50 Ways to Use Duct Tape for Survival

I have always claimed, and not altogether jokingly, that you could build a house with Elmer’s glue and Duct Tape.  Both items are readily available, relatively inexpensive, and easy to tote around.  Given my penchant for common, everyday products that can be used dozens of ways, I thought it would be fun to once again look at some of the practical uses of duct tape around the house, camping, and of course, in a survival or emergency situation.

50 Ways to Use Duct Tape for Survival | Backdoor Survival

You might recall that way back when, in the early days of this website, I wrote about the 34 Ways to Use Duct Tape for Survival.  That particular article has been shared over 28K times and is still going strong.  That said, I felt it was time for a refresher course.  So, taking into account all of the comments and tips you have so generously shared, I now have a list of 50 ways to use duct tape for survival and emergencies.

But first, let us begin with that refresher course I mentioned.

All About Duct Tape

Duct tape is a strong, cloth-backed, waterproof adhesive tape often coated with polyethylene.

There are a couple of different lines of thought about the origins of duct tape.

According to one version, the miracle stuff was created during World War II when the US military needed a flexible, durable, waterproof tape to use making repairs in the field. A strong tape was created by Permacell, a division of Johnson and Johnson for this purpose. As the story goes, the GIs called it “duck tape” because it was waterproof – like a duck’s back.

The other version dates back to the same era, but gives the credit to the heating industry.  When people first began using central heating, aluminum ducts were installed throughout homes in order to distribute the heat to different rooms. The joints of the ducts were leaking, so in an effort to conserve heat, duct tape was created to resolve the issue. It had to be highly adhesive, moist enough that it wouldn’t dry out and lose its adhesive properties, and strong enough to withstand the weight of the shifting ducts.

Regardless of the origin, I think we can all agree that duct tape is a fix-all.

As with most excellent products, there are lots of cheap knock-offs. Since your life could one day rely on your survival supplies, purchase duct tape that is designed for builders. This can be found at the hardware or home improvement store, generally in the heating and air conditioning section.

But enough of the boring details.  Just how can you use this miracle tape?

50 Uses of Duct Tape for Survival and Emergencies

1.  Repair a tent:   You open your tent at the campsite and oops — a little tear. No problem as long as you’ve brought your duct tape along. Cover the hole with a duct tape patch; for double protection mirror the patch inside the tent. You’ll keep insects and weather where they belong.

2.  Make a rope: In a pinch, you can twist one or several lengths of duct tape into a cord or rope. (Of courseparacord would be a lot better and you do have some of that, right?)

3.  Make a clothesline:  Twisting a long piece of Duct tape makes a great piece of rope to use as a clothesline to dry out camp clothing.

4.  Hold the feathers in your sleeping bag: If you have a hole in your down sleeping bag, you can patch the hole with duct tape.  No more feathers flying out all over the place.

5.  Reseal packages of food:  Use duct tape to seal up partially opened packages of food.  Fold over the top of the package and seal it tight with a piece of duct tape. Works for cans, too.  Simply fashion a lid out of duct tape.

6.  Hold your tent closed: A damaged zipper could leave your tent door flapping in the wind. Stick the door shut, and keep the bugs and critters out.

7.  Splint a broken tent pole or fishing pole: Tape a stick to the broken area of your tent pole or fishing rod, and you might just get one last adventure out of it.

8.  Catch pesky flies:  Roll off a few foot-long strips of duct tape and hang them from a branch or your tent or cabin rafters. The DT serves as flypaper and when you depart, you can roll up the tape to toss it in the trash.  No need to use nasty chemicals, either.

9.  Repair your water bottle: Have a cracked water bottle or a pierced hydration bladder? A little strip of duct tape to the rescue. Be sure to dry the surface before you try to tape your patch in place since most forms of duct tape don’t stick to wet surfaces. You can also wrap plastic water bottles with duct tape to prevent cracking and leaking.

10.  Make a spear: Strap your knife to a pole and you have a trusty spear to fend off beasts, or make one into your dinner.

11.  Create a shelter: With some trash bags and some duct tape, and you have a survival shelter roof, or sleeping bag cover, or a wind break.

12.  Wrap a sprained ankle:  If you trip and sprain your ankle, wrap the ankle with duct tape to give it some support.

13.  Make butterfly bandage strips: Cut two small strips of DT, and add a smaller strip across their centers (sticky side to sticky side) to create a makeshift butterfly suture.

14.  Make a sling: Fold a length of DT down the middle, so that it is half the original width and no longer exposing a sticky side. Use the strap to make a sling for an injured arm or shoulder.

15.  Affix bandages: Place a sterile dressing over your wound, and strap it in place with DT.

16.  Blister care:  Got a blister on your foot? Cover the blistered area with a bit of cotton gauze, and tape over the cotton. Make sure that the duct tape fully covers the cotton and doesn’t touch the blister at all.

17.  Create a splint: A broken ankle or leg can be stabilized with ample splint material, padding and duct tape.

18.  Make a crutch: Pad the crotch of a forked branch with some cloth and duct tape to fashion a quick crutch to go with your splint.

19.  Make a bandage: Fold tissue paper or paper towel to cover the wound and cover this with duct tape.

20.  Make a temporary roof shingle: If you have lost a wooden roof shingle, make a temporary replacement by wrapping duct tape in strips across a piece of 1/4-inch (6-millimeter) plywood you’ve cut to size. Wedge the makeshift shingle in place to fill the space. It will close the gap and repel water until you can repair the roof.

21.  Fix a hole in your siding:  Has the stormy weather damaged your vinyl siding? A broken tree limb tossed by the storm, hailstones, or even an errant baseball can rip your siding. Patch tears in vinyl siding with duct tape. Choose tape in a color that matches your siding and apply it when the surface is dry. Smooth your repair by hand or with a rolling pin. The patch should last at least a season or two.

22.  Tape a broken window:  Before removing broken window glass, crisscross the broken pane with duct tape to hold it all together. This will ensure a shard does not fall out and cut you.

23.  Mend a screen:  Have the bugs found the tear in your window or door screen? Thwart their entrance until you make a permanent fix by covering the hole with duct tape.

24.  Repair a trash can:  Plastic trash cans that are blown over by a storm or frozen in an ice storm often split or crack along the sides.  Repair the tear with duct tape. Just be sure the can is completely dry and tape over the crack both outside and inside.

25.  Make a belt:  Run a piece of DT through your belt loops and stick it to itself in the front. Overlap it about 4 or 5 inches and you’ll still be able to peel the belt apart when nature calls.

26.  Repair your glasses:  If your glasses break while you are out in the wilderness, tape them up.  You might look a bit nerdy but at least you will be able to see.

27.  Fix your rain gear: Keep the dry stuff dry and keep the water out by mending your ripped rain gear with a few strips of duct tape.

28.  Repair your clothing:  Repair rips and tears in your clothing by slipping a piece of tape inside the rip, sticky side out, and carefully pressing both sides of the rip together. The repair will be barely detectable.

