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Have you heard of the Grey Man concept?

The Grey Man concept simply means blending in and not sticking out. You want to dress, move and act in a way that is completely forgettable. This is done so that you do not draw unnecessary attention to yourself as you go about life and I think the initial focus was on people who were carrying concealed firearms. There are lots of examples of how this larger concept could work in your favor to keep you safe and many survival and prepper blogs bring this concept up as a way to live or a strategy for how to avoid becoming a target of people intend to do you harm.

I was thinking of this idea in a different context though as it related to life after a SHTF scenario. One of our readers contacted me with some questions after reading a post from Selco on the SHTF School blog. Selco is from the Balkans and lived through the Balkan war from 92 – 95. He has created an excellent online course titled “One Year in Hell” that offers training derived from his own experiences living surrounded in the real SHTF world of a war zone and without power for a year.

Did you ever hear of “survivor’s guilt”?

Feeling of being guilty because you survived but many others you know did not. There is something else that can “help” you to not feel that because it can kill you. It is what I call “survivalist hate” by people around you.

I often read how people want to help other folks when SHTF, and it is really good, but in reality, it works differently.

When SHTF, I mean real SHTF, most of the people will not like you because you are prepared, people will hate you, even if you help them. They will hate you because you are prepared and you have food, water, weapon, and shelter for you and your family, and they do not have anything like that.

I have seen how people robbed man, and his family, torching his house because he had lots of goods (he gave some of that stuff to some folks week before) and by that logic folks said that he knew that S. is going to hit the fan, and he was like guilty for them. People were angry that he prepared but did not tell them.

This is what you can call “survivalist hate”. Think about it, sentences like “he could have warned us” or “he must have stolen this from somewhere, otherwise he would have not that much”. Do not expect normal logical thinking. It does not happen much in normal times and is less in survival scenarios for most common folks.

It was these words that caused our reader to question how much they should volunteer to help their community in an emergency. Mark had been thinking about trying to organize resources in the community now, before any crisis, but reading Selco’s story above had him reconsidering going out on a limb, telegraphing he might have resources or skills and potentially becoming a victim like the man robbed for his supplies.

This is what led me to consider the Grey Man concept as it could be applied to your home and resources if the SHTF. It is one thing to control your appearance and actions in a crowd to avoid detection, but what about your supplies in your home?

Always invisible in plain sight

Depending on the crisis, I have to believe there is a timeline of phases that people go through. The crisis would dictate that timeline to a large degree in that an Earthquake, for example, would destroy everything relatively quickly and then you would be recovering for some time afterwards.

The initial violence would be upfront and then people would start dealing with problems after the shaking stopped. It would be similar to any other natural disasters I assume. Something like a regional war or an economic collapse or even pandemic would cause a different timeline. Regardless of how long it took people to start feeling the effects of any crisis eventually your neighbors could be dealing with illnesses or injury, disruptions in food, safety concerns from looters or approaching military forces.

Unless you were quarantined in your homes, invariably neighbors would be talking at some point, sharing information and learning how others were faring. It is at this time that the prepared individual could fall into that situation described above.

There are many aspects to this and realistically how you act toward your neighbors and the situations you could face after a crisis could be the subject of a dozen articles but I will focus on this one viewpoint in this post. There is something to be said for charity and something else for self-preservation. If we were faced with a situation like above, what could you do to keep your family safe and your supplies that you have been storing up in your hands and not the hands of an angry mob?

Never draws attention to himself

Two things come to mind when trying to think about the Grey Man concept and your home. The first is that before anything happens you want to be practicing OPSEC as much as feasible in your situation. The less people know about the supplies you have stored, what you may be preparing for, your political beliefs, etc. the less likely they are going to think of you if something happens.

