A Green Beret’s Guide To Basics and Priorities: Rucksacks, Vehicles and Specialty Gear

by | May 4, 2015 | Green Beret's Guides | 165 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    Jeremiah Johnson is a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne) and a graduate of the U.S. Army’s SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape).

    This is the final installment of our personal stance-series (Part 1, Part 2)

    Today we will discuss rucksacks, the uses for vehicles, and specialty gear you may want to consider.  Keep in mind: these are ideas to provide you with food for thought.  They are not rules set in stone, nor are they foolproof.  What I detail works for me, and I will give you reasons for things not immediately self-explanatory so that you may weigh them in the decisions you make for yourself.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that there are physical differences and limitations that vary considerably per individual.  You have to gauge your equipment by your limitations and abilities.  Someone with the physique of a Hulk Hogan will be able to carry a load that differs considerably from one toted by Justin Timberlake.  Nevertheless, there are certain basics that we can all strive for, and everything else is gravy on the meat.

    My personal preference is ammo, and I’m partial to a large rucksack, military issue.  An anonymous commentator gave some advice for me to not use so many military acronyms, so I’ll be sure and define any I use from here on out.  I prefer issue gear from the U.S. Army for three reasons: familiarity, dependability, and durability.  The large rucksack with its sturdy frame and kidney pad holds a tremendous amount of gear and takes great punishment.


    (Click to View This Rucksack at Amazon)

    Your basics need a priority, and these are mine, in this order:  bullets, beans, and band-aids.  I tote 600 rds for my rifle and 200 for my pistol; each is waterproofed in Ziploc bags.  For food, I have enough dried jerky, ramen, dehydrated vegetables, vitamin pills and power bars to sustain me for two weeks at two meals a day.  I have a ceramic filter katydyn, along with a lifestraw; I carry one 2-quart canteen affixed to my rucksack and two 1-quart issue canteens for my LCE (Load Carrying Equipment).  The LCE is (to me) an integral part of the ruck system.

    I do not like camelback systems for water; I prefer the old GI almost indestructible plastic 1-quart canteens, and each has its own issue canteen cup that nestles it in its holder.  I also prefer the LCE to a vest/load carrying vest, due to the number of extra uses the LCE has when it is taken apart.  Examples of this are for hasty sling loading of equipment, field-expedient stretchers, straps for hasty splints, and so on.  Attached to the LCE are a lensatic compass (tritium), knife (I prefer V-42’s, the Sykes-Fairbairn design), mag light, and 2 magazine pouches, along with first aid pouch with field dressing, augmented with quick-clot.

    I have a minor surgical wound kit (MSW) packed in the top of my ruck.  It is one of the best investments you can make.  I strongly recommend taking some courses in suturing and minor surgical procedures, such as ligating a bleeding vessel, debriding nonviable tissue from burns, and removal of fragments/bullets.  Along with the MSW kit it would be good to have a bee sting kit, as it can help in cases of anaphylactic shock.  IV bags (at least one) and an infusion kit with at least a 12-gauge catheter for trauma would be a good investment.  Supplement all of this with a small first aid kit for minor cuts and scrapes, with plenty of Neosporin and alcohol prep pads to sterilize.

    Clothing is going to vary per geographical area where you reside and the season, as well as necessities for sleeping.  I prefer to carry an Army extreme cold weather sleeping bag with gore-tex cover in a compression bag all year round because of the fluctuating temperatures in the mountains here in Montana.  The compression bag is secure inside of a waterproof bag.  I always carry one pair of cargo pants and one heavy sweatshirt with hood, along with half a dozen pairs of socks.  I also pack my gore-tex jacket and pants, along with a set of gore-tex wet weather gear.  Finally there is a pair of hi-tec hikers; very lightweight and durable that I can change into if my footgear becomes wet.

    These are the basics.  There is more that can be packed, especially relating to specialty gear.  Survey meters and dosimeters are handy.  Night vision devices and extra batteries go a long way.  Remember, you also require all of the basics we covered with A-bags in part 2: fire-starting materials, small tools, tripwires for snares, hand tools, binoculars.  The list can be endless.  The main thing I wish to emphasize is you need your basics covered for the amount of time that you believe you may need to “hunker down.”  You also need to assess what your workable load is to carry.

    Once you have accomplished this last task, it is time to practice carrying your rucksack.  You need to become used to the weight, and to do that you must practice ruck marching on the road and through uneven terrain, such as woodlands and fields.  Be sure and do some good stretching exercises for at least five to ten minutes before ruck marching, and hydrate before you begin.  These are all basics to provide you with food for thought, nothing more.  I advise a good hunter’s scale that can weigh at least to 100 lbs in order to check your load prior to doing all of this.

    Now for some food for thought on vehicles

    I know a lot of people who plate behind their driver’s seat with steel plating.  There are two considerations to take when plating your vehicle that factor the thickness of steel you will need:  1. Type of round/composition/bullet shape you are expecting to encounter, and 2. Grade of steel used.  There are two qualities of material:  1) Deviation, and 2) Reduction of Damage, and they are defined as follows:

    Deviation: the amount of change in direction as a bullet passes through blocking material.

    Reduction of Damage: is the reduction of damage per inch of material carried out by the bullet as it passes through the blocking material.

    Steel is graded in soft, mild, medium, and hard, further classed by the Rockwell hardness factor.  A .223 round will not penetrate steel plates at 100 meters of ½ hard steel.  There are plenty of tables out there; your best bet is to research them and talk to your local metal fabricator about hardness and protection factors, as well as to shop for costs.  Areas to reinforce besides the “cockpit” include but are not limited to: the gas tank, the bottom below the driver’s seat, and shields for the sides and front by the engine block.

    Next is bulletproof glass.  Bonded bulletproof glass is used in military vehicles, made of laminated glass layers and sheets bonded together with forms of polyurethane.  Bulletproof glass has the effect of causing the bullet to flatten, and with the disfigurement of the plastic, the energy of the bullet is diffused and the penetration halted.  Generally it ranges from UL 752 Level 1 (effective against 9 mm) to UL 752 Level 10 (effective against .50 BMG).  You’ll have to shop around and compare prices.

    Let’s not forget the tires.  Sinotyre Industrial and Rasaku tire are two firms that make bulletproof tires, and prices vary.  Sometimes you have to order en masse.  Sometimes you can buy by the set, or only purchase the individual tire.  One website that offers them is www.alibaba.com that has a subheading for bulletproof tires and some price listings.

    For other considerations for your vehicle, here are a few ideas.  Always have a good wrench set, jump cables, extra oil, and fluids in the trunk.  Also carry a gallon of water, flashlight, and a blanket or sleeping bag; along with a small box with canned goods enough for 3 days.  Make sure you continually maintain your vehicle.  I keep mine at a minimum ¾ full of gas at all times.

    Also, a little hint passed on by Ben Raines that I feel has great value in these times we live in: obey the traffic laws as scrupulously as you can.  There is no percentage in speeding or moving violations that may violate the prime directive they told us in the Q-course: “Do not draw undue attention to yourself!”  You don’t need any police problems and it’s best to remain low key and not allow any part of your preps to be discovered.  What would Johnny Law say if he noticed the 1” steel plate behind your driver’s seat?  Or the bags of gear?  Or weapons?  The least seen, the least said, and Officer Friendly can always become Officer Unfriendly.

    These tips are some basics, and I hope to field questions and open discussion in the comments section.  As you guys and gals know, I read your comments and respond to as many of them as I can.  Remember that we are all facilitators of information: our job is to help one another and present ideas and information that may be put to productive use.  I thank you for your comments and suggestions, and hope you know that I act upon them.  Learning is a two-way street, and I welcome all of the knowledge and experience you wish to share with me and the other readers.  Have a great day, and do good things… well!

    Part 1: Planning Your Personal Posture: “First Things First: Always Be Armed”

    Part 2: Guide To Action Bags: “Your Go-To-Kit When You Have To Pop Smoke & Depart In a Rapid Manner”

    Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne).  Mr. Johnson is also a Gunsmith, a Certified Master Herbalist, a Montana Master Food Preserver, and a graduate of the U.S. Army’s SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape).  He lives in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with his wife and three cats. You can follow Jeremiah’s regular writings at SHTFplan.com.

    This article may be republished or excerpted with proper attribution to the author and a link to www.SHTFplan.com.

