To get ready for an upcoming camping trip I decided to do a load out list. List like this help you see what your pack contains, and hopefully spot missing items.
For those of you looking at this list and wondering how I am going to pack off of this gear, the easy answer is “I am not going to pack it”. The camping trip is going to be on the banks of the Angelina River. This means the boat is going to be carrying the gear for me; all I have to do is load the boat up and go.
Pack – Large MOLLE pack with internal sleep system, 2 sustainment pouches on the MOLLE pack. I was going to take my large ALICE pack, but my sleeping bag, food, fleece liner and poncho liner filled up the pack. This means I am having to store a lot of my gear in the sustainment pouches on the MOLLE.
Tent – Wenzel Lone Tree Hiker Tent, this item is hit and miss and might be difficult to find
Tarp – 6×8 foot for tent ground cloth.
Sleeping bag – Coleman Exponent Tasman X 32-Degree Hybrid Sleeping Bag
Sleeping bag liner – GI poncho liner and fleece sleeping bag
Over the years I have seen one topic that has been repeated over and over, and that is the topic of the bug out bag.
In reality, a bug out bag should contain copies of important papers, house title, car title, insurance policies, change of clothes, snack, or even 2 – 3 days worth of food, phone number contact list, and any prescription medicines you might be taking. The list will vary depending on the person and what they want to bring with them.
People that live close to railroad tracks or chemical plants might be asked to flee their homes due to a chemical release accident. The bug out bag is for people to grab, run, and have some basic supplies with them.
In fantasy, the bug out bag will be used to bug out to the wilderness when society collapses.
This video pokes fun at the different viewpoints on bug out bags.
Most of the people I see talking about bugging out to the wilderness usually have very little or no wilderness survival skills. They say that if a caveman could live in the wilderness 100,000 years ago, survival can not be “that” difficult. If the person needs any help, they can just refer to their US Army FM21-76 wilderness survival manual.
If you plan on bugging out to the wilderness during a SHTF survival situation, post your comments in this forum thread about bug out bags.
My personal opinion, its better to have a bug out location, or have plans to stay with a friend or relative until the disaster passes. At least with a BOL you can stockpile supplies, food, water, shelter, first aid supplies, farm, garden, hunt, stockpile ammo,,,,,, and on your own private property.
Four of the biggest issues that I see with bugging out to the wilderness – exposure, food, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and waterborne infections.
While on a 3 day camping trip with a buddy of mine back in December 2010, I did not see a single whitetail deer or hog. I heard some deer come close to the camp site during the night, but nothing during the day. There were some squirrels during the day, but there were not enough to feed a group of people for an extended period of time.
During that 3 day camping trip, the only reliable food source we found was through fishing. And like everything else, that was hit and miss.
One of the things with being a real survivalist, is testing your plans. It does not do any good to make plans, if those plans are never tested. Once the plan is tested, then you know where the weak spots are, and then you can make improvements.
If your planning on grabbing your bug out bag and bugging out to the wilderness, test those plans. Take a weeks vacation from work, grab your bag, head out, and lets see how long you last. Test your survival plans “before” you have to use the plan.
Science channel Saturday morning of July 30, 2011 had a program on about Kublai Khan, and his doomed fleet that tried to invade Japan.
During excavations of the ocean floor, scientist discovered that most of the ships in the fleet were flat bottom river boats. River boats do not have a keel like what ocean going ships have. The keel helps ocean going ships weather large waves, while flat bottom boats will capsize.
It appears that Kublai Khan was in a hurry to invade Japan, so he ill equipped his navy with the wrong type of ship. This short sight meant the fleet was lost in a storm.
How does the example of Kublai Khan apply to survivalism?
Those that do not take the time to properly prepare are doomed to fail. The key word there is “properly” prepare. Kublai Khan had his army, weapons, armor, supplies, ships,,,,,. But the ships were the wrong type of ship, they were not ship designed for oceans, they were designed for rivers.
In the survivalist community, there are a lot of people that plan on grabbing their bug out bag, bugging out to the wilderness and living off the land. There are lots of problems with that situation, such as being able to find enough food, diseases, illness, vitamin and mineral decencies,,, only to name a few.
Back in November and December of 2010, a buddy of mine and I spent 3 days on the Angelina river camping and trying to live off the land. During those 3 days I did not see a single wild hog or whitetail deer. Some deer came close to the camp site at night, but I did not see anything during the day. We caught a few catfish, but not enough to feed a group of people with. In order to catch enough fish to live off of, we would have had to have people fishing all day long.
One of the biggest issues are the people who fail to prepare at all for a disaster. These are the people that keep very little food at home, no bottled water, no fuel for camp stoves, little first aid supplies,,,,,. If there is some kind of disaster (like a hurricane), people rush to the nearest store and buy as many supplies as they can afford.
There is only X amount of food that people buy at one time. Usually its a partial shopping basket, or they can only spend X amount of money
Little thought is given to nutrition
When the shelves are empty, people may buy what they do not normally eat
Important items are often overlooked
If things start to get too bad (riots, natural disasters), stores will close and barricade the doors. When a hurricane makes landfall, stores will stack bails of cardboard in front of the doors to protect the store from looters.