29.  Add extra insulation in your boots:  Make your winter boots a little bit warmer by taping the insoles with duct tape, silver side up. The shiny tape will reflect the warmth of your feet back into your boots.

30.  Repair boots: If your boots have come apart or the sole has come off, perform a quick duct tape repair to help keep moisture and cold air away from your socks.

31.  Keep snow out of your boots: If the snow is so deep it goes over the tops of your boots, you can wrap the tape around them to keep the tops against your legs to keep them shut tight so that you don’t get snow inside your boots.

32.  Keep bugs and parasites out of your boots: Same concept as above, summer version. Secure the tops of your boots against your legs to bar entry to ticks, chiggers, and other creepy crawlies.

33.  Hem your pants:  No time to hem your new jeans?  Fake it with a strip of duct tape. The new hem will last through a few washes too.

34.  Make handcuffs:  Create handcuffs for the bad guys by taping their hands together around a tree to prevent them from becoming a danger to themselves or others.

35.  Mark a trail: Use duct tape to blaze a trail so you can easily find your way back.

36.  Signal for rescue: If you have brightly colored or reflective duct tape, you can use it to signal for rescue.

37.  Make emergency repairs on your Bug Out Vehicle: Repair leaking hoses, broken tail lights, windows that don’t stay and even bullet holes with strips of duct tape.

38.  Hang perimeter or security lights:  String lights around your camp with a rope make of duct tape.

39.  Make a disguise:  Using trash bags and leaves, fashion a disguise then hold it all together with duct tape so that you can hide in plain sight.

40.  Repair above ground swimming pools: Got an above ground pool as part of your water storage, fish farming, or aquaponics set up? Don’t despair if you spring a leak. Simply dry the area completely, then adhere DT on both the inside and outside of the rip or hole.  This little trick can also be used for waterbeds.

41.  Repair gutter downpipes: Wrap the joints in duct tape to secure downpipes that won’t stay together.

42.  Remove splinters: Make sure skin is perfectly dry. Apply duct tape to the area where the splinter is embedded and quickly yank it off.

43.  Repair a small boat: If you have a small fishing boat, kayak, or canoe that gets a hole or crack in it, you can repair it by drying the area thoroughly and applying duct tape on both sides. The repair may not last forever but will probably get you back to civilization.

44.  Repair work gloves: Got some heavy work gloves coming apart at the seams? Repair them by folding duct tape, sticky side in, over the seam and pressing it together.

45.  Brace broken ribs: If you’ve broken or cracked your ribs, but you still need to function, you can provide support with duct tape.  Put on a slim fitting shirt or tank top to protect your skin, then wrap your rib cage tightly with duct tape

46.  Black out your windows: Use duct tape in conjunction with heavy garbage bags to cover windows during an emergency. Nothing says “rob me” like being the only house in the neighborhood with lights on.

47.  Remove warts: Cover a planter wart with a piece of duct tape for 6 days. Replace the tape when the adhesive loosens or gets wet. After 6 days, remove the tape and soak the area with water. Then, gently rub the wart with an emery board. Repeat the procedure until the wart is gone (source).

48.  Repair leaking pipes: Making sure to dry the area completely, apply duct tape to PVC pipes that are leaking.

49.  Seal your home: In the event of a pandemic or a biological, nuclear, or chemical attack get all family members inside and seal off windows and doors securely with duct tape.

50.  Seal ammo boxes: Protect your ammunition from moisture by sealing the boxes with duct tape.



The Final Word

For the past 70 years or so, duct tape has been considered somewhat of a miracle worker.  For fix-it-yourself and do-it-yourself types, duct tape has become indispensable and has been used for things that I am sure the original developers of the stuff never imagined. Can you even begin to imagine MacGyver without duct tape?  I can’t.

I personally have duct tape and its sister product, Gorilla tape, stashed all over the house, in my car, and in my various emergency kits.  I use it all the time for all sorts of things.  Just because duct tape is ubiquitous, does not lesson its usefulness.


Surgical Masks for the Survival Kit

Today I want to focus on an item that people rarely think about unless they are surrounded by sickness, disease or a pandemic situation.  I am referring to the common place surgical mask and its big sister, the N95 Respirator Mask.

Not being an expert in this area, a little over a year ago I sent an email off to Joe Alton (aka Dr. Bones on the Doom and Bloom website) to see if he could sort through the dearth of  information on surgical masks for survival purposes.  Shortly after that, he wrote the following article which I am thrilled to share with you today.


Surgical Masks for Survival Situations

Throughout history, infectious diseases have been part and parcel of the human experience.  Ever since the middle ages, we have figured out that some infections have the capacity of passing from person to person.  Medical personnel have made efforts to protect themselves from becoming the next victim to succumb from the disease.

This makes sense from more than a selfish standpoint: In survival situations, there will be few medically trained individuals to serve a group or community.  The medic does a disservice to their people by becoming the next casualty of a epidemic.  Even before we knew there were such things as viruses and bacteria, efforts to protect the heath care provider were made.

In medieval times, doctors who ministered to patients suffering from the Bubonic or Pneumonic plague wore masks.  These masks often had herbs in them which were thought to protect the wearer from contagion.  Protective gloves, gowns, and caps made their appearance as well.


Plague Doctor

Around the year 1900, masks began to be used routinely during surgery to prevent micro-organisms residing in medical personnel’s noses and mouths from contaminating the operative field.  A secondary purpose was to protect the wearer from blood spatter and other fluids from the patient.  These were not always used by all members of the surgical team, as you can see below:


Typical Turn of the Century Operating Theater

Nowadays, the basic surgical mask hasn’t changed much in general appearance. No doubt, you’ve seen photos of people wearing them in areas where there is an epidemic.  In Asia, especially, it is considered good etiquette and socially responsible to wear them if you have a cold or flu and are going out in public.  Face masks have the added advantage of reminding people to keep their hands away from their nose and mouth, a major source of the spread of infection.

If you will be taking care of your family or survival group in situations where modern medical care is unavailable, you will want a good supply of masks (and gloves) in your medical storage.   Without these items, it will be likely that an infectious disease could affect every member, including yourself.

Medical masks are evaluated based, partially, on their ability to serve as a barrier to very small particles (we’re talking fractions of microns) that might contain bacteria or viruses.  These are tested at an air flow rate that approximates human breathing, coughing sneezing.  As well, masks are tested for their ability to tightly fit the average human face.  The most commonly available face masks use ear loops or ties to fix them in place, although adhesive masks are being developed.  Most masks are fabricated of “melt-blown” coated fabric, providing better protection than woven cotton or gauze.

Standard medical masks have a wide range of protection based on fit and barrier quality; 3 ply masks (the most common version) are more “breathable”, as you can imagine; 6 ply masks likely present more of a barrier.

