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You Want Me To Carry What!!!??? Part Two

March 19, 2014

Growing up in the Ranger Regiment, it always seemed like Cherries carried everything. As a SAW gunner, between 1200 rounds for the gun, and the rest of my basic load, plus an M-3 Combat Lifesaver’s bag, plus all the munitions and shit we had to pack, it always seemed like we actually carried more shit than would fit on our LBE and in our ruck. The fact is, a lot of the time…that was true.

I have pictures stored away, of doing patrols, with so much shit hanging off me and my ruck that you’d be lucky to figure out where the Ranger stopped and the ruck ended. It got that special sort of retarded that is lovingly referred to as “Army Stupid.”

Then I got to SF. Now, instead of a platoon worth of guys humping a platoon worth of gear, we had a dozen guys carrying a company worth of gear. The 18D’s (SF Medics) would sub-load medical gear into packets that got cross-loaded between team members. The Charlies (Engineers) would do the same with demo gear. The Echoes (Commo) would pass out batteries for the different commo shit they carried. We Bravos, being the heart, soul, and backbone of the team, of course carried all the weight…(except mortar rounds. I always shared out mortar rounds when I had them…and belt-fed ammunition….but other than that heavy shit…being the heart, soul, and backbone of the ODA…everyone supports the Bravo….I carried all the heavy shit…). Before I even went to Selection, I’d read enough stories about SF, from SOG guys in Vietnam, all the way to Desert Storm, with epic tales of ridiculous loads being carried, and I had my experiences in the Ranger Regiment to give me an idea of what I was getting into. Stories of guys with 120 pound rucksacks, PLUS their fighting load, then carrying two five-gallon Jerry cans of water on top of it into the desert. Recon teams running with 20+ magazines, a couple claymores, and then smoke and frag grenades on top it…before they even loaded dry socks and rations into their rucks. The tales are epic, and to an outside sound either superhuman or simply fictional.

They’re not. Ultimately, that is the difference between the SF, LRS, and other UW worlds and anyone else doing a conventional mission (and make no mistake, the Ranger Regiment IS a conventional force unit…or was anyway, from the rebirth of 1/75 in 1974 until at least the late 1990s, with the change of mission-focus. Whether they are conventional light-infantry now or not is arguable, based on mission parameters). When you’re asshole deep in alligators, and your only hope of effective escape is self-extraction, you’d damned well better be able to carry everything your team needs, or you’re going to end up in a really bad spot.

Ultimately, THIS is the difference between the paradigm of conventional force traditional light-infantry and the SF/LRS/UW paradigm, and why the UW paradigm is so important from the prepper standpoint: whether you’re at the 82nd Airborne Division, the 101st Airborne (AASLT), the 25th Infantry Division, or the 1st MarDiv, while you might be on your own for a little while, you KNOW that at some point, SOMEONE is trying to come get your ass and bring you more shit…and they’re not so far away that it is ever going to seem impossible.

Drop an SF ODA 500 miles behind the Iron Curtain, or a SOG team on the wrong side of the Cambodian border, or dump a few ODAs into Afghanistan before any other US forces are even spooled up to go in-country…if shit gets hinky, they KNOW they are on their own, and for the foreseeable future, anything they need, they’d better be carrying with them, have in a pre-established cache location, or be able to beg, steal, or borrow from the local population.

We’re all light-infantry when we’re on the two-way range. Until we get to the range though, there are entirely different mindsets at work.

A lot of people have emailed me privately asking if Mr. FAG’s description of what he carries is legit or not. I can assure you, it is. In fact, as I was writing this article, he emailed me a series of photographs showing his load-out (not including his ruck), to illustrate how he carries it. You’ll find those appended to the end of the article.

In the meantime, to illustrate why I carry my gear the way I do, and to help illuminate why my shit looks so bulky, I’ve done an item-by-item photo inventory of what is on my person as 1st line gear, what’s on my 2nd line fighting load/RACK, and what is in my rucksack, as my BASIC packing list inventory. While this load may be added to, depending on operational parameters and environmental conditions, in my area, this is my MINIMAL packing list for foot-mobile, light-infantry type security patrolling operations.

1st Line Survival Gear

1st Tier Survival Load. This doesn't come off in the field. Period (Yes, I can sleep in my plate carrier...sort of...)

1st Tier Survival Load. This doesn’t come off in the field. Period (Yes, I can sleep in my plate carrier…sort of…)

1) Item number one is my Banshee Plate Carrier from Shellback Tactical. This is a relatively minimalist plate carrier design. It’s got Gamma III+ plates front and back. The only permanent attachment to it is the CAT-T tourniquet holder mounted high on the front, where it sits above my RACK, for easy access with either hand. No matter what else you do with your medical gear/BOK, a minimum of one tourniquet needs to be somewhere that you can get at it with either hand, in a hurry. It should also be readily visible, and the location should be known to everyone on the team, so they can put it on you if needed.


The paint pens and Sharpie marker are tucked into the PALS webbing solely for convenience when teaching. They make it easier to mark targets, and to illustrate concepts when I’m doodling something on the targets, to make a point.



2) Camillus Cutlery version of the Kabar. This is actually out of an Army supply room, the location of which shall remain nameless, lest they decide and try to hit me with a Statement-of-Charges for the cost of it, even at this late date. The kabar, as I’ve mentioned before, is big enough to get most of the shit I need a knife to do done, while also being small enough to not be a pain-in-my-ass. If it had to, I suppose I could stab a fucker in the throat with it. It’s certainly been used for that before (not MY kabar…the design in general). Most importantly, they’re cheap enough that I’m not freaked out by the possibility of breaking it (and yes, I’ve broken kabars before. Generally by greatly exceeding their intended purposes).


3) Safariland drop-leg with a Glock 17. Notice that I’ve greatly modified the drop leg strap, and removed the upper leg strap? If you show up to a class, with the fucking holster dangling around your knee, I’ll let you run it for a little while, to experience the misery, before I show you how to mod it, but I’ll also name you Angelina for the duration of the class.



My leg strap is snug enough to keep the fucking gun from flopping around like a fat chick’s lips at a hot dog stand, but not so tight that it interferes with the circulation in my leg, or my ability to tense the thigh muscles for sprinting and climbing or humping my ruck.



4) DIY leg panel. I’ll admit, I saw Chris Costa running his HSGI version of this and thought, “that’s fucking retarded.” Then, as I fought with the hip belt on my ruck getting in the way of my belt-mounted mag pouches, I started rethinking it. There comes a time, in every man’s life, I believe, when he has to admit, someone came up with something that he can only wish he’d come up with. This is the slickest set-up I’ve found. Mine required a lot of modification, since I used an old Blackhawk drop-leg subload panel. I cut it in half, taped up the bottom seam with 100MPH tape, and shortened the drop leg strap. It fits x3 HSGI kangaroo pouches perfectly. This gives me three rifle mags for speed reloads, during break contacts or the initial mag change of the fight, without having to fuck with flaps, or reach up on my chest. It’s retarded simple and superhero fast.



What’s critical to understand is…I don’t do tactical reloads or reloads with retention from here. These are just my “Oh shit!” emergency reload pouches, when speed of getting my gun back into the fight is the single most important attribute. Similarly, by reserving the use of these magazines, and by making them my first priority for refill during consolidation, if I have to dump my RACK, I’ve got rifle ammunition, even in worst-case scenarios.



Like the holster, the leg strap is set up to not interfere with movement and range-of-motion of the leg.