Lets say that some kind of long term SHTF survival situation happens, whether its long lasting civil unrest, outbreak of some kind of new disease,,,, panic buying is a short term solution to a long term problem. People go into the store thinking they need enough food for 3 or 4 days, and by the time they run out of food everything should have returned to normal.
In my opinion, there are about 4 levels of Survivalist:
Short term survivalist – these are the people that buy enough food for a couple of weeks. they may keep a months worth of canned goods, rice and beans on hand.
Medium term survivalist – these are the people that might keep 4 – 6 months of food stockpiled. They may be stockpiling mountain house foods, storing rice, beans and oatmeal in mylar bags.
Long term survivalist – these are the people that store food in every closet, basement, closet and corner of their house. Long term survivalist try to keep around 1 year of food and water stockpiled.
Top tier survivalist – these are the ones that have planned food production past one year, have access to a farm, have prepared a secure Bug Out Location, have land to garden and places to hunt and fish. A top tier survivalist would rely on stockpiled food in the short term, or until they can get their livestock and garden production up to sustainable levels.
Can a panic buyer also be a top tier survivalist? Sure they can, why not?
Lets say that John and Jane Doe live in an apartment, they have no room or money to stockpile several months of food. But, John has a good friend or relative that owns a small farm in a rural area. Lets call the owner of the farm Jack Doe. John and Jack work out a plan that if some kind of long term SHTF situation happens, John and Jane can stay at the farm and help work the land. Whether its providing security, cooking, cleaning, pulling weeds out of the garden, keeping animals like deer and rabbits out of the garden,,,, there should be plenty of work to go around.
The thing is, all of these plans need to be worked out ahead of time. When your family runs out of food, don’t plan on just showing up at the door of your friends house asking for a handout. It does not work that way.
It is impossible to plan for every SHTF situation. Somethings are beyond our control, such as nuclear war, natural disasters and climate change for example.
Lets move past the food debate and talk about firearms. In the survivalist community there is a group of people who plan on using a 22 rifle for just about everything. Those people justify their decisions because 22 long rifle ammo is cheap, and it has a low report. With the low report, survivalist can keep a low profile while hunting, you do not want raiders and looters knowing your location.
The problem is, 22 long rifle is not adequate for anything larger then rabbit and squirrel sized game. Those people that are planning on using 22 long rifle for deer and hog sized game are doomed for failure. There are a lot of people that will argue that the 22 long rifle is the perfect survival rifle, but its not perfect for all size animals. When hunting, as with everything else in life, use the right tool for the job.
Take the time to assemble your survival gear and make solid plans. Just like in the case of Kublai Khan and his navy to invade Japan, hastily assembled and ill equipped survival plans are a plan for failure.
For years, and I mean for years I have kept a food bag in my bug out / camping bag. For the most part the food bag contains a single burner stove for a bug out bag, pot for cooking, eating utensils, lighter and matches for the stove and for building a camp fire, hand sanitizer,,,, and other odds and ends.
The purpose of a Bug Out Bag is if you and your family have to leave home in an emergency, the bag provides a few days of supplies for each person. Lets say there is a chemical leak near your house and your family has to evacuate. Everyone grabs their bag, and heads to a shelter or friends house.
Lets talk about this food bag in a little more detail.
The main bag is made of a brown cloth, has a drawstring at the top, when empty laying flat on a table, the bag measures 18 inches tall, 15 inches wide and has a 7X9 rectangle bottom. In a bag this size, someone should easily be able to carry at least 3 days worth of dehydrated food.
For about 13, maybe 15 years I kept a single burner propane stove in my bug out bag. I finally got tired of packing that large propane bottle around, so I bought a single burner Coleman Max stove that uses a blended fuel of butane and propane.
The 1 pound bottle of propane took up an outside pouch of a large or medium ALICE pack. In comparison, the bottle of mixed fuel is stored in an extra serving bowl with a lid. The bowl is not air tight, its just a snap o – snap off lid. The bowl serves a dual purpose of being able to hold a serving of food, and a storage container for the bottle of stove fuel. The plastic bowl helps protect the bottle of fuel from bumps and from having the threads damaged.
Back “in the day” when I was using a single burner propane stove, the stove was stored in the radio pouch of my ALICE pack. The hull of a shotgun shell was cut down to about an inch long, and wrapped in electrical tape so that it fit into the threads of the stove. This was to help prevent damage to the nipple that sticks out of the bottom of the propane stove.
Another nice thing about the mixed fuel stove, the support arms move around to make the stove very compact for storage. I store my stove inside of a MSR Alpine Stowaway 775 ml stainless steel pot. The pot is not only used to cook with, but its also used to store and protect the stove. Inside the pot with the stove is lighter and a couple of paper towels. The paper towels are used to cushion the stove from the inside of the metal pot.
Ok, lets talk about food for the bug out bag. My ideal loading is 3 days of eating good, and 5 days of eating spartan.
3 Mountain house Pro-paks from a Just in Case Kit. This should probably be increased to 4 meals, 2 breakfast and 2 main meals. The Pro-paks are heat and eat meals. Just add water to the pouch, wait about 10 minutes and the meal is ready to eat. My first exposure to these Mountain House Pro-Paks were on a 3 day camping trip on the Angelina River back in November – December 2010.
