I know a lot of people in the preparedness space. Some people are dead serious about it, some are not. The truth is, a lot of the folks allegedly into preparedness are actually just collectors and gear junkies, rather than actually into preparedness. How do I know? Well, I’m glad you asked, because it’s time for a reality check and one of my famous ‘tough love’ speeches. You know I love you guys, right? I need ASSETS, not LIABILITIES.
This weekend, I posted some photos from an overnight camping and hunting trip. There was quite a bit of snow. I revealed that the purpose was to test some new gear, but more importantly test myself. Replies to those photos and subsequent posts is how I separate the assets from the liabilities. Assets asked me how the gear worked and how specifically I ran the test, what the temperature was, etc. Liabilities (they were WAY more liabilities) told me how they were way more comfortable at home watching Netflix (yes, one person actually said that) or that I was crazy.
The Ultimate Tactical Handbook has something to say about that:
Sluggards do not plow in season;
so at harvest time they look but find nothing.
The gear collectors, or “loot drop boxes” as I call them, are a little bit harder to spot. They sound like assets, but always reveal themselves. They ask about the gear too, but then they ALWAYS reveal themselves by suggesting some ridiculously expensive replacement that they’ve never taken out of the box. For example, one guy asked what sleeping bag I used. When I revealed, much to the gear collector’s shock and dismay, that I used the USMC Level II sleeping bag I got from a surplus store (new, not used), he went into an explanation of his 4 season Marmot or Patagonia $500-600 bag. I asked when the last time he used it was, and he revealed that he had never used it, it was for “prepping”.
You see, unless you get out and try to live and use the gear in the worst possible conditions, you’re not really prepared. I want you to be really prepared. I need allies who are really prepared and I don’t have to loan my extra gear to. You absolutely need to get out into the field, carrying your gear on your back, and spend a few days in less than ideal conditions. It’s the only way to know what you can use or need to toss.
If you’ve read my Baseline Training Manual, you’ll know that I highly recommend military surplus. The big named YouTube prepper guys laugh at me for this and look down on military surplus. Not because it’s inferior, it’s not, but because it doesn’t make them money on affiliate links. I’m not a slave to that. Everything on my recommendation page is stuff I use. Yes, I use affiliate links and might make a few pennies, but I don’t recommend things based on money. For example, a few months ago, I recommended a surplus tent that Coleman Military Surplus carries. I’m not an affiliate of theirs and I didn’t make a dime, because I wanted you to be ready.
Let me tell you why I’m a fan of military surplus. The US government spends millions of your tax dollars on research and development for this gear. The US military is the best funded and best equipped in the world. I say get some return on your investment. When it comes to rugged outdoor gear, I go with USMC issue gear. If you notice, the USMC uses different boots, tents, packs, and sleeping bags than the rest of the military. It’s because they are “expeditionary” in nature, meaning they expect to arrive somewhere by sea, walk into an area and be expected to live off what’s on their back. Unlike most services, they generally walk, and don’t have vehicles to carry large tents and comfort gear. The stuff they use is more rugged. Everything they use, since they come from the sea, also comes in its own dry bag stuff-sack, killing two birds with one stone.
The next part of assets versus liabilities is training. On Sunday, I met with a large group at a local business and gave a talk on preparedness, followed by 2 hours of unarmed self-defense training and 2 more hours of stick fighting training. Actually prepared people train on things other than firearms. Not every defensive situation can or should be resolved with firearms. Also, if things truly get BAD, there will be times when I need to deal with a hostile person QUIETLY and having combative skills other than guns will help. If you reply “but muh suppressor”, I’m going to laugh at you. You’ve obviously never fired a gun with a suppressor if you think it’s quiet. It REDUCES noise.
