UPDATED: PT, Large Rucks, Pack Lists, and Making Sense of it all for Your NPT

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From time to time, a debate will arise on a NPT’s use of full sized ruck sacks that may weigh 1/3 or so of the carrier’s body weight or more.  Arguments for and against will rage from the perspective of denying the capability due to the writer having one reason or another to not work toward achieving the condition necessary.  Things like,

  • “I’m too old,”
  • “I can’t get motivated to start,”
  • “Carrying something that big is unrealistic,”
  • “You’ll stroke out,”
  • “I’ve got a heart condition,”
  • “I’ve got Lumbago,”
  • “I’ve got ______________,”
  • “That’s retarded, all you need is a rifle, a few magazines, a couple MREs, and your rifle.”
  • Etc, etc, etc, etc.

For those with medical reasons, (real medical reasons – not “I smoke” or “I drink too much” or “I like getting stoned” or “I get sore when I exercise,” or “I’d rather go to a ball game or watch ‘Survivor'”), understand that there is no shame in not having the capabilities to be a NPT member trained to perform outsided the NPP (Neighborhood Protection Perimeter) performing security patrolling.  Everyone can be useful; everyone can bring something to the table when dealing with the WROL/SHTF scenario and preparing to mitigate the effects on the NPA.  So relax and get involved (start by getting or rereading a copy of, “A Failure of Civility,” by Mike Garand and Jack Lawson – available here). Those who can, however, need to do some objective analysis of why they might not be able to get over the hump of getting their ass into gear to get into the shape necessary to do the job. While a NPT is decidedly not an infantry-type unit, the physical tasks involved lend themselves to being able to perform to infantry fitness levels.  Especially if your particular NPT is the one that gets selected to be outside the perimter doing security patrols the way they should be done, that is, aggressively looking for signs of an opposing force reconning your NPAO.

discipline So, PT, as harped on and harped on and harped on and harped on here and many, many other places, is the cornerstone of being able to perform during a WROL/SHTF scenario. Being in shape BEFORE it occurs elevates the odds of making it through the first big die off exponentially, when compared to those who will succumb to heart attacks, strokes, and other debilitating medical events at the outset due to stress, anxiety, depression, and the inability to cope with ‘what is.’ That’s one reason why many people recommend a steady, incrementally difficult program for fitness no matter the age of the person involved with the result being the person is in the best physical condition possible for their personal profile. Full stop. No other reasoning necessary for PT. Your PT program should include ruck walks of varying weights and distances routinely.  When you get to 10 miles with a fully loaded ruck, and can recover within 30 to 45 minutes afterward (meaning you can do other things besides lay down and sweat), then you’ve gotten to a place where all you need do is maintain that capability. Your strength and aerobic program can be as simple or complex as you want to make it.  Some of our own NPT members use “Convict Conditioning,” by Paul Wade and have had superb results; others use simple, strict form push ups, sit ups, etc, road work, or eliptical time, etc, some have used P90-X, with Tony Horton, some use ‘Rush Fit’ , with Georges St. Pierre.  It really doesn’t matter.  Being able to perform on your NPT for prolonged periods should be your driving factor.  Motivation, if you will. Remember, the hardest thing about any program is actually getting started.  Yes, you’ll be sore.  Yes, you’ll wonder if you’ll ever make progress.  Yes, you’ll be a lot more fit as time goes by.  So get out and do something. The horse has been beaten enough….for now. When choosing your ruck, keep in mind any physical limitations you have, because that will help you in the selection process. Choosing a 6,000 Square Inch pack that weighs 15 pounds empty won’t work for everyone, but those it does work for will be the ones carrying a full load on long term security operations in the NPAO. That said, getting the best you can afford is on the menu.  Do not try to get a good pack, ‘on the cheap.’  A reasonable facsimile of a proven item will fail you every time.

