The prepper lifestyle is all about being ready for any situation. It can be hard to choose a wardrobe that meets all your needs. You want to have something to wear when it’s cold, when it’s hot and when it’s raining. At the same time, you want to minimize your wardrobe as much as possible to avoid reliance on material goods.
If you’re ready to invest in your survival, consider these eight must-have clothing items below. With this attire in your arsenal, you’ll be prepared for anything that comes your way.
Good socks are a must for the serious survival prepper. When the body gets extremely cold, it reacts in two ways. The first is shivering. The second is the constriction of blood vessels in arms and legs, reducing blood flow to fingers and toes. Socks are a necessary line of defense against frostbite and cold temperatures.
There are tons of sock types to choose from, including:
- No-show socks
- Low-cut socks
- Crew socks
- Knee socks
- Mid-thigh socks
Each type has different benefits. Crew socks, for example, pair perfectly with hiking boots. Not only do they prevent cuts from plants and twigs, but they also limit chafing from the shoe’s leather. No-show and low-cut socks, which hit below the ankle bone, are ideal for sneakers and loafers. These socks are often a lightweight material, meant to breathe and prevent sweating.
Invest in long options like knee and mid-thigh socks, which can protect your legs from bug bites and greenery. In colder temperatures, long socks can also fit under pant legs for an added layer of insulation.
Beyond the style of the sock, you should also consider material. Dense fabric like wool is meant to trap in heat, keeping your toes toasty on a cold winter morning. Cotton and polyester have a reputation for their breathable material, great for warm weather. You should also consider water-resistant materials like acrylic, olefin and polypropylene, ideal for a rainy day.
[Editor’s note: They actually make waterproof socks that may be of interest to you for bug out and wilderness survival.]
When it comes to practical survival footwear, boots are a must-have. There are a variety of gender-neutral styles to choose from.
The Chelsea boot, a classic ankle-length style, comes in several colors and materials. These boots are more relaxed than a hiking boot, better for a trip into town rather than a romp through the woods. If you do plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, hiking boots are eminently practical — they can also double as snow boots. Look for a pair that are durable, waterproof and comfortable. Avoid chunky, impractical options that will make it hard to maneuver around brush.
In areas where precipitation is likely, rain boots can be convenient. Look for ankle or knee-length shoes made from a water-resistant material, like rubber. Transparent PVC boots are highly water-resistant and ideal for adverse weather. If your shoes are not rainproof, look for water-resistant covers you can slip on top.
There are five common types of boot materials:
If your goal is lightweight breathability, look for boots made of nylon. Rubber and leather are more durable and can provide foot support when traversing rocky terrain. Duralon, on the other hand, is PVC, meaning it is exceptionally sturdy and maintains its shape for years.
You’ll want to look for shirts that offer both comfort and protection. A long-sleeved shirt is a prepper requirement, as long as it still provides a full range of motion. Sleeves protect you from the elements, including harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays. You can’t see UV rays, but they can cause damage to skin cells and play a significant role in skin cancer. Even a sunburn, which is annoying at best, is possible to avoid with the proper attire.
If the temperatures get hot, you’ll also want a short-sleeved shirt. Look for clothing made with wicking, which dries quickly and keeps moisture off the skin. Wicking will keep you cool during a long hike or jog around the neighborhood. Some cotton blends also repel insects and prevent odor buildup.
Some of the most common types of shirt fabrics include:
Cotton, linen and rayon are lightweight and breathable, making them cool to wear. Look for combed cotton, where clothes manufacturers use fine brushes to eliminate short strands and make a sturdier fabric. Rayon is a humanmade fabric that, while breathable, wrinkles easily. Polyester, on the other hand, maintains its shape and is resistant to shrinking and wrinkles. However, it traps heat and is not suitable for hot weather.
No one wants to talk about the specifics of underwear, but it’s something we all need. There are a variety of underwear types, but not all are suitable for the survival prepper lifestyle. The goal is to find something practical and easy to clean.
Women will want to avoid lace and other itchy materials that can cause skin irritations and chafing. Simple is best, without design attachments like bows and ruffles. Some women prefer boy-short-style underwear, though others say they ride up during physical activity and can cause irritation and discomfort.
Men, on the other hand, can choose between briefs, boxers and boxer-briefs. Each style has its pros and cons. Boxers and boxer-briefs are ideal for a survivalist lifestyle because they can double as pajama shorts or a swimsuit in a pinch.
Underwear comes in a variety of fabrics, including:
The material you choose will depend on what is most comfortable.
You should also add a pair of long underwear to your collection. This gender-neutral undergarment is like a long pair of cotton or knit pants, though it stays under your clothing. Many use the garment as an alternative to pajamas in winter, as long underwear is ideal for keeping warm in chilly temperatures.
[Editor’s note: Long underwear is a great to have for cold winter excursions. I highly recommend you have a good pair.]
