Tips for becoming unnoticeable: When SHTF, being a gray man can save your life
By Zoey Sky // Oct 07, 2019

During a disaster scenario, you can't just rely on your survival stockpile. Your skills are just as important when SHTF, especially the ability to become a "gray man." (h/t to


The gray man theory

You can just bug out when things go south, but if you decide to stay home, at some point you'll need to leave to find resources or maintain your property. How do you avoid looters and attackers?

Hide in plain sight by becoming a gray man to avoid detection. Simply put, a gray man is someone who doesn't draw attention to himself. This kind of "survival psychology and urban camouflage" technique enables you to "disappear" when you're in a public place.

Becoming a gray man

Context is crucial to become a gray man. You can blend in at the park by wearing workout clothes and pretending to be a jogger, whereas you'll stick out like a sore thumb if you go to work in a tank top, cycling shorts, and running shoes.

In gray man theory, the baseline refers to the standard for other people in the area. Before you become a gray man, plan how you're going to blend in. Try to mimic how other people generally dress and act to avoid detection. (Related: It’s easy to hide in plain sight: New research finds that simple disguises fool most people.)

Do not just copy an individual who works in the location you plan on visiting. Instead, focus on the group that frequents the area.

Consider the average characteristics that correspond with these three senses:

  1. Sight – Wear the appropriate clothing.
  2. Hearing – It is best to keep to yourself, but if you need to talk to someone, do it the way someone from the same crowd would.
  3. Smell – Smell involves the group's hygiene and the environment. Are they usually well-groomed or do they have a certain scent, like smoke and dirt due to pollution?

A gray man also takes note of his own stimuli and attempts to minimize them.

The human brain registers a lot of sensory data from every moment. However, this data only becomes useful after it has been filtered from white noise.

To complete your transformation into a gray man, you must be average "white noise" that other people will ignore if they cross paths with you.

If you're taller than average, slouch a bit when walking and keep your head down. Wear plain clothing with basic colors. Those who are shorter can do the opposite. Stand up straight and wear similar colors along with heeled or thicker soled shoes to make you seem taller.

Consider if facial hair can help you blend in or if it will make you stand out. Remove any piercings and hide tattoos with layered clothing or a cream.

Minimize the stimuli of your actions by avoiding others and only talking to someone if it's absolutely necessary. Avoid making sudden movements that may startle other people or make them curious about you.

Blend in with the crowd

Once your outfit is generic and you're hiding in a crowd, do what everyone else is doing. If SHTF, run in the same direction as the crowd and try to be discreet if you need to enter or exit a building.

Moving away from a running crowd makes you a very visible target, so follow a small group that splits off then make a quick exit when you get the chance.

Even if you become a gray man, you should always be prepared. Keep your everyday carry (EDC) kit with you and use it for emergencies, but store it in a plain backpack. If you have to carry a weapon, conceal it well.

Stay undetected when SHTF by becoming the gray man. This allows you to continue your preparations while other people go about their business.

Sources include:

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