4 pack Ramen noodles
1 box tuna and crackers. Another one of these could be added to the pack
2 breakfast / snack bars
Accessories pouch, this contains a couple of spoons, hand sanitizer, various packs a tea for mixing into a canteen or water bottle, matches,,,, just various stuff like that. A spork really needs to be added to accessory pouch.
As a general rule, I try to carry as few canned goods as possible. After getting the food out he can, the can has to disposed of properly. Some people might bury their trash, some might pack it back to the trailhead. But either way cans can be an issued that needs to be dealt with.
When my buddies and I used to go camping along the bayous and marsh around Bridge City and Orangefield, Texas, canned goods just got in the way. We would bring along our food, but we would have to either bury of pack the empty cans out. On camping trips in hot weather, you o not want to be carrying rotting food in the cans. The food attracts flies and other undesirables.
Something happened to the main power feed for my town, and then the backup power feed failed. Someone said it was related to the wildfire about 15 miles north of here, but I do not have any proof of that.
First thing I realized was that we do not have a radio here at work that works off batteries. Once outside power is cut, we lose all communications with the outside world. My boss pulled out a hand crank radio, but the hand crank was locked up to the point where the handle could not be turned.
I thought about getting a $10 am/fm radio with some lithium batteries to keep at my desk. The power does not go off very often, but when it does it would be nice to get some news from the local radio station.
Second thing was that I needed a flashlight. I have a small AAA light on my key ring, but something a little larger would have been nice. My little AAA light does good for close in work, like plugging computer wires into the back of a computer, or lighting up a small room. To make sure the battery has plenty of life, I used an energizer lithium battery.
A hand crank flashlight would probably do good, but when you want to light up a road or a field, nothing beats a good 200 lumen light.
Third, I need a water bottle to carry water in case I had to walk home. Its only a few miles from where I work to my home, so it would have been an easy walk. The only real issue would be the 100 degree heat and water. There is a puny little 16.9 ounce / .5 liter bottle of water on my desk, but I would like to have something like a 32 ounce bottle of water for the walk home.
Fourth, the phone lines where overwhelmed. When I tried to call my wifes cell phone I got the classic “all circuits are busy” message.
Fifth, even though the power came on about 30 minutes before lunch, jack-in-the-box, mcdonalds and sonic were either closed of their computers had not come back on yet. Sonic could not even serve a couple of teas because their computers were down, same with jack-in-the-box, and mcdonalds was closed.
It was amazing to me how a small little power outage could disrupt peoples lives so much. A lot of places that pay their employees by the hour closed and sent their people home.
I do not have what some people call a “get home bag”. I work about 4 miles from my house, so walking would not be a big deal.
My wife and I carpool to work. She drops me off in the morning, then picks me up on the way home. If we met anywhere, she would probably drive by here to pick me up.
Get Home Bag Ideas
If I had to walk home, here are some items that I would like to have in my get home bag.
32 ounce water bottle
Rain poncho – even if its a light duty one
LED light, something like a Surefire G2X Pro
Phone number / contact list
Rope – 550 cord
Small first aid kit
Paper, pen and sharpie / felt tip magic marker
Money – at least $20
Before investing a lot of money into a project, there are some things to consider. The first consideration is “can you “really” afford it? It would be nice to have half a million dollars to drop into 1,000 acres in Alaska and a 2 story cabin. But the fact is, most people can not afford such luxuries. Next, do you really “need” the supplies? Or, are you buying the supplies just to have them?
Gold – As of today, October 5, 2010 the price of gold is $1,333.95 per ounce. For the average working middle class family, who is struggling to pay a house note, electric bill, insurance, buy food,,,,,, forking out $1,333 for an ounce of gold is out of the question. In a lot of cases, that $1,333 would pay1 or 2 house notes. Having a place to live is more important then trying to buy gold in these tough financial times. If your one of the lucky few that money is not an issue, then maybe buying gold is right up your alley.
If gold was at $400, and a family had some extra money they could invest, then sure, maybe buy some gold. But if you buy it right now, how much higher can the price go before it starts to go back down. I see buying gold right now, as the same thing as getting into a pyramid scam. The people that got in early make the most money – the people that get in late lose the most money.
Meals Ready to Eat – the good ole MRE is not a top pick for a survivalist food. Sure the military hands them out by the case, but the military also has plenty of money.
Expensive – costing about $75 per case. With 12 meals per case, that equals out to $6.25 per meal.
Sodium content – see this post for a full description of the sodium content in MREs. To say that MREs are high in sodium is an understatement.
Affected by heat – unless you have the room in your house, or a climate controlled storage area, your MRE lifespan is going to be seriously affected by storing them in the garage or storage building. From the studies I have seen, 1 day over 100 degrees takes 1 month off the life span.
If you want to buy some MREs, then please do so. I usually keep around 6 – 12 cases in stock at all times. Their mainly used on hiking, camping, backpacking and hunting trips. Their a quick and easy grab and go meal, but for long term food storage, there are better options.
Looking for a good quality 2 – 3 day pack? The Maxpedition Vulture-II might be just what your looking for. When your looking at backpacks, there seems to be small, medium, large and super large.
