Clothing Yourself for Post-SHTF

You’ve been prepping for months now, maybe even years. But how much thought have you give to clothing yourself and your family post-SHTF? If you’re planning to bug out, you won’t have much room for extra clothing and what about those folks planning to bug in? As a wise prepper, you should plan ahead to cloth yourself and your family in the weeks and months following a collapse.

If you are bugging out, take advantage of those plastic space bags to store your clothing in the smallest amount of space possible so it will fit into your BOB or INCH bag. The amount of room in your bag will be limited, so focus on clothing that is versatile and can be worn in several different types of weather. If you can’t use space bags, consider military skivvy rolls as demonstrated in this video:

Bug Out Bag - Packing Clothes US Marine Style

Those planning to bug in during a SHTF scenario have a distinct advantage of sorts over those planning to bug out because you won’t have to carry everything on your back. One of the things you want to carefully consider is clothing. Let’s talk about what kind of clothing you should stockpile, then we’ll talk about where to find it and how to store it if you’re bugging in, so it’s ready for you to use when needed.

What Type of Clothing is Best?

You probably know that the key to survival is to dress in layers. Layered clothing allows you to be flexible and adapt your clothing to the type of weather you have to endure throughout the day.  The trick to layers is to keep them loose fitting no matter the season. Loose fitting layers in warm weather, make it harder for insects to bite through your clothing. In cold weather, loose fitting layers serve to create pockets of air between layers to insulate and keep you warm.

Grey Man Clothing

When the world is in chaos, looting and rioting is going to become the norm anywhere that people congregate. Even if you’re planning to bug in, there may come a time when you have to leave your home to get more supplies, find medical help, or meet up with family members who got separated. This is where the “grey man clothing” comes into play. There are many components to becoming a “grey man” and there’s more to it than just your clothing. We’ll talk about other aspects in another article.

On way to avoid becoming a target when you are in a populated area is to make sure your clothing is very nondescript and doesn’t stimulate the eye. Our brain tends to ignore continuous color so wear the same color top and bottom. Choose plain, neutral tones such as brown, grey, dark blue, and tan. T-shirts and jackets should be plain without logo or photo that would attract attention.

In a suburban area for example, cargo shorts and a plain t-shirt help you appear like a typical suburb dad, very non-threatening. But if your neighborhood is full of guys wearing camo and tank tops, you will definitely stand-out. The key is to wear regular, every day clothing that doesn’t catch the eye or make you stand out among others who will be in that area.

Be a Grey Man: Clothing

What is the Gray Man

Clothing Layering Technique

Sub Layer

The sub layer is the one closest to your skin and includes your underwear and maybe a tank top or wool tights. These items should ideally be made of a fabric that is hydrophobic (doesn’t absorb water) and with wicking capability, which means it pulls the moisture away from your body.

Stay away from cotton underwear because it soaks up water and then totally loses its insulating capability. Brands like Underarmour boxer briefs or sleeveless shirt and ExOfficio boxer briefs are great. Add wool tights or leggings in the winter weather. Cool Max or merino wool socks are best. Merino wool is durable and softer than most other wools. Below are some links to several examples:

Base Layer

The base layer will ideally be a t-shirt or sleeveless shirt in mild weather. For areas that experience extreme cold weather, polypropylene long johns or thermal underwear work great. They don’t absorb water and serve as a barrier between the skin and any outside moisture. The Polar Max brand, such as PolarMax-Double Base Layer-Bottom and PolarMax-Double Base-Top is a good set to have or choose a thermal underwear with Merino wool such as one of these.

Core Layer

The core layer comes next and can be just one layer in warm weather or several layers in colder weather. In most cases it will be pants or shorts and a shirt, with maybe a fleece pullover. Your core layer will greatly depend on where you reside, the weather patterns, and the type of activity you are doing throughout the day.

Cargo shorts with pockets work well in the summer. Carhart Canvas Dungaree Work Pants have deep front pockets and belt loops perfectly spaced to hold a holster. Duluth Trading Firehose work pants are functional but don’t look tactical. Stay away tactical looking clothing like 511 pants or Blackhawk. Below are some suggestions for fleece pullovers.

