Call Out: Avoiding Ego in the Gear Advice Game

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    • #59061

        Posted on the MVT Blog by Max Velocity, 17 March 2014:

        For those of you who read my blog, you will know that I have given out a lot of gear advice over time. I have not been shy about taking photos of my gear, and posting them, to give those of you who need a visual reference something to work off. The point is not to clone your gear off mine, but to give you options. This is why, after making so many recommendations about battle belts, I have recently turned my attention to chest rigs (The FLC), in order to talk about sensible ways to rig them up, and give you options. All gear and equipment carriage is a compromise of some sort.

        I read the three recent posts over at Mosby’s site with a mixture of interest and also concern. Why the concern? Because there is a lot on there about how much better the US SF is than the Rangers, and how much better the US SF is than everyone else, and how much gear was carried, and all that. Basically, a lot of it comes from ego and is about ego. Now, it is my understanding that Mosby is a very good trainer. That is most definitely needed. But what is not needed is ego that leads to advice that will do the reader a disservice.

        It’s also Mosby breaking cover and telling you that only he, as former SF, is qualified to teach tactics that are right for SHTF, because he is former SF.

        Now, I know this post will upset some of those self-styled SF groupies out there. It may also upset some of the SF mafia, but I doubt that, because they will know that what I am saying is true, particularly the old-school ones, the quiet professionals without the ego. I do what I do to give you the best advice. I won’t tell you to go and do outlandish ruck marches with huge amounts of weight, because that’s what I used to do as a Green Beret (I was never a Green Beret). I also won’t tell you to carry huge amounts of weight and equipment because that’s the way we used to do it, and everyone else is shit compared to us. I won’t imply that, due to the UW role of US SF, that they are the only people that can advise preppers and Patriots for an SHTF situation!

        What interests me about “Mr. FAGs” rig is that it clearly comes from an older time, as part of a personal journey. He found and started using the vest along with his LBV and liked it for what he was doing, with an SF unit in Germany during the Cold War. I guess it’s a little bit like my battle belt. Does everyone need to purchase an aviator survival vest to emulate that? Hell no. There are better ways to do that anyway, and I will give a pointer on that below. Will sales of aviator vests go up now? Pretty likely. I will be laughing.  The other thing is that “Mr. FAG”, while carrying what Mosby describes as a huge amount of weight, injured his back on the WV class when he slipped on a log. My guess? He’s older now, was carrying too much weight, and one thing led to another.

        And really, that is my point. It’s all very well to talk about how much weight people used to carry when they were on an SF team. But I am in the game of giving advice to armed citizens who are interested in running the spectrum from protecting the family post-SHTF, to potentially running as resistance fighters against enemies foreign and domestic.

        In THIS POST I talked again about modifying your gear philosophy, and acting smart. Here are some points:

        1) In an SHTF environment, you could say that we are all operating ‘behind enemy lines.’ This is why I push the need for a sustainment load on the body. What I mean by that is enough equipment to survive, on your body, if you lose your ruck, or are operating without it, with load bearing equipment and patrol pack. But the flip side to that is that I am discouraging you from trying to go ‘too heavy.’ We all know that today’s soldiers are carrying too much weight to be fully effective as infantrymen, and that applies equally to US SF, even if that is what they had to do in training.

        2) The following are problems with going too heavy:

        • PT levels
        • Age
        • Carriage of pre-existing injuries
        • Lack of resupply (counter intuitive)
        • Starvation/loss of physical condition SHTF

        What this means is, rather than going all ego and going heavy, you need to go smart. However heavy you pack your ruck, you will need resupply in the end. You are not a US SF team (or any other SF unit) behind enemy lines. Some groups may be able to operate like that, but then they have no need to read this blog, right? You need to go smart and organize your resupply. I mean, you only have to look at historical examples such as the Chindits in Burma, one of the precursors to special operations forces, to see that they suffered from disease and starvation in the jungle. They used pack mules.