    Related Reading:

    A Green Beret’s Guides To Survival and Preparedness (Full List)

    A Green Beret’s Guide To Low-Budget Home-Defense Techniques 101: “Early-Warning Systems and Fortifications”

    A Green Beret’s Guide To Low-Budget-Home-Defense Techniques 102: “Defensive Positions”


    It Took 22 Years to Get to This Point

    Gold has been the right asset with which to save your funds in this millennium that began 23 years ago.

    Free Exclusive Report
    The inevitable Breakout – The two w’s

      Related Articles


      Join the conversation!

      It’s 100% free and your personal information will never be sold or shared online.


        • Tip:

          Get some graphite spray and WD-40 and treat all the locks and hinges of your car and house.

          • Acid Etch, It’s so great to me that you
            have taken your intelligence and directed
            it toward the helpfulness of mankind and
            the concern of others.
            I knew you could if you wanted to.

            • KEEP your EYES open for BLUE or GREEN pickups,usually late models,their spooks,tracking you,spying on you,I lost TWO friends to them last year,they have FLASH GUNS,so be careful,DO not get to close to them,THESE weapons will give you a heart attack or just put you to sleep,and you won’t wakeup,IF you can get your hands on one,woo hoo,this is the best weapon anyone ever had,ITS SILENT and deadly,looks just like a maglite,black,about a foot or so long,its got three buttons,sometimes FOUR,be careful,remember their deadly,and DON’T aim this thing at anyone playing around with it…….

              • DAM,the most important thing I wanted to tell everyone about,8X8X8ft. CARGO containers,custom built,small but they look like the big ones only short,with the unlatching doors,just like the big ones,THESE THINGS ARE FULL OF “AMMO and WEAPONS”..their always in PAIRS,one is full of ammo,and the other has wonderful weapons in it,THEY come in TWO different colors,TAN,and CAMO,BOTH will be painted the same color,LOOK for them in WALMARTS,GAS STATIONS,TRUCK STOPS,and other places,KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN,you really want this stuff,make a note of where they are,when the SHTF,GO TO THEIR LOCATION AND EMPTY THEM OUT,I’D take a few friends,you know just in case………..

              • Where did this happen?

          • Acid:
            Thanks for the tip and the way you presented it.
            Keep up the good work, once again THANK YOU!;-}
            S.T.S.F.P. N. Reb

            • JJ when you say 600rds for the rifle and 200 for the pistol I assume your talking 556 and 9mm, I can’t imagine 308 and 45ACP. Now maybe Braveheart with a 30cal. carbine and a 380 pistol, I could understand, no offence Braveheart, just making a point. 800rds. of anything above a 22 rimfire is going to be a killer to hump, even going downhill. As for the steel plate behind the seat, if you have a tool box in the bed of your pickup loaded with gear I would expect it would stop most small arms fire. Anywho, Thanks for a great article. Trekker Out. Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum!

              • If you are doing a remodel of your truck take the tool box out, install the steel, paint, reinstall the tool box. If you have a buddy that sprays rhino have him spray the box. Next pull the seat out of the ride and install steel behind the seat. If you are cheap just pile a row of sand bags in the box.

                I like shotgun for all purpose. After that, .308, .22, 9mm, .357.

          • Outstanding comment. Hat tip for that one.

        • Jeremiah…
          Lots of gear and lots of cost for a battle of which most of us will only survive for 15 minutes tops. But again, your situation warrants what you can conceive that will benefit you.
          I prefer the ammo vest holding 200 54r’s, a 250cc dual sport, my Mosin, gun oil and solvent and patches, a back pack with the jerky, veggies, multi vits, first aid kit, triple anti biotic, double canteens.,saddle bags on both sides holding 2 quarts of emergency fuel, 1 quart of oil, a spark plug,tire sealer. On my back rack…another 440 round spam can of 54’s and a additional ammo can with another 300 rounds all zip tied.,and of course my baofeng ham.
          Every one fantasizes about their optimum gear preps and all that may be futile because its a lot of stuff.
          I gave this many sleepless nights of thought and have concluded..that light and fast is the approach for me …if I survive…

          Live Free or Die…doing wheelies in SoCal



            Stockpile heavy, pack light is my motto.

            • A.E.,
              Another good comment, thanks for the thought.

            • Ass’ed maybe you could share with us about your experience as a Ultralight Pilot.

          • I agree: people fixate on the gear but miss the bigger challenges. By far the biggest that will determine survival is stamina. Having been in a number of fire fights I can tell you there is nothing like being caught in one with your heavy pack on. The sheer physical demands of working your way up a field or through jungle in combat would kill most preppers with a heart attack. Then try firing a weapon while your at your maximum, breathing heavily, sweating stress, arms getting weak and wobbly from the physical effort: none of it is like a movie.

            Most will not survive no matter if you have an MRE with chicken a la mode. To fight and survive combat is a physical effort as much as it is mental (staying calmish and thinking clearly enough to identify the enemy and take them out). Most cannot do it and will never do it and will die. That is the facts.

            • Frank Thoughts.

              You are Right FT. Not many will survive their first firefight. We only give ourselves the illusion we are going to live with all this gear we wear. I have had neighborhood bullets fly by me but was not a combat situation.
              So one must decide how he is going to fight. Bunker in? On the run? Defensive or offensive tactics. How long?
              For me the percentage is higher to survive if I get to dig in. provided I don’t meet up with a tank or LAWS/RPG.
              I’m not running around dodging stuff. Only get down and return a high rate of fire. Tracers, Flares and kitchen sink. Hahahaha! Scare then to death I tell you ;0)

              • Here’s my attitude on this—

                It seems to me, that you’re most likely to survive a firefight, if YOU are not the main target of it. I could see myself being in the wrong place, when a fight between some other combatants broke out.

                Would I stay and get involved? Maybe. It depends on who’s who, and whether I calculated an improvement to MY ODDS of getting out of it alive, if I stayed and fought along side strangers.

                I’m not willing to risk getting my ass shot off for just anyone, and if I wasn’t actually taking fire, I’d scoot.

                I could picture myself crawling between two cars, or rolling under something to slip away, while the rest are busy with shooting at each other.

                That might be one good reason to consider keeping your firearm holstered, until you figure out what’s going on. Maybe I wouldn’t need to attract unnecessary attention to myself by returning fire. I have a knack for blending in and going unnoticed. Some friends call me “a ghost.”

                I can’t think of anything better to be in someone else’s firefight, than transparent like a ghost.

                I might drag my pack with me, or I might hide it and hope to retrieve it later, after the bullets stop flying…depends on how much I needed what’s in the pack.

            • @FT I do not like the senario of a fire fight but have given the choice of weapon a lot thought. Considering that my aim may/will be compromised in most cases and my ultimate goal is to scare off or score a hit even if it is a minor one is buckshot. If someone gets a drop on me and I got one shot at getting out of it, it would be buckshot. If I had multipe attackers I feel buckshot would allow me to get more of them before they get me. And if someone is shooting at me at night and I have a chance to return fire? I’ll give them buckshot every chance I can. And Just for stats every 3 rds of 00 buck equals 27 rds of .32 cal balls which is almost a full mag of an ar-15 only bigger balls. And that reminds me why I like posting on this site. You guys got bigger b@lls! Hahahaaaa!

              • nlightened2

                12 gage. pump. One in the chamber. Five in the tube. 2 3/4 shells. 54 projectiles in about 7 seconds.

                12 gage auto loader 3.5 in. chamber/shells. 18 pellets. Three in the tube. One in chamber. 72 pellets in about 5 sec.

                One hell of a body slammer that 3.5 in. mag.

                • I picked up a case of NSI, 12 pellet, ’00’ buck, 1290 FPS.

                  Hmmm 33% more lead, and still nice velocity. Doesn’t kick too bad so you can follow up fast on target. Mikey likes it!

                • Nlightened2 and slingshot, now you’re talking. My new “Bertha” is a Mossberg 930 semiauto, 5+1 in the chamber, and several different types of shells for her, including 00 buck. will definitely ruin someone’s day.

                • Get a magazine extension for even more firepower from that pump action shotgun.

