When disaster strikes you need to be ready. Proper survival clothing is one of the most important parts of that preparedness. In the hierarchy of needs, staying warm is just below breathing in importance. Today we’re going to help you pick out some of the best survival clothing on the market to make it easier to find the survival gear that fits your needs and style.
- 1 Best Survival Clothing
- 2 Buyers Guide to Buying the Best Survival Clothes
- 3 Final Thoughts
Best Survival Clothing
Picking out the best survival clothing doesn’t have to be too difficult. There are tons of different clothes that could count as survival clothing depending on where you are in the world.
We’ve focused on some of the most universally useful items to help you decide on the ones that work best for your bug out bag.
It’s pretty much self explanatory why having a quality jacket is important in a survival situation. It keeps you warm, protects you from the rain, and can be used in place of a sleeping bag in an emergency.
You can choose from all kinds of different jackets, though we recommend you focus on warmth and weight. You want something that’s warm enough for your climate without being too heavy.
A hood and the ability to pack it down into a relatively small bundle is also really nice to have. Our pick for best survival jacket is the Condor Summit Soft Shell.
It’s a lightweight jacket with an outer water resistant shell. It’s designed to pack down into a very small space and includes a stowaway hood.
This allows you to protect yourself from wind, rain, and cold without adding a ton of bulk to your pack. It has tons of internal and external pockets to put your gear in and zipper vents under the arms.
This helps you adjust your temperature without losing wind and rain protection. The collar is fleece lined to help keep your neck warm as well
Keeping yourself dry is absolutely essential in a disaster. Hypothermia can set in rapidly when wet, so a high-quality poncho is a must.
You can pick from military surplus ponchos, new hiking/camping versions or modern raincoats. We really like the Anyoo Waterproof Rain Poncho.
It’s a lightweight and inexpensive poncho made from 210T ripstop nylon with a PVC coating. This gives it excellent waterproofing in a very light and compressible form.
It has a set of four grommets to allow use as a rain tarp in an emergency and multiple fasteners and drawstrings to form sleeves when needed. It comes with a small drawstring stuff sack for easy storage when not in use.
You can pick from a huge variety of colors, patterns, and styles. This allows you to find the best rain poncho for everyone in the family.
A good base layer is a major part of building your survival onion outfit. You want wicking materials designed to insulate without adding bulk.
These help keep you warm yet still allow you to peel off outer layers to cool off. They also prevent sweat from building up against your body and soaking into your clothes.
The TSLA Thermal Wintergear Compression Baselayer offers effective compression and insulation that won’t break the bank. They offer both tops and bottoms, allowing you to completely wrap yourself in base layer goodness.
They’re made from a mix of polyester and spandex for a snug yet comfortable fit. They efficiently wick away any sweat from your body while still keeping you nice and toasty.
The TSLA Wintergear was originally designed for sports and outdoor use. This makes them perfect for a survival situation where you may need to move quickly across large distances.
A quality pair of boots can be the difference between life and death in a survival situation. When you have to depend upon your feet to carry you to safety, you want boots that can protect your feet.
Hiking and military style boots are both good options. They’re heavy duty, generally waterproof, and able to protect your feet from rough terrain and ankle rolls without impacting your comfort.
We really like the Salomon Men’s Quest 4d 3 GTX. They’re made by one of the most respected hiking footwear manufacturers in the world and overbuilt for crossing harsh terrain.
They have all the advanced features and extras needed for highly technical trails. This includes custom lugs, secure grip outsoles, an advanced chassis for excellent foot flex, and great cushioning.
The Quest 4d 3’s are some of the best hiking boots in the world. They have a price to match, but given the importance of quality boots when traveling across rough terrain we think they’re worth the price.
The classic bandana is one of the most useful little pieces of gear you can bring with you. It can be used as a dust mask, a water pre filter, cordage, wrapping, emergency bandage, and so many other ways.
Bandanas weigh next to nothing and can be tied right to the exterior of your bag. Given that they usually cost barely a dollar or so a piece there’s no reason not to keep one around.
The Levi’s Cotton Bandana is a classic western style handkerchief bandana. It’s made from 100% cotton, and measures just under 20” to a side. We also recommend a few others in our best bandana for hiking guide.
That gives you a lot of useful cloth, plenty for use in any of the ways we described above. They’re available in a wide range of colors and patterns. Our personal favorites are the traditional black and red paisley.