         Above: Chindits in Burma, WWII

        3) So, there is only so much gear that you will be able to fit on your body and remain effective. Even if you go huge and heavy, you still need resupply at some point. So plan for it, get smart, use ATVs/trucks/horses/mules/boats or whatever.

        4) One the of the biggest realizations/recommendations on my classes is more PT. But for many, this comes at a junction of PT vs. Age. The ‘military aged male’ average age of the Patriot Movement is a little older! I mean, I have been successful at all sorts of high level selection courses in my time. Parachute Regiment selection, UKSF selection, really hard core classes. I can tell you about them for interest, as I have done on this blog, but for me to tell you that that is the level you have to operate at is pointless.

        So I urge you, go read Mosby’s posts and learn what you can from them in terms of what gear he carries. What he is saying is not BS. But I implore you to apply judgment and perspective to it in terms of what you select to carry. I have attempted to do that with my numerous gear posts and advice on realistic PT etc. Don’t be an SF acolyte. If you injure yourself, blow out a knee or a back (break a hand!) then you are screwed come SHTF.

        My training and advice is not about ego. Ego is one of the biggest problems in the movement to train the armed civilian in real tactics.

        I strongly disagree with the relevance and intent of this quote from Mosby’s article:

        “Ultimately, that is the difference between the SF, LRS, and other UW worlds and anyone else doing a conventional mission When you’re asshole deep in alligators, and your only hope of effective escape is self-extraction, you’d damned well better be able to carry everything your team needs, or you’re going to end up in a really bad spot……Ultimately, THIS is the difference between the paradigm of conventional force traditional light-infantry and the SF/LRS/UW paradigm, and why the UW paradigm is so important from the prepper standpoint: whether you’re at the 82nd Airborne Division, the 101st Airborne (AASLT), the 25th Infantry Division, or the 1st MarDiv, while you might be on your own for a little while, you KNOW that at some point, SOMEONE is trying to come get your ass and bring you more shit…and they’re not so far away that it is ever going to seem impossible……Drop an SF ODA 500 miles behind the Iron Curtain, or a SOG team on the wrong side of the Cambodian border, or dump a few ODAs into Afghanistan before any other US forces are even spooled up to go in-country…if shit gets hinky, they KNOW they are on their own, and for the foreseeable future, anything they need, they’d better be carrying with them, have in a pre-established cache location, or be able to beg, steal, or borrow from the local population…..We’re all light-infantry when we’re on the two-way range. Until we get to the range though, there are entirely different mindsets at work.”

        Because the answer to the prepper/SHTF situation is not to simply carry huge amounts more of gear – “because I can and used to and all you fuckers are not up to the task…etc. .” It is to carry a realistic sustainment load and operate in  way that you can resupply yourself. Get smart, not go heavy. Yes, the gear that I wear is heavier than a tacticool guy wears on the square range, but I’m also not in a competition to carry the mostest. I mean, the criticism of more conventional units is BS. For example, even when serving in a more  ‘conventional force’ Parachute Regiment unit, we trained and conducted long range missions, the role included parachuting in behind enemy lines with little chance of resupply or relief. That is partly why I carry a decent sustainment load in my gear. But that rig pictured from the “Team Sergeant” is all sorts of impractical for light infantry work – you know the bit where it counts on the “two-way” range! Fire and movement? Not so much. Too much weight!

        FAGs LBV

         Above: “Mr. FAGS” LBE/Aviator Vest

        Whatever your prior service, or pure civilian background, if you are reading my site/blog you are doing so to get better at tactics and survival come SHTF. The big news flash is that no-one, whatever their background in the military, is getting resupply come SHTF, and thus you need to get smart and organize a method yourself. Advising people to lumber about overloaded is not the answer.