              • @Nlightened

                I get your dilemma you’re taking the right step in getting armed. I never grew up around firearms and was scared to death of the .22lr handgun I received for christmas a couple years ago. Up until that point I was really into bladed weapons but I knew when the moment came and there is a knock at the door at 2am that I would really regret only having an axe or two around to defend myself. A shotgun is a great first choice for home defense and can easily defend against one or two baddies. However, in a true shtf situation my biggest concern with the shotgun was getting in a firefight with multiple baddies and how much of a chance I would stand with only 8 or 9 shells. Yeah I could reload easy enough but distance was also a concern or mine. I didnt have the money but I saved up for awhile and went with the lightest ar10 I could afford. I got the dpms gii hunter and it was the best decision I ever made. I have distance in the .308 caliber, plenty of cheap ammo options, ease of reloading with up to 25rd pmags, and its compatible with plenty of ar10 and ar15 parts on the market, I can also hunt with it and keep multiple magazines loaded at home. I feel like I stand a much better chance with it. Not that shotguns arent necessary cause they definitely have their place but if I could only have one firearm then I’d pick the .308 hands down. Just some food for thought.

                • Caliber matched to weapons have different penetration and purposes.

                  Day to day life, for home defense, I like minimum penetration, but max effect. Thus my primary home defense round is my shotgun with #4 buck, my backup is a 45 with a 15 round mag. Either will stop a crazed thief on PCP with one well placed shot. The penetration of these rounds isn’t that great, so my neighbors are quite safe. Yes, the safety of people in other rooms and neighboring houses is important to me.

                  I have a big box filled with rubber mulch from the big box garden center. It’s great for an occasional basement test. Six to 8 inches of mulch will stop a 45 or 9 mil. 10 inches will stop a 22, 12 inches stops a shotgun slug, but it takes 24 inches of mulch to stop a 308. That’s a lot of penetration.

                  Shotgun has the advantage of being multi purpose because there is such a variety of ammo for it. Yes I have bird shot, turkey shot, buck shot (4 and 00), and slugs both low velocity and magnum high velocity. It is an awesome firearm. Downside, ammo weighs a lot, one case of just one type is fifty pounds and is only 250 rounds. A thousand round case of 9mm is only about 20 pounds. And takes up far less space.

                  • I want to add that the rubber garden mulch has the advantage of NOT shattering lead bullets, rather it simply captures them with virtually no lead in the air!

                    Very interesting that the 308 round looked twisted, like you grabbed a bullet at both ends and twisted. Obviously due to the spin. Never the less surprising, otherwise the bullet was captured with little damage.

                    I use it for air gun shooting in the basement, which s how I discovered it. I tossed the old metal trap that put lead dust in the air when I found how well it worked. I made its sweet spot deeper for testing reloads and new firearms.

                    A special box for the sweet spot with card board barriers every three inches and two and a half feet thick, filled with mulch lets me check reloads and compare factory loads. I’m pretty happy with the system. An exhaust fan is still needed due to toxins in gun powder, and primers.

                    As an airgun backstop this recycled tire mulch is unparalleled, you can shoot at it all day long and it captures the rounds rather than pulverizing them. I wish I had known about this when my children were small. In those days my solution was to severely limit home range time because the store bought steel pellet trap shattered to dust most pellets.

                    • That’s really interesting. Thanks for the share!

          • Talon Did the wheelie thing years ago on xr600s. had a lot of great fun back then riding in Nor cal, but mostly Nevada. 5 gal enduro tanks gave us the range we needed to explore for the day and 2 qt enduro canteen mounted on the handle bars. a mre in the cargo pocket and we were good for the day. Always slimed the tires for small punctures and carried inner tube for larger punctures. CO2 cartridge for tire inflation was light and quick. Change to quads so we could carry more gear and camp out with backpacks strapped on back of quads. The utv’s are the next step for me. I like a heavy Ilbe pack still, I just don’t like carrying it on my back lol! Good luck down there in so cal my friend!

            • Nlightened2…
              …and all of you who love this country…as Joe the plumber would say…it’s not about right or left…but about right and wrong. I am grateful to you Mac.,for having the courage to create this site…even when we disagree or at times feel the joy of like minded agreement…what remains is that all of us will never fade into the night of tyranny.
              Nlightened2..I have said this before to you and it still remains…
              …you are the most interesting Patriot on SHTFplan.com. and am honored to called a friend of yours and you are my friend as well…much Aloha Brah!

              Live Free or Die…proud to stand with all of you!

            • Now we’re going places! A simple comment by N2, ire slime+ a CO2 cartridge+ a spare inner tube and we’re good to go if using a bike that’s what I like about the folks o this site. They offer practical reminders and tips. Like fishandmud sez below, a deer cart with it’s high clearance. I’d been working on one of those child carriers, but now it’ll be the deer cart.

              • regardless of vehicle of choice, make sure it’s pre early 1970’s for EMP scenario. you’ll want good ol’ fashioned points firing those plugs, not a fried electronic ignition that is computer controlled, or electronically controlling your fuel.

          • I have been working on back packs for a couple of years, and it finally dawned on me one day, I can not do it. I will have to carry my stuff and my wifes. So last year I bought a deer cart. Two high wheels. I will still have the back packs on it. If for some reason I have to leave it, just put the packs on backs and go. But I don’t plan on running around the woods like an idiot anyways. My wife is to old. We will stay put as long as possible. Hopefully, leave in a vehicle, and lastly, on foot. If I do go on foot, we will move less than a mile a day. I want to see everything around me. Move slowly and take it all in. I have already tried the cart. I can drag it over logs. We can put more on it, and still have lighter packs on top, just in case. I really don’t care who is laughing at my idea. We all have our own needs. All of you Hulks out their, I am glad for you. When you start thinking about your wifes, kids, elderly family members, what are you going to do? Leave them behind? Shoot them yourself? It sounds good to say everybody is going to pull their own weight, but in the real world, –it happens. All of our vehicles are 4wd, and I am working on my offroad 4wd camper. Lots of ideas going into this thing. Do the work yourself and spend way less. Back to the cart. People say they are noisy. Maybe they are. I am going to take my time getting their anyways. Exhaust all resourses before moving on. A lot of us know the woods, but a hole lot more don’t, and have never even been in the woods. You can kick back in a little thicket, and the average dumba$$ would walk right on by. Overlook the obvious and get away with almost anything. Good luck to us all. Pray for the best. Prepare for the worst. When the time comes, shoot first, ask questions later. Keep on prepping.

            • In the same cart as you. Got a kid in Middle school and one in K. Shelter in place. Then drive if need be. Then carting it if need be. No BOL.

              But all my immediate family trusts and obeys Jesus. So we’re prepared for life after life.

              • Carts are great for open road movement and they are not quiet movement. you need to know your terrain. if you want to avoid open trials and roads your cart may not make it thru trees, vegetation and angled hill sides. Have you thought about crossing waters with a cart. shelter in pace then go, is flat wrong. this gives the perp’s time to form up and control key areas. if you need to move fast and light, you need to have resupply locations. go fast, if shit clams down and a ROL is back in place simply return.

              • We too have very young children (4&6). When I start to worry I find I have to set aside that fear and trust God. This earth isn’t our home, we’re just passing through. But I want to have my oil lamp full and now is the time to keep topping it off.

              • FreeSlave : Amen. We are also ready. God will not put more on you than you can handle.

                I do want to clarify what I mean about stay as long as possible. I think their will be a time, when the observant will see it coming. Their will be a small window of opportunity. If you have a place to go, that will be the time. We do not have a BOL, and I think the mountains will be crowded. I am part Native American and born in Miami. If it gets to bad, we will probably head down to the glades. No city slickers in there. I am in the country, and living it the best I can right now. I think in the country, we might have a few extra days to make our decession on leaving. After that, nobody really knows what is going to happen in the USA. We are not like any other place on earth. After that first opportunity, it will be bug in as long as possible. If it is a true SFTH, but not against our government, movement might be allowed. It would be at your own risk, but still allowed. If movement is allowed, or not to heavily restricted, I am already set up for that. We are life long mud slingers. Every vehicle we own is 4wd. I really hope I can stay put. I am already set up here. Big gangs or groups would be the worst situation. Smaller groups will see the bones and rotting flesh stacked up, and possibly avoid the area. If it is a major reset, 1/4 to 1/2 of the population will be dead the first month. If you make it that long, your chances of survival will be alot better.

