Survival Defense: How To Hide In Plain Sight

Most people wrongly believe that it is difficult, if not impossible to hide in plain sight. If you want to avoid detection even when surrounded by other people that may be looking for you, you have to change your way of thinking and learn how to blend into your surroundings.

Once you have mastered how to do this, you can hide in plain sight without family, close friends, or co-workers noticing you.

9 Ways to Make Yourself Invisible With What You Have on Hand

Sometimes individuals have distinctive features that make them stand out in a crowd. It could be a scar, tattoo, or the color of their eyes. The following items can help to make you invisible.


Use a hat to cover hair styles or colors that are not common where you are. If no one is wearing a hat and you are, take it off or wear a scarf instead rather than take a chance of your hair standing out in the crowd.


If you have distinctive colored eyes, wear different colored contacts, sun glasses, or regular clear reading glasses that have fake lens. Once again, the style and design of the glasses should match what is popular in the area so that you do not stand out.

Hide Distinctive Signs

If you have scars or tattoos on your body, wear long sleeve shirts or jackets to hide them. If in an area where almost everyone has tattoos or scars, then don’t try to cover them unless they make you easy to identify.

For example, if you have fairly common tatoo design such as a rose, it will blend easily enough in the crowd. On the other hand, if the tatoo has an uncommon word in it, and people know to look for that word, it might be better to cover up that tattoo rather than take a chance of it being spotted.

Use Makeup

Use makeup to hide scars or a distinctive face, and it is also possible to use makeup to make you look older or younger. Using temporary glued on beards or mustaches can also help to hide your actual facial structure. Remember that this makeup must make the wearer fit into the crowd, not draw attention.

For example, if the people around you don’t wear a lot of cheek color or eyeliner, try to avoid these options. If you are a male, be very careful about how you apply makeup so that it isn’t obvious you are using this particular aide.

Trick Technology

To hide from facial recognition technology, if you are in an area that is covered by video cameras, you must change the basic facial structure of your face. This can be done by puffing out your cheeks or packing your nose with tissue. Try not to over do it, because this will draw attention to you as well.

Fix Your Hair

Wear your hair in the style similar to what others in the area are wearing. If people around you have messy looking hair, don’t make yours look neat and clean. By the same token, if everyone is wearing long hair that is straight and neat, don’t walk around with a permanent or hair that looks messy.


Your clothing must not stand out from other individuals around you. You must know what is considered to be the norm of the group in the area. If you don’t look like them, you will stand out and attract attention. You must dress yourself up or down by adding or removing ties, jackets, or shirts.

Usually, neutral colors will blend in better. Always choose gray over black or white over red because these colors blend better and can be visually harder to follow at a distance.

The Way You Walk

If you must temporarily change your looks to stay invisible in a crowd, you may also have to change your gait. If you are making yourself look older then walk slower and more carefully. Using a small stick as a cane may also help people think you are older or disabled.

You can also add a small coin or stone in your shoe to give you a small limp. When trying to look younger, walk a little faster than normal, but not so fast it draws attention to you. Never ever run unless it is an emergency!


If you must wear jewelry or a watch, make it simple and match what the local people wear. If they don’t wear any jewelry, take all yours off as well.

The Dos and Don’ts of How to Act When Hiding in Plain Sight

Even though you may want to move through an area a quickly as possible, haste can lead to making mistakes that cause you to be easily spotted.

It is better to go through each of the following points so that you don’t overlook anything important:

  1. Observe the area you will be traveling through to see what people are expecting to see in individuals traveling through this area.
  2. You must have a plan to blend in. The look that you decide on must enable you to merge into the crowd you’ll be hiding in.
  3. The plan should cover what colors to wear, what type of accessories to wear, and what type of footwear will match your look and the crowd.
  4. Look like the average individual in this crowd. The more you look like everyone else around you, the harder it will be to spot you as someone different, and therefore worthy of interest.
  5. People will always notice what is out of place. To keep from creating problems or other distractions, follow the crowd in all aspects, otherwise you will become the problem or the distraction that others notice. When walking in a crowd, stay near the center of the group, as this is the most populated area, and therefore makes you the least conspicuous. Never stay long in the center of the group or go near the fringes. If others are moving from one area to another, match their patterns so that it looks like you have the same interests as everyone else assembled.
  6. If you must change direction or cross the the crowd, do it as smoothly as possible. The trick is to mimic what the crowd is doing to better fit in with the movement of the group.
  7. When walking with crowds, you must look, walk, and act like you belong there for the same reason everyone else does. Act like you have a purpose and know where you are going. Fast walking, being skittish, and looking in all directions quickly will make you look suspicious and draw unwanted attention to you.
  8. To keep a low profile, remain silent. If you must talk to someone, use a softer than normal voice that will not travel far. Using your normal voice volume may give you away if it’s different than the locals. If you are traveling overseas it is good to speak the local dialect or use the accent of the region you are living in. Failure to do this will immediately reveal that you are not a member of the crowd. When speaking to other individuals in the crowd, follow the local body language customs. If people are smiling and agreeable, do the same thing. To keep from getting unwanted attention, don’t stay silent or ignore people when they try to talk to you. Keep the answers short and to the point, but still within keeping for the group.
  9. Trying to hide in plain sight it can be a very stressful. You must act and move in a casual manner. All of your body movements should show others that you are not in a hurry or nervous, and that you are one of them.
  10. Avoid eye contact, but don’t go to extremes. Making eye contact is a way two or more people acknowledge each other. You must not look people in the eyes that are close to you. Instead look at the ground 25 to 30 feet ahead of you. Don’t make it obvious that you don’t want to look others in the eye or this will also make you memorable or worthy of suspicion.
  11. Try to obey all laws and city ordinances in the area you are hiding in. Nothing attracts attention like jaywalking or walking on posted park grass. Obey all traffic laws. Monitor all vehicle lights and replace all burned out lights immediately. Be sure driver’s license, license plates, and all other permits are up to date. The last thing you want is the police to notice you or stop you. This is how a lot of “invisible” individuals get caught.
  12. Have a good sense of situation awareness. Be able to look and study a crowd without looking like you are doing so. As you watch the crowd, you may be able to spot individuals that are looking for you. If possible, notice how they stick out, and the response of others around them. Make sure you aren’t duplicating their obvious behaviors and mistakes.
  13.  Even something simple can cause you to become visible when you want to stay hidden. It is to your advantage to practice your own skills, and also observe people in crowds as much as you can. Make note of things people do that make them stand out, and then see if you have the same or similar habits. The more you observe and practice, the easier it will be to stay invisible when you really have to.

How to Hide From Some While Remaining Visible to Others

You need a plan that you can use in case you must escape a situation where you need to hide from someone like an active shooter while being easy to find by the police or others trying to help you. To help you to easily remember the parts of the plan, use the acronym ALICE, which stands for:

  1. A= Alert – notify the authorities and the people around you of the problem.
  2. L= Lock down – Find and secure yourself and others in a location that is to hard for unwanted people to get to.
  3. I= Inform – Keep the authorities informed of the situation and know your surroundings.
  4. C= Counter – If there are no other options, confront or interrupt the attacker.
  5. E= Escape/Evade/Evacuate – do so if you can manage it.

Other important parts of your plan include the following:

Always stay positive

A calm outlook and attitude can help you avoid panic. Try to maintain a positive outlook and maintain clear, logical thinking. Never let go of the belief that you will survive and that an opportunity to reach safety will present itself as long as you are capable of looking for it.

Know the source of the danger

Always be aware of where the danger is coming from and stay away.

Know where the exits are located and where they go to

Get away from the immediate danger and find the nearest exit that can get you away and outside of the danger zone.

Arm yourself

Remember anything can be used as a weapon. Make yourself as dangerous as possible in the event you are forced to defend yourself and others.

Always be prepared to move quickly when necessary to get you and your party to safety.

Use cover

When on the move, always use cover to protect you as you travel from one strong point to another. Never stay in the open longer than is needed.

Don’t travel along walls

Always travel at least six inches away from walls to stay away from ricocheting bullets.