N95 Mask with Exhalation Valve

N95 mask with exhalation valve

The upgrade to the basic mask is the N95 respirator mask.  N95 Medical Masks are a class of disposable respirators that have at least 95% efficiency against particulates > 0.3 microns in size. These N95 masks protect against many contaminants but are not 100% protective, although N99 masks (99%) and N100 masks (99.7%) are also available.  The N stands for non-oil resistant; there are also R95 (oil resistant) and P95 (oil proof) masks, mostly for industrial and agricultural use.  Many of these masks have a square or round “exhalation valve” in the middle, which helps with breathability. None of these masks, which do not cover the eyes, are protective against gases such as chlorine.  For this, you will need a “gas mask”, subject of a future article.

So what would be a reasonable strategy?  You’ll need both standard and N95 Masks as part of your medical supplies.  I would recommend a significant number of each as the masks will be contaminated once worn and must be disposed of.

There are no absolute standards with regards to who wears what in the sick room. I would recommend using the standard surgical masks for those who are ill, to prevent droplets from coughing or sneezing (which can send air droplets several feet) and the N95 masks for the caregivers.  In this fashion, you will give maximum protection to the medical personnel.

Remember, your highest priority is to protect yourself and the healthy members of your group.  Isolate those that might be contagious, have plenty of masks, as well as gloves, aprons, eyewear, and antiseptics, and pay careful attention to every aspect of hygiene.

Your survival may depend on it.

Joe and Amy Alton aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy, are the authors of the #1 Amazon Bestseller The Survival Medicine Handbook: A guide for when help is NOT on the way. You will find their articles in Backwoods Home, Survivalist, Self Reliance Illustrated, and Survival Quarterly magazines, and at their website at www.doomandbloom.net.

The Final Word

Both the standard surgical mask and the N95 respirator masks are inexpensive.  For less than five dollars you can purchase a package of 50 standard masks and for less than ten dollars, you can purchase a package of 20 N95 masks.

Keep in mind that difference between the N95 and standard surgical masks is that the N95 has a built-in filter that will stop particles from entering the body.  This makes them a good choice for the caregiver in the sick room since it will help minimize contamination from microorganisms exhaled by other individuals. It can also be used to reduce the potential exposure to blood and bodily fluids.

One last thing:  no mask is a substitute from proper hygiene and sanitation.  For tips on keeping the cooties at bay, visit Survival Basics: Hand Sanitation For Good Hygiene.

35 Reasons Coffee Filters are Survival Multitaskers

Every prepper knows that multipurpose items save space and money.  Because of this, we stash things like salt, duct tape, vinegar, and paracord like they are going out of style. Here is another inexpensive item that you should add to your list of versatile preps: coffee filters.

Coffee filters are ubiquitous They are inexpensive, light-weight, and readily available. Heck, you can purchase coffee filters at the dollar store, Amazon, Costco, the corner grocery, and even on EBay.

35 Reasons Coffee Filters are Survival Multitaskers | Backdoor Survival

Now I will be first to admit that there are a lot of lists floating around with suggested uses for coffee filters. However, most include all kinds of uses that are nice, but irrelevant to the prepper. After all, if you are experiencing hard times or find yourself in a survival situation, do you really think you will care about preventing your fine china from chipping or making a quick yet adorable flower bouquet from your stash of coffee filters?

Following, you can find 35 very sensible reasons why you should include coffee filters in your survival kit and preparedness pantry.

35 Ways to Use Coffee Filters for Survival

1.  Use in place of a rag or paper towel

Use a coffee filter as a makeshift rag. Unlike paper towels, coffee filters are lint free and take up very little space. They are also dirt cheap.

2.  Keep insects away from food

When cooking or dining outdoors, cover your plates and bowls of food with coffee filters to keep the insects at bay.

3.  Pre-filter collected water

When collecting water, you will likely find some sediment, leaves, twigs, or other undesirable matter in the water. Pre-filter collected water using a coffee filter, then process as you normally would, typically by boiling or by the use of a filtration system. This will remove the larger debris and help extend the life of your expensive filters.

4.  Make a disposable plate or bowl

If you are bugging out or on the run, plates and bowls, even disposables, may be scarce. As well, they can be heavy and take up valuable real estate in your backpack. Dry foods can be eaten directly from a coffee filter bowl held in your hands. Heavier foods, even those that are moist, can be supported by a paper or plastic plate or bowl. When done, throw out the filter and your plate or bowl is still clean enough to use for the next meal. This saves cleanup time, and even more importantly, it saves water.

5.  Keep small hardware items organized

Nails, screws, and all manner of fix-it items are good to have on hand in your survival kit. Secure them in little bundles made of coffee filters. Tie off the bundles with some paracord since that will be useful too. When you are using the hardware, the coffee filter will keep the items from rolling around and getting lost.

6.  Keep your specs spotlessly clean

You don’t need fancy liquid products to clean your glasses and, as a matter of fact, some products can also damage the coatings on specialized lenses. (I know – it happened to me.) The next time you need to clean your glasses, try using a coffee filter with a bit of plain water. Your glasses will come clean and will be lint-free. You can also use coffee filters to safely clean cell phone, E-reader, and computer screens.

7.  Protect your cast iron skillets from rust

Nothing is more discouraging to the cast iron maven than finding a bit of rust on your well-seasoned cast iron skillet. You can help prevent this by putting some coffee filters in the skillet when it’s not in use. The filter will absorb moisture and prevent rusting.

8.  Use it as emergency toilet paper

No TP? No worries. A coffee filter will work just fine – just don’t flush it down a toilet.

9.  Use it as a pet pooper scooper

Ditto for pet pooper scoopers. Coffee filters work like a little glove for taking care of your pet’s business. Great on the hiking trails or even indoors when Fido has a little accident. You can also use a coffee filter to wipe a messy tush or muddy paws.

10.  Keep potting soil where it belongs – in the pot

Before placing soil in a pot, cover the hole in the bottom with a coffee filter. This will prevent the soil from leaking out and yet will allow the excess water to drain properly.

11. Make an air freshener

To make an air freshener, fill a coffee filter with baking soda, twist-tie it shut (or again, use a bit of paracord) and you are all set. The baking soda will absorb all kinds of nasty odors. Make several and tuck them into your backpack, shoes, ice chest, vehicle, tent, and any place else that tends to get stinky smelly.

35 Reasons Coffee Filters are Survival Multitaskers | Backdoor Survival

A nifty little air freshener for my backpack – plus a bit of paracord

12.  Make a cold compress

Soak filters in brewed tea or even just plain water and chill. Fold them up to fashion a cold compress when you have a headache or slight fever. A cool compress made from a coffee filter will even tame puffy eyes.

13.  Make a bandage

If you have a small cut or even a razor nick, rip a piece off of a coffee filter and slap it on with pressure to stop the bleeding. Your coffee filter will work similarly to a styptic pencil but without the stinging. Note: this is not a replacement for a decent first aid kit.

14.  Trap cooking grease

When cooking greasy foods – especially meats – you can soak up the extra grease by placing a coffee filter both under the cooked food and on top. Pat your food down well with the coffee filter and you will be good to go.

15.  Make an instant funnel

Cut the end off of a cone-style coffee filter to make an instant funnel.