Small – good for day hikes and short trips
Medium – good for day hikes or overnight trips
Large – good for 3 – 5 day trips
Super Large – good for 5+ days trips (think expedition)
The problem I have, I need a pack that fits right in-between medium and large. These are the ones where you can pack enough for a 1 – 3 day trip, but not too big or too small.
This medium sized pack is where I’am trying to fit the Maxpedition Vulture-II. I need something for warm / hot weather camping, and just big enough to carry some food, one man tent, rain poncho, hammock, poncho liner,,,, but not too big that I’am tempted to carry gear that is not needed. If your like me, and if there is spare room in your pack, your going to find a way to fill it up. A half full pack just does not look right.
Before a pack is taken out on a hiking or camping trip, it needs to be loaded, tested and checked out. So before my Maxpedition Vulture-II was taken on a real hiking / camping trip, it was loaded up and taken on a trip to the deer camp. Inside the pack I was able to fit – hammock, one man tent, 3 legged stool, couple of MREs, compass, map, and topo map compass.
From the Maxpedition website:
* Main Compartment: 20.5″(H) x 16″(W) x 7.5″(D)
* Front Pouch: 15.5″(H) x 12″(W) x 2.75″(D)
* Slip Pocket: 15.5″(H) x 12″(W)
* Capacity: 2810 cu. in. / 46 liters
* Weight: 3 lbs , 8 oz
* Hydration: Up to 100+ oz Bladder
* Support: 1″ Sternum Strap, 2″ Integrated Belt (min 19″ strap alone / max 52″ strap alone; min 34″ loop / max 67″ loop)
* Optional accessories: Hook & Loop Modular Accessories and Grimloc Carabiner, Hydration reservoir
*1000-Denier water and abrasion resistant light-weight ballistic nylon fabric
* Teflon® fabric protector for grime resistance and easy maintenance
* High strength YKK zippers and zipper tracks
* Triple polyurethane coated for water resistance
* High tensile strength nylon webbing
* High tensile strength composite nylon thread (stronger than ordinary industry standard nylon thread)
*AS-100 high grade closed-cell foam padding material for superior shock protection
* Internal seams taped and finished
* Paracord zipper pulls
* Stress points double stitched, Bartacked or “Box-and-X” stitched for added strength
The 2 complaints that I have about the Vulture-II – it needs a couple of small pouches on the outside of the pack, and I wish it was just a “little” bigger. 2,810 cubic inches is nice, but 3,000+ cubic inches might have been a little better for a 3 day pack.
If you need more room, just add a few extra Maxpedition pouches on the outside of the pack. Even though the pack has a place for a water bladder, I added a mini-rolly polly dump pouch and a Maxpedition water bottle holder. The water bottle holder has an extra pouch built onto it that large enough for a GPS or map compass.
In pack design you have 2 basic types – the panel loader and the top loader.
Panel loader – this is when the pack fully unzips and makes it easy to organize the contents. This type of pack is good for people who like to organize stuff.
Top loader – just as the name describes, you load the pack from the top. This design is good people people who like to cram stuff into the pack, and when its full stomp on the contents, and pack some more.
Strength – by design top loaders are usually stronger then the panel loaders. Panel loaders are limited by the strength of their zippers, top loaders are limited by the strength of the fabric material and stitching.
The Maxpedition Vulture-II seems to be a combination of a top loader and a panel loader. The pack unzips down both sides, but not all the way. To help hold everything together there are 2 compression straps on each side, and the classic Y strap at the top of the pack.
After about 15 years of using the medium ALICE pack as my primary warm/hot weather backpack, I decided it was time for a change. So I got on Ebay and after looking through some of the listings, I decided to go with the large MOLLE pack with internal sleep system carrier.
There are 2 versions of this pack on the market – one where the main pack is separate from the sleep system carrier. And the one like what I bought, which is just one large pack.
Its more slimlineed then the large ALICE
Its easier to get into then the medium ALICE
It has more webbing then the large ALICE
The map case is larger then either the medium or large ALICE
The map case has a mesh bottom, so its easier to see the contents
The internal sleep system carrier has a zipper for easy access – lets talk about that just for a minute.
The way may pack is packed – the stuff to make camp is at the bottom of the pack. The ground cloth (6X8 tarp), tent, poncho loner or sleeping bag, hammock – all go in the bottom of the pack. When you reach camp you have to dig everything out of the pack to get to your camp gear. The bottom zipper access makes it easy to get your gear out without having to take “everything” out of the pack. Unzip the sleeping bag compartment and start pulling your gear out trough the bottom of the pack. Since the tarp (ground cloth) was put in the pack first, its the the first to go out through the bottom. Once the ground cloth is in position, its time to set the tent up, and spread the sleeping pad out. Once your finished getting everything out to make camp, zip up the sleep system compartment, and the pack is sealed up again.
Two things the large MOLLE is lacking – internal pouch and external pouches.
Internal Pouch – After having using the medium ALICE for about 15 years, I got used to having the internal radio pouch at my disposal. It makes a nice storage area for small items – such as my contact lens case, personal hygiene case, flashlight, FM 21-76, burner for a 1 pound propane bottle,,,,, and other small gear. Not having a place to store my small stuff puts the large MOLLE at a disadvantage. I do not want to dig through the whole pack just to find a bottle of matches. So now I have to look at getting some kind of pouch that will go inside the large MOLLE.
