Gear Shakedown – Field Time

One of the biggest challenges we face in preparedness is in actually getting in some time using our gear. I spent last week at the Von Steuben Training & Consulting Jager Course. You can find the course review on the Tactical Wisdom Locals Page. This article is more about the use and adjustment of my gear.

We normally overestimate the amount of gear we need. For example, when we stepped off on this course, my pack weighed 56 pounds. That included water and food, but I also had both my thermal tarp (pictured above – the picture is also an Amazon link), a USMC tarp, and two ponchos. I could have left behind the USMC Tarp and one of the ponchos.

I had several people ask me about the tarp, so let me explain. It’s a thermal casualty blanket, which can help you defeat thermal observation if you put it about 12 inches over you, so it makes a good sleep shelter, killing two birds with one stone. I bought mine from Arcturus (again, click the photo). Mike Von Steuben showed me that by attaching a cheap hunting camouflage mosquito net over it with zip ties at the corner, I could get a 3D camo effect that muted the whole thing. As you can see, the British DPM pattern under the Mossy Oak netting fits in perfectly in the environment of North Carolina. They make a larger size and I think I’m going to get it – actually, let’s make this a fundraiser – it’s $50, so if this article nets $50 in donations I’ll get it and field test it.

Back to the field week, most people grossly underestimate the amount of food. I’ve had several guys tell me they wouldn’t carry food on a 3–4-day patrol, which is nonsense. You will be MORE active than normal and to keep your body fueled and functioning you will need MORE calories, not less. The US military guideline is for 3000-4000 calories a day while in the field. That’s 2 full MRE’s a day. You can survive on one, but you need energy to move and fight, if needed. I cut mine down, only taking the entrees and snacks I like. I got some good civilian MRE’s from Chef 5 Minute Meals (click the link) that include their own heater. Food is a good portion of your weight. I repack my MRE components into Ziploc bags (one entree, some crackers or tortillas, and one heater) so that I can just put the trash back into the Ziploc bag.

One of the things I did well was placing everything into it’s own waterproof bag. My extra set of cammies and some snivel gear (base layers) went into one, skivvy rolls and extra socks in another, and sleeping gear in a third. This is good, because on our second night, just before the night land navigation, we had a torrential downpour. My gear was dry, and I could change out of the wet uniform and into a dry one quickly, preventing any health issues. Side note: waterproof pack covers are a good thing – mine is made by 0241 Tactical, a great veteran owned business.

I used this for the radio and spare batteries.

One of the biggest learnings I had was that while my ILBE assault pack clips to the outside of the ILBE Ruck, it made for unbalanced movement in the steep North Carolina hills. It was better to stuff the assault pack inside the ruck, so that it wasn’t dead weight pulling back as I climbed – keep the weight high and close to your body.

As far as sleeping gear, given that the temps weren’t predicted to drop below 50, I took my SnugPak Jungle Bag. I didn’t use a sleeping pad and was able to sleep just fine. If the temps were any lower, I would have. I put a poncho under me as a footprint to keep me off the actual dirt. One of the interesting things about low-profile camping in North Carolina is picking a spot to sleep where you won’t roll or slide downhill in the night.

At the mid-point of the course, students were allowed to adjust their load out and I removed all the redundant gear like extra ponchos and tarps to save a little weight. Several guys adjusted their kit.

We all used our AR-152 radios for intra-team communication and for sending data back to the command post. Even after using them heavily all week, no one had a battery that was below 75%. Again, they are solid radios.

I field-tested some strapping from Redback Strapping. While it only comes in white, it’s very versatile and handy. For example, it fits in MOLLE/PALS slots, enabling you to strap things to your pack. It would also make a good ridgeline for your tarp shelter, if it came in another color. Redback assures me they are working on other colors.

I had a bunch of my BattlBox-obtained gear with me. In my fire kit was my Zippo stormproof matches, some tinder tabs, and my Uber-Leben Ferro Rod. I also carried my flat-pack stove from BattlBox as well, just in case I needed it. My water purification tablets also came from BattlBox. Next month will be Mission 100, so I would expect a pretty sweet box. Sign up by clicking the picture above, and then use code JOSEPH-D-30 to save 30% off that first box.

The course was a real confidence builder because we all learned that we could survive for a week with just what was in our rucks. Also, attending classes gets you out to meet and socialize with like-minded people and build your network.

I know alot of people are afraid to do this, after the January 6th raids and concerns over “feds” – but that’s what they want. The Ultimate Tactical Handbook has some guidance for times like this:

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25

Get out and train.

You can support me by becoming a supporter at or by making a donation below. Also, I get a small commission on any items you buy by clicking any of the links or photos at no added cost to you.


Donation – May 2023

Donation to support website.



Published by JD

I am the author of the Tactical Wisdom Series. I am a personal protection specialist and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. I conduct preparedness and self-defense training.

4 thoughts on “Gear Shakedown – Field Time

  1. Glad to see you using Zippo products! Their “Mag Strike” is the best ferro rod setup I have ever used. Very ergonomic and a nice shower of sparks.

    Liked by 1 person

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