You’re ready for anything. That’s why you keep a bug-out bag stocked with survival necessities nearby. Sure, your kit includes survival gadgets, survival food, and a first-aid kit. But did you forget a few other essential items?
Extra clothes are often overlooked as a survival item. Here’s why you should pack bug-out bag clothing and what to include.
Why You Need Bug-Out Bag Clothing
What you’re wearing in an emergency can make a huge difference. Clothing helps you maintain a comfortable body temperature, protects you from the sun, and keeps you dry.
Disasters strike suddenly and unpredictably. When things go wrong, what you’re wearing may not be suitable — or safe. You need to be ready to go at a moment’s notice, even when you’re cozying up on the couch in your PJs! Bug-out bag clothing helps make sure you’re always prepared with clothes that will help you thrive and survive.
What Clothes Belong in Your Bug-Out Bag
The key to creating a well-stocked survival wardrobe is choosing functional clothing. This isn’t a fashion show! Every bug-out bag clothing item needs to serve a purpose. Each piece of clothing should be comfortable, layer-able, and durable.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to bug-out bag clothing, here are a few guidelines to get you started.
Bug-Out Clothing Checklist
1. Base Layers
Your base layers will help you stay dry and comfortable. Keep things seasonally appropriate, but be prepared if you need to go off-grid for the long haul. Consider including thermal long johns, moisture-wicking UV resistant fitted long sleeve shirts and tees, and moisture-wicking undergarments.
2. Pants and Shorts
Pack durable, comfortable pants that you can move freely in. Quick-drying tactical cargo pants with large pockets are a good option. They provide extra storage and are comfortable enough to wear for days if necessary.
A lightweight convertible pant that zips away to capri pants or shorts is great for warmer months or climates. Convertible pants give you the option to quickly cover up or cool down.
Need to compile your bug-out bag clothing ASAP? A pair of 100% cotton denim jeans are a great bet. Denim is durable, easy to care for, and can help protect your skin from scrapes.
Long sleeve button-downs are an excellent addition to your bug-out bag year-round. They’re easy to tie onto your pack, wrap around your waist, and allow you to unbutton them for a bit of breeze. Consider incorporating a windproof or water-resistant option, like a fishing shirt.
Pack in a comfortable t-shirt to wear underneath your trusty button-down. Choose a performance fabric designed to keep you warm — or cool — depending upon the season.
You should pack a jacket even in the summer months. When it’s warm, pack a lightweight windproof and water-resistant jacket.
In cold months and climates, you’ll want outerwear that’s ready to perform. Fleece, synthetic down, and wool can help you brave the elements.
Don’t let your socks be an afterthought. When you’re bugging out, you can’t risk a blister slowing you down. Stock your bug-out back with socks created for camping, hiking, or similar outdoor activities. In every season, merino wool and high-quality moisture-wicking socks are your best bet. Choose tall socks to protect your ankles from scrapes and bug bites.
You’ll also need the right pair of shoes in your pack. Choose durable, lightweight shoes that you could comfortably walk miles in. Your best bet will be a waterproof or water-resistant hiking sneaker or hiking boot. Be sure to pack snow boots if you live in a climate that dips below freezing.
Pack in an additional pair of shoes if room allows. If your shoes get wet or damaged, you’ll be happy to have a spare pair.
While they may be called “accessories,” hats, gloves, and scarves are just as important as the rest of your bug-out bag clothes.
Your body quickly loses heat through your head, hands, and feet in the winter months. You’ll want to choose a hat that covers your entire head (including your ears)! Go for a stocking cap or insulated ball cap with ear flaps. You’ll also want to pack a pair of warm, durable winter gloves to protect your hands from the cold. A warm scarf or insulated neck gaiter will also help you stay warm.
A ball cap or wide brim hat is perfect in the summer. Both will help keep the sun off your face and out of your eyes. Your hands won’t need help keeping warm, but they may need additional protection. Work gloves can help protect your hands from sharp objects like glass or wood splinters. Therefore, it’s wise to toss a pair into your kit with the rest of your bug-out bag clothing.
No matter the season, add a headscarf (often called shemagh) to your bug-out bag. A shemagh can help protect your face, head, and neck in dusty or smoky environments and from the sun.
Choose Your Fabrics Wisely
If you’re bugging out, you can’t bring along delicate items that easily wear and tear. Check that your bug-out clothes are made with breathable, durable, and easy to wash and repair fabrics.
Not sure what to look for in your clothing tags? We’ve got you covered.
- Cotton — Breathable, easily repairable, long-lasting, and cost-effective.
- Bamboo — Moisture-wicking, silky, and helps regulate body temperature year-round.
- Wool — Moisture-wicking, fast-drying, durable, and easy to maintain and repair. Great for both hot and cold weather.
- Natural Down — Insulating, lightweight, packable.
While natural fibers should have their place in your bug-out bag, you’ll also want to pack some moisture-wicking fabrics.
- Nylon or Polyester Blends — Most warm-weather performance and activewear. Wicks moisture and dries quickly, doesn’t pill easily.
- Synthetic Down — Insulating, lightweight, packable. Performs well when wet and easy to clean. Great for cold weather.
- GoreTex — Waterproof, windproof, and breathable. What more can you ask for?
Packing and Maintaining Your Bug-Out Bag Clothing
A well-done bug-out bag allows you to travel light. You’ll need to ensure that your bug-out bag clothing isn’t weighing you down or taking up too much space. Instead of folding, try rolling up your clothing items. Consider using your stash of bungee cords to compress bulky items.
As with any survival kit, you should be checking in on the contents of your bug-out bag regularly. Check that your extra clothing items fit well, are in good condition, and are seasonally appropriate. A general rule of thumb is to rotate and try on your bug-out bag clothing every six months.
Keep Your Bug-Out Bag Well Stocked with 4Patriots
Bug-out clothing is just one of the many things you should have stowed away in case of an emergency. When it comes to other items like long-term survival food and high-quality survival gear, turn to 4Patriots. We carry survival food kits, multi-purpose tools, solar power gadgets, and more, so you and your family can be prepared for when disaster strikes.