This guest post is by David M and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .
I see these items consistently overlooked in people’s bug out bags and I hope to make your lives more livable in a camp (deployed environment) when you find yourself there. People seem to get it that they need a good fixed blade knife. They know they need 550 cord. They remember that food has to be in the bag (really, it doesn’t, but that’s not what we’re discussing right now). Matches, lighter, tinder quick, that’s all in there too, but what about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and I don’t mean your firearms?
When you’re walking through terrain (especially if you haven’t trained to do it) you will be exerting muscles that stabilize your body (that you may not even exist). This excessive stabilization muscle usage tires them quickly and you become more likely to lose your balance. When you lose your balance you step into/onto places that you didn’t intend to go and the results of this are usually a combination of a twisted ankle, poked eyeball, and scratched, scraped, and/or bruised knees and hands/arms, and a plethora of colorful words. For a trained forced marcher its a real liklihood, for an average untrained Joe It’s an inevitability.
As such, there are certain items in your kit (or that should be) that take up little room and weight and will help buffer the suck factor that will invariably accompany your trek through [Your State Here]’s finest wilderness terrain. Having these items will, at minimum, save you a few minor aggravations, and at best, prevent an immobilizing mechanical injury and save your life.
Item 1: Water Proof 8″ Boots 1/2 size larger than your foot.
Make no mistake about it, a flat tire will stop your vehicle on the road, and jacked up feet will stop your ruck through the woods. Spend $120-150 on a pair of these boots and break them in properly. Then buy a second pair and do it again.. I’m not kidding. Do it!
Item 2: Boot socks.
The boots are great! Now pad your feet from them. Whenever I ruck, I wear three pairs of socks. The first is a polypropylene/cotton mix athletic ankle sock (under armor) because they’re thin and slick and stay warm even wet. The next is a subdued cotton boot sock because they’re thin enough not to add excessive bulk and long enough to come up over my calves to add lower leg protection under the pants (thorns and poison won’t make it through), and the cotton wicks sweat away from the feet to the outer sock. Lastly, I put on some 100% wool combat boot socks (darn tough brand) to fill up the boot with padding and insulation. Foot movement inside your boot equals blisters, blisters equal pain and possible infection, and that equals non-mobility. You’ve been warned!
Item 3: Lace up ankle braces.
This may sound uncomfortable, but if properly broken in and worn with the proper boots and socks these will add miles to your ruck range. Don’t cheap out, they aren’t that expensive to begin with, and the lace up type are the only ones to offer the structural stability that your ankles REQUIRE to support all that added weight over uneven terrain. So buy the good ones and make sure they fit under your hiking/combat boots.
Item 4: Knee Pads
There are lots of uses for Knee Pro, some more manly than others, but uses just the same. What you want is a comfortable durable subdued knee pad. Comfortable: sufficient padding inside and multiple wide clipping elastic straps. Durable: tough padding, straps, and clips, and a hard shell exterior knee cap. Subdued: Black, OD, or Multi Cam. You’ll most likely wear these around your ankles for long term comfort and pull them up to your knee when necessary.
Item 5: Gloves
These aren’t to keep your hands warm, although they will do a moderate job at that. They are designed to protect your hands from the thorns and poisons of the woods and visibility of the eyes (more so for white folks). These should be thick enough to offer protection, but thin enough to offer dexterity required for manipulating gear, including shooting your firearm. Most operators prefer a synthetic nomex flight glove (they’re fire retardant and designed to protect a pilots hand from fire and cold while allowing dexterity of operating flight controls and weapon systems). Neoprene is good too for cold/wet weather, but they start to smell stinky because they make your hands so warm they sweat, your choice to live with…
Item 6: Eye Pro.
Sticks and Branches are a game ended for the eyes. Buy some Oakley M frames in a protective pod. They come with clear, amber, and smoke lenses and a black frame all in a neat little protective pod. Just snap out the ones you don’t need and snap in the ones you do. Then wear them, problem solved!
Item 7: Ear Pro.
On your way to your sanctuary you may have to fire your weapon, and while doing so without hearing protection hurts much less than being shot, it still hurts and can cause hearing degradation and tinnitus. When you get where you’re going there’s bound to be circular saws running and guns firing anyways, so you need them. Sure fire makes a nice polymer molded ear plug system that offers an adjustable 9-24db protection factor. They automatically adjust to increasing volumes. They have a little plug on them that opens for field use. Great for combat conversation and hearing conservation. They’re $12. Buy them, pack the, wear them, that’s it.
I hope this helps make you more comfortable in the field! Psalm91.
This contest will end on December 16 2012 – prizes include:
- First Place winner will receive a Go Berkey Kit water filter valued at $150 and a copy of my book “31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness ” and a copy of “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat“.
- Second Place: $150 gift certificate for Magtech Ammo.
- Third Place: $50 Cash.