Clothing Essentials

One statement that our readers will find consistently throughout these posts is “prepare for long-term survival”. It is no secret that the unprepared survivor has a smaller chance of surviving than one who is somewhat prepared or unprepared. The somewhat prepared individual has less chance than someone who is confidently prepared.

Knowledge of proper clothing is very important for any survivor. The SEK (Survival Essential Kit), sometimes referred to as a “bug-out bag”,  must be prepared with proper clothing for any possible climate conditions.


Common sense tells us that dressing for the elements is necessary. Let’s take a look at some considerations when preparing your SEK. Use this climate map, happily provided to The-Survivalist.Com by the National Arbor Day foundation, to prepare the clothing portion of your basic equipment.


The SEK will need to prepare the survivor with clothing that covers the Average Annual Low temperature. Notice that the map above covers zoning 2-10, however, zone 2 does not fit into this US map. Average temperatures in zone 2 are typically found in northern most regions in Alaska and Canada.

Dressing in Layers

Layer One – Wicking Layer – Zones 2-10 in all types of weather
The first layer of clothing, the wicking layer, is the closest layer to the skin. This layer should be constructed of a good wicking material such as merino wool or other synthetic material which removes moisture from the skin and “wicks” it outward toward other layers, or releases it into the air. This wicking layer is essential to good core body temperature control, especially when in cool or cold weather spells as moisture held close to the skin causes a drop in core body temperature as the air temperature cools.

Layer Two – Protection Layer – Zones 2-10 in all types of weather
The second layer, the protection layer, should protect the vascular regions of the neck and wrists. Covering the neck and wrists, the pulse points, aids in protection from both hazards and weather, keeping the body warmer and safer when needed. For the best protection, this layer should be loose fitting, with sleeves that roll up (or can be buttoned at the wrist). A collar such as one that zips or buttons is ideal. During warm or hot weather, this layer may be the outside layer. The construction material should be lightweight such as cotton.

Layer Three – Insulating Layer – Zones 2-10 in cool or cold weather
The third layer, the insulating layer, should be used to keep the body warm in cool weather. This layer is best constructed of fleece and will be the layer to remove if you begin to feel hot. When travelling (walking, hiking, cycling, etc.), the insulating layer should be removed before you begin to feel cold. This can be worn as the outside layer in mild or cool weather.

Layer Four – Outer Layer – Zones 2-9 in cool or cold weather
The fourth layer, the outer layer, is used for protection against cold weather. For the best protection this layer should be constructed of a material that is resistant to wind and waterproof. In cold climates, wear winters are harsh (zones 2-8 especially), this layer should be padded, and have zippered, buttoned, or Velcro fastened ventilation to allow the body to be cooled before becoming too hot. In more temperate zones or in warmer weather, this layer may be simply a thin waterproof shell.

Thermal Underwear – Necessary in below-freezing temperatures
Thermal underwear are a beneficial addition to the survivor’s wardrobe in areas where mid-afternoon temperatures are at or below freezing. The caveat is that if wearing thermal underwear, waterproof pants and Outer Layer must be worn to prevent the thermal underwear from becoming wet. SEK bags should contain no less than two pairs of thermal underwear, if the survivor chooses to include them, so that a dry pair is always available. Wearing wet thermal underwear is the quickest way to lower the body’s core temperature below an acceptable level.

Water-Proof and Padded Pants Layers – Necessary in arctic and very cold climates
Outer pants may be useful when the temperatures drop to below or well-below freezing. There are two types of pants, which may be worn separately or together. The first pants layer should be waterproof, especially if wearing thermal underwear. If the climate is below-freezing and/or windy, an outer padded pants layer may be added. If this layer is worn, the pants will need to cinch at the ankles outside the boots.

Footwear – Sneakers to Jungle Boots
When the temperatures are mild to hot, the basic footwear that will be needed is a pair of sneakers, but only if the ground is dry. Sneakers should have cloth/mesh ventilation for cooling the feet. A better alternative is cloth boots with shock-absorption. This is very helpful when walking paved roads. When hiking or in rougher terrain, hiking boots with leather uppers and thick rubber soles provide better protection. In snow, the best boots are constructed of plastic as leather will shrink and become tighter when wet. For dense forests or jungle-type areas, jungle boots are the best option. Jungle boots will keep the feet dry and provide extra support for the ankles to prevent twisting, and extra protection from injury to the feet and ankles from sharp sticks and rocks.

