

The anti-GMO folks were at this event doing their best to whip up opposition to science and modern farming.  Here again, well-meaning but misinformed people are doing damage by parroting misinformation about a complex subject they simply don’t understand.  If these people knew more about agriculture, they wouldn’t be protesting.

Yes, there was actually a chemtrail booth at the expo too.  I just shook my head and refused to accept one of the DVDs they were giving away.  Chemtrail believers are akin to those who fell for the whole crop circle hoax, they won’t believe the evidence when it is presented to them.  I don’t get this particular conspiracy, I am simply baffled by it and regard it as a waste of time.

Unfortunately, the Ronulans haven’t gone away either.  The cause they are pushing for now is ending the Federal Reserve, which echos what the John Birch Society has been calling for.  They weren’t vocal, just present and focusing on the Fed for now.  That said, there is an element of paranoid, libertarianism within the preparation community.

I’ll have some additional observations regarding this event over at Smart Suburban Survival, stop on by for other preparation-related posts when you have a chance.