Best survival clothing material – Top Choices Examined

So, you have decided to go on a hike and explore nature. But you have absolutely no idea what to wear. This article answers this very question. After reading this article, you will be able to figure out what to wear on your next hike! In this article, we will explore different clothing materials in order to find out the best survival clothing material. 

So, let’s get started.

Best survival clothing material

The best survival clothing material is wool and here is why. Wool is an excellent material for survival clothing because of its natural insulation abilities. A wool garment will keep you warm even when wet and will maintain breathability in heat. As a result, it can be worn in almost any condition without issue.

How to judge a clothing material?

Before we move on to examining different clothing materials in terms of their ability to assist you in a survival situation, let’s take a moment to discuss some of the factors that you should consider when shopping for survival clothing.

1. Water-resistance

If you are looking for clothing that will assist you in a survival situation, then it is important to look for clothing that is designed to protect itself from water. Why? The answer is simple! When outdoors, there are many different elements that can cause water damage. For example, rain, storm, and snow can all contribute to the deteriorating condition of your clothing. Therefore, in order to protect yourself from these elements, it is very important that you find clothing that is specifically designed to protect itself from water.

2. Heat insulation

Another very important aspect of survival clothing material is the ability to keep one warm. A layer of air next to the body helps insulate you from cold weather.  Insulation is the ability to slow down the escape of heat (during cold weather) or the entry of heat (during hot weather). 

3. Breathability

Although breathability is not as important for clothing designed to protect from water, it is still vital for all other types of survival clothing material. Breathable materials allow your skin to breathe so that sweat does not build up and cause discomfort.

4. Lightweight

When it comes to clothing for outdoor activities, lightweight is definitely the way to go. The more you have with you on your hike, the harder it will be! Therefore, if you can find a lightweight survival clothing material that also offers all of the other qualities mentioned above, then this is an excellent choice for your next hiking trip.

5. Durability

Your survival clothing should be durable! If it is durable, then this will mean that you can use the same pair of pants for years! In addition, durable clothing can withstand mountainous terrain and other harsh environments.

6. Cost-Effective

If you are looking for the best survival clothing material, then be sure that it falls into your budget! Although price shouldn’t matter when it comes to comfort and safety, unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. Therefore, be sure that the chosen pair of pants fits within your set budget! 

7. Easy to wash

Last but not least, your survival clothing should be easy to wash and take care of.  This means that if you have to wash your clothes during your camping trip, then it can be very easy. You should also be able to clean your pants with the available resources in the wilderness.

Now that we have talked about some of the most important factors in selecting a good pair of pants for survival use let’s move on to examining different types of fabrics so that you can know which one is best for your needs.

Different types of clothing materials

The most fundamental division in fabrics is between natural and synthetic fibers. Natural fibers are an important part of the fabric world. This is because they offer so many benefits. For example, natural fabrics tend to be more durable than their synthetic counterparts and best for items that will see lots of wear. However, this doesn’t mean that synthetic fibers are not valuable. Even though they lack some of the benefits of natural fibers, synthetic fabrics have the benefit of being more affordable. 

When it comes to strength-to-weight ratio, durability, cost-effectiveness, and abrasion resistance, synthetic materials will shine bright. However, its main enemy is fire. Not just that, but these materials are also difficult to repair.

On the other hand, natural fabrics are not only durable but can also be repaired with ease. Best of all, natural fabrics tend to look more luxurious and aesthetically pleasing than synthetic fabrics do.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the fabrics.

1. Cotton

A very popular option for clothing is cotton.  Best for warm weather, cotton is breathable and doesn’t make you too hot. Best of all, it’s relatively affordable! However, when it comes to survival clothing, cotton may not be the best option out there. This is because cotton is flammable and very absorbent.  Best for hot weather, cotton is a poor insulator and does not have good wind resistance.

2. Wool

Wool is an excellent choice for survival clothing material because it has great insulation properties and can be easily made into yarns that are very durable. Best of all, wool will allow your skin to breathe and doesn’t hold onto moisture as other materials do.  However, there are some downsides to using wool as your fabric of choice! For example, it tends to be bulky and difficult to wash and dry (if done improperly) without creating mildew. Apart from this, you should also keep in mind that wool is best for cold weather. It should only be worn if the temperature around you falls below around 50 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Celsius. Although wool is a great survival material, it is best to use it as an outer layer instead of the only layer.

3. Nylon

Another great choice for survival clothing material is nylon. Best of all, it’s available in different forms, including thread or yarns. Best known as an affordable option that has good water resistance and durability, nylon comes with the added benefit of being lightweight. These are the reasons why military clothes are mostly made with nylon. However, the problem with nylon is that it is very stiff, which makes it uncomfortable to wear. Not just that, but it is also very hard to repair, and it melts when heated.

4. Polyester

If you are on a budget and want affordable clothing material, then polyester is the way to go. Best of all, even if it’s from a thrift store, polyester clothing will hold up very well in a survival situation. Although this polymer fiber is best known for its ability to resist wrinkles and retain color, this polymer fiber is extremely durable and dries quickly after being soaked in water. Best of all, it retains warmth even when wet – which means that your clothes will keep you warm even while it’s raining outside! 

However, there are also downsides to using synthetic fabrics such as polyester. For example, they can be flammable.  

Fabrics to avoid when shopping for survival clothing material

1. Silk

This fiber is soft and smooth, with a luxurious appearance. Best of all, it’s also very comfortable when worn!  However, silk isn’t the best option for survival clothing material because it tears easily when rubbed against something else. Not just that, but this fabric has poor resistance to water and will absorb moisture if exposed to rain or snow. Best in warm weather, silk is best used as an inner layer instead of the only layer. 