5) Zippo lighter. If you’re not familiar with Zippo, you need to crawl back into your cave and keep beating your obsidian chunks together. Zippos are the bee’s knees of lighters. Mine are all wrapped with a dozen or so ½ inch wide chunks of bicycle innertube, for use as tinder when starting fires. It burns hot and fierce, even when soaking wet (it’s rubber, after all), and lasts long enough to start even wet kindling more often than not.



6) A WindStorm signal whistle and USGI signal mirror.



7) Streamlight ProTac2L multi-function flashlight. This is my EDC light as well. For $60 at Cabela’s, and considering the abuse I’ve put mine through…you really can’t ask for more in a flashlight.



8) Benchmade folder. Benchmade is the only company whose folders I will carry. They’re expensive, but they’re worth it….and they have a no-shit, no-questions asked 100% lifetime guarantee. Literally.



9) Leatherman WAVE. While I despise the idea of the Leatherman (if I want pliers, I want fucking pliers. If I want a screwdriver, I want a fucking screwdriver. If I want a knife, I want a fucking knife…), I have to admit, it’s a nice change carrying one, versus always asking if someone has a multiplier on them….



10) Wiley X Safety Glasses. While there are definitely times to NOT wear safety glasses, for camouflage and concealment reasons, for the most part, I live in—and preach living in—my safety glasses. They don’t have to be Wiley X or Oakley. They can be the $5.00 ones from the Stop-and-Rob…just have safety glasses. And in bright, sunny weather, have shaded lenses. Although, I hasten to point out…if the cost difference between a $5.00 pair of safety glasses from the 7/11 and the $100 I pay for my Wiley X is more important to you than your eye safety….Well, you’re probably dumber than I think you are (although, if it’s a legit finances thing, I can understand that…)

2nd Line Fighting Load

Everything here is dedicated to killing bad guys, or keeping me from getting killed by bad guys.

Everything here is dedicated to killing bad guys, or keeping me from getting killed by bad guys.

1) Old-as-fuck three-color desert boonie hat (seriously, I think I kept if from my original CIF issue at the Ranger Regiment when I was 18…it’s been around for a really, really long time…), with a chunk of netting Shoe-Gooed to it, and some burlap garnish added. Notice that there’s very, VERY little garnish added. The problem with most people’s idea of Ghillie suits and garnish like this, is the tendency to add too much. It’s GARNISH!!! Most of your camouflage should be local vegetation.

Putting too much garnish on your shit is—to me—the camouflage equivalent of putting A-1 Steak Sauce on a perfectly seasoned and cooked, medium-rare steak (guess what I cooked for supper tonight?)…it’s as wrong as two boys fucking.

2) The Tactical Tailor MAV/RACK. This one has an extra medium-sized pouch on it that I picked up somewhere, that I put emergency food/snacks in. Otherwise, it came with all the pouches you see, as well as a couple of extra grenade pouches that I don’t use.

3) Ranger Handbook and x2 Rite-in-the-Rain memo book notebooks for planning/commo/note-taking. Wrapped in a Zip-Lock bag.

4) x8 PMAG rifle magazines loaded with 30 rounds each. I’ve got a couple of Lancers running around, at least one steel E-Lander Mag, and probably a half-dozen old aluminum GI mags still hanging around. For my money, PMAG just can’t be beat yet. With metal mags, even the steel feed lips can get deformed and you might not notice it until you’re dealing with malfunction after malfunction. With the PMAG, for the most part, a deformation of the feed lips is easy to notice—the fucking feed lip is broken.

5) AN/PVS-14 Night Observation Device (NOD). Mine is housed in the Blade-Tech hard case. In case any representatives of Blade-Tech happen to read this: I LOVE the level of protection this offers a $4000+ piece of relatively fragile electronic equipment. I HATE how much of a motherfucker it is to get the NOD out. I always feel like I’m going to break the damn NOD getting it out of the case.

On the plus side of the ledger though…hey, it carries two spare AA batteries! (The NOD runs on a single AA battery)

6) Fleece beanie cap for cold weather (not pictured is my polypro neck gaiter).

7) Petzl brand LED headlamp. I don’t remember who, but a student at a class loaned this one to me when we discovered my batteries were dead….and then just let me keep the headlamp. I’m glad to, because I LOVE this particular headlamp, with the flip up red filter.

There are times when you just need a headlamp. A handheld flashlight won’t cut it, and NODs are a pain-in-the-ass (like map reading at night….Yeah, I can do it too, it still sucks. I’d rather throw a poncho and woobie over my head and use a fucking white light. Same-same when doing the medic/TC3 thing…and then you can’t use a red lens flashlight–bonus points for anyone who figures out why medics don’t carry red lens flashlights…..not a lot of bonus points mind you, because it’s stupid simple to figure out….).

8) USGI tritium-illuminated lensatic compass. Best device I’ve yet found for night land-nav…and it can double as a close-range signaling device. Just recognize, to someone wearing NODs, that fucking tritium looks like a goddamned spotlight.

Ideally, this would be attached to my person, not my LBE. The fact is though, accessing it from a pocket, while geared up, is a pain in the ass, and I have other options (like another compass on my watch) for land nav emergencies in E&E situations…

9) Ten feet of flat-rolled 100MPH tape. Infantrymen are like the rednecks of the military. I use 100MPH tape like a redneck uses duct tape. Shit’ll fix anything (Not shown: the 25 feet of 550 cord that is stowed with the 100MPH tape).

10) Protein bars. The ones pictured provide like 350 calories per. I run protein bars instead of more balanced bars, because a) I’m into the whole high-protein Paleo diet thing, and b) the last thing I want to do if I’m down to eating bars out of my LBE is lose any more muscle tissue than I have to…

11) USGI signal mirror (ignore the apparently random order of the numbering. My beloved bride did the photoshop work. I’m too fucking stupid to figure it out).

12) Camouflage face paint.

13) Chicken salad on crackers snack pack. I’m actually going to add like six of the cans of chicken salad to my LBE loadout. They taste good, are relatively Paleo Diet friendly, and are light weight. They don’t pack the caloric punch that the protein bars do, but they’re fuck all easier to eat, and taste light-years better. Morale is important too.

14) Chemlights x3. Red, white, and blue. Why? ‘MURICA! That’s why. No, seriously? Red is for marking myself or another casualty, for evac purposes. It would suck to get back home and realize you left your buddy out on the objective, because he was wounded, unconscious, and somebody forgot about him. The other two are for signaling, and/or last-ditch illumination to see what the fuck you’re doing.

The reality is, these days, most of my chemlights end up getting used by TMO as night lights. The kid LOVES her some chemlights. I figure it means she’ll either grow up and be a bad-ass Viking shield-maiden type female….or spend her college years hanging out at raves….

15) Yaesu FT-60 two-way radio. One of the local HAM geeks did some sort of work on these. I can get FRS/GMRS freqs, MURS, and still pick up SW/HF. Additionally, it has the first 150 out of 1000 channels loaded with local and regional emergency services freqs, ranging from the Sheriff’s Office to DHS tactical channels…it’s handy. HH6 has it’s ugly twin sister on her RACK.

