Night Hike AAR

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  • This topic has 31 replies, 13 voices, and was last updated 1 year ago by Robert. This post has been viewed 202 times
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    • #106650
      JohnnyMac
      Participant

        This past weekend I had the opportunity to do a short night hike with a fellow alumni. The purpose of the outing was to get some practice moving around with our PVS14 setups.

        Conditions: 75-80F, dropping to 62F with strong rain and intense lightning. 0% lume. Trail was a wide section of access road.

        Both of us were running PVS14’s from Robert. I had mine mounted on a high cut ballistic helmet, my partner had his mounted on a crye nightcap. Interestingly enough, we spent some time chatting, waiting for nightfall, and my fellow alumni was talking about vision differences between eyes. I didn’t think much of it, but when it was time to set off on the hike, I immediately noticed vision trouble. It had been about 7-8 months since the last time I ran my PVS14 (shame on me), without any issues in the past. It took an immense amount of effort to get my left eye focusing properly (yes, the PVS14 diopter was adjusted correctly). I’ll be making an appt. with an eye doc. The moral here is just because you’ve never had any eye problems running night vision, doesn’t mean you won’t!

        Terrain: The spot we chose was selected specifically for it being easy. The trail was mostly east/west, along a mountain ridge. We initially planned to go east, but couldn’t find the trail east at the intersection of our access trail and the actual trail. We ended up stumbling through a boulder patch during our search (common in our area, sometimes they can be expansive), moving on all fours at a few points, in near total darkness…was interesting. Moving east, we periodically passed radio towers, but eventually came to a fenced in tower with intense IR floodlights. It was daylight bright for ~40m around the site, enough to cast sharp silhouettes! We had no idea what it was about, and the trail ran right into the lit area, so we decided to just turn around and head back.

        Weather: 5 minutes into the hike, a heavy downpour and intense lightning storm started and didn’t let up the entire time we were out. When we started the hike, it was probably 75-80F, but by the time we were done, it was low 60’s and we were soaked. As we were moving, I didn’t really feel the need to put on my rain gear, but as we were finishing up, I could notice that my bare arms were just cold enough to make my grip feel sluggish. For the evening’s task, it was irrelevant, but on a patrol, I probably would have put on my rain jacket sooner. I would not want to be fumbling through mag changes with sluggish hands, if possible.

        Personal Gear Notes:
        -A properly balanced helmet/cap makes all the difference. I recently adjusted my counterweight for better balance and it was great.
        -Make sure you are super comfortable with all mount adjustments. We tried switching my NVG to my right eye to see if it was better and fumbled with the adjustments.
        -I swear by Tactical Distributor Neptune Pants. They were dry within 1 hr of getting out of the rain.
        -I had a streamlight sidewinder compact (IR, red, blue, white). It’s low power is great for a quick halt to check a map or something up close.
        -Garmin foretrex, which is a great piece of gear, can’t be seen through night vision without using the bright backlight. If anyone knows of a different way to do it, let me know.

        Overall, it was a great experience, and I look forward to working out some of the kinks from this trip on the next one.

        The main lesson here is the need to routinely get out with your NVGs. It’s a skill, like any other, that has to be maintained.

      • #106651
        Joe (G.W.N.S.)
        Moderator

          This is outstanding training that needs to be a routine part of your life.

          Operating at night is a perishable skill and there is a mental comfort component. You need to be comfortable in darkness this only comes from actual nighttime experience.

          Remember this applies to not just NODS, but movement with your natural vision.

          As JohnnyMac discovered this includes all manipulations of your chosen NODS, whether a bad eye day, change in vision, or possible injury. You must be able to adjust NODS to either eye in darkness by feel. Stuff happens!

          Not a component of this training evolution, but can you navigate your home in total darkness? Again this isn’t just about movement, but contingencies. If you are home alone and became vision impaired due to injury or whatever, can you get to first aid gear? Can you dial a phone for help and are familiar with keypad of available phones?

          Something else when getting out in your AO is the valuable source of Intelligence. You maybe surprised to learn of the number of IR lighting sources that are out there.

          Great Thread! :good:

        • #106652
          JohnnyMac
          Participant

            Stuff happens!

            I would even go so far as to say “stuff happening” makes for a better learning experience (as long as you aren’t developing training scars).

