The “gray man” creates, nourishes, and maintains a polytropic (able to take many courses of action, adaptable) personality. This personality responds to external stimuli as necessary in the pursuit of a single goal: moving undetected. Likewise, the gray man survives worst-case scenarios by trusting his mindset, attitude, and skills. This mindset helps the gray man in his pursuit of going off-grid for undetected movement in any environment.
Going Off-Grid with the Gray Man Mindset
Becoming a gray man is far from being an enigmatic concept that is beyond the reach of most. It actually has a lot to do with personal improvement. The following 32 gray man skills can help you blend into and move through your surroundings effectively.
The basic motivation for possessing these skills is crystal clear—no one wants to be an easy target in a SHTF scenario. Therefore, it is important to understand that you can attract attention for several reasons. These include how you dress, how you talk, how you act (gestures, smiles, etc.), and how you express your emotions.
To transform into a gray man, you need to first analyze your outward appearance and actions. Then, work to reduce any personal characteristics that draw attention to you. In fact, even the smallest physical or behavioral details can cause you to look like a potential victim to predators.
Making a list of what you should work on in this regard is the ideal starting point. (It could be something as small as smiling too much.) In fact, awareness of your body language is the first essential skill for any prepper who desires to blend in with the crowd.
And in order to blend in, there are many considerations, along with understanding how they inevitably influence each other.
Everything starts from the mind and its strategic power. In order to learn and master the skills necessary to turn yourself into a gray man, you need to approach your everyday life differently. Likewise, you need to recognize potential threats in the world around you.
Self-analysis and thoughtful self-criticism should guide you in this pursuit. Likewise, it is important to be rational, determined, and have a strong will to survive.
Your attitude will always affect how you respond to threats, concerns, panic, and fear. Without a proper attitude, we cannot achieve our goals or effectively learn and fully master new skills.
An aware and trained mind paired with a proper attitude is what triggers specific behaviors. Learning how to purposefully control your body language and how to control or conceal your emotions will allow you to progress toward becoming a gray man.
Real life requires real skills. Being able to accomplish what you must with the tools you have is the essence of self-reliance. This is true whether your environment is urban, rural, or fully off-grid. Again, the quality and breadth of your abilities will enable you to either be 100% independent or fall short in a bug-out situation.
Knowledge weighs nothing that’s for sure. However, proper gear, despite its weight, also helps! The best thing to do is go out into the field and examine/evaluate your equipment. Specifically by testing it on different types of terrain in different weather conditions and so on.
An awareness of every possible use of your gear is essential. For example, a “shemagh” is a large scarf that can be used for, among other things, gathering berries, filtering large debris from water, and protecting yourself from the elements.
6. Urban Scenario Gray Man Skills: Camouflage In An Urban Environment
Wearing attire that doesn’t “stick out” and allows you to appear to be a member of the local populace is a crucial skill that requires forethought and much self-awareness. This type of “material” camouflage involves wearing clothes that allow you to go unnoticed and blend into the crowd. However, proper selection also enables you to run, jump, or climb if the need arises.
Behavioral awareness involves controlling your body language and gestures so that you don’t appear to be an outsider. If you want to become gray, you need to dress and behave in a gray way.
7. Reading the Environment
This implies four subcategories, the first of which is man and animal tracking. Tracking is an essential skill every survivalist should know. Most people are more familiar with the idea of tracking in a rural landscape.
However, the ability to read tracks in an urban environment, although sounding tricky, is not impossible. In fact, signs of passage can be detected anywhere. This includes public parks with soft ground, oil stains at gas stations, or any object that was left behind on a street or sidewalk. (Think: a particular brand of cigarette butt known to be smoked by a targeted individual.)
Furthermore, reading signs can help you avoid potentially dangerous situations. Not to mention, tracks can tell you a lot about those who made them.
