How to Test Your Ability to Carry a Bug Out Bag

I read the below article today, which is good but I wanted to add my own thoughts.

I think one of the biggest takeaways on this subject is that like assholes there are many, many,many opinions. All one has to do is read the replies after the main article. I want to share my thoughts and the article to invoke some personal thinking.

Let me step back a couple years. When I was still in the service we had regular ruck marches of 6 plus miles. Monthly, beleive it or not. They were always a timed based affair with the biggest emphasis put on weight, 60 lbs, and not so much on what was in the the ruck. I carried a lot of rocks, pieces of broken cement, weight room weights, and at times things we called “babies”, sacks of sand  ducted taped into a tight ball of various weights in 5 lbs. increments.

In retrospect, this set us up for failure. With no packing list, it did not allow us to go through the process of preparing a loadout for a mission. It was just weight oriented. When I retired and started down the path of preparing a bug out bag, I really didn’t have a foundation to start. It is a totally different thought process when preparing for bugging out and not. Knowing that resupply is a few miles back to the trucks, where water, food, and ammo are waiting if needed. Or in the event of a real bad situation, a helo could drop resupplies when needed as opposed to bugging out, where you have none of that logistic chain behind you.

Stay with me here. A couple years back I attended Mosby’s SUT course and it was a eye opener. One of the first things John did was dump our rucks like we were in boot camp and went item by item through each ruck and asked “why do you need this?” a large number of items were thrown over John’s shoulder into the field behind us.

After this class I drastically cut the amount of crap I had stuffed in to my ruck. I also added some stuff to. this past year I went to John’s SUP class, I again came home and repacked my ruck. This summer, with some freinds I did a ruck, camp, ruck trip. I came home and repacked my ruck eliminating some things and adding a few things.

To go along with the author in the article below, you have to carry your bag, backpack, ruck, not in your vehicle but on your back a few times to really see if;

(A.) do you have the physical ability and stamina, to carry a pack over a set distance? use your tools and return home?

(B,)the crap you packed, is it worth packing?

(C,)the crap you packed does it work?

Seriously you need to not only ask yourself the above questions but then follow thru by doing it.

Here is what I do, and remember, this is what works for me. You may find something that works better for you and that is fine. But no one setup is correct for everyone.

I started out by taking a 3 day assault pack, I put “heavy” things into the pack and did my 2-6 mile hikes. Weight varied according to the items I threw in the pack.  Initially I would put a ACH, hand weights, whatever into the pack. 20 lbs maybe.

Then I had an “ah ha” moment. why not carry crap that I am going to potentially use? I put together some items I thought that a person might need if he/she were to be caught outside for a couple days until help could arrive. A day tripper bag if you will. I hike with this bag weekly.

So here is my loadout .

Gortex rain suit

Rain poncho

Steel AR500 plate (body armor) Added for extra weight and would ditch if I needed to.

2 MRE’s

Spare socks

Expanded first aid kit (human) I added a few extra items than one would find in a normal first aid kit.

First aid kit (K9)

Misc. water purification tabs, shemagh, para cord, fire starting kit, flash light, chem lights, gloves, hat, stocking cap. I ‘m sure I am missing some stuff. Weight without water? 30 lbs. With water for myself and the dog? 40 lbs plus.

The bag I carry in my car is a bit larger and packed for a different purpose. It weighs about 50 lbs. dry. But my situation is that I drive 134 miles commuting to work and back everyday, I wanted a pack that is more tactically sensible for me. If I am forced to ruck home the full 62 miles home one day, or even part of that distance, the world is in a big hurt and my day tripper bag would be woefully inadequate.

