Suvival Clothing

by Evan on May 17, 2010

One thing people sometimes forget about is the need for proper clothing for survival situations. Further complicating the issue is the convenience of heated vehicles and homes, rendering clothing capable of sustaining our temperatures for more than the trip from the toasty house to the toasty car unnecessary. People tend to think as they always have, tending to be resistant to changing mental gears, until it’s too late. Don’t be one of those people. The fact that you are reading this tends to indicate that you are not only capable of responding to changing situations, but also capable of forecasting potential difficulties in the future and preparing for them.

I try to dress for the weather conditions outside, keeping in mind that heated vehicles get stuck, break down, and have accidents and I might be out in the cold for a while while I deal with the situation. It’s a good practice to keep in, and if there is a problem, you needn’t work to hard to shift mental gears to be comfortable. It’s easy enough to turn the heat DOWN in a car that does run, but turning the heat UP in a car that doesn’t…..well now, THAT I would like to see.

One thing I try to do is use the same clothing I’d wear in a survival situation in my everyday life. Two reasons for this are to keep familiar with the placement of pockets, usage, characteristics, and to make sure they are comfortable for everyday sustained use. Another reason is strictly budgetary. If you buy one set of clothing for your bug out bag and another for your everyday use, you have spent twice as much money on clothing as necessary. As things wear out, you can buy more or rotate new out of your bug out bag into usage. Paying a bit more for something that lasts twice as long isn’t really spendy, it’s thrifty.

I prefer long wearing, eminently practical clothing as a rule and got a taste of some of the most durable clothing made while I was in the US Army. I had t-shirts that lasted my entire enlistment, and though my BDU’s didn’t long outlast my enlistment, they were getting more than the usual workout crawling around on tanks and whatnot, so I wasn’t expecting too much of them. The wool socks last a very long time, and are still warm even when wet, furthermore they are easily repaired when they do start to fail.

For slacks I wear 5-11 tactical gear from LA Police Gear, which are basically improved BDU style pants, cargo pocketed, with additions like Velcro, cell phone pockets, and some other features that make them desirable. They far outlast normal denim jeans and other types of slacks. The polyester blend ones tend to be the most durable and longest lasting, in addition to being cooler than the more cotton heavy blends. I wear them in basic black…sans pearls. (Yes I stole that line from Richard Marcinko’s novels). Camouflage clothing tends to bring out the reactionary in people, especially in the current militia wary environment. Black looks more civilian than ACU and dressier than the other colors. I’ve never been under-dressed using those slacks with a shirt that’s appropriate to the environment. I also keep a set of BDU’s in ACU for situations where camouflage is necessary. I will expand on the number of sets as finances allow. A good boonie hat will keep the sun off your face and shade your eyes far longer than sunscreen, which may become unavailable at some point.

I tend to wear t-shirts year around, with a long sleeved shirt only when a sweatshirt over the T would be too warm. Layers are a big key, using the same items for many types of situations means less need for redundant clothing. Less clothing in your bug-out pack with more versatility is a good thing. Having thermals is a nice thing, but sweat pants and long sleeved t-shirts can do the same jobs and more. I use sweat pants in place of thermal pants and wear my loose fitting 5-11 tacticals over those for more warmth and I still have all my same pockets etc available. A sweatshirt or sweater over a long sleeved T can be warmer than a t-shirt and a jacket, and helps you keep warm in more situations. If you get too hot, you can take off the T, the sweater, or your jacket or any combination thereof for more versatility.