  • Fleece Pullover, Light – link
  • Fleece Pullover, Heavy – link

Outer Shell

The outer layer or shell should be polyester or nylon, something that not only block the wind but will have some degree of water resistance or be waterproof. Polyester is good, its wind blocking capacity is great and it’s a good insulator. Nylon works well too, its durable and dries out quickly if it does absorb a little moisture. Down can be a great insulator and it’s very lightweight but it’s useless and can even be dangerous when it gets wet because it’s nearly impossible to dry out. Wool pants or ones that are at least 60% polyester make a good outer shell in extreme cold weather.

Surplus Wool Pants – link

Fleece Lined Pants – link

Helly Hansen Impertech Rain Jacket – link

Finish it Off

Everyone needs a good pair of hiking sandals, several pairs of good running shoes, a pair of hiking boots, and at least one pair of insulated snow boots. In cold weather climates, you will want to cover your head, neck, and hands to protect them from the cold. A polyester scarf or neck warmer works well or you can knit or crochet a scarf from wool yarn. For your head, a wool or fleece cap under the hood of your jacket will suffice. Add a couple pairs of insulated work gloves and a minimum of one set of insulated mittens.

  • Rocky Core Boots – link
  • Fleece – Cap – link
  • Carhartt Cold Snap Gloves – link
  • Leather Mittens: – link
  • BUFF Neck Wool Base Layer – link

What you wear on a daily basis will of course depend on the projects you have planned for the day, the climate of your location, and the time of year. Avoid fabrics such as rayon, neoprene, and silk (except for very hot climates). If you’re bugging out, you’ll be able to carry a lot less with you but if you’re bugging in, start collecting items now so that you have a good supply on hand if SHTF.

Storing Your Clothing

If you’ve made the decision to bug in during a SHTF event, you can store extra clothing and seasonal clothing in the attic as long as you can access it easily. Keep in mind that your attic will get extremely hot in the summer weather and extremely cold in winter. It can also be susceptible to rodents such as raccoons, rats, and mice. The best containers to use for storing clothing are the Rubbermaid type plastic containers with locking handles. These come in a variety of sizes but the 18 to 20-gallon size should work well for most of your storage needs. You can label each container with duct tape and a black marker.

Where to Find Your Clothing

Your Own Closet or an Attic

There’s really no need to run out and buy all brand new clothing to stockpile for a SHTF scenario. You probably have most of what you need already in your closet or even in your attic if you look carefully. It might be worthwhile to check the attic of an older relative or family member to ferret out some usable clothing or fabric.

You might be surprised at the treasure trove of clothing that is often just collecting dust in your attic or that of a relative. Make sure to collect some baby clothing as well. Items such as cloth diapers and pins, baby blankets, onesies, and sleepers will be hard to come by if stores are closed and may be needed if you or a family member becomes pregnant post-collapse.

Secondhand Stores

Goodwill and Salvation Army second hand stores are a logical place to find inexpensive clothing that you can make use of during a post-collapse situation. Many times there is nothing wrong with the clothing you will find there, it was donated because it no longer fit or suited the tastes of the previous owner. You can buy used clothes for pennies on the dollar and use those to build your post-SHTF clothing stockpile. Make sure to get the fabrics and colors we mentioned above. Keep your eyes open for wool blankets or even a wool kilt which could be repurposed into something wearable.

Make Your Own Clothing

Another way to get clothing after a collapse or grid-down event is to make your own. Even if you’ve never sewn a stitch before, you can learn how to make your own clothing for yourself and your family. The key to making your own clothing is in the patterns. You can buy patterns relatively inexpensively at any craft or fabric store such as JoAnn Fabrics. Choose simple patterns for shirts, pants, or even a sundress for warmer weather. Patterns comes in adult and children’s sizes as well as unisex patterns.

Each pattern will provide you with a list of materials you need and will indicate how much fabric is needed for the size that you choose. It’s also a good idea to keep a sewing kit on hand with common items since stores will most likely be closed following a SHTF or disaster situation.

In addition to a sewing machine, you will need pins, needles, extra bobbins for your machine, thread, buttons, zippers, elastic, and some no-sew glue. Cotton fabrics are easiest for beginners to work with and are great for everyday wear if you are certain you won’t get wet and be unable to change into dry clothes.

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1 thought on “Clothing Yourself for Post-SHTF”

  1. As part of being the grey man, when we buy new clothes our old serviceable ones get put up for emergency wear. The last thing you want is to be walking around in brand new clothes, while every one else is wearing threads. The only thing we buy and store new is socks and underwear and we keep a lot of extra socks. When you are using your feet for days on end, you want to be able to change socks regularly.


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