16.  Make a bag for herbal tea

Gather up some fresh herbs, crush them a bit, then make a little sack out of your coffee filter. Tie off the top with a bit of twine from your survival kit (or some strands of paracord). Boil some water, add it to a cup, and then let your packet of herbal tea steep to the desired strength. If you have a cold or sore throat, be sure to add a bit of honey or honey powder.

17.  Flavor your sun tea

When making a sun tea, add dried orange peels, mint leaves, or other herbs for flavor. Take a filter and center the contents in the middle. Gather the edges, twist, and tie with string. Drop your little flavor packet into the jar along with the tea bags and let it brew as usual.

18.  Use as a filter for fresh juices

If you have found a citrus tree and are scavenging fruit for juice, you can use a coffee filter to filter the juice, leaving seeds and pulp behind

19.  Spot clean clothing

Spots and spills are a fact of life. Use a coffee filter to spot clean your clothing. If you have some, use some white vinegar. hydrogen peroxide,, or club soda and the spot will be greatly reduced if not disappear completely.

20.  Sprout seeds for consuming

To sprout seeds, dampen the coffee filter then place seeds inside. Fold it up then place the filter and seed packet into a plastic baggie until they sprout. If you can, keep your little sprout packet in a dark spot for a few days, then move them into the light so chlorophyll develops. Some good seeds to use are mung beans, bean sprouts, and mixed broccoli and radish seeds.

21.  Sprout garden seeds

You can also sprout garden seeds in coffee filters to give them a head start before putting them into the ground or pots.

22.  Store garden seeds between seasons

Even without a desiccant, a coffee filter can be stored with seeds to keep them moisture-free between growing seasons.

23.  Keep glass surfaces clean

Coffee filters are lint-free so your glass surfaces will sparkle after they are cleaned. If you have some – and you should – add a little vinegar to water and use this combo as a cleaning solution. (But use only water and soap on eye glasses – no vinegar please. See above.)

24.  Keep fresh produce crisp and dry in your cooler

Wrap fresh picked produce – especially greens – in coffee filters before putting them in your cooler. The coffee filter will help absorb any moisture and keep your produce fresh and crisp longer.

25.  Make a portable food wrapper

While fending for yourself, you may not have aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or other containers for storing your food. Instead, use a coffee filter as a food wrapper or storage container. You may need to split the filter and combine two or more to surround your food, but after securing your food wrapper with a bit of string, you will be all set.

26.  Strain soup stock and broths

In a survival situation, you will not want to waste anything food-wise. After boiling up food scraps, strain the broth for a nice rich soup stock that can be consumed as is or used as a base for another meal.

27.  Make a Bouquet Garni

Bundle herbs and spices into a coffee filter, tie it off, and add to your soups and broths as a nifty way of seasoning your homemade creation.

28. Make a dish for pet food

If you have a dog or cat, in a pinch, you can serve either wet or dry food in a makeshift coffee filter bowl.

35 Reasons Coffee Filters are Survival Multitaskers | Backdoor Survival

This makeshift bowl is what started it all!

29. Start a fire

If you use a coffee filter to soak up grease (see #14), you have created an excellent fire-starter. Any kind of grease will work, whether it is from a vehicle repair or the kitchen.

30. Use it as paper

In a pinch, if you have to leave a note or write something down, but have no paper, a coffee filter will do the trick. It will work best with a ballpoint pen – a marker will bleed too much to be legible.

31. Use a coffee filter to make a bath sachet

If you happen to be the victim of poison ivy or another type of skin rash, an oatmeal bath can give instant relief. Add dry oatmeal to the center of the coffee filter, tie it up tightly, and add it to the bathwater. All the itch relief with none of the mess.

32. Catch bits of cork in your wine

This may be debatable as a survival use, but if your cork should break when you are removing it from a wine bottle, simply place a coffee filter over the end of the bottle when pouring to trap the little pieces of cork before they go into the wine glass.

33. Use it to blow your nose

A coffee filter can be used as a substitute for a Kleenex if you have the sniffles or a sneezing fit.

34.  Make dryer sheets

Okay, this is not a survival necessity but it works so well, I just had to include it. First of all, I do not use nor do I endorse the use of commercial dryer sheets. Sometimes, though, I will dampen a coffee filter with some white vinegar and a few drops of my favorite essential oil (lavender). When it is raining and cold and I cannot hang my sheets outdoors to dry, I will pop one of these scented filters into the dryer and my sheets will smell heavenly.

35.  Make coffee!

Lest I forget, don’t forget to use your filters for making coffee. If all you have is a pot, some ground coffee, and water, boil it up and filter the resulting brew into your cup. Not exactly a Starbucks experience, but if you are a coffee addict, it will be delicious nonetheless.

34 Ways to Use Salt for Survival: Everything You Need to Know


Salt As the Bad Guy

According to the Mayo Clinic, lowering your salt intake can help lower your blood pressure and your risk of cardiovascular disease.  Furthermore, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who consumed more than 7 grams of salt per day had a much higher risk of death than those who consumed 3-6 grams per day.

The authors estimate that reducing salt intake could save between $10 billion and $24 billion in health care costs annually. In light of this, many experts are calling on food manufacturers and restaurants to lower the amount of salt in the foods they sell.

But Is It Really That Bad?

On the other hand, salt/sodium is vital to keep our bodies functioning normally. It is a main component of the extracellular fluids in the body. It is important for regulating hydration and also aids other body functions, such as the transmission of nerve impulses and the contraction and relaxation of muscles.

So although I personally have issues when there is too much salt in my diet, for many the moderate consumption of salt is perfectly fine.

Why Do You Need Salt in Your Prepper Pantry?

For most of us, the amount of salt needed to stay healthy can be already be found in processed, packaged, or canned foods.  Let us hope that we have stored enough of these foods – especially the canned items – that we will never need to worry about adding more.

Having gone most of my adult life avoiding salt, coming to terms with adding salt to my survival pantry was true mind-shift.  Not only is there a physiological need for our bodies to ingest salt in one form or another, but there are a multitude of other uses aside from food enhancement and food preservation.

Which leads me to the next point: what are the uses of salt in an emergency situation?

In his article,  27 More Reasons to Stock Salt, ‘Above Average’ Joe from SurvivalLife.com wrote:

Salt has been an integral part of civilization dating back as far as 6050 B.C.  It has been such an important element of life that it has been the subject of many stories, fables and folktales and is frequently referenced in fairy tales.

It served as currency at various times and places, and it has even been the cause of bitter warfare.  Offering bread and salt to visitors, in many cultures, is traditional etiquette.

Aside from all of the uses that salt performs in terms of baking, food flavor and food preservation, salt has a number of other uses that you may never have thought of.

34 Ways to Use Salt for Survival

The following list is a combination of suggestions from ‘Above Average’ Joe, my own uses, and the tips from you, the readers, who are always a wealth of information.

