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.
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.
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….
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. 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.