EDC During SHTF and Why “Tacticool” Might Just Get You Killed: Part I

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Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Panthers14. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.

Our EDC Gear is equipment we carry every day that can help us out of bad spots. Normally, we consider items like a knife, flashlight, concealed firearm, multi-tool, even a bandanna and lighter round out the list. These are all to varying degrees perfectly fine while society is still normal. The EDC during SHTF will likely be different. What do you plan on carrying every day when it all goes to hell?


The video clips below can illustrate several different points which will be important to the prepper/survivalist community, but the point that I want to focus on in this article is that of appearances during a potential SHTF event.

In the first video clip, Eddie Murphy as Detective Axel Foley spots two men entering the club wearing long black trench coats, which is seemingly an unassuming choice of clothing aside from one fact which the erstwhile detective points out: it’s June and a long black trench coat wouldn’t be a typical clothing choice for the hot Beverly Hills sun (which is where the movie is set).

WARNING: The first video clip is NSFW; it is a scene in a strip club and there is some objectionable language and risqué imagery in it; to minimize this, stop watching at the 1:30 mark, as the point I intend to make with the video has been demonstrated by that time in the clip. If you find the clip wholly objectionable, I would advise you to skip it and watch only the second clip, which will still demonstrate the point I want to make without any such issues.

In the second clip, CIA assassin Jason Bourne notices that another potential CIA “asset” is there to track him down and probably kill him. When his girlfriend Marie asks him how he could possibly know that simply by looking at the man, he says that “everything about him is just wrong.” He enumerates what is “wrong” about the man relative to the location and culture that they are in; that in Goa, India (where the scene is set), where few people drive cars, this man has a car, and a nice one. In Goa, India, where there are few Westerners and few wearing Western clothing, this man, a Westerner, is wearing Western clothing (albeit very low-key and suitable for the weather) and sunglasses, which VERY few in Goa will wear.

The second clip is fairly clean, but involves some close-up goriness if you watch it to the end. To eliminate that, stop watching at the 1:15 mark, as the point I intend to make with the clip has been made by that time in the clip. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Now, what relevance does this have to a prepper/survivalist who is going to go through an SHTF scenario? I would argue that, while few non-prepper/survivalists will have the observational acumen of a detective or a CIA operative, the “traditional” perspectives and attitudes on prepping/survivalism leave PLENTY of room for hordes of desperate and opportunistic non-preppers/survivalists to take advantage of the observational oversights that preppers/survivalists are prone to. What do I mean by this exactly? Well, I have observed that there are two primary viewpoints that preppers/survivalists hold that non-preppers/survivalists would take advantage of.

These main thoughts are either:

  1. ‘my community has fallen apart and we are living in a WROL (Without Rule of Law) world. I’m most likely going to be the best armored/most well-armed person still left in town and I’m gonna bug-in anyways, so I can just jaunt down Main Street all decked out in my LBE/tac vest with ammo and everything on, an AR in my hands, a 9mm strapped to my waist or leg, and a big knife and maybe a tomahawk tucked in my belt and if any mugger wants to mess with me, well, they’ll regret it,’ or
  2. ‘I’m bugging out and no one knows where my BOL (Bug-Out Location) is, so I can go on minding my own when I get there, doing my daily chores with my AR strapped over my shoulder and my 9mm and a knife in my belt and no one will be the wiser and if anyone DOES want to mess with me and mine, they’re gonna wish they hadn’t!’