Next, cyber-tracking involves “reading” digital environments and is indispensable in this day and age. The skills required to use computers to extract and extrapolate data is a cutting-edge skill for any gray man. Correspondingly, a person’s digital footprints are often the most revealing.
Sensory awareness is another necessary aspect of assessing an environment. Good nostrils and sensitive ears can really make a difference in detecting possible threats or opportunities. For this reason, avoid wearing earmuffs or anything else that might block acoustic signs.
The ability to gain useful information from smells can also be quite valuable. Burnt plastic, for example, has a strong and distinctive smell and could be the result of a fire that should be avoided.
8. Profiling Potential Threats
Profiling people is a final means of reading an environment. Not only can it help you to interpret what you see in people, but it helps differentiate reliable individuals from liars or people who just want to take advantage of you and your resources.
Creating or becoming a part of a solid and trustworthy community is important in a bug-out scenario. For this reason, knowing how to profile those around you, especially strangers, is a top-notch gray man skill.
9. First-Aid Fundamentals
Medical aid is often an underrated skillset. However, it is also one that can save your life or the lives of others. Professional training is essential for this to be fully effective. And wilderness first aid is especially important where first responders are nonexistent, or rescue is hours or even days away.
10. Gray Man Skills: Beyond Urban to Off-Grid
When leaving urban environments to go off–grid, a gray man should know land navigation and how to read topography. Likewise, you should know how to do risk analysis relevant to the threats posed by nature and the people who may be found there.
An off-grid gray man should possess knowledge of any territory he inhabits. For example, how it may be accessed, its exits, its resources, and so on. In addition to this, skilled risk analysis allows the gray man to understand which routes are safest to take.
Likewise, survival skills are absolutely necessary to survive once you go off-grid. Being able to stay alive in such a context includes knowing how to:
- Navigate land
- Tie knots
- Collect tinder and start a fire
- Build an improvised shelter in a safe place
- Collect and purify water
- Hunt/skin animals, process meat, and preserve meat and food in general
- Carve wood to make tools
- Model clay and birch bark to make containers for multiple uses
- Make primitive weapons
- Gather herbs and berries
- Sew and, generally speaking, fix everything related to your clothes and gear
- Read human, animal, and vehicle tracks
- Eliminate or minimize your presence in a given area (“anti-tracking”)
- Create improvised explosive devices
- Handle and use both firearms and bladed or other handheld weapons
- Use and fix comms and radios
- Skillfully drive and repair vehicles
- Be proficient at remote medicine and wilderness first-aid fundamentals
This is only a general list; the territory and circumstances you find yourself in may require additional skills. Understanding what you need is only possible after methodically scouting the area you are in. This allows you to identify the resources you can take advantage of without exploiting them.
How To Learn Gray Man Skills
Attending different kinds of classes (for example, survival skills, man-tracking, herbal seminars, profiling workshops, etc.) can offer you a solid starting point. Receiving instruction from true professionals and experts helps you to learn in a systematic way. Likewise, it aids in understanding and correcting your mistakes and acquiring the correct approaches to problem-solving and working in groups.
Your next step is to create a personal plan to develop your training and provide you with a daily routine. Likewise, refresh your wilderness survival skills whenever you have the chance to go out. Even better, share them with the rest of your family.
Gaining these skills will help you not only face any emergency situation but also to detect and consequently avoid threats before they emerge. Some skills, like tracking, profiling, and risk analysis, can be clustered into the category of “prevention.”
The remaining ones may be considered a second category, which we can label as those pertaining to “execution.”
Be sure to realize that knowledge alone is not enough. Confidence in your skills and the ability to survive requires attitude, strong will, determination, and lots of patience and practice.
Starting today toward becoming a gray man is an honorable thing. It is a matter of respect for yourself and your loved ones.
Remember, facta, non verba! (Deeds, not words!)
This article was originally published in the Skillset Fall 2021 issue. Purchase this issue in print or digital at OutdoorGroupStore.com.