External Pouch – When your out in the woods, and the bottom drops out (it starts to pour rain), the last thing you want to do is open your pack and look for your rain poncho. The skys are black, its pouring rain, my gear is getting wet, I’am getting drenched and I’am having to dig though the contents of my pack to find a rain poncho – not the type of situation I want to be in. Every pack should have some kind of external pouch to store your rain gear and first aid kits in. Those are the 2 things you want to be able to find without having to dig. Since the large MOLLE does not come with external pouches, I ordered 6 sustainment pouches off Ebay last night – 2 for the large MOLLE, 2 for the MOLLE with external sleep system carrier and 2 for the large or medium ALICE pack. I also have a Maxpedition clam pouch on the outside of the MOLLE. The clam pouch is just right for small items like my wallet, keys,,,, stuff like that.
Overall: I’am pretty happy with my new large MOLLE pack, but I’am probably going to be a lot happier when the extra pouches have been added.
Do you have something to say about the ALICE or MOLLE pack? If so, post your comments in this forum thread about comparing the MOLLE and ALICE packs.
There is a theory that has been going around the survival community for decades, and at one time I subscribed to it, but not any more.
The theory goes like this – if there is some kind of wide spread disaster, I am just going to grab my bug out bag, and bug out to the wilderness. From there, my family and I will live in peace as society falls apart. When everything has passed, my family and I will return and help re-build.
Here are some of the reasons why I no longer subscribe to the bug out to the wilderness theory:
Rocky Mountain spotted fever
Culture Shock – that may not be the correct term, but its going to be used anyway
Only to name a few,,,,,,,,,.
Back in December of 2010 a buddy of mine and I went on a 3 day camping trip on a local river. During those 3 days I did not see a single deer or wild hog. The only wild game that we saw was fish and some squirrels. It seems to me that the people who plan on bugging out to the wilderness have not tested their plans, and do not understand how difficult finding food actually is.
One thing that I have noticed, people who subscribe to the “bug out to the wilderness” theory, usually do not have a grasp on wilderness diseases and how they are spread.
All it takes is one tick bite, and the person can contract a number of tick borne infections.
All it takes is one sip of contaminated water, and the victim has some kind of water borne infection.
You can not take someone (like a teenager) out of their comfort zone, take them out to the wilderness, put them in a tent, and expect them to be happy – its not going to happy. The only thing that situation will do, is make matters worse.
On July 16 – 17, 2010, my son, my son-in-law and I went on a camping trip along the Angelina River – which is close to Jasper, Texas. The day time temps were in the mid – upper 90s, with night time temps in the mid 80s. At one point the heat got so bad that I was getting disoriented. Thank goodness the river was right there – so all 3 of us jumped in and cooled off. The question is, what if there was no river too cool off in? With little to no shade, and no way to cool off, heat related problems can be a real issue.
Bug Out Location VS Bugging Out To The Wilderness
Lets say that you have a nice Bug Out Location picked out – its close to water, has lots of wilderness for hunting and foraging – keep in mind that primitive man did not stay in one location year round.
The life of a hunter-gather revolves around being able to move from one location to another. Staying in one location for very long will deplete your sources of roots, berries and wild foods. Even if you are on a river, man can not live on fish alone. Sooner or later, your going to have to relocate to find new food sources.
With an established Bug Out Location you should have renewable resources, ways to cook, a garden, wildlife, and fruit trees.
At least with staying at home, survivalist can stockpile supplies – food, water, water filters, first aid supplies, stockpile seeds, have a garden, stay in touch with friends and family members, sleep in your own bed,,,.
Real survival plans should start with a realistic approach, and a realistic plan.
Think about you plans, talk to your friends and family members about their plans, and how your plans and their plans can work together.
What kind of disaster are you planning for – hurricane, wildfire, plague, earthquake,,,,,, or something else?
Instead of trying to find the solution here, real through this list of forum threads about Bug Out Plans, and go from there.
“which one should I buy, an ALICE Pack or a MOLLE Pack?” – that is one of the questions that I see a lot of on the forum. The answer is not a simple one. Before you can answer a question, sometimes you have to ask a few questions.
How much room do you need
How rugged do you need the frame? – the MOLLE pack has a plastic frame, ALICE has a metal frame
A couple of weeks ago my son, nephew and I went on a boating / camping trip. We loaded up the gear, launched the boat and headed out to a camping spot on the river. While we were there, I decided to put together a video about the packs and do a little comparison.
My first exposure to the ALICE pack was way back in either 1992 or 1993. One of my good buddies had just came back from the first Persian gulf conflict, and one of the first things he did was buy himself a medium ALICE pack to replace the one he had been using in the ARMY. I liked the pack so much, I bought myself one. The difference between my buddies pack and mine – my pack was woodland camo, while my buddies pack was olive drab. After using the medium ALICE for a few years, I found it was a little so, so I bought a large ALICE pack in olive green.
My first exposure to the MOLLE pack was a couple of months ago after I bought 3 packs off ebay.