USMC FILBE Pack

USMC FILBE Pack

As you may have read in previous posts, DTG chose and endorses the 2nd Generation USMC FILBE ruck with assault pack (3 day pack) and hydration carrier, as new as you can find it. Here’s our reasoning:

  • It’s very durable, and is constructed with ease of use in mind.  Side zippers, a bottom sleeping bag compartment with zipper, side handles for mounting the pack, a top drag handle, integral buckles to attach the assault pack, etc.
  • It can hold a load heavier than most can carry (Currently, mine – including the assault pack strapped to the top – weighs in at 80 pounds (weighed yesterday). I might be able to carry more during conditioning training as I go along, but for now, it’s good.  (For real world use, I cull the contents down to 55 pounds max, which includes a few hundred rounds of spare rifle ammo.)
  • It blends well into most any environment, including urban, due to its coyote brown color.  It doesn’t attract a lot of attention when I’m walking through my suburban area on conditioning walks, even from the police, like a ‘tacticool’ pack with the latest, greatest .mil pattern might. At most, it looks like an old surplus pack. The only attention I get when doing ruck walks through my little AO is kindly people saying hello and offering food and water because they think I’m a homeless person passing through.
  • It’s comfortable, as large packs go. The shoulder straps are nicely adjustable and have suspension straps to help balance the load, the hip and sternum straps also help distribute the load, and the frame gives a bit of air on the back, which allows sweat dissipation.
  • It’s very adaptable with any accessory because of the PALS webbing just about all over it.
  • It takes everything in our pack list to include a week’s worth of food with room to spare (a mix between meal replacement bars, field stripped MRE’s and freeze dried entrees’)

There are better packs out there, to be sure. There are a lot worse.   Our choice was made on a balance scale between performance and price.  Now admittedly, some folks are very limited by budgets, and that’s why we offer a modified and original ALICE pack on our site here.   I was weaned on the ALICE and used it exclusively in both military and civilian applications for over 17 years until I was issued the CFP-90, which I used until a few years ago when I got the FILBE. All have their good and bad points. JC Dodge also offers some great ways to modify the ALICE pack into a more versatile main ruck.   All require the user to be in good physical condition. Damn, there I go with PT again….

012 Now, the pack list.  Each geographical region is going to have particular pack lists.  Weather does that.  NPT’s in the South won’t want a -40 capable sleeping bag.  Conversely, far North NPT’s won’t want ‘jungle boots’ (not if they’re smart, anyway).   The trick here is to take a general list containing various categories and rule out extraneous equipment and accessories.  Instead, we recommend going with the ‘multipurpose’ rule: Each item of equipment should have multiple uses to cut down on the amount of equipment (weight) carried. Wherever possible, carry lighter equipment.’ Ounces count.  We also recommend team items, such as rope (if practical/applicable), entrenching tools or shelter tarps. Load balancing between team members is crucial. Essential Items:

  • The most important item from a survival perspective is our water purification system. We carry Sawyer products for one reason: They work. You can check them out here.  We supplement those with each person carrying 4 to 6 ounces of stabilized oxygen to treat any water that might be suspect. Same reason: It works.

Next on the list is a good, fixed blade knife. 6 to 9 inches (at most) in length. The best you can get. That doesn’t mean a lot of money either. I recently picked up a new, old stock Camillus ‘USMC combat knife’ with a Blackhawk sheath for $50. This is the same knife I first possessed many years ago and carried until I could afford other knives.  The Camillus worked great, kept an edge, and basically was indestructible. LEVEL1.LEFT Remember, the highest level of fitness you can maintain will make it easier on you.  Walking with a heavy pack when it’s peaceful makes it easier. JC Dodge told me (and was backed up by students who’ve seen him do it) that his load weighs in at 150 pounds (LBE, ammo, weapons, and pack) and he wears it throughout patrolling class. When asked why, he told me he tells his students, “I’m practicing to pull a 150 pound person out of a bad situation.” JC walks his talk. As should we all.

Lastly, one more plug to intensify your PT program. Get some ruck walking in. Start light, don’t burn out, but make improvements, and never, ever listen to the professional critics who find fault with every thing you do. See you in the field.  Maybe even in one of our Essential Skills classes, such as the Land Navigation class scheduled for 25/26 April 2015.  More information here.

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40 thoughts on “UPDATED: PT, Large Rucks, Pack Lists, and Making Sense of it all for Your NPT

  1. gamegetterII

    “The horse has been beaten enough….for now”

    The PT horse can never be beaten enough-as far to many people just don’t get it-they think they’ll be fine because of all the latest greatest tacticool gear they have-even though they couldn’t walk around their neighborhood for 15 minutes with a full ruck without gasping for air.

