“Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live.” — Gianni Versace
Don’t get fooled by the quote from one of most well-known fashion icons and haute-couture stylists. In fact, this article is meant to lead you, the prepper woman, into an annotated trip inside the multi-colored (and multi-purpose and multi-priced!) world of bug out clothing for women.
by Kyt Lyn Walken, professional tracker and contributing writer
As a woman who has spent countless hours in forests, plains, and desert environments with nothing but what I have on my back and body, I may have some advice you will find helpful.
Choosing Clothes to Wear for Bugging Out
It is not just a matter of picking different pieces of clothing by chance and stuff them into your bug out bag. Nor are we talking about the business of post-apocalyptic fashion.
Bug out clothes are not meant to be garments just buried somewhere in your wardrobe waiting for the one day you might need to bug out. It doesn’t work that way.
You need to know you can completely rely on the clothes you select because they can make the difference between life and death. This is especially true when temperatures drop below freezing or, on the contrary, in case of blasting heat. For this specific reason, the selection of your clothing “companions” must be well thought out.
Never make clothes shopping decisions – particularly for these purposes – happen in a rush. “You decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live.” And, let me add, the way to survive.
Bug Out Clothing Requirements
“The two most important requirements for major success are: first, being in the right place at the right time, and second, doing something about it.” – Ray Kroc
In my previous article on bug out bag (BOB) advice for women, I stressed the qualities that a good BOB should possess.
Those include the following attributes:
- Consistent Performance
Suitable garments that couple that bug out bag should follow the same requirements. The sole, mere fact of needing to rely on them them should cause you to pay very close attention before making a purchase.
Therefore, in addition to the above list, you need to add to the following attributes:
In practical terms, these requirements will guide you towards the option for clothes which are:
- light to carry (for example, a fleece weighs less than a sweater made of the finest Alpaca Wool)
- well-layered and produced, far from being some trashy items
- durable to the point of lasting for years if cared for
- with a proper way to allow your skin to breathe
- easy to fold inside compression sacks
- comfortable to wear
You have to select what appeals to your mind (and wallet) before making this investment. You are not shopping with your eyes for trending clothes, colors, and styles. Think critically and you will be heading in the right direction not only to buy the very best stuff you can afford, but also to save money. Planning ahead and knowing what you want will allow you to take advantage of extraordinary sales.
It can be difficult to articulate the power of substance through words, but experience and frantic tests will surely help you out.
Examine Clothes Closely and Test Through Experience
“Trust but verify.” – Ronald Reagan
Amazon is surely a top platform to rely on when it comes to shopping various items, looking for sales and researching others’ opinions through customer reviews. But your tactile sense stands as an important factor in selecting your clothes. You need to verify, for example, the texture of a fabric you aren’t familiar with. Of course, it always an option to buy, examine, and return if you are unsatisfied.
Technical textiles are at the very cutting edge of clothing products in the last decades. They ride the hectic wave of demand for breathable shirts, shirts, or even trousers.
(See Prepper Shirts for related just-for-fun clothes.)
Some clothes are made of extremely lightweight fabric, but are also prone to being torn through brambles or damaged by proximity of camp fire. I have ruined several shirts in this way. So, don’t remain stuck to your first, positive reaction to a brand new or item.
Get familiar with the product by touching it and analyzing stitching and the details of fabrication. Test clothes through use and in different terrains at different time experience will tell you the rest.
When Practice – and experience – Makes Perfect
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett
As mentioned above, a good, initial impression can leave you satisfied or totally disappointed once tested in the field. Far away from being a simple matter of comfort, the process of testing ALL the garments you purchase is an unavoidable step in identifying the pros and cons of each item.
My suggestion is to keep a journal or a Excel file on your PC or email (so you can easily access it even from mobile phone) where you can take note of:
- Type of garment (shirts, trousers, and so on)
- Location of the purchase (i.e., Eastern Mountain Sports, Black Diamond Apparel, etc.)
- Annotations after 1st test, after 2nd test (and so on)
- Final considerations on Pros and Cons
It may sound stupid, but believe me, doing this will serve you in an amazing way, especially if your tests will take place after a period of time (surely you cannot test a fleece in hot temperatures!). In fact, the cornerstone of being prepared is to count on an organized mind.
Forgetting that we already purchased a certain garment (and maybe reviewed that in a very bad way) can happen more often than you think, especially if you love clothes and buy many.
Personal Selection – Expectation vs Reality
“No expectations are always good protections” – Anonymous
Let me stress again how important accuracy is during the process of determining which garments you need to pack inside your bug out bag. Never underestimate your physical conditions or your body/mind limits. For example, if you are sensitive to the cold, pay extra attention to preparing additional layers that will keep you warm.
Make sure to arrange clothes for all the different kinds of weather conditions and seasons, from heavy winter clothes to lightweight summer apparel. Give special attention to waterproof and insulated jackets, boots, without forgetting quality socks and gloves. The fingers are, in fact, more prone to be highly attacked by hypothermia and chillblains.
My personal selection of bug out clothes includes:
- light and warm socks up to the knee (to help prevent tick bites)
- cotton and mixed wool underwear
- seamless bras (honest suggestion to all the women out there: please avoid any bra with an underwire, as it increases the risk of developing breast cancer!)
- short and long sleeves shirts
- 2 trousers in ripstop (ripstop adds much needed durability)
- 2 leggings
- light sweater
- 2 fleece hoodies
- waterproof jacket
- foldable quilted jacket
- a pair of light and a pair of warm gloves
- a pair of light and a pair of heavy boots
- boonie hat
- wool beanie hat
This is obviously meant to be a starting point. Again, you need to update this list up to your necessities and personal observations. No one else can help you figure out what works for you besides you.
Bug Out Clothes You Must Avoid
“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William Arthur Ward
Stocking your bug out clothes is not exactly a cushy thing to do, I reckon that. But, once again, turning some old items into a selection of garments that you need to wear in a SHTF situation isn’t a brilliant idea. (See How Likely is a SHTF Scenario or Situation?)
For this exact reason, please avoid:
- damaged clothes and boots
- flashy shapes and colors
- any items you never tested before
- off-size apparel
Rely only on your personal experience and always apply common sense!
Bug Out Clothes for Women Conclusion
“When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” – John F. Kennedy
An inquisitive mind is a valuable aid to rely on when it comes to review new items on the market. I know that cutting edge products always represent a real temptation during shopping. Being wise and patient while testing garments will provide the right mentality for quality analysis. Understand in the implications of SHTF situations and you will be better able to understand what you actually need and what makes you feel comfortable.
As a matter of fact, feeling good with what we are wearing provides us with more serenity, which will enhance our ability to take decisions with no rush, but with foresight and accuracy.
Value the opinions of your friends and relatives but reason with your own mind. Calculate risks and make no assumptions, especially in a hurry. Don’t get overly influenced by YouTube videos as well!
If caught up alone, you will need to decide by yourself. Do all of this and you will dress in the most appropriate, comfortable, and consistent way.
Those are my thoughts. What are yours?