Monday, April 22, 2013

An Interesting Discussion on Load Out's Part 1 of 2

Recently there were some very useful articles about packing rucks and living in the field by Mountain Guerrilla HERE, American Mercenary HERE and Max Velocity HERE. I have not written my own to go along with them because the overlap is so significant. It would not really bring much value for you to know I like 5 pair of socks instead of 4, carry lots of baby wipes and make sure to have a fleece watch cap even in the summer. Instead I want to look at it from a different angle. Today I want to look at ways to tailor a load to meet your needs for a particular scenario/ mission. 

As you see by reading the previously mentioned articles there are more commonalities than differences. The way I think of it is like bread. The differences between one and another are generally smaller than a non baker would suspect. A slightly different type of flour, maybe some cinnamon and butter, you get the idea. The point of this is that if somebody is making bread with 3 pounds of dried beans, pepper and pickles I will not be lining up for a slice. 

So we need to look at the reasoning behind different load out's. In the most simple sense we could break variances down into environmental conditions/ mission and personal preference. So let us talk about them both in turn.

Environmental Conditions:

Weather is an enormous factor that you cannot ignore. Without the right gear in cold weather you will die. A poncho liner to sleep in is fine for winter in Florida but in Michigan you probably will not make it through the first night. Often a summer load out and a supplementary heavier winter load out makes sense. 

Local conditions matter significantly. For example it might be hot in both Georgia and Arizona but one has lots of water and the other hardly any. Down here in the Southwest and in the dry parts of the inland west water is a serious consideration. A man on foot will have a very hard time carrying enough in many places. Best case without significant local primitive knowledge a person is stuck to fairly defined routes between reliable sources of water. This was the case for the US Soldiers during the Indian Wars. Folks who are stuck to a clearly defined path are easy to avoid or ambush at ones choosing.

The environment is also a consideration in terms of how much food one could reasonably collect and how easily they could collect it.  

This is definitely where we are going to see our biggest variances (that make sense).

I might be slightly off on the facts here but somewhere after WWI the Brits, French and Germans did independent studies on the load soldiers can sustainably carry while remaining combat effective. They all came to the conclusion that it was 1/3rd of body weigh. Call an average guy 180 pounds and that gives about 60 pounds to work with. (For ladies I think it is more like 1/4 of body weight.) To be candid this is talking about young, healthy military aged men. I doubt half of the folks reading this could walk with 1/3rd of their body weight (1/4 for ladies) all day long then fight afterwords. 

The point here is to figure out what your fundamental goal is and move from there. If you are going to be fighting people then carry the stuff to do that, if you need to gather enough food to survive then carry the stuff to do that. You get the idea.

A rifle, ammo and body armor get heavy in a hurry. At the risk of guessing my fighting load is between 15 and twenty pounds without body armor or 30 and 35 pounds with it.That is a pretty basic setup too: rifle w/ 8 mags, an IFAK, a small utility knife, my Glock and a spare mag or two. A setup with more mags, a day or two worth of food, some snivel gear, a poncho/ liner and whatnot could easily weigh 30+ pounds before armor. 

That means if I want to carry a full fighting load there are about 30 pounds left for sustainment. That means for all but the shortest trips in the mildest climates we are looking more towards not starving or freezing to death than full bellies and comfort. Not a bad thing necessarily just something to remember. It sort of sets you up to make the packing easier.

On the other hand depending on the scenario you might not need or even want that much fire power. I know it's sacrilegious (and can't see myself doing it but then again I can pack the weight) to even say that but if the overall risk is low and you need the weight for other essential life sustaining stuff that might be worth thinking about.

In general short trips tend to favor carrying mostly consumables such as food and water. At some point as trips get longer there is a gradual tipping in favor of tools and things that can produce food vs consumables. Granted we could take a hard look at the practicality of 300 mile trips on foot, let alone playing Batman in the Boondocks but that isn't what we are talking about today.

 I've completely lost focus on where this is going so for today we are going to wrap it up. More will come tomorrow or later in the week



Aesop said...