A question came up during the talk. A guy was worried about meeting with others like we did due to fears of federal infiltration and entrapment. He wanted to know how I felt about it. I said that I have concerns too, but that’s what they WANT. These continuing raids and arrests are designed to keep you from organizing and meeting. Listen, DO IT ANYWAY. You have to organize and meet. If anyone starts suggesting building bombs, altering firearms, making suppressors, or kidnapping Governors, tell them NO (loudly and clearly) and boot them from your circle. To avoid the only charges that actually stuck in the aforementioned Fed funfest related to the Governor, never give your group a name (they were convicted of “gang membership”).
The Bible warns about informants:
Do not revile the king even in your thoughts,
or curse the rich in your bedroom,
because a bird in the sky may carry your words,
and a bird on the wing may report what you say.
Actually, it sounds like Solomon predicted drones, doesn’t it?
I teach classes to groups of people I don’t know. So does NC Scout, Von Stueben Training, and dozens of others. We train on actual combat and field skills. But here’s the deal: While we might THEORIZE how you could use such skills; we NEVER discuss taking offensive action against anybody. When someone starts talking about “taking the Capitol” (we’re looking at you, Ray Epps) or seizing National Guard Armories (you know who you are), shut down that conversation and make it clear you’re not interested. Make the Federal agents spend all that money for nothing. You can THINK whatever you want, just don’t vocalize it.
This is also why I don’t (nor does anyone I know) offer classes on CQB. Generally, CQB skills are OFFENSIVE. No, don’t tell me about clearing your own house…If you have to clear your own house, you already lost and should be moving. It’s also much easier to defend a house properly from outside of it. Don’t get me wrong, I used to teach an extensive 2-day CQB class every summer, and the USMC and a certain NC based PMC made sure I know plenty about the topic, I just find that it attracts the wrong kind of people. It attracts crazies and Federal agents. The good news is that both crazies and feds talk and act the same way so they’re easy to spot.
After that rant, let’s talk about the gear. The USMC Level II bag is the cold weather part of the USMC sleep system. I got mine brand new (never issued) from Coleman’s. The Level II bag is the black one, there is also a Level I bag, which is green or tan. The Level I is a three-season bag (I find it way too warm in the summer) rated down to 20 degrees. The Level II has a rating of 5 degrees. I woke up with the temperature at 8 degrees and I was not cold at all. I did have a poncho liner (woobie) lining the sleeping bag as well. When you combine the two bags, you have a Level III system rated to -15 degrees. I will test that later this winter, but I’d include a poncho liner and maybe even a wool blanket in between. The Level II bag performed great. The cool thing about modern material science is that the bag rolls down and you can put it in the waterproof dry bag (a HUGE plus), purge the air out, and it’s very compact. It stows in the bottom of your pack or ruck.
The other item I tested was a hand-made axe by fellow Marine Corps veteran 03 Metal Works. This is the second item of his that I have and it’s awesome. It does the basic axe job pretty well, but any axe will. It throws like a dream, and to be honest I can throw this one farther than my SOG axes. Sadly, no terrorists or Chinese invaders attacked me, so I can’t vouch for how well it splits skulls, but I’m guessing it’s pretty solid. Go check out 03 Metal Works and support him. Support Toor Knives as well, because I carry his Anaconda knife every day (usually scout carry or weak side blade-forward).
As I was writing this, we had the second mass shooting in a week. Without going full tin-foil hat on you, it’s awfully interesting that we are back to these right after an election and while certain gun control legislation is pending, but I digress. I mention it because I IMPLORE you to please carry a First Aid Kit ON YOUR PERSON and carry a larger kit in your vehicle. At the very least, carry somewhere on your person a “bleed kit” of a 4-inch pressure dressing, some hemostatic agent, chest seals, and a tourniquet wrapped in duct tape (can be used as a dressing). Do this EVERYWHERE YOU GO. Don’t say “I won’t need this; I’m just running to Wal-Mart”…It could be the last thing you ever say.
To recap, get out there and touch nature. Do the things. Lay on the ground and low crawl through the brush. Get that gear dirty – at the very least you will learn to clean and maintain your gear. Train in some type of martial art. Move your body (I’m just as guilty). Carry weight on your back over distance. You aren’t really prepared if you don’t.
Also: Expensive doesn’t mean better.
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