The three packs that my son, nephew and I brought on the camping included – Large MOLLE with internal sleep system, MOLLE with external sleep system and medium ALICE pack.
Large MOLLE pack with internal sleep system compartment – digital camo, internal sleep system compartment, plastic frame, no external pouches or internal pouches, map case in top flap, no radio pouch inside of pack, no hydration pocket for water bladder. The shoulder straps and waist belt are desert camo because I bought 2 desert camo packs off ebay, and used one set of straps and waist belt on my large molle. I would really like to replace the desert camo stuff with woodland green, but woodland green MOLLE stuff is a little difficult to find on ebay. Also, the military is supposed to be releasing its new camo to the troops pretty soon. This might cause the price of digital camo items to drop.
One of the things that I really liked about the large MOLLE is how much webbing it has. The pack also has webbing on the bottom of the pack to strap a sleeping bag, tent, tarp or anything else.
One of the things that I did not like about the large MOLLE – it did not have a radio pouch inside the pack like the alice pack does. Nor does the pack have pouches on the outside of the pack. The plastic frame is also a draw back. Nor do I like having to use the pack with a frame – if the frame breaks your just out of luck.
Large ALICE VS Large MOLLE – If I had to pick between the Large ALICE and the Large MOLLE, to me there is no real comparison – Large MOLLE all the way.
When the Large ALICE is loaded, it seems to “fat”, and sticks too far off my back. The makes me have to lean forward to off set the weight sticking off my back.
The Large ALICE does not have any compression straps around the pack – this might be one reason why it seems too fat. Once th pack is loaded up, there is no way to take the slack out, because there are no compression straps. With the Large MOLLE pack on the other hand, it has a couple of straps where you can cinch it down nice and tight. So if your carrying a large load, it can be cinched up so that its close to your body.
The Large ALICE pack has 6 external pouches – 3 large and 3 small, while the Large MOLLE has none. This has its pros and cons. The small pouches on the Large ALICE are almost to small to store anything but small items. The larger pouches are big enough to store rain gear, and a 1 pound propane bottle will fit just right.
The Large ALICE pack has a radio pouch inside the pack, the Large MOLLE Pack does not. This may not seem like a big deal – but I like a place to store my smaller items, like bug spray, small flashlight, small muti-tool, bible, FM-2176, personal hygiene kit, camera and camera case along with spare batteries,,,,,, stuff like that.
MOLLE with external sleep system – lets just call this one the Medium MOLLE pack – desert camo, external sleep system compartment, claymore pouch on outside, no internal pouches or compartments, plastic frame, map case in top flap – but has plastic on one side of the map case so you can see the map without having to take the map out.
Overall, I view this pack as the least flexible – it has only a few webbing around the pack, none that wrap around the entire pack, and no webbing on the bottom of the pack. has very little webbing on it, no pouch on the inside and only one pouch on the outside of the pack.
Without the external sleep system compartment attached, and with something in it – the pack would not stand up on its own. It had to be leaned against a tree or something else in order for it to stand up. Its nice when you can drop and pack, and it stands up so you can dig through it.
Medium MOLLE VS Medium ALICE – If I had to pick between the Medium ALICE and the Medium MOLLE, I would have to pick the Medium ALICE.
The Medium MOLLE does not have enough webbing – this makes attaching extra pouches nice and easy. So if you need a place to keep a canteen, just attach a canteen. If you need a first aid kit on the outside of you pack, just attach a first aid kit.
The Medium MOLLE does not even webbing on the bottom of the pack for lashing a tent, sleeping bag, tarp,,,, or anything else to it.
The Medium ALICE pack has 3 outside pouches – which are just the right size for storing rain gear and a 1 pound bottle of propane for a stove. There is also webbing that runs the circumference of the pack, which makes attaching more pouches easy. The Medium MOLLE does not have any external pouches, and with a lack of webbing, there is no way to attach extra pouches.
Neither the Medium ALICE nor the Medium MOLLE has a place for a hydration bladder. As long as you can carry plenty of canteens, this should not be a big deal. But one more thing but that webbing – or rather the lack of it on the Medium MOLLE- if you dont have the webbing, your no going to be able to attach canteens to the outside of the pack.
When the canteens were put in the top flap (map case) the pack became top heavy. On the camping trip my son used the Medium MOLLE, and noted that it was top heavy because of where we had to put the canteens.
If I had to re-buy any or all of the packs in this article, it would be in this order:
1. Large Molle – Well designed pack, the few things I do not like about this pack can be easily fixed with a few add-on pouches. I still wish it had a metal frame instead of that junk plastic.
2. Medium ALICE – Battle proven through military use for around 40 years. Metal frame, lots of webbing,,,. The only draw back is that its a little heavy.
3. Large ALICE – Lots of room, but when fully loaded can be un-comfortable to carry. The lack of compression straps makes this pack too fat.
4. Medium Molle – I dont know if I would even buy this pack again. For something that supposed to be used by the military, I’am really disappointed in it.
There has been ideology going around the survivalist circle for the past couple of decades – if some kind of end of the world event happens, I’ll just load up my Bug Out Bag and head to the hills. If you go to just about any survival forum, there will be dozens, if not hundreds, or even thousands of threads about what kind of back pack would make a good bug out bag. One of the next most popular questions is – what kind of one man tent would be good for a bug out bag.