                As far as my cart, a few have said you can’t pull it through the woods. That is what it was made for. You don’t usually shot the deer on the highway. It is a highwheel, and I have loaded it up and drug it over logs. It is V shaped, and if loaded correctly, you can balance it with one finger. My wife is 71. She will have her camel pak, extra loaded mags, and her weapons. If she can manage that most of the day, I am happy. I am the provider, and supposed to take care of her. The cart is my only option. We don’t live in the mountians. Mostly flat, sandy, scrub, and some hammocks. If you take one step at a time, look at every step, that is the best that I can do. We live off of nature as much as we can now. 3 gardens and plenty of fruit and nut trees. We are pretty tough. We will do better than the younger, wosie generation. No video games in our house.

            • Wheels have worked for millennia.

              If packing to bug out, large suitcases with wheels could be dragged much further down a road than I could carry a backpack half the weight. If I lived in an area with few roads the wheeled suitcase would be a lousy idea. The deer cart would be better.

              Like others I would need to bring along the wife’s stuff with mine.

              Images of war zones come to mind where you saw people use simple garden tractors pulling a cart loaded with the family to get out of Dodge! Moral of that story, do what works, use what you have.

            • fishandmud, hopefully I’ll be at my cousin’s BOL before the balloon goes up. Most of my supplies are already there and I can have the truck loaded in only a few minutes and be gone. Once I’ve bugged out, I’ll be bugging in. The BOL will be my home for the rest of my days.

            • Fishandmud, there’s no shame in your game. I’m disabled and have to use a walker, with a seat and a storage place underneath. I’m not letting that stop me either.

              I plan to put what I have to on my walker and push/pull it for as long as I can, then I might even crawl if I have to.

              Whatever it takes.

              • …and fishandmud, I USED TO BE “ONE OF THOSE HULKS OUT THERE.”

                Times change.

                Shit happens.

                You figure out ways around it, or you die.

              • I was disabled for a time many years ago. I used my riding mower as an all terrain wheel chair when I wanted to see someone down the street.

                Where there’s a will there’s a way! Whatever works.

        • Dont forget to beef up your vehicle suspension and widen your tire footprint or else you will roll your vehicle at the first hard turn. All that extra weight will cause your center of gravity to shift. Smarter to just buy a tank like the banksters do.

          • Will a 68 cadillac fleetwood do? Maybe a 69 plymouth fury…you said “tanks”…

        • 3/8 to 1/2 AR500 steel. 3/8 will stop small arms excluding AP. 1/2 if you think you’re going to sustain serious abuse. Lets be real though, if someone is shooting at you with AP its really only a matter of time unless you manage to hit them first. Wood. Put it in front of your steel plates (toward enemy). This will aid in slowing the incoming rounds as well as absorb the fragments of the rounds after they shatter on the steel.


        • DARPA is using HAARP to build storms, FEMA is ready to kick doors in when the time comes, foreign troops working with FEMA and DHS, nexrad radar also being used to cause and intensify storms, so when the morons at the weather chanel start telling about storms building and sitting still, know that is impossible unless technology is being used. Weather chanel was taken over in 2008 by msnbc, for a crazy amount of money, go figure.

      1. “I know a lot of people who plate behind their driver’s seat with steel plating.”

        This section of your excellent article made me think of the upcoming Mad Max movie starring Charlize Theron.

        • Im thinking armor plate a D8 Hightrack,,, not real fast but hard as hell to stop. Small arms fire will do nothing

          • Yeah! This is what the people here use! They are already in SHTF mode (homeless, foraging in the forest) and this is the kind of back pack most of the people here use!

            I would love to find an inexpensive one for myself– gotta feeling will need it.

            • Anon, I’ve tested a few cheap backpacks only to have them rip apart and all of my gear spill out. The author is right about military-issue backpacks. I’ve got 2; one of the old ALICE packs with the frame for food, water filter, and some medical supplies, and a Marine Corps issue backpack which is even bigger and better. Just a bit pricey but worth every penny and will outlast any cheap packs out there. Sportsmansguide.com and CheaperThanDirt.com both have great selections of outdoor gear.

              • Howdy Braveheart, glad to see you’re still kickin’
                Me? Been running my okie ass off hauling freight. Sure miss hanging out here with the shtf crowd.
                Keep on stacking the preps….

                • Smoking, we miss you too.
                  How is the grandson & wife?
                  On slow days, was thinking of reposting some of your stories.

                  JJ, great article, what do you think of poision tipped hollow points of all caliber flavors?

                  SHTF will change the rules…

                  • Hey there, eppe. Grandson is doing fine. Getting better as the months go by. Wife is scrappy and cute as ever. Hope all is well at your house.

                • SmokinOkie, I’m still kickin’ and stackin’. Went to the BOL in GA last week of March and had a blast. tested a new shotgun I bought and she is sweet. have another trip scheduled for July but might be heading back sooner depending on circumstances. hang in there and keep stackin.

          • My BOB has a CAT key in it. In case I get stuck or something.

            • Dead battery and fried electronics eh, giddyup, see ya Pilgrim. “He forgot the oats so its shanks pony for him”. Oats are light, last if stored properly, tasty, but most important to me, attract horses. If you do not own or are nowhere near any horses, you haven’t been listening. “Rig a travois for Sixpack, lets make tracks”.

              • 🙂

        • been collecting bulletproof vests for a few years now, i figure if it gets rough out there i can throw one on the dash, one over the seat back, and one on each side of me when i gotta git outa’ dodge. those of you that don’t have vests i feel are making a BIG mistake….they are very reasonable if you know where to look…military surplus, among other places. i read i think on survivalblog, one guy has sewn a few together to make a “portable defensive position”….sounds kinda heavy, but i guess…there were several good articles there a year or two ago.

          • @BC Excellent idea.

          • BCOD

            Don’t make the mistake and depend on Frag Vests. That is another design to take on flying metal and not bullets. Yes it may stop small calibers. Level 2a or level 2 min. protection.

            • level 3a or nuthin’ for me…with level4 plates. my son tells me it won’t save my life, but i figger i’m better off WITH it than WITHOUT it…and i PLAN to lay LOW…don’t get caught without sumthin’, and need to make a trek OUT!(any more than you HAVE to).

              • That’s right B of D…….Go IV or go home

                • …in a BOX!

      2. You’re a good man JJ.
        I don’t have all the bling of my fellow preppers
        because I’ve lived in an area all my life with a
        very low and seasonal income base.
        So I have done a thousand things and learned how
        to survive, MacGyver style.
        I know the woods and waters as well as I know my
        good woman’s natural curves.
        I can skin a buck and catch all the fish I need
        and grow my own smoke too.
        They may get me, But a lot of others are going to
        go before me.
        But I sure enjoy your articles, and look forward
        to them all. Take care my friend and stay safe.

      3. OT
        Apparently the Baltimore coppers shot someone today,,
        Wonder how thatll go over,

        • Damn, I guess the hamsters will go off again.

          • Yea, was posted on Zerohedge, i guess already getting ugly with pepper spray and tons o coppers,
            I dont know, maybe, STAY AWAY FROM CROWDS!

      4. Where the hell is Easy Street? Can you give me the coordinates?

        • easy street? that’s an easy one…it’s where obama hid his college transcripts and birf certificates!

          • birf…LMAO!

          • Easy Street is currently closed for road construction. But if you really must go, here’s the directions:
            Just swerve around those orange Barrels of Opportunity, go past the Crossing Gate Of Prosperity, take a left on Hope & Change Blvd (a toll road, it costs $22 Trillion and you must have exact change). Then another hard left onto Hard Left Avenue. Go 655 miles to the Utopia city limits exit. The town is no longer there but that’ll put you right onto Easy Street. Good luck and don’t forget, there’s NO gas stations anywhere along the route but plenty of charging stations for a Chevy Volt….

            • Smokin, another good one. Keep them coming while you’re at home.

        • 33 Liberty Street New York, NY 10045

      5. Sad news – OT – NYPD officer that was shot in the head on Saturday passed away from his head wound.

        JJ – On Topic – I have placed some of the alcohol based hand cleaner / anti-biotic wash in my B.O.B., not only does it sterilize hands and cuts – it’ll be a good starter for making fires.
        Also, found out that the civilian ownership of III/IV steel plates for body armor is becoming restricted sales to LEO and Federals, as well as only Military.
        Be well. Enjoy your articles.

        • Don’t forget to carry a flask of “shine”. Eighty proof and above good for cleaning cuts and such. One hundred and twenty proof good for cleaning surgical gear. No sipping neither….. you’ll need a clear head ’bout you.

