I went to Phoenix this weekend to shoot a story for Open Source about Doomsday at Prepper Fest - one of the largest self-reliance expos of the year.
A "prepper" is someone who prepares for the absolute worst. Attendants believe that whatever disaster may come their way, like Armageddon or peak oil for example, there is nothing too catastrophic that they will not be able to overcome.
Families, war veterans, hydroponic hippies, gun rights activists, farmers, camo-clad survivalists and cowboys converge at this one expo. While they don't agree on much with one another, they do agree on at least one thing: the decisions of our government have made them feel a need to prepare for just about anything.
The expo provides the gadgets and gizmos in order to ensure ultimate preparedness and survive just about anything. From off-the-grid cabins that will run you $50,000 to alcohol distillers that will turn all of your Wild Turkey Bourbon into useable gasoline for your car, there is something for everyone here. After all, you never know what tomorrow brings.
People here are most concerned with imminent nuclear attacks, terrorists taking down our power grid, and natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes. But perhaps most of all, people here are afraid of our own government - the power it has over everything we do here in the United States. For some, the apocalypse is now, and it is called the Barackalypse.
1. Oath Keepers
War veterans at the Oath Keepers booth try and spread the message of the Constitution and protection rights that citizens have. They were passing out pocket Constitutions so people could have the opportunity to freshen up on the Second Amendment.
2. Guns Save Lives Bumper
Gun advocates set up booths throughout the Expo with "Guns Save Lives" bumper stickers and pins.
3. Gas Mask Specials market at American Goods: Preppers Survival and Prepping Supplies, where you can buy gas masks in bulk for the entire family.
4. Mannequin body
MedPacksUSA brought mannequins along with their products so guests could try out using the bandages and suturing kits. Those supplies come in the medical packs that range from $67 to $1000.
5. Knives - where the motto is you "Bleed you buy"
At MrKnifeGuy.com, knives range from $20 to $2,000. Greg Desiato showcases a few of your options at the booth.
6. Vest $200
An armored vest at Body Armor's booth where Trish and Andrew Fernandez from California sell vests that have plates of iron armor sewn into the cloth material.
7. Ready John
This makeshift toilet can hold waste for up to two weeks for a family of four. EasyPrepper.com's booth showcases the toilet along with other supplies under a sign that says "it's easy to hope for the best when you are prepared for the worst."
8. Mental Marksmanship trailer
The Mental Marksmanship trailer offers "Shoot, Don't Shoot Training" for five dollars where video simulators can offer a wide range of scenarios where students must decipher when it is appropriate to use the toy gun.
9. Bitcoin bunnies
At Magpoc Homstead, Leo Magpoc sells quail and rabbits in both American dollars and bitcoin equivalents. He says the breeding rabbits will run you a bit more money, but if you pay in bitcoin he will throw in a quail and give you a good deal.