Showing posts with label camping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label camping. Show all posts

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Shelf Stable Food Inventory

Since I have been the crazy survivalist who buys a bunch of food and she does most of the cooking things have gotten pretty crazy in our kitchen.  Also since this involved me putting things (she wasn't thrilled about me getting in the first place) into her area (the kitchen) it was sort of a delicate matter. I kind of put things where they could fit easily and not cause an issue instead of where they might make the most sense. Essentially I'm a crazy jerk who shoved a bunch of stuff in every nook and cranny of the kitchen. As we've been down in Louisiana for awhile the problem has been compounding. Wifey inventoried the majority of our shelf stable food and totally reorganized the food in the kitchen. It was a really cool thing she did to help with my interests and our preparedness efforts.


To close out the inventory I need to do the buckets of food and someone will end up doing an inventory of some canned goods that are in the other part of the kitchen.

The intent is to maintain a running inventory and keep things organized. I would like to put it on a spreadsheet with column's for goal (I want to figure out a methodology for stocking specific amounts of stuff instead of just buying arbitrary amounts.), on hand and to mark when things get used to replace them.

Not surprisingly due to the lack of good organization, inventories or a central plan efforts were a bit uneven.

What we have plenty, some might even say too much, of:
Peanut Butter
Tin Foil
Coffee
Coffee filters
Flour
Canned corn
Coctail sauce
BBQ Sauce

We need:
Dry beans other than black beans-We have a bunch in buckets but don't use it for normal stuff.
White vinegar x2 gal
Pasta (other than spaghetti) about 20 pounds
Red sauce- About 20 cans.
Single serving pouch sides- Rice- O Roni, that type of pasta stuff, etc.- 5 or 7
Jam/ Jelly x3
Iodized salt x6
Salsa x1

Since Wifey spent all day reorganizing this stuff in the kitchen the prep budget ordered pizza for dinner.

Monday, October 20, 2014

What Did you Do To Prepare This Week?

Wifey started a fall garden
I am working on updating my level 2.5 assault pack/ get home bag
Working on our family fishing skills
Packet up a ready to go set of hygiene stuff
Acquired a new holster for the Kahr CW9
Physical fitness has hit center stage. We are working on getting healthy and
fit by eating better and moving more.
We went camping this weekend. Along this line of effort we put together some
stuff that will likely evolve into our camping/ heavy bug out setup.

Next week my plans are to:
Fill up the BBQ propane tank
Get some more water containers
Order some more long term storage food
Get to a tentative revised plan for my level 2.5 bag
Keep hitting fitness hard

What did you do to prepare this week?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

RE: Camping After The Collapse

Max Velocity is off training great Americans to be more capable small unit fighters. In his absence Max did a repost of an entry that I either missed or have forgotten about  Re-Post: ‘Camping’ After the SHTF. I found it an interesting topic and it grabbed my attention. My thoughts in no particular order are:

-SHTF can mean a lot of different things. Maybe the mythical grid down collapse or class/ religious/ racial trouble or some sort of an economic collapse or whatever. The point I am driving at is twofold. First there are many types of SHTF. There are folks today who, part due to life choices and plenty due to luck (to be born smart and healthy or to have issues to land in a good family or not, also just the craps shoot of life) are homeless and living in isolated camp grounds or national forests. S has definitely hit F for them. What I am getting at is that S might hit F for Tom but not for Sam. It could be economic or social or racial or religious. People have hurt each other a whole lot of different ways in history.

Second obviously the circumstances of a particular SHTF scenario will dictate a lot of your tactics. While it is unlikely due to our economical situation, having a bit of savings and some good family relationships to fall back on let us say for whatever reason tomorrow my family was back in the general pacific northwest homeless living out of an RV or a truck and a trailer on national forest land moving a mile every 14 days (or whatever the current requirement is). I would make sure someone was around to look after our belongings but we would not need to worry about noise and light discipline at night, etc. The circumstances would not dictate it.

-As to locations. There is something of a balancing act that needs to be done here. Max hit accurately on the benefits of avoiding places you do not want to be near. On the other side of that coin you must consider places YOU NEED TO BE ABE TO ACCESS. Obviously water and the ability to gro/ harvest food come to mind. In anything but a complete collapse we might also consider the ability to work/ look for work and get supplies from town.

Coming back to the scenario where my family is living out in the woods on forest service land. One of the adults, probably me, is going to either be working or trying their best to work. Given that we are living out in the national forest I'm not making much money (or we wouldn't be there for very long if at all) so transportation costs must be considered. Maybe things are even worse and I am riding a bike or even walking. Obviously if I am walking to a job, or to look for a job, it would be somewhere near people Hoofing it more than a handful of miles to work, probably given our circumstances at a low end very physical job, is not very realistic.

-Security. Max pretty much hit on it.

-Bugging out or otherwise being ready to move. All the way back from the boy scouts I have kept my bag(s) pretty much packed. Obviously the Army greatly enhanced that. The general trend to be generally packed and ready to move quickly is valid.

- Moving. Circumstances vary widely here. In a more tactical scenario (admittedly not the topic of this post) I would not spend more than a day in the same place often and would have to require some serious recovery to to stay somewhere for more than 2 days. On the other hand if we were unable to afford better options or our better options were no longer available due to social/ ethnic/ cultural issues and the place we were at was safe I would not be in a big hurry to move all the time.

-Max hit on many valid points but either I did not read well of I missed a couple things.

-The first is rally points.

 [Rally points work like this..Basically as you go along the leader designates rally points at which your group might gather if something bad happens.  Everything goes to S*&T and the leader yells out the name of a rally point then you all fight through and go there. In the context of a fixed site if we were in an untenable situation the leader would call the name of a rally point and we would gather there.

I suppose it is worth discussing what makes a good rally point. Here you need a geographic or terrain feature that is readily identifiable but not so much that it is too obvious. If something goes to hell at 2am you can't expect folks to run 600 meters at 35 degrees due north. You need a terrain feature that is outside of sight and sound range from the campsite/ patrol base. Example the big ole oak stump on decent terrain in the middle of the woods would be a fine rally point while the same stump in the middle of 5 square miles of open prairie would be a problem.]

As a general rule it is a good idea to have rally points intermittently when on the move. In a conventional sense you want them far enough apart to make it a hassle for the guy spotting for IDF to have a hard day. In an unconventional situation I would at least look to have points outside of machine gun range with a terrain feature in between.