16) Bushnell 10X compact field glasses. I love me some Steiners, but the last pair of Steiners I owned got dropped off a 150 foot cliff in Utah. I didn’t even bother climbing down to look for them. So…If you happen to be wandering around northern Utah and find a pair of Steiner 10X compacts….you know where to send them to…In the meantime, I haven’t been able to convince HH6 that the Bushnells are inadequate for the purpose enough that I just HAVE to have a new pair of Steiners…

17) USGI roll of trip wire (Not shown: Assorted related goodies)

18) Water purification drops. These are the “stabilized oxygen” drops I’ve mentioned in previous articles in the past. There’s some argument over their effectiveness. All I know is this: I’ve used them for well over 15 years. I’ve used them on water with all kinds of creepy-crawlies in it. I’ve used it in water out of cow troughs. I’ve never gotten sick from drinking water I’ve used it on, while I’ve watched others drink the same water, using other methods of purification and filtration get kicked in the ass by the revenge of the Aztec king….They work for me.

19) stainless steel cable locking snares, x3. Honestly? These are mostly a feel-good item for me. I can’t imagine, if I’m down to living out of my RACK, that I’m going to have time to set a trap line. If I did, I know I’m a shitty enough trapper that three snares probably ain’t going to keep me alive. But honestly? I just feel better—more prepared—by having them. They don’t weigh shit, and they roll up nice and compact and out of the way. Fuck it.

20) It’s hard to tell in the photo, but that is a Zip-lock bag with a bunch of AA, CR123, and CR2 batteries stowed in it. My OTAL IR laser runs on AA. My PVS-14 runs on AA. My Streamlight TLR-1HL on my rifle runs on CR123s. My Streamlight TLR-3 on my G17 runs on CR2s. It’s a pain-in-the-ass, but it seems to be working okay for now…and we’ve got a metric shit-ton of each cached away at home and assorted other places. I don’t imagine I’ll run out of batteries for at least an hour after I can’t get them at the Stop-and-Rob anymore.

21) Work gloves. I’ve gotten tired of dropping $30 on Nomex aviator’s gloves every month, as they get torn to shit. Now, I’m running either Mechanix gloves, or whatever other, lightweight, leather-palmed, high-dexterity gloves I can find for less than $15 a pop.

22) BOK/IFAK. Wrapped in Zip-Lock bag. I’m still—after twenty-fucking-years—looking for the perfect BOK pouch. I was using a double-stack rifle magazine pouch for a really long time. Now, I just stuff the BOK in the top of one of my large GP pouches, until I find what I’m looking for. While I’m a pretty good Combat Life-Saver and medic, my BOK is for ME. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, it doesn’t get used on anyone else…even my wife or kids. They have BOKs. If I die, because I used my BOK gear on them, I can’t do much good taking care of them, now, can I?

3rd Line Sustainment Load

Sustainment Load. This is intended to keep you alive while you look for the enemy.

Sustainment Load. This is intended to keep you alive while you look for the enemy.


I get asked a lot, why I chose the biggest fucking rucksack I could find. “But John, doesn’t that lead to you over-packing? Don’t you carry more gear than you need?”

Honestly? It’s a legit question. I hear the same thing from backpacker friends when they see the big-ass packs I carry for that too. I’ve seen guys do that too, both in the military, and in the backpacking world (Hell, I’VE done it!). In the end though, it comes down to one of two things:

a) If you’re a section/team/squad leader, it comes down to making sure your guys aren’t doing that. That’s why we do pre-combat inspections, and have a mandated packing list.

b) If you don’t have a section/team/squad leader, or yours is too fucking lazy or stupid to give a shit, it comes down to self-discipline.

The fact is, when I pack all this shit in my ruck, including the items listed below that are not pictured here, I’ve got a metric shit ton of space left in my ruck. Further, if I dropped the sleep system (which I won’t, see the explanation below), all of this shit would fit in an assault pack half as large, and STILL have space left over. That leftover space is critical. You don’t know, until you’re into the planning process, what OTHER equipment you might need to pack. It could range from a medic’s bag, to subloads of demolitions material or radio batteries. The fact is, the items listed here are my MINIMUM packing list, for my general area. Some items could be replaced or removed entirely, if I lived elsewhere. Other items might need to be increased (like water, if I lived in a more arid desert). It’s all…ahem…shall we say….METT-TC dependent?

1) Nikon 45X spotting scope with tripod. This is really a sort of mission-specific item. In our specific area though, with the mountains and timber and desert so closely interspersed, this offers a lot of advantages for E&E patrolling, with my wife and daughter in tow. I can stop and glass an area for a long time before moving into and through that area. If I’m using a spotting scope to do so, I can see into shadows and other positions of cover/concealment a lot better than I can with 10X binoculars. That increases the safety margin for my wife and kid.

In the training context currently, I use it during classes to spot targets and make adjustments to expedite the zero-confirmation/adjustment process during classes. I’ve been doing this long enough, I can usually call out corrections based on what I see in the spotting scope, and get a guy’s POA/POI to coincide faster than walking downrange every time (which is NOT the same thing as saying we don’t ever walk downrange during that process. Seeing is believing is understanding).

2) USGI Poncho liner/”Woobie.” Also affectionately referred to as “The Infantryman’s Best Friend,” “GI Joe’s Security Blanket,” and “The Best Piece of Gear the US Army Ever Issued.” I don’t believe I know an experienced infantryman anywhere, who doesn’t still have at least one of his issue woobies hanging around. My kid LOVES hers, and sleeps with it every night. Hell, I sleep with one every night. My wife uses hers to wrap up in sitting on the couch. The woobie is—generally speaking—my bed and shelter in the field. While weather conditions may require me to use more than just my woobie, given my druthers, it’s my first choice for keeping warm enough to sleep. With dry socks and clothes, and a beanie on my head, wrapping up in just the woobie, or just a woobie and a poncho is more than adequate to keep me survival sleeping warm well into the mid-20s Farenheit (notably different from “comfortable sleeping warm.”)

Mine gets stuffed—inside of a USGI waterproof sack—in the top pocket of my ruck. It’s easy to get in and out, so even if I have to pack up and un-ass a patrol base in a hurry, I don’t have to leave it behind.

3) USGI Therma-Rest brand, self-inflating sleep pad. I’ve used Therma-Rest sleep pads for well over a decade. I’ve also used the old closed-cell foam “iso-mat” sleeping pads. The TR is hands-down better than the iso-mat, and rolls up much tighter, making it easier to pack.

One thing that a lot of people don’t understand about outdoor sleeping: The temperature rating on sleeping bags is determined based on the sleeping bag being on a sleeping pad, inside of a tent. So, consider that when you look longingly at the 20F sleeping bag you’re finger-fucking at Cabela’s next time you’re there. You won’t be conducting patrols and sleeping in a tent. That having been said, just the sleeping pad itself will go a long way towards, a) allowing you to actually get a little sleep, and b) not increasing the arthritis you will confront from humping heavy shit.

I spent my first three years in the Army sleeping on the bare ground. I can still do so if I have to, but I’ll never again do it by choice, Further, in my country, where we can get snow in July and August, it’s stupid to not carry the sleep pad.

4) Gransfor-Bruchs Scandinavian Forest Axe. This is a ridiculously expensive axe. Seriously…$165 for what is basically a high-end Boy Scout Axe. That having been said, it’s worth twice the money, at least. Gransfor-Bruchs axes are forged in Sweden, and the individual smith’s initials are stamped onto the head of the axe. Unless you go the route of a custom blacksmith, these are the best axes money can buy…period.

I was not an axe guy until about fifteen years ago. When I first started spending time in the Rockies, I was introduced to a book called “Bushcraft” by a guy named Mors Kochianksi. He’s a wilderness living instructor out of Canada, specializing in the boreal forest region. All my life, I’d read old time bushcraft books like Horace Kephart’s and Nessmuk’s (George Washington Sears), that extolled the virtues of the axe. It wasn’t until I read Kochianski’s though that the import of what I was reading really sank in. In the kind of country I live in, when it comes to pure survival, the axe is the ultimate survival tool. It’s more important than a knife. It’s damned sure more important than a rifle.

