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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Week Nine - Clothing


Insure everyone has a coat, hat, and gloves warm enough for this winter.

Blog Post:

Clothing is very important. It protects us from the extremes of this planet and outerspace. Yes, outerspace.

Think about the effort that the various space programs take to protect an astronaut, cosmonaut, or taikonaut. Extreme cold, heat, and the almost absolute vacuum of space.

Lucky for you, you are only preparing for an emergency on this planet, but that is still a big challenge.

Depending on where you live will depend on the clothing you will need for your emergency preparations. The Pacific Northwest will require an entirely different set of clothing preparations then in the American Southwest. This also goes for the urban, suburban, or rural resident.

Let's look at some of the similarities for all of these locations.

A hat

Everybody needs a hat. I suggest a wide brim hat that has a brim about 3 inches wide all the way around the hat. The full brim will protect your ears, neck and face from the sun's harsh rays. The hat will also reduce the amount of body heat escaping from you in the cold.

If it is really cold, you will need a second hat.

A US military pile cap, a close fitting cap with flaps that cover the ears; a wool watch cap/beanie; or a towel wrapper around your head will help retain some of your body heat.

A scarf

Yes, a scarf even for the desert. In the winter/cold areas of the the world, you will want a wool scarf. Make sure, the scarf is long enough to wrap around your face to protect your face from the wind. If you/a family member is allergic to wool, acrylic scarves work pretty well. You also might want to check out merino wool items. I hear they don't get scratchy like regular wool.

Back to the scarf for the desert. This scarf should be long enough to warp around your head to protect your neck, face, and eyes from the intense sunlight found in the desert. The Bedouins call them kufiyya; theirs are made out of wool. I suggest a cotton one; additionally, a cotton scarf can hold an ice cube at the base of your neck to help keep you cool in the summer.

A shirt

You will want a long sleeve shirt. The long sleeves will protect you from various dangers such as sun, wind, and biting insects. Depending on the climate, you can layer the shirt with a t-shirt under the shirt and a sweater over the shirt.

Most people will tell you to avoid using cotton in your emergency preparedness preparations. I agree, for the most part. Cotton is a poor fabric for survival. Cotton will hold moisture, doesn't dry fast, and it doesn't retain your body heat as well as wool and the synthetic fabrics, like polypropylene, when wet. If you can avoid getting wet, say when you are indoors, cotton makes an inexpensive clothing fabric.

I own a few cotton sweaters that I wear during the winter to keep the chill off while in the house. I even wear a cotton sweater when I travel around town in the winter. But I keep a wool or performance fabric, such as thermax, shirt handy if I go out into the wild for more than a few minutes.

Long pants

You need long pants not shorts. Just like long sleeves, long pants protect you from the sun and flying stuff if you use a chainsaw or string trimmer.

Now don't get me wrong, shorts are cool, (Yes, the pun was intended.) but you are trying to prevent injuries during an emergency. Just like shirts, wool in the winter and cotton in the summer is OK, but avoid getting the cotton items wet.

Undies or no undies that is the question

From my understanding, undergarments where originally intended to reduce the need to wash your outer clothing. Our sweat and body oils would soil the underwear instead of the outer cloths. The outer clothes could be worn many times before needing to be cleaned. I do this when I am working outside in the summer. I will wear the same jeans and t-shirt for 3 to 5 days before washing them.


I wear wool socks with my boots all year long. I will add a polypro (polypropylene) or nylon sock liner in the winter to keep my feet warm.

During the summer, I wear sandals. You can also wear sandals in the cold, if you wear socks or other insulating material around your feet.


You will need gloves for every climate. Warm ones for winter/the cold, tough ones for when you work in the garden or heavy labor, and specialty gloves for those specialty tasks such as welding, painting, or operating on someone.


The last similarity is the need for sandals, shoes, and boots. I suggest getting the best footwear you can afford. If all transportation stops, similar to 9/11/01 in New York, you may have to walk home.

I get my emergency clothing from discount stores, charity stores, department stores, military surplus stores, and specialty stores.

I buy my cotton undergarments and cotton socks, colored t-shirts, and inexpensive boots at discount stores. At department stores, I get my jeans and collared shirts.

I visit charity stores every once in awhile. I buy my used clothes in the "earth tones," green, brown, and black.