Here are some of the things I look for in a tent
Weight – how much does the tent weigh? The more the tent weighs, something else has be be removed from the pack to keep the overall weight down.
1, 2, 3 or 4 season tent – where are you going to be using the tent, will it be for hot weather, cold weather, wet weather, or something else? If you live along the gulf cost where it rarely snows, do you really need a 4 season tent? If you mostly go hiking / camping in hot weather, you want to make sure the tent breathes well.
Most of my hiking / camping is done in hot weather – so I look for a tent with a removable rain fly, and mosquito netting across the top of the tent. This allows a cross breeze to go across the person in the tent, and helps with the removal of collected body heat inside the tent.
Assembly time – how long does it take to put the tent up? Is the tent overly complex to assemble?
1, 2, 3 or more person tent – how many people are going to be using the tent? Since this article is about 1 person tents, lets just leave it at that.
Lets take a look at some one person tents
Wenzel Starlite Biker Tent – I have owned one of these tents for about 15 years. Its lightweight, compact, easy to carry and fits into the bottom of an alice pack just right. The problem is, its a single layer tent. Because of this reason it might not be a good choice for blowing rain. If the rain is coming from the side, instead of straight down, this tent might not be a good choice.
The Wenzel Starlite is what you call a tube tent – one end opens up and you crawl inside.
This video was a couple of years ago while my son and I were on a camping trip. Sorry for the poor video quality, it was before I got a good grasp of the video editing software.
No Limits Sunlight Peak One Man Tent – I bought one of these tents from Academy Sports and Outdoors in Beaumont, Texas – one of the tent poles broke the first time it was used on a camping trip, so it was returned to the store and exchanged.
Overall, I liked the tent – it does not have a lot of spare room, the vestibule is a little small – its just big enough to fit a pack about 2,500 cubic inches in it, its a little heavy weighing in at over pounds, and it took about 10 minutes to put up. The tent poles have to be put in in a certain way, or they will not fit.
Eureka Solitaire Tent – Eureka is famous for making top quality tents, and the Eureka Solitaire holds up to that reputation. It seems well built, was somewhat easy to setup, weighs less then the No Limits tent and has a rain fly for improved rain protection. This is a tube tent design, but has an added feature of having a zipper in the mosquito netting.
This Eureka Solitaire has not been subjected to an in-the-field test – but it has been setup in the yard next to the house while some rain was falling. After sitting in the rain for a few hours, only a couple of drops got though the rain fly.
Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2 – The next tent I’am looking at buying is the Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2 – 2 man tent. The problem with a one man tent, a lot of them do not leave you with any extra room. So sometimes its better to go with a lightweight 2 man tent. Where the other person would sleep in the tent – that is where you have room to store your gear.
The Maxpedition Kodiak Gearslinger is unlike a lot of other backpacks, as it only has one shoulder strap. Its designed so that the user can disconnect an under-the-arm strap, and then spin the pack so that its in front of them. Thus, making the pack easy to access without having to dismount it.
Maxpedition makes 3 packs in its gearslinger series – the Sitka, Noatak and the Kodiak. In this article we are going to be looking at the Kodiak.
The single shoulder strap supports the weight of the pack, while the under the strap helps to keep the pack in place.
The Kodiak Gearslinger has 5 compartments on it:
Place for the water bladder
Small outer pouch on top outside
Medium outer pouch on outside
Zipper pouch on outside of medium pouch
Some specs from the maxpedition website:
* Single shoulder backpack designed to maximize utility when rotated towards front of body
* Main compartment: 17 high x 10 wide x 4 thick with internal organization
* Top front: 4.5 high x 9 wide x 2 thick with internal organization
* Bottom front: 10 high x 9 wide x 2 thick with internal organization
* Approximate Capacity: 1100 cu. in.
* Fits up to 15.4″ (diagonal screen size) laptop computer.
* Bag can be worn in front and contents comfortably accessed while sitting down
* Water bottle pocket sized to fit 32oz Nalgene bottle
* Compatible with 100oz hydration reservoir
* Theft deterrent devices built-in to capture zipper pulls
* PALS modular webbing throughout to for attaching accessories
* Top and side handles
Before the pack is taken out on a hiking / camping trip, I wanted to get a feel for it. So I grabbed some Eversafe meals, GPS, topo maps, water filter, map compass, hammock,,, and put everything in the Kodiak.
Top smaller outer pouch that is on top of the pack – bug spray, topo maps, GPS and map compass fit in there just right.
In the larger outside pouch, my first aid kit and water filter fit in there just right.
In the main compartment, I had the 2 Eversafe meals, rain poncho, rope, and hammock. If this pack was being fitted for a real camping trip, I would have to strap a poncho liner or fleece sleeping bag to the outside of the pack, add a multi-tool, and a couple of other things and it would be ready to go.
I like the pouch on the side for a 32 ounce water bottle. Plus, there is a compartment for a water bladder. So if your heading out in hot weather, you should be able to carry plenty of water.
The strap that goes sunder your arm has an emergency whistle on it – which is a nice addition.