For Patrol Bases and  I suppose a more long term camp sight the general rule is to have 2 rally points at generally opposite cardinal directions. The theory is if you get attacked from one side you run to the other. Of course terrain dictates so maybe it is north and south or east and west, whatever. The man who taught me went ran with Tyson and Budweiser which I suppose dates him. Black and Gold or Red and Blue are fine too.

Thee second big thing I personally feel this article missed is caches. If this was my life situation 50 tp 75 percent of my stuff would be burred over 8000m from my location.

So those are my thoughts on that. What do you think?

Monday, February 3, 2014

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

Still working the issue with the 870. When I have spare time it'll probably be devoted to sawing, filing, sanding and refinishing the forend of the gun. Can't wait to be done with that.

Walker and I went camping this weekend. We were in the backyard in case it didn't do well. He hadn't ever slept in a tent before. Turns out that we were close enough to the house for the WIFI to work so that was nice after he went to bed. It was pretty fun for both of us. He got to eat dinner and hang out outside. I had a fire and did a bit of carving.We will do it again as soon as we can. After another run or two in the yard we'll go someplace nearby overnight.

Sharpened some knives. One I'd used pretty hard and the other I just wanted to tune up. Figure if I sharpen a couple knives weekly or bi weekly that should go a long way towards having a safe, sharp stable of knives.

Did a bit of gun maintenance also. A good excuse to open the safe and ogle my precious.

I'm in the market for a nice medium sized knife. Concept of use would be bushcrafting/ camping/ survival. Broad characteristics are a 4.5-5.5 inch blade, full tang preferably of the same width/ depth going all the way down the blade and handles slapped onto the side. A sheath I don't immediately want to replace would be a plus. Looking at a Tops Brothers of Bushcraft, the Ontario Blackbird SK-5 or maybe the Benchmade 162 Bushcrafter. I'm open for input if anyone has experience with these.

What did you do to prepare this week?



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Saturday Night Ramblings

I found myself in Walmart the other day. Needed a haircut and some light work on the family hauler and there is only one place to do both of those things around here. Turns out everybody else had the same idea! So I was waiting for both things and looking at the ammo situation.

It was actually pretty good. Lots of .223, 7.62x39, .308 and of course all the shotgun shells and hunting type calibers you could want. A guy was talking to the dude working behind the counter. Guy didn't now what type of ammo his SKS shot but wanted to buy some. Dude said 7.62x54R but Guy was not exactly convinced. I said it was 7.62x39. Walmart Dude was happy somebody else was dealing with his problem. Guy was not entirely convinced. He asked if I was sure to which I replied that I was. He asked the same question a similar way. I said I was absolutely positive and would bet him a thousand dollars cash on the matter. Guy was convinced. That narrowed it down to caliber. Dude had both steel cased (Wolf I think) and brass cased ammo. Guy wasn't sure about the difference.

That lead to a 2 minute discussion. Since Guy didn't reload (thank God!) we agreed steel cased would suit his needs at a much more agreeable price. Guy bought 3 boxes and we both went about our days.

Today I had to run some errands and ended up at a surplus store. Got a castle nut wrench which I am long overdue for purchasing and a used USGI wool blanket, picked up the blanket for $10 which I was pretty happy with. After that I went to scout out a place to do some camping. It looks good. In my time driving around the woods here I definitely realized the longest line of site you get here is under 200 meters with under 100 being more common. That's bumped my desire to acquire a precision bolt action rifle, lately boosted by the book I am currently reading Point of Impact (Thanks Zero and Harry Flashman!), down a big notch. Short of improbable shots down a strait road, in a field, etc Project AR could easily dominate any shooting tasks here, hell an iron sighted 30-30 would do around 90% of it just fine and a shotgun could cover 70% or so.

I may go camping tomorrow but it depends on how far I get on a project at home. As a kid and teenager I absolutely loved camping. I went at least monthly forever and for multiple years about every other weekend. Then I joined the Army and subsequently started sleeping outside all the time for work it ceased to be any fun. Since then I could probably count the amount of times I've slept outside on the ground, outside of work,  on one hand. Each time involved family so I was pretty much stuck. Now I am for better or worse at a place in my career where I have been removed from that sort of thing for awhile. I sort of miss it.

That is good because incidentally Walker seems to be expressing an interest in camping. He went with Mother in Law in the drive way a week or so back. Except he noted it wasn't real camping because "the truck didn't move and we didn't sleep in a tent" (She has a camper and it was going to be 20 that night) but he seemed to have fun all the same. So maybe we'll start doing some of that in the yard then ultimately out and about. He is getting towards the right age to start doing more outside stuff. We've got the gear so that is not an issue. Anyway we will see where that goes.

Today while going over my BOB I made some changes. Added a few pouches to give me more readily accessible space. Aside from that mostly it was transitioning to a winter setup admittedly a bit late. Added a pair (top/ bottom) of silk weight long underwear and a wool sweater. I took out a waffle top that had been my sole piece of cold weather gear (for summer in AZ). Swapped a desert pattern goretex for a multicam shell to better fit the area. Also added a pair of wool gloves. If I am smart in the spring when I ditch that stuff I'll put it all in a box or bag to make the transition easy in the future.

I realized some holes that need to be filled today going through our gear. They are going to be listed not so much for you but so I can remember in a month or whatever when I want to fill them:
3x wide mouth stainless steel water bottles (1x ghb, 1x everyday 1x wifey)
1x nesting cup for 1q bottle with carry pouch
3x Louisiana state maps (or a western central LA type map if I can fine one larger than parish but below state sized)
3x eastern Texas maps if available
1x trowel
2 pair wool socks
a kydex belt holster that will hold a Glock 9 with a light yet be reasonably concealable. The big Safariland is great for a battle belt, duty, OC role but I'd like to have a holster (raven concealment, bravo concealment, etc) that could hide under an oversized shirt or a sweatshirt. Should get a pair of good mag pouches along with it.

Tomorrow or the next day I'm going on a monster rant about Bushcrafting. I think bushcrafting is to camping what crossfit is to exercise. They do so many good things but also do some really silly things and take it all so seriously. That should be a fun talk.

I pulled the trigger and ordered the stuff for Project 870. Brownells matte black Alumahyde, Elzetta light mount, GG&G rear sling mount and a half dozen essetac cards. I can procure a light locally and have some slings in my box o gun junk. Think I ultimately want to use a Magpul MS3 to have the 2-1 capability but I'm not sure. Looking forward to getting that all set up.

Realized that one of my not explicitly defined but over arching goals for this year is to have all the guns I currently own set up how I want them to be. Of course there is some evolution as new products come out, we test stuff, yadda yadda yadda but instead of buying another gun or piece of kit I want to get the stuff I have all squared away.