There’s a reason everyone used to wear a hat. They’re darn useful to have when your only way to get somewhere is on foot.
A ball caps a great place to start, but a lot idea brimmed hat designed to keep the sun off your face, neck, and upper back is even better. They make it easier to see in bright conditions and can help prevent heat exhaustion.
The Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap is a lightweight sun cap designed by one of the most respected names in the hiking and camping world. It’s built to provide excellent protection from the sun without weighing you down.
It’s basically a nylon baseball cap with an included snap on sun skirt. It can be worn as a traditional baseball cap or configured as a comprehensive sun protection system for your face and neck.
It weighs just ounces and comes in a range of attractive colors.
A dust mask is a piece of gear way too many people overlook when picking out survival clothing. Lots of Californians are learning the importance of quality dust masks with the recent rise in wildfire occurrences.
A lightweight mask with N95/PM2.5 or above filtration will protect you from windblown dust, Ash from a fire, pollution, and many other threats. We recommend you go with a reusable mask that can be used for several weeks before needing replacement.
The Vogmask VMCV line of dust and pollution masks is our overall pick. It was developed to protect from the playa dust found at Burning Man and offers some of the best particle protection available.
It’s made with a filtering material capable of blocking particles of PM2.5 size and includes an exhalation filter to prevent the build up of condensation on the inside. They offer literally hundreds of different patterns and colors, as well as really useful accessories to enhance your comfort.
For the price it’s hard to get a better dust, pollution, and smoke mask than the Vogmask.
Anyone who has ever served in the military knows the importance of good socks. If you’re on the move and don’t have transportation your feet are literally your life.
You need to keep them warm and dry while also preventing blisters or cuts. You should invest in quality hiking socks that are designed to provide the best comfort and support even over hard wear.
The Darn Tough Hiker Boot Socks are some of the best hiking socks available. They’re made from a blend of merino wool, polyester, and spandex for a comfortable and durable fit.
They’re proudly made in Vermont and have been used by long distance hikers for decades. Darn Tough socks are designed to be as comfortable as possible while still holding up to the abuse of a hiker.
This makes it perfect for use as survival clothing. You can wear a single pair for multiple days because of its merino wool construction. It helps reduce odor buildup and maintain comfort.
They use a seamless construction to help reduce pressure points and prevent blisters. The Darn Tough Hiker Boot Socks are some of the only socks you should consider for your survival kit.
Gloves are an essential piece of survival clothing to include in your 72 hour kit or bug out bag. What kind of gloves really depends on where you’re located.
If you’re in cold weather winter gloves are absolutely necessary. For those in warmer climates you’re mostly looking to protect your hands from impacts and abrasions.
The Mechanix Wear Multicam M-Pact Glove are designed for use by people who really have to use their hands. They’re popular with mechanics of course, but also with police, the military, shooting enthusiasts, and anyone else who needs hard wearing gloves with ample protection.
They’re made from TrekDry with thermoplastic rubber knuckle guards. These protect against impacts, including punches, and help keep your hand dry and comfortable.
They use D30 palm material for a comfortable fit that also resistant odors. Even better, they’re fully machine washable.
You can choose from a variety of sizes, colors, and patterns including popular options like desert tan and multicam.
Your pants are the piece of your wardrobe most likely to be damaged in a survival situation. You’ll be moving through potentially rough terrain, with a high likelihood that you’ll tear, rip or otherwise damage your pants.
You want very durable survival pants made from thick materials. Cargo pants are the best from the standpoint of utility and durability.
The Survival Tactical Gear Pants are basically the tank of tactical pants. They’re made from a durable ripstop fabric and offer 16 different gear pockets in a variety of sizes.
This allows you to store the bulk of your fast access gear like flashlights, knives, and other tools right on your body. One thing we really love is the integrated knee protection system.
It allows you to kneel and even drop to the ground without worrying about injuring your knees. The heavy duty material is highly rip and tear resistant. You can pick from a ton of different colors, patterns, and camo types when choosing your pants.
In many disasters just being seen is a big part of surviving and thriving. A hi-visibility vest in bright orange, neon green or a similar color is the way to go.
They’re lightweight, easy to pack, and make it much more likely emergency services personnel will spot you.
The Neiko High Visibility Safety Vest is a good option for your survival kit. It’s fluorescent yellow with large reflective strips on the front and back.
It’s lightweight, breathable, and packs down into a very small size. It meets the current ANSI/ ISEA 107-2010 class 2 standard. This allows you to use it on jobsites if needed outside of using it for your survival kit.
Humans are extremely dependent on our eyes. For most of us we’d be absolutely helpless without sight.
Protecting your eyes should be one of your top priorities. First and foremost you need UV protection. Sunglasses help protect you from the rays of the sun and can double as safety/shooting glasses.
Wiley X Rebel Polarized Sunglasses are without a doubt the eyewear for your survival kit. They’re made from the highest quality ballistic resistant materials to protect your eyes from wind, flying debris, and the harsh rays of the sun.
They’re widely used by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and have earned a reputation for being some of the best sunglasses on the market. You can choose from dozens of different lense materials including smoke, mirrored, and everything in between. You can even get multiple lenses for your frames.
Trust us, if you want high quality survival eyewear, WileyX is the only way to go.
Scarves have a lot of survival uses past just keeping you warm. They’re great at that of course, but they can also keep the wind off your face, protect you from blown bits of debris, and help prevent you from breathing in dust.
A variant of your standard winter scarf is the Middle Eastern Shemagh. It’s basically a cloth head wrap similar to a scarf that’s been widely adopted by tactical operators in the region. It’s a great way to protect your face from wind, rain, and dust.
The Zephyr Tactical Shemagh is one such adopted scarf. It’s made from 100% cotton and is large enough to fully wrap your head and face.
It’s perfect for keeping wind, sand, and other debris from blowing into your mouth or scouring your skin. When combined with effective eyewear you can fully protect your head.
Gaiters are a pretty climate and environment specific piece of survival clothing. They go over your hiking boots and help to protect your ankles and lower calves from scratches, snow, and bites.
Generally speaking you’ll only need them if you’re located in a very cold climate.
The Rab Latok Alpine Gaiter is a full coverage winter gaiter designed for alpine use. It’s made from breathable Gore-Tex with a nylon ankle to protect against abrasions.
The Latok uses a zipless hook and loop front seal to make it as easy as possible to put on and adjust. It also has an under boot strap to effectively lock it in place on your ankle.
It protects you from splashed water, walking through snow, and things like rocks and debris.
For those of you who’ll have to contend with cold, blowing wind and chilly temperatures it’s hard to overestimate the benefit of a quality balaclava or ski mask.
Wind burn is a very real thing, and cold temperatures can rapidly lead to hypothermia in any exposed pieces of skin. Covering your face with a nice thick balaclava or ski mask goes a long way to protecting yourself.
The Self Pro Balaclava is a full coverage balaclava designed for use in cold weather climates. It covers every part of your face and can effectively protect against wind, snow, and rain.
It’s made from polyester with a soft polar fleece lining. This gives you excellent durability and comfort. You can wear it fully covering your face or pull it down to just act as a hood, scarf, or head cap.
It’s a lightweight and inexpensive way to keep your head and face warm during a disaster.
Buyers Guide to Buying the Best Survival Clothes
Many people won’t even need to buy survival clothes. In a lot of cases you’ll have extra clothes just lying around that fit the bill.
If you prefer to get all new gear, make sure you follow the advice below to pick out the best survival clothing for your climate and needs.
Buy for Your Climate
The most important thing to look at when picking out survival clothes is your local climate. If you live in a tropical climate prone to hurricanes you’ll need drastically different clothes than someone who lives in Alaska or a similar freezing climate.
Also take into account things like wind and weather patterns. People who live in a desert can probably skip a poncho or other rain gear, if you live in a jungle they’re going to be essential.
Stay Under the Radar
There’s a widely embraced view in the preparedness and EDC community known as the Gray Man. Being the Gray Man means that you have nothing about you that draws attention.
When considering survival clothes it’s important to remember where and how you’ll be using them. A big one is to try and avoid gear that looks too “tacticool” unless you really want that to be part of your image.
The last thing you want is to be marked during a major disaster as someone better prepared and potentially end up as a target of bad actors.
Survival clothing is available in more materials than we can count. Depending on what type of garment we’re talking about and how much you’re willing to spend your options are almost endless.
There are a few very popular materials we’ll mention specifically. First and foremost is cotton.
If at all possible you should avoid cotton in your survival clothes. Cotton retains water like a sponge when wet.
