What to wear, oh, what to wear? Ever heard that coming from your wife’s closet? It is not as though the next potential SHTF is going to be like dressing for a party or anything, but frankly I never read any prepper advice on what clothes to take. Perhaps the concept simply sounds too rudimentary to be worthy of much discussion, but like many other prepping topics, this is one we might gloss over too quickly. I mean clothing is an essential part of what we do everyday so it should be pretty important for a SHTF, too. Don’t you think?
By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author
Global warming conspiracies aside the first thing you need to get a handle on are the general seasonal weather and temperature trends in your area as well as any location where you are considering a Bug Out option. Is it hot, cold, standard four seasons, lots of rain, snow, super dry or what? You have to know the conditions you are most likely to encounter before you can pick clothing to best suit it. What you need are year around clothing choices for comfort, protection, and durability. Withstanding and outlasting any kind of a SHTF whether a Bug In or Bug Out plan execution, you have to think long term. I prefer to think of it in terms of the four seasons, and have something to wear for all four types of conditions. Here is one list of clothing categories to consider for any SHTF.
Might as well start with the base layers and work our way out so to speak. I am old fashioned and as a male I still like cotton underwear, briefs, too if you must know. They don’t offer much protection or warmth, but they are comfortable, and easy to wash. Assess your family’s preferences, and have enough to “cover” you for a couple weeks without having to start rotating them through a wash routine. I don’t like undershirts but will wear heavy duty t-shirts over my torso (see Carhart) and for wear under outer shirts.
Also Read: Footwear When TSHTF
The women and kids need to have what works for them, too. Without my having to repeat their needs in each of these categories, just take their essentials in mind as well.
Pack socks for every weather cycle and mix them up to handle relaxation, everyday wear, work, hunting, for light shoes or heavy boots. Cotton socks are comfortable but provide no warmth. Wool socks are best for really cold conditions. You might be able to settle on just these two general types. I do like a mid-range hiking type sock as well. Some like a silk liner in the winter. At least they are lightweight and don’t take up a lot of packing space. During a SHTF I see no need for any kind of dress sock.
A good pair of socks under normal wear conditions seems to last about a year before they really start wearing out in earnest. I recommend a minimum of six pairs of each kind, more if you can afford the carry space and storage at your Bug Out locale. If you Bug In, then stock up whatever you like in reasonable redundancies.
I know some preppers that are stocking up on military surplus camouflage or hunting camo. Some of these patterns are excellent for low key hiding. Be careful though what brands of hunting garments you buy. Some are not up to par in terms of long term durability. Some are outright cheap and poorly assembled. Generally speaking real military surplus garments are well made and durable.
My primary choices for SHTF pants are (1) Carhart, (2) Redhead jeans, and (3) Duluth Trading Company Fire Hose Pants. To be honest I have not tested the Duluth Trading pants in hopes they might send us some to evaluate, but they have a good reputation for wearability and durability. I wear the other two types extensively in addition to standard hunting camouflage pants from Mossy Oak, Realtree, Longleaf, and Muddy Water. What you want most in good SHTF pants beside fit and comfort is long term durability. Forget the designer jeans or some of the common trade named jeans that simply do not hold up over time. They just wear out too fast.
Jackets & Coats
Again, weather trends rule here. I recommend at the very least you take one lightweight jacket or rain suit jacket and one heavy insulated coat with a hood as an option. Durable work coats make good choices as do many winter hunting coats. The options are obviously endless in this category. Buy jackets and coats with heavy duty zippers and even snap or button over closures like some Browning 4-1 hunting coats. These have inside liners that can be worn as a stand alone jacket or zipped into the outer coat as an insulation factor.
Miscellaneous Clothing Items
Naturally in addition to these basic categories of clothing for SHTF consideration there are other items to consider adding to your soft goods stock. These would include hats, stocking caps, scarves, gloves for work and warmth, sweaters, vests in goose down and/or wool, rain gear, belts, shoes, boots, maybe even waders. Consider also coveralls and bib-overalls for around SHTF camp work and wear. What else? As mentioned before in all the clothing categories, buy for fit and durability. If we go into any kind of an extended SHTF we may wait a long time or forever to be able to buy new clothing items or much else. Once the 18-wheeler supply line goes down, don’t look for stores to have anything to sell. That’s in a best case scenario.