In extreme winter weather I layer up even further by adding a USGI insulated winter coverall on top of all that, with my parka and parka liner on top of that. I purchased that from Ebay for a mere twenty dollars. (one of those deals you have to jump on fast to get in on) If camouflage is a necessity, I can use my ACU pants over the coverall instead of the black tacticals under. My parka is also ACU and came from Sportsmansguide.com. A parka is a good thing, but without a liner is not terribly warm. I would shy away from simple field jackets and tend toward the parkas with liners. Parkas cover your body lower down than a simple field jacket, going down to the knees or thereabouts. They usually have a drawstring waist to prevent cold air coming up from below. A hood is also essential, keeping you MUCH warmer than the same coat with the hood down or detached. When I am equipped as outlined in this paragraph I can spend hours at the shooting range, sitting still most of the time at a shooting bench, without getting cold. In addition to the aforementioned layers I use the USGI Mickey boots to top it off. These boots are rated to -20 degrees, whatever that means. All I can say is I can stand in a puddle full of ice or slush and not get cold feet for as long as I’d care to with them on. They look HUGE on your feet, and aren’t very stylish….but they are WARM. Sportsmansguide currently has them for around 40 dollars, which is a steal. In training they told us not to wear them above freezing temperatures as they were thought to cause your feet to sweat at warmer temperatures, but due to a little mishap jumping down from the tank one day I broke a water insole in my combat boot and had to wear these, my only other boots downrange, till my boots dried out. I had no discomfort whatsoever in 40-60 degree temperatures, though they were a bit more unwieldy than my usual combat boots. I use thinsulate gloves when temperatures are below freezing, and isotoners when they will do the job, keeping both in the voluminous pockets of my parka for easy access to whichever is needed.

Military surplus items are some of the best built and most desirable items to use, and are exceedingly inexpensive if you buy items that are previous generation. I was able to find a large alice pack for my bug out bag online in ACU, mil spec with a new paint job basically, for forty dollars. A MOLLE II pack would have cost me near a hundred and been smaller besides. I found a USGI sleeping pad for eight dollars on Ebay. Many items can be had for next to nothing if you look around and find the best price. One reason I feel confident purchasing mil spec items for such low prices is that I know from personal experience how effective they are and the quality they represent. Sometimes a price that’s “too good to be true” really isn’t. I can believe that the US Government seeing some of the prices I’ve paid for some of it’s best hardware, and knowing what they paid for the same items new, is having fits.

I recently placed an order with Sportsmansguide for mil spec sand colored T’s and OD green long sleeved East German shirts for ridiculously low prices. You have to catch these items when they are in stock, but I got the T’s for twenty four dollars for twelve T’s and the long sleeved shirts for fourteen dollars for ten of them. I have to admit, I’ve been ordering a lot of items from them lately so I finally caved and got a membership. I know I will be buying more from them as stuff I can’t pass up on comes in. I missed out on some spectacular boots recently. I bought size 9’s of the Austrian ranger boots and they were too tight. Unfortunately by the time I sent them back and requested 10’s they were out of them. This brings me to the most important of all items you can have in your kit. BOOTS. Good boots last years and having two pairs that are broken in and ready for use is essential. (You too could have a mishap and wind up with soggy boots) You may have to walk miles, even hundreds of miles in a survival situation. Boots can’t be easily replaced without our current infrastructure being intact. If things go south you aren’t going to be able to replace your worn out boots with new ones for some time, so you’d better have enough to last you a while to give things time to settle down and sort themselves out. I normally wear GBX boots, which are very long wearing boots, but a tad low (ankle height) for true rough terrain hiking. Dr Scholls work gel insoles go a long way toward making boots more liveable long term.

Keep on Preppin’
GIJeff.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Robert
June 3, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Very infomative. I agree with the Army Surpplus. AS a fomer marine I also know how well the Mil Spec gear is. Tho myself I like then Hi-tech tactical boots. AS i was in the early to mid 90’s these were ok’d as boots for the field. Comfertable and lasted years for me. As well as good priced for 80 – 90 bucks. For winter I lean toward Gortex and thinsalate but that is more for the fact as I am a truck driver and they have served me well for the 12 years I’ve been drivin. A Big plus to bein a trucker is that Wearin BDU’s dont even turn heads, as they are effective work wear and dont show the grease we can end up get on us

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Vote -1 Vote +1Sue
August 12, 2011 at 11:29 am

What might be your suggestion for women? A women can’t dress in 5 11 gear and not cause suspicions- it’s certainly the farthest from business casual. Any ideas are always appreciated.

