Welcome to Jercol's Back to the Basics. This is where I will post useful information, tips, and gear reviews about what I learn about Outdoor Survival, Activities, and Disaster Preparation. My only goal is to be informative, realistic, and at least a little entertaining.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Survival Shorts

In the past, whenever I've thought of clothing for "bugging out" or survival situations I've automatically assumed I would wear pants.  Probably some kind of cargo or tactical pants, like some surplus camo or hunting pants.  They have obvious benefits, heavier duty pants won't fall apart, they protect your legs from the random scrapes and cuts, protect your legs from the environment, and usually have well placed pockets for carrying the multitude of survival supplies.  Overall, pants are a must have in your survival wardrobe.

However, today had me rethinking things a little bit.  It was f***ing hot out.  I was running some errands after work, wearing some khakis, and sweating my *** off.  That made me start thinking about how much "fun" it would be to hike around the island, heavy pack on, in pants and boots (yes, those are sarcastic quotation marks).  I'd be losing valuable electrolytes, uncomfortable, and probably developing blisters in all the wrong places.

So, that put a little kink in my mental survival scenarios.

That's what got me thinking about "survival shorts".  That doesn't mean abandon all pants, just that warm (HOT!) weather clothes don't seem to be discussed all that often in survival circles and so I thought I would bounce around a few ideas.  Wear the shorts, keep the pants in the pack, or vice versa as the situation dictates.  Something like swim trunks might be another good option, work in warm weather, work in the water, etc.  There are some serious benefits to shorts in a survival situation (in addition to having pants).



First, obviously they will allow your body to cool more efficiently in hot weather.  This helps avoid excess sweating (loss of precious fluids and electrolytes), the blistering, and the discomfort.  In hot weather, shorts would be a nice, if not essential, addition to preps.  In some climates you might hike all the time in pants, so shorts wouldn't be as essential, but in the southern months or warmer climates short could make a huge difference in your ability to cover distance.  And I don't know if you've ever tried swimming in pants but it isn't fun.

Secondly, in an emergency situation you probably don't want to be the guy or gal that stands out.  When you're "bugging out" of your neighborhood wearing your tactical pants, Alice pack, and chest rig might draw the wrong kind of attention (let alone firearms, but that's a whole other conversation).  Someone in shorts, t-shirt, and a hiking pack will raise a lot fewer eyebrows.  That might be the difference between  a successful bug out and a very abrupt, unsuccessful attempt.  Whether it's law enforcement or unfriendly neighbors, you want to get out of town without being stopped, so clothing should be something you keep in mind.  Some Suburban Rambo is going to pipe up "Yeah, but I'm so scary when I'm all geared up nobody is going to F with me!"  Well, that might be partly true but it seems to me that the better option is to avoid being noticed at all.  Either way, you should be thinking about how you look in your chosen survival clothing.

Ok, so having shorts is a good idea, what are some things to look for when picking our your "survival shorts".

(Hint: Not these)


Comfort, that might seem obvious, but keep in mind that you might be hiking in them for an extended period of time.  You really should test them out before deciding if they're the right ones for you, even a minor discomfort can turn into blisters really quickly, which would certainly hamper your movement (another overlooked piece of clothing is a good pair of compression shorts, good for avoiding those poorly located blisters).

Fabric, you want to find something light weight but durable.  I would avoid cotton because it takes a long time to dry (leading to blisters and discomfort), and doesn't wick sweat very well.  Blended fabrics, or technical fabrics with polyester and nylon are generally better choices.  They also tend to flex better, breath better, and less prone to wear and tear.

Pockets, find shorts with pockets that are a good size and arranged well for your uses.  Also, check how the pockets close.  Maybe you prefer velcro, or buttons, or zippers, but make sure that the pockets will keep your valuable secure.  I have one pair of really comfortable shorts that I love but every time I sit down my keys fall out.  In a survival situation you wouldn't want to lose your knife or something after a pit stop.

And finally, you want to consider the short's coverage.  I don't know if you're into hot pants or not, but those probably aren't the best choice.  I have a pair that cover my knees (thankfully, they are just short enough to not be "capri pants", wouldn't want to lose man points), which would probably be ideal for my situation.  If I need to do any kneeling than my knees are protected but they breath well and are cool enough for this Hawaiian heat.  I've seen some nice 5.11 shorts but they stop mid-thigh, which doesn't offer as much coverage as I'd like (or want to be seen in).

I've found a couple options online but you would probably have better luck at your local department store.  I think 5.11 has a pair of slacks that zip-off into shorts and back again.  Something like that might be an interesting option if they fit all the other criteria.  If you don't find anything at the store the easiest option would be to buy an extra set of your favorite "tactical pants" or some surplus military pants and cut them off at your desired length.  I've done that to a couple of older military issue BDUs and was pleased with the results.

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