1.  Food preservation Salt can be used as an off-grid way to preserve meat, fish and game that is caught in the wild

2.  Supplemental use Table salt can provide the nominal amount of dietary sodium once the canned and processed foods are gone

3.  Taste enhancement (perhaps this should be number one!)

4.  Dental hygiene A salt paste can be used to brush your teeth

5.  Remove Rust Make a paste using 6 tablespoons of salt and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Apply paste to rusted area with a dry cloth and rub. Rinse thoroughly and dry.

6.  Perk up coffee flavor Add a pinch of salt to the coffee in the basket of your coffeemaker. This will improve the coffee’s flavor by helping to remove some of the acid taste.

7.  Clean cast iron skillets and pots  If our cast iron cookware is gunked up with bits of food, make a paste from salt and a bit of water then scrub it clean. To speed the process, boil a small amount of water in the pot, add some salt and use a long handled brush to whisk away the burned on food.

8.  Eliminate fish odors Removing fish odor from your hands is simple with Salt. Just rub your hands with a lemon wedge dipped in salt, then rinse with water.

9.  Cut cutting board odors To help cut odors off of your wooden cutting board, simply pour a generous amount of Salt directly on the board. Rub lightly with a damp cloth. Wash in warm, sudsy water.

10.  Soothe sore throats To alleviate the discomfort of a mild sore throat, gargle several times daily with a mixture of 1/4 teaspoon Salt and 1/2 cup warm water*. It’s like taking a liquid lozenge.

11.  Treat your tootsie’s To prepare a salt water bath, pour 6 quarts (1-1/2 gallons) warm water in a large basin. Mix in 1/4 cup Salt and 1/4 cup baking soda. Soak feet for up to 15 minutes.

12.  Boiling water Salt added to water makes the water boil at a higher temperature, thus reducing cooking time (it does not make the water boil faster).

13.  Testing egg freshness Place the egg in a cup of water to which two teaspoonful’s of salt has been added. A fresh egg sinks; if it floats, toss it.

14.  Cleaning greasy pans The greasiest iron pan will wash easily if you use a little salt in it and wipe with paper towels.

15.  Cleaning stained cups Rubbing with salt will remove stubborn tea or coffee stains from cups.

16.  Save the bottom of your oven If a pie or casserole bubbles over in the oven, put a handful of salt on top of the spill. It won’t smoke and smell, and it will bake into a crust that makes the baked-on mess much easier to clean when it has cooled.

17.  Fend off fire from a rogue BBQ Toss a bit of salt on flames from food dripping in barbecue grills to reduce the flames and calm the smoke without cooling the coals (like water does).

18.  Removing pinfeathers To remove pinfeathers easily from a chicken, rub the chicken skin with salt first.

19.  Preventing mold To prevent mold on cheese, wrap it in a cloth dampened with saltwater before refrigerating.

20.  Keeping milk fresh Adding a pinch of salt to milk will keep it fresh longer.

21.  Scaling fish Soak fish in salt water before descaling; the scales will come off easier.

22.  Non-stick pancakes Rub salt on your pancake griddle and your flapjacks won’t stick.

23.  Keeping cut flowers fresh A dash of salt added to the water in a flower vase will keep cut flowers fresh longer.

24.  Keeping patios weed-free If weeds or unwanted grass come up between patio bricks or blocks, carefully spread salt between the bricks and blocks, then sprinkle with water or wait for rain to wet it down.

25.  Killing poison ivy Mix three pounds of salt with a gallon of soapy water and apply to leaves and stems with a sprayer.

26.  Deodorizing shoes Sprinkling a little salt in canvas shoes occasionally will take up the moisture and help remove odors.

27.  Relieving bee stings If stung, immediately wet the spot and cover with salt to relieve the pain.

28.  Deter ants Sprinkle salt at doorways, window sills and anywhere else ants sneak into your house. Ants don’t like to walk on salt.

29.  Clean teeth Use one part fine salt to two parts baking soda–dip your toothbrush in the mix and brush as usual.

30.  Melt snow and ice Sprinkle salt on snow or ice to melt away.

31.  Removing soot Occasionally throw a handful of salt on the flames in your fireplace; it will help loosen soot from the chimney and salt makes a bright yellow flame.

32.  For soap making Salt is a component in some soap recipes. It stimulates a chemical reaction that hardens the soap.

33.  Nasal Rinse Mix well 1/4 cup salt & 1/4 cup of baking soda and store in an air tight container, use 1/4 tsp. for each rinse. This can help stop a cold virus in its tracks, can help with seasonal allergies, and can relieve sinus pressure. Many people use a neti pot for this purpose.

34.  Dispose of disposal odor To help remove odors from garbage disposals, pour 1/2 cup of Salt directly into the garbage disposal. By running the disposal following manufacturer’s directions, you’ll send those odors down the drain.

Now granted, some of these uses are handy dandy but not 100% survival and prepper-centric.  Still, as this demonstrates, there are a ton of day to day uses for salt that will make our lives easier if not more pleasant.

Budget Friendly Items for the Frugal Prepper

The following items are all inexpensive ones that you can add to your preps with each paycheck.

Food Items

1. Rice: This multipurpose grain is a great way to extend a meal to feed more people.

2. Dried beans: These are very cheap, easy to store, and have a long shelf life.

3. Dry grains: Cheap and easy!

4. Ramen noodles: Admittedly, not the healthiest option in the world but definitely filling, easy, and calorie-laden.

5. $1 shelf storage milk:  Where to get this?  From the dollar store!

6. Pastas and canned sauces: A great way to make dinner for less than $1 per person.

7. Canned goods:  These can be acquired a few at a time when they are on sale.  Especially look for fruits, veggies and meats such as canned ham.

8. Peanut butter: This high-calorie snack can sometimes be found in small jars at the dollar store.

9. Salt: Also readily available at the dollar store. You can never have too much salt. It can be used not only to season food, but to preserve it. (In fact, here are 34 ways to use salt for preparedness.)

10. Tea bags: A cup of hot tea is one of the most frugal beverages around and can alleviate the boredom of just plain water.

11. Baking soda: Another multitasker that can be used for both cooking and cleaning.

12. Boxed macaroni and cheese: Not the healthiest, but kids love it and it will fill tummies.

13. Spices: These can jazz up bland storage food to make it more appetizing.

14. Paper plates, paper cups, plastic utensils: Don’t forget to stock up on disposable supplies to serve your food on. If water is limited, you won’t want to waste it washing dishes.

15. Powdered drink mix: Add them to water to make it more palatable to children. These are also useful if your water is a bit stale tasting, as long as the water is safe to drink.

16. Hard candies: These can serve as a treat for children, a sugar boost to someone with blood sugar concerns, or to assuage hunger just a little bit.

Survival Items (Medical, Misc, General)

17. Glow sticks: These are 4 for $1 at my dollar store, and they have lots of uses.

18. Cheapo firestarter supplies: Make firestarter tins with cotton balls, Vaseline, and a lighter.

19. Lighters: Not only can you pick one up for a buck just about anywhere, you can order 50 of them for $11 (this was the price at the time of posting.)