Regards, Sue

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Vote -1 Vote +1shirley
October 9, 2011 at 12:00 am

Sue, and any other woman: I live in Texas, so we keep it fairly simple here. Jeans and more Jeans. I, also, buy my jeans with pockets. Good women’s jeans in any size is hard to find, right now. I do not buy trendy, low-hip items that will not wash nor wear well. Companies have “toyed” with women’s clothes the last few years, cheapening the products so that we, the shoppers, will have to shop again to replace them soon. I don’t participate. I find my jeans, and socks and undies at Sears. They last a long time. I buy men’s t-shirts just about anywhere. And, believe me, I am not manly, I am just practical and not a game player. No one can tell the difference, but me. I look for casual, good quality clothes that will last as long as possible and that I can wash myself. I must have 2 pockets in front on my jeans, for my cell, and other items that I carry “Just in case”, which includes a pocket knife. The men’s t-shirts last longer than women’s and cost less, with or without pockets. I always have a jacket or sweater in my car as I don’t care to be so air-conditioned that I am cold. I don’t complain, that way, I just don my sweater/jacket. All of them have pockets. In the winter, I do the same but I add a heavier jacket, with a hood ( in case it rains, ha!), with a sweater/lighter jacket in the car. I keep them all clean on a routine basis. Now, here is the kicker, girls! I do not carry a purse. I’ll tell you why. I feel it makes me more vulnerable. Not only that, but I keep putting more and more things in it. Then I have sore shoulders and go crazy trying to find everything as well as the time to clean it out. I, also, go crazy when I see I need to change a bag for the outfit I wear. So, this is what I do. I learned this little trick when I was on the road with my husband. I got a men’s leather belt. It is sturdier than women’s. I put a cell phone carrier/wallet on an extra round key attachment, and slip it onto my belt. In my wallet I put my ID and Medical ID information, cash and cards. Since I carry my cell phone in my pocket, I have plenty of room in the cell phone compartment for a small comb, any meds, bandaids, and a very slip address book with all numbers in it so I don’t have to depend on caller ID. Then, I put my keys, which, also, contains a pocket knife, soon a small flashlight, and a sturdy clip which I use to clip to another circle key ring attachment. There is a connector I bought at Walmart in the car repair department that is for the keyring on one end and for a spare key on the other. You can take it off the key ring real quickly with that. I have that, also, on my key ring and the other end on my buckle to use that way when I want. When I feel like it, I don’t wear the belt. I just clip my keys on my keyring on the wallet and carry it. Simple and sweet!

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Vote -1 Vote +1shirley
October 9, 2011 at 10:56 am

PS In all fairness, I should, also, comment on winter clothing. I lived in Indiana for many years! I would always get cotton, or similar, spring/summer pajamas. I would wear the bottoms under my jeans or sweat pants, and layer the tops. I would wear thicker, maybe wool, socks with my boots. The key is to keep warm by being comfortable. (If you are constricted, you hinder your blood circulation, which is bad.) In any blizzard, we would unscrew the wooden handles from mops and brooms and use to stab into the snow and hold onto and lean on as we took a step. (Gloves with padding on palms and fingers help.) I would not go further than 1 block, however, as we would soon be sweating with the extra calories we burned while struggling through the piles of snow. But, this is a good way to check on neighbors when phones are down. Speaking of such, you have to watch for electrical lines down and any vehicle spinning around.

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Vote -1 Vote +1Montego Man
March 30, 2012 at 2:34 pm

