December 2014

December Blog of Education
Survival Fashion

What is fashion? Defined by the most reliable online Wiki site (read the sarcasm here), fashion is, “a popular trend, especially in styles of dress and ornament or manners of behavior.” What is survival fashion you ask? Well, any actions or anything worn or carried in the survival community from primitive to modern skills and all time periods in between. After being in the survival game for some time, I’ve watched as some instructors have had mini-me’s and clones pop up around them. These guys are hollow copies with more resemblance of their master than individuality of their own. Sure, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but it denies an absolute truth. What is “best” is dependent on the individual, not a single trend setter like these survival personalities popularized by social media rather than by virtue of their actual skills. Think about this now when looking at all the people dressing the part, acting the part but lacking the whole picture of what survival is all about. Survival fashion, for many, trumps survival. That’s a formula for failure. Warning: Shameless product placement coming!

December 2014 Blog of Education

Traditional wool, wood, canvas, brass, leather makes bushcraft so sexy but are these options the best choice for survival?

There is no doubt there is a “form” and “style” for each survival philosophy. Primitive guys lean toward natural materials and field-made gear, bushcraft guys follow an olive drab color scheme, few plastics and can be seen with possible pouches, tactical survival guys can’t get enough MOLLE, carbon fiber and Flat Dark Earth or “FDE” if you’re too tacticool to say it all. Walk through any industry show (Like BLADE) and you can pick them out of the crowd. They must have some magnetism because they also tend to gravitate toward one another. Listen carefully and you’ll hear them talk about what they’re wearing and carrying. Every once in a while, the collective force of the group can pressure an individual in the group to second guess their personal decision in their choice of clothing or gear. Fit in or stand out are the only options in their mind when the real question is form or function? To groups like this, looking the part is more important than performing the role which unfortunately is often overlooked. Books ARE judged by their cover.

December Blog of Education

Nothing screams “I’m tactical” like black does. If it’s good enough for Batman, it is good enough for me right? Read the sarcasm please. Black is actually darker than shadows and silhouettes against light backgrounds. But it looks awesome and that is more important right?

There is a risk in being too much of an individual when it comes to survival fashion. Some long-standing style IS grounded in function rather than form. Wool is quieter in the woods than nylon brushing against branches. Primaloft jackets are better than down in wet conditions. These are generally accepted facts. There are some folks who will put their own spin on long standing traditions and they can be easily spotted. What is their motivation for casting practicality aside? Are they doing this purely for the survivability of himself or in an attempt to attract others to his unique style? Think about it. There are some personalities who have very unique styles and this draws us to them initially. Ultimately, if we aren’t wooed by their personality and charming nature, we realize the differences between us and them and we are driven away. Sound like anyone you know? Pick-up artists call it peacocking, scammers won’t admit to it but it is “charming” as a verb not an adjective and in general it is an attempt to grab your attention. If you like that last tidbit, read Gavin De Becker’s Gift of Fear.

Blog of Education December 2014

Training gear! Patagucci, Under-Armor because the mannequins look good wearing it and those Salomon shoes all the cool kids are wearing. Hey, if you aren’t going to work hard, look like you’re about to.

I’ll admit, I’ve been a slave to survival fashion. I’ve thought about accessorizing knife combinations to a particular setting much like my choice of Scandinavian axes and knives while traveling through Sweden and Norway. Guilty. I have the morale patch apparel to show my affiliation to my company, the United States and my Sayoc Kali tribe. In younger years, I chose clothing that had the cool guy factor. At some point though, I followed my own sense of what was right for me. I replaced dated materials with the latest and I swapped authenticity for simplicity. I took my clothing and gear and adapted it to me as opposed to me changing who or what I am to work with the clothing or gear I carry.  No joke, I’ve actually had people question my choice of minimalist footwear (not barefoot, I’m not impractical) while on courses but when you consider how much moving around I have to do, squatting, standing, moving, laying prone, I want to have something light to make my movements more efficient. I’ll put my much cooler looking Danner field boots to the side in this type of training scenario. Now, I just focus on what gets the job done and could care less what people think of my particular style. If I’m doing it right, you will say “he doesn’t look like a survival instructor, a martial artist, a teacher, etc. etc.” I’m a grayman as much as possible.

In the end, if you’re decision to die was made when you choose fashion over function, at least you can go to your maker knowing you look good. Maybe next time I post a blog I will analyze the trend of survival selfies where guys attempt to make deliberately posed pictures appear candid. Let’s hashtag that, #survivalselfie. It’s going to be a buzzword for these photos taken at arms length or within sprinting distance of the 10 second camera timer. Instead of looking stoic  and fierce, they translate into an outdoors version of flexing while pointing in the direction of the gym. For now, simply buy the best you can afford but don’t buy labels because everyone else is. Buy what works, not what is en vogue unless what is en vogue is what works.

-Kev