Gray man theory is all about not sticking out. Do you hate sticking out like a sore thumb? Have you always wanted to blend in but didn’t know how? As it turns out, you can turn shyness into a skill—in fact, blending in could save your life.
Wild animals in nature use camouflage all the time to avoid threats and survive. We humans can also do that by employing the gray man theory.
Keep reading to learn about the gray man theory, and learn gray man tactics you can employ to incorporate the art of blending in into your survival skills repertoire.
The gray man theory comes from military culture. In military training, the gray man is a candidate that does not stand out amongst his peers. They may not win events or have superior fitness, but they never fail. They are a candidate that consistently meets the standards. As a result, they do not stand out negatively to their instructors and are well-regarded by their peers.
The gray man theory is a concept adopted by preppers to discuss how to blend in with any environment or situation, specifically stressful emergency scenarios, such as riots in the aftermath of natural disasters or other acts of civil disobedience.
Due to the concept’s origins in military culture, it is common to think that only a man can act like a gray man. However, it is essential to note that a gray man does not have to be a man. Women can also employ gray man tactics to remain undetected in emergencies.
To sum things up, in an ideal situation, a gray man (or woman) is an overlooked, forgotten, or utterly unnoticed person.
Acting like a gray man during different emergency scenarios has many benefits.
Believe it or not, most of us instinctually already have what it takes to be a gray man. For example, in the past, you’ve probably employed gray man tactics to avoid someone in public.
In addition, you’ve probably been a gray man without intentionally trying. Think about running errands around town and behaving like one of the locals (because you are) or dressing up for a sports event to blend in with the crowd and show support for your team.
The first step to becoming a gray man is dressing the part. How you dress is vital to blending into whatever scenario life may throw at you.
Blending in is easier than you think, especially if you need to be a gray man in your hometown community. Chances are, you already dress pretty similarly to the local aesthetic—it’s only human to want to fit in.
However, there may be a scenario where you are caught far from home and must blend in. In this case, it will be essential to take stock of the situation and adjust your appearance to blend in.
This doesn’t mean you have to literally wear all gray. But it may require you to ditch a piece of colorful clothing, change your footwear, or stop at a convenience store for a new outer layer.
When dressing like a gray man, it’s crucial to avoid logos and emblems. Artistic logos, symbols, and phrases on our clothing invite people to look more closely or to read what your clothing says.
In trying to decipher what brand you are wearing or what your hoodie says, they notice more about you, and you fail to blend in as you walk past them.
A gray man does not wear flashy jewelry like rings, bracelets, watches, earrings, or necklaces. In a pre-disaster context, jewelry is entirely ordinary. However, in an SHTF scenario, jewelry may attract unwanted attention.
A gray man does not display their preparedness for the outside world. Instead, they conceal their equipment in baggy clothing or ordinary-looking containers. For example, use a large-fitting jacket to hide your everyday carry. Or, if you need to transport emergency supplies, do so in an old backpack.
It’s imperative to ensure that your clothing (or gear) does not make noise. For example, avoid squeaky shoes, zippers, and noisy synthetic clothing.
Similarly, if you are transporting gear or emergency equipment, we recommend packing your supplies tightly, so they do not make unwanted noises as you move.
Dressing like a gray man is one thing. However, to complete your concealment, you must also behave like a gray man.
In our culture, making eye contact when talking with someone is often considered normal, if not a sign of respect. In most cases, eye contact welcomes and sustains interaction.
However, you want to avoid as much interaction as possible as a gray man. One way to do that is to avoid eye contact. For example, as you move through a city or crowded mall, try not to look at people or greet them with a nod or smile like you usually would.
Similarly, as a gray man, you must avoid conversation. For example, your friendly neighbor does not need to know where you are off to or what's going on. If someone asks you a question on the street, be polite but refrain from diving into a conversation.
Behaving like a gray man in a populated area where there may be an incoming riot or crowds of people evacuating from a disaster is super important. In these scenarios, a gray man matches their movement to the local scene.
Here are some helpful tips to focus on as you practice moving unnoticed through a crowded area.
Even though parts of being a gray man are instinctual in all of us, practicing your gray man tactics is still essential.
We recommend considering dressing and behaving like a gray man as one of your survival skills—you wouldn’t want to leave it up to chance when SHTF. Instead, you will want to have your gray man tactics dialed in just like your other survival skills, such as building an improvised survival shelter or a fire.
Situational awareness is acute attention to what is occurring around you at any given moment. It is a perception of environmental events or stimuli concerning time and space, understanding their meaning, and predicting their future status.
People-watching is a great way to practice being a gray man, and it’s something you can do regularly without investing too much extra time. For example, as you go shopping at the grocery store or run errands at the mall, ask yourself questions about the people you are observing to absorb the scene.
In addition, take stock of people that draw your attention. Conversely, have a second look at people that you glance over almost without noticing. There is a lot to learn from being more observant in your daily routines.
Being a gray man is not reserved for military personnel and CIA covert operatives. You can be a gray man (or woman) if you take the time to hone your skills and prepare your equipment.
Becoming a gray man is like securing your home—by investing enough time and effort, you can blend into any environment, just like creating a safe space for your family.