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Survival Guides

The Art Of The Gray Man: Staying Unseen In Public

Learn to be the Gray Man. Knowing how to remain unnoticed, unseen, and safe in a crowded, public location is vital in many SHTF survival situations.

Although the task may seem impossible, you truly can remain anonymous even when surrounded by people.

As a prepper, you don’t want to be identified as the guy who’s got it all figured out when everything is going to chaos. Despite the downsides, you may have to face the masses in a survival situation, especially in an urban environment.

With necessary survival gear on, like if you’re bugging out when all hell is breaking loose, you have to remain hidden and unseen or possibly face some nasty consequences.

And learning gray man tactics preserves your privacy now  so you can take care of business unseen.

What You Wear

Staying unnoticed begins with what you are wearing. If you are wearing flashy clothing, or even just an outfit that doesn’t fit in to the times and culture, you will stand out. i.e, in April, flip flops work in Florida, but not so much Montana, and vice versa for hoodies.

It is important to know your setting and the type of crowd you will have to navigate through. Take a moment and ask yourself… Are you in a tourist or college town? Is this primarily high class or low class? Yuppies or country folk? What is the weather going to be like?

After identifying the type of people you are going to be surrounded by and the weather, try and dress appropriate to that setting. Although every situation is different, it is always a good start to wear natural colors without anything bright or flashy.

art of gray man clothes

In a crowd, if you are wearing bright or crazy fluorescent colors, you will be noticed, even if it’s just subconsciously by those around you.

Additionally, avoid logos, brands, or script displayed in plain sight. Most clothing these days have some sort of a slogan or branding on them. If you pass by someone with a blank t-shirt on, they may glance at you, but you will not completely register to them.

However, a big logo, or a slogan is guaranteed to strike a memory, because as they pass you their eyes will be automatically drawn to the text.

Don’t be afraid to accessorize yourself appropriately either. If it’s a sunny day, don’t be afraid to wear a standard pair of sunglasses or a hat. Conversely, if it is snowing, bring a scarf or gloves.

But accessories can shoot you in the foot, like if you wear too many of them, or wear them at the wrong time, or pick flashy expensive versions. It doesn’t take an expert to realize sunglasses at night probably isn’t going to be very helpful to you.

How You Move

The best gray man appears to be your average citizen who is nonthreatening. When moving through a crowd, make fluid, natural, deliberate movements. Before you enter a public space, know your route and how you are going to get from one point to another.

art of gray man on phone

Most people have their phones glued to their faces while walking. Use this to your advantage and take a peek at a device every now and then as you walk.

Having to stop where you are going to figure out if you are on the right route or not is guaranteed to draw the looks of others to you. You cannot seem uncomfortable to others.

Understand group movement, and follow the crowd. If there is a particular attraction which is drawing people to it, go there. When exiting a crowd, do not go out alone. Try and find a group of others who are merging from the masses and join their group to not appear out of place.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to talk to people. While it may not seem ideal when wanting to stay anonymous, you have to act natural. Just be vague with the conversation and keep it short. You do not want people to be able to remember you by the conversation for an extended amount of time.

What You Carry

When away from your equipment, you still have to be prepared for anything to happen and be able to deal with the circumstances until you can make it back to your gear.

art of gray man giant bag

However, to successfully carry gear means you must be able to keep it hidden from prying eyes. The last thing you want people knowing is that you are carrying they might want.

If you opt to bring a carry bag with you, make sure it is small and not easy to steal or stands out. Small daypacks make a good choice or messenger bags.

Avoid military, tactical, and camo bags. Also avoid large hiking bags, especially those with external supports. Avoid any overly large bag altogether.

If you do not want to carry any pack, wear clothing that have discrete storage options. Store things on your person. Cargo pants hold many different pockets that you can put things in, as well as vests. Don’t stuff your pockets until they bulge either.

art of gray man bob contents

While being prepared for everything is important, don’t over gear yourself when in public. It will weigh you down and make you stick out like a sore thumb. And don’t take your bag off while walking either, you will attract a lot of attention quickly

Final Thoughts

While staying unseen in a crowd may seem like an impossible feat, it is something that can be accomplished. By being conscious of what you are wearing and dressing to match the setting, you will avoid most unwanted glances altogether.

Additionally, understand where you are trying to get to so you can navigate through a crowd seamlessly. Be careful not to make awkward or sharp movements, as others are likely to take notice.

Finally, wearing gear is usually necessary in such situations, but it must be done in a way that doesn’t any draw attention.

The art of remaining a gray man is difficult and takes practice, but luckily most of us can practice right now. Don’t be afraid to practice properly moving through crowds now, a quick walk or a trip to town as a Gray Man can give you a lot of personal feedback.

By mastering the art of disguise in plain sight, you will be a whole lot safer in many survivalist situations, especially for urban and city preppers.

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Sergeant Survival

I spread the news of disaster preparedness and homesteading skills to the masses. My mission is to teach the keyboard commandos out there some real life skills.


  1. also under “What to Wear” comes the possible necessity to hide your blond hair and paleface features – a hoodie, mask/scarf, and gloves should be included in your Grey Man riot gear ….

  2. I’m sorry, but this unoriginal article, along with the vast majority of other postings on the subject of being a “gray man” are superficial at best, and generally qualify as garbage for uninformed readers.

    To begin with, the thousands of people fleeing from the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on 9-11 didn’t give a damn about what anyone else was wearing, or whether they looked “out of place.” I would challenge you to name one incident where these people were accosted by thugs. In conditions involving urgent large crowd evacuations, the “noticeability” of a single individual is obscured by other people.

    Second, many gray man articles talk about avoiding the use of clothing that appears to be “tactical” in style, and especially to avoid the use of backpacks that have a military/tactical appearance. The problem is, millions of people wear BDU-style cargo pants and/or use backpacks every day. I challenge you to spend just one hour in the terminal of any major airport to get a feel for the number of backpacks (including tactical) that you will see.

    Finally, if you truly want to be the “gray man,” be where everyone else isn’t. Think about that…

    1. Dude…
      Not every situation where you need to remain anonymous is an “urgent large crowd evacuation”.

      Also, “gray” is better than “tactical”. Surely you can see that.

      Finally, “be where everyone else isn’t”?
      Come on. People have to go to work and live their lives.

      Good article, Sgt. Survival!

  3. IMHO…
    Be the gray man in every day life, so it would take little or no effort when you really need to be one.

    Being a gray man should be synonymous with minimalism, owning/having bare minimum. You may not have time to be messing with your stuff. Stay mobile and portable.

    Planning routes, including backup routes, beforehand. There are many documentaries about the Secret Service. In a couple, they say you don’t just need plan A or B, you need plan Z. Have a plan for every possible scenario. And, when there is a SHTF event, you’re not there to “duke it out”, but to get the hell out ASAP.

    Look for tidbits on tactics from professions where people are know for being a gray man, such CIA agents, government bureaucrats, accountants, and follow their lead.

    Movies and TV shows help, too. Many tactics are indeed illegal, and can get you in deep trouble, but there are many that are perfectly legal. The Bourne movies, Enemy of The State, where Brill (Hackman) talks about guerilla warfare, NCIS Los Angeles Third Choir, Person of Interest.

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