If I lived elsewhere, like the southeastern US, I’d not carry an axe, probably. I’d switch over to a machete, or kukri, or even a big-ass Bolo-type knife like Mr. FAG carries. The reality is though, in this particular environment, I don’t spend a lot of time cutting my way through berry and briar thickets. The most important application for a chopping tool up here is construction of shelters and getting firewood chopped up for staying alive. An axe does that better than any other chopping tool out there.

(I do have to admit though, I also have a really cool fransisca-style hand axe from Allen Foundry, purchased from Ragweed Forge…check out some of their cool Scandi knives too…that I sometimes carry instead of the GB. While I love that little axe, it’s far from ideal. While it will chop, it’s not as handy as the GB, and the head is cast stainless steel, which I hate on both counts. It sure looks bad-ass though!)

5) USGI Three-Bag Sleep System. I’ve heard a lot of guys bitch about these over the years. I don’t know why. I LOVE mine. I run it with just the black intermediate bag and the Gore-Tex bivy, unless I KNOW temperatures are going to drop retarded cold (by which I mean -30F or colder). Anything “warmer” than that, and I know—from experience—that dry clothes, dry socks, and some long johns, with the addition of the woobie and maybe a casualty blanket, will keep me adequately warm. Really, even if it’s retard cold, I can always burrow into a snow cave, or under a snow-covered spruce tree, start a very small fire, or even just light a candle, and stay warm to the point of sweating (the fire thing only works under the spruce tree….in a snow cave, you’ll regret it in a hurry…and I do mean a SMALL fire).

Most other places, especially south of the Mason-Dixon line, I could easily do without the sleeping bag. I’ve slept outside in just a woobie and poncho in December across the South, and been just fine. The fact is though, as I mentioned above…we can—and have—see snow in July and August, as well as the cold-weather conditions that go with it. Dying, because I didn’t want to carry a sleeping bag, just because it was “summer” would be a really stupid way to not survive… Cold weather conditions—with improper or inadequate equipment/preparation will kill you as quickly, or quicker, than enemy rifle fire.

6) Two one-quart Nalgene bottles of water. These are carried in MOLLE pouches on the padded portion of the hip belt of my ruck, tucked tight against the body of the ruck. They’re handy, although not as handy as the Camelback. These typically end up being my cooking water, if I’m afforded the opportunity to brew up some tea (I can’t stand coffee….I know…sacrilege, right?) or soup. Again, looking at environmental specifics, sometimes hot tea or soup….anything hot getting inside your guts…can be the difference between survival and dying in cold-weather environments.

7) Shemagh. Why? Because all the cool kids have shemaghs, right? Actually, you’d be hard-pressed to see me wearing one except in cold-weather, over—or in lieu of—my polypro neck gaiter. The great thing about the shemagh is….they literally have like 500 functional uses, and not all of them are retarded uses…and they keep your neck warm in cold weather….and they look all high-speed “operator,” which is why we really wear them, right? Right?……..right?

8) wool socks. MINIMUM of five pairs (which I think is how many are in my ruck right now). I taught a rifle course in knee deep snow last weekend. I think I changed my socks like four times a day. Fortunately we were inside a very nice house every night, so they had time to dry. Wet feet…especially in cold-weather conditions…will fuck up your internal thermostat AT LEAST as much as a lack of headgear will.

9) Polypro long underwear and clean, dry t-shirts. I keep a minimum of two clean, dry undershirts in my ruck (same thing…dirty, wet underclothes are killers in cold-weather country). I only keep one pair of lightweight polypro long underwear in my ruck. It’s really just for sleeping in. If I KNOW it’s going to be cold, like say, I’m in Montana in January, I’ll add another pair for wear during the day, but trying to hump a ruck, while wearing snivel gear…even in below zero temperatures…is a good way to end up as a heat casualty. You want to feel embarrassed? Be a fucking heat casualty when it’s -10F outside….

10) One pair of clean, dry, utilities. Pictured is a set of my multi-cams. In Arizona, I was rocking three-color deserts. In Mississippi, I’d be pimping some old-school woodland pattern BDUs. In our environment, plain earth tones, or the multi-cam are kind of the shit. Really though, these are for sleeping in. If I have to jump and run in the middle of the day though, interrupting my sleep, I don’t want to do it wearing day-glo fluorescent pink pajamas (before anyone asks…the cool-guy morale patches on the uniform sleeve are: 1) HMFIC—Head Mother Fucker In Charge, 2) “The Chair is Against The Wall,” and 3) “Embrace the Suck.” I can assure you though, I have much more tasteless ones in my collection…The one on the front of my plate carrier, in the first picture, reads “Meat Eating Viking Gun Fighter.” For the record, I don’t think I’ve ever bought a morale patch.)

11) Ranger Hooch Kit. Mine includes x4 12” bungee cords, x6 stainless steel tent pins, a USGI nylon poncho, and a mylar backed, “quilt” style casualty blanket. Normally, the casualty blanket goes down as a ground cloth, but it’s also been used, inside a sleeping bag and/or the woobie, for better body heat retention (someday I will actually get around to doing an article, with photos, on setting up the hooch).

12) 100 oz Camelback bladder. I’ve seen water bladders explode. I’ve seen them burst inside a ruck when somebody dropped a ruck off the back of a five-ton truck. I’ve seen them burst when somebody executed a combat roll over the top of it during IMT.

I’ve never personally had one burst. A big part of that, I attribute to good luck. The other part I attribute to using Camelback bladders, and not whatever knock-off imitation the DoD issues. I love the convenience of them and being able to stay hydrated while moving. I also keep a smaller 70 oz Camelback on my plate carrier normally, but pulled it off a couple weeks ago for something and haven’t put it back on yet. Now, I can’t find the fucking thing, in the 10 different piles of gear laying around our house. As Mr. FAG pointed out…drink the water off your ruck. Leave the water on your 2nd line gear alone. You might need it when your ruck isn’t around.

13) Mountain Safety Research (MSR) XGK multi-fuel stove. This stove is louder than a Thai hooker faking an orgasm. I mean, we’re talking fighter jet punching the after-burners loud. It’s not something you’re going to want to use in a patrol base in thick terrain where you don’t know who’s within ear shot….unless you’re LOOKING for a fight. Sitting on a high, barren ridge, where I can see anyone approaching from a couple hundred meters out though? Or in the snow-insulated confines of a snow-draped spruce tree, it’s handier than a glove for quickly and efficiently brewing hot drinks or soup. I carry one ½ quart bottle of white gas. I choose a multi-fuel stove though, because it will also run off unleaded gasoline, avgas, diesel, or even kerosene (I’ve run the MSR Whisperlight 600 Internationale off all of the above).

