How to Select Survival Clothing: Jackets

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by Kyt Lyn Walken

Being prepared is a matter of choice.

In the very same manner, the selection of the right gear determines our success in facing hazards as well as when the moment of bugging out comes.

In fact, setting up our gear entails assessing risks related to the following factors:

– our physical conditions and personal features

– our adaptability

– our comfort in movements

– the different environments we cross (from urban to the Outdoors)

– the temperature range

– our gear itself (backpacks, tactical belts, and so on).

In this article, we will cover the criteria beyond a successful selection of jackets that could be combined together to create the perfect condition for you to bug out with.

The criteria behind the selection

No one likes to be caught up in the wrong gear at the wrong moment. For this reason, you should avoid rushing into the Outdoor store next to you and pick up the very first jacket you may have remotely heard about or read somewhere.

Don’t make your lack of knowledge a prelude to a certain disaster. Take some time to get informed on what you may need to purchase.

Keep in mind that all-season jackets are just nonexistent. You definitely need to combine different layers together.

Some Facebook groups related to Prepping and Survival may offer you the proper terrain where to start investigating the best brands and models you need to get familiar with.

I personally saw this topic covered several times.

Despite individual physical differences and preferences, some brands are actually the most recommended by preppers and survivalists.

Asking an expert doesn’t make you stupid, at all, especially if you cannot trust long-time Outdoor experience or if you stepped into this world quite recently.

As you will notice, people look for garments that present the following features:

– being resistant

– being durable

– being water resistant

– being comfortable

– having good and reliable stitching

– having external and internal pockets 

– being foldable

– not being too much flashy

– being value for money

Bear in your mind that being pricey doesn’t always necessarily means being good.

So be careful while judging any jacket just because it is the most expensive on the market.

Climbing clothing, for example, is certainly very good for mountaineers, but they are extremely flashy to make things easier for Rescue Teams.

And if your purpose is to relate to your backwoods and not to the Himalayas, well, they don’t actually fit your needs in terms of performance.

Tactical clothing: pros and cons 

Tactical brands offer a wide range of products that greatly supply for an emergency situation.



Natural Basic Colors (tan, OD green, jungle, sand for the Great Outdoors and black, grey for Urban context) or camouflage

Tough stitching

Presence of roomy external and internal pockets

Good Breathability System



Stiffness (perhaps sometimes)

Over your own size (especially if you are extremely slender). Nonetheless, some brands have a more stretched range of models. I am talking about Polish Helikon-Tex and Slovenian UF Pro, for example.

Price (especially some brands)

Military surplus: pros and cons

Military surplus surely provides a good compromise if you look for secondhand but still good garments.



Possibly already treated with specific products to ensure water resistance

Camouflage colors

Presence of roomy external and internal pockets

Good sewings


The possible presence of damages or defects

Presence of a name on the internal tag

Try before buy

Placing orders on Amazon is quick and comfy, but it could be misleading in the case of selecting garments that could save your life.

The best option you have is to try every single jacket you want to purchase unless you already own it.

There is nothing like touching the fabric, feeling the consistency, and evaluating it by yourself even before seeing how it fits you.

When you are in the dressing room, don’t forget to simulate a list of movements you may be requested to do while bugging out, like:

– stretching arms

– grabbing

– clinging

– moving your shoulders

– bending

– crawling

and so on.

This is just to mention the most obvious ones.

It will help you to evaluate if you are really comfortable with the jacket.

This should be done with Softshells, Waterproof Jackets, quilted jackets, and Anorak.

Test and review

Once purchased, don’t forget to go out in the field with different weather conditions and test your jackets.

If needed, overstress them too.

Building a natural shelter, as well as collecting wood, starting a fire, and climbing and crossing river beds could provide you the chance to see if your Jackets pass successfully the test.

The worst thing to do, in fact, is to put them somewhere among your Bug Out Gear without giving them a try.

Testing means to know.

By that, you will be able to reckon how much you can rely on your garments.

Taking care of the jackets

Having a sewing kit inside your bug out bag or go-bag is mandatory. You never know. It goes without saying that you need to master at least the essentials of sewing. It doesn’t need for you to be an haute couture tailor for sure!

If you regularly use your bug-out Jackets, don’t ignore the importance of taking care of them use specific products like Nikwax, which will help you to maintain the water resistance capability.

Take care of them, and they will take care of you.

An old English saying, but ever valuable!

My personal selection

I do own several jackets, all foldable into compression bags.

I don’t have personally a separate selection of garments ut inside my b-o-b.

In case I need them, I just grab them.

Waterproof Jackets

Carinthia TRG Jacket

British Military Surplus Waterproof Jacket DPM

Windproof Jackets

Helikon-Tex Trooper black

Mid Temperature Jackets

British Military Surplus Anorak tan

Helikon-tex Wolfhound Hoodie tan

Helicon-tex Wolfhound

Severe Temperature Jackets

Carinthia Mig 3.0 wolf grey


Helikon-Tex Gunfighter black

As you can see, there’s no multipurpose jacket.


 My garments of choice stick to the criteria we covered before.

They successfully passed all the tests they underwent, both in urban both outdoor contexts.

Sometimes I combined several together. Last October, I was running a course in the Netherlands, with heavy wind and constant rain. I wore British Military Surplus Anorak under the Helikon-tex Wolfhound Hoodie and they worked great together.

Knowing yourself, your needs and your activities will help you to find out which jackets really work best. In a bug-out situation, you don’t need additional obstacles, but allies.

About the author

Kyt Lyn Walken is Official Representative and Instructor for Hull’s Tracking School (Virginia) and Antipoaching Certified Ranger for Conservation Rangers Operations Worldwide Inc. (Colorado).

She’s a long time Prepper and Survivalist and she wrote several articles and essays on this topic.   

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Photos by Kyt Lyn Walken

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