        To put a little perspective on the whole “we were awesome look how much gear we carry” thing, I am going to re-post a video below. I have mentioned before the British assault vest. You can see these retired “old school” SAS guys wearing them in the video, either that or a battle belt. I have one of these vests. These can fit a full sustainment load around the upper body, and to get even more gear on your person you can wear a belt with some additional pouches around the butt area, as shown in the video. The video includes a full breakdown of gear for a 28 day operation (!) Is that going to work for you?

        assault vest


        Above: Assault Vest

        From 4:00 on the gear, and again at 30:00 in detail. They are not taking body armor. It’s a covert OP mission, with a huge amount to carry. Assessment: bin it! Could they have done with it on the E&E? Yes, but everything is a compromise, right?

        If you are interested in going heavy on the gear, you may also want to check out this very useful post by JC Dodge, showing the use of a tactical vest and battle belt combination. Be warned, all up it weights 70lbs!: The Fighting/Survival Load for Mounted and Dismounted Operations

        JC Dodge Tac vest


        Live Hard.

        Die Free.





      • #59062

          I was never in the military. My perspective on all this is from the standpoint of a guy that was guiding elk hunts in central Idaho during the years of my life that one would normally spend in the military. However, there’s a lot I learned up there that seems to mesh very closely with what both you and Mosby are teaching.

          At 165 lbs soaking wet, I carried a “ruck” weighing up to about 80-90 lbs from time to time. I did NOT carry that sucker all day while sneaking around looking for elk, though. We would hump our heavy load into the area we were going to hunt, drop our rucks and set up a temporary camp, then carry essentials in a small day pack which weighed maybe 20 lbs, tops. We would hunt within a mile or two of our temporary camp without ever carrying more than that light load. The 80 lb rucks didn’t go on our backs again until we were moving a few miles to hunt a new area.

          Similar to the ruck patrol pack concept.

          Even being a reasonably tough and fearless 20-something year old, it didn’t take long to learn that there’s a point of diminishing returns. There’s no sense in humping more weight than necessary for any longer than necessary. Guys who tried to prove how tough they were would burn out fast. The trick is to work smart and conserve yourself for the long haul. Carry what you NEED, but learn to “bin” the shit you can do without. Carry gear that serves more than one purpose, rather than a different tool for every job. Carry food that gives you a lot of fuel for the weight (canned corned beef hash, for example).

          Get smart, or burn out. This is more true at age 40 than 20 years prior.

          Edit to add: Applying this concept to fighting gear – You want to carry “enough” ammo etc, but at some point, based on your ability/strength/endurance, you reach that point of diminishing returns where you may have plenty of ammo, but you move like a turtle with an anvil strapped to its back. On the other hand, if you go too light and can move like the wind, you may find that you “binned” something that you literally cannot live without.

          You have to get out and move around with this stuff in order to figure out where you and your gear all fit in that balancing act.

        • #59063

            …and with that said, I shall now grab my ruck and go hump it for a couple of miles for practice.

          • #59064

              From a Bioengineetring standpoint even as a muscular guy, I have always felt strongly about the law of diminishing returns.

              Everything is a compromise and there is a lot of good-to-have gear that when you carry ALL of it is simply too much.

              I am a large guy of 225lbs and back in the day always enjoyed long high weight ruck marches because the NCOs left you alone during those… :D

              But most of us are not 19 and we are injured more easily AND the impact of an injury lasts much longer.. (and in SHTF there may be NO medical support system to speak of and if you fail maybe not just you die but your FAMILY dies!).

              Thats why Injury prevention in our PoU may be even more critical than in some of the other PoU’s often referenced by the “cool” guys.

              I rather starve a bit than injure myself due to overload.
              In my 40’s I may NEVER get rid of that injury!

              Everything depends on METT-TC and as Max pointed out the “troops” part and the “mission” part here helps shape the equipment as much as anything.

              The “you-must-have-ALL-this” approach has brought down many a engineering project by reducing performance below an unacceptable level.

              And a human being is nothing else but an balanced product of bioengineering.

