Survival Attire: Not Dressing The Part

I know lots of folks are fans of tactical vests, cammo clothing, and other military-style survival gear but in a minor emergency situation (i.e. the most likely disaster scenario) is that really the best choice?

I have my share of cammo pants and other combat fatigues that could certainly come in useful but in a common disaster scenario such as an earthquake or hurricane, these would probably not be the clothes I choose to wear during the aftermath.  Certainly this type of clothing is useful for carrying gear, more durable than most other options, and is built for the occasion but I’m not so sure it’s wise to break them out unless the shit has really hit the fan.  In this prepping and survival blog post, I’ll tell you why.

First of all, in most of the common disaster scenarios that we here at Prep-Blog encourage people to prepare for there will probably not be a “without rule of law” situation.  Power may be out, civil unrest may be higher than normal, but there should be at least some police presence or, if things are really bad, National Guard presence.  In a situation like this your goal is to protect yourself and your family and it’s best to do this while attracting the least amount of attention to yourself.  In the past we’ve seen times where police actually confiscated firearms from law abiding citizens under some crazy notion of “keeping the peace”.  Pretty tough to ensure your family’s safety if you’ve been left unarmed…

So, rather than appearing to any curious police officers as a paramilitary persona dressed in tactical gear, wearing a hip holster, et cetera…  Isn’t it wiser to look more like an average citizen who doesn’t warrant closer inspection?  I would say yes.  But hey, that’s just me and I like to keep it low key.

If an earthquake were to hit my area (a not so unlikely possibility), the power was out, and safety was a concern I would choose a much more conservative approach to my clothing.  Personally I’m a fan of jeans, hiking boots, and a black T-shirt or pullover.  Of course your local weather has to be taken into account but dressed like this, or in something similar, you’re much more likely to get a quick glance from an officer if dressed in jeans and a fleece pullover than you are in cammo pants and a tactical vest.  The goal here is to remain nondescript and not to attract any attention.

I like to recommend jeans, dark colored hiking boots, and fleece as they are not at all unusual on your average civilian yet they provide many of the benefits you would get from traditional tactical gear.  The boots are key as you need to make sure your feet are protected especially after an event that leaves rubble and other hazards about.  Jeans are so common they would never garner a second look and yet they are tough and in the right color will still provide stealth if that becomes necessary.  Fleece is super light weight and will keep you warm even if it gets wet. Throw a dark colored windbreaker on top to help hide any weapons and you’re wearing what your average undercover operative would.  Casual, non-threatening, yet functional and efficient.

Combine this with a backpack filled with goodies and carefully concealed carry of any weapons you may choose to carry (and which you are legally entitled to) and you have most of the benefits of the guy dressed up in his finest tactical gear without the negative side effects.  Negative side effects?  Ya, there are plenty.  From getting your guns confiscated, simply freaking out the neighbors, to being outright tossed in jail.  It’s pretty tough to protect your family if you’re locked up and unfortunately when police are in an emergency situation and under stress they have a tendency to want to secure anyone they see as a threat and figure out the details later.

So unless you’re sure you’re getting ready for the fight of your life, play it safe and go conservative. Leave the ninja suit in the closet and keep your wits about you.  You and everyone around you will be better off.

~ Butch

4 Responses to Survival Attire: Not Dressing The Part

  1. I concur. After spending a good number of years as an officer, before moving on to other pursuits and now only doing LE part-time, I can attest that police do indeed give a double take to people dressed up in their ninja commando attire.

    I agree. The 5.11 taclite pants are great, but they have a purpose and for me it was work related. I don’t wear them casually and wouldn’t in a disaster situation (until a lack of clean laundry required me to!).

    Around here it’s nothing to see a guy (or girl) walking around in Realtree or Mossy Oak camo, and in all honesty that type of garment is probably better suited to a disaster because it’s often wind and/or waterproof, often insulated, and just made for being outdoors. I’m not saying this is best. I’m saying around here this wouldn’t garner the second look that someone in their Multicams or 5.11 catalog model regalia. Camouflage is about blending in, and it may indeed be blue jeans and a fleece pullover that does the blending.

    Subtle. Low key. You can’t go wrong with it.

  2. Great idea that I never thought of. I agree that you don’t want to attract too much attention during an emergency situation–especially if you are prepared and others aren’t. I wouldn’t want to have others follow me back to my home because they figured that I was prepared and were going to steal my stuff in order for them to survive.

  3. Good points, all I add is “look like a local.” I live in a rural area where Carharts are the “uniform of the day” simply because they are durable. Funniest conversation I’ve heard in a long time was between two 60ish farmers in the town diner. One was chastising the other for buying what to him were obvious “knock off” Carharts. If an old farmer notices soneting out of place others will too.

  4. In more urban areas, consider cargo pants as a dressier and more practical alternative to jeans. I can stuff a heap of EDC gear into my Scottevest hidden cargo pants and they work well for office & street attire. Scottevest also have some awesome jackets that work like tactical gear without looking at all military.