  2. Defensive Training Group Post author

    Glad you’ve had good experiences; some of our students have bought what looked to be brand new packs and had the zippers dry-rotted. Beware, as it is surplus. I’m sure they’re sold in good faith, but if you’re doing mail order, the risk belongs to the buyer…..just sayin’

  3. gamegetterII

    Had one guy get an assault pack that had zippers that were screwed up-just like you said-dry-rotted,they took it back,and shipped him a replacement. The replacement was okay. That’s one of the reasons I like Allegheny Surplus,I’ve never had any problems if I had to return something.
    Mail order is pretty much our only option-there’s only one local surplus store in this area,and the guy is open irregular days and hours-he just opens up on days he feels like opening up.

  4. Pingback: DTG: PT, Large Rucks, Pack Lists, and Making Sense Of It All For Your NPT | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  5. Regular Old Bob

    Not to dispute your knife criteria, I have several blades that are in that range and are wonderful knives for our purposes, but I like to carry my 10.5″ Nepalese khukuri. Yeah, I know, but I became very good with it a *long* time ago … 😉
    That being said, another excellent article. Thanks!

  6. James

    No matter what you have for a pack also besides hiking/training with it try a day out in pouring rain,everything still staying dry as it should.I will admit not fun but rather find out when I can go home and dry out/correct any issues then find out when I am counting on pack contents in a challenging time.I find to as I add weight some adjustments needed on pack,once again,better to find out now.I am lucky as I enjoy hiking about and choose different terrains to test myself and have new sites.I will admit have not done deep snow yet but as a part of my regions seasons need to get on it,feeling a new pair of snowshoes in my future!

  7. coltehenderson

    I have tried other packs but still use the Alice pack. Tactical tailor has some mods that make it more comfortable and replacing buttons with fastex buckles is a good mod to do as well

  8. Dave

    I gather a vest is utilized rather than an LBE or battle belt due the the great importance of the pack waist belt transferring the load weight to the hips on such a pack. On an Alice type pack, they are designed to ride above the hips; the waist belt doesn’t transfer weight to hips. I’m currently working out my setup for this. How well do your pack straps go over/interfere with access to the vest (assuming a vest is used)

    Thanks

  9. Defensive Training Group Post author

    Everyone we’ve trained with uses a LBE/battle belt. We adjust the battle belt to be a bit lower than the pack frame so it doesn’t interfere. The pack straps on mine ride to the outside of the LBE. During our essential skills class this past weekend, all of the students wore LBE/Battle Belts with their packs (various brands including Tactical Tailor and FILBE) while performing a 3 mile forced march immediately following submersion in an 8 ft deep pond. No problems. When I wore a vest a few years ago, I found I had more issues than with the LBE/BB.

    Hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by!!

  10. Chris

    Try looking at your rain rucks through kid eyes, makes it fun. It’s me and my 7yo daughters favorite time to go out on rucks (usually only 8 miles). I load up 2 45 pound plates and a bladder and my daughter loads 2 100oz bladders and granola. Though every cop and about 20 cars always stop and ask if we need a ride somewhere.

  11. Pingback: DTG: Ruck | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  12. pdxr13

    The main differences between USMC ILBE and FILBE is that the ILBE is an internal-frame pack (2 curved aluminum strips) vs. the molded-plastic frame of the FILBE. Both are Devil-Dog tough. The ILBE is MARPAT (pixelated desert-scrub pattern) while the FILBE is solid-color coyote (tan).

    In use, the ILBE may have a sight advantage off-road, and the FILBE advantage on-road. Both can carry too much weight and too much volume, but sometimes too much is just right. Both are very comfortable (for the weight) when adjusted correctly to the individual.

    To get a commercial pack of this quality (Arc’Terex, or similar, top-of-the-line), expect to pay at least $400. Like-new ILBE packs with all the parts included can be had for about $119. These are the best dollars you will ever spend on comfort vs. a $29 pack. Like-New FILBE may be coming down in price as they become more available, but they seem to be twice as much as the slightly older ILBE.

    The other most-amazing deal in the surplus world is the Gore-Tex bivy sack. Get several because they may not be available forever (first rule of surplus: “buy a lifetime supply when you see it, not when you need it”). The patrol bag and medium bags are good/good-value and mate perfectly with the bivy, but are not the lightest or warmest items for the weight if you are willing to throw money at sleeping bag technology. Especially, if operating in a wet-cool climate like Fort Lewis, a
    bivy will save you.