How to Find the Best Position

If you are visiting an area that might be targeted by terrorists or hostage takers, always do the following:

  • Locate as many exits as possible that lead away from the main area of the building.
  • Look for offices, classrooms, or storage rooms that can be barricaded and defended.
  • Make these safe areas very hard to break into. Usually, attackers will skip over areas that are hard to get into and seek easier targets.
  • Locate areas that provide good to excellent cover or concealment.
  • Find and use an area that has good cell phone reception to contact the authorities.
  • Keep track of where security or other personnel may be. If they aren’t already targets of the criminals in the situation, they may still be able to help you.

How to Keep Children Silent

It is extremely important that you stay calm when in a dangerous situation. Don’t be reactive to the situation and you must find ways to keep and stay calm. Remember, children take their cues of behavior from adult’s actions. If you stay calm, so will the children. If you lose control and panic so will they.

To help children to be silent and under control in an emergency, practice and rehearse emergency survival situations. The more everyone practices together, the more you will be able to handle any kind emergency situation. If the children know what to expect, there is less a chance they will cry, scream, or panic.

How to Breath and Reduce Stress Levels

It is important to teach yourself, and children stress reducing techniques that will aid in calming and slow down breathing.

  • Breathing exercise 1- count to 10 slowly, breathing in and exhaling with each number. This teaches you how to slow down your breathing, which can create a sense of calm.
  • Breathing exercise 2- This is a three count exercise. Breath in for a count of three. Hold for a count of three. Exhale for a count of three. Repeat this exercise three times while thinking and focusing on the word relax. This will help to calm your mind.
  • Isometric exercises- squeezing and releasing all the muscles in your body isometrically and simultaneously can make your muscles relax. Do this three times. This will reduce stress levels quickly.
  • Visualization – Close your eyes for one minute while focusing your mind on a calming memory of a favorite place (your happy place). Hold this image to the count of three. This will lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels.

Everyone should know how to hide in plain sight. To do this you must make yourself invisible to all others inside and outside of a group. If mistakes are made they will be noticed quickly by all groups concerned.

If you are in a dangerous situation, blending in with the other individuals in the group can save your life!

Written by

Fred Tyrrell is an Eagle Scout and retired police officer that loves to hunt, fish, hike, and camp with good friends and family. He is also a champion marksman (rifle, pistol, shotgun) and has direct experience with all of the major gun brands and their clones. Fred refers to himself as a "Southern gentleman" - the last of a dying way. He believes a man's word is his bond, and looks forward to teaching others what he has learned over the years. You can send Fred a message at editor [at]

Latest comments
  • Well written, packed with good info – practice – that will make it second nature.
    Make it a game with a small group – one hides in plain sight and the other try to locate them, at the zoo, in a park, on a street.

  • Most survival information relates to surviving in a rural or wooded area. How about some tips on survival in a city or populated area for those who are living in apartments and/or are in some way disabled (ie: elderly) and unable to move from their area. Also more info on food and water storage for persons living in apartments with limited space, and homes without basements or garages, or nor access to storage nearby. I have found very very little on this. Thank you for giving this comment your attention.

  • Good article, but it needs the titles of the photos to be edited. “Armed Patriot Twarths deadly terror plot…” doesn’t contribute to the validity of the article.

  • I always buy reversible two color jackets and carry a spare different type of hat in one pocket.

  • very sadly but not surprisingly, especially today with a pitifully poor American educational system that no longer requires an academic diploma where the human brain has to be used to graduate high school, the word “Twarts” is misspelled in the article! the correct spelling is: “thwarts”!

    • Then again, spill chicken is available in all word processors and in many web pages. I mean spell checking.

  • There is a pair of glasses out now that disguise you from facial recognition.. They are called reflectacles. (yes that is the way scott urban spells it.). I bought the “ghost” pair because they work at night too. As soon as I bought them I took pictures of myself with them on and they truly did reflect light back out to the camera, even in the day. . I found them on kickstarter.

  • Good write up, Fred. This is a good escaping/hiding tactics when you’re caught up in a really tight urban evasion. Hiding through the woods will be easy, but hiding in an urban area usually take a lot of work. I agree with Owen that a practice will make this strategies perfect.