In any envi­ron­ment, blend­ing in can be an impor­tant sur­vival tac­tic. It is no dif­fer­ent in urban or sub­ur­ban sit­u­a­tions where fit­ting in keeps you under the radar and safe. Every­thing you do is either use­ful cam­ou­flage or dan­ger­ous attrac­tion, from the cloths you wear, the car you dri­ve and how you gath­er and store your preps as well as how you talk and the body lan­guage you use.

Do you wear for­est camo around town and car­ry an Alice Frame pack or an olive green tac­ti­cal bag? Do you dri­ve a 4 wheel dri­ve pick­up with “Insured by S&W” and “Sup­port the NRA” bumper stick­ers? Does your garage door up up to the street dis­play­ing your 5000W gen­er­a­tor, gas cans, canned goods, water jugs, flash lights and bat­ter­ies to the whole neigh­bor­hood? Do you wear that cool para­cord bracelet you made? Do you talk to your friends and neigh­bors about your preps going so far as to give tours to dis­play your lev­el of pre­pared­ness? Can peo­ple who work on or clean your house see that solar array and bat­tery bank you have in the back yard? Do you tell peo­ple oth­er than your wife you car­ry a con­cealed weapon?

Answer­ing yes to any of these ques­tions may mean you need to work on blend­ing in instead of stand­ing out. Of course, this is not only about cam­ou­flage, but Oper­a­tional Secu­ri­ty.

Cloth­ing: If you aren’t in the field hunt­ing, ditch the camo. Wear cloth­ing that fits with the gen­er­al atmos­phere and style of those around you. Hous­ton is a very casu­al town so that means jeans, dock­ers, or car­go shorts and a short-sleeved busi­ness shirt, polo top or t‑shirt. In your area, it may mean dif­fer­ent styles and stan­dards. Look around an notice what peo­ple are wear­ing so that you fit among the natives. Dress­ing too good or not good enough makes you an unnec­es­sary tar­get of oppor­tu­ni­ty.

EDC Bag: Sor­ry, an olive green tac­ti­cal bag may look mil­i­tary-cool, but you stick out like a sore thumb. Trust me, I know. Look around. In the urban envi­ron­ment in gen­er­al and in Hous­ton specif­i­cal­ly, I have nev­er seen anoth­er per­son sport­ing a tac­ti­cal bag. If they are, it screams “con­cealed weapon”. I am sure law enforce­ment offi­cers view an olive-green tac­ti­cal bag with an extra lev­el of sus­pi­cion. Nor­mal peo­ple car­ry either a com­put­er back­pack (if you are an old geek like me) or a mes­sen­ger bag (if you are cool, young per­son). When you look at them, the back pack says “lap­top”. Those bags can car­ry a lot of prep­per stuff and are excel­lent cam­ou­flage. For a GHB, I have a reg­u­lar back­pack in a plas­tic, lock­able tub in the back of my hatch­back, hid­den from view via a cov­er. If I had to deploy the GHB, it looks like I am going for a walk on the trail.

Auto­mo­bile: I see a lot of peo­ple who use their cars to spout their phi­los­o­phy. Bumper stick­er state­ments can be cute, but they are often shal­low. Bumper stick­ers relat­ed to guns shout “this per­son either has guns in their truck or in their house.” Sure, they are less like­ly to break into your house while you are there, but they can always wait until you are gone to steal your guns. In Texas, it is almost manda­to­ry to dri­ve a pick­up truck (just in case you need 4WD to go through the McDon­alds dri­ve-through), so that does not nec­es­sar­i­ly sig­nal prep­per and all that goes along with it. What­ev­er you do, keep your prep­per, gun and gov­ern­ment phi­los­o­phy off your bumper.

Home preps: These should be stored such that casu­al obser­va­tion can­not deter­mine the over­all lev­el of prepa­ra­tion. My gen­er­a­tor and gaso­line cans are not vis­i­ble if the garage door is open. All the canned goods and food are in plas­tic crates out of view. The jugs of water are behind bags of dog food and a dog crate. There are more preps in the house that are nev­er obvi­ous. My home 72 hour bag is inno­cent­ly in my clos­et. There are more crates with food under the bed. The doc­u­ment bag is in a desk draw­er. Frankly, to any casu­al observ­er and even my wife, I don’t appear to be pre­pared. The only thing that is on dis­play is the small solar set­up I have out­side. I tell peo­ple who see it that it is my lit­tle sci­ence project.