Got some Lone Star beer the other day. One of those cliche Texas things I had to try. It is pretty good straddling the line of being flavorful without too heavy or busy.

Anyway I'm bored of writing now so it's time to wrap this up. Talk to you all later.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Field Sleeping in the Winter

Max talks Combat Patrol Gear and Info which got me thinking about different ways I have slept outside over the years. So today I am going to discuss that topic.

When it comes to cutting weight (to leave room for fun stuff, booze or tactical stuff depending on the trip) a tent is one of the first things to go. While most people like the creature comfort that a tent brings and some depend on the psychological shelter it isn't really necessary. I like them for comfortable base camp type setups but they are solidly a want not a need.

First I will talk gear. We will get to how I use it later. Let's look at some different budgetary price points.

Searching the couch for change- A synthetic sleeping bag or a large WOOL blanket and a poly tarp or piece of heavy plastic sheeting like painters use as ground cloths. A foam pad is a bonus. You can find deals on new or gently used off brand SYNTHETIC (shell and fill) sleeping bags in the $60 or less range. If you are really broke search mom or grandma's basement and you can probably find a wool blanket though that is going to be more of a 'don't die' than a 'comfortable nights sleep' solution. Total cost with a bag is probably $75. Cost with Mom's pilfered wool blanket is under $20 but you are going to be sucking if it's cold.

(Note that I specifically said a SYNTHETIC bag or WOOL blanket. If you can't figure out why the el cheapo Coleman cotton bag we all have in our garage/ basement is not good for anything but sleep over's or summer camp I do not know how to help you. Either you are ignorant and should find someone to teach you or are so stupid you can't be helped.)

You have a few bucks to spare- A military ECWS sleep system and a nylon tarp or military poncho along with a sleeping pad. The military bags are not exactly better than civilian ones but they are hell for stout and come in at a very aggressive price point. You must spend 2-3x as much to get a better civilian bag. However in the ECWS sleep system the bivy is really the prize. Those things are awesome. I have slept soundly in them during torrential downpours and snow. On more than one occasion I woke up in a puddle but inside the bivy was totally dry. The sleep system comes with a light bag, a heavy bag and the bivy as well as a stuff sack or two. By mixing and matching the system is good for weather warm enough that you lay on top of the bag all the way down to 0 deg far or even lower. Think it's reputed to work to -10 or something. For cost they can regularly be had around $200-220 brand new and nicely used from $130-150. Of course better deals pop up but you can't realistically plan based on the $40 bargain your friend Jimbo got at a garage sale.

For sleeping pads lots of folks like the thermarest inflatable type pads. I am not one of them. The damn things always break. Either they get punctured or the air nozzle thing breaks. I use the older military green foam pad. They are not as comfortable but short of getting run over by a lawnmower or tossed in a fire nothing stops them. The foam pad is bulkier but it doesn't weight anything so I don't mind it much. Other foam pads are a fine option also.

In this category the best shelter option is probably a surplus military style poncho or the civilian equivalent. Expect to pay around $50 for the shelter piece. Total cost assuming a good used ECWS system, a foam pad and a poncho is in the $200 range. Figuring a brand new ECWS system, a thermarest and a poncho it will be closer to $300.

Price isn't a concern- Military sleep system or high end bag inside a military bivy. Two poncho's or a larger purpose made nylon shelter cloth like a Swack Shack or a similar product. Whatever type of pad suits your fancy. Price starts from $230ish for a used ECWS system, a swack shack or 2 poncho's and a foam pad and goes up from there. On the top end a high end North Face bag with a commercial bivy and a Kirafu shelter could cost as much as my AR. I do not see a reason to spend that kind of money unless you're flush and want to.

Use-

The only option that is very different is the cheapest one. In this case you need to pay more attention to moisture as the bivy isn't there to protect your bag. The tarp or plastic sheeting needs to be put up into a hooch or something. If you fail to do so (like just laying it on top of your bag) the precipitation that forms on the inside can soak into your exposed bag. That can mean waking up at 3am awful chilly with a wet bag you do not have time or the ability to dry out.

This option can work fine if you stop and set up camp in a place where you can make a shelter.

For the middle and higher end options. The big advantage is that the bivy gives you a lot of leeway in shelter setup as well as bad conditions. Most of the time if it's not looking like rain or it's a go to bed late, wake up and leave, situation I don't bother setting up a shelter. I just pull out my bag with the bivy on the outside, wrap my ruck and boots in a poncho to protect them from dew or whatever then go to sleep. When my gear is sorted out I flip the top of the bivy over my head then go to sleep. This is sufficient for moderate rain though it is not the warmest option or the best for lots of rain.

If it looks like the weather is going to be bad or I am going to be around for awhile and the tactical situation permits I do like to set up a shelter. I'll just rig something up using a poncho, or even better the Swack Shack with some 550 cord to whatever trees or shrubs are available. This lets me keep the cover of the bivy partway open (vs over my head) which is nice and I don't have to worry if bad weather rolls in. Also it makes for a nicer morning with all my stuff dry. Since the shelter blocks the wind and sort of traps some air it makes for a warmer nicer night's sleep. I try to build a shelter that is suspended high enough to be off my gear but low enough that it can warm up with body heat. Typically this setup is usually just high enough at the peak to sit up.

With a small shelter (poncho sized) I will use the second poncho to wrap up my ruck to keep it dry since the ruck doesn't typically fit all the way underneath. Granted the ruck is packed so everything vulnerable is waterproof but I'd rather keep it dry. While the 2 poncho option gives more flexibility as I can have a poncho with me and have my ruck protected someplace else, etc a single larger shelter is a more comfortable setup.

So that is really how I do it. It's pretty comfortable if you choose a nice spot.

What is your field sleeping plan?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Load Out's Part 2: Shelter

I started talking about load out's awhile back. For whatever reason I sort of forgot about it. In any case TEOTWAWKI Blog's discussion of shelter options for a "bug out bag" got me back to it. Maybe instead of going through a whole kit I will just talk about sub systems. In any case here we go. Shelter is important first so you can avoid dying from exposure and second so you can get quality rest.  Getting quality rest is important so you can be at your best to deal with whatever is going on.

What I carry for shelter in the field is 2x poncho's and a standard issue EWCS Sleep System. I've talked about the sleep system before. They are not the cheapest thing out there for a sleeping bag but the combination of ruggedness, utility across a wide range of temperatures and value they are a really good option. Standard prices seem to run about $200 though they occasionally show up gently used in the $50-75 range. 

