As we approach Mid-May, the weather is getting warmer. On Monday, I decided to do a seasonal changeover on all of my bags. As I was finishing, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you all my thinking and methodology.
By now, you should all have ordered a copy of the Base Line Training Manual, where I describe each of the bags, but in case you haven’t here’s a review. You should have a Vehicle Bag (always kept in the car), a Get Home Bag, an EDC/Patrol Bag, and a Full Ruck. You can order the book here, where I fully describe each bag’s contents:
For the Vehicle Bag, I removed a heavy fleece liner for my field jacket and replaced it with a lighter weight jacket, as the temperature won’t be as cold at night as it has been. I left the GoreTex outer layer in the bag. The GoreTex in this bag is plain black, so that it’s more Gray Man. I double checked the contents of the survival kits, to be sure that they were still fully stocked. I also checked all the expiration dates on food in the bag, and double checked the batteries in the lights.
I keep two full US 2 quart canteens in the back of my SUV in case of emergency and the seasonal change over is a great time to replace the water in them.
In the Get Home Bag, I swapped out a hoodie for a long sleeve t-shirt. This lets me retain the ability to change appearance quickly, yet not be too warm for movement. I also replaced a knit cap with a baseball cap for quick profile changes. I double-checked and re-stocked the first aid kit. I also checked all batteries in this bag.
I made similar changes in the EDC/Patrol bag. In this one, however, I left a watch-cap in it for night-time warmth. I took out heavy winter gloves and left lightweight liner gloves in their place. I double-checked the dates on the MRE’s and verified that the first aid kit was complete. I keep an extra Swedish M84 canteen on the side of this bag, so I rotated the water in the canteen.
The Full Ruck had some more serious changes. I took out the full sleeping bag, since it’s now warm enough to just use a Ranger-Roll. I took out the heavy-weight snivel gear (long underwear for you non-Marines) and replaced it with silk-weight Under-Armor gear. I replaced the two sets of camouflage uniforms in the Ruck as well. Since I live in Michigan, the browns and tans of USMC Desert MARPAT and British Desert DPM worked perfectly for fall and winter. Now that the foliage has grown back, I put in two sets of USMC MARPAT Woodland and one set of All-Terrain Tiger (I had room after removing the sleeping bag for an extra set). I left the UMSC “Wooly-Pully” sweater in the Ruck just in case.
I doubled checked the dates on the MRE’s in the Full Ruck, and also inventoried the camp gear in it. I added a 10mm black yoga mat to the outside of my Ruck on the opposite side as my backpacking tent for use as a sleeping pad.
The final check of the Full Ruck was to attach the Patrol Bag and wear both to test the weight and make sure it was still balanced, not too heavy, and that it was still quiet.
You should conduct a changeover like this at least every six months, and preferably every season. An emergency is not the time to find out if you gear is still all set or seasonally appropriate. Preparing your bags is an ongoing exercise, not a one-time event.
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