Military surplus stores provide a lot of my emergency preparedness clothing. Most surplus foreign military clothing is wool or cotton. The United States military surplus has polypro long johns, gortex jackets, and other more modern fabrics. Former military clothing seems to be more rugged; plus it is in the earth tone colors.

At specialty stores, I buy my expensive boots/shoes, welding gloves, safety glasses, and other hard to find items.

Before I go on, I would like to write about the levels of clothing technology in the US military.

In the 1940s-1950s, the US military used wool and cotton in their field gear/clothing. An example is the arctic parka. It had a cotton shell, a wool liner, and an animal fur hood. This level of technology has its limitation, but all of the gear still works. Be careful, some of this equipment is becoming collectible, so prices are increasing.

In the 1960s - 1970s, the US military was changing to synthetic material for their liners for their clothing. The shells such as field jackets and field pants were still made out of cotton, but the liners would be nylon with a polyester core.

From the 1980s onward, the US military had embraced the synthetic fabrics. Rain jackets are now made out of gortex. Uniforms are a combination of nylon and cotton, and liners are polypropylene. You still see wool and cotton, but it is slowly disappearing.

So what do these last three paragraphs have to do with emergency preparedness? They have to deal with technology levels and how to stretch your limited dollars.

Yes, gortex is great, but you may not be able to afford it. So you buy nylon rain jackets. Can't afford polypro long johns, buy military surplus wool long johns. If you can't afford surplus wool long johns, save your money and buy them. The cotton long johns will not protect you from the cold if they get wet.

Need more rugged inexpensive coats with liners, buy surplus foreign military coats. Need more leather boots, buy used military boots.

So, how much clothing do you need? You will have to decide.

I have 7 uniforms for work, one clean uniform for each day of the week and a spare at work and home. When I say uniform, I mean an actual uniform. For some people, such as office workers, your uniform may be a tie, button down shirt, dress pants, and underwear.

I have 3 coats with liners for everyone in the family. A nice coat for everyday wear and two coats that are surplus foreign military. The two coats are split between the family cars. As we add cars, we will purchase more coats for emergency boxes stored in the truck of each car. (More about that in a few weeks).

I keep many, many pairs of socks on hand. There is nothing like having cold wet feet and changing into a clean pair of dry socks.

In footwear, we have three pairs of work shoes/boots, a few pairs of sandals, and surplus military boots in storage.

From looking at third-world countries and other disasters, I believe that clothing will be available, but comfortable and properly fitting footwear will be in short supply. Don't forget a spare pair of arch supports if you need arch support and shoe laces too.

This is a lot of clothing and footwear. To save money, we buy clothes when they are on sale. I also search the military surplus stores/sites for bargains on boots and surplus clothing. For gloves, hats, and scarfs, we buy at the end of the season when these items are deeply discounted.

I also stock spare clothing for expected guests. I mentioned this in a previous post. The ladies are asked to send gently used bras. The clothing goes in metal drums for secure storage. We had a mouse problem that is the reason for the metal drums.

In my research, I have found two differing opinions on storing bedding, blankets, and clothing. The United States military throws their clothing in a pile. They say this method prevents wear spots that would develop, if the clothing was folded.

Others say that folding allows more items to be placed in the same amount of space when compared to unfolded items. These folks also say the wear spots only develop, if the item is repeatedly folded. You decide, and ...

I'll see you next week!


NASA - Human Body in a Vacuum

Survival Clothing for Outdoor Emergencies:

Survival Topics - The Three Layer System

Jon's Exmoor Bushcraft Blog - Layering Clothing for Comfort and Survival, Part One

Jon's Exmoor Bushcraft Blog - Layering Clothing for Comfort and Survival, Part Two

Jon's Exmoor Bushcraft Blog - Layering Clothing for Comfort and Survival, Part Three

Jon's Exmoor Bushcraft Blog - Layering Clothing for Comfort and Survival, Part Four

Survival Clothing for Outdoor Emegencies

Stealth Survival - Boots, Bandanas, and Boxers

LL Bean - Paddling Tips-Dressing for the Outdoors

Ancestors of Science - Inupiat Clothing and Arctic Winter Survival

Wildwood Survival - Hats

Survival Hat with Flaps

OSHA Guide - Cold Stress

Discovery Online - The Skinny on Smelly Sports Clothing

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