            You need to be comfortable in darkness

            I’ve heard this before, is it common to not be comfortable? As a kid we would frequently play outside in the dark, so I might be biased.

          • #106653
            trailman
            Participant

              Terrain: The spot we chose was selected specifically for it being easy. The trail was mostly east/west, along a mountain ridge. Periodically, we passed radio towers, but eventually came to a fenced in tower with intense IR floodlights. It was daylight bright for ~40m around the site, enough to cast sharp silhouttes! We had no idea what it was about, and the trail ran right into the lit area, so we decided to just turn around and head back.

              At the antenna sites we have for the county emergency services we have cameras with IR illuminators. Keeps track of the copper grounding wire thieves.

            • #106654
              Joe (G.W.N.S.)
              Moderator

                I would even go so far as to say “stuff happening” makes for a better learning experience (as long as you aren’t developing training scars).

                Exactly!

                This is why frequent training is so important, you will learn things that can only be learned through experience.

                Our SME’s do their best to pass on lessons learned and through experience, but it doesn’t truly sink in until experienced. Not to mention it is easy to overlook things that have become second nature from decades of experience.

                I’ve heard this before, is it common?

                Look around your area at night. People have lights everywhere, many can’t walk around their lawn without a flashlight. While most are not pathological about it they are at least uncomfortable at night.

                Consider my favorite swamps, there are truly dangerous things out and about at night. You have to develop your other senses to compensate and know what is normal sounds vs somethings up.

                Here is something to up the difficulty, watch a scary movie(s) before going out at night. Something that is particularly suited to your inner fears.

                Some good old fashion bump in the night stuff.

                Might want to carry condition three for these events to lengthen reaction time for safety. ;-)

                Fear of the unknown is powerful, darkness is the unknown for many.

              • #106655
                Robert
                Participant

                  I’ve heard this before, is it common to not be comfortable? As a kid we would frequently play outside in the dark, so I might be biased.

                  I think it’s a psychological thing for most people. Most of the population lives in suburban or urban areas. We walk out of well lit houses into well lit garages, turn on super retina burner 4000 high beam headlights, drive to well lit shopping centers, get out walk into a well lit store and then reverse the process later. And for most of the population, THAT is their experience with “darkness.”

                  So I think this is why you see guys kinda mildly freaking- at least inside anyway- at night in the woods in the dark. Learn to control your psyche and breathe and calm down.

                  Sometimes just sitting quietly in the woods at night helps.

                  Great AAR! Sounds like lighting conditions really sucked and for training that a good thing. A NOD is not a magic item and learning to work with it in all lighting conditions really furthers your experience level with them. I can’t tell you how many calls I get from guys that used the NV they bought from me once a hundred years ago (probably under great conditions) and then go out on a terrible night- no moon, raining or overcast, etc. and think “something happened” to the unit. No, there just wasn’t as much light to amplify (what an NVD does).

                  Like Max, I’m a big proponent of as absolutely little extra IR as possible. IR laser yeah no doubt. 6.5 jiggawatts of IR illumination? Naaah. Learn to work in crappy conditions without extra illumination where you can. NV is A LOT MORE COMMON than most of us think. What does that mean? That means even bubba with his $200. Tasco Gen I BS device can see your IR illumination when your lighting yourself up like a Christmas tree.

                  There is a lot more NV out there than most folks realize- not just patriots and survivalists buy this stuff guys. So good IR discipline is paramount for all of us.

                  Sorry I got off topic. Great job getting out there and very interesting on your finds with the place with all the IR illumination. One thing I’ve always pushed to people is that NV is great for sussing out camera systems. Why? Cause most of them have the constant on IR illuminators. :good:

                • #106656
                  Robert
                  Participant

                    Look around your area at night. People have lights everywhere, many can’t walk around their lawn without a flashlight. While most are not pathological about it they are at least uncomfortable at night.

                    Beat me to it!!

                    Consider my favorite swamps, there are truly dangerous things out and about at night. You have to develop your other senses to compensate and know what is normal sounds vs somethings up.

                    Crazy the crap is you hear in the swamp at night, gators, the whole nine. There is some damn animal up our way that makes this most awful racket, sounds like a monkey being tortured…. Silence for hours, you get to sleep, then the damn thing starts up, then another one a couple hundred yards starts it. I really thought their was escaped monkeys up here when we first started training up here in the 90’s…. True story.