Things that I would like to see changed:
The Kodiak Gearslinger really needs some straps on the bottom. I found it awkward trying to strap a fleece sleeping bag to the pack – when the bag was put on the top of the pack and strapped down, the pack deformed so that it would not have fit my back properly. Having some way to strap something to bottom would really be nice.
Take a couple of the straps on the side and turn them vertical – this would make strapping something to the side much easier. Lets take a tripod for example, I’am not quit sure how I’am going to strap it to the pack.
The other day I received a question asking which one would make a good 2 day pack – MOLLE II Rifleman pack, ALICE pack, MOLLE II pack, or something from Maxpedition. In my opinion, there is no clear cut answer. The large ALICE packs are big, but their too “fat” – meaning they extend off my back too much and make me lean forward to balance the load. For this discussion, lets just talk about the medium ALICE pack, 3,000 cubic inch MOLLE II with external sleep system, the Maxpedition Vulture-II and the Maxpedition
For a 1 – 2 day warm – hot weather trip, I would have to go with either the Maxpedition vulture-ii, 3,000 cubic inch MOLLE with external sleep system or a medium ALICE pack.
The large 4,000 cubic MOLLE would be good for cold weather – where you need to carry a large sleeping bag, coat, change of clothes, 4 season tent,,,,,. But for a 2 – 3 day trip in warm weather, the large MOLLE will probably be too big.
A lot of it depends on where your going, temperature, and how much gear you carry. During the summer months, I can usually get away with an 1,800 – 2,000 cubic inch pack for an overnight trip. During July and August, I can get away with a 1,500 – 1,800 cubic inch pack.
Here is a video about the Maxpedition Falcon-II Pygmy that I use as a hot weather pack.
From what I see, most of the people that talk about “bug out bags” have never faced a “real” disaster. But lets not group everyone together – I’am sure some of them have.
Personally, I do not subscribe to the “Bug Out Bag” train of thought. I have had to bug out / evacuate in the face of too many hurricanes, and like to think I know the difference between reality and myth.
Keep in mind, I keep my camping backpack ready to go. It usually has 2 – 3 days worth of food in it, and most of my camping stuff in it.
If anyone has ever evacuated in the face of a real disaster, then you know what its like. You just dont load up a “bag” – you load up the whole truck. I take my computer, my guns, family pictures that can never be replaced, clothes, pets, back up drives for the computer, important papers, titles, insurance papers,,,,,,,,,,. By the time I’am done, the extended part of my cab is full. Then off to the shelter my wife and I go.
Why did I leave my house? Because we had massive hurricanes heading towards us at the time. My house has 2 large – 100 feet tall oak trees right next to it. Inside the house is not where you want to be if one of those trees decides to uproot in 100+ mile per hour winds.
If you live next to a chemical plant or next to a nuclear power plant, then yes, you might want to keep a bug out bag handy. But even then, authorities will probably tell you to shelter in place. Depending on what was leaking from the chemical plant, the direction of the wind and how fast the traffic was moving, hundreds or even thousands of people could die in their cars trying to leave.
What was interesting to see, was when Houston, Texas evacuated for Hurricane Rita. People were sitting in their cars for hours, and only moving a couple of miles. People were running out of gas on the side of the road, sleeping in their cars, running up credit cards to stay in a hotel,,,,,. When my parents left Bridge City, Texas in the face of Rita, what normally took them 1.25 hours to drive, took 9 hours. But at least they had somewhere to go.
My opinion, survivalist are divided into 2 groups – those that have a realistic point of view and plan. And those that have an unrealistic point of view and plan.
Realistic point of view and plan – built on real life experiences, military training
Unrealistic point of view and plan – watched too many movies and tv shows
After watching the types of people that join the Survivalist Forum, there seems to be at least 4 different groups:
Hoarders – the people that stock up on everything – food, water, canned goods, beans, rice, MREs,,,. These are the people that have hundreds or even thousands of canned or dried food products.
Some of the plans that hoarders have may include storing several years worth of food. Some of those plans seem to go like this – vacuum seal food products, such as flour, rice, beans, wheat,,,, and then put the packages into 5 gallon buckets, or into air tight containers.
Gardeners – the people that have gardens. People in this type of group usually stock up on seeds, garden tools, books on gardening and fertilizer.
This group includes the organic gardener and the person who uses commercial fertilizer.
Combination of the two – People that stock up on prepared foods, but also have garden.
On a personal note, I consider a combination of the hoarder and gardener to be the best prepared. They have enough food stocks to respond to an immediate need. And then they have access to a renewable food source – their garden and extra seeds.
Some people find comfort knowing that they have a zillion cans of spam. Others find comfort knowing they have enough seeds for at least 3 years of gardens. And some people find comfort somewhere been the two.
And lastly, there is the militant survivalist. Their comfort is that they have an AR15 or AK47 and several cases of ammo. This is probably the least prepared group.
Most (not all) of these people envision hordes of looters swarming the streets after society breaks down. People in this group may even subscribe to the “Backpack” or “Bug Out Bag” type of mind set. If there is an outbreak of some kind of plague, some of the people in this group plan on grabbing their family, “heading to the hills” and living a primitive life style.