As a former Boy Scout, I always like to Be Prepared. For most peplel, unless you are force to evacuate, its better to stay put in familair surroundings with neighbors who know you. In times of trouble, you would be surprised how you bond together. Been through a couple of blizzards and nasty bouts of bad weather, and the neighbors became one big happy family. In addition, if you have preteen children, it will be less traumatic on them to stay in their own home where things are familiar to them.
A couple of comments about good tactical clothes. Price wise, look at Sportsman’s Guide for any 5.11 and Tru-Spec closeouts on pants and shirts. They also carry a good selection of boots and hunting gear, as well as anmything else you might need for an EVENT. Also one of the cheapest places for ammo, if it’s not out of stock. Prices on most of their items are much less than g etting them at stores on other on-line/catalogue sites. I’ve ben buying from them for years. They stand behind everything. Tru-Spec and 5.11 clothing brands will last for a very long time and are treated to repel stains and you’ll find them very comfortable, even with the cargo pockets loaded. The shirts are of excellent quality as well. When they have ’em, get the new police shirts at a cheap price. They too last and can take a beating. In addition, for extraordinary strong clothes for men and women, Google “Duluth Clothing.” Their pants are hard to wear out and easy to clean. The shirts are great quality for the money. The quality is much better than some of the high cost name brands out there.
Few people mention “sharps” – we have a large collection of tactical/hunting/folding knives (tanto blades are great for piercing metal), as well as short/slim swords that are easy to wield, and some more aggressvive swords and machetes. BUDK has a great selection with low prices.
Camping gear of all types can be found at Sportsman Guide and Wal-Mart (website for WM). Definitely get a solar/hand crank/battery power radio that has NOAH channels and can be used to charge your cell phone and small items. Don’t forget teh ahndcrank flashlights, in case you run out of batteries. Instead of candles, purcahse the sloar powered lawn lights and bring them in the house at night to light the place up. Don’t forget teh solar powered spot lights that p[roduce even more light for household use. The larger solar spot lights are great for covering your doors and blind spots arpound the house at night. If you can find one, get a hand crank generator like they had in WWII for communications. The modern ones can charge you inverter and give you enough power to keep a small fridge, small microwave, some lights, even a television running for a while.
Survival (dehydrate/freeze dried) food – best prices for bulk foods can be found on-line at Costco. Look out for the “meals” specially if you’re older or have health problems. They contain too much sodium. Your better off staying with other protein packed food stuffs like beans, lentils, barley, oats, etc. The breakfast cereals are a good buy as well and full of protein and you can get tehm with fruit or get teh dehydrate fruit and use them in the cereals. All dehydrated beans, lentils, etc., can be soaked during the day then heated up in a few minutes for a hearty evening meal. You can eat them, plane, make into a meatless stew, or soup. Be careful with canned meats since they took have inordinate amounts of salt in them. They ae a heart attack waiting to happen. Have a variety of spices (large container from Sams, Costco, or BJs, to add zest to any dish. If you have canned ham, tuna, chicken on hand, all the better. They are also cheaper than ready made meals. Don’t forget to ahve a standard supply of pancake mixes, Bisquit, potaro flakes, powder milk and drinks, instant soups and broth cubes in your panty. For long term storage, a 5 galon pail of rice will last longer than several bags of regular rice, but have the regualr rice in place anyway, as well as pasta. Keep them seal in a gamma lid bucket for storage up to a couple or more years, but rotate stock. Purchase the small cans of cheap ham (they have along shelf life) when available to add flavor to anything you cook. Do not forget peanut butter and honey – both have a very long shelf life (nearly forever) and are great when mixed with dried cereal and/or fruit. Bread wont last long but you can make discuits and panscakes and use it as a topping. Always keep a large stash of Ritz crackers on hand to go with it. It’s cheaper than the survival bars and better tasting as well. Also, vinegar based salad dressing can be used for seasoning but they won’t last for more than a few days uless they are stored in a cool place.
Firewood – always keep some handy (get a bunch of wooden pallets and tear them apart – some companies are looking for someone to haul them of for free) and make a fireplace using concrete blocks with a heavy metal grill on top to place pots for cooking & heating bath water) and pans. You can build your own tripod using rebar and binding the top together with a couple of clothes hangers – suspend a chain from the top and using a S-hook, place a metal bucket of water or the fire to heat it. (All old Boy Scout tips.)
Ropes/twine/straps & line – you can never rope, from paracord to heavy mountain climbing plus a couple of spools of fishing lineof various weights. Don’t forget duct tape.
Plastics & Tarps – keep a couple of large rolls of sheet plastic handy. It has a multitude of uses. If you run low on water, lay out a 10’x100′ sheet on the ground at night and depending on the humidity, you can have several cups or more of water in the morning. To catch rain, have a large silver (sun won’t weaken it as readily as a blue tarp) tarp that you can attach a couple of feet off the ground and drain it into a blow up kiddie pool. The water can then be filtered for drinking and food prep, ot for bathing and washing clothes/dishes. If you have plastic trash cans, you can use them for storing water at the fraction of the cost of the $100, 55 gallon blue containers. Since a large trash can can weight 300 to 400 pounds (a gallon of water is 7 pounds) it can split a regular trash can. Criss-cross the bottom of the can with duct tape and encase the can with the duct tape to reinfoce it. Then place a thick contractors size bag in the can and fill it with water. Gather the top edges and twist it tight and tie w/ paracord. Use a ceramic filter to before drinking it or use it as is for washing, etc. She if you can find “Water Bobs” for your bathtubs. They are a plastic bag with a hand pumpo that hold 100 gallons. They prices are now $30. Don’t forget hot water – – keep a couple of rolls of 3/4″-100′ long hoses handy. Fill the hoses however you can and set them in direct sunlight, preferably on asphalt, and the water will be “hot” in a matter of hours. Fill up the kiddie pool and take a quick bath then use the soapy water for washing clothes.
I hope you find some merit in these ideas.
BTW Weaps, yes have some avalable – pistol, small/.410 for small game and birds, 12 gauge and semi w/ large clip. Sometimes the sight alone will deter others. the .410 and 12 gauge are also good for home defense if need be. You like to thinnk the best about people, but in my profession, you see all kinds underall kinds of circumstances. There is evil out there, and when the SHTF, you’ll want to protect your famiily from the evil other will do.