It holds, generally, Gortex rain suit, change of clothes, boots, multiple pairs of socks, personal hygiene kit, some OTC meds. water purification tabs, shemagh, 2 ponchos, poncho liner, tent stakes, few hundred feet of para cord, flashlights, ammunition, knives, food for 3 days, camel back bladder, batteries, ranger bands, fire starting kit, extended large first aid kit, jetboil stove, fleece jacket, military compass, small pair of binoculars, GI water proof stuff sack, gloves, hat, clothes are in water proof stuff sacks, hammock, 3 piece military sleeping bag. One thing about the sleeping bag, at any one time I only carry 2 pieces of the kit at a time. In the spring/summer I carry the Gortex shell and the thin inner bag. Fall/Winter, I carry the Gortex shell and the heavy inner bag. In the car I carry a case of bottle water. Empty weight, 50 lbs. With water, 70 lbs. Lastly, I try to carry 2 of everything.

I took the above load out this past summer for a 6-7 mile ruck-camping-ruck overnight trip. After this last camping trip I have the items I think I would need in a SHTF. 70 lbs. is no joke on a 50 yr. old body. But I proved to myself that I can and could do a ruck with that weight in the summer heat (it was 90 + that weekend). Granted 7 miles is not 62. But I know over a period of days I could ruck the 62 miles or a portion of it without to much pain.

So what am I saying? the same thing as the author in the article below. If you have or plan on just one bug out bag, don’t have just one all, be all pack. Pack for your situation. Keep it minimal and I mean minimal. Ruck with your pack, take things along that you would need for your day trip or overnighter. Leave the weights and sand bags for when you have your bag loadout set and you need to add more weight. If you get into a sticky situation, ditch the weights.

These are my thoughts, and the way I do things isn’t for everyone. But the one thing that is for everyone and everyone should takeaway from both of these articles is, pack a bag, and get off your ass, ruck and test your equipment.


Can you carry a bug out bag further than a mile or two? Is it heavy and are you fit enough to do it? Get tips from one man’s test of his own bug out bag.

Source: How to Test Your Ability to Carry a Bug Out Bag

Small Unit Patrol Class

I am smoked. That is what I told John Mosby after attending his Idaho Small Unit Patrol Class this past week.

I spent two days prior to leaving home packing and repacking my ruck sack in the vain attempt to cut some weight. The front room was strewn with gear for two days prior to my step off. Based on my SUT (Small Unit Tactics) class last year I learned a valuable lesson to pare down the crap I carry. This past week I relearned that lesson. I carry to much crap! And I’m sure a vast majority of us all carry to many comfort items. This was a hard trip to pack for in all honesty. Idaho in the spring can be a very fickle girl. Do I pack for a warm clime or a cold one? In a fit of frustration, I packed a little of both.

I don’t do very well in the cold and in all honesty I am a pussy in the cold weather. My feet are what bothers me the most. Once they get cold it seems to take over my whole body and I just can’t get warm after that. In the end I errored on packing more for cold than a warm environment. Glad I did. It rained  most of the first day of class, then sleated, then rained some more. The daytime temp was in the 40’s and nights dipped into the 20’s.

Rendezvous was at 0800 on Friday in Idaho Falls and we did a caravan to the training site. First order of business was to ruck up a hill to the actual property that we were going to setup a base camp. I come from the flat lands, and attempting to hump up a hill that had 3 inches of slippery clay in full kit, a ruck, an assault pack with 20 preloaded ammo magazines and a 10×12 target steel plate  about did me in a quarter of the way up the hill. I started to loose vision and thought I was going to pass out, twice. This was a deceiving little hill.

After a quick introduction, John gave us a few moments to setup our hooch’s. We jumped right into the safety brief, then John gave us a quick primer on the brown Idaho mud by having us low crawl through the muck. Then the rain started, then it sleeted, then rained again and didn’t end until after dark on the first day. Day one, twelve hours of non stop movement.

Class consisted of, well you can read John’s breakdown of the SUT and SUP classes here. I’m not going to give a blow by blow. That just wouldn’t be right. I suggest you take a look at the Ranger Handbook to get a feel for the class also. What we did is pretty much line by line out of the Ranger Handbook. Besides, it would take away from when you attend the class.

