Sunday, July 31, 2016

Clothing for the Apocalypse!

I know it's silly to post sensationalism like this, but with people posting all these stupid things about pokemon and politics, I just can't help myself! Seriously though, this is an important part of your life and times.

Everyone has a favorite pair of shorts, pants, shirt, shoes and (especially important) underwear. Sometimes it's purely emotional, like that lucky pair of drawers you were wearing that time you met that double jointed Swedish stewardess! Or not. My favorites all come due to comfort and/or usefulness. It's really important to have functional clothing at your disposal when the chips are down or you have to switch gears quickly. Case in point
would be when I was in the office in standard "meeting hell" attire and ended up needing to do an emergency service job in Timbuktu.

Without a doubt, we should all remain prepared for the worst. That means having the means to do what you need to do when you need to do it. In all the zombie apocalypse movies, the guy in the business suit dies first. Don't be that guy. That doesn't mean you need need to quit wearing suits, it means you need to have a change of clothes or a suit and shoes that are capable of moving with you. You see so many security people in tight coats to show off their muscles or look cool, but that's about the worst item you can possibly imagine to wear when you might need to be athletic.

Let's start with your underwear. It's the first thing you put on and the last thing you take off. There are a lot of boxer guys out there, guess what- they suck. They are great for sperm count by keeping you junk cool, but for a long trek, moving quickly and even sitting quickly, they can leave you chafed, sore and sometimes blue faced from sitting on a testicle. Ladies, I know you don't have the same issue as men with the testicle part, but Tbacks and lacy cute stuff doesn't hold up to serious use. Comfort over looks in all things tactical. Boxer Briefs seem to be the best of the best. Not cotton, as it holds moisture and can lead to crotch rot over a few days. A good synthetic, breathable pair or boxer briefs is an invaluable tool when you need to move discreetly and constantly. The slick material keeps your thighs and butt from chafing and limiting your movement. The Under Armor brand has a mesh front to keep moisture from building up. They are by far my favorite and I literally have a couple thousand miles of walking,  hiking and backpacking on a couple of my pairs. They are still like new and serviceable for many more miles. Soreness of any kind is distracting, soreness from multiple items and issues can totally take you off your game. In scouts we call that chafing "Gunslinger" because the boys walk like that are getting ready for a showdown at noon, with their legs angled away from each other and they pivot their hips to keep the bits from rubbing together.


Depending on the weather, your shirt and/or undershirt can help you or cause you innumerable issues. A tight fitting wicking synthetic T shirt and a light colored long sleeve button down collared shirt works in more places than it doesn't. A cotton shirt is great for areas of little sun and high heat due to it's evaporative cooling, but in high sun, the T shirt/collard shirt reigns supreme as a start. The tight fitting T shirt works just like the undies do by allowing your body parts to glide without stiction and thereby chafing. This is especially needed when you have a pack and or web gear. The constantly abrading gear will cause chafing quickly while you sweat without that base layer. In winter that base layer and shirt will be a good insulating layer, you can also upgrade your base layer shirt to a thicker one. In high sun, the long sleeves and collar will protect you from sunburn without worry of applying sunscreen. I personally hate sunscreen so I always have a couple light colored shirts. When I go Pdog hunting on the plains of North Dakota in high summer, the temps are in the 90's with no trees for miles so this combo has been a winner for me for years. Another great thing about a collared shirt is the fact that it protects your neck from sling chafing. Anyone who has spent 10-12 hours on the range in the Texas heat with a T shirt on will attest to the level of suck a sling can expose your neck to. It's distracting! Distractions can get you killed.

Pants are more of a personal thing. I have several pairs of serviceable pants from multiple manufacturers. Some are tactical pants, some are tactical pants that look like khakis. My favorite and most worn are my Kuhl Renegades. They aren't as thick as some of the big name tacti-pants, but they offer increased mobility and are more comfortable. They also shed water better than most. If I have a big hike in the morning, these pants are what I bring. The thicker pants can trap moisture and heat, making them part of the chafing issue if it's warm out. In the winter they absorb moisture and will stand up on their own when you go to change. A multi functional, breathable pant will outshine most of the cool guy pants on the market. Don't get me wrong, I still wear 5.11, Blackhawk and Woolrich pants, but if I had a choice, lightweight multi functional pants like the Columbia or Kuhl are what I'm taking. They dry better, last longer and are far more comfortable in the long run. Not to mention that the synthetic fibers are much easier to clean and don't smell like a dead skunk on day 2 of wearing them.

The second most important piece of clothing you wear are your socks. Socks protect your number one resource, your feet. Even if your shoes don't fit the best, your socks can minimize damage and keep you from becoming immobile. I've worn good socks and a pair of Keen sandals hiking after I doused my hiking shoes and still made 6 miles of rough country in an afternoon without damaging my feet. Your shoe choice will dictate the type of socks you wear. I prefer medium and low cut hiking shoes in summer so I wear a low cut cushioned sock. The Darn Tough Socks by Vermont American have suited me well, but there are other manufacturers out there making a very serviceable smart wool sock. Cotton is almost as bad as no socks at all. If you feet are prone to blistering or you aren't used to hard travel, a pair of silk pantyhose liners will do wonders to keep your feet in tip top shape. I've volunteered on long distance hikes to do first aid for the hikers and I can't tell you how many people drop out due to blisters. I bet I popped and sealed up a hundred blisters that day. Not many of those people had proper socks, and none had silk pantyhose liners under the socks. Thicker socks work in the heat just as well as they do in cold. They cushion your feet and wick away that moisture that will make your feet soft and easily torn. Bring plenty of socks. If I went out to my truck right now, there should be at least 3 pair of Darn Tough Socks in there. I do have 2 sets of panty hose socks in my first aid kit, but have never had to use them on myself. I was blessed with tough skin on my feet and I spend a lot of time barefoot around the house and on the pool deck.

I'm not going to go into accessories right now; Shoes, hats and gloves are too large a subject and this has droned on long enough. Stay safe patriots, and as always, the comments are open. Let me know if there's something new out there I should check out.

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