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Vote -1 Vote +1Montego Man
March 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm

As a former Boy Scout, I always like to Be Prepared. For most people, unless you are force to evacuate, its better to stay put in familair surroundings with neighbors who know you. In times of trouble, you would be surprised how you bond together. Been through a couple of blizzards and nasty bouts of bad weather, and the neighbors became one big happy family. In addition, if you have preteen children, it will be less traumatic on them to stay in their own home where things are familiar to them.
A couple of comments about good tactical clothes. Price wise, look at Sportsman’s Guide for any 5.11 and Tru-Spec closeouts on pants and shirts. They also carry a good selection of boots and hunting gear, as well as anything else you might need for an EVENT. Also they are one of the cheapest places for ammo, if it’s not out of stock. Prices on most of their items are much less than getting them at stores on other on-line/catalogue sites. I’ve been buying from them for years. They stand behind everything. Tru-Spec and 5.11 clothing brands will last for a very long time and are treated to repel stains and you’ll find them very comfortable, even with the cargo pockets loaded. The shirts are of excellent quality as well. When they have ’em, get the new police shirts at a cheap price. They too last and can take a beating. In addition, for extraordinary strong clothes for men and women, Google “Duluth Clothing.” Their pants are hard to wear out and easy to clean. The shirts are great quality for the money. The quality is much better than some of the high cost name brands out there.
Few people mention “sharps” – we have a large collection of tactical/hunting/folding knives (tanto blades are great for piercing metal), as well as short/slim swords that are easy to wield, and some more aggressvive swords and machetes. BUDK has a great selection with low prices.
Camping gear of all types can be found at Sportsman Guide and Wal-Mart (website for WM). Definitely get a solar/hand crank/battery power radio that has NOAH channels and can be used to charge your cell phone and small items. Don’t forget the handcranked flashlights in case you run out of batteries. Instead of candles, purchase a couple of dozen solar powered lawn lights and bring them in the house at night to light the place up. Don’t forget the solar powered spot lights that produce even more light for household use. The larger solar spot lights are great for covering your doors and blind spots around the house at night. If you can find one, get a hand crank generator like they had in WWII for communications. The modern ones can charge you inverter and portable batteries and give you enough power to keep a small fridge, small microwave, some lights, even a television running for a while.
Survival (dehydrate/freeze dried) food – best prices for bulk foods can be found on-line at Costco. Avoid the “meals” especially if you’re older or have health problems. They contain too much sodium, enough to cause grave harm even in a healthy person. You’re better off staying with other protein packed food stuffs like beans, lentils, barley, oats, etc. The breakfast cereals are a good buy as well and you can get them with fruit or get dehydrate fruit and use them in the cereals. All dehydrated beans, lentils, etc., can be soaked during the day then heated up in a few minutes for a hearty evening meal. You can eat them, plain, make into a meatless stew or soup. Be careful with long-term stored canned meats since they too have inordinate amounts of salt in them. They are a heart attack waiting to happen. Have a variety of spices (large container from Sams, Costco, or BJs) to add zest to any dish. If you have canned ham, tuna, chicken on hand, all the better. They are also cheaper than ready made meals. Don’t forget to have a standard supply of pancake mixes, Bisquit, potato flakes, powdered milk and drinks, instant soups and broth cubes in your panty. For long-term storage, a 5 gallon pail of dehydrated rice will last