I have made a list of some things that might or might not be part of your “line gear.” Generally
things that need a slightly closer look. There are seven entries, with more to come.
2. First Aid Gear
4. Night Vision
5. Family Camping Gear
7. Knife Based Survival Kits
Food is just as important as guns and ammunition. Yep, I said it, and I know it doesn’t sound
sexy. You have to feed yourself and you have to feed your family. We live in a day and age where people are completely
dependant on being able to go to the store 24/7. If the SHTF I guarantee you that the most deadly place to be for the
first 48-72 hours will be in front of your local Wal-Mart super center. You have to be able to avoid that. A well-stocked
pantry will go a long way to feeding your family for a time in world “WoW” (without Wal-Mart.) I don’t
have a lot of space to discuss it, but I would do some research on storing food and feeding your family non-commercially.
Me? I keep a healthy supply of can goods and rotate them. Add some rice and beans and we can go for a month or two.
I store it in rapidly loadable containers so that they can be put in the vehicle quickly.
As for food to go in your pack there are a few options. MREs are nice, but expensive
and bulky. If you stretch them they can last the normal person one per day. One nice thing about MREs is they
include an energy snack, TP etc. The can also be easily heated as modern ones include a chemical heater, and in a pinch
can be eaten cold. Purpose made backpacking food is nice but requires rehydration and heating. If you’re
really on the move you might be able to do this once a day. It is also expensive. Canned goods are the cheapest
option, but definitely the most heavy and bulky. You can overcome this (a little) by storing them in an old sock to
prevent rattling around. You might also want to keep an eye out for convenience foods in pouches. If you’re
going to go with anything besides MREs you will also want to include some energy snacks and powdered sports drinks.
Lastly, I have a friend that is experimenting with “do it yourself” backpacking food. This is basically
mixing instant rice with other things like bullion, beans etc. It is much more economical, can be made to taste and
the nutritional value closely controlled. (Read the sodium content on some of the other things I have mentioned!)
2. First Aid Gear
There are several types of first aid kit that you might want to keep handy. In the field
you want a miniature model that should include some basics, like band-aids, a tube of antibiotic, moleskin, and a small supply
of a few drugs… specifically antihistamine, an anti-diarrheal, benadryl and ibuprofen. I also keep something
like this in each car. On your second line gear I suggest a “Blow Out Kit” (BOK.)
This is a trauma kit for treating gunshot or similar injuries. I suggest that it stay with the second
line gear because this is where you will need it. In mine I keep an Israeli battle dressing, a pair of heavy scissors
and some CELOX haemostatic agent. Other people add more dressings, gloves or tourniquets.
I also like to have what I call the “SF medical bag” as a joke. This is a large kit
that has more extended care gear, SAM splints, more drugs, more band-aids and dressings, ace wraps, a lot of gauze, duct tape
(better than first aid tape) drugs for children, etc. This is kept ready to go, but usually stays at the house…
it is there for when the SHTF, not every day use. It is too big for every team member to tote around something similar,
perhaps if you are lucky enough to have a dedicated medic. I also keep a well-stocked home first aid kit. This
keeps the family from going into the SF med kit.
A lot of people throw out amounts of how much ammunition you should
have. Truth be told, you can never have enough, but how much do you really need? And more importantly, how should
it be stored? 1000 rounds is a nice even number and a good starting point, buy it by the case. But what do you
do with that first case…leave it sitting in your closet? Don’t. The first thing you’ll want
to do is take your gun out and shoot some, and you should. You should keep an amount back that you might realistically
I like to keep “go boxes.” These are waterproof boxes (Army ammo cans are great) that contain
about twice my basic load of ammo. Say about 400 rounds of good defensive ammo, maybe in magazines or on stripper clips
if your rifle uses them. I throw in some dri-packs, spare parts, cleaning supplies, pistol ammo, batteries etc,
close it and don’t touch it. If this won’t get you through a couple of firefights you’re in trouble.
As time and budget permit, add another. When you get to a happy point (say three or four) you can just buy training/practice
ammo. Ammo cans are great for a couple of reasons. I use them to make shelves in my closet. This removes
the temptation of playing with them. If you hit the road quickly, they are ready made cache points.
