How to be a Gray Man

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Living in the city, especially in densely populated areas, poses many dangers. Sad as it may seem, there will always be people willing to take down anyone to save their own skin. For them, the weak and unsuspecting people usually make easy targets. If you’re not careful, you might just be the next victim.

If this mentality is already present in cities today, just imagine what would happen when SHTF. In a post collapse world, it’s going to be every man for himself. If you don’t want to be the receiving end of criminals or lose the preps you’ve worked hard for, you have to learn how to defend yourself, to stay constantly on the move, and blend into a crowd, aka become the gray man.

The concept of being a gray man revolve around the idea of a person who does not draw attention to himself, who does not stand out form the crowd in any way. He can weave through a large group of people without anyone looking at him or her twice. This is useful in situations such as:

  • martial law and state of emergency
  • bugging out through the woods
  • hunkering down at home or at one’s bug out location (to avoid “zombies” begging for food)

In cases when you are in harm’s way, being invisible is not so bad. But, in order to be a gray man, it takes more than just a change of clothes. It’s also about losing any distinct traits and mannerisms people will notice, and adjusting to the crowd’s movement.

To see what it takes to become a gray man, read our quick guide below.

Wear nondescript clothes.

The first step to becoming invisible is knowing what clothes to wear. As a general rule, avoid choosing bright, flashy outfits. If you’re walking down the street wearing bright colors, people will take notice. It’s also not wise to dress in clothes with distinct designs or patterns. Wearing prints especially with popular logos can catch people’s eye and be ingrained on their memories. Instead, opt for natural and neutral colors. In terms of style, a safe choice would be to go for the classic, conservative look such as basic polos, t-shirts, and button-down instead of the trendy, loud clothes.

Dress for the occasion.

Wearing neutral colors or a common outfit may not necessarily hide you in a crowd. You must consider the area and occasion or event you’re attending. Wearing a tux in the middle of a busy street will make you stick out but not if you are attending a black tie event. If you are headed to the beach, then lying back on the sand in a pair of trunks would be the norm. Some folks may also think that camouflaging yourself involves a jacket, a cap, and sunglasses. Wearing layers may be acceptable in the winter but you should definitely lose them in the summer. It will only make you look suspicious and appear to be hiding something.

Hide distinguishable features.

One of the key things to being a gray man is to not having any obvious features that people will recall when asked to identify you or describe you. Being tall or short, bald, or having a big nose are things you can’t change. However, there are some things you do have control over such as a bushy beard or a bright hair color. Get rid of or alter any features that stand out fast. If you have a permanent feature like a tattoo, you can conceal it or wear something else to draw attention away from it.

survival farm

Lose the scent.

Aside from causing any visual stimulus, you should also refrain from wearing any scents that might get you noticed. If you are wearing expensive cologne, then you may easily get branded as a person with means which will put you in danger. Even if it’s not cologne, carrying a certain smell can be risky as people also have strong memories associated with smells. Also, when you are trying to lose someone on your trail, having a strong scent can betray you even if you found a good hiding spot. To be on the safe side, don’t put any products on yourself that produce a fragrance.

Control your movements.

Physical appearance is not the only thing you have to worry about. You also have to watch out for any mannerisms or body language that can be used to mark you. These may consist of a rowdy laugh or constant fidgeting. Whatever it may be, you must learn how control your movements. You must also not project any behavior that will leave a lasting impression. Keep your movements small while maintaining a high level of awareness. For example, when surveying your surroundings, you can do a head sweep by discreetly adjusting your body left and right. This is no easy task and may require a bit of practice but if you are able to control your actions and avoid reckless behavior, you are on your way to becoming imperceptible.

Adapt to your surroundings.

Some cities or towns may have people with a certain style or unique look to them, for example blond hair and blue eyes. Other towns are inhabited by people with a particular accent that makes it easy to identify where they are from. When it comes to appearances, people in large urban cities may wear more black and grey colors while small town residents might go for more colorful clothes.  When moving to places like these, you have to learn how to dress and act like a local. Choose cities that will be easier for you to study and imitate the people.  Nothing arouses more suspicion than a stranger in town.

Minimize interaction.

If don’t want to be seen, then you must definitely avoid talking with people other than what’s necessary. Sure, small talk every now and then won’t hurt but be careful not become a presence in other people’s lives. Don’t go bragging about your prep and survival skills or divulge any personal details that can identify you. Because if you do and SHTF, these people will come looking for you. In short, steer away from interactions that can leave a lasting impression.