    If God made you a 115# female, bless you for wanting to move a ruck.
    Save 6# of ILBE by getting a lighter pack and making up for it with intensive training.
    THIS http://www.rei.com/product/824361/granite-gear-blaze-ac-60-pack#tab-specs
    is how you cut 6# from an ILBE. Add lid:
    http://www.rei.com/product/824385/granite-gear-lineloc-top-lid Add
    correct belt $40. Total $320 at REI (full retail member price).
    Perfect for a 115# fit young lady who will carry 46# (skin-out).

    Don’t chop up an ILBE or FILBE with the idea that it will be “ultralight” It never will be. But, you can make a good pack into a less-useful pack. Like this guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qei-3BigVY

    “I cut off 2 of the 4 compression straps on each side and the
    clips/straps to attach the assault pack, as well as the flap that
    covers the back”. Soooo, now your shit flops around when
    fully-loaded, you can’t carry a hydration bladder (?!), and there’s a
    bunch of extra stress on the side zippers and NO SPARE CLIPS when one
    cracks. Saved 2# and made an $800 pack into a big school-book pack
    with MARPAT and “morale patches”

    Don’t do this!

    Cheers.

  13. Ray

    Here’s why I argue that the gigantic ruck is a bad idea; I have tried it. More importantly I have tried it when malnourished. 150lb is imposable to move very far at all when real hunger sets in. Now before I go further let me define real hunger as one 1500 calorie day a week with the other six days a week your body getting 800 calories or less per day, for six weeks or longer. That is very close to what will happen to most of you when the MRE’s and freeze dry’s run out. No matter what y’all learned from doom porn or the movies. If and when the S truly HTF y’all can count on gasoline ,lubricants and in general, fuel of all kinds to disappear within days. Not weeks, not months. DAYS. This means that every swinging dick is going to become 1860’s level leg infantry within weeks. It also means NO RESUPPLY. No food . No batteries . No boots . No clean anything, that you didn’t wash. The “gigantic ruck” is a creation of modern mechanized infantry that NEVER walk(march) more than a few miles at a time. Now I’m not talking about a modern 20 mile road march once a month. With clean water, hot chow and dry sox at the end. I’m talking 25 to 45 miles a day EVERY DAY for the duration, while subsisting on fatback , cornmeal and scrounge. With no resupply expected anytime-ever. NOBODY can do that with 100lb. of sexy commando BS strapped onto them once the “high calorie” plastic bags are M-T . The MAXIMUM that can be carried by the average “fighting fit” man under true SHTF conditions is between 40 and 60lb. That’s it, nothing more. Carry more than that and you start throwing stuff in ditches-FAST, or become a casualty. Ether thru rapid starvation from that ridiculous load. Or enemy action ,because you are so weakened by overexertion and starvation that you simply can no longer react in time to defend yourself. There is a reason why the little brown people don’t hump 90lb. of crap into battle -THEY CAN’T- and nether will you once your over fed American body runs out of Hi Calorie foodstuffs. Plan and train accordingly, or Mother Nature WILL .

  14. Defensive Training Group Post author

    Couple of quick points:

    1 – Carry what you think you can; use common sense.

    2 – Had to chuckle about the ‘sexy commando gear’ thing. Todd have to read a few more of our posts on culling the pack to find out what we recommend NPT’s or anyone else carry.

    Thanks for stopping by. I may put up a more thought out reply next week…..

  15. B-Dog

    Over the last few years of ruck training, I have found that there is a significant difference between normal PT and rucking. I have taken many fit and healthy (and usually much younger) people with me on my 12 mile ruck route. They all think that they can do it, but 99% of them never make it to the end, even with multiple stops. Though I regularly ruck the route with my 55-65lb ILBE in three hours, the best time any of the other people I have taken with me could do was just under nine hours, and they were always completely spent. Whereas I do the march, then go to work following.

    If you think you are going to ruck, then you must ruck. Normal PT will not help much when you strap on a heavy pack and are forced to move. All of those push ups, sit ups, and P90X routines will only help you make it a little further than the guy/gal who didn’t do them. Rucking is simply a different beast altogether.

    FWIW: This place: http://www.absolutesurvivalist.com/ offers Sawyer filters and other products for about the same price, and everything ships free without any minimum orders. They also support the III community.

  16. R & D - DTG

    “Tailor the gear to the mission” – can’t tell you how man times I’ve heard that from the CI. There’s definitely a balance to maintain.

