How to select the best jackets for a bug-out situation

Being prepared is a matter of choice. In the very same manner, the selection of the right gear determines our success in facing hazards, especially when the moment of bugging out arrives.

In fact, setting up our gear entails assessing risks related to the following factors:

  • our physical conditions and personal features
  • our adaptability
  • our comfort during physical activity
  • the different environments we cross (from urban to the outdoors)
  • the temperature range
  • our gear itself (backpacks, tactical belts, and so on).

This article will cover the basics beyond a successful selection of jackets that could be combined together to create the perfect condition for you to bug out with.

The criteria behind selection

No one likes to be caught up unprepared in the wrong moment. One should avoid rushing this reason into an outdoor store close to home and buy the very first jacket they may have remotely heard or read about somewhere.

Don’t make your incompetence a prelude to a certain disaster. Take some time to get informed on what you may need to purchase.

Keep in mind that all-season jackets are just non-existent. You definitely need to combine different layers together.

Some Facebook groups related to Prepping and Survival may offer you the proper terrain to start investigating the best brands and models you need to get familiar with. I personally saw this topic covered several times.

Despite individual physical differences and preferences, some brands are actually the most recommended by preppers and survivalists.

Asking an expert doesn’t make you a fool, especially if you lack outdoor experience or if you stepped into this world quite recently.

As you will notice, people look for garments that present the following features:

    • being durable
    • being water-resistant
    • being comfortable
    • having good and reliable sewings
    • having external and internal pockets
    • being foldable
    • not being too flashy
    • bringing good value for money

Bear in mind that being pricy doesn’t always necessarily means being good. So be careful if you decide to pick a jacket just because it is the most expensive on the market.

Climbing clothing, for example, are certainly very good for mountaineers, but they are extremely flashy to make things easier for Rescue Teams.

And if your purpose is to use such clothing in the backwoods and not on in the Himalayas mountains, well, they don’t actually fit your needings in terms of performance.

Tactical clothing: pros and cons 

Tactical brands offer a wide range of products that can cover your needs in an emergency. Here is what you need to keep in mind when picking tactical clothing.


  • Resistant
  • Natural Basic Colors (tan, OD green, jungle, sand for the Great Outdoors and black, grey for Urban context) or camouflage
  • Tough sewings
  • Presence of roomy external and internal pockets
  • Good Breathability System
  • Water-resistant


  • Stiffness (sometimes)
  • Over your own seize (especially if you are extremely slender). Nonetheless, some brands have a bigger range of models. I am talking about Polish Helikon-Tex and Slovenian UF Pro, for example.
  • Pricy (especially some brands that are hyped constantly)

Military surplus: pros and cons 

military surplus store

Military surplus surely provides a good compromise if you look for second-hand, but they are still good garments.


  • Durable
  • Possibly already treated with specific products to ensure water resistance
  • Camouflage colors
  • Presence of roomy external and internal pockets
  • Good sewings


  • Possible presence of damages or defects
  • Presence of name on the internal tag or other personalized features

Try before you buy

Placing orders on Amazon is quick and comfy, but it could be misleading in the case of selecting garments that could save your life.

The best option you have is to try every single jacket you want to purchase unless you already own it and you want to replace it with the same model.

Nothing can provide more “feedback” like touching the fabrics, feeling the consistency, and evaluating it yourself even before seeing how it fits you.

When you are in the dressing room, don’t forget to simulate a list of movements you may be requested to do while bugging out, like:

  • stretching arms
  • grabbing
  • clinging
  • moving your shoulders
  • bending
  • crawling

and so on.

This just to mention the most obvious ones.

Far from being a stupid thing, it will help you to evaluate if you are really comfortable with the jacket.

This should be done with Softshells, Waterproof Jackets, quilted jackets, Anorak.

Test and review

Once purchased, don’t forget to go out in the field during different weather conditions and test your jackets. If needed, overstress them too.

Building a natural shelter, as well as collecting wood, starting a fire, climbing, and crossing river beds, could provide you the chance to see if your Jackets stands up to the test.

The worst thing to do, in fact, is to put them somewhere among your bug-out gear without giving them a try. Testing means knowing how useful your gear will be. After extensive testing drills, you will be able to reckon how much you can rely on your garments.

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Taking care of Jackets

Having a sewing kit inside your bob is mandatory since you never know when you might need it. It goes without saying that you need to master at least the essentials of sewing. You don’t need to be an haute couture tailor, and you just need to be able to patch your gear properly.

If you regularly use your bug-out jackets, don’t ignore the importance of taking care of them and use specific products like Nikwax, which will help you to maintain the water resistance capability.

Take care of them, and they will take care of you.

My selection

I do own several jackets, all foldable into retention bags. I don’t personally have a separate selection of garments inside my bob. In case of needing my jackets, I just grab them.

Waterproof Jackets 

Carinthia TRG Jacket

British Military Surplus Waterproof Jacket DPM

surplus waterproof jacket dpm
British Military Surplus Waterproof Jacket DPM

Windproof Jackets

Helikon-Tex Trooper black

trooper jacket
Helikon-Tex Trooper black

Mid Temperature Jackets

British Military Surplus Anorak tan

Helikon-tex Wolfhound Hoodie tan

Severe Temperature Jackets

Carinthia Mig 3.0 wolf grey


Helikon-Tex Gunfighter black 

Helikon-Tex Gunfighter black


As you can see, there’s not a single multipurpose jacket you can count on, and my garments of choice surely stick to the criteria we covered before. They successfully passed all the tests they were subjected to, both in urban and outdoor environments.

Sometimes I combined several jackets. Last October I was running a course in the Netherlands, with heavy wind and constant rain. I wore my British Military Surplus Anorak tan under the Helikon-tex Wolfhound Hoodie tan, and they worked great together.

Knowing yourself, your needs, and the activities you must undertake will help you find out which jackets work best. In a bug-out situation, you need all the protection you can get!

This article has been written by Kyt Lyn Walken for Prepper’s Will.

Suggested resources for preppers:

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