20. Bandanas: Use bandanas for covering your nose and mouth around foul odors or to protect you from breathing in particles like dust (or worse). They can also be used to filter sediment from water or to make a tourniquet. Here aremore uses for the ubiquitous, and budget-friendly bandana.

21. Socks: You should always carry extra socks in your bag in case your feet get wet or you are getting blisters and need an extra layer of protection. After Christmas you can often pick up seasonal ones for a song.

22. Flashlights: The cheap ones may not be top quality, but they do work and are very handy and slip into a purse or pocket.

23. Can opener: Something you never want to be without. Keep one in your car kit, your bug out bag, and stash a few extras for good measure.  This military type can opener is dirt cheap and takes up almost no space.

24. Zip ties: Zip ties are fantastic in their versatility. Use them to secure a makeshift shelter from tarps, to repair tents, to attach something to a belt loop, or to bundle items tightly together. Some recommend zip ties as makeshift handcuffs but in my opinion they are too easy to get out of.

25. Children’s Cookware: Reader’s tip: “The most budget-friendly item in my go bags is the following. I child’s kitchen cook set. A while back I found a tip about a stainless steel three pcs child’s kitchen cook set sold by Ikea. There’s a pot with lid, frying pan and colander for less then $10.00. Why spend a small fortune on a titanium cook set that you’ll use a handful of time or never?”

26. N-95 masks:  Check the aisle of the dollar store with painting supplies – you can find N-95 masks there in 2-packs. You can learn more about the importance of masks in this article.

27. Coffee Filters: These items are so multipurpose I wrote an entire article dedicated just to them. A reader adds:I plan to use SODIS to purify my water, so I need plenty of coffee filters. They are cheap. They would be used to filter the large particle of dirt, before using SODIS.”

28. Matches: Stock up on matches. I like the longer ones that come in a box as opposed to the flimsy ones in a matchbook.

29. Petroleum jelly: Petroleum jelly or Vaseline has a multitude of uses that don’t include putting it on your skin. It’s a great accelerant for fire-building, keeps machinery protected from rust, can be used to make flypaper, lubricates hinges, and can be used to soothe painful chapped lips.

30. Cotton balls: Add Vaseline to turn them into a firestarter. Use them for first aid to clean a cut or scrape. Pad an area that is getting a blister with a cotton ball secured by a band aid. Soak one in clove oil and apply to a painful tooth. The list could go on and on.

31. Homemade fire starter: “Our most budget friendly items in our survival kit are paraffin/dryer lint/egg carton fire starters.”

32. Solar garden stakes: Leave these outside in a flower pot as a decorative display. When the power goes out, simply bring them in and place them in vases around the house for a warm glow all night long. I stock up on these from the dollar store and Wal-Mart at the end of the season.

33. Water: You can pick up 1-gallon jugs for a dollar or less to beef up your water storage. As well, you can fill your own containers for free right from the tap.

34. Garbage bags: You can never have too many, and they aren’t just for trash. They can also be used as makeshift tarps or to haul something.

35. Duct tape: Of course.  This is one of the most useful preps around. Here are 50 ways to use it.

36. Plain Chlorine Bleach: You can pick this up at the dollar store. As long as it is unscented, it can be used to purify water. You can also use it to clean up messes that could make you sick, like spoiled food or sewage. Be warned, the shelf life of bleach is only about a year, so plan accordingly.

37. Utility knives: “Exacto” style knives are incredibly useful.

38. Baby wipes: Not just for babies, these handy wipes are good for a quick clean of the counters or for washing your hands.

39. Toothbrushes: Stock up on lots of extras. Not only will you be prepared for an unexpected overnight visitor, you will also be ready to clean hard to reach areas or to replace the toothbrush of a family member that has been ill.

40. Mousetraps: Often in the aftermath of a disaster, rodents seek shelter too. You don;t want them doing it in your house.

41. Bungee cords: These are invaluable for makeshift repairs or securing a load in a vehicle.

42. Aluminum foil: You can use it for cooking over an open fire, for lining cookware so that you don’t have to waste water washing it, or for reflecting heat. (And according to some, preppers like to make hats out of it!)

43. Candles: Look for votives and jar candles at the dollar store. Since they are self-contained you won’t necessarily need holders for them.

44. Hand Sanitizer: Not only can you clean your hands with it, but hand sanitizer also makes a great fire starting accelerant.

45. Vinegar: Vinegar is one of my favorite preps because of its many uses. It runs the gamut from cleaner to first aid item. (Here are 50 ways to use it.)

46. Jigsaw puzzles, cards, and board games: These can be fun group activities to pass the time when the power is out. Kids are always much more entertained by something new during a crisis situation, rather than the same old toys they always play with.

47. Crossword puzzle, word search, and Sudoku books: If you prefer a solitary pursuit, a puzzle book can keep your brain active.

48. Coloring books and art supplies: This may sound like it is just for the kids, but personally, I love the relaxation I find when coloring. Stock up on both children’s and adult coloring books, pencils and crayons for children and children at heart.

Here is a budget saving hint: order the ebook version of a coloring book.  Virtually all of them include a link where you can download the pages and print them out yourself. Not only that, they are frequently offered for free on Amazon.

49. Mylar blankets: “Space blankets” are good for a lot more than a way to keep warm in an emergency. They are also good for deterring birds from your garden, protecting plants in the hottest part of the day, or being strategically placed to increase heat output in a room. (Here are more ways to use Mylar blankets.)

Garden/Homesteading Items

50. Garden gloves: These can nearly always be found for a dollar, and the kind with the rubber grips will protect your hands with other types of light work, too.

51. Garden tools: Small hand tools for digging and planting will be useful in pots or raised beds, although they may not be very helpful for a larger garden plot.

52. Watering cans: If water is not abundant, it is important to direct it only where you need it to go – to the roots of your plants.

53. Seeds: In the spring, they are everywhere. But don’t just get the cheapest ones you can find. As one Backdoor Survival reader said:  “I think heirloom seeds deliver a lot of bang for the buck. Buy once, learn how to save seeds (and actually do it), and you can get food for the rest of your life.” (Keep in mind the cheap ones could be good for barter, though.)

54. Splatter screens: The kind of screens you use to keep bacon from making a mess in your kitchen are perfect for air drying the seeds you want to save for next year.

55. Twine: The rustic looking brown twine can be used in many ways in the garden. I particularly like it for tying plants to a trellis or other support.

56. Spray bottles: So many uses in both the garden and the barn. You can use this to mist animals during a heat wave, to spray medication on a wound, or to gently mist seedlings.

57. Epsom salt: Not only can it ease sore muscles, but it can also be used as a soil amendment.

First Aid Supplies

58. Bandages: Be careful with the dollar store bandages because sometimes the adhesive doesn’t stick very well. You can often get name brand ones at Wal-Mart for a dollar.

