During a crisis, whether it’s some type of natural or man-made disaster, it’s important to be dressed for a successful bugout.
Granted, it might come down to a scenario where you’ve got minutes to get out of Dodge, ruling out the possibility of a visit to your survival wardrobe. So, there’s a chance that you might have to make the initial run while wearing your usual work attire polo/khaki combo.
So to get our wheels up on this post, my rule of thumb is that you should always keep at least two complete changes of survival apparel in your pack. And just as a sidenote, you’ll actually save space if you roll your clothes, and not fold them. Now let’s begin…
Like Any Other Day … Dress For the Weather
This is actually a bit of a conundrum, especially for those off the gridders among us who live up north with dramatic, dynamic and sometimes downright punishing seasonal changes. But here are a few pointers so that you don’t find yourself in a jam when caught in weather that’s unusually hot/cold/rainy/etc.
- Pack clothes that you can layer. Layering allows you to put on a jacket or take off a fleece, depending on what the temps are doing that day.
- For the eventuality of rainy, moist weather, you’ll follow the layering principle if you purchase lightweight wet gear (like rain shells and chaps). That way, you’re not lugging around an entire insulated raincoat, in the event that the weather gets oddly hot and dry for no apparent reason. Also, a little poncho can go a long way in these situations, especially if you get the kind that can become a shelter/hammock combo.
- When it comes to hats, it’s easy enough to get something lightweight with a brim that breathes. And bring one that will allow you to throw a beanie under it or your poncho over it.
- For footwear: if you live pretty far up north where temps routinely get lower than 10 degrees Fahrenheit on a rather regular basis, then you’re probably going to need a pair of Thermaline Gore-Tex boots that will keep your toes from getting frostbite. However, for those of us in temperate zones and further south, I’d still recommend getting a pair of waterproof hiking shoes — and when the temps drop, making sure you have some SmartWool socks at the ready. Double up your socks if needed.
- For the miscellaneous apparel, you’ll want to pack the following: a pair of water shoes or sandals for crossing streams, a shemagh or scarf, sturdy sunglasses (I prefer Wiley X), a pair of work gloves, and a complete set of hot or cold weather Under Armour (or comparable brand).
Suiting Up to Be Tactical or Tacticool?
Now this particular issue tends to be a big one, especially since it’s the cool thing these days to buy tactical-style clothing for a bugout. Even in a natural disaster crisis, tactical clothing looks militaristic. In which case, you’ll cause alarm wherever go.
Not everyone gels with the “tacticool” look. Sure, it might offer a lot of really useful pockets and such, but sadly, you’re only going to make yourself a beacon for manmade-unfortunate events. Not to mention, you’ll also become a target for individuals who are wearing many of those same things.
I’m not necessarily saying that ALL camo will get you into a tight spot, but I am saying that it’s best not to look like a soldier, insurgent, or upstart. On the other hand, there are lots of camouflage options that won’t make a person immediately appear militant if stumbled upon. I mentioned A-Tacs camo before, which is almost creepy-effective; yet still, its pattern doesn’t have the same look as that of conventional military camo. Yes, it’s made for troops, but most troops (and almost all civilians) wouldn’t really know that this was the case.
There’s also Mossy Oak and Realtree camo, too, which would do extremely well in the sticks and won’t look threatening. That is, unless you run into someone from PETA …but that’s an issue for another day.
The 3 Pillars of Bugout Apparel
In this post, I have mentioned quite a few guidelines and suggestions, which might end up being a bit difficult to remember. That’s why I believe it’s best to follow simple principles for these kinds of things where memory fails. So, these are my three “pillars” of bugout apparel, which keep me thinking clearly when purchasing clothes to stuff in the pack:
1. Protection — Survival clothing is meant for the purpose of keeping us protected from the elements. From wet rain to dry heat, your clothing should first serve this function, which is meant to ultimately keep you from heat sickness, sun exposure, frostbite and hypothermia. In addition, your clothing should facilitate your own protection by working with your weapons loadout and not hindering its effectiveness.
2. Durability — Survival clothing should have a higher-than-average durability factor, as evacuations and refugee situations could place the survivor in harsh, abusive environments over an unknown span of time. For this reason, all apparel should have the capacity to take a beating and remain intact, especially since shopping for a new outfit is no longer a possibility.
3. Camouflage — Survival clothing should allow the survivor to blend into the environments, in which he or she plans to retreat. If the retreat location or the route itself carries the possibility of human interaction, then it’s best to wear camouflage that does not look threatening. Also, clothing that is colored in earth tones can act as improvised camouflage if pressed. Whether in the woods, the plains, the desert, the bayou or in the middle of a town: Blend in and avoid drawing attention by what you wear.
When Caught In the Rain, Become Waterproof
Overall, your bugout clothing should protect you from the rainiest day of them all: the day that your home is no longer your home. And on such a day, the ones that live a successful and easy life (in comparison to the rest of society, of course) will be the ones that have a realistic, serious perspective of the situation — and do not allow the accompanying challenges to bring down their morale and willpower to build a new life.
So don’t simply purchase a milsurp jacket, just because you saw the guy wear it in that survival show, triggering the old survival-action-hero-fantasy reflex. Hey, even I’ve got one of those reflexes, so I get it.
Instead, purchase a jacket which follows the three pillars of bugout apparel, because it will keep your body at a cozy 98.6-degrees when the ambient temperature is chillingly far from it.
What advice would you add? Share your suggestions in the section below: