But I notice now that with the large numbers of people trying to get out of urban environments and be self sufficient, it has become far more practical in nature.
These "Back to Nature" people aren't survivalists. They aren't even preppers, for the most part. Instead, they just want a lifestyle change. Even if they live in the city and have no hope of escaping it because of their work, they dream of "some day."
I don't buy Mother Earth News, even though there is an overlap between the survivalist and "Back to Nature" philosophies. I have given some thought to picking up a few of their CD based anthologies, but haven't done it yet.
Lots of magazines cater to these folks. The magazines are primarily oriented towards interior decorating, antique furniture, and areas where this kind of thing is much in vogue but not too far from the latte shop.
I think of these magazines as catering to people on the fringe of the "Back to Nature" mind set. They don't have anything at all to do with self reliance, gardening, solar power or any other really useful aspects of simplified living. Primarily this class of magazine is just to thumb through and think "well, when I move out to the country I have to make my kitchen look like this." No harm in them, just not much help.
The very name of this magazine is off putting to me. I think they could have done a lot better, because the people who buy it are not, as far as I can tell, rich people with little farms to potter around in.
The folks I see scanning the magazine at the store, and buying it, look a lot more like individuals who have a little land around the house. People who are interested in doing their own gardens, having their own chickens, but don't have a huge amount of space for it.
Since I've had animals up here for years, and don't do much gardening, it's not one I buy. But if I had , say, a two acre lot in suburbia, it might be just the thing.
Backwoods Home Magazine is right in between the "Back to Nature" people and the Prepper/Survivalist sphere. It's very old. Some of the articles are written by staff writers who have become well known in the self sufficiency sector. Massad Ayoob does firearms related stories. Jackie Clay is another staff writer, well known for food preservation and gardening stores. Many of the articles are written by readers with some special knowledge or experience to share.
Then there are the "primitive skills" folks. I'm not sure what to say about this group. They aren't survivalists or preppers. They aren't "back to nature" people . Instead , they tend to focus on a period of history and try to replicate it. Some of them are part timers, but some of them go the whole hog and do this year round.
They tend to fall into two categories. There are the 1820-1887 (roughly) time period practitioners. The mountain man period (1820-1845 approximately) is the most popular in this category. Then there are the Stone Age practitioners.
American Frontiersman is designed largely for the mountain man crew. There are articles that would be useful to both the "Back to Nature" people and to the self sufficiency person. I almost bought the last issue of this magazine, because there were articles that I found interesting. I didn't because too much of it was related to the mountain man lifestyle in which I have zero interest. I should mention that these magazines are not for the people who like to reenact and get together for the weekend rendezvous , although I suppose they would be useful to people who do that. They're really designed for the actual application of skills essential to that period of history.
The Backwoodsman is a strange little magazine that you find on the shelves at the grocery store magazine rack at odd intervals.
It is comprised primarily of articles written by the readers, and it's a skills magazine. How to make a knife from old iron, build a canoe, black powder weapons, buckskin clothing are the kinds of things you find here.
I do buy this one, when I find it, because the people who write the articles are the real deal. I may never forge a Bowie knife in a homemade blacksmith shop, but it's interesting to see how it's done.
I consider this more recreational reading than survivalist research, but you never really know. Sometimes I've learned useful things reading this magazine.
Then you get to the furthest extreme in this whole spectrum of the self sufficiency - back to a simpler time range of people. These are the primitive skills aficionados. There are more of them than you might suspect in the United States. Essentially these people follow a neolithic life style. No metal implements, no modern fabrics, tools, medicines. They barter with others of the same mindset for what they can't make themselves. It would be natural to say "no, nobody would do that" but it would be wrong. The new member of the Dual Survival series is touted as one of these people, having lived exactly this way for 26 years in the Utah canyon country. Or, so they say. You know how Discovery Channel is.
I met some of these individuals up in the mountains, some years back. I'm at a loss really, when I try to describe them. About all I can say is that there have always been people who chafed at any kind of constraints, and living this way removes that problem. If you live so far back in the desert, or mountains, or forest that you never run across people, you can live how you like. If you never need anything from a town, it doesn't matter how you dress (or don't dress). I've always thought it was a little weird that there are magazines for these individuals, because I can guarantee you the real deal type primitive living persons aren't hiking into Walmart to pick up a copy. So who does read them?
One thing about this group. If the society does implode, they'll never even know it. Nothing will change for them. The last day of the old age will be exactly the same as the first day of the new age.
That's a thumbnail sketch of the different philosophies of life and the varying life styles that are all close to but not the same as the self sufficient way of living. We're all similar, in some aspects, but different in others. Lots of the people whose blogs I read are not survivalists or preppers, but I learn some useful things from them. I suppose in the end, ideas useful to one set are often of value to the others.
Post addendum: I added Self Reliance after someone reminded me of it.