  • I have said it before, but unless you live in an area where this is common (and there are lots of areas where it is) I wouldn’t be seen out at the Chili’s in your camouflage pants and army boots. Don’t get me wrong, I have these myself, but I save the camo for hunting season. Whenever I am hunting, there are thousands of other guys who look just like me and I blend in. Not necessarily at Chili’s but you get the point.
  • If you are getting supplies of food shipped in, make sure these are dealt with in a way that doesn’t draw attention. I wouldn’t stack boxes of MRE’s up in front of the shed while your neighbor is mowing their grass.
  • If you are loading guns into the car for a trip to the range, do this discretely. I normally do a quick visual check to make sure no one is outside first and back the car into the garage so I can get them loaded quickly.
  • Have a safe being delivered to the house? Try to do this during the day if most of your neighbors are at work.
  • Large purchases from Sams or Costco could be construed the same way. A bulk pack of toilet paper is one thing, but 5 – fifty-pound bags of rice or several 45 lbs. pails of freeze-dried food are another. Are you practicing open carry to make a statement?

The next part and probably the harder of the two to pull off would be after SHTF. How do you keep your supplies secret? How do you maintain OPSEC whenever everyone else is watching you simply because they have nothing else to do?

Grey man avoids confrontation

It would really depend on the scenario I think. For instance, if everyone was without power, I might not light my house up at night. Knowing that you have a power source, maybe solar panels could give it away that you have resources they don’t have. Of course, the situation will dictate how badly you are hated for having power if your neighbors don’t but I think eventually it could cause problems.

Let’s say there wasn’t an EMP but the grid was taken down by terrorists. Every appliance still works, but the power simply isn’t coming through the wires anymore. Your electricity could at a bare minimum provide conveniences like power for fans, ability to recharge batteries or enable entertainment devices. One of the prepper supplies I made sure I had was a giant roll of heavy black plastic. This has many uses, but one of them could be to blackout my windows. At night, I could run electric and not draw attention.

Food is another resource that will be tough to keep secret, especially if you are cooking outside. The smell of food to a hungry person is not something you can easily keep a lid on. You could heat water outside and use that for your freeze-dried foods as one way to keep the fact that your family is still eating somewhat under wraps. Eventually though people will notice that you aren’t getting slimmer.

What about weapons? This is one that I have considered because I have made preparations that would allow me certain tactical advantages over my unprepped neighbors. What if there was the threat of violence from people walking through and looting? Would I go walking down the street in my tactical holster, bulletproof vest and battle rifle on day one? Probably not, but eventually if things got bad enough that might be my daily outfit. I think if that were the case, my neighbors and I would have other things to worry about than what I had in my house. My hope is that if things ever get that bad, I will be able to help my neighbors and my contributions on that front will give me grace. Maybe that is foolish.

Even if you are completely secretive about your supplies or your neighbors are completely self-sufficient themselves you could face a time when someone is banging on your door demanding you to share what you have. Have you thought about what you would do if that happened?

Like I said, there are many aspects to this concept and the final, possible confrontation is for another post. Practicing the Grey Man concept for your home in a SHTF scenario might put that off for a little while longer though or prevent it entirely and I think that is the whole point.

On a different note, here’s some other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)
Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)
Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)
Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)
The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)
The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

Have you heard of the Grey Man concept? The Grey Man concept simply means blending in and not sticking out. You want to dress, move and act in a way that


What is the Grey Man Theory?

There are many different ideas, rules and trains of thought about the Grey Man theory. Some would view it as a way of life, others a tactical style or type of camouflage and others an exercise in preparedness.

The Grey Man however is universally recognized as a person who remains unnoticed in all situations. Someone who is not only physically but physiologically average and everyday. These people wear non branded clothing that blends in with the crowd and does not draw attention. They are of average height or build and have facial features that do not attract attention in any way. For example, a short balding man in a camouflage jacket with a large nose would attract attention no matter what. The same could be said of an average sized women wearing nondescript clothing who happens to be stunningly beautiful.