Everybody needs a pair of pants. The fabric protects your legs from rain, snow and wind. It also helps keep you warm. Denim is a versatile fabric, and you can wear jeans for almost any occasion. Whether you’re heading to the farmers’ market to pick up fresh fruit or venturing into the woods for a walk, jeans will provide all the comfort and protection you need.
For warm weather, you’ll want to look for lightweight pants that don’t trap heat. Consider breathable fabrics like cotton and linen. For colder months, consider dense materials meant to retain body heat, like wool. Look for a comfortable pants design that’s snug around the waist without being restricting. You’ll want to be comfortable when outdoors hunting, fishing or hiking.
Whether you want to stay warm or prep a meal, you’ll be spending a lot of time making fires. It’s essential to invest in a high-quality pair of flame-resistant pants. These pants are specifically designed to protect from intermittent flames and thermal exposure. If they catch fire, they naturally extinguish themselves, reducing the risk of a burn injury.
Cargo pants are a great middle-ground solution for preppers. They consist of durable material and offer plenty of pocket space, ideal for holding a Swiss army knife, keys, a granola bar and more. Some can even zip off at the knees, offering a two-in-one shorts combo.
[Editor’s note: I don’t think could survival daily life WITHOUT cargo pants, lol.]
6. A Jacket
You should have at least one jacket in your wardrobe arsenal. If you live in a cold climate, look for a durable leather jacket lined with fleece, or other materials equipped with hypothermia protection. Choose a relaxed fit that is comfortable and not restricting. Look for a zip-up design, as opposed to button snaps, which can withstand weather like intense winds and snow.
A trenchcoat can be an excellent way to keep warm during the fall months when the wind is blowing, yet there’s no chill in the air yet. Choose a length that’s best suited for your needs, whether it’s a sleek design ideal for treks in the woods or an ankle-length style to bundle up against the wind.
In warmer weather, look for a lightweight performance jacket made with a moisture-wicking material. These jackets are typically a combination of polyester and mesh, designed to allow airflow and keep you cool. Plus, if it rains, the material dries within a couple of hours.
You can find a jacket in almost any material, though your choice will depend entirely on your needs. If you want a versatile option for a range of temperatures, leather and denim work best. If your goal is to stay warm, look for a quilted option with built-in insulation, like down or wool.
Gloves come in all shapes, sizes, colors and designs. Cotton gloves are great for yard work, concrete applications, painting and more. You can protect your hands from blisters and chemicals while still allowing your skin to breathe. Some cotton gloves also implement rubber grips, giving you more traction and durability.
Leather gloves are more durable than cotton and often work in conjunction with an insulated liner. These types of gloves offer protection against cuts and punctures, great for heavy-duty tasks like yard work, landscaping, construction and woodworking. Leather-palmed gloves, on the other hand, are more flexible than traditional gloves, able to protect against abrasions without restricting movements.
Gloves are a practical way to keep your hands safe. However, you can also use them to stay warm and protect extremities from the elements. A good pair of thermal gloves, made with multiple layers of material, can keep your hands warm and dry in below-zero temperatures. Look for a pair with an outer layer of waterproof fleece, designed to wick away moisture and offer thermal retention. Other materials, like suede and leather, keep your hands warm in cold weather while providing a solid grip.
If you favor practicality over design, look for multi-use gloves with removable fingers. With this type of design, your hands can stay warm while your fingers are busy getting stuff done. Always try on a pair of gloves before you purchase them. The right size will offer just enough room without feeling tight or snug.
8. A Hat
A hat is a must to keep your head protected from the sun’s harmful rays, which can burn skin even on cloudy days. A baseball cap, an American classic, is casual and easy to wear. Look for a hat with an adjustable width so the whole family can use it. Most ball caps have a short- to medium-sized bill that is either curved or straight. When you’re outside, this bill is perfect for shielding the sun from your eyes.
A trucker cap is very similar to a baseball cap. The difference, however, is that only the front is a solid panel. The rest of the hat is a breathable mesh fabric that’s ideal for hot temperatures.
These style hats are typically snapback, meaning they come with two plastic pieces that snap together. This snap allows you to adjust the size of the cap. Others are fitted, designed to fit an exact size. If you live in a wet climate, search for a hat equipped with insect-repelling technology to prevent bug bites.
For the colder months, you may want to invest in a beanie or stocking cap-style hat. This style is close-fitting, meant to pull down over the head and fit snugly against the ears. The fabric, typically wool or cotton, can trap heat and keep your head warm. A stocking cap is similar to a beanie. The only difference is that a stocking cap has a longer crown, meant to hang off to the side.
Do you really want to live the prepper lifestyle?
If so, you need the right wardrobe. Get rid of the suit jackets, flip-flops and high heels. Instead, invest in versatile clothing that can keep you protected from nature’s harshest elements. You’ll want to add several pieces of clothing — from waterproof boots to flame-resistant pants. And don’t forget to ensure your significant other (and children) are prepared too! This will take time and some money to acquire, but the effort will be worth it when hard times come.
Note: This was a guest post.