Typically when I bed down at night here is how it goes. 1 poncho gets wrapped around my ruck and gear to keep it dry in case of rain or morning dew. The other poncho is to wrap around myself over the bivy. Maybe a bit belt and suspendersish but this setup has kept me dry and comfortable in really nasty weather.

If I have more time or am going to be someplace for awhile 1 poncho is tied to a tree or something to make a little shelter. To support this 1 poncho has some short pieces of 550 cord on the corner grommets. Some folks include a tent pole or two so they can make a shelter even if trees or significant brush are absent. Personally I do not bother though if I lived someplace where trees and such are absent that could change.

The system described works pretty well to around 15 deg For so sustained lows. Colder than that and it starts to get sad. You really want some sort of shelter, ideally with insulation, that you can heat up when it gets cold like that. It could be a tent, a debris shelter, a snow cave or a building. Depending on where you live this might be a significant consideration.

The two reasons I can see myself going to something heavier like a tent are if I am going to be staying someplace for awhile or if it's really cold out.

I would stick with this general theme regardless of budget. If money was tight you can delay the bivy. A poncho (also useful for it's intended function) or tarp of some sort will work to cover up your sleeping bag. On the higher end I've wanted a Swack Shack for awhile.

What is your shelter plan?


Friday, September 28, 2012

All Sorts of Awesomeness: Free Clothes, Camping Gear and a Great Meal

Today was pretty darn good in general and from a free stuff angle.

We stumbled into a big box of little girl clothes from a friend of a friend who has a girl Walkers age. She was just waiting for somebody who could use them and we lucked out. Wifey took a look and most of them were tiny baby stuff. This means right away we do not need to buy any clothes for when she comes which is great. This means we can shift focus on getting the next size or two filled out.

We are getting a whole bunch of free camping gear. The in laws are downsizing and thus getting rid of a lot of stuff. FIL and the boys were really involved in scouting for years and acquired enough stuff for a squad minus to go camping either from a car or via backpack. Seriously too much good stuff to list, that will probably be another post. It was like a crazy survivalist Christmas for me.

Today dinner was particularly awesome. We had stuffed pork chops, basically a big 2 inch thick chop,slit down the middle and filled with stuffing. The result was wonderful. We had them with mashed potatoes and veggies. They went well with a bottle of Moose Drool.

I started reading the new Jim Rawles new book Founders today and am about halfway into it. A review will follow in due course but so far it has been a nice part of a pretty nice day. Huge thanks to Jim Rawles and Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy to review.

On yeah and I have run 4 more miles so far this week which puts me at 28.5. Not ideal and far from 50 but considering I am on leave; where my track record of doing any PT is terrible I am happy with it.

Anyway that is what has been going on here today. It has been a real nice day here and I hope things are going equally well for you.

Have a wonderful weekend.








Friday, August 3, 2012

Solo Stove, Rat 3 Knife and Why the M16/M4/AR Platform is Awesome

When it rains it pours and today it definitely poured.


I am pleased to announce our newest advertiser Solo Stove. I haven't gotten a chance to handle one yet but if their videos are any indicator it is a really cool piece of kit. Might just take most of the benefits of a camp stove AND most of the benefits of cooking over a fire and combine them in a compact package. Can't wait to get my hands on one.

An Ontario Rat-3 showed up in our mailbox today. The Rat 3 cuts and handles well in addition to being pretty darn light.  The sheath is very nice and well thought out. Between it's light weight and quality sheath you can easily forget it is on your belt. A brief initial impressions review will follow shortly but suffice to say I am quite impressed. The Rat-3 may well be the best small belt knife/ camp and field knife I have handled to date.

John Mosby has been cranking out awesome posts:
Tricks of the Trade and Tricks of the Trade II are worth reading and absorbing. While not a super duper cool SOF guy I have been around the block a couple times and still definitely got some stuff out of it. I suspect you will also.

His post: The M16/AR15/M4: Why it's the choice of professionals everywhere is worth reading and I will briefly discuss it. In no particular order:

-So much of the argument about .223 lethality (though JM makes a very compelling case that argument is junk) is really about full metal jacketed ammunition. Soldiers are required to use FMJ ammunition but civilians are not. If you like the platform but aren't thrilled with the bullets then get better ones. Modern soft point and hollow point .223 ammunition are a whole different ball game.

-As to reliability I think that any case of the AR platform being "maintenance intensive" or unreliable if not in pristine condition is seriously overstated. It is my belief that an AR could be kept going almost indefinitely by simply wiping out the inside of the upper receiver/ chamber and (assembled) bolt carrier group with a rag,  running a bore snake through the barrel and re oiling the gun. I have not empirically tested this theory but if anybody wants to donate a whole bunch of .223 ammo for me to test this theory I will provide the rifle, rag, bore snake and oil.

-To me the modularity of the platform is another significant bonus. You can have a unregulated legal short barreled rifle pistol, a defensive carbine and a solid varmit/ precision rifle that have total commonality in parts, ammunition and magazines. That kind of modularity and potential for a simple logistical footprint  is aweful handy.

The good folks at TEOTWAWKI Blog did a nice post on Blanket Rolls. This is a good technique to have in your brain housing group in case you find yourself (or a friend) needing to travel with less than the ideal gear setup.

I also ran 2 miles today leaving me with 44 more to go. Darn that is a long way. 

Thank goodness it is Friday. I got off work early which meant I could hit the gym and still get home at a very reasonable time. We went for a long walk and took kiddo to play with a ball in a big field. He really liked that and generally gets great joy out of being outside. We have been going out for a walk or to play every day after dinner which has been quite enjoyable. Hopefully we can have a yard at our next place.

I hope you all have a wonderful Friday.









Sunday, June 24, 2012

Skill Sunday: Packing a Backpack/ Ruck

I planned to write this post today but remembered that I did it years ago. Anyway this throwback post on how to pack a ruck is worth checking out if you are not solid on the topic.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Working on the Get Home/ Car Kits

Today we packed up a bag for Wifey. Also we added a fleece and a change of clothes for me. Nothing big really. Just looking at our stuff and filling some little holes while trying to prevent the good idea fairy from filling the whole vehicle with stuff.

The thing about having kits/ systems is that a lot of the benefit comes from the process of making the thing. In reality we do not have much in the car that we didn't before this. However I thought through what we really needed, made some lists and filled a few small but significant gaps. Also kits are a forcing mechanism to have the stuff that you might need where you might actually need it. There isn't much point in having stuff (not talking about stores, redundant items and such) at home in the basement. A jacket, knife, compass, poncho and pair of boots at home are far less useful than having that stuff in a backpack out in the woods or in the trunk.

