Friday, September 28, 2012

Week Fifteen - Kit


I still can't think of one.

Blog Post:

A British soldier calls it "kit" and an US soldier would call it "web gear." A German soldier calls it; I don't know probably something in German, but it does all the same thing.

It carries their stuff.

Not the ordinary everyday stuff, but the special stuff that they use to survive battles and kill other people with.

A few words of caution before I begin.

Many, many people have very different ideas on the type, amount, quality and need for tactical gear. Remember those opinions! Others lose focus and start buying unneeded guns and tactical gear instead of much needed food, water, and medical supplies.

With that said, I will continue ...

This kit is important. It helps a soldier fight and survive. For us, our kit is going to help us survive.

Now, I am going to use a couple of ways to write about my/your kit. The first method is going to be a layered approach. The next method is going to talk about specific equipment.

In the layered approach, we use a method similar to getting dressed, a base layer, next a mid-layer, and finally an outer layer.

Before I start, remember your threat analysis, your pocketbook/wallet, and watch those opinions.

Base Layer/Personal Equipment

This equipment is carried in your pockets and/or on your pants' belt. It is always carried with you.

Fire Starter
Bic Lighter, matches, and many other things are carried to start a fire. Heck, some people still carry flint and steel.

One of my cousins and his wife are cavers. They explore and chart routes through caves. They always carry three sources of light on them when they are in a cave. If you have even been in a cave with all the lights off, you know why.

Now, some people will buy an expensive flashlight like a Surefire ($75-150) and think they are done.

Maybe not because a Surefire is really bright but it only lasts about 2 hours on high. If you need a light to last longer, you might need something like a Photon Light (14 hours), a Maglite (26 hours), or a cellphone.

Knife/Scissors/Cutting Instrument
Another cousin is a school teacher, she is prohibited from carrying a knife, so she carries scissors. Some people (a few terrorists) got around a similar restriction by carrying a box cutter/razor knife.

Besides deciding if you are going to carry a knife, you are going to have to decide which type of knife you are going to carry.

Fixed Blade or Folder
To me, a fixed bladed knife is stronger but you will need to carry it in a belt sheath. Additionally, a big knife can do a small knife's tasks, but a small knife can't do a big knife's job.

A folding knife can fit in your pocket, but some of the bigger ones need a belt sheath, too. Plus, a folder knife can be carried in your pocket and no one will know.

Inexpensive or Expensive
I can tell you from personal experience that you will be very, very, very pissed when you lost your $200 special-ordered hand-made knife. Heck, I was pissed when I lost my Buck 110, but I have never been very angry over losing any of my $20 imported knives.

A gun or a knife, it's to be used to protect your life.

But there are more choices!

Batons or folding batons like the ASAP. Sprays and Stun Guns round out some more of your choices for protection.

Check your local laws, just to be legal.

And, buy the best quality that you can.

Now, some people will suggest carrying other/more items. Such as ...

I bought my first one, over 20 years ago. It was a Leatherman PST. OK, I lied it was fifty years ago and a Swiss Army knife. Don't ask me which one because I have had about five different models over 50 years.

The modern multi-tools usually are carried on the belt, so you may need a belt sheath, too.

The range of choices, from price to quality, are many for compasses. You will have to choose from little button compasses to $90 military-issued tritium lensatic compasses. All of them you will have to practise with, and don't forget GPS.

Pocket Survival Kit/Survival Tin
John Wiseman, author of the SAS Survival Handbook, introduced the world to the survival tin. The survival tin is a small pocket-sized metal container. This container holds many items that can be used in a survival situation such as matches, tinder, string, large trash bag, and other items.

Some people say the survival tins are as good as a 72-hour kit. Others say a survival tin is all you really need to carry when you go into the woods, and others (myself included) say you need a little bit more to survive 72-hours. So remember, watch those opinions.

The mid-layer is equipment that is carried in a pouch, vest, or harness. The gear carried in a vest or harness is more extensive then the stuff carried in your pockets. It also makes surviving a little easier.

If you decide to build and stock a survival vest, pouch, or harness, I urge you to buy quality when you purchase your pouch, vest, or harness because your pouch will be repacked/refilled many times.

Now which one? A vest, a pouch, or a harness.

A vest doesn't stand out, much; it just makes you look like a photographer or fly-fisherman. A pouch doesn't stand out either, unless you are a guy and most guys don't carry a purse/pouch. A harness, like the Israeli combat harness, will stand out. Actually, wearing a harness shouts survivalist!

There are many pros about a vest.

*Everything has a place and everything is in its place.

*Vests can be worn under a coat for added warmth and concealment of the vest.

