Let's get one thing straight: we love cool-looking tactical gear as much as the next guy. It's undeniably fun to collect and use the best survival gear money can buy, and we all enjoy high-end clothing, tools, and weapons. Most people also like showing off a little and one-upping friends, even if we're hesitant to admit it.

However, there's a catch. In a true survival scenario, you do not want to stand out in a crowd, and that's exactly what will happen if you're covered in PALS webbing and “tacti-cool” morale patches.

The Gray Man crowd

In a setting like this one, wearing camouflage gear will do anything but conceal your presence.

Drawing attention to yourself as a prepper or survivalist is a good way to get robbed or killed when SHTF. Just like we said, everyone likes high-end gear, so don't be surprised when someone notices yours and wants to take it from you. Even if there's not a major disaster, people will naturally be more suspicious of someone who's noticeably carrying a pocket knife, or dressed in a militaristic fashion. It's an unavoidable fact of life.

The Gray Man silhouette

This is how you want people to view you: as another nameless, faceless form in the crowd.

This brings us to the concept of The Gray Man. To be The Gray Man means to blend seamlessly into the crowd, and to appear as nondescript as possible. Obviously, this means your appearance may vary based on your setting. Wearing cargo pants and a flannel shirt on Wall Street will look out of place, just like wearing a tailored suit in a low-income neighborhood.

Survival instructor Russ Kolkman explains the concept more in this video:

Obviously, there's a lot more that could be said about the The Gray Man appearance, but the point we want to make is this: always keep this concept in mind when preparing for urban survival. The better you fit your surroundings in a disaster, the less people will notice you, and the less people notice you, the better your chances of staying alive and unharmed.

To survive in urban areas, be the Gray Man—formless and anonymous.

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