My long term (probably 6-12 month range) way forward with kits is probably as follows. The kit I recently put together will get lightened down and be Wifey's BOB. One in a larger bag will get put together for me. On the bright side I already have most of the big ticket items lying around so the total cost will not be too bad.

Sportsmens Guide has used Alice Packs for $45. For some reason I have really been feeling a real urge to buy one. I don't really like them but if I had to go all Mad Max/ The Postman that is the bag I would want to carry. A pack that I will have for the long term would be worth modifying to make as comfortable as possible.

I am not sure exactly what I would use it for. Maybe a BOB but then again in some scenarios having a pack that does not look militaryish would be very nice. A scruffy guy carrying an (earth tone) commercial backpack looks like some hippie slacker not a crazy right wing evil wacist militia nutjob. If you want to go a little bit further, toss a peace symbol pin on this or that and make a cardboard sign that says 'damn the man, spare some change' or whatever. Depending on the situation switching contents between bags would be easy. Also at a bit under 50 bucks I would be more comfortable leaving an Alice in a vehicle than a more expensive bag that says "steal me, there is good stuff inside'.

Anyway that is what is going on with that.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

It was a good week for preparedness here. We got some flips snap diapers and inserts at a great deal in preparation for having a second kid (at some point in the future). Also I picked up a pair of backpacks at a great price and a 3 piece ECWS sleep system. I tried to purchase one of these sleep systems awhile back but there was some issue with the order and it was never processed. Also we got a 5 piece 18 volt Ryobi power tool set gently used for $80. It has a drill, a circular saw, and a sawzall as well as a flashlight and a little vacuum. Also I stumbled through our house finding half empty packs of batteries organized the batteries. An inventory found a couple deficiencies which got filled.

Wifey mentioned that it would be good if I didn't buy anything for awhile. As we don't want our balance sheets to look like Southern Europe I agreed.

Along other fronts I kicked the running program into gear going three times and also hit the gym. Wifey started making bread again which kiddo and I have appreciated. Anyway that is what we have been up to.

What did you do to prepare this week?

FLASH!! REI Sale on Backpacks and Other Stuff at 70% off

We got a pair of Millet Lukla 55 + 10 packs for $109.  Check out the sale.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Molle Rucksack Durability

I have read some discussion about the durability of Molle Rucksacks recently. The earlier ones had some issues with the plastic frame breaking. However in subsequent models that seems to have been corrected. I have dropped one weighing aprox 80 pounds from 8 feet onto concrete, had it land on a single point of the frame and had no problems.

I see two big downsides to the MOLLE system. First is the obviously militant appearance.  Depending on your concerns it could be an issue and if so a quality civilian model such as REI, Kelty, North Face, etc all in brown, tan or grey might be more discrete. Scruffy hair, slightly dirty non descript clothes and a gently used nice backpack just screams stupid hippie kid which could be a real advantage. A rifle fits easily in a ful sized pack and a pistol can be concealed under loose hippyish clothing. The downside is that these are typically a lot more expensive, like at least a couple hundred bucks. The second downside is that if the plastic frame is somehow damaged quality repair would be about impossible. You could weld or jb weld a more traditional metal frame and there isn't much of anything to break on the newer internal frame type packs. 

I should probably write about rucksacks some time but I haven't put anything organized together. Sooner or later I will.

Take care of each other

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Field Hygiene

Somebody asked about this in the comments section of a recent post. Let me start by saying that I am not a doctor or a gynecologist or a medic. Do not take what I say as legitimate medical advice and is just my observations and experiences of what has and has not worked well. As always consult your personal panel consisting of the family doctor, your lawyer, accountant, life coach, therapist and any applicable specialists (in this case a doc with a background in wilderness medicine seems appropriate) before doing anything.  If you think that the cost of such a panel would be ruinous than act like an adult, do your own research and take some personal responsibility before acting.

Let me define the scope of this post. I am going to talk about keeping healthy, clean and functional with limited access to modern facilities or hygiene supplies for periods of time between 24 hours and a month. Again don’t take this as the gospel; remember it is just one guys opinion.

To start I must say Americans have a fairly OCD approach to personal hygiene based heavily around almost limitless supplies of hot water and clean clothes. Also half the need for a shower is to wash off all the junk we cover ourselves with. Believe it or not people survived just fine for centuries without a hot shower (or 2) and clean clothes every day. In many parts of the world they still manage to survive without these luxuries which show that people have not biologically changed in recent years so it is in fact possible.
Let us go from head to toe and short periods to long periods.

Hair-For relatively short periods the easiest solution is to do nothing. Don’t put gel, hairspray or any other junk in it. Worst case it gets a bit greasy or something. Over longer periods (say beyond a week) I recommend men cut their hair very short and women cut it relatively short. Washing weekly is sufficient if you are short on water. Get it wet, shampoo, rinse.

Teeth-This one is the easiest as there is no change. Brush and floss your teeth regularly. If you are going to be out for a long time bring an extra roll of floss.

Shaving- I recommend not doing it unless you have good amounts of hot water. Men embrace your inner mountain man. Ladies, why you would try to shave anything in primitive conditions is completely beyond me.
The Army does this stupid thing where it expects soldiers to be clean shaven in the middle of nowhere in a dry camp. If I am ever in charge I will (at a minimum) institute a rule that if hot water is not made available to soldiers daily then shaving is not required. In any case if hot water is available shave as normal, a small mirror helps. Of hot water is not available I recommend electric razors (not rechargeable, the kind that take AAA or AA batteries) as the option is scraping half your face off dry shaving or using a little bit of cold water. I have a 20 dollar electric that has kept me in compliance to our stupid rule for years of field time.

Skin- If possible I like to clean my body daily even when a shower is not practical. As an added bonus doing this daily before bed helps keep your sleeping bag clean. This is especially important if you are in a hot/ humid environment or doing strenuous tasks. I am a big fan of baby wipes. You don’t need to use many of them and unless I am particularly funky 2 wipes works for my whole body. Order of precedence is face, upper torso, legs, armpits, crotch, butt. I should not have to explain to you why this is important. Baby wipes are super easy and cheap so you should get a lot of them.

If you are going to be out for awhile and or have access to at least some warm water then a washcloth and soap can be used to get the same effect.  Use the same order of precedence and don’t let the washcloth get funky. I recommend letting it hang to dry and washing it often. This is pretty much how people bathed for a long time so it works fine to keep you clean over the long run.

