Tips for the Road #8 – The Gray Man

This is the Eighth installment of my ongoing series of Random Survival Information.

For this post, we tackle GRAY MAN THEORY AND TACTICS

from Preppersportal

The Gray Man Theory is a pretty popular buzz word in the prepper community. But what is the Gray Man Theory exactly and how can we implement these tactics?

Here’s the deal:

A lot of people talk about the Gray Man concept as if it is as simple as wearing the proper backpack or clothing to avoid being a target of opportunity.

While avoiding standing out too much is important, the Gray Man theory is more than just wearing the proper bug out backpack. It is about blending into your environment in your appearance, activities, and demeanor to avoid detection.


The basic premise behind the Gray Man theory is simply blending in with your environment to avoid drawing attention to yourself. Through the use of appropriate actions and appearance the goal is to be dismissed as a potential target so that you can go about your business. The main factors affecting your ability to blend in are the use of your:

  •  Actions
  • Dress and Appearance
  • Training
  • Interactions with others

The Gray Man theory is more than staying out of sight. It is more about hiding in plain sight.

  • Confidence goes a long way (Act as if you are supposed to be where you are)
  • Gray Man theory is not about being invisible. It is about remaining undetected
  • People will rarely question the presence of someone if they look the part

Let’s face it:

An emergency scenario may force people to bug out from their homes and head out on the road. The particular bug out backpack you are wearing is probably not going to matter much. There will be other people in the same boat as you and your task is to blend in with them.


Again, I can’t stress this enough…

The Gray Man theory isn’t all about the clothing you are wearing. While wearing neutral items such as gray hoodies and jeans do help you take on the “every man look” what we should be more concerned about is playing on the psychology of those around us.

There is a particular part of the brain that filters sensory input called the Reticular Activating System or (RAS). Having a basic understanding of how this works is important to allowing us to blend in with our surroundings.

People have a picture in their mind of what a target looks like. If you take the time to avoid those perceptions you will avoid detection. You must fit the mold of what the “average” person would be doing, saying, and wearing at all times.


Think wearing a giant American flag shirt is the best idea when traveling internationally? Think again. Wearing items that show your affiliation with particular groups or beliefs can scream “target of opportunity.” This is sort of like wearing a Miley Cyrus shirt to a Metallica concert. You will get noticed.

The more you can look like everybody else, the better chance you have of blending in. For example, if you were entering an event that had required wear of a tuxedo, you would also want to wear a tuxedo to follow the crowd. If it is the middle of summer and the sun is out, don’t dress in all black with a hoodie.


This Gray Man concept goes beyond just appearance though. You also want to avoid acting in ways that may draw attention to you, like running through a crowd that is walking, or talking loudly in a quiet place. Actions that are out of place for the location will get you noticed quickly.

Confidence is very important to fitting in. You want to act as if you have a purpose or a reason to be in the area that you are. People will very rarely question somebody that looks the part they are acting and walks like they should be there.


Being aware of your surroundings and who looks out of place is a habit that tactical personnel develop. This DOES NOT mean darting your vision all over the place and creeping around like you’re a thief. It simply means slowly scanning the are with your eyes and ears while paying attention to your surroundings.

When you get good at understanding how to keep an elevated level of situational awareness you can do it while looking natural. Some research has shown that our awareness narrows as we get nervous or stressed because of how it affects our RAS.


One of the lessons that history has taught us when looking at areas that have broken out into civil war or had their government fail is that those that everybody knows has supplies are targets. If you are out there in the local community telling every person you come across that you are stockpiling supplies, you will be their first stop if SHTF.

Don’t go running bug out drills in front of your neighbors, boasting about your emergency food supply, or walking around in tactical gear on a daily basis. These things are sure to get you noticed and are the opposite operating in the Gray Man mode.


There is no better way to be remembered as being odd or out of place than having a confrontation with someone. Confrontations should be avoided as much as possible. It is better to back down from a confrontation that can be avoided than to engage and give up your cover. Entering into confrontations can be detrimental to the safety and security of your whole team or family. Keep a calm, level headed demeanor and only defend yourself if unavoidable. The worst thing to do is to walk around like you are some sort of “badass”. Even if you are it does you no good to boast about it as it will only lead you to becoming a more likely target. 


Being that the entire Gray Man Theory is based upon remaining unnoticed it is important to conceal any weapons you are carrying. Having a weapon at the ready in the open is a recipe for disaster. While you may think that open carry of a knife or firearm would make you a less likely target, it could get you into trouble with people looking for a fight.


The sense of smell is a powerful memory trigger. When you are trying to blend in with your surroundings and go unnoticed you do not want to be giving off a strong cologne smell. People tend to remember anything unusual about a person when they meet them. If the first thing they notice about you is a powerful scent you will stick out in their mind.


Avoiding eye contact, even with passersby, is important to maintaining your cover. The human brain is very adept at facial recognition and the more that someone makes eye contact, the more likely they are to stand out or be remembered. We develop these relationships to eye contact at a very young age. Similarly, if you are in a conversation with someone totally avoiding contact will also seem strange. The key is to find a balance.


The Gray Man Theory has become a very popular topic among survivalists and preppers. What type of backpack you are carrying and how you are dressed are important. However, there are many more important factors to worry about. The main things to remember are to blend in with the crowd in appearance and actions. Maintain your situational awareness and conceal your gear. Following these guidelines will give you the best chance of survival if you ever find yourself in a disaster scenario.

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