Choosing Clothing to Last

When disaster strikes, the last thing one wants to have to worry about is clothing. Having appropriate and durable clothing is the answer to this. There are several factors to consider when determining which survival clothing to purchase. These include the type of clothing, the material from which it is made, features, other style points, and more. 

Choosing appropriate clothing is going to depend, to some degree, on the climate in the area, though some considerations are valid for any location. An area that regularly has temperatures below freezing will require different attire than an area that rarely gets cold weather at all. In the same vein, one may think water-resistant clothes are more necessary in an area where it rains a lot, but realistically, it will be needed in any area because it does rain at times. 

Colors for Heat Control

It is well known that some colors absorb more heat while others block it, but that knowledge is not always applied to clothing, though it should be, especially as it relates to preparing for survival situations.  For colder climates, a dark-colored outer layer will assist in retaining heat, while in warmer areas, a light-colored top layer will be best for comfort. A lightweight white shirt as a bottom layer is a good idea for warm areas, as it may be more comfortable to reduce to a single layer at times. 


There are many reasons to choose clothing that covers most of the body’s skin and deterring insects is one of the biggest ones of these. In order to achieve this goal, it is necessary to have clothing that not only covers the skin, but can also be tightened around waist, wrists, and ankles (and possibly neck, as well) to keep insects from being able to find their way inside. This can be done with rubber bands, hook-and-loop fastener, or strings most easily, though other options may be possible.

Another reason to cover as much skin as possible is to prevent sunburn. When skin is exposed to sunlight for extended periods, the resulting burn can be uncomfortable, at best, and dangerous at worst. Keeping skin covered will aid in keeping this from happening, and remove the need to procure sunscreen, which may not be available. This type of clothing should have some degree of UV protection which, actually, is not an inherent trait of fabric in general. If the sun can be seen through fabric when holding it between one’s eyes and the sun, then UV rays can get through the cloth. Finding clothing that has an SPF rating is practical. 

Long-lasting Durability

Durable clothing that will last for as long as possible is an excellent place to start when gathering clothes in preparation for eventual disaster or catastrophe. Since it is likely that in such an event clothing replacement will be scarce or unavailable, it is a good idea to get items that will last as long as possible. This requires durability as well as adjustability. Some things that affect durability include the material from which it is made, whether it tears easily, and how dense the fabric is.

Material for Weather

Choosing the right material for the expected weather – and other eventualities – can be complicated if the area is in a climate that changes regularly. However, some materials, such as wool from sheep and alpaca, tend to have an insulating effect that allows wearers to be cooler in hot weather and warmer in cool weather. Choosing this type of material will help to be more comfortable through weather of all types.

Linen is good for areas where it is generally hot as it is lightweight, good for wicking and breathability, and dries quickly.

Most cotton is good for warmer temperatures but because it absorbs sweat, rather than wicking it, it is unwise to use cotton in cold temperatures. 

Polyester is good for cold weather as an insulating layer but because it does not breathe well, it is best as a mid-layer and not directly against skin.

Wool is excellent for cold weather and it both dries quickly and insulates very well. 

Nylon is good as an outer layer to stop wind, but as it does not breathe, it is best as a layer that can be opened or removed when desired.

Moisture Control

Clothing that wicks away moisture is more comfortable in warmer weather and safer in cooler weather. Body moisture that is not pulled away from the skin can cause chafing, infection, and overheating – or overcooling in freezing temperatures. 

A waterproof outer layer can be preferable to prevent getting soaked in rain. Good solid boots for dry feet are a good plan, as well. 

Tactical and Carrying Convenience

Clothing that accommodates everyday carry (EDC) items easily through pockets and loops will be most convenient. Having hands free but still having all EDC items accessible can be critical in some situations, but is always recommended and advantageous.

Tear Resistant

Fabric that tears when walking by a briar bush or bumping into a bit of broken glass can be both uncomfortable and dangerous. Sharp objects that easily tear one’s clothing are also likely to tear the skin, which can cause wounds that could get infected. Areas that are most important to cover with tear-resistant fabric include the neck, wrists, underarms and biceps, upper legs and groin – because these areas contain arteries that, if cut, can result in bleeding out very quickly. Protecting them will help with surviving. 

Versatility in Layering

It is important to recall that the temperature changes regularly, even within the same day in most places, so having clothing that will layer well is wise. This allows one to adjust more easily through changes while still having appropriate clothing. 

Visibility Considerations

There are two types of visibility to consider: wanting to be seen (such as when hunters are in the area) and not wanting to be seen (such as in an escape situation). Each has a different approach when it comes to clothing. 

To be seen, one should wear bright colors – preferably orange or neon yellow/green – to keep from being mistaken for prey. 

To hide, camouflage or neutral colors that match the area are a better option. Dark green in the woods, gray in town, tan in the desert or beach areas are examples of this. If a situation could arise when visibility is preferred, brightly colored hats and armbands can be concealed within the other clothing. 

The Most Important Thing

No matter what clothing is obtained for safety and usability, there is one factor that will make or break it: comfort. If the clothing is not comfortable, it is unlikely to be worn regularly – if at all. Be sure to test any clothing before packing it into the go bag or vehicle, because when it is needed, it is too late to start over. Plan for durable clothing and comfortable convenience before it is needed, and that will be one huge task handled.