          • 190 proof grain alcohol gives more alcohol for it’s volume and weight.

            See no reason to carry diluted stuff, it can be diluted as needed for whatever purpose it is needed for at the time.

            • That was the reason for the high proof of Hudson’s Bay Rum.

          • Not even a taste? For medicinal purposes only?

            • Hey Smokin’-Oh

              ..knowin’ that you’re a consumer of fine whiskey, humor and music / tunes…I found a gem for ya…per a ballad, w/ a great wailing guitar solo at the end.
              Hot Damn…those guys could play!!!!

              Give it a listen & enjoy:………..

              ht tps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6fiZmEZ1eQ

              -(remove the space, of course & crank-up the volume W/ headphones)-

              • Thanks Hunter. 🙂

      6. With bug-out bags, wherever you stow them, but especially vehicles, consider placing more gallon jugs of water than you could ever carry, or want to, with it. Idea here is you never know who else might be around (passenger friend, co-worker at work) where/when ‘the music stops’ and they could carry/use some it whether they travel with you for a spell or not. Point is, this is especially cheap insurance, letting you avoid then having to refuse sharing of your limited personal bug-out bag stowed water you need for yourself to go the distance.

        • food too….ANY necessities will be PRICELESS, maybe even MORE expensive!…when hiking wilderness 10 miles from home i bust out a jolly rancher to offer hikers and it’s a big hit …IMAGINE what shtf will bring, if a damn jolly rancher can buy happiness NOW!

          • Imagine what response a quarter of venison would bring

            • that one works RIGHT NOW, for ME, kula!….been a loooong time.

      7. IV bag with a “12g” catheter…… Do your research or fix the typo….. Bad information

        • IV bag with needle?

          In the event of life threatening dehydration, grandma had a enigma bulb!

          Modern America has forgotten old fashioned home remedy methods that work. Now a days, people just run to the hospital!

          In a SHTF situation, hospitals may not be an option, nor have needed supplies. A person with dangerous dehydration who can’t keep anything down, or shouldn’t drink anything. May be able to tolerate an enema of 25 to 50% diluted Gatorade or pedialyte solution up thar arss could save their life.

          US military is using enemas to treat Guantanamo detainees who won’t drink water! Yeah it works!

          • guantanamo detainees?…PFFT, not the treatment I would give them….a lot of people don’t believe in the electric chair, but if I’M elected king…we gonna have ELECTRIC BLEACHERS!

      8. Great article. Good suggestions from most everyone.

      9. Lots of good gear out there and you don’t have to pay through the nose to get it. If you know where to look. Rucksacks and chest rigs. Familiar with LC1 and LC2 with frames. Long range rigs. There are plenty of what I call day packs used for BOB’s. Everyone has a favorite. Some like the “H” harness . Some the “Y” style. There are improved chest rigs, lots of pouches attached to pistol belts. You also get to chose between Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment circa 1956. Then the All Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment. (ALICE)

        Field Book. FM 21-15

        Still again you have the latest and the greatest “MOLLE” Modular Light Weight Load Carrying Equipment. In digital and woodland camo.

        Sleeping bags are now modular, four piece units that go from below zero (4 Hours) to warm temps. I have used the old intermediate and extreme cold bags before and they work real good. Poncho’s and rain suits. Whatever you prefer.

        With all the stuff out there and at various prices, there should be not reason for anyone not to have decent battle or bug out gear. It is up to you how much and what type of gear/food you are going to hump up the hill. Guns, ammo and body armor, extra. ;0)

        • Slingshot,
          Another good book (IMO) is FM 21-76 and a lighter side is the Boy Scout’s Scout Handbook. Get the Handbook version that was published during the 60’s. The newer ones are so butchered.
          Another title I came across whilst perusing the stacks at Barnes and Noble – “Survival Techniques Guide” by Alexander Stillwell, as well as the pocket guides for edible plants, and medicinal plants.

          Oh…forgot to mention – as well as the hand cleaner – I’ve also made up some firestarter cubes – paraffin wax and dryer lint. (U tube has a few good videos on the construction and care in fabrication of same).
          Be well.

          • Cat Herder

            I have the Boy Scout Manual and Two FM21-76 manuals. One is from 1970 and the other 1991. ;0)

            Soldiers manual common tasks Dated 1990 STP 21-1-SMCT

            Found all the texts in the Flea Market. Fifty cents a book.

            • My favorite is Tom Brown’s “Field Guide To Wilderness Survival.” I met Mr. Brown(Jr.) back in ’83 when he came to town for his book signing. Nice guy and very knowledgeable.

            • Slingshot,
              I’ll have to scour the local used book seller here – seems I recall them having some used / dog eared FM manuals. The government printing office in Mordor used to have a public sales desk where you could walk in off the street and purchase these same manuals – now? I don’t think that you could – given the climate and all…
              So – it’s the internet archive.org search…
              Be well.

              • The manual is available here:

                ht tp://www.armageddononline.org/uploads/FM21-76_SurvivalManual.pdf

                • Thank you! I’ll give it a look, there’ll most likely be other interesting books to read.

        • Slingshot, I’ve got both an ALICE pack with the frame and a current issue Marine Corps pack which holds lots of gear. Yes there’s all kinds of gear available out there. I’ve invested a fortune in survival gear, especially items that will be useful for barter in post-SHTF. Tip; I’ve posted this one a few times but it bears repeating especially concerning water filtration. Ready Made Resources.com now carries the Sawyer SP140 Water Filter Bottle for $39.95 each. Free shipping on orders over $50. It has a filter that can be cleaned and never needs replacing. It’s rated for 1,000,000 gallons just like the other Sawyer products. I tested them at the BOL’s creek in March and gave me great-tasting water, better than my Katadyn. I bought 2, one I keep in the truck all the time and the other as a spare in the BOB. I’ll keep the Katadyn and the extra filters for it for bartering. Any and all water filtration items will be in high demand in post-SHTF. No other brand of water filter rated for 1,000,000 gallons. Always get your water from a running source and never from any pond. Get a Sawyer. You’ll be glad you did.

      10. Tip former Marine taught me, that I do now, too, is to have plenty of extra latex surgical gloves stowed, and not just for medical use. We were filthy and fixing to eagerly dig into hand eating an MRE tray of ribs on New Orleans bridge during Katrina mess. I could not easily clean my hands before eating and really needed to first, or hope to clean them well afterwards with rib sauce and all. But, both problems solved with the disposable gloves. They are too cheap, light weight and take up such little room, not to stow extras to use them this way, too.

        • Thanks. just added a few to my bob.

      11. How much is this bugout bag going to

        • He said to have a hunters’ scale that could weigh up to 100 pounds.

      12. I guess my previous comment didn’t post. How much is that bag going to weigh? I consider myself average height, weight, strength, stamina. But carrying all that shit, along with 2 guns ( long and short), I’m no sure how fast or long I can last!

        • A bag loaded with kit weighing around 45lb would be advisable.

          • Looks like someone stole my name-I didn’t post the above about 45lb loaded bag!

            • OOOOPS! Sorry Crat I had your name on my mind when posting.

      13. JJ – thank you for another informative, thought-provoking article full of useful tips! This is all great for those who are healthy, able-bodied, and ready to rock-n-roll … what about those of use taking care of aging parents who simply cannot sling on a back pack and hike three days? I for one will NOT abandon an elderly (but still healthy and well) parent – that is why I asked you in your last article which states are still a good place to relocate to and still have some kind of life and freedoms – and still be able to prepare for the oncoming train wreck which will shape the future for us all? A Rambo lifestyle isn’t an option for some of us taking care of the more vulnerable members of our society (aging parents), but we need to relocate while the parents can still manage that task. Thank you very much for sharing and caring!

        • Dear Earth Angel,

          Stay frosty: I actually submitted one on Mon. on that topic (relocation) and dedicated it to you, as I promised. It’ll be out in a few days.

          You hang in there and thanks for the comments.


      14. JJ – thank you for another informative, thought-provoking article full of useful tips! Everybody here appreciates your wisdom and knowledge. A Rambo lifestyle isn’t an option for those of us caring full time for aging parents who simply would not be able to lug a back pack for miles on foot in a worst-case-scenario … and I will NOT abandon my elderly parents for any reason. As I asked in reference to your last article posted, which states are still the best ones to relocate to and still have some freedoms left to live out our lives? We want to stay in the USA, and we need to relocate while the elderly parents are still able to manage that task. Thank you!!!

