Monday, May 26, 2008

To Camo or Not to Camo

The question came up about camouflage. Lots of people who lean towards survivalism tend to think that military issued gear and camouflage clothing are de rigour for being a survivalist. I tend to think that this type of stuff is only a very small part of your survivalist gear. If you are a hunter and have every camouflage item produced by Cabelas, that's fine, however in a survivalist situation, or in day to day situations, what you need to do is be able to blend into your environment. Camo helps you blend into the woods/desert/snowfields depending on the pattern. It is appropriate clothing for hunting, is perfectly appropriate on military bases, and is often required by your military/SWAT command.

On the other hand, you also need appropriate clothing and gear to blend into 95% of the other situations you may find yourself in. We have been hard-wired to judge people within a split second every since our ancestors crawled out of the swamp. This ability allowed our earliest relatives to determine who wanted to kill them and who would be more likely to help them and allowed them to survive and reproduce which is why we are here today. Even though we like to think we are more advanced than this and would judge people by the "content of their character", we still have that primordial part of our brain that makes immediate judgements. Which leads us to appropriate gear and clothing.

In most of the survival situations that you will find yourself in, you will be relying on other people to help you. The other people may be your friends, neighbors and relatives, however they will more likely be complete strangers. They will take one look at you and determine if, how much, and what type of help they will offer you. It pays to look as much like them as you can since immediate reactions are based on appearances.

You can try this theory out for yourself. Go to an upscale mall. Have on a well tailored suit, good shoes, a nice haircut, a watch, and a briefcase. The sales people will flock to help you. If on the other hand, you arrive at aforementioned upscale mall looking like you just rolled out from beneath an underpass, the only people who will flock to you will be security.

Basically, you need to match your environment. If you are traveling around the world, it helps to look as important as possible. Most cultures base the esteem that they give a person on how well they are dressed. You may be able to head out to Walmart here in your sweatpants and raggedy T shirt, however in most other countries, people wouldn't be caught dead dressed like that and they will treat you accordingly. The same goes if you are in a rural area in the northwest. T shirt, jeans, and ball cap would be perfectly acceptable clothing; an Armani suit and a Rolex would draw undue, and possibly negative attention to you in this type of situation. Women who travel to Muslim countries, whether they are Muslim or not, should wear a head scarf. It isn't required, however it may make the difference between being served in a restaurant and having rocks thrown at you when you walk down the street.

The bottom line is that you need a variety of "costumes" in your survival supplies. Camo is fine but "generic average people clothes" based on your location is better because you won't stick out like a sore thumb and/or scare the natives. You may even want to consider having on hand a Domino's drivers uniform, paramedic's uniform, or lineman's get up just in case you need to access a location where these types of clothing would allow you to "fit in" and therefore be accorded the access and assistance you need.


  1. Great observations. As the old saying goes, "when in Rome..." In one of Ron Hood's urban survival videos, he discusses this, too.


  2. Good example of stealth survival techniques. You probably won't want any "extra" attention by whoever's in charge.