Ammo load has an optimum range.
Everyone likes to think they need enough ammo to have been stylin' during Black Hawk Down, Little Big Horn, or the Alamo.

But I think the lesson is that if you need that much ammunition, you've gotten yourself into a hole that you won't be digging your way pout of with ordnance and firepower, so the takeaway is not to get yourself into something in the first place you can't back out of.
Rather than packing a pallet of bullets, which comports nicely with the American concept of "If one is good, two is better, and five or twenty would be really bitchin!", which applies whether we're talking bullets, pain pills, or anything else.

It's the same reason that contrary to all the commandments of Saint Cooper, in survival situations, firearms aren't any of the top ten things you need, because one round expended can not only get you dinner, it can bring down more heat on you than you could solve with a 5-ton truckload of rounds.

It also bears noting that when packing for the environment, the enemy is under the same constraints once far enough from bases, so that avoiding contact becomes the preferred option for both sides.

FWIW, don't be afraid to cover your loadout, even though it might be a lot of overlap.
Once upon a time, I looked through an even dozen different recommended "survival kit" recommendations, and 80-90% since 1940 of it is the same from list to list, varying mainly in rank order, and the rest are outliers arising from different perspectives, or different assumptions about the situation; just like with mission load outs for survival/resistance/insurgency/combat/all of the preceeding.

Ryan said...

Aesop, I'm torn here because you can go through ammo so fast in a fight but it's heavy.

In terms of going item by item through my stuff. Honestly my kit varies depending on the specifics of what is going on. Also it's largely redundant AND a long boring post I'm not in a hurry to write.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Practice is key. We backpack on the John Muir trail every summer. We can carry a 60 pound pack which has 10 days of food. If we fish we can get 15 days. We need to resupply at that time. We do not carry guns or ammo. This is where it gets tough. 308 and ammo will add another 20 lbs.The basics for 21 days...2 pair of socks (wash every other day. One pair of zip off pants,rain suit, fleece jacket and rain pants and jacket.One short sleeve and long sleeve shirt.
Mimi cook stove and related gear. Pad, sleeping bag and one man tent.
Mini fishing pole,water purifier,Thats about it.

Aesop said...

The thing with ammo is, American forces go heavy because they have back-up and a huge log train. (Until someplace like Mogadischu, when that all goes sideways too.)

A survivalist/insurgent can't afford to do that, because there isn't any back up.

And even in traditional conventional forces, ammo is heavy, but it gets light real fast when you start burning through it, and eventually you get to where you start trying to hoard it rather than risk running out, because SAWs and M240s are expensive clubs.

Enough ammo is like enough money: it doesn't exist. So it's usually either carry too much, or too little.

When you're the G, or the one-tribe posse trying to survive, your forte is never getting decisively engaged unless you have the odds stacked in your favor, or you're going to get stomped.

I totally understand about the list, but if you get around to it, it'll be another penny on the scale in favor of the sensible stuff, and there may be some piece of hot gear you have that makes other people have that "Aha!" moment.

I think of those kind of lists like a briefing from the MagPul guys:
"This isn't The Ultimate Perfect Thing. But here's what we do, and why, and maybe you've got a better idea, but this works for us." Those kind of info briefings are usually worth 20 lectures from Bob Bitchin, The Most Dangerous Legend In His Own Mind, which the Internet spawns like toadstools over the septic tank.

riverrider said...

an old sf text says to issue your g's no more than two mags and two frags, otherwise they stand and fight(and die)instead of hit and run. cache extra ammo along the route and/or ao looong before hostilities and recover just before the hit or on the run. same with rations etc. establish safehouses etc like the muj. they travel with no food, no ammo, just the mag in their ak sometimes, but have caches and safehouses everywhere coupled with the arab custom of never refusing a guest food or assistance. some app trail hikers hike shelter to shelter carrying no tent/shelter for 2100 miles. they send food ahead via the post office, leave stashes at friends or have family send it to wherever they are. seems to me g's could learn a lot from them....prior planning means less toting.

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