That brings us to the subject of soap. The fellow who asked about this topic in a comment mentioned unscented soap. There is a theory/ historic anecdote that goes like this, GI’s in ‘Nam would use unscented soap so the Vietcong couldn’t smell them in the jungle. The same idea pops up every now and again in our Army culture. However in the contemporary operating environment in Iraq and Afghanistan it is completely irrelevant for almost everybody. The reason is that everybody pretty much knows who we are. We are the Americans in the crazy uniforms with all the armor and the huge tan trucks. In Iraq the centers of gravity are the cities and you just can’t hide during a patrol. They don’t have to smell you as they can see you 6 blocks away because an MRAP is about 12 feet tall. In Afghanistan we do some more patrolling but there is almost always a mounted component due to long distances involved and sparsely distributed soldiers. Also the terrain is so open that you can see people from hundreds of meters off. So I would say to use whatever kind of soap you like.

The crotch-  I am going to talk about this area specifically because the crotch and inner thighs are where people tend to chafe, if they chafe. Typically chafing is an issue most often when you do a lot of walking in a hot and humid environment. You can get wicked friction burns and it is no fun at all, especially when you have to keep moving with them. Stay dry if at all possible. Some of the worst chafing I can remember was during a long road march in the spring at Benning when there was a thunderstorm. I would have been fine except my pants were completely soaked. At that point not a lot can be done.

Underwear is a factor as they cause friction. Tighty whities are probably the worst as they are right in that crotch/ inner thigh area where chafing is rife. Boxer briefs (like the spandex kind not the whitey tightey’s with legs kind) are better. The best option IMO is wearing no underwear. It decreases chafing due to less material in the area and letting things breathe better.  From the time I have spent in the field with women I have never heard one gripe about chaffing. I think that smaller legs, wider hips and different anatomy make it a non issue. (As for women and underwear in the field I am about clueless. I would guess that stringy little underwear is not the way to go but other than that can’t help you. Also as to specific to female field hygiene issues I know they exist but I just don’t know anything about that)

To prevent or manage chafing you can use some gold bond powder (a darn good thing to have) to keep things dry down there. Also I’ve heard of runners using Vaseline at friction points like thighs and nipples (that wasn’t meant to sound dirty but does). 

Feet- If you ignore everything else take care of your feet. Keep them in good shape or you are useless. Some folks like foot powder but I am not one of them. I find that it cakes onto your socks and decreases their ability to breathe while simultaneously shortening the amount of time you can wear them for. Keep toe nails reasonably short. Wearing good socks that are (as much as possible) dry is the best thing you can do for your feet. Also take off your socks and let your feet air out at night. 

Carry plenty of spare socks, they are about the only piece of clothing you really need to change semi regularly (every couple days or so, depending). Also (though of course you should do this with everything) be sure to put your socks into plastic bags to keep them dry.

Boots- This is not a place to pinch pennies. Buy quality boots that suit your purpose from  a good reputable manufacturer. Break them in by wearing them as you do everyday tasks and then for progressively longer walks and then hikes. Hardening your feet is done in the same manner. Start with short marches and then get progressively longer with heavier loads. This will also harden your legs and heart. Foot care and footwear could be a whole different post as it covers so much and is so important.

Clothes- Keep as clean as is practical. Keep some clean (a relative word) dry clothes to wear in the evening for down time and sleep. This will also let your day’s clothes air out overnight (if possible) and dry. Do the same thing with your socks.  If possible wash them when you can.

Sleep wear- If your operational situation allows letting your body breathe at night is good. I typically will sleep in shorts unless it is real cold.

Sleeping bags- Get a liner as it is far more practical to was it than the whole bag in the field.

In conclusion with a little bit of planning you can stay quite healthy in the field for a prolonged period of time. Using the techniques outlines above I have been just fine for upwards of a month in the woods on multiple occasions. Mostly it just requires getting used to not having modern conveniences.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Packing a Ruck

Dear TOR:
 
I picked up a military surplus MOLLE II backpack (rucksack?) that has three good sized compartments on it. I think the lower one is designed for bedrolls or whatever. Obviously, one can put anything anywhere, but I was wondering if there is a specific layout that the military uses for these backpacks, because, presumably, that would be the most efficient and effective, accessible, etc.
 
If you have time, would you please tell me what you carry in those backpacks and where it goes? I probably won't need all of what you guys use, but it would be helpful to have a "blueprint" for when I'm packing my stuff. It would also help to make sure that I dont overlook anything important.
 
Thanks.
 
Saddle Tramp
 
 TOR here:
First to get onto the same page. The term rucksack (which I shorten to ruck) is synonymous with backpack, at least in its larger hiking/ backpacking variety. Unit's often have standard operating procedures for all kinds of things including how to properly pack your ruck. [This brings us to two questions. First why do units have SOP's. We have them because we have some really stupid people and we are obsessive compulsive. Also we have them so we can at least in theory find essential pieces of equipment in another individuals stuff. Stuff like first aid kits, radios, etc needs to be able to be found by anyone. Secondly should your group/ family have SOP's. I would say that you should probably have some. It doesn't matter if everyone keeps their spare underoos or hygiene kits in a standard location. However essential stuff like first aid kits, maybe spare ammo for your common weapons (you do carry the same stuff, right?), the group emergency radio, etc is probably good for anyone of you to be able to find in another's stuff.] You don't necessarily carry the same kit or have the same needs as X battalion X regiment Infantry so I'm not going to tell you how they pack their rucks. However I will try to give some ideas to help you out. 

I think about two main things when it comes to packing a ruck. First I look at any excessively heavy items I may have. A big radio, a huge cast iron frying pan you are carrying up to the cabin, a spare case of ammo, etc would all apply. This stuff has to go as close to your body and as high as possible. You want it basically centered over the upper part of your back so it carries as well as it possibly can. If it is to one side or the left it is really unpleasant to carry. Having this stuff toward the bottom or outside pulls the bag back and down which is hard. 

Next I pack based upon what I will likely need access to. You don't want to have to dig all the way to the bottom of your bag for your water bottle or granola bars. For example your rain gear should be very accessible. The little pouches on the sides of your bag are a great place for rain gear as well as your flashlight, first aid kit, snacks and food you will eat through the day, etc. Your cooking stuff and dinner chow might go toward the top of the main pouch because after you get to camp the first thing you will do is making dinner. After that is your sleeping bag with bivy so you can get that set up. In the bottom might be your spare clothes because you don't plan to change anything except maybe new socks in the morning.

