This past week was the first Jäger Course. I’ve been looking forward to this class for a long time, and it was my great pleasure to finally teach it. Over the course of 5 days and 4 nights, 8 students and I lived out of our packs and slept under our tarp shelters. An aggressive and open-ended OPFOR kept the realism and immersion up in the latter half of the week.
Today I am writing an After-Action Review (AAR) of the equipment that I used on the course. 5 days in the field is a great way to figure out what does and doesn’t work with your gear, as my students found out.
I carried 1.5 gallons (5.7 liters) of water. Most of it was in 1-qt canteens, 2 in my main pack and 2 on my belt. This worked very well because I was able to swap out empty canteens on my belt with full ones from the pack as needed between water resupply.
Water resupply worked very well, and my water treatment kit has undergone a couple of improvements since I last wrote about it. One of those improvements was investing in some CNOC Outdoors 2-liter squeeze bags to go with my Sawyer filter. These bags are tough enough to withstand up to 220 lbs of pressure, although I primarily used them to gravity-feed the filter. I carried 2 of them to resupply 2/3 of my water supply at once. In the future, I will carry 3 so I can fully top off my water even when bone dry.
I used field stripped MREs. They’re light, calorie-dense, and at the moment I happen to have a surplus of them. My main complaint was that there weren’t enough snacks that I could eat on the move, and the larger items required I had to eat all at once because they weren’t resealable. As the instructor, I had very little time to sit and enjoy a meal, so I mainly lived off of the snacks.
In time, I want to move away from relying on MREs and experiment with more commonly available items that I can pick up at a local store with maybe a little preparation at home. It doesn’t need to last 2 years, just 2 weeks will do if I can plan ahead and prepare for the patrol.
I slept under my Jäger Rig the whole time. I’ve been using this setup for a few years now, and it continues to perform just fine protecting me from the elements in summer here while also hiding me from thermal optics.
Joe Dolio, however, showed me up by bringing a Jäger Rig made from a thermal tarp with British DPM Camouflage, which worked much better than my solid green tarp. With some cheap walmart hunter’s mesh draped over it, his tarp seemed to vanish into the ground. I will be purchasing one in the near future.
My shelter (Left) and Joe’s Shelter (Right). Affiliate link to Joe’s tarp: https://amzn.to/3Ol1y7r
My sleeping bag, a snugpak jungle bag, worked very well. It got down to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the nights, and I was equally warm inside the bag and when using it unzipped as a blanket. Again, no surprise here. I’ve been using this bag for about 2 years now and it works very well in my area where it rarely gets below 40 degrees. The zippers broke about a year ago, however, so I’d recommend the Jungle Blanket instead of the Jungle Bag.
Although I normally use a Baofeng UV-9R on my kit, this time I used an AR-152 for exercise control. I have to say that I’m very impressed with it, and I originally only got one for my longer-range communications. However, given the impressive battery life, I may consider getting another one to replace the UV-9R as my primary tactical radio. My AR-152 was switched on for almost the entire 5 days, and the battery wasn’t even close to run down.
Also of note is the exoskeleton I used from Bolt Boy Ballistic Co. It stayed on the radio the whole time, bouncing around in my cargo pocket. I never had an accidental adjustment of the volume knob or hot mic from the PTT.
My main pack was a Teton Scout 3400 55-liter and my assault pack was an SOG Ninja. I used these packs not because they’re the best products available (I have much nicer packs), but because I wanted to test them as “budget options” that are still rugged enough for serious use. Together, these two packs cost about $115 on Amazon, and after several ruck runs, short trips, and now the Jäger Course, I can say that they do indeed hold up to field conditions.
The SOG Ninja is a 20-liter day pack which can fit under the lid of the Teton Scout, or inside of the main compartment for a less conspicuous look. See my 2023 Jäger Kit article for what I put in each pack.
My only complaint about these packs is that they are not NIR compliant (meaning that they glow white under night vision). This can be easily fixed, however, with camouflage spray paint or an NIR-compliant pack cover.
Bottom line: These packs worked well for me and I personally recommend them for someone who is starting out and needs to assemble a complete kit on a tight budget. Are they “just as good” as brands like Crossfire, Mystery Ranch, or Eberlestock? No, but they’re rugged enough, and for $115 you’re still getting a lot of capability for less than half the price.
This has been a brief summary of my findings regarding my gear during the Jäger Course last week. There were other things I noted as well, but these are the biggest take-aways that I had at the end of the week. 5 days in the field is a great way to test yourself and your equipment, as my students found out. This first Jäger Course was a blast, and I’ll definitely be running more of them in the future as I am able.
6 thoughts on “Jäger Course 23-1 Gear AAR”
Good write-up. I especially appreciate the clarification on paint and NIR. I thought that worked, but wasn’t sure.
Also, I recommend you put these affiliate links in the packing list for Jager, so it’s all in one place.
Thanks for the update! I have the same tarp as Joe. It’s a nice tarp for the money. Not very durable though in my experience. One of the eyelets broke first time I used it.
I’ve started pre-emptively reinforcing the corners of these tarps with duct tape. They’re not designed as multi-use items, so they’re not going to be as rugged as normal tarps. It’s best to have a couple spares on hand.
For that high energy food source, I’ve used raisons and peanuts for a quick pick-me-up. A heavy duty baggie of them usually resides in my deer kit.
Good review. I’ll be keeping an eye out to catch the next class.
I’ve taken the Arcturus thermal blanket and added web strapping, a-la a basha, with loops and re-enforcement at all the usual tie off points. A little dull khaki paint and some burlap strips around the edging hides it rather well.