Packing for the unexpected: gear up for warm or cold weather

Young hikers with backpacks enjoying scenic view on the mountain

People who prepare for the unexpected come out far ahead of others when disaster strikes. Your friends, neighbors, and family may make fun of you for being over-prepared. However, they won’t be laughing after a hurricane or earthquake cuts them off from community resources for several weeks.

By simply proactively preparing for the unexpected, you’re better off than 75 percent of Americans. People talk about stocking up on food or water, but preparation also includes clothing and accessories that are necessary for the climate you live in.

Since you’re gearing up for the unexpected, that means planning for warm or cold weather. Many places are hot during the day and cooler at night. You can’t rely on your heating and cooling system because, in an actual disaster, you may be off the grid for weeks. Let’s look at packing the right clothes for the unexpected.

The Functions of Clothing and Tips for Packing

We take the many functions of clothing for granted and, in a disaster situation, these elements of clothing will affect you somehow. Here are some of those functions:

  • Self-esteem and confidence
  • Sanitation
  • Modesty and privacy
  • Warmth and body temperature regulation
  • Comfort
  • Routine

When packing your clothing, there are some things to consider. Pack larger sizes so that you can layer your clothing for various weather conditions. To account for growth spurts, pack clothes for your children that are two sizes too large. It’s better to have items that are too large than too small.

Rotate your clothing for the various seasons, primarily the two that are the most extreme – summer and winter. Try to have enough clothes for three days.

What to Pack for Multiple Climates?

Layers are critical for multiple climates. Don’t pack clothing suitable for one environment. It’s too expensive and wastes too much space in your bag. Bring items of clothing with you that can be worn in any weather.

Layering also gives you the ability to remove or add layers to regulate your body’s temperature when the weather changes quickly. If weather conditions are wet, your outer layer needs to be waterproof, outdoor or tactical clothing like a rain poncho or multitasking jacket fit for all seasons.

There are jackets on the market that do triple- or double-duty. Many convert from warm coats to fleece liners to shells. These jackets transform using zipper and Velcro systems.

Focus on versatile clothing that layers well. Don’t choose bulky layers; they also take up too much space and make mobility difficult.

Choose lightweight, waterproof shoes or boots that are comfortable and not a pain to pack. You want to be prepared for the elements if you’re outdoors, and waterproof shoes make all the difference. Other items, such as a quick-dry shirt and travel towel, are helpful in wet weather. Also, take Ziploc plastic bags to keep your phone and paper documents safe and dry.

Clothing Necessary for Cold Weather

Contrary to many beliefs, cotton is not the best material to keep you warm and dry. Once it gets wet, the fabric can’t insulate you, and it takes much too long to dry out. Choose layers to keep you warm and dry, such as Capilene, fleece, polypropylene, and wool. These materials can still retain heat even when they’re wet.

Pack thinner layers that insulate. The thinner layers take up less space and aren’t too awkward to wear. Of all the materials listed above, wool is versatile and natural. Wear a lightweight wool shirt to keep cool if the weather gets hotter. Packing thinner layers leaves room in your bag for snow boots and a warm parka for extremely cold weather.

Long underwear, mid-weight fleece pants, and a fleece coat are important articles of clothing to pack for winter weather. Of course, you don’t need the separate fleece jacket if you packed the multitasking jacket. That’s what makes it so great. Three coats in one, the multi-functioning jacket allows you to store other necessities.

Gloves and at least three pairs of quality wool socks are essential items to stow away. Thinner socks that insulate are the best choice. A wool or fleece beanie will keep your head warm if the weather turns cold. Hats help shield you from the weather and elements.

You may also carry foot or hand warmers. These warmers are fantastic in frigid weather and work for a few hours.

Packing for Warm Weather

The most important thing for warm weather is to protect yourself from the sun. When choosing your layers, pack clothing made from moisture-wicking and breathable materials. If the weather gets chilly, you can simply throw on that thin wool shirt and jacket if necessary. Make sure the clothing that you choose is durable outdoor clothing.

Some other items to pack include:

  • Hat with a brim or a stretchy buff tube
  • Bandana
  • Sunglasses
  • Sandals, depending on the terrain
  • Scarf

Sandals are light and easy to pack. If it becomes sweltering, your feet will thank you for eliminating socks and shoes. Summer shoes may not be an option, considering your location or terrain, so be practical as well as comfortable.

A shemagh is another useful article of clothing. It’s a wrap-around covering for your head that protects the nose, mouth, neck, and eyes from the sand, sun, and wind. Special forces units around the world commonly use shemaghs.

Wear lighter colors, as they reflect the sun and heat. Dark colors absorb heat and keep you hot.

Remember not to pack too much because your clothing selections will likely need to fit in your bail-out bag. Use items that are versatile and multifunctional to decrease the amount of space your clothing takes up in your bug-out bag. Consider using compression bags or packing cubes to take up even less space in your storage container. Rolling your clothes also helps reduce wrinkles and maximizes space.

Preparing for the unexpected relieves some stress and anxiety during disasters. Remember that layering is essential and try to pack items that serve more than one purpose. Follow these tips, and you’ll have the right clothing for any unexpected events.

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