Now, while noble-sounding, this line of thinking actually makes one very vulnerable because of the tendency of preppers/survivalists towards the practice of “tacticool,” that is to say, the practice of preppers and survivalists decking themselves out in the most top-of-the-line mil-spec-oriented gear and assume that it’s a good idea to walk around with it about town, leave it in your car for anyone in your car to see, and take pictures of it to put on social media. Whether you realize it or not, people are developing ideas and perceptions about the gear that they see you photographing, carrying, and/or wearing. Given the relatively “stable” nature of the present day, those thoughts are more likely to be something like ‘Oh, that’s a cool bag. I wonder where he/she got it. Hmm…I wonder what he/she puts in it.’ However, if you change the circumstances and put people in a catastrophic SHTF scenario and they see your gear, I’m willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that their thoughts are more likely to be something like ‘they have stuff, they’re prepared, GET THEM!’ Just as the car and sunglasses and the trench coats made individuals stand out in the video clips, so to will that piece of tacticool gear make you stand out and more than likely make you a target for the desperate and unprepared.

While I could probably find myriad examples of the proverbial tacticool gear, I will focus primarily on three examples, to which I have already alluded to, and the correlating problems with each in a SHTF scenario: the tactical vest, the tactical pack, and weapons.

The Tactical Vest

UTG 547 Law Enforcement Tactical Vest
UTG 547 Law Enforcement Tactical Vest

The inherent problem with the tactical vest is that it says as much as you DON’T want it to say as it does what you DO want it to say. Ostensibly, what you want a tactical vest to say is, ‘I’m ready for whatever combative situation comes my way, and I’m a tough nut to crack. Don’t mess with me!’ However, what it ALSO says is, ‘I have stuff and I’m ready for a fight.’ Now, on the surface, this may not seem like a terrible message to telegraph, but one has to also think about the implications of the messages that he or she advertently AND inadvertently telegraphs. While you may wish to telegraph a message of strength, you must also consider just to what degree you can back up that message. Anybody seeing you and taking note of the messages you send with your tactical vest may very well just decide to ‘up the game’ with more firepower than you have or more hostiles than you can reliably defend against. How many can you reliably defend yourself against? 3? 4? 6? More? What if you are traveling or living with others, others who may not themselves be armed or know how to fight?

Now, considering all of the tactical variables that one has to think of if there is an inadvertent ‘invite’ to a confrontation, would it not be wiser to keep a lower profile and avoid unnecessary confrontation altogether, a means which could be achieved by avoiding the tacticool piece of equipment that is the tactical vest? I leave it to you to decide.

The Tactical Pack

5.11 Tactical Rush 12 Back Pack
5.11 Tactical Rush 12 Back Pack

Anyone who has been in the prepper/survivalist circle for any reasonable amount of time has probably already been made aware of the risk that is the tactical bag. The primary disadvantage of the tactical bag is just that, that it looks tactical, or more appropriately, tacticool. The major problem with that tacticool look is that, in this day and age, people take one look at it and IMMEDIATELY are prone to think, ‘prepper.’

While that MOLLE-bedecked pack gives you a warm fuzzy feeling that you’re ‘ready,’ it also tells that opportunistic vulture who wasn’t ready for SHTF, ‘Oh look, one of those prepper, survivalist nuts. Hey, this person’s bound to have some great stuff that I can use. Let’s just knock them off and take their stuff.’ It’s not whether you can take that person (or that person’s buddies if they’re there), but whether you can afford to have that person (or other people later on) have that impression of you and continuously have that kind of ‘target’ on your back. Can you? I leave that to you to decide.

Tactical Weapons

The last item that I want to focus on briefly is weapons. Now admittedly, weapons are a much more manageable element of EDC during SHTF because you can choose how you carry weapons, either concealed or open-carry. However, things may not be as clear-cut as walking down the street with your sidearm strapped to your thigh like you’re the new sheriff in town. Now, at this point I think more than any other in this article, I’m sure that there are plenty of readers who are thinking (maybe even mouthing to their computer screens) ‘this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of, you can’t go out with NO WEAPONS! You can’t got out without ANY show of defense! You can’t make yourself a target like that!’

