How to Blend In, and How It Can Save Your Ass

May 29, 2014 by | 5 Comments

Unless you’re competing on American Idol, and I pray that you aren’t, blending in with the crowd is nearly always a better option than standing out.

The guy who blends in is less likely to be the target of a psychopath on a killing spree, a meth addict looking for someone to rob, or even that annoying MLM rep we all seem to run into at the coffee shop. By not making yourself an immediate target, you buy precious time to escape a bad situation. But blending doesn’t mean hiding in the back of the room tucked into a corner.

To blend in effectively, you need to be aware of your environment and the people in it, and do your best to mimic them. For example, while you might blend in quite well in a suit and tie at an office building, you would stand out in the same clothing on a football field. You’ll want to ensure that your clothing, activity, and mannerisms help you to virtually disappear rather than draw attention to yourself.

Clothing

Dress appropriately based on your environment, activity, and the people around you. A common mistake I see here in Florida is when folks wear a vest or jacket to conceal a handgun. Unless you are fly fishing, a vest is an obvious signal that you’re carrying a handgun, and except for a very short part of the year, a jacket is unnecessary and through the rest of the year, it’s uncomfortable.

vest

Try to dress as you anticipate others will, and avoid unnecessary accessories or items of clothing that could draw attention, such as:

  • Photographer, fishing or tactical vests
  • Clothing with political sexual messages
  • Clothing or accessories that could identify you as a member of the military or veteran
  • Bright and/or eccentric clothing and accessories
  • Expensive clothing

Instead, wear clothing that is:

  • Comfortable and durable
  • Subtle (Muted colors, no graphics, etc.)
  • Capable of concealing your weapon
  • Helps conceal distinct features (Long sleeves to cover tattoos, a hat to shield your face, etc.)

Body language

You should carry yourself with confidence, but don’t be overly outgoing or introverted because that will draw unwanted attention.

If someone speaks to you, by all means, be polite and respond appropriately. Ignoring people who try to communicate with you will make you appear suspicious, which is counterproductive to blending in.

Confidence also makes you a less appealing target to criminals looking for an easy target.

You can project confidence by:

  • Maintaining proper posture
  • Returning eye contact (Avoiding eye contact will make it appear as though you’re hiding something.)
  • Moving with a purpose; calmly and deliberately
  • Smiling when appropriate
  • Speaking clearly and authoritatively
  • Not fidgeting, appearing nervous, or rapidly looking around

On a related note, you can reduce interactions with others, which reduces the chance of being noticed/remembered, by looking busy. With the prevalence of smart phones today that is easy, but a magazine, book, or newspaper will suffice.

Positioning

Where you sit or stand in any environment has a huge impact on whether your blend in or stand out. For example, people sitting in a corner of a coffee shop might stand out a bit more because they are off on their own, while people sitting around others usually blend in a little more. The same applies to people standing on the outer edges of a crowd. I usually try to strike a balance between blending in and maintaining situational awareness by sitting close enough to others to appear somewhat homogenous with the crowd while still close to a quick and easy exit.

Movement

This is the simplest one…avoid the edges and move with the crowd. If you want to see this in action, turn on NatGeo and watch lions hunt gazelle—they always snatch the animals from the edge of the herd. Or The Thomas Crown Affair.

Melanie Swick (a.k.a. Survival Chick) grew up wanting to be a rocket scientist, but when she realized she that required way too much math, she took to her second dream—spending time in the wilderness. Today, when she's not hiking, camping, or hunting, she's blogging about it. You can connect with Melanie on Facebook.

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5 Comments

  • MorisB says:

    Many people anymore carry daypacks, obviously a benefit to preppers for use as an emergency GHB. But most of the daypacks I’ve seen being worn appear half-full. My frustration is that I fill it so full it stands out in that crowd the article warns me about. What’s the words? Self discipline?

    • Jeremy Knauff says:

      The first thing that comes to mind, while not convenient, is to carry a brief case and a backpack. That’s what I do. Then you can divide your gear between the two so you don’t look like you’re heading out on an excursion—thus, drawing no attention.

      If you live near a large city, visit downtown early in the morning and you’ll see a lot of people headed to work exactly like that.

      In the event of an emergency you can simply dump everything into your pack for easier carrying and get to a safe place.

  • woody188 says:

    Wanted to add, at a sporting event one should wear the apparel of the home team. Or at a university wear the colors/logos of the university and everyone will automatically assume you are a student. Long t-shirts can work OK for a belt holstered inside the pant firearm. I use a leg holster for those times where I can’t use the belt or shoulder holster. It isn’t as comfortable or quick but I still have my carry and no one is the wiser.

  • Ackenda says:

    I’ve been concerned about this for myself for many years. I’m 6’8″. It’s very challenging to imagine blending in.

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