14) Cold Steel “Spetznaz” Shovel. I always thought these were pretty gay (I’m deeply prejudiced against pretty much anything labeled “Russian,” which come to think of it, may explain much of my antipathy for the Kalashnikov…Although I do dig the shit out of Sombo/Sambo combatives…and Vodka….I like Vodka too….and hot blondes named shit like Petra….See? I’m not COMPLETELY prejudiced against Mother Russia! I’m kind of prejudiced against Cold Steel products too. I’ve owned a few, and they treated me well, but something about the company just annoys the shit out of me.) A student in a class in Idaho gifted me one at the end of the class (He also gave my wife a RAT-7 knife….I love that guy….you know who you are. Now, email me you fucker). I’ve been in love with this shovel ever since. Sure, for digging catholes—which is really this particular shovel’s most common use—a little garden trowel would be just as effective, and much lighter and more compact. For digging shell scrapes or more advanced fighting positions (fuck that! I joined SF so I wouldn’t have to dig fighting positions like some leg infantry fucker…bwahahahahahahahahahahaha….and I promptly re-learned how to dig them. I KNOW I did more digging in SF than I did in the Ranger Regiment), the e-tool/spade is hell for handier than a garden trowel. It’s also about ten to the hundredth power more convenient than trying to dig with the abortion that is the US Army-issue tri-fold entrenching tool.

So yeah, I love me some Cold Steel “Spetznaz” shovel. Besides….according to Lynn Thompson, I can throw it at the bad guys, and be a real Spetznaz operator! (<–gay)

15) Not pictured: USGI Gen II ECWCS Gore-Tex Hardshell Parka. I’ve got two different soft shell parkas. One is a Coyote Tan one from Condor (which I am loathe to admit, kicks ass), and a Ranger Green one from Propper (it’s brand new. I’ve worn it twice, and neither time was in bad weather. It was chilly, but not cold, and decidedly not snowing or raining). I love the soft shells. I wear them on the range all the time.

The reality though? In extended wet weather, they suck big, fat, juicy, morsels of monkey balls. So, I reverted back to a hard shell, old-school Gore-Tex parka for those conditions. I’ve got both the three-color desert camouflage and the woodland pattern camouflage versions. Which one is in my ruck is entirely dependent on where I’m at, with a strong preference for the woodland pattern one (Seriously….who wants to trust a DESERT camouflage-patterned WET-WEATHER parka? That just doesn’t make sense, now does it?)

16) Not pictured: Food. I’ve got an article, from a reader request, on my thoughts on field rations. In a nutshell, I’m not sure I’d eat MREs anymore, even if it meant starving for two weeks. The last time I tried eating one, as soon as I smelled it, I started puking up breakfast. Besides, the nutritional composition of MREs is retarded. Sure, I’d feed them to my kid if it meant keeping her from starving, but that’d even be a stretch.

17) Not pictured: My MICH helmet, like my boonie hat, has netting tied and Shoe-Gooed to the multi-cam helmet cover, with some burlap garnish attached. It generally stays stowed in or on my ruck, until it’s time to a) put my NODs on, b) do any sort of CQB-type room clearing stuff. Outside of room-clearing, even my clumsy, retarded ass is athletic enough to generally avoid getting knocked the fuck out by running headfirst into shit, and it’s not like the fucking thing will actually stop a 5.56 round…usually. Besides, wearing helmets just sucks.

A Last Minute Appendix

As I was typing this, Mr. FAG (Dude, seriously? Can I PLEASE go back to calling you the Team Sergeant? Team Daddy? ANYTHING other than Mr. FAG? It seems so disrespectful…even though I call myself a FAG in the same vein all the time….pretty please? With sugar….err…honey…on top? Gotta stay Paleo!), emailed me a series of photos of his LBE set-up for your viewing pleasure. He also promised me some more written material in the coming days.

See the photos below. They should be pretty self-explanatory. Before you start looking at them though…a brief anecdote, specifically regarding Mr. FAG’s gear, from my personal experience:

Last summer, during the WV patrolling class, Mr. FAG showed up to volunteer to help out. I, of course, immediately drafted him into a teaching/cadre position (how fucking stupid would I have been not to do so?). During the night patrolling portion of the class, Mr. FAG managed to injure himself. When we got to his position, I volunteered to carry his gear out, because he wasn’t going to be able to (actually, IIRC, I think I volunteered to carry HIM out…he was THAT fucked up…but he wasn’t so fucked up he was going to let me carry him.

While I didn’t get to carry his survival vest, I DID carry his LBE and his ruck. As a point of reference, his LBE weighed more than my LBE, and plate carrier combined. His ruck weighed as much as my ruck, my LBE, and my plate carrier…and I’ve got a solid 60 pounds of size advantage on him…when I say this old fucker (with every ounce of due respect!) is harder than woodpecker lips, I’m not exaggerating, in the slightest. I wish I was 1/8th as hard as Mr. FAG is….

Photos follow:

Mr. FAG's Mohawk Aviator's Vest, pic #1

Mr. FAG’s Mohawk Aviator’s Vest, pic #1

Mr. FAG's Mohawk Aviator's Vest under his LBE.

Mr. FAG’s Mohawk Aviator’s Vest under his LBE.

Mr. FAG's Mohawk Aviator's Vest under his LBE, frontal view

Mr. FAG’s Mohawk Aviator’s Vest under his LBE, frontal view

Mr. FAG's Mohawk Aviator's Vest under his LBE, right side view

Mr. FAG’s Mohawk Aviator’s Vest under his LBE, right side view

Mr. FAG, drawing ONE of his TWO sidearms, from the Mohawk Vest, under his LBE. Note the other pistol ON the LBE....

Mr. FAG, drawing ONE of his TWO sidearms, from the Mohawk Vest, under his LBE. Note the other pistol ON the LBE….New Yawk reload is the fastest reload….











From → Uncategorized

  1. Mr. FAG (vm) permalink


    Something I would like to make clear to everyone…more weight/gear is not necessarily better.

    Bottom line: Pack/tote what you need to accomplish the mission and to meet/exceed the possible contingencies. Mobility is key but the mission requirements (automatically includes contingencies) must be met. I have only one category of gear that I have carried all these years that has not been used frequently enough (or even once) to warrant space on my gear in terms of usage based need…but I carry them…my tourniquets.


    I am glad that some folks checked directly with to you validate what I was trying to relate. You covered the basis of it very well in your description of unconventional/non-traditional loads in your initial opening above.

    “I ain’t and have never been ‘hard’ at all…I am just used to carrying all this shit, simple as that. It never gets easier. You just get accustomed to it.” (full, exact quote from a past Team Sergeant of mine). Bingo…nothing more need be added to that.

    Thank you very much for the opportunity to participate on your blog. I still get that itch to teach every now and then and this somewhat scratches that itch.

    Wish partially granted…the handle Mr. FAG remains for posting purposes (tough shit) but in your delicate case, you may refer to me as ‘vetus miles’

    In closing this loop (I’ll be out the net for a few days)…my all time favorite gear related advice from a another Team Sergeant given to a new member of our team (poor guy straight from a tropical background of travel light/freeze or not so much at night) who was questioning our winter loads as unrealistic, “We ain’t special…the fxxxing mission is special. Now shut up, ruck up and move out smartly…belay that…in your case, Shitbird,… just…wellll….OK….move out.”

  2. BradyBunch permalink

    Thanks as usual for the read before work, and more importantly, your blog as reference material.
    I still re-read (among others)your magnified optics essay, sometimes to my 14-year old to let him know there more out there than the e-otech (Like my BurrisMTAC).

    On the mre note, not even tuna casserole?

  3. dashui permalink

    My coworker, 1SFG, medic in the Stan, told me the Taliban live on a bag of almonds tied to their belt……

    • I didn’t see that, personally, but it wouldn’t surprise me. I’d offer the observation though….the Most pussy Taliban is far hardier than the “toughest” American. Stone age culture has a way of inculcating toughness in a way that even the harshest military selection courses cannot match. I’m sure there are pussy Taliban, but the fact is, man-for-man, the Taliban is balls-out harder than Americans, no matter how bad-ass you think you are…

  4. koldsteel762 permalink

    “I wish I was 1/8th as hard as Mr. FAG is….”
    Laugh my ass off !!! If I hadn’t read the previous article – that would have been the gayest thing I’ve ever read.