*Vests come in various colors, but the colors are usually limited to green, khaki, or black.

Now most people think of something like a photographers/fishing vest for a survival vest. They are great. Most have about 10 outside pockets, 4 inside vest pockets, and one or two pockets on the back of the vest.

One article I read, from a Cowboy Action Shooting prospective, suggested a regular lined vest, with 2 outside pockets and 4 inside pockets, as a good survival vest. They made the argument that a person doesn't need a lot of pockets to carry a lot of stuff. Just a few pockets to carry the essentials for survival.

Plus, you don't standout; you're just someone wearing a vest to keep your body warm and your arms cool. (Sorry, I can't find the article to link to. It was a pretty good idea)

A pouch also has many of the same pros as a vest, but there is one con. A pouch usually only has one main pocket with several other really tiny pockets, so everything is usually mixed up inside a pouch. Plus, there is limited space when compared to a vest.

A harness is usually used/reserved for tactical or combat situations. My brother Spartan uses an Israeli combat harness (remember those threat analysis) for one of his mid-layers.

In a tactical situation, you are going to need a combat harness. I prefer the US Army LBE (Load Bearing Equipment) because it is inexpensive ($50 compared to over $200 for an Israeli combat harness) and the LBE can be tailored to different rifles/missions.

I have a pistol belt, two rifle magazine pouches, two canteens with canteen covers, one canteen cup, an open bottom canteen cup stove, and a butt pack. All of these items were standard US military issue. I use a FMCO LBE H-Harness 8 point suspension instead of the Y-straps normally worn by 1980s era US military soldiers. The 8 point suspenders have a first-aid pouch attached with one or two first-aid dressings inside of it. I also have a nylon grease gun magazine pouch. I use this magazine pouch as a dump pouch for my empty rifle magazines.

My combat kit is modified. I removed the hooks that are on the H-harness. These hooks attach to the pistol belt. The hooks were replaced with 550 cord.

The butt pack is also slightly modified. The big flap that closes the pack had a pocket added by sewing a piece of BDU material (from a worn out pair of BDU pants). I also added a pocket to each side of the butt pack. All three pockets have velcro closures and are sewn on the inside of the butt pack.

On the outside of the butt pack, I carry a poncho liner wrapped in a poncho/space blanket inside a water-proof bag. The bag protects the poncho and keeps the poncho liner dry.

I was going to write and tell you what I have in my butt pack , but then I remembered. You are going to have to decide, using your threat analysis, what you are going to carry in the butt pack, or even if you are going to have any tactical kit.

Outer Layer
The outer layer is a backpack. The backpack carries the stuff to make your life easier. More food, more water, better shelter, better medical items. There are so many differing opinions on what to carry; you will have to decide for yourself.

Remember one thing; you are going to have to carry this pack. The heavier it is the slower you will go, and the more energy you will use to move. So choose your items you are going to carry and then carry it.

If is too heavy, or even slightly heavy, go through the bag and remove some items. Once you have done this, try it on again. If the bag is an OK weight, take the bag out and practice with it.

I will say it, again. After you have made the many decisions about kit, you will have to practice with your kit and its contents.

So get out there and practise with your kit, and I'll ...

See you, on Monday.

Note: There are a lot of links for this post because I wanted you to see the various items I was talking about, and to give you some differing opinions about kit.


Wikipedia - Caving

Flashlight Reviews

Flashlight Reviews - Fakes, Frauds, and ...

Toolmonger - Hot or Not? Folding Utility Knife

Survival Gear - Razor Knife

Kit Up - The Often Imitated, But Never Duplicated, Buck 110 - What Baton Do You Carry?

Wikipedia - Pepper Spray

How Stuff Works - How Stun Guns Work

The Name Says It All

Wikipedia - Multi-tool

Wikipedia - Swiss Army Knife

Olive Drab - Lensatic Compass

Army Navy Shop - Compasses

Global Positioning System

Best Glide Aviation Survival Equipment - SAS Survival Tins

Wikipedia - Survival Kit

Trueways Survival School - John "Lofty" Wiseman

Hoods Woods - Best (Bennett's Expedient Survival Tin)

Survival Gear - Survival Tin

Simple Survival - The Making of a Simple Survival Vest

Don Rearic - Airman's Survival Kit

Urban Fredriksson - Swedish Air Force Combat Survival Vest

The Camo Store, LLC - Making A Simple Survival Vest

Zahal - Combat Harness For Infantry and Paratroops

Wikipedia - ALICE

FMCO - LBE H-Harness 8 Point Suspension

Equipped To Survive - On Your Own - Personal Survival Equipment

Mayo Clinic - Survival Kit: Stock Up on Essentials for a Disaster