59. Pain relievers: Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Acetaminophen will reduce pain and inflammation.

60. Gauze pads: Get a variety of sizes

61. Tensor bandages: Good for sprains or extra support for weak joints. You can also use them to hold a splint in place.

62. Hydrogen Peroxide: Good for a multitude of uses like disinfecting wounds, as an antiseptic mouth rinse, healing boils, and killing foot fungus. As well, peroxide can be used for cleaning.

63. Rubbing alcohol: Cools and relaxes muscles, gets rid of bacterial growth under the nails, heals cold sores, and can be used to disinfect medical instruments.

64. Alcohol wipes: Clean a wound, wash your hands before treating a wound, or wipe down instruments before you use them.

65. Triple antibiotic cream: Always apply this to even the most minor wound to prevent a possible infection.

66. Tweezers: Not just for your eyebrows! Use tweezers to remove splinters, pull off a tick, or removed debris from a wound.

67. Witch hazel: This natural substance can help fade bruises faster, can relieve inflammation in varicose veins, eases a sore throat when you gargle it (don’t swallow it), can be swished in the mouth to relieve painful or bleeding gums, and is the primary ingredient in many hemorrhoid pads.

68. Magnifying glass/strong reading glasses: These will help you see more clearly if you have to remove debris from a wound or find a splinter. Reading glasses are a good no-hands solution.

69. Wrist supports: Be sure to get one for each wrist, since they are usually hand-specific

70. Ankle braces: A twisted ankle is a very common injury. An ankle brace will support the joint if you must continue walking.

71. Cold and hot packs: Look for the instant ones that don’t require heating or refrigeration to work. These work with a chemical reaction, which makes them an excellent off-grid addition to your kit.

72. Hydrocortisone creams: This will soothe the itch from rashes and hives.

73. Benadryl/Antihistamines: For minor allergic reactions, bee stings, or bug bites. Be sure to stock products for both children and adults.

74. Calamine lotion: Dab this on mosquito bites, poison ivy or other itchy spots to tame the discomfort

75. Sunscreen: Prevent a sunburn before it happens

76. Aloe Vera Gel: Sooth a sunburn or minor kitchen burn

77. Superglue: In a dire emergency, it can be used to close a wound.

78. Sanitary Napkins: These aren’t just for feminine hygiene. They can be used as a compress to stench bleeding.

79. Chapstick: Not just for your lips – you can apply it to your face or other exposed skin to protect from windburn.

80. Antiseptic spray: Use this on scrapes and minor cuts to help prevent infection.

81. Lavender essential oil: One of the most versatile essential oils, lavender essential oil can be used for slowing bleeding, disinfecting wounds, or mixed with a carrier oil to relieve dermatitis. Its aromatherapy uses are as a sleep aid and for calming stress and anxiety.  Learn more about this Swiss army knife of oils in The Miracle of Lavender Oil: 25 Amazing Uses for Survival.

82. Antacid: An antacid like Tums is good for relieving the discomfort of heartburn and indigestion. As well, it can pull double-duty in the garden if you dissolve it in water and treat the roots of tomatoes with blossom end rot.

83. Antidiarrheal: The generic brand can often be found at the dollar store.

84. Toothpaste: This inexpensive prep is not only good for brushing your teeth. A little dollop can help clear blemishes and can also soothe the itch from bug bites.

85. Paint stir sticks: What? In the first aid supplies?  I’m not crazy. They make good splints for a child, a wrist, or a pinkie finger.

86. Saline solution:  A bottle of saline solution meant for contact lens wearers is excellent to have on hand for flushing out eyes if you come in contact with an irritating substance or get something in your eye.

87. Containers: The dollar store can be one stop shopping for containers for your first aid supplies. Pill boxes, bottles in travel beauty kits, and pencil cases can all keep your supplies organized at a discount price.

Other Items

And finally, here is some miscellaneous wisdom from you, the readers:

88. Knowledge:  I fear for the safety of my grandchildren, so any knowledge I can pass along to them is a great thing

89. I try to pick up books, clothing, and other items at thrift shops and garage sales.

90. I would say the most budget friendly items in my kit are the recharged AA batteries as they only cost a fraction of a cent (cost of electricity to recharge them)

91.  3 budget friendly items… Water. Water. Water.

92. Budget friendly items are matches, candles, water, canned food.

93. Don’t forget to shop secondhand! Thrift stores and garage sales can be economical ways to pick up camping supplies, cast iron cookware, etc. “The most budget friendly items in my kit are the items I found at a garage sale – headlamps for $1, which work perfectly,” wrote a reader.

94. My most budget friendly items are the numerous free samples that I’ve amassed. The individual aspirins, vitamins, food bars, etc. are packaged perfectly to fit into a BOB or first aid kit.

95. Homemade repurposed things like dryer lint fire starters, old t-shirt bandages, etc.

96. Tape, string and fix-it items you can keep stocked for everyday use or for emergencies.

97. Most budget friendly items are all the things I buy when they are on sale, the lint I save from my dryer that along with empty TP rolls form my fire starters, and all the free and nearly free books I get on kindle to increase my knowledge. (I just need to spend more time reading them.)

98. I like shopping for items at yard sales. Books are a great source of information you can use to enhance your skill sets

99. Most of my budget preps are repurposed or homemade. From knives made from old two man saws, to fire starters made from scrap products. I also find cheap treasures at yard sales, auctions, and flea markets. Some of the best are items you can swap for at flea markets with your own extra stuff.

100. It seems that the most budget-friendly item for everyone should be the means of storing or obtaining water should the supply of drinking water ever be threatened.

Gray Man Theory: The Art Of Blending In During Disaster

By Lisa S on Feb 10, 2016 07:30 am

gray man theory

The concept of concealing your preparedness by blending in with the crowd during an emergency is behind the gray man theory. While it is generally referred to as the ‘gray man theory,’ this theory can of course be applied to anyone, man or woman, of any age, who needs to blend into a crowd amidst a disastrous situation to conceal the fact that they have survival skills and/or are carrying tactical gear.

When you think of ‘blending in with the crowd’ it’s generally a negative, right? Nobody wants to be just like everyone else, you want to be unique, to stand out – that is, until there’s an emergency and you’re the only one prepared. As a prudent prepper, you’ll be ready when disaster strikes, but what will everyone around you be doing? Panicking, most likely. In states of panic, people become desperate, and desperation can lead people to do whatever it takes to stay alive – at this point, you certainly don’t want to be singled out as the one person who is prepared for survival.

gray man theory

Why Use the Gray Man Theory?

There are lots of advantages to blending in with the crowd when disaster strikes. For starters, by not drawing attention to yourself, you’ll be able to move more quickly and easily through the crowd without alerting others to the fact that you are prepared to handle the situation.