    Seriously, JM. This is one of the best series of articles I’ve read yet. I’m running the same gear you are more or less and it works for me. But now I have the piece of mind that I don’t have to burn time and money testing other gear that may be inferior. These last few articles are a gold mine.

  5. Duane permalink

    I will second what John said about FAG being hard. One thing he didnt mention was that FAG is litlle skinny guy. At least comparitively speaking. I was only carrying a fraction of what he was carrying.

  6. Mountain Shepherd permalink

    John… you are a hard worker! Thanks for the extra effort!! Awesome articles! That should also… minimize your need to answer the 1000s of individual questions…

  7. Attack Company 1/75 permalink

    Well, it is about time you posted pictures (I’ve noticed the past couple of weeks that you had pictures in other articles, so just getting around to say something about it). Awesome article. You covered a lot of things, but wanted to comment on just a few things.

    Streamlight ProTac 2L – damn good light. Bought mine off the internet for $45.

    Shemagh – come on and tell us the real reason you carry one… to fulfill your teenage dreams of being Sho Kosugi/Michael Dudikoff with a ninjer hood? 🙂

    Food – Like you I can’t stand MRE’s anymore. I’ve found that Mountain House is a good alternative (I’ve heard that MH is the same company that use to make the old LRP rations).

    Gore-tex – I have a ECWCS Gore-Tex parka, but recently bought the “Dark Moss” colored PacLite Cabela’s jacket (yes, I was finger fucking the Cabela’s products there). Remember the old lightweight gore-tex jackets we had that you could stuff in a pocket? Same idea, but bought an oversize one to allow layering like my soft shell.

  8. Eric permalink

    I notice you use a Zippo – always imagined the “lighter with ranger bands” from previous articles to be a Bic. Are you ever concerned about falling in some water and getting the lighter wet enough to not work?

    I remember when I was younger I fell in a lake with a Zippo in my pocket and it didn’t work again until the cotton dried out and I refilled it. I know it will still spark, and you probably carry a ferrocerium rod or similar as well but it seems odd to me to depend on just those when a Bic is so much more water-resistant and convenient.

    • TFA303 permalink

      ^ Was wondering about that, myself.

      I’m printing this article out to ponder at length. Many thanks.

  9. Matt in K.C. permalink


    Been looking for “stabilized oxygen” drops for a while, but there is a butt load of them on the market and their specs/claims don’t seem to make a sense to me. Is there a specific brand or source that you’d recommend over the others? Thanks,


  10. What’s the deal with cat-eyes? Does anyone wear them anymore?
    Instead of floss-sewing them directly to our covers, we sewed a small velcro hook panel to our cover/ruck, then we’d sew the cat-eyes to a loop panel that we’d attach to the hook panel. That way, we could take off the cat-eyes when we really needed to reduce our signature. They sure helped when patrolling under thick canopies with zero illum.

    • Mr. FAG had his safety pinned to his patrol cap. I don’t wear them, because of the NOD threat. Those things are worse than illuminated pistol sights for glaring when seen through NODs. Does everyone have NODs? No…but there’s enough of them out there, that I always consider the threat.

  11. Thanks for the great posts!
    SV-2 is rear and pricey on ebay. Do you think the RIBZ Front Pack would do the same think?

  12. While I agree in principle with your harden the fuck up ethos, I think we both know that the majority of “G’s” we will see out there will be no where near your standards. That is not to say we shouldn’t aspire to the standards of the Ranger Batt, or other SMU’s, but accept what is reality in our present sit. You yourself had said as much, concerning your own experiences with G’s; you set a high standard, but you live with what you get.

    The question in my mind is what do we really need to be carrying? The SF perspective is usually that of the outsider, infiltrating into the AO with all the shit he will need to conduct operations. These “rucksack” ODA’s are used to being overloaded with so much shit because they don’t have the local support necessary to sustain operations. Or more to the point, to E&E when things go to shit.

    So, how do things change when WE are now the locals? Do we still need all that extra shit? Or, do we prep the battlespace with enough cache sites to avoid this kind of overloading as much as possible. If I know where I’ll be operating, why not cache the extra ammo instead of humping it all over hell’s half-acre? If we have a robust auxiliary, why not rest and resupply with them.

    Americans are soft, we’ve had it so good for so long. Point taken. We need a good cup of HTFU. But is overloading the troops with all this shit applicable to our terrain and situation? I’m thinking of our local Taliban fighter, with an AK, and maybe a spare mag tucked in his man-jammies disappearing over the hillside, while our SF dude, with 75+ lbs of shit is sucking it out his ass trying to keep up. This is tactical reality. Why not leverage our tactical advantage, as the locals, for once?

    • Attack Company 1/75 permalink

      This is not for any specific person. This is just something to think about for Planning, Common Sense and METT-TC (Planning and Common Sense are part of the 5 principles of patrolling)

      One of the things that would help organize your kit is to have a “summer” packing list and a “winter” packing list (I know there are some places that you will always need to carry a winter packing list – as in Alaska). If you have any stuff that you will not take on every patrol/mission put it in a duffel bag. And when METT-TC dictates change/add stuff from the packing lists and duffel bag.

      Below is just for context
      In the Ranger Regiment we only had one standard operating procedures (SOP) and the list was always constant. Whenever there was any additions that needed to be taken on a mission, we would pull out the items from our duffel bags (In the Ranger Regiment we used several duffel bags for this purpose). Things may have changed since my time, but you get the idea.

      When I was in a Long Range Surveillance (LRS) unit we had a “summer” list and a “winter” list. Since the six-man team were isolated from the rest of the unit during mission planning, the team leader made the choice which packing list to take based on the planning that all six men did together.

    • I have one major problem with the “Taliban load-out” argument….Ain’t none of us 1/8th as hard as a mountain tribesman in the AfPak. I don’t care if you grew up growing pot and making shine in the hills of Missouri, unless you’ve spent your life sleeping at 9000 feet, wrapped in a single wool blanket, while living on half-spoiled goat meat and a pocketful of almonds, using the Taliban as a reference is intellectually dishonest.

      Yes, we SHOULD be prepping the battlespace, so that we’re the G. We SHOULD be developing our auxiliaries and our underground. We SHOULD be establishing caches….but how many people actually are? Every time I write an article on the auxiliary…every time I teach a class…people ask, “But, how? No one in my area is interested in being prepared.”

      “I can’t afford enough food storage for a year in my house, how am I going to establish caches?”

      Really, no, we shouldn’t need to carry dick all. Get in a car, drive to the objective, unload, do a raid, get back in the cars, and get dropped off at a safehouse. If we’re not adjusting for Mr. Murphy though, we’re pissing in the wind. Mr. Murphy, right now, is the guy responsible for all your neighbors who just don’t give a shit.

      • Swamp Fox permalink

        I agree, JM is correct. It takes time to develope your UWAO. Start small and slowly build your AO. Conduct an Area Study, build a Logistical plan and than start to work on it. I have a friend from 3rd GP who has just bought some land. I know he is developing his AO. He will take it slow and he will keep improving it, remember the principles the defense, it can always be improved. Kinda like PT, (I had to, I just linked caching, defense and PT). You do not need a ton of people for this part of laying a foundation.