                    Here is something to up the difficulty, watch a scary movie(s) before going out at night. Something that is particularly suited to your inner fears.

                    CNN rebroadcast of AOC’s green deal…

                  • #106657
                    Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                    Moderator

                      CNN rebroadcast of AOC’s green deal…

                      Don’t get too carried away, someone might have a heart attack! ;-)

                    • #106658
                      Polynikes
                      Participant

                        I wonder who your crazy partner was that crappy Saturday night in the middle of rain downpour and lightning!!

                        Another lesson-learned for me during the hike was the adjustment issue. I found myself slightly pulling the Crye cap to different sides/directions to get the right see-through alignment, although I thought I had it perfectly set when static. I guess the movement needs to be taken into consideration. I’ll run the helmet next time and see if that’s better during the hike.

                        Thanks JohnnyMac for getting me out there.

                      • #106659
                        Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                        Moderator

                          …although I thought I had it perfectly set when static.

                          It’s not just movement, sweating, rain, hair, many things affect the alignment.

                        • #106660
                          First Sergeant
                          Moderator

                            Good write up and a good way to get used to using NOD’s.

                            While going to the eye doctor may not be a bad idea, you may have just experienced something that is common to someone not used to using NOD’s. While still on AD when we switched from 7B’s to 14’s we went to the training area where I was stationed and spent two or three days on a reverse schedule. Some guys adapted to the 14’s pretty quick, others it took longer. Guys would get massive headaches or they couldn’t get their eyes to focus. The reason was that with 14’s your eyes are focusing at two different depths. You basically have to retrain your brain.

                            Most people today are so used to having some type of light around them that being on total darkness scares the crap out of them. That’s the primitive part of your brain talking. It takes time to get truly comfortable being in the dark and the only way to do it is to do things in the dark. As Joe said above the majority of people can’t even navigate their own house in the dark.

                            Like @trailman said above, you would be surprised how many IR lights that are out there. Nobody knows about them because they don’t walk around with NOD’s on. The majority of them a rigged to camera systems. Other cameras like game cameras use an IR flood at the moment it takes a picture, something else to be aware of.

                            FILO
                            Signal Out, Can You Identify
                            Je ne regrette rien
                            In Orbe Terrum Non Visi

                          • #106661
                            First Sergeant
                            Moderator

                              I wonder who your crazy partner was that crappy Saturday night in the middle of rain downpour and lightning!!

                              Another lesson-learned for me during the hike was the adjustment issue. I found myself slightly pulling the Crye cap to different sides/directions to get the right see-through alignment, although I thought I had it perfectly set when static. I guess the movement needs to be taken into consideration. I’ll run the helmet next time and see if that’s better during the hike.

                              Thanks JohnnyMac for getting me out there.

                              It is a constant readjustment.

                              FILO
                              Signal Out, Can You Identify
                              Je ne regrette rien
                              In Orbe Terrum Non Visi

                            • #106662
                              Anonymous
                              Inactive

                                Here is something to up the difficulty, watch a scary movie(s) before going out at night. Something that is particularly suited to your inner fears.

                                A number of years back I liked this to put me on edge late at night.

                                Preferably with headphones turned on a bit loud.

                                In the rare instances I used NODS it hurt my eyes too and I don’t even have any binocular vision to speak of, I think it’s just because of how bright they generally are and the strain involved.

                              • #106663
                                JohnnyMac
                                Participant

                                  You basically have to retrain your brain

                                  I’m holding out hope that it’s all that’s required.

                                  Given how much light is used in suburban/urban areas (where I live) it’s actually hard to get to a public place WITHOUT significant light pollution and isn’t “closed” at night.

                                • #106665
                                  Robert
                                  Participant

                                    Time under NODS is important. Just as no one in their right mind would spend 2 hours at the range once a year and think “I got this”- same goes with NODS.

                                    The brain fog gets better over time. Early on, just flip the 14 up, take a break for a few minutes. If your running a mono like most of us are, it’s probably over your left eye and you’ll still have your God given natural night vision in your right eye, so you won’t be completely blinded.

                                    Even running a dual set, I find myself rolling the right tube up out of the way quite regularly (acting then as a mono).

                                  • #106666
                                    Roadkill
                                    Participant

                                      Question. Is it easier on the eyes to go with the white phosphor tubes then to go with the green. I’ve heard it’s so, but is it worth the extra dollars?