Get rid of old habits.

If you get your morning coffee from the local shop or have brunch every Sunday in your favorite deli, then being a patron will certainly not make you invisible. You may be recognized by your routine and become predictable in your daily movement. Break off any consistency in your life and don’t visit places frequently enough to make you a familiar face.

Don’t play the hero or the villain.

In survival situations, being too friendly might do you more harm than good. The same goes for being rude. In terms of behavior, people tend to remember those who helped them carry a bag of groceries and those who shoved past them without so much as an apology. In cases like these, avoid being on either side of the spectrum. Be the person in the middle, be empathetic without being too nice.

Know the ins and outs of the city.

The best way to stay out of trouble is not to go near the cities. If you must go, you must have extensive knowledge of the city and its roads. Know which areas are safe and which ones aren’t. You must also be able to locate the nearest resources such as hospitals, police stations, gas stations, convenience stores, etc. When entering a building, always take note of the nearest exits. If you take time to map out the city, you’ll be better able to find your escape route when you find yourself in the middle of a chase. Better safe than sorry.

Observe people.

Mastering the art of disappearing is no easy task. As an exercise, try to look and study people when going out in public. Take note of the people that catch your attention and determine which characteristics which made you notice them. By identifying the stimulus, you have an idea of the things you need to avoid in your own behavior. In addition, scan the crowd to see if you can spot a gray man. Pay attention and identify the traits that make him inconspicuous and try to emulate him.

Be careful what you post online.

You may be a pro in being anonymous in public, but this may be to no avail if you don’t practice the same techniques online. Any information you post on the internet, like announcing a holiday trip overseas, provides an opportunity for others to break into your home. Your personal details may also be used for online theft. There are a lot of opportunists and hackers who take advantage of information people carelessly give away online. Don’t be a victim.

In Summary

Being a gray man will require a lot of practice and patience on your part. You will also need to do some profiling to understand human behavior and the things that may or may not make people stand out. In addition, this task requires keen observational skills to survey an area without looking suspicious. Watching detective shows may help to give you an idea on the do’s and don’ts of camouflaging. If watching TV is not your thing, there are plenty of other ways for you to learn.

The fact of the matter is,the world is a dangerous place. If you don’t anticipate danger and plan ahead, you’ll lose. When calamity strikes, there may not be any cops to enforce the law and you will have to take matters into your own hands to protect yourself and your family. It sounds extreme, but it never hurts to prepare.

What about you? Can you think of other ways to become a gray man? Let us know by posting in our comments section below.

Life Straw


  1. Good advice all. In this age of social media, people who generally feel insignificant or mediocre want to upgrade their social status by posting everything about their lives on Twitter and Facebook. More power to them if it makes them feel more important, but in the long run it just makes them targets. “Hey, everyone, look at me! I’m somebody!” just doesn’t work for me. Keep in mind that, unless you’re a Tom Cruise or a Lady Gaga, you’re nobody, so get over yourself.
    Mark’s advice is spot on, especially since surveillance cameras are becoming more and more common in urban environments. Big Brother really is watching us.
    Accept your social mediocrity and be thankful for it; it will save you in the long run.

  2. Think “under the radar vehicles” you are a target if you drive a Hummer or a big 4 wheel drive SUV or truck – even a vehicle with a reputation for rugged survival such as a Subaru is a problem. Think of vehicles that are nondescript, less prone to car jacking, etc . Some that might even appear to be commercial use vehicles. Carry tow straps, winches, gas, tire chains and other survival equipment inside the vehicles to enhance and provide options for survival. Think under the radar vehicles.

  3. As a woman I think it’s very important to make yourself look plain, wear loose fitting clothes, no makeup and minimal hairstyle if you will be in a potentially lawless environment. Try to have an air of quiet confidence, looking scared or uncertain will definitely make you a target.

  4. I once gave a lecture to my apartment residents about the need to prep. A couple weeks later, two people there appeared as beggars at my door. I knew I could not be Christian and thus appear the goddess from whom all blessings flow. I am poor–the opposite of able to feed the whole city. I said I had no extra. I have not had beggars since.
    But it was the end of any such lectures–and if SHTF, their stoopid helplessness will endanger me greatly. One of the reasons so many think preppers are nuts is because their neighbors with sense keep their mouths shut.
    My worst Greay Woman Problem: my Life Purposes require me to make myself well known. How would you handle THAT?


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