        To develop Toughness, start researching stoicism, start small and build up. Here is a simple exercise, I picked up from a SEAL buddy, take only cold showers or baths. When you get in, no tip toeing in but right in fully under the water ( not one once of hot water added to the mix) and you will not make a sound, you will not rush it, you will Embrace The Suck. Wash from head to toe, rinse, get out, still no bitching, dry off and carry on, no bragging, no bitching just do it for your own self discipline development.

  13. What, no kitchen sink???

    No, I’m just kidding. Really the only parts that surprised me much were the spotting scope and tripod. Well, that and the sleep system w/bivy combined with hooch kit, casualty blanket, sleep pad, woobie, poncho, parka, 5 pairs of socks, and the clothes drawer!

    Problem is it’s all making sense to me now.

    “17) USGI roll of trip wire (Not shown: Assorted related goodies)”. — hmm, assorted related goodies?

    Do you ever carry along a smaller assault pack as well?

    You mentioned your wife rig. What equipment do you recommend with family members? I mean, is it pretty slick, or say is your wife setup to carry and sustain with redundant type gear in such an event of need. What sort of defense load for a woman do you recommend?


    • Really, the only difference between my load, and my wife’s load, is she carries slightly less ammunition (she’s only packing 10 magazines on her LBE, and doesn’t carry as many reload mags in her ruck). While she will have a minimum of one load of clothes for TMO in her ruck, most of TMO’s stuff would be added to my ruck, with the exception of some snacks and a water bottle that TMO herself carries in her own pack.

      My personal stance on this is, if my wife needs to be humping a ruck, instead of hanging out at the house, or a FOB/A-Camp/Guerrilla Base, things have gone horribly–apocalyptically–wrong. She’s going to need ammunition out the whazoo, a BOK, and everything else, in case we get separated. One thing I see–entirely too often–in this “community” is the idea that the women should all be at home, barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. While I don’t disagree with that in principle, i.e. I’d rather my wife be somewhere relatively safe and secure, the fact is–we DON’T KNOW WHERE THINGS ARE GOING TO GO!!! If my wife has to go into hard-ass E&E routine…would I rather have her able to hump a ruck and get out of Dodge, or have to sling ass on a street corner to stay alive? So, my wife shoots, does PT, and practices her IMT and fieldcraft.

      The spotting scope, in some ways, is a mission-specific item of gear. In my mind however, based on my experience, magnified optics are the bee’s knees for seeing what is ahead of you before you tread there. In my specific terrain (relatively open forest, in steep, very cut-up alpine terrain, ranging to wide open, flat desert, to tight, thickly overgrown forest), 10X binos are horribly underpowered for that. Ergo….a spotting scope.

      The clothes and snivel gear? In cold weather, wet clothing (even if the moisture is sweat), WILL kill you faster than gunfire.

  14. BakkenInsurgent permalink

    Hey John, have you ever heard of Neos overshoes? They are very light weight and go over your boots up to about mid calf. I wear mine nearly everyday from October to April to keep my feet warm and dry. I’ve snowshoed in -20 with nothing more than my regular summer boots and socks on and been comfortable.

  15. I don’t pretend to speak for Mosby, but here’s my take on what he’s saying, for whatever it’s worth. It jives with how I’ve operated in the past, and mostly how I may in the future, but I would make adjustments as METT-TC dictate.

    Yes, definitely cache ahead of time if you’re able. But if you go in light, assuming that your cache is still there, and it’s not, what then? What if you need stuff that’s not cached? What if the stuff in your cache got damaged from water, etc? What if you need to extend ops into an area that’s out farther than your caches? I think the point Mosby’s making, via historical examples, is simply that if you’re out there on your own (or even in a small team), the only resources you’re guaranteed to have are what’s on your back (or pack animal, ATV, etc). Operating from patrol bases for an extended period of time is a lot different than going home after each op. Especially if you don’t have caches or an established auxiliary to support you – and for all the talk about developing them, how many folks can truly say they have an effective local auxiliary in place, right now, that they could bet on 100%? So if the scenario is that you’re patrolling your local neighborhood, your load-out will be one set of things (maybe the fabled one mag and bag of almonds). If you’re patrolling 10 miles out and setting up a hide site to watch some point of interest for three days, your load-out will be different. Recon vs raid will require different load-out. Summer vs winter may as well. Adjust as necessary.

    I would encourage anyone who’s taking this stuff seriously to actually plan an op that you’d expect to run if TSHTF. Do a full-blown 5 paragraph OPORD. Ask “what if” a lot to develop contingencies. Then do a dry run as realistically as you can. You’ll quickly see what stuff you packed that you didn’t need and what you should’ve packed that you didn’t.

    Yes, PT is extremely important. Yes, high standards are important. Whenever our own personal (or collective) SHTF happens, we’ll be stuck with whatever we have at that moment. So, there’s a reason that the standards at SFAS are “Do the best you can.” Because that IS the standard. If you always do the best you can (for real, not just kidding yourself), whether you fail or succeed, you’ll KNOW that you gave it everything you had. Have physical impediments to PT, just do the best you can. Have a limited budget to acquire materials, do the best you can. That’s all anyone can do. In the end, we’ll all find out if our best was good enough.

    • The above was a reply meant for “Diz”, thus my reference to caches..

    • Why the fuck am I writing this blog, instead of you? Please start writing some shit for me to post on the blog.

      Yes, you said what I should say, only you say it more eloquently than my constant “motherfucker/cunt/whiny bitches” ranting.
      Thank you.

      • What’s wrong with motherfucker/cunt/whiny bitches? Or Thai hookers faking orgasms? Or fat chick’s lips at a hot dog stand? Dude, when I read your stuff, I feel like I’m back in it. Keep on keepin’ on, don’t change a thing.

  16. Swamp Fox permalink

    I learn to cut weight that I have to carry by having my shealter system, sleeping system and clothing work in concert with each other. This is how Mark Twight working with NATICK came up with the PCU system for SOCOM. Look at his book “Extreme Alpinism”

    Research the South Africian Recces as the perfected the Small Team (2 men) concept. They carried a lot of weight and the used caches on most missions.

    Caching is a lost art.

    Here is some good reading to Logistics.‎

    Click to access JSOU05-4turbivilleLogSupport_final.pdf

    Logistics tie into mobility, which is a key principle of war.

    • I LOVE that book! Twight is definitely one of my heroes. That’s also why I kept mentioning the “this works, with snivel gear on.” in regards to sleep system stuff. One of the issues I have with using Twight’s Extreme Alpinism example for our purposes though is that his methods are predicated on “we’re always moving to the top.” The fact is, unlike sport alpinism, sometimes we HAVE to sit still, in bad conditions, without the option of moving to build/maintain body heat. Overall, I love the concept behind it.

      That’s why I tell guys “look at the principle behind the technique, not the technique itself.”

    • Swamp Fox permalink

      If the first link does not open search for Guerrilla Logistics by LTC Marco J. Caraccia, Quarter Master, US Army, 8 April 1966.

      It is a US Army War Collage Master Thesis and it gets right to the point.

      • Mike Ryan permalink

        Thank you. Great downloads

  17. RobRoySimmons permalink

    The Taliban loadout ought to be put in context. It doesn’t look like they have to do much hiding out in the caves or much marching about away from villages. It looks like to me that twice a day they go out and have a potshot battle with allied troops from a range that makes an AK a mortar like instrument.

