Tag Archives: base layer backpacking

Bug Out Underwear

4 Sep

I spent a little time on Youtube watching some prepper videos. One I recommend is Demcad about the importance of building relationships.
This is especially true for older preppers. He’s correct that this is a neglected topic. Guns get all the attention. It got me to thinking: What’s the most neglected prepper topic?

Several preppers showed off their new bug-out-bag equipment. Guns, knives, fire starters, cooksets. Cool stuff. When I see a prepper pull out a shiny new tube tent in its packaging, I wonder how he’ll really do in a real bug out. You need to test your outdoor equipment. From what I recall of shiny emergency blankets and cheap tube tents is that they won’t hold up to real use. Give me a military poncho instead.

We all must test our preps. But we all neglect some. The other day our land line phone stopped working. No problem. I dug out an extra I had purchased a few years ago. I plugged it in. DOA. Cheap Chinese crap. Too late to return it. Shoot. If I was smart, I would have tested it when I purchased it. I’m only out a few bucks. With outdoor survival equipment, you could be out your life.

With all the bug-out-bag videos on Youtube, I didn’t find one that discussed bug out underwear. No. I’m not kidding. Maybe all these preppers live in moderate climates and their clothing doesn’t really matter. But if you’ve spent time outdoors in harsh environments, your clothing is important.

One of the best groups to learn about underwear from is backpackers. Because nobody wants to talk about underwear, they call this their “base layer.” That sounds cooler than talking about underwear.

Here’s a nice discussion about your “base layer” from REI.com. They explain the situation very well. I won’t repeat the same information here. The problem with comfortable cotton is that it retains moisture. It’s even been called “death cloth” because wet cotton takes more energy for you to stay warm. If you take some expeditions in Alaska and other cold areas, they’ll tell you not to wear cotton. You’ll need to smuggle in a few contraband pairs of your cotton shorts.

With your “base layer,” you have three basic choices. Cotton. Comfortable, but if you sweat and it gets wet, it’ll stay wet. You’ll stay cold. We won’t even go into the other issues of wearing wet underwear for days on end. We’ll call this your wet option.

The other option is synthetic. This is the stinky option. For some reason, most synthetic materials that are good at wicking away moisture stink.

The third option is wool. Many of us just can’t wear wool. It’s itchy. Some like Merino wool, but it can wear out quickly. This is the scratchy option.

Talking about wet, stinky, or itchy underwear, I mean base layer, just isn’t that much fun. But if you’re forced to survive in a harsh environment, this stuff matters. Being properly dressed can be the difference between life and death.

Once you’ve purchased and tested base layers, you can look into the other clothing layers. Insulating layers provide warmth. In most environments, you’ll want a waterproof outer layer. You want to keep warm, but not sweat too much. Your clothing layers let you regulate your body temperature and control sweat build up as your level of activity and the outside temperature changes.

Preppers assembling bug out bags can learn a lot from backpackers. Youtube preppers should show off their bug out underwear. OK. Bad idea. Never mind.

What do you think is the most neglected prepper topic?

This is a neat collection of articles about backpacking.

Homemade cotton ball fire starters.

Compact fishing kit.

More about skin irritation and hiking.

The ten essentials for hiking.

It’s interesting to see what other backpackers carry.

For those interested in metalwork (casting), here’s a good book review of an older Navy manual.

Apartment Prepper has a great write up about experimenting with a sourdough starter mix.

U.S. Marshals on use of the expandable baton: