Is there a difference? Are they the same? I think there is a difference and therefore a different approach to both. I believe that it depends on what you think is coming that determines if you are a Survivalist or a Prepper. I also think you can be both...
Below, here are my definitions... CAVEAT - these may not be your definitions, and that is A OK with me - get your own blog and have at it...
Survivalist - Generally (see how I hedged my bet) view whats coming as a total collapse of society where you will more than likely have to defend your property and your family from mobs, hoards, thieves who roam taking what they can; pretty much fend for yourself people.... There will probably be a cessation of electricity, which means all water on electric pump, and a disruption of the food delivery system to major cities. It can be precipitated by a flu pandemic, terrorist act, natural disaster or general uprising/rioting brought on by fear/panic. They focus on a retreats, bugging out, guns, armed positions and food. They expect this to be a long term situation.
Prepper - Generally view there will be disruption to daily life that will mandate a family having to hunker down and live at home for an extended period of time off of what they have saved at their home. They may or may not have electricity/water but generally do not see it as a long term situation - think weeks/months and not years. They generally focus on food and items that will let them cook and live at home, away from everyone else.
I bet more men are Survivalists and more women are Preppers. This is based ENTIRELY on my own sexist views :)
I tend to lean towards prepping, but I LOVE MY GUNS.... I think something is coming that will throw this country into a fear induced panic. I think it will be an Islamic attack and with the weak economy, we are ripe for just such a mob scene. I just dont know how long it will last. The panic and chaos could be regional but depending on the region, it could affect delivery routes, port access, fuel availability for the entire country.
As everyone else, I believe the rural areas will fair better than urban areas - but these need to be the rural areas that are used to providing food - farmers, ranchers, vintners - not rural areas that depend mostly on Govt aide. Those that depend on Govt aide wont make it...
On a side note - there was a lady on the news recently that is still living out of tents in her front yard 3 months after the hurricane hit in Houston - 3 MONTHS - her kids were doing their homework on a patio table outside in their coats. She is waiting on the Govt to bring her a trailer.... As a mom, this pissed me off royally - first, if she had a church, they would have helped her....second, if that had been me, after I had a day or 2 for the shock to wear off, I would have found a job at my local Target or Walmart in order to feed my family and start drawing a paycheck. At 3 months we would have been in an apartment at least until issues with the house could have been settled. These children should not still be in TEMPORARY housing.
This above example is why people rural or urban, who depend on the Govt, will not make it thru a protracted, intense crisis.Both Survivalists AND Preppers think that in a time of crisis, the Govt will be a hindrance and not a help. I fear that the 20,000 troops now deployed in the US will not be used for a natural disaster relief like the bull we were given, but will be asked to defend the Govt against We The People. Defend may not be the right word, but if push comes to shove, the Govt may need defense.
Whichever way you tend to lean, find someone that leans the other way...If a family has a head of the household that was in the military, they would PROBABLY lean towards Survivalist....find a like minded family that gardens, or lives a little bit out or is more of a prepper. Together, with many hands, you can ensure a good survival for all of you.
This discussion is pretty much academic - the point being, if a crisis lasts 1 month, 3 months, 12 months, you need to be ready. The average family has 1 week worth of food in the house... And we all know, Survivalist and Preppers are WAY above Average ;)