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Survival Clothing:
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  1. #1
    Administrator GIJeff's Avatar
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    Feb 2010

    Survival Clothing:

    Survival Clothing:

    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 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'


  2. #2
    Gypsy Jane
    Thoughts on women's clothing?

  3. #3

    Weight considerations

    Having spent a week on the AT this summer I would also recommend considering the weight of your clothing. I had all nylon or nylon/polyester clothing and it made a tremendous difference from the traditional BDU type clothing. It probably wouldn't last as long either, but if I'm on the move every ounce counts.

  4. #4


    Socks are great, Walmart and Kmart and maybe target have the best prices but they really are limited for long term.
    Bass Pro has "Red Head" brand (about twice what the bix box stores are) and according to my feet they are 5 times more comfortable and last well.
    A friend of mine owns Dynamic Earth (Hi Matt if you are here!) and they carry IceBreaker brand, they have "office" ($17 per pair), "hiking" ($23 per pair) and other styles. According to my feet they are 10 times better than Read Head brand.
    Now what do I keep in my BOB, new walmart (Haynes or the such). When my everyday white socks get thin, I pitch them, get the BOB ones and put new ones in the BOB.
    I will wear the IceBreakers with my Clarks shoes, not as good as boots but I can run and walk literally all day in them with the IceBreakers.

  5. #5
    How about boots. I have some black Bates, and a pair of military (Army) black boots, both are nice however, has anyone used the Converse boots? Several types to choose from, look like a non hard sole.
    I have tried many ones over the years but cannot remember any hiking boot brands that I liked. I do have an "issue" my foot is short and triple wide (8EEE) so I rarely can buy shoes or boots that "fit".

  6. #6

    Easy to wash

    Way I figure ... if I am having to use this BOB... then, I will more than likely have to wash those clothes in it ... and wash it in some manner other than my washer and dryer. Clothing is light weight, easy to wash, wring & quick in drying.
    I am NOT looking forward to washing clothes by hand, wringing them out, beating them on a rock, etc.

  7. #7

    Saving money on clothes

    Well for the past few years I'm wearing only military BDU's , OD color, and Black mostly, but I also have a few pairs of camo if that's needed.....

    Most of them are military issue, but I have a number of pairs that are commercially made too....
    I get all my clothes at the Salvation Army store in my town and one town over... ! I only shop on Wed. too because that is half price family day....

    You'll be surprised at the good things you can find at these stores.....
    Today I bought two pairs of BDU pants... one camo, the other tan... price $2.99 each ! Perfect condition,
    Like GIJeff, I like to wear black for the same reasons... low profile... but it only takes a half hour to dye them black !
    Not only have I picked up field jackets, but also the thick winter liners that go with them ! Including hoods !!! Field Jacket $10.00 ... winter liner $ 6.00 Hood $2.50 ....

    Church sales are another good place to find all kinds of things including clothes, as are yard sales....

  8. #8
    Ok I don’t normally post but in this case since I am in the course and have a pretty extensive background in the military in austere environments I thought I would add a few comments.
    First ACU is a combat uniform not a camouflage uniform. It does not blend in anywhere except maybe inside an Airforce Aircraft. The Marines did it right with two camouflage designs but would not share their design with the Army.
    Second totally agree on the Parka it is a great item that no one should be without.
    The mickey mouse boots you describe are great for stationary work. They are NOT meant for movement. The boots will tear your feet up.
    Next sweatshirts and sweat pants are not cold weather gear. Remember Cotton Kills. It gets wet and stays wet forever and then offers no warmth. Wool is a better choice if it gets wet it will still keep you warm. Yes thermal underwear is expensive but surplus military poly pro is awesome. Layering is the key to cold weather survival. I almost never need more than thermal long johns and my tactical pants, whatever kind they may be. I prefer light weight summer rip stop, it dries faster than the heaver winter weight, however rip stop is not as durable. I also completely agree with wearing the same clothing you will use during a survival situation.

  9. #9
    Administrator GIJeff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Heya Peeps,

    I have been wearing the mickey boots regularly for a couple of years now every winter when I go to the shooting range, and while I am mostly stationary when shooting, I do considerable walking around as well. In addition, I wear those boots every time I shovel, since they are pull on, waterproof, and have good traction. They are perfectly comfortable for me, I don't know where you get the idea they will tear your feet up.

    As to the camo, everyone has their opinions. I like ACU digital because it's neutral color and blends in most environments fairly well, as well as having an odd "eye sliding" effect when you try to look at it. It's as if your brain doesn't want to see anything there and you have to concentrate on looking at it to see it.

    As to the sweats, mine are 95% poly and 5% cotton so I figure I'll only be 5% dead, heh. Do they still make sweats in cotton? When I go to the shooting range in winter and it's sometimes well below freezing, I figure to be mostly stationary and hence must really bundle up. I spend up to three hours there so I have to be prepared to stick it out for the long haul and the equipment I've described in the original post keeps me not only warm enough, but I never really get cold. If I were exerting myself I'd have to lose layers or open the parka, and I've had to do that when I'm slogging out to the 100 yard targets and back in heavy snow. I find that the combination I'm using keeps me toasty warm when everyone else is shivering and leaving early, so I'd call that success. nuff said.

    Keep on Preppin'


  10. #10
    wear regular clothing that does not scream tactical when going about your daily life. Be aware but dont make it obvious.
    for durability arbor wear pants are hard to beat. for light weight fast drying ex officcio sp? is your best choice. along with under armor.
    for winter use I agree layered poly pro is hard to beat. millitary has the best stuff, so wear it under less threatening clothing.
    I cant even comment on sweats without choking on bile. don't be fooled cotton kills.
    wool pants and shirt willl last longest in the long emergency.
    outer wind breaker layer I like north face boulder gear. tough and strong.
    If you are going overtly tactical wear poly pro, light weight gore-tex, and appropriate colored BDU's. ACUs reflect IR as a method of identification not concealment.
    socks I use light weight poly pro and thicker outer socks no cotton. cotton is for making wicks. every boot has a hole in it so you can put your foot in it. why wick dew into your boot? I use removable seal skin socks in wet weather. I use a thin boot that will dry. no thinsulate. in colder weather neos overboots work well. Asolo boots are hard to beat.


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