What I will do is give a high view and all is predicated on the crawl, walk, run form of training.

Standard patrol formation. In this case the diamond formation. 4 and 8 man teams.

React to contact drill

Hasty attack

Hasty ambush

Break contact

React to ambush near and far

Movement Formations

Movement Techniques



Tactical Marches

Movement During Limited Visibility

Danger Areas

Patrol Planning


Common Sense

KIA and EPW body searches

We did a night shoot react to contact drill to demonstrate how the muzzle blast from your rifle can mess up your night vision. Lots of laying in the cold mud. Camouflaging oneself and your gear, did I say laying in the mud?  Then we did every drill, multiple times with full ruck sacks on. Total smoke fest, in a very good way. I am in no way complaining, it felt good!

There was also an exercise on moving quietly through the brush. Listening for the sound of a twig breaking, the sound of a jacket scraping along a branch, or velcro separating as you bend down. Ask me how I know that?

A couple take aways for myself. Pack lighter! strip all the nice to haves out of your bag, you don’t need it. I’m here to tell you from experience.

All you need is the pants and shirt you are wearing with one spare set.

Plenty of socks. Two pair per day. (I always changed into clean dry socks when I had wet pair on and before I crawled into my sleeping bag for the night.)

Rain gear. A GI light weight Gortex jacket and pants combo or a civilian equivalent. And one could also use a US GI poncho if that is all you had. I would suggest wearing your kit on the outside of your coat. Some guys didn’t and found it is a bitch to reload quickly when your mags are under a coat.

Fleece jacket or some sort.

Silkies, long johns tops and bottom. One set. I slept in these at night.

Stocking cap. I carried two.

Baseball or boonie cap. Rolls up easy and you can stick in your pocket when you are not wearing it on your head.

Gloves. Some kind of shooting gloves. I used a pair of nomex flight gloves. I also had a pair of winter gloves on hand.

Sleeping system. I used a US GI three piece sleep system. You can pick one of these bad boys for less than $100. The system comes with a light weight bag, a heavy weight bag and a Gortex outer shell. What is nice about this system is you can use parts of or all three together. The Gortex shell is going to keep the damp and rain off you and still let sweat and body moisture out.

Sleeping pad. I used the newer GI inflatable type. But any brand will do.  Just something to keep a barrier between you and the ground. It is amazing what a half inch of padding will do to keep the cold away from your body. Something I figured out the second night. If you stick your sleeping pad between the layers of your sleep system, the pad stays put and will not slide around underneath you all night long.

For this trip I bought a hammock. There are a ton of brands out there. Some costing $60 and others that run all the way up to hundreds. I bought a Hennesey Hammock from a guy at work and I will never sleep on the ground again! The hammock I used had a rain fly and mosquito net that weighed less than two pounds and comes in a little stuff sack that compresses down nicely. I would also suggest getting two sets of hammock rap rings. I’m not a knot tying guy and you can pull your hammock down quickly and be on the go in nothing flat with these. See video below.

Magazines. I used Magpuls but ran into an issue. Magpuls can hold thirty one rounds, this is bad because the spring becomes so compressed, it causes the top most round to hang on the feed lip and not load into the rifle chamber. Stripping one round from the mag solved my problem. This happened to me four times. Glad it happened in training and not in a real life or death situation. I became very proficient at SPORTS (Slap, Pull, Observe, Rack, Tap, Shoot)

Leg rig/Battle Belt. I own both but did not bring either to the class.

Dump pouch. I should have brought one of these. I forgot and left it at home.

Plate Carrier. I run a ShellBack plate carrier. By far worth the $150. I attached a cheapo Condor water bladder carrier to the back with a 2 liter Camel Bak bladder inside.

Multiple tourniquets.

Misc items. I had a small self built first aid kit. Advil is my friend. A butt pack that has bungie cords, chem lights, fire starting kit, and a whole lot of other “stuff”. I also packed a woobie and a GI poncho. A small stainless steel camping cup with folding handles. A GI “E” tool, extra tent stakes and para cord.