Tacticool

You’re right, but I am NOT advocating going out weaponless; I am merely warning against going out kitted out like you’re ready to win World War Three all by yourself. As mentioned above, that only encourages would-be thieves to up their game against you, wait until the right moment, then take you out when they have that tactical superiority. I would put it to these readers: would it be better to face one or two people who run into you on the street who think that you might be an easy mark being that you are not well-armed, only to be shocked and surprised in an alley when you pull concealed weapons on them, or to show your hand from the beginning with the tacticool look with all sorts of weaponry, only to find yourself visited later by seven or eight equally well-armed individuals who have chosen the place or circumstances of a potential fight which will put you at a disadvantage?

Another consideration is what condition any semblance of ‘law enforcement’ exists in the SHTF scenario. Again, I think that the common assumption that it will just be a WROL situation and that everyone will be free to open-carry as they please. I would suggest that this will not be the case…at least not everywhere. Whether it be still by elected officials or by vigilante gang, I would contend that in many places, some semblance of ‘law’ will still exist. As such, rules about certain types of weapons and certain types of carry of weapons needs to be considered. If you get your weapons confiscated for open-carry where it will not be allowed, then what good did all that weaponry do you?

So then, I bet that the first logical question rolling off of the minds you, the reader, is something like, ‘so if I’m not gonna wear a tac vest and I’m not gonna carry a tactical bag and I’m not gonna be carrying a bunch of obvious weapons on my person, then just what the heck am I gonna do with all my gear, and where the heck am I gonna put it?!’

Well, in part 2 of this piece, which I will be cranking out soon, I will address those issues!

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49 Comments on "EDC During SHTF and Why “Tacticool” Might Just Get You Killed: Part I"

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Bolofia
Guest

Geez, I hope you aren’t suggesting that we go around looking like Obama’s Pajama Boy. Can’t wait for the next installment…

Huples
Guest

I’m writing an article on Hillary Pandemic gear 🙂

Arcangel911
Guest

I hope it involves a toilet seat on a orange bucket…..

And some umbrellas, for when the SHTF

Mike Lashewitz
Guest

Never wear tacticool. Never put pro weapons stickers on your vehicles.

Use the grey man concept and don’t be stupid.

Bolofia
Guest

Mike, I fully support the concept of the ‘grey man,” but the definition varies based upon geographic location. In my rural Southwestern community, “city folk” stick out like a sore thumb, regardless what they are wearing.

Mike Lashewitz
Guest

Bolofia, Definitely. You can see them a mile away. Like weight lifters in tight Tshirts.

RAIDER
Guest

As we live to say over here Dress Native, Dont dress like a Redneck in the city, dont dress like a city slicker in the boonies, and never dress like an official.

Mike Lashewitz
Guest

Don’t become a target.

3rdMan
Guest

You mean Don’t dress like a target!!!

BobW
Guest
No bumper or window stickers that call out what kind of redneck, liberal, or military moto you are. Keep your business private that way. I drive around here, and see TONS of NRA, F hillary/Obama, and generally political stickers, Military license plates, and the like. My cars are devoid of any political positions. No need to tip anyone off about anything. If y’all don’t like the concept of the grey man, think of it as counter-intelligence. Don’t give away any information that someone can use against you. If everyone in the diner is wearing camouflage pants but you, you stand… Read more »
Bolofia
Guest

Actually that works both ways. I’m much more likely to stop and help a guy that has a ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ or a Marine Corps window sticker than someone sporting a Hillary logo. Maybe I’m lucky in that I live in an area where no one has to worry about how they dress, whether they open carry, or have a pro-America sticker on their truck. I pity city dwellers who would have to disguise themselves in the very act of trying to survive.

BobW
Guest

I can understand that. Out here, folks stop to help those who don’t look like city slickers. The truck brotherhood waves to each other (again, unless you look like a city slicker).

Its not out here that i’m worried about. With pretty much all services aside from general medical ‘in town’, we have to make frequent trips to the big city. Luckily the big city is still pretty close to 50/50 red/blue, so there are still lots of vet plates, and bumper stickers out there if in a pinch you needed a friend.

Mike Lashewitz
Guest

Well said. “counter-intelligence” well said, as well. Double tacticool!