Some would say that some people are just born to be Grey Men and others not. However, looks aren’t everything. The places you go and the things you do can also make you stand out. Ordering a flamboyant cocktail in a bar or a specialty dish at a restaurant will also attract attention. The car you drive, the house you own, the job you have, everything leaves people with a memory or note worthy point about you. The Grey Man does not have these things. This is where people tend to have different ideas on how far to go or how to do it.

The other side to the Grey Man is how they think. A true Grey Man will assess the situation in every room or location that they are in trying to take note of the number of people, exit points, hazard points and threats. They do this via a military technique called Situational Awareness.

Being Grey in a Grey World

100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative's Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation

100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation

Staying unnoticed in a place where you and the people all share the same or similar physical traits can be a huge advantage. Also, by having similar habits, mannerisms and speech it allows you to go better unnoticed. Having these things means that the minds Reticular Activating System will have a harder time identifying you as a threat or someone worth noticing.

This system is part of the way your mind processes information. It is a lot like the way computers process information when searching. Certain signals, actions, images or sounds processed by the brain set off alarm bells that make us take notice of things. This is how we pick people out in a crowd or overhear odd conversations in a room full of people.

No matter how we think as individuals this system remains active for everyone and works on the basis of what is different is a threat or to be feared. This is why being a Grey Man in a place full of people that look just like or act just like you is a major advantage.

Many sources of information would state that the Grey Man never speaks out or puts himself in the center of attention. However, in many cases speaking out or getting in the spot light every now and again is what makes people seem normal. Keeping too much to yourself and being too quite can often signal that something is wrong to others alerting them to your presents.

Being Grey on Color TV

As a survivalist and prepper living in a foreign country I can put weight behind the point of how hard it can be to simply blend in. This has given birth to a whole new way of thinking about the Grey Man. Trying to blend in when you obviously stick out will only bring more attention to yourself. So, how do you hide the wolf amongst the sheep? Not by trying to be a sheep, but by being something different to either one.

In Japan for example, there are a lot of preconceptions about foreign people’s. By adopting some of these it will aid in your acceptance and in time blending into the public. If the preconception is that you are loud, be loud. Work with these preconceptions and once you are not perceived as a threat, move to fade away into the backdrop.

This idea of conforming to people’s ideas about you also works for creating your own. Many would agree at by wearing tactical clothing draws attention and gives people the idea that you may have something of value in a SHTF situation. However if you have already created the misconception that you do not but wear such clothing as for example fashion or a work functional preference then people in your area are less likely to approach you or question your reasons. For example, if you do a lot of sport, wearing something a little more tactical or survival based would not raise an eyebrow.


This can also work in an offensive way as well as defensive. By appearing as an outsider and not one of the group, people will be less willing to confront you for fear of the unknown. Especially if you are in a physical situation and employ the right body language.

While this is all well and good for people that you know, strangers will still perceive you as different or a threat. Creating a balance of openness and concealment is important and will take time.

What shade of grey are you?

So how do we find out what people thing is grey and what is not? While a lot of preppers keep very much to themselves, some of us have a few friends and contacts that can help lend a hand in his regard.

A good technique for training your mind to pick out and mimic greyness in any given area is to look for it. Find a spot where you can sit relatively unnoticed, like a coffee shop window, which a good view of passers by. With each passing person try to find something to ridicule or mock. This, while not particularly nice is an effective way of finding something noticeable about a person that could be taken note of. When you find a person you can’t find anything to make fun of, you have found a truly grey individual.

Greyness is in the Eye of the Beholder

All of the ideas and view points discussed in this article have merit and are effective in their own way. However, the main point discovered by looking at all of this things and the additional element of living abroad highlight a key flaw in the current way of thinking when it comes to the Grey Man theory. You are only grey if everyone else things you are. By taking the culture, people and their preconceptions of you into account you can create a real camouflage for yourself beyond just clothing and body language.

  What is the Grey Man Theory? There are many different ideas, rules and trains of thought about the Grey Man theory. Some would view it as a way of life, others