So in the previous article we went over packing in the regular vacation or exploration sense. Now let’s look at it with a survival or prepping eye. Most of this will be an extension on that so if you haven’t read it already go read it here now. Let me also say that I do not have any actual experience in this .gov sponsored or otherwise so please take it with a grain of salt and defer to people who have actually done this stuff. I will try to update with info from experienced individuals as time goes on.
So essentially you are going to take all the gear and packing methods discussed last time and add a weapon and ammo. Ok, that’s it. article over.
Just teasing let’s dive into the thought experiment. A pack is still critical but you will want to make sure that it works with whatever form of magazine carrying you will be using. Or you may need to have your ammo carriage carried separately on the pack itself. There are a few pictures and recreations of the old First Special Service Force using pack boards or mountain rucksacks with their web gear slung over the back. A lot depends on how much you are trying to carry and expected contact. Foregoing the hip belt altogether may be something you have to do as well. This will put 100% of the load on your shoulders but interfere with web gear the least. Another point to consider is dropping the pack in a hurry. You can drop an ALICE in a second if it’s not strapped to your waist. The others are not terrible but do take a process. You will need to figure out the type of contact you expect and go from there. History is a good teacher, will you be in a dense area where ambush or sudden contact is likely? Then look at how troops in Vietnam set up their gear. You will probably want to use something like the old ALICE and keep the waist strap tucked away so you can dump it at a moment’s notice. Is the area pretty wide open where the engagement distance will be far? Then maybe look at the British in the Falklands or Afghanistan. Just make sure to play with some combinations to make sure it will work together.
To Plate or Not to Plate
This I really have no answer for. Do you take a plate carrier/body armor and helmet with you or leave it? My initial thought would be to take it but it is going to add a ton of weight to an already heavy load as well as interfere with the pack fit. So I’m going to chalk this up to knowing your expected situation. Is everything going to be long distance or extreme altitude? Maybe leave it. Is it likely to be up close and personal or contact is practically guaranteed then wear it. Your plan of action would be a factor here as well. Are you going for speed and a low profile? Or making a stand or searching for the enemy.
Here you will likely start having to make adjustments. I would still recommend doing whatever you can to keep as much as you can but you may have to go with just a poncho (or tarp), poncho liner (or blanket) and pad. This will also be determined by how long you expect to be out. If it’s going to be long term or you plan on setting up a base camp you will probably need an actual tent. If it’s short term or you will be on the move a lot then the poncho/liner set would be more useful. If the environment is loaded with creepy crawlies adding a bug net or using a bivy instead would be advised.
Types of poncho/tarp shelters
Food and Water
Water stays the same. Food though may need to be adjusted. Using a stove takes time and requires set up. MRE type food can be eaten immediately and you don’t have to worry about light discipline either. Not that a stove puts out a lot of light but it still must be accounted for. Another area that will be situation dependent. Long duration, do the freeze dried, shorter or lots of movement do the MRE. At least you won’t have to worry about a bear can in this situation. Still be mindful of your trash though. Leaving the empty packing behind is only giving valuable intel to your enemies.
Here it’s similar except that you can forget about an extra set. You will probably be in the same clothes for most of the time. Only real exception would be if you had some kind of secure base of operations type set up. You’re going to be filthy, deal. Socks, and good socks at that. preferably wool or some kind of synthetic sock is a must. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat here, much like the boots themselves, just make sure they are cushioned and wick moisture away from your foot. So besides what you are wearing just pack at least 2 extra sets of socks and 1 extra set of underwear minimum. Jacket recommendations are the same, A good fleece/sweater and a hard shell. You could also lose the hard shell and just use the same poncho that you brought for shelter too, but if your area gets on the colder side I would keep it as it makes a big difference in trapping your body heat in. These things will be in the main pack, since you won’t be needing them in a hurry. Climate dependent obviously as far as the rain gear goes.
On a side note you don’t have to be wearing camouflage. It can be plain clothes, just muted colors like gray, tan, etc. and if you think you may be needing to move about the general populace at some point that may be better. Some rando showing up in head to toe multicam is going to draw a lot of attention but some brown pants and a grey hoodie and he’s just one of the crowd.
I would say the same really.
Ok, major change. Most agree that this should be on your person, not in a backpack. So rather than a little bag or pouch in an easy to reach spot in the backpack get a dedicated for somewhere on you. Heck put it in a cargo pocket. Also this should be something like an IFAK. Your likely first air requirements in a survival situation are going to be different than a vacation/adventure. If you want to do a trauma kit on yourself and then the backpacking kit with the odds and ends for non emergencies in your pack, sure that sounds fine.
This is roughly the same also but you will want to make sure to include things like a cleaning kit and any maintenance or repair items for your weapon as well. You will also want to make sure you have lots of batteries for all your gadgets.
Putting it All Together
So remember how I mentioned that your backpack should ideally weigh no more than 30% of your body weight? Yeah good luck with that. You will have likely blown past that number as soon as you filled your canteens. Just do what you can to cut weight where you can. You may want to look into a way to utilize small vehicles, pack animals or the less tactically inclined in your group to help spread the load around. Food for thought.
Try loading everything up and seeing how it all interacts. Try shouldering and slinging your rifle, try getting prone and back up again. It’s going to suck, all of it, but it’s better to find out what you’re in for ahead of time so you can be prepared and so you can make adjustments to make it suck less.