            • #59065

                If you’re a local community organization (ahem), that much weight may not be necessary. If you’re in my situation, you’re faced with a healthy evasion distance to a safe area, compounded by leaving an urban area. I keep a serious amount of stuff in my truck, packed and organized by distance to the next relatively safe area. My smock takes the place of the aviator’s vest, although I wish it had pockets in the tail.

                The original article by Mr. FAG (That really means Future Action Guy, with the way things are headed….), discussed very good reasons why that was his load and in that context makes perfect sense. If you haven’t read it, surf over to MG and do so. It’s also a real motivator to develop a robust auxiliary. Or at least cache some stuff: Matches, tinder, a P38 can opener, a canteen, lifeboat survival bars, and water purification chemicals don’t take up much space in a paint can. A laminated card of tips will give you something to do while you calm down.

                Seal and bury it under the headstone nearest concealment in a cemetery. Or so they tell me.

              • #59066

                  I dont know what my ruck weighs and I dont care about the number, when I feel the initial slam when i slide it on I usually know, or if I think it will be too dangerous for what ever task i have ahead of me i lighten it up. I spend enough time under my ruck to figure it out pretty accurately. You play like a fool with a ruck up here and twist your shit out there and that’s it. It took me quite a while to work out a workable load for Alaska. I started off using heavy junk WWII kit to start from the bottom up. In the end i was fortunate for me in that there’s little difference between winter kit and summer kit loads. A base line load was quite an advantage to start from. What gets me over loaded is special purpose kit like snowshoes and climbing kit or winter footwear etc etc… I have a pull sled I use but that is only good for flat ground and not very handy in rocky areas. Our group just reached 4 guys so things will be changing since groups function better then one man.

                  Im revamping my LBE page but scroll down and you’ll see my LBE is more fashioned for sustainmeant/survival then fighting..(Page is under construction)


                  My smock pages also goes along with sustainmeant/survival and it all marries into a system..(Also under construction)


                  I have plotted out area and scouted places to put resupply pods but this is just a life vest I may or may not be able to get to. Ppl think there is more game up here then you can toss a rock at, that couldn’t be further from the truth. They run with the seasons and weather..After my bear attack i had an old timer tell me the best “bear deterrent” was a bear hunting license. Same goes for hunting anything else. When I look and need the food, I never see it. Alas resupply pods are a necessity.

                  Emulations is a common factor in over loads. Lack of confidence and lack of skill also makes ppl over load via attempts to compensate. Experience will be the only thing to teach folks to sort that out into a balanced system that suits them in their plans and area of operations.

                  Nothing will ever happen if you sit home collecting gear, hero worshiping and punching keys..

                  Today i went out with my new rig and my new ALICE to sort what needed to be sorted. The load in the picture i can survive from for a good while and its not a spine crushing monster to suck the life from your soul and will to live .


                • #59067
                  Joe (G.W.N.S.)

                    It’s all about balancing reality…Remember the quote “a mans got to know his limitations.”

                    I have in the past leaned towards the heavy side of my load bearing. Much of this I attribute to my early instructors, most of them Vietnam Veterans. In much of my career resupply was a unlikely mission reality.

                    You can’t fight effectively loaded down. Unplanned contact will lead to dropping Ruck/Pack to gain mobility and possibly never see it again. Bad enough when it will be easily replaced, much less during a SHTF situation.

                    Even with my propensity to go heavy, I believe Max is right that the wrong lessons may be picked up by those who don’t have the correct grounding and experience. Those incorrect assumptions will be exaggerated by unrealistic assessment of their physical abilities.

                    I am going to try out Mr. FAG’s SV-2 use, since I have two old SV-2’s. Although after pricing them online, I might just have to sell them to fund other items.

                  • #59068

                      The load out has high dependency on what you are doing. That load out is for serious E&E or a long range patrol, both would be in my view anyway, seldom events. But that is based on the training plan for my unit.

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