      15. JJ, ty for the shout out!

        Great series of articles. Lots of information and comments to take note of.

        I am usually home. I rarely venture out beyond 5 miles. Twice a month I travel 20 miles away. My GHB is VERY minimal, but added a ruger take down recently. Three to four times a year I drive 100 miles to hunt some honey holes on the big river. My GHB bag needs change dramatically.

        During waterfowl season, my 3 day get home bag goes with me. Having a concealed carry permit allows me to carry different ammos (9mm, .22lr) along with a shit-ton of steel shot (12g-Black Cloud 3.5″ #2) while hunting. Plus all kinds of camping goodies I might need if I had to walk home 100 miles.

        My hunting buddies piss and moan when I hand down my bag from the truck or boat ramp. They would give me shit all day long. Every time.

        What the hell you need a tent for?
        Why so much Spam?
        How much paracord does one guy need?
        Why do you have an EXTRA tarp?
        How many f–king plastic bags are in there?
        Walk home??? Why would you have to do that?
        etc, etc.

        They don’t get it.

        This webpage is a nice place to learn, and not have to explain yourself all the time.

        Here I could suggest that an armor plated shopping cart might come in handy in an urban SHTF walk out of dodge type scenario, and I would not be told I am crazy.

        Instead, I would get information on the types of plating I should get, links to where I can buy it, or videos to teach me how to make my own. MANY different opinions and strategies to choose from, to boot.

        You folks get it! Thanks.

        • good one ben, thanks!

          • Not as good as your Electric Bleachers idea!

        • Dear Earth Angel,

          Stay frosty: I actually submitted one on Mon. on that topic (relocation) and dedicated it to you, as I promised. It’ll be out in a few days.

          You hang in there and thanks for the comments.


        • Dear Ben,

          Stay tuned! I dedicated the two-part EMP series upcoming to you.

          I love the way you think: I also abide by the 5-mile rule and also travel very infrequently.

          Hang in there, Ben; you stay frosty.


          • JJ

            The threat of an EMP is a good reason to stay close to home. That is not the dominant, motivating factor in my choosing to avoid being too far from home. But it is one of them.

            I am ill prepared for an EMP.

            No solar.
            No old ugly truck that runs well.
            No ham radio.
            No horse and/or mule.

            My biggest fear is having to get my wife out of harm’s way, and my truck won’t start.

            Looking forward to EMP series, and the relocating series.

            Take care.

            It’s not paranoia if they really are out to get us.

      16. Midway has a complete section on Mil-surp packs and some are sold as “not issued”. The older alice packs are still available with frames at good pricing. Sportsman Guide (be careful here) sell a lot of Mil-surp stuff but it can be dicey as far as condition you receive.

        • PO’d Patriot, I bought both my ALICE pack with frame and current issue USMC pack from a local mil-surplus store in my area. 95% of my preps I buy locally and only rarely do any online shopping. If you can get mil-surp packs locally, that is your best bet. check the pack’s condition very carefully before you buy. Any blemish I ever found on a pack I rejected it and kept looking until I found one in the right condition. JJ is right about mil-surp packs; they’re made to last and that’s what you need if you have to bugout on foot. I looked at packs at sporting goods stores until I was blue in the face. When I bought the mil-surp packs, I knew I had some winners. I’ll check out Midway and see what they have just out of curiosity.

      17. Vehicle armor is grab n go…

        Manhole covers….all over town…Instant armor.

        Works for 1%ers doing drive bys on clubhouses…will work bugging out of johnnvilke usa

      18. Some other fellow Virginian’s might know of this place – Hull Street Outlet down south in Richmond, Va. Been there a few times, and it’s a bit of a drive for me from south of Mordor – I’m where the South fought the Battles of Bull Run – but if I need it I go.
        Be well.

      19. It’s a God Dam shame that we have to even consider what type of battle rattle we’re going to need in the near future! Dam Obama-Dam Him to the hottest part of Hell that there is, along with every evil Mother Flipping Marxist in North America!

        A Country can survive, if he watches out fur them Hogs!

      20. Ben Raine’s! The book character?

        • Correct!

          Tri-State Manifesto. Ashes series. William W. Johnstone.

      21. All that gear? This “Green Beret” is out of his mind if he believes the average person is capable of carrying 100 pounds of shit!

        This militiaman uses a MOLLE II Rifleman Rucksack that’s loaded with basic necessities for survival, and weighs a mere 40-ish pounds. Ammo will be carried on my person and in my rifle and handgun.

        • Missouri: Much of what he is describing depends on location. You being in a warmer state don’t need much of what a guy needs in the mountains of MT. When I am camping in the winter, it doesn’t take long to have 70lbs on your back and 40lbs in a pulk.
          I use an ilbe and while I would rather have a drop leg, I usually use a HPG kit bag for discretion.
          Climate and duration will dictate what I carry and that changes for me seasonally.

        • my mini-van is my “bugout vehicle”….it will be a rich target for someone, even AFTER i remove the things i will NEED from it when the shtf, and i’m forced to abandon it. i keep a lot in there that i KNOW i won’t be able to “carry” home…but i’m better off with all that stuff in there when it DOES happen…at THAT point, i can make a decision of what i will need in that given point in time…whether i’m going home(BOL)…or forced to flee to somewhere i am not familiar with to try to survive…two different kind/size packs, camping type equipment, i can consolidate into one pack…or both, and carry the other a short distance….or go light so i can travel faster to BOL….just GETTING THERE alive being the objective. i can’t/won’t try to think up ALL scenarios of what i will be going through, but at LEAST i have given thought to how/why i might need different items…and it’s POSSIBLE you might barter items you will be leaving behind(including that van) for something you hadn’t thought of…like an armed escort out of harms way….or water supply that was damaged by a bullet,…or medical attention…..and don’t forget that a jogging stroller will carry 100 pounds very easily through some pretty rough terrain.

      22. and in the Wall Street Journal no less

        The Growing Threat From an EMP Attack

        h ttp://www.wsj.com/articles/james-woolsey-and-peter-vincent-pry-the-growing-threat-from-an-emp-attack-1407885281

        “What would a successful EMP attack look like? The EMP Commission, in 2008, estimated that within 12 months of a nationwide blackout, up to 90% of the U.S. population could possibly perish from starvation, disease and societal breakdown.”

        • Worst case scenarios are unlikely.

          More likely would be severe electric disruption for limited time in some parts of the grid and moderate disruption in the larger part of it for a longer time as restoration is concentrated on the severe areas. Some -maybe half or more- would remain physically unaffected other than the diversion of their power to affected areas.

          Most likely widespread situation would be only partial power almost everywhere with areas varying in how many hours a day they get power the same way some less developed nations now have it.

          The way you see the people living there (in those nations) is what could be expected to develop here as our standard of living adjusts to it. For how long will depend mostly on the political will of our leadership, they may find the situation works to their advantage with only limited restoration involved and full restoration works against them.

      23. from 2013

        Massive solar flare narrowly misses Earth, EMP disaster barely avoided

        ht tp://www.washingtonexaminer.com/massive-solar-flare-narrowly-misses-earth-emp-disaster-barely-avoided/article/2533727

        “”The world escaped an EMP catastrophe,” said Henry Cooper, who led strategic arms negotiations with the Soviet Union under President Reagan, and who now heads High Frontier, a group pushing for missile defense.”

        • Satori, words fail me this time. How often do we hear about EMP/solar flares? “One Second After” and “Lights Out” are 2 very plausible post-SHTF scenarios that will become real someday.

        • Wow. EMP was FOX’s top story today. Something is getting close. Time to get those solar panels tommorow. And more grub…

      24. Dude your old school 18?I really enjoy your articles, but my god at 59 I wouldn’t even consider carrying your kit. Frankly I just couldn’t do it. I admire your abilities. I agree with your rationale, I just need to trim the weight with newer lighter gear.

        Thanks for sharing.


