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:
- ‘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
- ‘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
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
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.
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!’
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!