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Layered, oversized clothing: Loose-fitting clothes “blur” your body shape and conceal whatever you’re carrying. Yes, all your clothes will seem bigger after a few weeks of restricted caloric intake and enhanced physical activity, but you can always cinch your belt tighter down the road.

  • The dark-gray or black hoodie is de rigueur for urban camouflage. If you can find one in a thick fleece material, go for it; synthetics outperform cotton every time.
  • If you can’t part with those range pants, then don’t! (We wouldn’t!) Simply get a few pairs in a size or two above your own. Those extra pockets and that rip-stop, reinforced fabric will come in handy with your everyday carry items and to distribute your cargo on scavenging excursions. Khaki colors are best for daytime “gray man” activities. The extra inches in the waist? Well, it’s always best to prepare for the most likely scenarios, and Thanksgiving happens every single year.
  • Graphics-free tee shirt over synthetic undershirt: Nothing says “bland” like a neutral-toned, logo-free tee shirt. To avoid the chafing associated with cotton materials, wear a synthetic long-sleeve or tank shirt underneath.
  • Season-appropriate coats and windbreakers work great to top off your layering system. Lots of internal pockets can help you carry stuff while helping to alter your silhouette.

Put a lid on it with a ball cap: Baseball-style hats help hide your face from those with a height advantage and shade your features even when you’re face-to-face with a stranger. Pick up a plain gray or brown ball cap, and keep it in your bug out kit. Black says “tactical” or “off-duty cop”, but neutral colors just say, “bro”. If you live in an area where hunting camo is common, then, by all means, play along; just don’t run around in a bright read MAGA hat, hunter’s orange, or your Pink Pistols cap.

Cover-ups for distinguishing markings: Hopefully, you don’t have any visible markings that are difficult to hide; next time you’re thinking about getting that neck tattoo you’ve always wanted, consider how well it will go for you in a martial law situation. Or, for that matter, at a future job interview. If the weather’s cold, pack a turtleneck or neck gaiter in your kit. Scarves can be a hazard, especially in a scuffle, not to mention that their fluttering action in the wind draws unwanted attention.

Jewelry: Ditch it. Whether it’s on your wedding ring finger or attached to your eyebrow, it’s an identifier and a possible reason for you to be targeted.

Hygiene: Keeping your clothes and body clean is important for your health, and helps keep you warm. But if you look too tidy and well-fed thanks to your advance planning and preps, people will get curious. Take advantage of those baggy clothes, and consider how you can single-handedly revive the grunge fashion movement.

Living Gray, Every Day

Blending in has its benefits, not only to residents of European countries but to your own day-to-day security. One can easily go down a rabbit hole in terms of online profiles, credit scores, internet browsing, and banking practices, but if the basics are left exposed, what’s the point? Here are a few areas that could use a little “graying-in”:

Brown Wrapper Deliveries

The gray philosophy also applies to your home environment. Do you regularly receive shipments of range ammo or prepping supplies? Is your curbside mailbox open for business to anyone who drives by? Consider opening up a P.O. box to draw attention away from your home address and reduce the likelihood of identity theft. Set up a lockbox in a discreet location on your property for UPS and FedEx deliveries, or arrange to have them delivered to your business, if appropriate.

The Silent Dog Whistle

Peel those gun club stickers off your truck rear window, and take down that “Protected by Smith and Wesson” fence sign. You can show your support of the 2nd Amendment by making financial donations, and your attorney will tell you that blatant displays of your intent to protect your property could be held against you should you actually have to use your firearm to do it.

Nudging the Neighbors

It’s prudent to encourage your neighbors to prep; if they have food and supplies, they’re less likely to come after yours. But rather than show off your own provisions as an example, consider handing out flyers for your city’s Community Emergency Response Team, or organize a neighborhood Red Cross first aid or CPR class to gauge their receptiveness.

Even a neighborhood watch can help you galvanize your block and get people out of the “code white” frame of mind…without tipping your hand. Most cities have officers available to advise organized neighborhoods; just don’t be a “know-it-all” when he or she comes to give advice to your groups.

Normalizing Family Skill Building

When your first-grader tells his teacher, “Mom’s taking us shooting so we can learn to blow away zombies!” that’s a great way to get him kicked out of school. If your family is slowly eased into ] activities that expand their confidence and skills, it doesn’t become such a big deal to take a trip to the range, or to spend a weekend in the backcountry. Your kids can learn to discuss target practice, gun safety, wilderness skills, and self-defense in a more palatable—and less shocking—context when the subject comes up…and if you handle it in an appropriate, “non-taboo” fashion, you can teach your family why they might not want to bring these topics up at all.

Expand Upon the Gray Man Approach

Now that you have your post-apocalyptic wardrobe picked out and packed with your emergency gear and you’ve given some thought to sanding the sharp edges off your public profile, how else can you apply your radar-evading skills? What other preparedness plans could use a little shade?

The more you make a point to notice things in your everyday environment, the better you’ll be able to adapt to a low-profile existence when going “gray” will be an essential survival strategy.

John Bishop

Category Survival

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