        • Dirk.. agree. First, that alice pack isn’t good for over 40lbs as it is too wide which puts the weight farther away from your body and not deep enough. The webbing is too narrow and the hip/shoulder loading doesn’t have enough adjustment. It is good for 20-25lbs on a long haul. That would be actual scaled weight, not a number pulled out of some ones ass that was in the service 40 years earlier. A better pack is deeper and frameless which keeps the weight low and on your hips close to you body, rather than yanking on your shoulders and straining your lower back every time you twist and turn. This setup also always you some mobility to fire a weapon at a grizz approaching you for lunch. This weight should also be kept at 45-60lbs max depending on your size, posture and conditioning. My area also requires a -30 degree bag and sleeping pad plus a tarp which should always be staped on the bottom base outside of the pack to protect the pack from wear and sharp rocks. I prefer a camelback and a quart soda pop bottle for water, plus some powdered gatoraid to prevent leg cramps, and potassium pills once a day Keeps the ticker healthy. frequent short rest, rather than a few long ones. I hike every time with my full pack even if it a day hike….just in case. Take care.

          • Something to consider is the marpat ilbe. It has a design much like a mountainsmith pack. In my opinion fits much better than all the prior military framed packs and is reasonably priced. Another thing is a pad with an r-value. I have a Big agnes and it wasn’t cheap but has held up well and keeps me insulated from the cold ground in the winter.
            I do need to get a lighter four season solo tent for winter outings. Mine is a bit bulky and not a solo so it gets a bit chilly when the temps are below zero.

      25. Great info on this sight as always. In regards to the sleeping bag in compression sack. One might not want to store it compressed as it has a tendency to deminish the loft of the bag over time decreasing its warmth and creating cold spots. Just my two cents for whats its worth. God bless all. Live free

      26. Does anyone go back 4 days, and read the final posts???

        • Yup.

        • I do, unless mac posts a half a dozen articles in one day. Then it’s too much time and effort to go back.

      27. toll keeps rising

        US: H5N2/H5N8 affects 21.6 million birds

        ht tp://crofsblogs.typepad.com/h5n1/2015/05/us-h5n2h5n8-affects-216-million-birds.html

        • Glad I’m stocked up on chicken…

      28. All points here are valid, I have made shots under stress breathing heavy with a full load. I found that if I moved my sights in a imaginary infinity or sideways figure 8 I could fire where the lines meet on the second lap of the pattern. It made me concentrate on the shot. The chaos around me was easier to ignore. As for my pack, I have low tech, high tech mix. Ammo is my main concern, so I have as much as I can handle. I use the medium ruck with frame. Many blades, wire, and cord. Med kit, 5 meals, 5 meal bars, plus change of clothes, socks, etc. Do more with less, but have what you need. As for the plate A36 plate 3/8 and 1/2 will do for pistols. 1″ or better for rifles.

      29. May seem stupid but what do u keep ammo in in your bag? Don’t want to keep loaded mags due to clip spring strength, don’t want a bulky ammo box. Any ideas? Love your articles. Stay safe

      30. Nice one Jeremiah Johnston. Some valid points. Never really thought about up-armoring my vehicle here. (Thought it might bother some people) Had pre up-armored Pajeros working in Iraq. Laminated bullet proof windows all around. All four doors fully plated on the inside, but then you couldn’t wind the windows down. Some plates to protect the engine block area and in most cases a large plate behind the backseat for rounds coming thru the back door. The driver usually used duct tape to secure a couple body armor plates to his head rest and the pocket behind his seat.

        If I wasn’t driving, I preferred gunner position on the tail end Charlie vehicle. I’d unbolt the front passenger seat turn it round facing the rear and rebolt it to the floor. My trusty PKM out over the back seat to cover the rear, some boxes of belt and pretty much ready to rock and roll. Convoys rollin!!!!

        Used to have my Gat (AK47) for firing out the side doors ….. Only problem was you had to open the door to shoot because the windows wouldn’t roll down with steel plate in the doors. 7.62 is much more effective than 5.56 ….. If anyone was wondering. As the Viet Cong always said “If you fighting the Americans, hide behind tree, you OK …. 5.56 rounds bounce off tree. You fight Australian or Kiwis, don’t hide behind tree, 7.62 FN rounds go straight thru tree, kill Viet Cong very easy, number 10!!!!

        My car is a ex soccer mom van. I bought it off my sister in law. First thing I did was scrape off the three American flag stickers, the “I support our troops” sticker. I ripped off the “I love Jesus” fish and scrapped off the bumper sticker for her kids school, the name supporting his soccer team, and the name of the disgusting piece of shit Polititian that freak supported. Now if I get pulled up for anything, there is nothing on the vehicle that says anything about me or who I am. The cop cant say if I’m a Christian, patriotic, a parent or sporting. He has no idea how I feel about our troops or what party I support. Nothing! And that’s how it should be. Cop needs to have no prior Intel before he gets to my window.

        • good post cede!

      31. JJ I’d like to respectfully disagree about your medical advice. As a green beret you would have had very expensive training that most readers haven’t had and can’t afford.

        Mine cost me 8 years of my life and I have many many thousand dollars in student loan debts.

        That said I can agree with some of what you say as I already understand what to do in a medical emergency and have a pretty nice set up for what may occur here.

        First do no harm.

        Before “investing” in any type of medical supplies or whatever I would encourage you to understand more about it before buying anything more than “band-aids.”

        Please don’t think that a 12 gauge syringe is less deadly than a 12 ga shotgun in the wrong hands.

        • You know, it might be advantageous to have those supplies on hand, even if you can’t use them all.

          WHAT IF those advanced supplies were needed, and even though I couldn’t use them effectively, but MY NEW TRAVELING COMPANION COULD? Perhaps HE didn’t bring anything but his expertise. Once again, being prepared saves the day.

          Put 1 and 1 together and you save someone from bleeding to death.

          I may not be able to do a proper surgical suture (yet), but I would surely put some regular stitches in if I had to to try to save a life. I sure wouldn’t watch someone die if I could help it.

          I wouldn’t try heart surgery, but I’d throw some stitches down if I had too—proper or not.

          • yup, six!

      32. I think what you need to do is broadly prepare for three scenarios: 1) mild to severe public disorder (think LA riots); 2) small-scale disaster or limited foreign strike; 3) large-scale disaster or wide-scale foreign attack.

        In the first two scenarios, the military and law-enforcement will function. It may get ugly in some places at some times, but the superstructure of government and control will remain in place. In such a situation, the best option is probably to stay put and stay alert. Get ready for a surge assault from rioters, thieves or gangs but otherwise use your supply of food etc. to survive. In the final scenario, the wisest thing would be to bug-out and move to a place where it is safer. For a bug-out, you need to travel as light as possible. Be nimble and do not burn too many calories. Dragging around 100 plus pounds will burn most people out, especially if the weather is very hot or very cold. Special forces train hard to do this sort of thing and even they will be air dropped into a place and then picked up at the other end.

        Resourcefulness will be your best asset. A good example is refugees. Successful refugees are not the ones with a mag lite and 150 pounds of rucksack but the one with a pocket full of dollars or gold, a fake or real passport (several is better), a contact in the safe zone who can vouch for you, extreme opportunism (get fed for free, ride for free, stay for free), if you are a woman and under 40, sex will be a key asset that opens doors: blow a customs official and you are through. The successful refugee will pass through borders swiftly and get to the honey pot place where the welfare is easy to get. The smart ones soon get a business going and are up and running again within a few years.

        • We’ll said Frak Thoughts. I will divide your scenario 3 into two parts. 3A is as you describe – large scale, but you know or are aware of a ‘safe zone’ that you can reach. Timing is important, but so is travel speed – and whether you get there depends on how resourceful you are at getting past check points and road blocks. Also, when you reach the ‘safe zone’ it will be gold (or lack thereof) that will determine how well you will be able to restart your life.

          But I do see a scenario 3B – where the event is too large in scale, or that you do not know where a ‘safe zone’ is. Help is uncertain and your “bug in” location becomes untenable. The only choice at that point is to “bug out” — and others have covered this in their posts. The basic difference between 3A and 3B is that under 3B you will need more gear.

      33. What BullSHIT! That basic load must go a good 220 pounds! The ammo ALONE will weigh 50++ pounds ,with the water ,food (TWO WEEKS?!! at 2500 cal. per day?) and clothing adding at minimum 110 pounds +rifle +handgun, makes this rucksack stupid heavy, and an FS or V-42? They may just be the WORST choice as survival/combat knives on earth. Both have rat tail tangs and paper thin double edged blades that are infamous for snapping in half under even slight load. (during WW2 the men of the FSSF who used the V-42 were taught that it would break if you dropped it onto anything hard .) This whole missive is 110% stupid “I live in my moms basement and I’m a 14 year old prepper” bullshit. I don’t know who wrote this crap , but they ain’t infantry or airborne. Because whoever wrote this has never humped a ruck in their life.

