Sunday, March 3, 2013

Clothing for Survival

Clothing for Survival

Our clothing is our first defense against the elements if we are caught out in them.  Wool is said to be the best choice for survival clothing.  When wool is wet, it will still keep you warm and insulated.  Wool will also wick moisture.  I normally avoid wool clothing like the plague because it is so scratchy and itchy, but I plan to start picking up some at the thrift stores in town here and there.  It's good to be prepared. 

Wool, wool, wool...

Don't forget wool socks!  They are also said to prevent blisters better than other fabrics.  (Side note, I read that wearing nylons under socks is good to prevent blisters while hiking and that it has been recommended to some military men.  Not only that but they guard against bugs like ticks and chiggers.)

Synthetics can be worn but are more flammable than natural fabrics, something to keep in mind if sitting by a campfire.  Polypropylene is said to be a good base layer fabric, like polypropylene thermal underwear, that will wick away moisture from your body but, again, is flammable if you are sitting by a fire and it catches a spark.

Polypropylene thermal underwear

Cotton (like our ever-popular blue jeans) retains water and is very heavy when wet.  It dries slowly; doesn't insulate well when wet, if at all; and doesn't wick moisture away from the body but wicks away heat.   It is said that "cotton kills".
Down coats/vests will also lose their insulation value if wet.
Layering is the best approach.  You can regulate your temperature more easily by removing and adding layers.  Layers also trap air, providing more insulation.

Here's a short article by Les Stroud from Survivor Man about survival clothing.   (click here)
Les points out that high-tech gear doesn't seem to work as well in rugged survival situations: 

"In my adventuring, the question often is whether I should wear high-tech or more traditional gear. High-tech clothing is usually light and warm, brightly colored, and easily packed and transported. However, should the worst happen and you find yourself in a survival situation, such clothing rarely stands up to a few days spent in a bush shelter or sleeping beside a fire.

Take Gore-Tex as a perfect example of the conflict between rugged and high-tech. Gore-Tex is a fantastic material. It will keep you fairly dry in damp conditions because it sheds the rain and still breathes. But try sleeping beside a fire in it: one spark, one touch of an ember, and Gore-Tex melts. So high-tech clothing may be great for outdoor adventuring, but it’s less than ideal in survival situations.

Not so with wool, cotton, or canvas-like materials, which are tough and can handle the rigors when you’re pushing through dense forest to get firewood or food. With these materials, an ember will burn a hole only in the spot where it lands and often not before you can flick it off. On the other hand, cotton is horrible if it gets wet because it takes so long to dry.

Wool is very heavy, especially when it gets wet, yet it retains 80 percent of its insulating value. In the end, the best option in a survival situation is to have a combination of lightweight, high-tech clothing for your under layers and some rugged traditional clothing for your outer layers. But this usually applies only for survival courses or hunting and fishing trips, not sea kayaking, mountain climbing, hiking, or other similar adventures. For anything that requires a high level of physical activity, high-tech gear wins out."

Gor-Tex jacket

I personally can't afford fancy high-tech survival gear.

I've also read suggestions about sewing foam into clothing to keep warm in extreme temperatures.  It's very breathable and dries fast.

I saw a post on Pinterest for these, waterproof socks used by the military.  Too expensive for my budget, but I thought I'd pass it on.  (click here)

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  4. I bought the same model sock from the same company after they had changed up the sock a little and had added in some nylon. So far they've lasted me a whole summer of hiking and will likely last a couple more. Ropa Termica

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