longer than several bags of regular rice (and its cheaper), but have the regualr rice in place anyway, as well as pasta. Keep them sealed in a gamma lid bucket for storage up to a couple or more years, but rotate stock. Purchase the small cans of cheap ham (they have a long shelf life) when available to add flavor to anything you cook. Do not forget peanut butter and honey – both have a very long shelf life (nearly forever) and are great when mixed with dried cereal and/or fruit. Bread won’t last long but you can make discuits and panscakes and use honey as a topping and peanut butter as sandwich. Always keep a large stash of Ritz crackers on hand to go with it. It’s cheaper than the survival bars and better tasting as well. Also, vinegar based salad dressing can be used for seasoning but they won’t last for more than a few days uless they are stored in a cool place. One idea I got from the Prepper TV series – take large pieces of cheese and coat them with wax, and they’ll last.
Firewood – always keep some handy (get a bunch of wooden pallets and tear them apart – some companies are looking for someone to haul them of for free) and make a fireplace using concrete blocks with a heavy metal grill on top to place pots on for cooking & heating bath water) and frying pans. You can build your own tripod using rebar and binding the top together with a couple of clothes hangers – suspend a chain from the top and using a S-hook, place a metal bucket of water over the fire to heat it for nbathing or cleaning dishes. (All old Boy Scout tips.)
Ropes/twine/straps & line – you can never have enough rope, from paracord to heavy mountain climbing plus a couple of spools of fishing lineof various weights. Don’t forget duct tape.
Plastics & Tarps – keep a couple of large rolls of sheet plastic handy. It has a multitude of uses. If you run low on water, lay out a 10’x100′ sheet on the ground at night and depending on the humidity, you can have several cups or more of water in the morning. To catch rain, have a large silver tarp (sun won’t weaken it as readily as a blue tarp) that you can attach a couple of feet off the ground and drain it into a blow up kiddie pool. The water can then be filtered for drinking and food prep, or used for bathing and washing clothes/dishes. If you have plastic trash cans, you can use them for storing water at the fraction of the cost of the $100, 55 gallon blue containers. Since a large trash can filled with water can weight 300 to 400 pounds (a gallon of water is 7 pounds) a regular trash can will split. Criss-cross the bottom of the can with duct tape and encase the can with the duct tape to reinfoce it. Then place a thick contractors size bag in the can and fill it with water. Gather the top edges and twist it tight and tie w/ paracord. Use a ceramic filter before drinking it or use the water as is for washing, etc. See if you can find “Water Bobs” for your bathtubs. They are a plastic bag with a hand pump that holds 100 gallons. The price is now $30. Don’t forget hot water – – keep a couple of rolls of 3/4″-100′ long hoses handy. Fill the hoses however you can and set them in direct sunlight, preferably on asphalt, and the water will be “hot” in a matter of hours. Fill up the kiddie pool and take a quick bath then use the soapy water for washing clothes.
I hope you find some merit in these ideas.
BTW Weaps, yes have some available – pistol / .410 for small game and birds / 12 gauge and semi w/ large clip. Sometimes the sight of a long gun alone will deter others. The .410 and 12 gauge are also good for home defense if need be. You like to think the best about people, but in my profession you see all kinds under all kinds of circumstances. There is evil out there, and when the SHTF, you’ll want to protect your famiily from the evil others will do.

Reply

Vote -1 Vote +1Dan Ham
July 30, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I like the CYA tee’s sold by Duluth trading.They are 3 inches longer to prevent “plumbers butt” , also the long sleeved ones are alot heavier than the ones from the local Mart store.

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