If you read my article about how to pack a ruck, you have a good idea how to choose what gear to take on a patrol. The next step is determining what you need to take in order to keep that gear working for you. Many items that we carry have consumable components that must be replaced from time to time to keep them working, so we must plan for this too. In this article I will lay out what consumable items you have and how you determine the quantities of those items that you need to carry. I’ll close with some tips to simplify your personal logistics in the field.
Basic Logistics Items; The 4 B’s
First lets take stock of the consumable items that we carry. I’ll be using the 4 B’s of logistics planning; Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids, and Batteries. As you go through this list, start writing down all the consumable items that you carry. This will help with your logistics planning, which I cover later in this article.
- Beans: Food and water. Anything that we use to fuel our bodies and keep ourselves running. I’ll break this into a few sub-categories.
- Chow: Be it MREs, Mountain House meals, or cans of chili, you must plan your meals. It is best to choose foods that can be eaten with minimal preparation, as cooking on a patrol can very easily compromise you. Also consider the amount of trash that you will produce as you work through your rations.
- Water: You need a way to carry water. Without it you die. I strongly recommend having water on your fighting equipment so you have something to drink when separated from your pack. A good rule of thumb is 1/2 gallon (or 2 Liters) in canteens, bottles, or a camelback on your kit, with at least that same amount in your pack.
- Cooking supplies: If you must heat up your food, that means a heat source of some kind. If you use a small stove, you will need extra fuel for it (propane, briquettes, etc.). If you intend to start a small fire, you will have to plan for fire starting materials, all of which are consumable (matches, lighter fluid, even flint). If you use starting aids such as vaseline-soaked cotton balls, add that to the list of consumables.
- Bullets: You need to carry ammunition for your weapon(s) and you need to carry it in magazines. Some folks advocate that extra ammunition should be carried in boxes or stripper clips to save space and weight in your pack. I disagree. Magazines themselves are consumable items. You can and should attempt to retain your mags, but that won’t always be possible. Magazines fall out of dump pouches (and even magazine pouches) all the time. Also consider that your buddy may need extra ammo in a hurry, and handing him a bag of loose rounds or some stripper clips is not nearly as effective as tossing him a loaded mag.
- This category also includes any pyrotechnics that you carry, such as flares and smoke grenades.
- Band-aids: Medical and hygiene gear.
- Medical: This consists of any items you carry for treating wounds and injuries. It also includes any non-emergency medical supplies you may need such as prescription medications, anti-diarrhea pills, and (yes) band-aids. Hopefully you don’t use up too many items from this category. If you do, resupply is probably not your biggest concern.
- Hygiene: Anything you use to keep yourself clean and free of sickness/disease. This includes toothpaste, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, and toilet paper just to name a few.
- Batteries: Radios, night vision, drones, lasers, and flashlights all take batteries of some kind. You must carry spare batteries for everything electronic, or else risk carrying around some very expensive dead weight on patrol. If you carry something like a tablet that has an internal battery, you need a way to recharge that too (solar panels, battery banks, etc.).
Planning Your Logistics (“How much should I pack”)
To start this process, first identify how much of each item you expect to use up in a day. This is called 1 Day of Supply (DOS) worth. Below are some guidelines for your planning purposes:
- 1 DOS food = 2,000-3,000 Calories
- 1 DOS water = 1 gallon or 4 Liters.
- Bullets: HIGHLY mission-dependent. Just make sure that you have enough ammunition to accomplish your planned mission as well as a few extra magazines to handle any unexpected action.
- 4-6 baby wipes per day, if the tactical situation permits you to clean yourself.
- One small bottle of hand sanitizer (about 2oz) will be enough for about a week’ in the field (use before eating to avoid disease).
- Batteries: Many electronic devices have the battery life listed in the instruction manuals. Estimate how many hours a day/night you will be using your devices, then divide that number by the battery life of each device to get the amount of batteries to pack. Then pack 2 extra of each type for unplanned contingencies.
Simplifying your Logistics
The simpler our logistical requirements, the less gear (and therefore weight) we must carry. The following is a series of tricks from my personal experience about how to simplify your personal logistics in the field. These are in no particular order.
- If you will be in the field for more than an overnight trip, you should look into ways to procure safe drinking water in the field to avoid carrying 30-50 pounds of water weight. No matter what method you choose to render water safe to drink, it will entail some form of consumables. Purifying tablets, iodine, high-concentration bleach, etc. are all consumable. Filters may require spare filter cartridges. If you choose to use purify by boiling, you will need to consider the fuel that it takes.
- Solar panels are only worth carrying on extended patrols (5+ days). On shorter missions, I’ve found that it costs less weight and bulk to just carry all the spare batteries I need.
- Try to have as many of your electronics take the same batteries as possible so you don’t need to carry as many different types.
- A microfiber cloth can eliminate the need for baby wipes. I use a Norwex microfiber cloth infused with silver, which disinfects itself after 24 hours. This enables almost infinite re-use in the field, necessitating very little washing of the cloth itself. I’ll write a separate article on this in the future.
- Extended patrols of 2 weeks or more can be enabled by planning for tactical resupply. This can be done via caches, dead drops, or resupply patrols/convoys. I can’t do the topic of resupply justice here, it merits its own future article.
Today we looked at what consumable items you carry into the field and how to determine what to pack. It is important to take these considerations into account rather than going off of a single cookie-cutter list for every patrol. Know your situation, know your gear, and determine for yourself what you need. The only way to really get to know your gear is to train with it, so bring it out to a class.
Note that this article is limited to personal logistics. Planning logistics for an entire patrol is similar, but different enough to deserve its own article in the future.
5 thoughts on ““Mission Essential”; Planning your Personal Logistics in the Field”
In the article you show a battery holder and counterweight pouch for and OPS Core helmet.
Great idea ! And even better that it holds a UV-5R battery too.
How do I get in touch with your buddy that makes it ?
You can email him at email@example.com to order one. They’re $45 shipped. I’m working with him to get a website up and running to make orders easier.
We’ve been using these in our team for about a year now, it’s a great solution that carries pretty much all the batteries we need for a 5-day patrol. It also works great as a counterweight, and is better than just carrying lead bars.
Thanks for the quick response on the battery holder/counterweight.
I already sent him an email about the item.
I really like all the information you put out on American Partisan.
Keep up the great work.
Do you ever get down to Texas for any training classes ?
I live in the Highland Lakes area of Central Texas about 70 miles northwest of Austin.
I haven’t taught in Texas yet, but I do travel to teach classes. I might make it out in fall of 2023, I just need to work the scheduling with the host.
Let me know when the website is up & going. Prepping big time! Thanks for the great info!