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#292584 - 06/26/19 06:19 PM "survival colors"
Mollerstrom Offline

Registered: 06/09/19
Posts: 1
Loc: --
Hi folks!

I'm wondering if there is some report/article that, in some depth, looks into the "colors of survival":
Why orange as the international rescue color? And pink in some of the VS17-panels?


PS. I think I read something 10-15 years ago, but my "archive" is lost on some drive.... DS

#292586 - 06/26/19 09:00 PM Re: "survival colors" [Re: Mollerstrom]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7149
Loc: southern Cal
Here is some info via wikipedia:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_orange

I didn't realize there were different shades of IO. From SAR experience, I can assert that the color you are wearing has a definite bearing on whether others can notice (and assist) you. Our unit preferred that rescuers wear a IO shirt when in the field on ops.
Geezer in Chief

#292588 - 06/26/19 10:21 PM Re: "survival colors" [Re: hikermor]
Russ Offline

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5264
Interesting that International Orange (IO) is distinct from Safety orange.

Another good color and my preference for no particular reason is Safety Yellow.

#292589 - 06/27/19 01:03 AM Re: "survival colors" [Re: Mollerstrom]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2792
Loc: Alberta, Canada
I suppose it's all about contrast in different light conditions. But are we talking about visibility from the air, or visibility on the ground?

You don't see a lot of orange/pink fire trucks. But yellow seems to be more common than red. Yellow trucks stick out in the dark. Must be some science behind that.

The cops on foot, plucking speeders out of multi-lane traffic are in yellow jackets. They stick out like a sore thumb. They also have a lot more guts than I do. Yikes.

And then there's a totally different angle: consider the colours that will get you "found" on the ground when SAR is looking for you, and you are immobile.

The blaze orange and neon yellow still stick out, even in fall leaves. But they also make your fellow hikers' eyeballs bleed, and offend the aesthetic of the landscape, so nobody wears that stuff. But I find that anything in a light-to-medium blue, on the ground, catches my eye instantly. A knife or axe with a blue splotch of paint is instantly found; so is a fragment of those horrible blue plastic tarps. It's totally out of place.

This has me rethinking my blend-into-the-landscape solo walking gear.

#292590 - 06/27/19 01:15 AM Re: "survival colors" [Re: Mollerstrom]
gonewiththewind Offline

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1517
It is all about being visible. Orange is an unusual natural color, except in the fall, and is visible in most situations. The pink you refer to on VS-17 panels is also visible, but allows for a contrasting color for signaling, manipulating the panel to indicate certain things. A good vibrant blue is also very good, except in the water. Know your situation and environment and use the appropriate colors.

#292591 - 06/27/19 02:17 AM Re: "survival colors" [Re: Mollerstrom]
Phaedrus Offline

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2468
Loc: Big Sky Country
Blue is pretty good on land. It's extremely rare in nature aside from water.
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

#292592 - 06/27/19 02:23 AM Re: "survival colors" [Re: dougwalkabout]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7149
Loc: southern Cal
Dougwalkabout makes a point about orange being offensive to fellow hikers, to whom I am tempted to say,"Tough luck."

A more reasonable approach is to be sure to have some items of highly visible color available for display and signaling. One of the best items I ever had was a reversible down jacket - dark green on one side and IO on the reverse.

Red is one of my favorite colors, but it is not favored because in low light conditions, it fades to black quite readily.

It is not just clothing Think about the color of your tent or vehicle when you are trying to find them in dar, stormy conditions.
Geezer in Chief

#292593 - 06/27/19 02:42 AM Re: "survival colors" [Re: Mollerstrom]
yelp Offline

Registered: 06/04/08
Posts: 172
Loc: Colorado
"Getting an Aircraft’s Attention in the Wilderness" recommends basic blue and gives photographic evidence:


While "Can Anybody See Me - Signalling for Dive Operations" recommends yellow for on the water:


I personally favor fluorescent pink for terrestrial applications, such as flagging a tree, in most environments.

The common denominator in all of the above is contrast.
(posting this as someone that has unintentionally done a bunch of stupid stuff in the past and will again...)

#292594 - 06/27/19 12:29 PM Re: "survival colors" [Re: Mollerstrom]
gonewiththewind Offline

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1517
If you want to get someone's attention in any environment think color, contrast and movement.

#292599 - 06/28/19 05:51 PM Re: "survival colors" [Re: Mollerstrom]
chaosmagnet Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3264
Loc: USA
And don’t be afraid to make some noise. A whistle is lightweight, easily recognizable as a distress signal, and will last much longer than your voice.


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