    In A post SHTF situation if supplies become available to save lives that need to be carried from point A to B and all the guys on my team load up 90 lbs, I don’t think I’ll be saying “guys you do what you want but I won’t carry a pound over 50 … “. So Naturally, the instructors at DTG train accordingly and push ourselves. We do however tailor the courses to the students abilities, we are not sadists 🙂 .

    Is the situation you depict ideal? Not by a long shot. Actually it’s a great reminder to only carry what you need, but sometimes the gear required for the task is friggn heavy and there’s no way around it.

  17. pdxr13

    Ray, agree mostly about food. High-performance 72-hour-until-resupply US soldier (armored, lots of ammo, lots of water, lots of contingency gear in a heavy pack) is dependent on dense food calories to build big muscles as well as keep hungry muscles fed during high-output work (foot-approach, combat). Without these inputs to supply soldiers where ever they are, current Big Army tactics don’t work. Hungry soldiers forage.

    Local militia does not and can not have sustained input of supplies like a national army, What they have is what is there, to win with, or not. Tactics must conform with capability, and supply IS capability.

    What is the point-one-percent strategy? Hunker down remotely and wait. Wait for the rest to die-off from fighting, sabotage, crowding, disease and hunger, then re-assert feudal control with fresh-healthy well-supplied elite fighters. 3 years. Details? Meh.

  18. Scott Ulster

    Spot on. One of the best comments I’ve read. Honestly, the same thing seems to apply to weapon choice. When on the move with no armorer available, a $4 gas ring can turn a main battle rifle into a club, whereas coiled wire is all required to refabricate a hammer spring on AK varients. The reality of longterm survival/land navigation with no possibilty of resupply makes lighter loads a necessity.

  19. Ray

    My comment about “sexy commando gear” refers to the “only sustainable with on demand resupply” equipment that EVERYBODY seems to think are a life or death necessity today, like; NVD’s, ceramic armor and “assault pistols”. Stuff that MUST be serviced and/or replaced on demand or a timetable. Equipment based training leads to disaster for CIDG’s , because it leads to dependency. Steve: “humping the ruck” is what we called it when I was a young ___ teen OG107, black boot clad, steel piss pot , baby solder. Guys all your training centers on some level of resupply and a working GOVERNMENTAL infrastructure. America is a nation that transports EVERYTHING over roads. Once the fuel transport stops (and homeland security would be very ,VERY pissed off if I told y’all how little that would take) ALL of your “supply” ends and you are back to 1789, with nothing but boats and horses for transport . Y’all know how long the Government thinks it will take to isolate Americans into small agrarian pockets, with little or no contact with each other and no modern transport? FOURTEEN DAYS. If you really want a leg up on the coming NAWG maybe y’all should stop training to be the First CAV , and start training to be the VC.

  20. Defensive Training Group Post author

    Interestingly enough, “we” are decidedly not training to be”the 1st Cav”…..reading more of the posts in full will demonstrate that….hope that helps….Thanks for stopping by.

  21. Lane

    My .02¢…I like the ALICE system primarily because of the quick release buckles built into the shoulder straps. Real world use of a ruck should include ditching / caching it when necessary and coming back to it after conducting business. The more modern systems seem to discount this SOP. That said, one might consider carrying some scrim net or other quick method of concealment if caching. Finding loose brush at night can sometimes be loud or next to impossible. I like to use the old woodland fabric cover with the sewn in elastic band but I’m old school…..also, I’ve found the sustainment pouches readily attach to the ALICE webbing and can be relocated to an LBE or vest when a patrol config is desired. They’re pretty versatile and go pretty much anywhere you want more capacity.

  22. Anti gungy

    Yeah, you’ll call him a troll, I’m sure.
    Get real, gungy. A lot of us have had military service.

  23. Defensive Training Group Post author

    Now that I’ve had a chance to read and consider your post, I’d have to say that we’re on the same page with finding and using easily maintained equipment that doesn’t require high level maintenance. We also agree that trying to model NPT operations along the lines of a regular military force that has a very, very long supply train is unwise. We’re big on self-sufficiency and a firm non-reliance on BJIT (Barely Just In Time) supply train economics.

    And you do have a point: Anyone trying to emulate ‘the first cav’ is delusional, at best.

    Thanks!

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