4. Night vision
Night vision is an area where the citizen soldier could spend A LOT of money. A really good night
vision set up can cost as much as two rifles and a goodly supply of ammunition. But the tactical edge it can offer,
especially against people without it, is amazing. There are two price points that I will discuss. The low end
is called 1st generation. It will set you back a couple of hundred dollars. The high end is called 3rd generation
and can easily run three grand. There is also a 2nd generation, but the price is so close to 3rd that I would just save
A lot of folks consider 1st generation
gear next to useless. I disagree, but it will not open up the night the way that 3rd generation stuff will. If
it was useless it wouldn’t have been so popular in Vietnam, and the 1st gen stuff we have now is much less expensive
and bulky than the stuff in the ‘60s. If you use it right it can be a valuable tool. Use it to enhance
your night skills; don’t expect it to be a crutch. They is will let you: 1) See better in relatively low light,
especially into shadow areas 2) See into anywhere with the built in infrared illuminator (be careful because this is a two
way street… if the bad guys have NV as well it’s the same as using a bright fricken flashlight!) 3) Spot when
somebody is looking for you with IR illuminators (see #2) 4) Spot the contrasts that are often a target indicator. 5)
Spot when the bad guys are using poor light discipline at a much greater range than you can with the naked eye. 6) See infrared
sensors, cameras and other spotting devices. 7) Use a remote IR floodlight, such as around your house.
Like I said, 3rd generation stuff will
be out of the budget for many citizen soldiers. But it will open up the night in ways that you can’t imagine.
If you can afford it, it will be worthwhile.
Family camping gear
Any thinking family person should realize that it is more likely
that you will need to evacuate your family than to head to the woods cammied up and carrying a rifle. Many people on the Gulf
Coast spent months in campers or tents after hurricane Katrina! For this purpose I always make sure I have the family camping/car
camping gear in order. I try to conduct an "evacuation drill" once or twice a year... it is billed as a family weekend
away and that's what it should be. We go and relax and enjoy other activities. It is great family together time and provides
a layer of independence between your house and a FEMA camp.
Here is a pic of our loaded family car. It’s enough to send some tactical militia/survival types
into a conniption I know. I recommend three parts to a family camping kit. 1) The "shelter bag" that would include
your tent, ground-cloth, air mattress, pegs, hammer and all associated things. A good Wal-Mart tent is ace here, but you will
need a bigger bag. 2) The camping box should include fire starting supplies, a lantern, first aid kit, utensils, some basic
food (grits, oatmeal, coffee and the like) this should be stuff separate from the BoB and the household things so that it
is there when you need it. 3) Semi dedicated cooler that will fit in your car with all the other crap. This way all we need
to do is throw in some food and clothes and we are on the way. You should also test pack your car. I could fit a good
supply of my food and “tactical” gear in this car and leave the house forever if needed.
6. Communications gear
This is a definite weakness area of many starting citizen soldiers, including me. The best option
here seems to be some type of handheld ham radio. I can’t offer you much advice as I haven’t done it.
However, a starting point should be a quality hand held AM/FM or possibly world band radio, that will fit in your third line
gear. Hand crank ones are nice, but make sure you know how they work (and THAT they work.) This will allow you
to keep abreast of the situation outside of the insulated world we are in during emergencies.
A step up, and a
move towards “battlefield” communications are the inexpensive GMRS/FRS radios. Bear in mind that these rarely
operate as advertised. (12 miles my eye!) But they will allow short range (less than ½ mile in wooded and
urban environments) tactical communications in some situations. But remember, they are easily listened in on and/or
jammed. With the right equipment they can be RDFed (radio direction finding.) If you are fighting well equipped bad
guys, the misuse of these, or any, radios will result in artillery landing around you.
7. Knife based survival kit
This is a small kit that is strapped to the sheath/scabbard of a fixed blade knife. The box is an
old tin from ALTOIDS mints, or something similar. It’s kind of related to the hollow handled survival knife idea,
but in a form that might actually be useful. The idea is that the knife, attached to your first line will be with you
at all times in the field. So no matter what, you have some minimal survival items with you. The kind of things
that will help to keep you going when you have nothing else. Contents should be well thought out but might include
things like water purification tablets, a condom or balloon for water storage, a small fishing kit, saw blade, matches and
tender, beef bullion and/or hard candy, a small fishing kit, some snare wire, basic drugs and Band-Aids. You might want
to check out “oldjimbo” on the links page for some ideas. Assembling these can be very fun.