Never dress to impress. Dress to fade into the urban jungle.

S. Cullen
Guest

Turn weakness into a strength

paul crosley
Guest

Aw man, what’s a mall ninja to do if I can’t wear all of my Walter Mitty mil-surp gear?
Another target is the 300 lb office workers wheezing and huffing as they waddle their way to the gun range with the latest Tavor, Kel-Tec or AR10. (Not that I have anything against those firearms!)
Although since the average American is obese, maybe that is a type of camouflage.
The new “grey man”.

Huples
Guest

Tasty treats in the long winter

Christian Gains
Guest

Whole heartedly awaiting your PART II…Explaining the “HOW TO” of well concealed gear, and well adapted clothes, and well developed habits of observation & practicing your “O.O.T.A. LOOP” & Sit awareness habits….

Huples
Guest
I’d love camo gear but I came to the conclusion watching u videos that it makes look like a wannabe soldier and puts a big fat target on you. Still I’d love it 🙁 have to make do with top end hiking gear which is much better than military stuff for most applications. Our get home bags are dark blue small back packs but I’d love a military one 🙁 They wouldn’t last long in regular use but are ideal for the purpose. Jumping the gun here put anyone get any recommendations on a 70-80l hiking pack for bugging out?… Read more »
BobW
Guest
Huples, there’s a place and purpose for everything, especially camo gear. Seems to me that the author is discussing going out in public right after, not patrolling the property. As for high end hiking gear, think about this…that gear is super sexy, super light, and not super durable. Milspec pants and tops are purpose built to survive the stupid shiz soldiers do in the field. They are hotter than their hiking equalents, mainly to increase survivability in austere environments. As for packs, honestly, I have both. Big hiking packs for, well, overnight hiking and bugging out. Smaller packs like 5.11’s… Read more »
Huples
Guest
Hi Bob, Yes I got the message and it’s a smart one. I meant I hanker to dress as a soldier and have tactical stuff but don’t. I’ve cached a lot of stuff. Problem is I have to assume worst case which is -30c and snow for the 110km hike. Obviously decent sleeping system but I need the Biolite stove and a tent as well or we’d freeze to death. Mre won’t cut it. We’d need lots of hot coffee and tea. Other than minus 10 and below the trip should be actually fun. Below that I’d rather not do… Read more »
BobW
Guest
I love the sledge/sled approach. Why carry the heavy stuff if you can drag it with minimal resistance? Please consider putting some time/thought into your sled, and documenting your approach, and the results. I’d love to see some cheap creativity that results in a winna. Consider how you are going to secure your gear on the sled, stability vs minimizing resistance, etc.. I’d think one of those cheap plastic kiddie sleds without runners, and a 15-18″ flat bottom might be the hot ticket…. just don’t forget that you still need to carry the ‘core essentials’ in your backpack on your… Read more »
RAIDER
Guest
Its just as loopy to wear Cammos in the city or bright “AIM AT ME” clothing in the boonies, dress to suit your environment the much discussed Gray Many doctrine addresses most of these issues very well as does prudent planning. EG when bugging out in a crisis do not use the routes used by the masses of refugees because you become a target for both bad people wanting to rob you and government agencies wanting to coral you. Main thoroughfares become traps and ambush points. Tactical bags / clothing/ vehicles look cool but they also scream ” Hey come… Read more »
Benoit Devault
Guest

Tacticool is not invisible…..but camping packpack full loaded it’s not invisible too….and vulture we will want it too….and your look it some easy prey for anything i want your equipment!!When you have a tacticool you demonstrate a power and not easy to steal your equipement…..anyway in the two situation,,,,is lot a rioter want it…..youre dead!!!The best option travel slowly in the night and far away common road….

BobW
Guest

Good point. Overstuffed back country pack = 5.11 Tactical pack = target. If you’re going into town, consider carrying the big pack empty. Looks like you are looking for food, not heading for the country.

