I must admit that I’m not the most sociable person in the world. I’m not one to walk up and start a conversation, especially with strangers. Nor am I one that relishes people coming up to me and starting a conversation, although I can be sociable when that happens. But, usually it’s not a long conversation. When I’m walking around the ‘big city,’ I’m going somewhere to do something, and ‘sitting around on a park bench chatting with the locals’ is not my thing. Nor do I stand out in a crowd… other than my altitude. I don’t dress to be seen. I don’t act to be noticed. I don’t intentionally draw attention to myself. It’s not that I have anything against being visible. I just would rather ‘be in the background.’ Call it leftovers from living a life of being in the shadows.
A lot of this comes out in me when I’m working ‘in the field.’ I’m out there for a purpose… generally, treasure hunting, metal detecting, or prospecting for gold. When I’m concentrating on my activities, I don’t want to be approached, especially if I’m wearing headphones (listening to the almost imperceptible changes in tone of my metal detector) or working around or under water for gold. I’m not paranoid, but in my experience, not everyone is friendly and with good intentions. I’m leery of people I don’t know who approach me in the middle of nowhere, especially if I’m looking for or digging up valuables and some stranger walks up wanting to know what I’m doing. It’s not that I’m trying to hide either. If I were, I’d go into complete “stealth mode” (A whole other subject). So, when I’m “out and about,” I dress for success… my kind of success.
I cannot tell you how many times I go out into the woods only to see streams of people walking the trails dressed like they were trying to be spotted from space. Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong in wearing neon colors, if that’s your thing. If communicating [some kind of] a fashion statement is part of your enjoyment in getting out into the wilderness, by all means do it. As a treasure hunter, doing so has some inherent risks… especially if you’re successful or perceived to be successful in your hunt.
When I look for clothing and equipment for my treasure hunting (in all its forms) activities, I have a couple of basic criteria. First, it must be functional for what’s needed. Second, it must be “earth-toned,” or at a minimum, “not-flashy.” I won’t even consider bright reds, blues, yellows, oranges, lime-greens, whatever. I choose to blend in. Camouflage is great. I have a lot of camouflage “stuff.” But, camo is not mandatory. Dark blue… OK. Dark orange (like an autumn “burnt orange”) – OK. If I’m going to wear it, carry it, or use it, I want it to NOT draw attention… to it or me.
One of the easiest things to spot is a bright non-natural color against a naturally colored background. Fortunately, there is a large selection of good quality garments and equipment that manufacturers make in earth-tones… many of which also come in bright colors (if you choose to do so). Fleece for warmth, Gortex for rain proof, 400 Denier nylon for durability. All of them come in “subdued” colors. There are other technologies for modern fabrics besides these three, many of which are good. But, whatever it is, I choose ‘subdued.” I recommend you do the same.
Now for one piece of contrary advice. Always… and I mean always… carry something that is blaze orange, signal red, or at least “very bright.” Why? If you get hurt. If you get lost. If you are marking a location for aircraft or rescue parties, you need to have something that they can easily spot. Keep it handy in the bottom of your rucksack, or carry a cut down version in your cargo pocket or a pouch on your canteen belt/knapsack. But, carry one.
The primary intent of getting out ‘in the woods” while treasure hunting is to have a great time. If part of that ‘great time’ is attracting people so you can interact and do some public education while working, by all means “Dress for Success.” If, however, you would rather not have crowds around watching you detect, dig, sluice, and find coins, jewelry, and gold, then I recommend my kind of “Dressing for Success.” So, here’s to seeing you (or not) out on your next treasure hunting adventure!