In favor of bright colors

In many discussion on this and similar forums, advice is to avoid bright colors.  “Blend in.  Don’t stand out.  Be thee grey man (or gal).”  This can make sense in situations of civil unrest – riots, etc. but this is only a fraction of the total range of survival situations.  In many of these other situations, prominent visibility is critical.  A good way to achieve this is through brightly colored gear and clothing.

I have lost track of the many hours I have spent searching for victims  wearing faded denim and tan T shirts.  If they would have had a red bandanna, it would have been a big help.

With backpacks, the important qualities are proper fitting, capacity, and weight distribution.  Color should be a minor consideration.  Unless you are literally in a combat situation, bright colors are often useful.   Back in the 1950’s, you could only obtain mil surp packs or civvie packs made with dull colors.  Doing field work at the time, we resorted to fastening bright ribbons to our packs so we could find them easily enough in thick brush.  Bright blue packs were a godsend.

Conditions may change radically, even during the same incident, so the best course is to have a variety of colors available, as well as the usual signaling devices – mirror and flashlight – even a bright red bandanna can be useful, although bigger is better.

One of the most useful clothing items I ever had was a reversible down jacket -dark green on one side and international orange of the other.  I wish I had more stuff like that.  My current go to pack is a bright red, though I have others less brightly colored.  If the mob is after you, they will want the goodies they think are in your pack, regardless of its color or “tactical” webbing.


  • Comments (6)

    • 7

      Appreciated reading “the 1950’s”.  My Boy Scout troop resembled an Army company.

      Some modifications to stuff can be made for the safety feature of bright colors.  The big box and auto stores sell fluorescent strips and (at some) fluorescent tape rolls. Add to equipment and clothes such as on hard hat and jacket.

      My flight bag has a shoulder strap padded with a partly strip – cut irredescent white vinyl shower curtin.  Look for my X on the non-snow covered ground.  This padding is lashed in place with 107 lb fabric woven fishing line.

      It took many years but finally some US military orgs (not all) had, for example, boonie hats with one side olive drab or tiger camo and other side orange.

      It is easy to also add an orange traffic vest over one’s field jacket, pack or just pack it.  Time is of the essence.  About 3 years ago I bought some at $7 each and now noticed they’re ~ $20 ea.

      This is an important subject.  Merci.  

      • 7

        Excellent suggeestions for “rounding out the rainbow”.  Thanks

    • 6

      Having bright colored gear might just save your life! Have you seen the TV show ALONE? In the show some of the contestants have lost their ferro rod or axe in the jungle brush or in the sand. Having their gear spray painted neon pink or orange, or tying a piece of bright colored paracord on it could have kept them out in the same a bit longer than if they hadn’t lost it. 

      When I first got into prepping, I liked all the camo, tactical black, or olive drab colors and felt like I was in the army. But now, most of my gear i’d prefer to have bright orange.

    • 4

      If I were to design a line of prepper clothing, I would do what you said and have things reversible.

      I think there will be times when we will want to go incognito and blend into our environment, and other times when we will want to be seen and be as bright as possible.

      Maybe have a plain color looking backpack, but a colorful rain fly to put over it.

      I think  a tarp would be a great time when having one side camo and the other orange would be helpful. I’ll have to see if there is something like that.

    • 3

      I’ll stay gray thanks,  my gear is Cammo / Green/ Tan out in the Countryside and normal brighter colours in town.  BUT after watching 911 and everyone turning rubble grey in seconds I added some bright orage  tape and velcro patches to my GHB carried inside my pack, out of sight unless needed.     My colleagues approach is similar but he has an elasticated waterproof cover that is bright orange to pull over his rucksack if needed.