Leftcoastlarry
Guest

SIT TIGHT;
Situation awareness,
Integrity,
Today,

Terrain,
Intention,
Gear,
Home,
Tomorrow

RAIDER
Guest

One point I used to pick up on in places like Schipol, Heathrow and Boston airports is guys haircuts, its oh so easy 9/10 to spot the Vet/PMC/Fed/etc with the closed cropped hair. BUT recently fit guys with longer hair and beards plus tans is another give away.

The Deplorable Cruella DeVille
Guest
The Deplorable Cruella DeVille
Aye. I prefer a semblance to “tight & white”, but a: my head sunburns as I work outside, (I know – get a hat), and b: I do NOT want to look like my ex-mil past life, plus a decent head of hair adds some protective padding to a very vulnerable area, assuming it’s not long enough for an opponent to grab in a close encounter. I also must confess that my GHB IS the Rush 12 pictured above, but has been abused to the point of having a fair number of the molle straps ripped off. I have used… Read more »
RAIDER
Guest

Amen to that logic Bro.

3rdMan
Guest

I have the same Rush 12 but in black. I use it for the gym and travel. I see a lot of molle type backpacks out there these days. It does not matter what type of pack you have. They will all attract some type of unwanted attention in a SHTF situation, because it screams that you’re carrying something of value to you!!!

RAIDER
Guest

I dont think having the odd piece of tactical clothing or luggage is a bad thing as so many teens, cops, urban cool dudes etc like such stuff but when its a case of Merrell shoes, 5:11 cargos, BB cap with velco patch mounts, Oakley wrap around shades, Venom riggers belt, 5:11 tactical polo shirt etc you just paint a target on yourself.

3rdMan
Guest

Yep, You want to mixes and match. I remember when I was watching “Lone Survivor”, that the SEALs used an mixture of clothing including wearing blue jeans.

Bolofia
Guest
Well said. One thing that has been nagging at me about this article is the very concept of “tacticool” and people who use the term. If some wannabe purchases gear because he/she thinks it looks cool, that’s no different than someone who buys a Hummer and never gets any brush marks on it because it never leaves pavement. The gear that you and I both apparently have isn’t tacticool. It’s high quality, durable and effective. And, it gets used. I’ll keep my tactical vest, thank you, and wear it when nothing else provides better utility.
Steve Merryman
Guest

The answer is: “Hello Kitty” Gear.

The Deplorable Cruella DeVille
Guest
The Deplorable Cruella DeVille
You got me thinking about the terminology, and the persons that ascribe to the “tacticool” philosophy: I see a lot of it in this area, probably driven by a very high density of overpaid young techies. Probably the highest on the east coast with the possible exception of the Boston area. These people play the most current first person video games, drive the monster trucks or sports cars mentioned in an earlier post, and have the money to purchase all the “cool” stuff their game protagonists are adorned with. And the outlets such as field and stream, cabelas, dicks, etc… Read more »
Bolofia
Guest

Simple. It’s called “gear.”

The Deplorable Cruella DeVille
Guest
The Deplorable Cruella DeVille

I can deal with that…

BobW
Guest

I was thinking on the same thing. A purpose built AR in trained/semi-trained hands is a tool. Its tactical, and its cool, but its far from tacticool.

I have always seen the word associated with gear that is over-accessorized, greatly diminishing its tactical utility.

christopher
Guest
i think this article is a bit too broad topic.. this seems to be written by a person living in city that either wants to stay or get out.. ….most of us in country already wear camo 2-4 days out of week. all depends on status of your SHTF or WROL situation also. who cares what you wear. if somebody is laying wait to rob you, they are going to rob you, no matter how you dress, your race, your religion etc. i would prefer to have my rifle so i can see it anything at a distance. again, all… Read more »
Andy Daniels
Guest

I’m the author and nope, never lived in a “city” proper. Always lived in rural towns or the countryside shortly outside of rural towns.

christopher
Guest

that is interesting.. then I think your article is off base a bit.. but each to their own. you kept saying “street” when most people where I live in country call them roads. both examples of videos you show cities. your comments about “best armored/most well-armed person still left in town” and and the “surprised in alley” comment led me to beleive you were talking about cities. maybe just language difference.