Also, by blending in and appearing to be among the unprepared, you are less likely to make yourself a target of those in desperation who may try and take your survival gear off you by force. The gray man theory is really about protecting yourself and your family by concealing the fact that you are indeed prepared to survive in the face of disaster.

gray man theory

Executing the Gray Man Theory

The best way to not leave a lasting impression is to not leave any impression at all. This is the concept behind the gray man theory and it sounds simple enough, but execution can be challenging. In this article we will cover the basic concept behind the gray man theory and provide some key tips and tricks for effectively making yourself ‘invisible’ in a disaster scenario.

gray man theory

The Benefits of Being a Gray Man (or Woman)

In a true disaster situation, your primary objective will be to move yourself and your loved ones as quickly as possible to a safe place – be that your home or bug-out location. In a disaster, everyone around you will have the same goal – get somewhere safe – but the majority will not have a sound plan in place, leading to frantic behavior and desperate attempts for survival.

In this situation, disappearing into the crowd and not drawing attention to yourself or your state of preparedness can greatly increase your chances of survival.

gray man theory

As most around you will be unprepared for disaster, you will no doubt feel the urge to help those in need. However, your number one priority needs to be your own survival and you should only help others if you can do so without endangering yourself.

By blending in, or becoming a gray man, you will be less likely to be approached by others seeking assistance and, more importantly, less likely to be targeted by opportunists looking to prey on those with the forethought to pack essential items for survival situations.

Steps to Becoming a Gray Man (or Woman)

The ultimate goal of becoming a gray man or woman is to camouflage yourself into appearing as though you are just part of the crowd so as not to allow others to identify you as a potential gold mine of supplies or information. By exuding confidence and preparedness, you will draw in opportunists who will attempt to capitalize on your resourcefulness to the detriment of your own survival.

To conceal the fact that you are prepared with survival gear and skills from others, there are four key areas you will want to focus on: how you act, how you move, how you look, and how you carry your gear.

How You Act

The key to acting like a gray man is to appear average and non-threatening. Be careful about what you say and to whom you say it – being known as strongly antagonistic or too outspoken about your political beliefs can lead others to make assumptions about you and mark you as a prepared individual.

Maintain conversation topics within the norm of the group. If small talk seems to be the normal thing to do, engage with others so as not to draw attention to yourself.

While a good understanding of your surroundings is paramount in a disaster, be careful to play down any attempts to scan areas for escape routes or possible problems with security. This type of behavior will be noticed and lead people to question what it is you’re looking for, or worse, what it is you’re trying to protect.

gray man theory

One important skill to learn in adapting a gray man persona is how to maintain your privacy without appearing overly private or obviously standoffish. When speaking with others, keep eye contact to a minimum as someone is more likely to notice you if they look in your eyes. Even brief eye contact when passing on the street can form a connection, making you more memorable than those around you.

How You Move

Knowing the local landscape can be a tremendous advantage as the better you know local streets and landmarks, the better able you will be to navigate them and alter your route to avoid troublesome areas. When moving, appear as much as possible to go with the flow, walking with purpose but not urgency. Any rapid motion will draw attention to you and raise suspicions as to your motives.

gray man theory

When navigating a crowd, make gradual progress – cutting through a sea of people at sharp angles will draw attention to your movements and make you appear suspicious. Whether you are perceived by others as a savior or threat, either one can slow you down.

Unless it would impede your own safety, always appear to follow the herd. For instance, if everyone around you turns towards an explosive sound and gasps, join them. You don’t ever want to be the one person who is unaffected by an out-of-the-ordinary event.

gray man theory

If you need to break away from the crowd, try and make your exit alongside a small group of people, keeping enough distance so that they know you’re not with them but close enough that you don’t appear to be alone, which makes you appear less vulnerable.

When observing your surroundings, be as discreet as possible. Leverage your peripheral vision as well as decoy objects, such as a piece of paper, to give the impression your attention is focused on the object as you survey the area. If appropriate, wear reflective sunglasses that hide your eyes allowing you the freedom to scan rapidly without drawing attention.

gray man theory

If you need to engage in activities that will make noise and draw attention your way, try to take advantage of predictable noises to help mask the sound of any breaching you may need to do. Predictable noises include ‘white’ noises that people are accustomed to hearing and therefore raise little suspicion.

gray man theory

For instance, wait for a loud bus to pass before climbing into a dumpster or synchronize busting a window with a loud siren. If you need to get into a building, choose a door near a noisy HVAC condenser. These preparations may take a little bit of extra time to execute, but those few moments of patience will ensure your activities go unnoticed and may just save your life.

How You Look

It goes without saying that when trying to appear less prepared than you are, camo prints or other outwardly tactical-looking clothing are not the best choice, unless of course you are in a situation where that type of dress is the norm, such as a hunting trip. While you don’t have to dress head-to-toe in gray, subtle color choices blend best into crowds and make it easier for you to move unnoticed.

gray man theory

Ideally, you will want to keep any tactical gear concealed. This means packing your pockets and bags strategically to allow for quick access to key items. Reflective objects and bright colors will draw visual attention so ensure items such as your knife are tucked inside your clothing or bag, not hanging from your belt.

Avoid having any reflective materials or highly visible colors on your clothing and accessories, as well as any large text or memorable insignia. Any focal points can draw attention to you and hinder your attempts to blend in.

gray man theory

If possible, carry an additional item with you that can change your look instantly, such as a hat, sunglasses, or jacket, as this can be quite helpful. If someone does happen to peg you as a target, you can use the item to slip under their radar as they scan for you in a crowd.

One last word of caution – be mindful of the way you smell. Yes, smell. Believe it or not, scent is a major memory trigger, so when trying to blend in, try not to have a noticeable scent about you.

How You Carry Your Gear

The simplest solution to carrying your gear unnoticed is to find a discreet bagthat blends well with your typical daily routine. Backpacks and messenger bags commonly seen on commuters are good choices as these tend to be less obvious. You can also find pocketbooks with compartmentalized interiors that can make it quick and easy to access your gear.

gray man theory

Another good choice that lends itself well to blending is a jacket or vest with a streetwear outward appearance but hidden storage on the inside. Pockets, specifically cargo pockets, are excellent for storing gear but may not be the most ideal choice in some situations, such as an office with a dress code.

Belts are an excellent item to consider as gear can easily be attached to one, as long as your shirt or jacket provides concealment. Some belts also come with integrated survival tools, such as paracord, firestarters, multitools, and whistles.

best tactical pants

For your footwear, consider a type of tactical boot that offers a storage compartment – this can work perfectly for concealing a folding knife or multitool. For more information on tactical boots consistent with the gray man theory,CLICK HERE.

If your daily wardrobe limits your body storage options, consider adding leg and arm straps (or bands) to hold vital items you do not want to store in a bag.

gray man theory


In the immediate aftermath of a disaster or in a post-apocalyptic scenario, the ability to conceal yourself as a gray man can be an extremely useful survival skill. The last thing you want is for all your time and effort put into prepping to be for naught by having your supplies taken off you by someone less prepared and more desperate.

To improve your gray man abilities, observe the way people dress and act as you go about your day – what stands out, what makes various people noticeable? This can help you hone in on the objects and behaviors that draw attention.

Combining this knowledge with the four key steps to becoming a gray man will put you well on your way to being able to ‘disappear’ into any crowd and increase your chances of survival when disaster strikes.