        • Agree: people just load on the crap and gear without thinking about humping it around and what that feels like in 30 degree Celsius heat or minus 30.

          I have seen heavy loads break even the biggest, loudmouth Alpha males you can find. Try doing a firefight after going without sleep for two days, then doing 10-mile run in gear through fields and forest. Then tell me you are a big man.

          Essentially, real special forces, the real guys who have done it in combat and lived to tell the tale (though the real guys rarely break ranks and tell the tale), know going on such a mission with that gear is just nothing but pure pain and hardship. You have to be very mentally tough to take it. Blisters, bruises, exhaustion, heat stroke: that is why I think going into this military mindset will not work for most. Better instead to think like a refugee.

      34. Better to have medical kit. Yes, remember to “Do No Harm”. Everyone should take a RED CROSS, First Aid Course. Some of us have had Military Training. Don’t forget all the things that happened to you in life and how they were treated like sprains and broken fingers.

        On Rucksack and frames. Pack your heavy stuff close to your back and at the bottom. Relieves some of the pull on the straps. If you have to heavy strain to stand straight up with the pack on, you will experience more pain down the road. Don’t overload if you can help it.

      35. Hey KFarmer

        ht tp://rt.com/usa/255577-hawaii-explosion-volcano-lava/

        A powerful explosion in an active Hawaiian lava crater
        Hawaii’s active Halemaʻumaʻu Crater in the Kilauea Volcano

        seems like a lot of volcanoes and earth quakes lately all around the globe

      36. wanna have your mind blown?
        read how this story is reported

        please god,, there is no intelligent MSM reporters

        ht tps://gma.yahoo.com/utah-good-samaritan-kills-attempted-carjacking-suspect-121645062–abc-news-topstories.html

        cant make this shit up folks

        Matafeo’s family says he was a defenseless victim.

        “He was scared and panicked and just trying find a way to get home,” a statement from his family reads. “Taulagi was not perfect, he struggled, but he was surrounded by many loving individuals who were trying to help him. He wanted to be happy, and for the most part he was. He loved unconditionally.

        “He cried a lot with us, because he hated having pain and creating pain. Taulagi putting it simply just wanted to be loved and accepted and recognized. Therefore he gave hugs and amazin

      37. If you drive around with in a tank you’re going to get taken out as the enemy. First roadblock you see you’re going to be killed. If you try to go around the roadblock and they see you doing it, you will be killed.

        Why do you pack your gear like you’re going on a attack mission? Who are yo attacking? What are you’re plans anyway?
        You have more ammo then you have items to survive. Goodluck when shtf and walmart is closed.

        These stories are military fancy.

      38. I have a sweet Beretta o/u (mod/imp cyl, 26″ barrels) bird gun that handles like a handgun, and decided I need a defensive load to use it as a backup. I tried some Federal Premium Power Shok 20 Gauge, 3″, 18 Pellets, 1200 fps, #2 Buck (.27 cal.), with jugs of water at 15-20-25 feet. The first shot exploded all three. I have a few boxes coming from Able Ammo, and will pattern it. That #2 buck weighs more than a load of 00 in a 12 Ga. 2 3/4, and kicks like a mule in my little gun. One shot on cardboard (mod barrel) at 15 feet left a single 2″ hole.

      39. 7.5 earthquake in Papua New Guinea. Not too deep. Many aftershocks. Lots of big activity in the Pacific region and Asia.

      40. Saw a lot of bumble bees yesterday. Haven’t seen that many in a long time. Maybe they’re coming back.

      41. Yemen Rebels Shell Saudi Arabian City, Casualties Reported; Saudis Vow Retaliation

        h ttp://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-0…ow-retaliation

        takin’ it up a notch or 2 or 3

      42. I monitored the fighting in Yemen for over 5 years. There was never anything in the MSM. We’ve had Special Operations inside Somalia for several years, nothing in the MSM. The Globalists are spreading war to every corner of the planet. These wars are for the benefit of a few elite.

        • yep there is war going on in the USA right now ,, and nothing said about it by the MSM , millions of people in this country are totally oblivious to this fact also , and will be completely blind sided when the curtain goes up

      43. Dear Mr. Johnson,
        While I admire the Hell out of you and what you have accomplished, not all of us are as healthy or prepared as you are.
        Yes, I am an old combat Marine, Northern I Corps 1968-69
        Vietnam. However, I am 66 with Diabetes and a bad ticker.
        I don’t think my survival chances are very good.
        But you can believe that I will take a few of Satan’s soldiers
        with me when I go ! SEMPER-FI from an old Corps Corporal !
        Blessed be God Forever !

        • But you would be much more valuable as a leader and for your knowledge and trainer than you would be simply taking out a few of them.
          You and others your in your age group may not have the ability to fight but you could train an army.

        • Dear Nam Marine,

          I thank you for your comments. Your words ring true: I know many will not be able to do certain things, especially due to physical limitations.

          I wish to offer this to you. I cannot speak for everyone, but as far as I’m concerned? Those near me who cannot will be helped by me, who can. I will train, teach, and fight for all of those I can when the time comes.

          And you are (just as “M” commented below”) far too valuable as a trainer and mentor than you give yourself credit for. When it comes to it, you will fight, and I would be honored to fight alongside of you. Know this: the youth will rely on your knowledge, your expertise. The mission has changed somewhat from closing with and destroying the enemy. Now we must outthink him and outmaneuver him…pre and post societal collapse/SHTF event.

          You hang in there and take strength that there are others who will stand beside you…and there are those who need your mind and heart to imbue in theirs the spark of understanding. The torch can be passed, each and every day. That is who we are. May God bless you and your family in all that you do.

          De Oppresso Liber.

          Respectfully Yours,


      44. Jeremiah Johnson:To keep warm(base layer) in cold weather(or cool in hot)there is the acceptable way an then there is the right way.The first,everbody gets right.The second(& most important)very few.Back in ’75-76,I discovered the right stuff for the base layer.It’s called fishnet underwear (http://www.brynje-shop.com/?language=en).It works even in below freezing when your clothing is wet.Keeps you warmer period!

        • Thanks for the link. I bookmarked it so I can look at that stuff more thoroughly. But on a quick glance it sure looks interesting.
          Have you used other products from these guys besides the fishnet stuff?

          • @M:These particular people,no.I’m having trouble finding the stuff.Will be ordering from them soon.Wiggy’s carries it also.The full fishnet bottom is what I like best.Not with boxers(solid).I know the “adult stores” have types of it.Usage is also a little different though ;-).FYI:All gas engines,leds,etc. are radio beacons which can draw down the fire on you.OPSECS>>www dogpile com/search/web?fcoid=417&fcop=topnav&fpid=27&q=ham+radio+shielding&ql=

      45. I think it’s important to blend gear from the military community with gear from the light weight backpacking community. To go all military issue for most of us is unwise. Some of those backpacks weigh 5-7 pounds empty. You could go with a hiking backpack in neutral colors that weighs 3-4 pounds. Doesn’t sound like much weight savings? That’s the weight equivalent of 2-3 extra loaded 5.56 mags for free. Ditch the bulky kataydn filter and go with the Sawyer Mini which weighs just over 2 ounces. Go through every piece of your kit and ask if its essential or if there is a smaller / lighter version of it.

      46. One item Mr Montana seems to have forgotten, critical in the mountains or anywhere that can/will accumulate more than 6″ of snow: Snowshoes, and poles.

        I don’t care how good of shape your in, if the plows quit working or you need to get off the road into more than 6″ of snow you are going to regret it after about 100 yards if you don’t have snowshoes! The first time you step into a tree well you will know why I said poles, and if your not on a road or trail it will happen in less than 100 yards.

      Commenting Policy:

      Some comments on this web site are automatically moderated through our Spam protection systems. Please be patient if your comment isn’t immediately available. We’re not trying to censor you, the system just wants to make sure you’re not a robot posting random spam.

      This website thrives because of its community. While we support lively debates and understand that people get excited, frustrated or angry at times, we ask that the conversation remain civil. Racism, to include any religious affiliation, will not be tolerated on this site, including the disparagement of people in the comments section.