2. Cotton Blends

Although cotton is an excellent clothing material for both winter and cold weather, it is not an ideal survival clothing material. It is not water-resistant, and it is very flammable. For this reason, cotton should be used in layers and never as the only layer. Best for hot weather, if you plan on using it in the winter or cold months, blend it with another fabric such as wool.

3. Cellulose fibers

Modal, Rayon, Viscose, Tencel, and Lyocell are some of the most popular synthetic fabrics derived from cellulose fiber. However, when wet, they absorb more water than cotton does and lose all of their insulating value. This is why these materials are not the best choice when it comes to survival clothing material. 

4. Stretchy Fabrics

These fabrics are used in yoga or gymnastics clothing because they give your body extra flexibility when moving around. Best known for their elasticity, stretchy fabrics are also thin and lightweight. The problem with these fabrics is that they cannot withstand extreme temperatures. 

How to shop for your survival clothing?

You’ll want to choose your layers based on the temperature and season. However, as a rule of thumb, the layer closest to your body should be more porous and breathable, and as you gradually move away from your body, the layer should get more waterproof. 

Let’s divide your survival clothing into three layers:

1. Closest layer to your body

2. Middle layer

3. Outer layer

The Closest layer to your body should be made of a clothing material that is breathable and comfortable to wear. If you are thinking about wearing a cotton t-shirt, then think again. This is because when wet, cotton holds onto moisture and compromises your body heat. Best of all, the next layer will absorb moisture from this layer and traps it against your skin. So you should choose a clothing material that is both water-resistant and breathable. An ideal option would be a blend of wool and polyester.

The Middle Layer should consist of a pattern that both resists water and prevents the wetness from your first layer from reaching your body. Fleece or nylon are some of the most popular options because they are excellent insulators. Best of all, it’s also very comfortable to wear.

The Outer Layer should be tough and protect you from the wind while keeping you dry at the same time.  The best materials to choose from are wool, polyester, or nylon. 

What is the best survival clothing material for pants?

A pant that serves the purpose of survival clothing must be durable, water-resistant,  and tough. Best of all, it must also keep you warm and comfortable when worn. Keep in mind that even if you wear thicker pants, cold air can still pass right through the fabric and reach your skin, so the only option is to choose a pant with at least two layers: an inner layer and an outer layer.

For the inner layer, wool is the best material to use thanks to its ability to insulate when dry and wick moisture away from your body when wet. 

The Outer Layer should be made up of either nylon or polyester-based fiber because they are both excellent protectors against wind and rain while being resistant against abrasion, tearing, puncturing, ripping, shredding, etc. 

Is polyester good for survival?

Although polyester is not the best survival clothing material out there, it definitely offers a lot of benefits that make it a great option for survival clothing. It is durable, water-resistant, and most importantly, it is affordable. Best of all, polyester clothes are comfortable to wear and easy to clean. 

How do people dress in the wilderness?

People who choose to go into the wild usually opt for layers. Layering also helps you stay dry when it’s raining and prevent yourself from getting too hot under the sun.  

How do I survive in extreme weather conditions?

Extreme weather conditions are unpredictable, so your survival clothing should act as an armor that protects you against both wind and rain. Layering is also important because it can offer extra warmth, but make sure to layer your clothes properly this time around. 

What kind of clothing material is best for camouflage?

Hunters who do not want to attract much attention usually choose survival clothing materials with a camouflage pattern. The best clothing materials to pick from are probably wool, polyester, or nylon.

What type of fabric is best in the desert?

The Best option in a Desert would definitely have to be one that can keep you cool during hot days but still wick moisture away from your body. Best of all, it must also be comfortable to wear and durable. Therefore, the best choice would be a breathable fabric blend with a high percentage of polyester.

What clothes should I look for in snowy conditions?

In order to keep you warm during snowfall, choose a good insulator that is capable of trapping air against your skin. Best of all, it has to be both water-resistant and quick-drying as well. The best options are fleece or wool. 

Tips for survival clothing in winters

If you are going for a camping trip during winter, then you should know that the best fabric to wear in winter is wool because it has the ability to hold warm air next to your body, much like how a vacuum cleaner works. Wool also wicks moisture away from your skin once wet, making it ideal for survival clothing. 

You might be tempted to wear a lot of layers when heading out in a cold environment. But it is recommended not to wear all the layers at once. You might feel a bit chilly at first, but your body will adjust. Instead, keep the outermost layer with you and only wear it when the temperature drops further. 

Tips for survival clothing in summers

Summer is the opposite of winter, so you need clothes that wick away moisture rather than hold it against your skin, like how wool works in the winter. If you think cotton is a good option, then think again because cotton traps moisture next to your skin which could lead to discomfort and serious health problems.

The trick in hot weather is to shade yourself from the sun while allowing air circulation near your skin. In addition, clothing can help keep you cool by reflecting sunlight and promoting cooling effects. 

A hat, bandana, or shemagh will help you to protect your head from the sun. Cotton is a good option. However, you just keep it dry. It is also important to wear something loose. Loose clothing allows for better circulation of air near the skin. Apart from this, you must choose light colors because dark colors absorb heat. Keep a good pair of sunglasses close by because the sun reflects off surfaces, and it is always better to protect yourself from UV rays. 


When it comes to shopping for survival clothing, you cannot ignore wool. Wool is probably the best survival clothing material out there.  

If you are planning on going camping or hunting, make sure to divide your clothes into layers. But most importantly, make sure that a major share of your survival clothing consists of wool. After all, wool has the best insulation properties, and it is also water-resistant. 


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