Proper Clothing for A Survival Situation

The million-dollar question…what clothing do I need to have in my Bug Out Bag?

If I had a dollar for every time I am asked that question, I wouldn’t need to write a blog.  You can ask every survival guru or prepper on the internet this very question, and get a different answer from all of them.  But the one single thing everyone will agree on is this.


You can typically pick out the weekend warrior when visiting a park, or hiking the backwoods.  With exception I know, they will be the ones wearing inappropriate clothing for the situation they are going into.     Blue Jeans and T-shirts, 100% cotton, are the choice most them make.  It’s comfortable and it’s durable.  Don’t forget the tennis shoes either.  You are only going to be on a 3 of hour hike, so what’s the big deal, right? I believe they made a TV comedy based upon a 3-hour tour, Gilligan’s Island, remember?  My whole point is, prepare for the worst, hope for the best.  I get it, if you are hiking a trail you have hiked numerous times, and its not in some remote area, and the chances are slim of getting lost, or finding yourself in a survival situation, then it doesn’t matter a great deal.  I am referring to those of us whom like to get deep into back country.

I learned my lesson many years ago.  While day hiking literally in my back yard in Eastern Kentucky, I got turned around in a wilderness area I had spent years exploring, not very far from home.  I had taken nothing into the woods with me other than my walking stick.  I was wearing Blue Jeans, a T-shirt, and tennis shoes.  I stepped of the main trail to cross a holler and explore.  One thing led to another, and I found myself basically lost.  While I’m certain that I had been in this part of the mountain before, on this given day, nothing looked correct.  It was late May, and overcast that day, so fixing a position proved difficult.  As the sun began to set, I finally figured out where I was by stumbling upon landmarks that I recognized.  I then realized that I had managed to get about 7-miles off the beaten path.  It was at that point that I made a crucial mistake.  I attempted to cross a small running river, as I knew I needed to follow a path on the other side.  I fell in the water.  I suddenly found myself soaking wet, in clothes that would not dry quickly, no ability to start a fire, and darkness was quickly approaching.  Knowing I wouldn’t make it home that evening, I had to remove my clothing, build a bedding area out of pine branches and piled up leaves, and endure a very miserable night.  The next morning, I put my still wet clothes back on, and made my way home.  The intent of my story is to demonstrate just how quickly a situation can turn into a survival situation.  I shudder at the thought of how my misfortune might have turned out had it been winter instead of late spring.  Not to mention I had half the neighbors in our area out looking for me.  I was 13 years old.  I’m 51 years old today, but I can still remember that day.  I learned a valuable lesson.  I never went into the back country again without being prepared.

So, all this comes down to making the proper choices when it comes to attire for use in a survival situation, or how to plan for the worse, and hope for the best.

For trousers, choose from the many non-cotton type.  My personal favorite is Singbring Men’s Outdoor Lightweight Waterproof Hiking Mountain Pants.  They are made of polyester, got padding and scuff padding where needed, and are comfortable.  While they are water-resistant, if you go swimming, you will need to dry them out, which doesn’t take long.

For shirts, my personal favorite is the Russell Athletic Men’s Performance T-Shirt.  It is also made polyester, is light and dries quickly as well.

Being retired from the military, I wear issued combat boots, which I can still get from any local military installation.  As for socks, I cheat a bit.  I like cotton over wool, and carry additional dry socks as needed.

In addition to the basic clothing talked about here, you must also take into consideration gloves, hats, and cold weather gear, which we will cover in an upcoming article.

Till then, happy adventures!

About Marty

Marty was born in Eastern Kentucky, and is from a generation that played in the mountains and woodlands growing up, social media and computers simply did not exist. He is retired from the military, and has practiced survival and kept in touch with his backwoods heritage for over 50 years now.

View all posts by Marty →