Andy Daniels
Guest
I can understand that I suppose. I meant “street” only the euphemistic sense of a paved travel pathway for cars, which is what 80-90% of them are in my neck of the woods. I may also be a product of my environment in this sense. In my neck of small-town USA, we use “roads” and “streets” fairly interchangeably (although street is more often used to describe an actual location or direction of travel in town). There are in fact noticeable alleyways in my rural town, large enough for someone to get trapped and attacked in. Hmm….maybe a language difference in… Read more »
Bolofia
Guest
Andy, you’ve written a really good article, and it should generate a lot of serious thought by people who are generally unprepared to hit the road in a SHTF situation. I have a very simple philosophy. That is, wear the clothing and carry the gear that is best suited to enable me to travel the entire route to reach my destination. If I have to alter my maneuvering tactics and time of travel along the way, so be it. As it is, there is nothing about my clothing or gear that would make any other local think that I’m not… Read more »
Andy Daniels
Guest

Thank you so much for the encouragement! That means a lot considering this is my first online article posting. I like your plan and it sounds simple and effective for your aims. Yes, I agree with you, urbanites, perhaps even suburbanites, would have quite a tough time outside of their “native” environment.

I hope you enjoy my next article as much. It has, in my opinion, some rather unconventional ideas about gear and gear storage.

BobW
Guest
I suppose time parameters might be in order to provide needed context to the article. The day after shit goes down, it makes sense to maintain a low profile. Concealed carry makes a lot of sense, but going all ‘National Guard refugee’ is definitely NO GO terrain. Even if a person doesn’t attract real trouble, every scared person is going to come running to find out ‘when they are coming to save us.’ Bottom line, dress for the role. Patrolling the perimeter, camo up. Heading to town on day 2 to secure some last minute supplies (pop tarts of course),… Read more »
christopher
Guest
I am not sure how others are preparing, but I definitely dont want to be going into town on day 2!.. when i hear of anything happeneing or its already happened, I have planned for 3 months of staying at home. I will monitor the scanners, ham, Cb, grms freq for what is going on in town. i figure after 1 month ,depending on how bad the situation is, all stores will of been ransacked in a week with no delivers due to unsafe for trucks to bring supplies in. if gov does have designated centers to allow citizens to… Read more »
BobW
Guest

This is what i’m getting at. On day 2, acting line its the apocalypse is a poor play. Treating the apocalypse like the apocalypse 6-months in means nothing. 6-months in folks will have remembered their 1880s west manners, and leave a mf’er alone.

EgbertThrockmorton
Guest
I have perfected the “old man hunch”, and my faux limp IS convincing, especially, with my hardwood fighting cane being used. I do wear either Merells or Keens, but so do most of the older or more experienced citizens around me. I prefer blue jeans to anything else, but have some ratty cargo pants my wife hates, and those area about as “tactical” looking as I can get. My hats are old man specials, to keep the sun, rain, snow off my balding head, my sunglasses are Costco brand, my CCW is a Glock and a backup(of course), pocket knife… Read more »
BobW
Guest
Geez, Eg, thats how you make yourself a target, not blend in. You could try wearing old man shorts with your sack hanging out to up the ‘old guy’ factor. From my position, thats not being the grey man. That’s setting yourself up for an ass woopin’ or a gun fight. Looking meek and weak makes you a target. Carrying makes you something else. Add them together and I’d venture a guess that you’ll have a hard time making it through town un-accosted. To me, that sounds like it’ll have everyone in town staring. No one will NOT have noticed… Read more »
grumpypaps
Guest

Never put on-bolt on or wear an “identifier” A-logger. Gray is good, and I’m not talking about the color.

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