Mouth: In two words, “shut it”. Say noth­ing to any­one who does not have a need to know. If they ask, either lie or tell them, “we have some food, water, flash­lights and bat­ter­ies for hur­ri­cane sea­son or if the lights go off.” That’s it. Not, “I’ve got 51 days of food stored up spread amongst canned goods, beans and rice. Do you want to see my lat­est inven­to­ry list?” Sure, you are proud of your preps, and right­ly so. Don’t tell your neigh­bors, friends or fam­i­ly. Peri­od. If you want to brag, get on the chat boards or start an anony­mous blog and spout off there. Oth­er­wise, “shut it”.

I recent­ly was leav­ing my house to prac­tice at the gun range and had my gun bag in my hand. My neigh­bor was out in the yard doing yard work. He is a hunter and it is com­mon in Texas for peo­ple to have guns. Because I want to cul­ti­vate my rela­tion­ship with him if I want to even­tu­al­ly start hunt­ing, I told him I was going to the range. First, I was cold bust­ed because my not-yet-replaced gun bag is army sur­plus and we have talked about guns in the past. Sec­ond, he is my neigh­bor, not a zom­bie. If the SHTF, I would share some lim­it­ed preps with him if he did not have them.  We would be a good allies in most sit­u­a­tions should it come to rov­ing bands of hun­gry peo­ple. Plus, he might teach me to hunt birds some day. The les­son is, pick your spots and cul­ti­vate allies where you can, but keep most of your preps pri­vate.

Social media: This is anoth­er place where you need to keep it zipped. Don’t post how you got a great deal on a 5000W gen­er­a­tor and final­ly got your con­cealed-car­ry per­mit paper­work back from the state and how you can final­ly pack that 1911 on trips to the super­mar­ket. Don’t post pic­tures of your canned goods and water jugs so your in-laws can see that their lit­tle girl is tak­en care of if a hur­ri­cane strikes your area. Don’t post videos of you run­ning around in the woods shoot­ing your AK-47 with your old col­lege bud­dies. I occa­sion­al­ly post about tax­es, the econ­o­my, and the gov­ern­ment, but noth­ing rad­i­cal like “we need to throw off the shack­les of our oppres­sors”.  You may feel that way, but do you real­ly want to write some­thing that may be used lat­er against you by the author­i­ties or a future employ­er? Even if you blog “anony­mous” or post on chat boards using a screen name, make no mis­take, the gov­ern­ment can find you. After all, those IP address­es are tracked. Make the assump­tion every­thing you post on the web is con­nect­ed to you, tracked and logged. You still have free­dom of speech and expres­sion (for now), but think in terms of blend­ing in, not stick­ing out. Tem­per your com­ments with ratio­nal­i­ty, because the rad­i­cals are the first to be pushed to the mar­gin and writ­ten off as men­tal­ly defec­tive.

Lan­guage: Try to avoid using words like sur­vival and sur­vival­ism. They have a bad con­no­ta­tion. Instead, say you are just try­ing to be pre­pared, just in case. After all, the the Boy Scout’s mot­to is “be pre­pared”. Every­one likes Boy Scouts and dis­trust sur­vival­ists. If you feel com­fort­able, tell peo­ple you are a Man Scout, car­ry­ing the tra­di­tion of the Boy Scouts into adult­hood. I also have learned to avoid alarmist sce­nar­ios, like flu pan­dem­ic, total grid fail­ure or finan­cial col­lapse. If you de-esca­late the lan­guage to rolling black­outs or job loss and how we are prepar­ing for those  sit­u­a­tions, you sound less rad­i­cal and more rea­son­able. I also restat­ed the goal behind my small urban gar­den to try­ing to devel­op a sus­tain­able hob­by and have some fresh food straight from the gar­den. I def­i­nite­ly did not say “this is my sur­vival gar­den in case the SHTF”.   This is how I got my wife on board.

At the end of the day, blend­ing into the urban jun­gle is a sur­vival skill that needs prac­tice. Stand­ing out increas­es the risk of an issue devel­op­ing while blend­ing in lessens the chance you will cre­ate a prob­lem where none real­ly exists.

In the com­ment sec­tion, tell me what you do to blend into the urban envi­ron­ment.


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