My packing usually goes like this:
Side pouches are filled with my rain coat and poncho as well as a bunch of snack foods and a small first aid kit. Weather depending I might have a bit of cold weather stuff like a silk weight top and a fleece cap in there also. In the main compartment the bottom is my extra clothes in a waterproof bag. Next I toss in the food I am carrying but do not plan to eat throughout the day. On top is my sleeping bag because in the Army I usually open the main compartment when it is time for me to go to bed so I want it on top. Depending on the conditions I might have my fleece jacket up top also. My foam sleeping pad is strapped on top. I stick my camelback under the flap for the main pouch to keep it off my back. If I was carrying ammo that wasn't in my chest rig/ LBE/ whatever you want to call it I would have it in the upper part of the main pouch because it is heavy. If I didn't have a chest rig/ LBE/ whatever you want to call it I would keep extra ammo in a side pouch so I could get to it fast. Considering I carry 7+ mags whatever bandoleers or extra loaded mags I had would be more for follow on missions in a situation where we planned multiple operations without resupply. 

I hope this helps.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Army Sleep System

I got an email asking about the new sleeping bag with the bivy we are using in the Army now. Since I get to use this stuff at no cost to me in realistic conditions for long periods of time I am in a good position to evaluate it for you folks who would spend their hard earned dollars on it.

Anyway a bit of background. For a long time the Army used these big sucky green sleeping bags. They are equivalent to that big fluffy Coleman brand square sleeping bag we all used as a kid. They work pretty good if you don't have to carry them (they are heavy and very bulky) and they don't get wet (think sponge). Good for a sleep over in your uncles cabin but not for real world use in primitive conditions.

Enter the EWCS modular sleep system. This was a huge update in technology and unlike the MOLLE rucksack they didn't go just part of the way. These things really are a home run. Basically they consist of a light "patrol bag" a heavier bag, a Goretex bivy and a stuff sack. A wooby fits easily into the stuff sack and anybody with an iota of common sense adds one to their personal sleep system. You can mix and match based upon the needs of your upcoming mission/ trip and go with just the light bag, the light bag and the bivy, just the heavy bag or whatever combination suits your fancy. I am very happy that we use these systems at work. I have found them to be rugged, reliable and a great piece of kit. In particular the zippers are quite rugged. I have gotten them hopelessly stuck and through brute force unstuck them without them breaking. Seeing as zippers are a real weak point in sleeping bags this just goes to show the quality and durability of the system.

These things are fairly light, pack up compactly and work really well. The bivy is good for keeping dry unless you are sleeping in standing water or there is a truly torrential downpour. Have a poncho to toss over your backpack/ boots and for traveling light a tent is not needed. With the thin bag and a woobie it is very compact and for me comfortable to 30ish. With the heavy bag I've slept soundly, without waking up freezing in the middle of the night, down into the single digits (F).

[The ratings for sleeping bags seems to have little to do with a comfortable nights sleep and are more about not freezing to death. Kind of like how a 3 foot wide tent is rated to sleep two people (if they REALLY like each other in a grown up sort of way). Knowing if a bag rated to 20 degrees is good to 20 or 30 or even 40 degrees for YOU is something that must be found out for yourself. I don't think this system is good to -10F.]

As for the more nebulous question of if they are worth purchasing for you guys and gals. That depends a lot on the cost. I have seen these systems for sale brand new for a few hundred dollars. At that price it would be a hard sell for me. The camouflage bivy is probably the most important single component. Getting one of them and putting it over a quality mummy bag of any color which you already own that is suited to your area would work fine. If you live in ridiculously cold Alaska or Minnesota then getting a heavier sleeping bag would be a must anyway. However if you look around finding one, just be sure it is in good condition and truly Mil Spec not a far inferior knock off, for under $200 doesn't seem difficult. I found 3 for $150 in under 2 minutes. If you are in the market for a sleeping bag you would be a fool not to buy one of these. To put my money where my mouth is getting a complete one of these systems for each member of our family is in my long plans.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Avoiding Blisters and Foot Problems

I used to hike when I was younger. Ya know nice little 3-6 mile walks on an enjoyable trail to a nice place with enough gear to be reasonably comfortable for a couple nights of camping. I don't do that anymore. Maybe someday when Walker Texas Ranger gets old enough I will again but that would be about him, not me.

I stopped hiking about when I got into the Army. Like most things, except shooting guns, jumping out of planes and maybe drinking good whiskey and fooling around with beautiful women (the last two are a guess as I've never been paid for them) it stops being fun when you do them for work. Another reason is that the loads got heavier, the pace got faster and the distances got a lot longer.

Here are some random thoughts on avoiding blisters and foot problems. Lets work from the outside in.

Boots. Get good quality comfortable boots that really fit you well. There are a lot of places to cut corners and pinch pennies but your feet aren't one of them. I would rather have a cheap sleeping bag or other piece of gear than boots and socks.

For a good all around boot I like the Altama Exospeed. They are very light and comfortable but pretty darn tough. My current pair are about worn out but after a year of non stop use and abuse that is pretty typical. They are great if you have to run 5 miles or walk 15 with an 80+ pound ruck. What more can you ask from a pair of boots?

Of course I have some Gore Tex and Thinsulate boots for when it is real cold outside and if you are smart you will get some too. They are generally too big, heavy and clunky to be that good for serious moving. Great for standing around or short moves and normal type days in the cold though. 

Also it should go without saying but break those darn things in. Getting a pair of boots soaking wet in hot water (submersing in a bathtub works well) then wearing them till they dry has been said to help fit a pair of boots to your feet. This is a good thing to do on an off day when you are going to do some errands or just hang around the house. Also just wear them for awhile before you try a long hike or something. A week or two of wearing them on short walks or during a non intensive work day is a good move.

Some folks do the whole two sock thing with a thin pair of nylons or boot liners then a heavier pair of socks. When it works it works well. However the odds of getting that rolled up type uncomfortable spot increases significantly with the second pair of socks.

Unless it is real cold I use one good pair of medium weight type socks. The new Xstatic socks the Army issues are nothing short of AMAZING! They are super comfortable and wick and last almost forever. I wore them at first because they were free and keep wearing them because they are awesome. I genuinely do not have enough good things to say about them. Lots of folks I know wear Fox River or those socks the under armor people make.

The above are my choices but there are a lot of good boots and socks out there. Many people choose different boots and socks based upon their needs and individual tendencies. The important thing is to find a combination that works well for you.

So we have talked about boots and socks. That leaves the foot itself. In this area some people are lucky and others are not. I tend to have fairly tough feet and just don't get blisters very often. Some other folks have feet that turn to hamburger when they ruck. After the EIB 12 miler my feet were just fine but a buddy had to have the head medic perform what was essentially minor surgery on his feet. If it is any indicator he literally bled through his boots and was messed up for a month. We both had good broken in boots and equal conditioning and such. I don't know why this is but it is.