                                    • #106667
                                      Robert
                                      Participant

                                        Question. Is it easier on the eyes to go with the white phosphor tubes then to go with the green. I’ve heard it’s so, but is it worth the extra dollars?

                                        Really personal preference more than anything else IMO. Keep in mind white phosphor tubes from ITT/Harris and L3 are both substantially more than green, hence why you see all the marketing that white is so much better, etc. from some companies.

                                        I run green HP tube duals and I don’t feel under gunned at all. Only WP we have currently in our family’s stock is Photonis ECHO spec WP tubes in PVS14’s.

                                        If you are going to MVT for a class we are heading to or just happen to be at, let me know, I usually bring some NV with me and where you can see/use/test before you buy it’s always good.

                                      • #106668
                                        Incipient
                                        Participant

                                          Great discussion, I can’t remember where you are located Johnny, but me and another alumni get out under NODS and do some night hiking too. If you are in VA we should all get together.

                                          In an initial stage; beginning to happen or develop.

                                        • #106669
                                          Hessian
                                          Participant

                                            Johnny,

                                            I have a friend who is into stargazing with some telescopes. He uses these two sites to find lower light pollution areas.

                                            https://www.lightpollutionmap.info

                                            &

                                            https://darksitefinder.com/maps/world.html

                                          • #106670
                                            Hessian
                                            Participant

                                              duplicate post.

                                            • #106671
                                              JohnnyMac
                                              Participant

                                                to find lower light pollution areas.

                                                That’s cool! Thanks man. Sadly, if I want to get to an “unpolluted” area, I have a long drive. For reference, our hike was in a “yellow” area.

                                              • #106672
                                                First Sergeant
                                                Moderator

                                                  @JohnnyMac

                                                  I am interested that you say you couldn’t see the Foretrex under NOD’s without using the back light.

                                                  I have been using the Foretrex for years, to include using it in Afghanistan. I have always been able to see the screen by adjusting the focus on my 14’s. I experimented again last night. While it is not perfectly clear, it has always been enough for me to check for a grid.

                                                  The weather and clouds may have been a factor in why you couldn’t see it.

                                                  FILO
                                                  Signal Out, Can You Identify
                                                  Je ne regrette rien
                                                  In Orbe Terrum Non Visi

                                                • #106673
                                                  JohnnyMac
                                                  Participant

                                                    I am interested that you say you couldn’t see the Foretrex under NOD’s without using the back light.

                                                    I confirmed even in ideal settings here at the house. Too faint to make anything out. I also tried adjusting the display contrast, but it didn’t make a difference.

                                                    Maybe they’re making them differently now?

                                                  • #106674
                                                    First Sergeant
                                                    Moderator

                                                      I am interested that you say you couldn’t see the Foretrex under NOD’s without using the back light.

                                                      I confirmed even in ideal settings here at the house. Too faint to make anything out. I also tried adjusting the display contrast, but it didn’t make a difference.

                                                      Maybe they’re making them differently now?

                                                      Maybe. Something to experiment with.

                                                      FILO
                                                      Signal Out, Can You Identify
                                                      Je ne regrette rien
                                                      In Orbe Terrum Non Visi

                                                    • #106675
                                                      Jack Moses
                                                      Participant

                                                        What do you all think about using a riser to raise your optic to align with pvs 14 which is mounted in front of your dominant eye. I have seen a trend on AR15.com mainly by a guy named Augee. It seems to be a way to mitigate the use of someone else seeing your IR laser or illuminator because you are using your red dot. Check out page 13 second and seventh post Riser

                                                      • #106676
                                                        Robert
                                                        Participant

                                                          Yes and no.

                                                          So yes you can do that. The problem comes when you are not just sitting static.

                                                          Imagine walking around patrolling like we did this weekend with the weapon constantly having to be held up to your shoulder pocket. If you want to see through the NV when it’s weapons mounted that’s what you would have to do.

                                                          Pulling also from this last weekend- now mix in a group of some trained some not so much trained people operating together. “Bubba” the no so trained guy is weapons mounted on his 14. He hears a noise in your direction, swings the rifle your direction (your on Bubba’s team BTW) because he wants to get a look at what the noise is….. Hopefully Bubba has his finger off the trigger…

                                                          So the IR laser on the rifle and head or helmet mounting the 14 option cuts down on arm fatigue (not having to constantly have the rifle up in the shoulder pocket) and cuts down on safety issues (Bubba swinging his rifle your direction to get a “look” at the noise).