    And its my guess that the allied troops and their commanders misinterpret this potshot battle ethos as a lame attempt at F&M, but IMO they have not intention of doing that. I’m assuming their culture puts more credence on just showing up and making threats than really being effective and getting shot, more like a cultural pageant. Second after the potshot battle costs the allied forces thousands of dollars in a few years they will go broke and leave. Then those who “fought” the infidels will have the “Cred” and that is all they want, to outlast the infidels and have that street cred.

    • I think you bring up some valid points. We KNOW the muj can use fire-and-maneuver well. They did it against the Soviets time-and-time again. I THINK a lot of that was lost though, when we started shipping them (literally) shiploads of AKMs in the 80s. The younger generations of muj that came of age in the 80s got the “gangsta” mentality of spray-and-pray, and so lost a lot of the tactical prowess of their fathers and uncles. Couple that with the “blind faith” “inshallah, we will win” mindset of fundamentalist Islam of the Taliban, and you’ve got a recipe for what we’re seeing.

      • RobRoySimmons permalink

        Their tactics and operational methods are meeting their strategic goals. To F&M against drones and possible well aimed indirect or air is a waste, they go out and potshot several thousand times the beancounters take notice of the costs. The main point, their loadout is satisfactory to their mission. In the 80s they had top notch advisers bringing the boodle in and if they did not do at least some of what was asked then no boodle and no fight and no cred post war.

  18. Guido permalink

    If your helmet is just a platform for your NODs, do you think it would be better to run a lighter, non-ballistic helmet, with a NOD mount?

    • I was thinking the same thing. Anything that can be lighter means more ammo can be carried.

    • I do actually. The problem I’ve had with running a lighter helmet, like some of the new ProTec offerings, is the balance issue, when the NODs are mounted. If I put a counterweight on the back, the weight advantage starts disappearing quickly. Good catch though, and I like seeing that kind of thinking happening.

      It also doesn’t hurt that I got the MICH helmet for free…..

  19. Bob permalink

    Mucho Grass for all this info. This one had to be a hassle to do. Really appreciated.

  20. Guido permalink

    “13) Mountain Safety Research (MSR) XGK multi-fuel stove. This stove is louder than a Thai hooker faking an orgasm.”

    They do make an expensive $75 gizmo that is supposed to muffle the sound, cutting it about in half.

    • Wow, expensive mod, but interesting. I wonder how that affects efficiency. I have the same stove and the noise is the downfall bigtime. Sounding like a jet fighter hitting the afterburners really is not a joke! In comparison, my old Coleman Peak runs multi fuel, is quiet, and boils water just as fast. For some reason it require maintenance about every other use anymore though. I would like to switch over to the XGK.

    • Guido – Thanks for the mention.

      QuietStove comes with a full lifetime warranty. Return it for a complete refund (90 days) if you are not 100% satisfied. QuietStove 100% made in the USA.

      • Sold! That video is impressive!

  21. Frank permalink

    Take a look at the “night cap” over at . Maybe somthin maybe nothing. But its probably a bit better than a skull crusher

  22. Have a view of this one.

  23. jf.mcclung permalink

    One question, I did not see you mention where you keep your Cope? Is it considered survival or sustainment or both? Ok, that was two questions. I got tired of the paper cans getting soggy from moisture so I switched to Skoal then Grizzly because I’m getting to be a cheap fucker about some things as I get older. In all seriousness, the article was mucho informative as usual. And your vernacular seems to be along the same lines as the dickholes(that’s a compliment to them, BTW) I work with.

    P.S. I’d still be game to do an article on personal mobility/rehab in regards to PT if you are.


    • Copenhagen is definitely on the survival packing list….for those around me mostly.

      It goes in my back trouser pocket plus a can in each sleeve pocket, plus a can in the kangaroo pocket of my plate carrier, plus a roll in my RACK, plus a roll in my ruck….

      Get on the PT/mobility/rehab article. I’m still waiting.

      • jf.mcclung permalink

        No worries. Give a me a couple of weeks. I’m heading to Northern Utah to visit my son next week with my HH6 and 2 teenage daughters and will be back end of first week of April. My apologies for not getting to it sooner. I’ll email you when I get back and we can discuss direction and ideas for article.

  24. Pineslayer permalink

    Great read. So what do you gentlefolk think of the FLC vests as a piece of gear? They are cheap, tough and cheap.

    • Personally, I hate them, but that’s just me. Max Velocity and JC Dodge at Mason-Dixon have both done recent articles on them extolling the virtues that makes them like them. What LBE is best for you is a very personal thing.

  25. Guido permalink

    You say you are running Gamma Lever III+ plates. Those stop up to 7.62x51mm NATO (multi hit, standalone). Do you think that is enough? I wonder if in a fight here in the US we may need more than that, since .30-06 and other large-caliber hunting rifles are so prevalent. Of course, those are in the hands of civilians, and would we be fighting AGAINST those weapons, or would it be mostly 7.62x51mm NATO and down?

    • Koldsteel permalink

      Tactical Armor Products was bought out by Point Blank (in reference to the Gamma III+ plates). Does anyone have a recommendation for armor plates ?

    • The difference between 7.62×51/.308 and 30-06 is not much, especially when you consider that if you get hit by 30-06, it will most likely be at a distance enough to have taken off the 100fps or so advantage it has over the tested and defeated .308 round to begin with anyways. I’ve seen where Dr Gary Roberts who does a lot of independent body armor testing state that if it stops .308, it will stop 30-06. Armor piercing 30-06 on the other hand is a whole another story.

  26. j jones permalink

    W hich copy of the Rnger Handbook do you use (there are so many “copys” about) a lionk to Amazon would help.

  27. robruff permalink

    Great post JM esp with the inclusion of pictures and all – yes I can read (1-3 syllable words anyway). After my stint at Bragg @20yrs ago, I never thought I would be entertaining humping better than 1/3 my body weight again, but everyone needs a gut check from time to time. Unless your title is Mr. FAG then you have set the standard for gut check purposes. Curious as to the reasoning for the painted letter/numbers on your mags other than not being lost to sticky fingers or training purposes; is there a method to your madness? Also in regards to gloves – having a helluva time feeling trigger reset with gloves on, any recommendations for quality shooting gloves – other than “mechanix”? Finally on a side note, considering everything you have on your suggested packing list for your person, do you prefer your students running with any optics for their rifles or do you prefer iron sights only?

    Oh, and BTW, lets call a spade a spade with #6 on your 1st line survival gear – THAT is a rape whistle.

    Great post John, thanks again.

    • My triggers on all my guns have very distinct resets. Not sure why, but everyone comments on it. So, I’ve never had a problem even with gloves on. I run aviator gloves or mechanix almost exclusively. No recommendations on gloves, unfortunately.

      I prefer guys run optics on their rifles, but have no problem with guys showing up with irons either. We had everything from ACOGs and Burris’ to Eotechs, Aimpoints, and irons this past weekend in Iowa.

      As for the rape whistle….I don’t think they market them as rape whistles, but……

  28. Lane permalink

    Don’t forget that the old ALICE frame had the optional bottom rack for carrying jerry / water cans. I still have and use my old issue frame (which I broke on a jump into A.P Hill) with that carry rack, which is a little heavy but tougher than a ballpeen hammer.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. You Want Me To Carry, What!!!??? | The Defensive Training Group
  2. Tactical Training by Max Velocity | Call Out: Avoiding Ego in the Gear Advice Game
  3. Mosby: You Want Me To Carry What? – Part II | Western Rifle Shooters Association
  4. Another Call for Physical Conditioning | The Defensive Training Group

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