This makes cotton clothing heavy and slow to dry. Cotton also loses its insulative properties when wet.
Not a good set of properties to have when moving through wet and cold conditions.
Wool is an excellent material for survival clothing. It stays warm even when wet and is highly durable. Merino wool is a special variety that is often found in base layers and undergarments.
It’s incredibly soft and comfortable yet has excellent insulative and wicking properties. It’s usually pretty expensive but is definitely worth it.
The only other material we’ll mention is the broad category of synthetic fibers. Nylon, polyester, and dozens of other proprietary blends are available from tons of manufacturers.
These synthetic fabrics are designed to be as light and durable as possible. They’re often highly water resistant, quick drying, offer protection against UV rays, and pack down into very small spaces.
Buying the best survival clothing doesn’t have to break the bank. Most sturdy outdoor clothes will work just fine in a survival situation so there’s no need to drop a ton of money on the absolute best purpose made field clothing.
There are tons of great ways to pick up discount survival clothing as well.
Thrift & Second Hand Stores – Thrift stores are an absolute godsend for finding quality survival clothing. They’re filled with secondhand clothes that still have tons of wear left in them.
If you check regularly you can often find name brand clothing at a remarkable discount. They’re also great places to find basic gear like sleeping bags and tents.
Clearance Items and Sales – Just about every major outdoor retailer has its sales and blowout deals throughout the year. If you’re willing to wait before making your purchases you can find some really good outdoor and survival clothing at a great price.
Great times to check include around major holidays like Christmas, Easter, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and other big outdoorsy holidays.
Clearance goods can also be a great way to score a deal. Discontinued clothes are brand new but often available at significant discounts.
Buy Out of Season – One of the best ways to find sales and clearance survival clothing is out of season. Look for winter gear at the beginning of spring and summer gear at the beginning of fall.
This is especially true at medium to small retailers without a ton of floor space. They often have to clear out their seasonal clothing and goods to make room for new stuff.
Buy Clothes Slightly Bigger than Your Children Need
Anyone with kids knows how fast they grow out of clothes. When you’re picking out survival clothes for your children there’s nothing wrong with buying things several sizes too large for them.
This allows you to have serviceable clothing that they can wear in a pinch. As we mentioned before, appearance is one of the very last things you should consider when picking out survival clothes.
Keep A Basic Sewing Kit With Survival Clothes
If you’re moving on foot in a disaster there’s a really good chance some of your clothes will be damaged. During day to day life a torn stitch or broken button isn’t a big deal.
In a disaster scenario, when you’re depending on your clothes for protection and warmth, it can become a life or death matter. A small sewing kit gives you the ability to make basic repairs to your clothes and get you through whatever’s going on.
Build Effective Layers
If you’ve ever spent any time in a cold climate, you know the importance of layering. A big winter coat is great for staying warm, but can quickly become far too hot.
The best survival clothes should be planned like an onion. Start with an effective base layer. This should ideally be made of a wicking/insulative material depending on your climate.
For cold weather you should then add on one or more pullovers, sweaters, or similar light insulating layers, followed by a waterproof outer coat or poncho.
This allows you to remove a layer and cool down some without getting chilled. One of the most overlooked dangers of winter weather is sweat.
If you’re wearing one large layer you don’t have any way to adjust your temperature. It’s very easy to overheat and begin to sweat. This sweat can then chill your body and lead to hypothermia.
It’s always better to have several layers than a shirt and large jacket.
The primary purpose of survival clothing is to keep your body safe from harm. Depending on where you live and what kind of threats you’re planning for there are specific features you should consider.
UV protection is right there at the top of the list. Often hiking, fishing, and tactical clothing almost always incorporate a UV barrier. This keeps your skin from burning and blistering in the hot sun.
It’s a lot easier to keep moving when every step isn’t an agony of sunburn.
Insect protection is also a majorly nice thing have. It can help keep you safe from disease carrying organisms like mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks.
Some survival clothing comes pretreated with insect resistance. If yours doesn’t, it’s actually really easy to do. We’ve previously reviewed several great clothing treatments and sprays that can help keep biting insects at bay.
Having the right survival clothes in your bug out bag can be a major help during a disaster. The last thing you want is to get caught without useful clothing during a sudden natural or manmade disaster.
Start with the basics and expand your wardrobe out as far as you think you need to.
Remember, the best survival clothes don’t have to break the bank.