                                                          And let’s be honest, further using the example of last weekend’s FOF- 15 people I think all of which had some training last weekend, damn near no one looked around while patrolling in DAYLIGHT (witnessed by the 3 ambushes and people running right by a bright green Claymore standing out against dead tan grass! Think Cadre was trying to teach us something??). So now if you had the added “stress” of constantly having to have their rifle up to “look around” at night? – forgetaboutit…. won’t happen.

                                                          Head or helmet mounted NV you turn your head to get a look, the way God designed your body, versus turning your whole entire body.

                                                          Don’t get me wrong, there are some very specific uses for weapons mounted NV. For example you could mount a 14 on your left eye, use it as normal and have another 14 on the weapon carried in a relaxed patrol carry (omitting the IR laser) in conjunction with a NV “compatible” sight and go that route. But that would require two 14’s.

                                                          The untold truth of the matter is that even NV “compatible” sights like some of the Eotechs, etc. could cause problems left on for long periods of time essentially “burning in” the image on your NV tube. MOST of time easy to fix that but adds to the risk and who the hell wants to gamble with close to $3K?

                                                          Finally, any autogated tube is recoil rated to 5.56 as well and any weapon recoil can OVER TIME begin to damage a tube. So another reason to avoid weapons mounting NV if at all possible.

                                                        • #106677
                                                          First Sergeant
                                                          Moderator

                                                            What do you all think about using a riser to raise your optic to align with pvs 14 which is mounted in front of your dominant eye. I have seen a trend on AR15.com mainly by a guy named Augee. It seems to be a way to mitigate the use of someone else seeing your IR laser or illuminator because you are using your red dot. Check out page 13 second and seventh post Riser

                                                            NO, NO, NO, FUCK NO.

                                                            FILO
                                                            Signal Out, Can You Identify
                                                            Je ne regrette rien
                                                            In Orbe Terrum Non Visi

                                                          • #106678
                                                            RobRoy
                                                            Participant

                                                              I could not believe I read that.

                                                            • #106679
                                                              veritas556
                                                              Participant

                                                                Wait, running dominant eye and “full ninja” is frowned upon here? If we’re talking Eotech, you don’t need anything other than the standard riser that comes with the EXPS-3.

                                                              • #106680
                                                                First Sergeant
                                                                Moderator

                                                                  I posted that reply last night because I was in a hurry and didn’t have time to go any deeper with my reply.

                                                                  Here is where the disconnect is. That type of set up is being done for one specific application, CQB and wearing dual tube NOD’s. How do I know? The company that the poster works for said as much in a later post. The company that he works for conducts night vision classes that primarily focuses on CQB. Draw your own conclusions.

                                                                  A real world fight is not all night raids on HVT’s in a CQB environment, but hey everybody wants to be a SEALRANGERDELTASNIPERSPECIALFORCES doing hostage rescues.

                                                                  I could rant for days about this.

                                                                  WTF is a stick? It’s a fucking rifle used to shoot motherfuckers that are trying to kill you. A stick is used to beat somebody with.

                                                                  But what do I know? According to some I’m just a fucking dumbass grunt that has never done shit and doesn’t know anything.

                                                                  FILO
                                                                  Signal Out, Can You Identify
                                                                  Je ne regrette rien
                                                                  In Orbe Terrum Non Visi

                                                                • #106681
                                                                  Jack Moses
                                                                  Participant

                                                                    Thank you all for the explanations. I was not referring to weapon mounted night vision use, but helmet mounted use with the optic mounted high enough to see the red dot through the night vision device. That way you had the freedom of helmet mounted night vision, while eliminating the use of an IR laser. I am not trying to reinvent the wheel, I just wondered what the limitations might be. Thank you again for the detailed replies.

                                                                  • #106682
                                                                    Robert
                                                                    Participant

                                                                      Understood.

                                                                      Try it with your 14.

                                                                      As First Sergent said, it’s a little easier with duals but still not ideal.

                                                                      If your signed up for Max’s night class in November I’d be happy to let you try it with a dual tube UL BNVD set if you’d like to.

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