MRE’s. I field stripped my MRE’s. By taking the meal pouches out of the cardboard boxes they come in, you can stuff two entire meals into one brown outer plastic bag. By folding the top of the outer bag over and using a small piece of duck tape you can seal the top and keep all the contents in the bag. The tape also allows you to reseal the bag after taking out what you want to eat.

After this trip I think I’m done with MRE’s. Out of the 8 meals I had packed only one meal heater actually worked. The other seven heaters failed. You can find after market meal heaters online. Below is a review.

I just couldn’t eat cold MRE’s without gagging. I lived on the MRE cheese, peanut butter, trail mix packages and crackers for three days. Only on the last day did I get a heater to work enough to have some potato soup for breakfast. It was delicious! Exquisite cuisine that you can only get in a green package made by the folks at Wornick in Tennessee. I’m serious it was awesome.

So I bought a Jet Boil system. I am going to pre-package rice, beans and what ever else I can vacuum seal and stow it in my ruck. I’ll keep a few MRE entrees on hand that I can heat with the Jet Boil system. I hate dry heaving.

Boots. A good comfortable water resistant high ankle pair of boots can really make or break your day. My good old reliable pair of Altama’s lost a sole and I will retire them to un-envious duty of being used for grass mowing now.

PT. Let me say this. If you don’t do some sort of PT or haven’t PT’d in a while your gonna suck at this class and hold everyone up. I’m not a PT nazi by any stretch, but I can find time to workout with my schedule. Burpee’s can be done anywhere, and in the last six months I did a lot. Running up seven to twelve percent grade slopes suck on a good day. In shitty weather, in full kit is even harder. I can’t imagine what it would have felt like if I still smoked.

I drove close to 3000 miles (round trip) to go to this class and it was worth every mile and every hour I spent in my car.

If not for the class itself but just having the ability to meet like-minded people and train with them was beyond cool. I will also tell you all this, I spent my 50th birthday standing in the rain, rolling in the mud, and learning new skills and in the end having 12 people that I met three days prior stand in a circle around me signing Happy Birthday was priceless.

Fucking far out!


Get training, get your mind right, get your body right.

Prepping A Tourniquet

Been a long time since I posted last. That damn thing called life has gotten in the way lately.

I was lounging in the chair (picture a scene from the Big Labowski) mentally going over some of the things I need to take to my next class coming up this May. I am heading to Idaho and attending a Small Unit Patrol Class with the “Gray Ghost” John Mosby. What a better way to spend my birthday than in the field learning a new skill!

So I wandered downstairs to give my gear a once over. This simple act of wandering downstairs to my gear room, is what my wife refers to as “dress up time”. I guess in a way I do play “dress up”, but it also serves the function of getting familiar with my chest rig and accoutrements again. I will probably do this another dozen times before I leave to go to a class.

As I was trying on my chest rig, I took a seat, closed my eyes and mentally went over where things are located on my rig. If I was in a situation in low light or no light I want to be able to find what I need without fumbling around.

What would I do if I needed to get to one of my tourniquets? I carry two, one in my blowout kit (left side) and another directly on the outside of my chest rig located on my right font side. As I went through the exercise of trying to put a TQ on, one handed, I realized that the way the TQ was folded I could not open the device up to get my arm through the hole. So I pulled out my second TQ from my blow out kit and it was folded differently than the first. The second fell open the way it should and I was able to get my arm through the whole and cinched down.

Apiphany! A TQ is probably more important than the ammunition you carry on your gear. If I had needed to use this TQ, in the dark, and wounded, I would have bled out before figuring out how to get the damn thing on properly.

PCC’s and PCI’s anyone? For the non military types that is Pre Combat Checklist and Pre Combat Inspection(s). No matter what you call it, PCC’s, PCI’s or dress up, check your gear!

Here is a good video that shows how to prep a TQ.