In any case it is my observation that the foot itself should be conditioned to walking long distances and absolutely must be conditioned to walking long distances carrying a heavy load. Take an average person off the street and have them walk 10 miles with a 50 pound pack and even assuming broken in boots and such their feet will be jacked. The good news is that while you build the rest of your body (another topic all together) for long foot movements while carrying a load you are also conditioning your feet. Both must be done in a slow and incremental manner. Slowly increase the length and weight of movements over time in an incremental manner. If you want to walk 10 miles with 50 pounds on your back then walking 2 (maybe cut this out if you are in shape) , 4, 6 and 8 miles with gradually increasing weight first is the way to get there. If you try to toss a big heavy ruck on your back and walk a really long way in a hurry the odds of getting broken off are high and the odds of success are very small.

So basically get good boots and break them in. Wear good socks under them. Condition your feet to moving long distances carrying a load in a slow incremental manner.

I do owe you guys a post on dealing with what happens when your feet get messed up. I will write it tomorrow if nothing better pops into my head.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Molle Rucksacks

Our friend Commander Zero asked my opinion on the relatively new Molle Rucksacks. Well here it is. As a bit of background I have spent a good amount of time carrying an old typical framed pack, various commercial internal frame packs, the ALICE Pack and most recently the MOLLE. That gives me a decent frame of reference for this.

First I will talk about my ruck/ backpack preferences then I will get to the MOLLE. The best packs I have ever carried were commercial production modern internal frame style packs. I have an internal frame REI bag and it is pretty darn nice. Other such bags are equitable. For the worst bags I have carried it is an even split between the old very traditional external frame models and the ALICE. The MOLLE lies somewhere in the middle.

The biggest benefit of the MOLLE is that it is super modular. More so than any other pack I have used it is super adaptable. Commercial internal frame ones can be adjusted for height but there is little that can be done about adding different pouches and such to the outside. The MOLLE is basically covered with the rows of straps which let you mount anything (within said system) onto it.

There are some complaints about the MOLLE floating around both the Army and the various forums and such. There is a real traditionalist streak in the Army. Whatever people came up on is the best and all the new stuff sucks. I would wager that back in the day there were some soldiers standing around waiting to do some mundane task complaining about the switch to rifles which shoot those new fangled cased cartridges. Someone could invent a new ruck that is just as reliable and rugged as the last one but magically levitates and thus effectively weighs nothing on your back and soldiers would complain about it. I have heard people talk about how MOLLE rucks just break but personally I have used and abused them without issue. I have tossed rucks weighing 80-100 pounds out of the back of a large truck and had them land on cement at an awkward angle without issue. I know early on some field testing went pretty bad with them. I also know a particular fellow who was part of a group that was doing such testing, they (in typical soldier fashion) did not like these new things, so they intentionally broke them in order to sabotage the tests.

The MOLLE is hands down better than the ALICE for numerous reasons. It is big enough to carry all the stuff we need (unlike a newbie on a 1 mile overnight hike guys who carry rucks a lot don't just fill up bags willy nilly) without junk tied all over it. The modularity is a big plus but also the side "sustainment pouches" are actually big enough to be useful, unlike the midgety ones on the ALICE. Also I am not sure why the people who made ALICE packs thought the human back has a roughly 4 inch tall and 4 inch deep slit in their lower back (the not at all padded 'waist belt' sticks out and grinds on your back) but the MOLLE folks are smarter than that. The MOLLE is bigger and more comfortable to carry (at all or with a heavy load) than the ALICE hands down. I am not trying to give the ALICE a bad rap or anything. They are a rugged, common and very affordable earth tone rucksack.

As a service member I am required to use what they issue me and thus am glad they went to the MOLLE. However as a survivalist they do nothing for me. I know for some folks it is a big deal to have the newest and coolest military issue gear. I guess that is cool, its your money so do whatever makes you happy. MOLLE packs are solidly decent but not for their price. Personally if I was on a tight budget and wanted a pack I would get an ALICE pack due to sheer value. (Edited later to include: With MOLLE available for $50 there is no reason to go with the inferior ALICE) If money wasn't really a big concern I would get an internal frame pack from a decent brand  (REI, Kelty, etc). You really do want an earth tone but worst case if a good deal presents itself and you don't care about appearance a rattle can will fix that. If price was no object at all the folks at Kirafu seem to make a real nice bag.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Mountains in Winter

It has been snowy here for a few days. The temp hasn't gotten much above freezing and the lows have been around 20. That doesn't matter except that instead of going on a long run for PT like planned I went to the gym. After hitting the weight pile I got on one of those exercise machine things and plugged the headphones in to listen to the news. I sort of like being able to do that. Anyway on the news they talking about some climbers missing on Mount Hood. At least one member of the party is dead and the other two are missing. Either they are hunkered down and waiting it out or they are dead. It seems this happens at least once a year on either Hood or Rainier.

Interestingly enough I tried climbing Mt Hood once. We woke up really early, ate some oatmeal and started walking uphill in the dark. About when it got light we got socked in with dense cloud cover and we kept walking uphill. For a couple of brief minutes the  clouds parted and we were able to see that we were just about 200 meters below the bottom of the ski lift. It is in the top 3 or 4 worst recreational outdoor activities of my life. I don't get mountain climbing at all. I like skiing down mountains and around them. I don't mind walking over a hill or whatever. Seriously an activity where the entire point is to walk uphill for hours. I am not knocking people who do it but to me it seems like the worst recreational outdoor activity ever. Anyway back to the point.

I think people underestimate both of these mountains, particularly Hood. I can see why folks might as it is easy enough to wake up (albeit early) in Portland, climb Hood and be home for a quick shower and dinner at Jake's. All and all a real nice day if you like that sort of thing. Unless something goes wrong at which point you die.

I am not saying these folks did anything wrong. That will be figured out later and it might or might not even make a difference.

My point is just that the wilderness is not a particularly forgiving place. The mountains in winter are an unforgiving place and when you get above the tree line it is sort of like hanging out with a crackhead that has a handgun. He might be a nice enough guy and you might (though I don't know why) know him fairly well but if something gets into his head one night you are dead.

I am not going to go into get into what you need to have for winter gear. Just like any other time you need water food, clothing and shelter to survive. In the winter I would say that clothing/ shelter is more important though. Anyway I am going to eat a bowl of cereal then go back to work.
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