Thick socks constructed of wool or cotton are necessary. Thicker socks provide protection to the foot to help prevent blisters from shoes, and will also wick moisture away from the feet. In cold weather, a second layer may be worn.

Headwear is necessary for a variety of reasons such as keeping the sun from shining directly in the survivor’s eyes. A variety of headwear is required. For warmer weather, headwear that wicks moisture from the head is necessary. In colder climates, insulated headwear that provides wind protection from the earls is essential. The ultimate cold-weather headwear contains zipped, buttoned or Velcro fastened ventilation.

Clothing  Repair Kit 
A variety of repair essentials is needed to be placed in the SEK. The clothing repair kit should contain, at least, the following items:

  • 10 needles of various sizes
  • 4 spools of thread – light-weight to upholstery
  • Scissors
  • Waterproof matches or a lighter
  • Material patches – cotton, denim, and polyester or polyester blends

When clothing is damaged, repair should take place as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

Keeping Clothing Clean and Dry
Clothing should be clean and dry. Washing clothing requires clean water and washing soap. Pack the SEK with dark colored (black, dark green) rope to hang clothes from for drying.




Are You a Survivor? A Skill Assessment

The biggest threat to survival is fear. Although fear is a natural reaction to disaster, it can also be the one element that is the most difficult to overcome. The good news? It can be overcome. How? With knowledge of how survival works.

There is no secret that man is weak in comparison to its adversaries, but luckily, humans have one very big advantage over natural enemies – the power to use our minds to gain an advantage. If you think in terms of nature, or, the wilderness as an adversary, gaining the upper hand will require thinking and creativity. It also requires the application of knowledge, which in itself, is as powerful than our basic instinct to survive.

So, the question – are you a survivor? – requires other tough questions to be asked, along with an assessment of your current skills. To gain a more realistic feel for where you are in terms of surviving, begin with this basic reaction assessment:

Use this scale to rate yourself:

  1. Deep fear
  2. Somewhat fearful
  3. Unsure of my reaction
  4. I think I can handle that
  5. I have no problem with this

Think about the situations listed below. Using the scale above, score yourself on how you may react to:

  1. The sight of my own blood.
  2. The sight of a loved one’s blood.
  3. The sight of a deceased person.
  4. Facing an animal in which you are not familiar (dog, cat, birds, etc.).
  5. Holding a worm.
  6. Cleaning or skinning fish or game.
  7. Sleeping on the ground.
  8. Foraging for food using only what the forest/wilderness has to offer.
  9. Swimming.
  10. Heights.

What your score means:

If you scored 1-10: Your fear outweighs your preparedness and you are at a great risk of not surviving any situation. You will need to prepare yourself.

If you scored 11-20: Your fear is pretty overwhelming, but  you are more likely to assess the situation and have a slight chance at survival. You will need to prepare yourself.

If you scored 21-30: Fear is present, but you have a pretty good chance to overcome that fear and survive. You will need to prepare yourself.

If you scored 31-40: Fear is not something that you often feel, but your chances of survival are fair. You will need to prepare yourself.

If you scored 41-50: Fear is foreign to you. You can handle most situations and will likely survive. You will need to prepare yourself.

As you can see, preparing yourself for survival is linked to all of these assessment questions. Once you begin learning how to overcome fear, reaction time will drop and chances of survival will grow.

The-Survivalist.Com does not expect you to put yourself in any situation above in order to prepare yourself for survival. What we do expect is to desensitize yourself by way of knowledge of how to best handle any of these types of situations. But, go dig up a few worms for good measure.

Application of Knowledge

Survival is not easy. It is just that simple. It will take work and the application of basic knowledge, drawing greatly upon a period in life that for many may have been quite a few years in the past. That’s right – childhood.

Think back for a moment to days when improvisation was a useful skill; the time before adulthood led the average person to purchase ready-made tools. In childhood, a rock tied to a stick made a hammer. A stick scraped back and forth on the sidewalk became a spear and crushing purple wild-flowers from the side yard to make stain.

Important is the skill to apply the knowledge gained from these posts and this site, and put it to use in the field. This is called the application of knowledge. Application of knowledge requires practice. Practice, in the case of survival, may not make perfect, but it will make for less stress and a quicker reaction time.

The-Survivalist.Com believes in having more knowledge than simply packing a bag (The Bug-Out Bag). Having a roll of toilet paper is wonderful, but it will not last forever? Water-treatment tablets are a great addition to any Bug-Out Bag, but what can be used when no more tablets are available? How can you make food supplies last longer? The-Survivalist.Com will answer these questions and so many more. It is up to you to practice these skills!