When you step away from your house or vehicle where you have protection from the wind and precipitation, and are able to adjust the ambient temperature to keep you comfortable, your clothing is your first line of defense against the elements.
What you wear becomes a portable shelter system. So give careful consideration to the clothing and shoes you routinely wear. When an emergency situation hits, you may not be able to change into something more appropriate. If you're wearing high-heels or slick-soled business shoes when civilization suddenly comes to an end, heaven help you.
Seriously, if you're interested in survival, forget fashion and go with function every time. There are alternatives today that look good in a business environment and still provide the ability to walk comfortably for long distances. The same goes with every article of clothing you wear.
Imagine a power failure in New York City just at the close of business on a snowy January evening, and you have to walk 9 miles to get to your apartment because transportation is shut down because there are no functioning traffic lights and the subways aren't running. If you were caught in that, you'd regret the "stupid" fashions and wish you were wearing "real" clothing.
Whether you're surviving on the street or in the wilderness, the problems are the same. But frankly, I'd take the wilderness every time, where the predators are easier to identify and deal with.
Here are 10 tips about how to dress to live:
- Dress in layers, so you can easily add or subtract articles of clothing to adjust for weather and temperature conditions, as well as for your level of labor.
- When buying outdoor clothing, keep in mind that buttons are more durable and more reliable than zippers, but zippers close the fabric without gaps in between, to prevent unintentional ventilation.
- The best natural fiber for outdoor clothing is wool, because it is relatively resistant to absorbing moisture, it tends to wick moisture away from your body to prevent cooling, and it will still provide some insulation value even when wet. If you don't like the "itch" of wool, buy Merino Wool, because it is soft and itch-free. Cotton, on the other hand, absorbs like a sponge and holds moisture close to your body, promoting hypothermia in cool weather.
- Wind and water are the enemy, so wear clothing that will turn both away. A waterproof but breathable outer shell is best because it protects against the wind and sheds water from outside but allows perspiration to escape from inside.
- In winter, mittens are better than gloves because they allow the fingers to share warmth rather than isolating each finger in a cold cocoon.
- Wear boots or shoes that are loose enough to promote good circulation of blood to the feet and toes. Poor circulation promotes frostbite.
- The purpose of clothing is to protect the body, so wear long sleeves and pant legs to prevent sunburn, scrapes, bug bites, and loss of body core warmth.
- In warm weather, wear a brimmed hat or a cap with a bill, and have a large handkerchief or bandana to use as a sun shield for the back of the neck and sides of the face. In cold weather, wear a hooded jacket and neck covering to protect body warmth.
- Clean clothing insulates better than dirty fabric, so in a survival situation take care of your clothing to keep it clean and functional.
- Unless you’re trying to cool off in the heat of summer, keep yourself and your clothes dry. Wet clothing conducts heat away from your body very rapidly, and moisture on your skin acts like an evaporative air conditioner.