Kit – Using it, an overview

A lot of discussion so far has been about the kit itself: what I like, what I can recommend and what works.


Now I think is the time to start discussing just how all the fancy gear goes together, integrates with each different component and how to give pointers in selecting it to suit the job. If you’re interested in hearing more, feel free to tell me.

As the trainer Pat Rogers is fond of saying, and I blatantly and unashamedly steal this from him: Let the Mission drive the gear train.


In other words, let WHAT you need to do/accomplish determines what equipment to carry. Then ask the essential questions of WHY it needs to be carried and then HOW does your equipment make mission accomplishment easier.


Just by stopping and having a think about what needs to be done, how you will achieve it, and allow for some contingencies allows some clear thought and starts the process of paring what’s needed down to the essentials.


It should be remembered, that due to different missions and goals, that equipment a civilian bushwalker enjoying their off-time with adventure carries will often be completely different to what military personnel in hostile terrain will carry.


Despite the difference in missions and goals, the way their equipment is carried, and the way it’s packed often conforms to universal principles. It’s only in the application that differs.


In order to simplify how to describe the different ways of carrying equipment and their uses, when I was young, dopey digger, we were taught a very old saying:

Survive with what’s in your pockets.

Fight with what’s in your webbing (fighting vest or Load Bearing Equipment)

Live with what’s in your pack.


This ties in very nicely with the American system of describing equipment carriage: the “Line” system.

It’s outlined like this –

1st Line: Worn items on the body, for survival. Navigation, fire starting, and personal survival kit.

2nd Line: Fighting Load, Load Bearing Equipment, body armour and helmet, personal weapon, ammunition, explosives and everything needed to fight.

3rd Line: Mission/Sustainment load

It should be noted that there’s no really clear delineation between these areas. It’s only intended as a guide to aid thinking and planning factors. Mission, enemy, weather, available transport and logistical support are among the myriad of factors that affect equipment selection.


It can be seen then, that using all this gear is generally in the reverse order of the way it’s mentioned. For general day to day living, items out of the backpack are used. Such items as sleeping bags, warm coats, food, cooking equipment and other day-to-day items are used.

Drills for usage mean that consumable items should be taken from the backpack first. This means water and food on the fighting load should be left untouched until the pack is dropped.


In a bushwalking setting, this 3rd line is the primary method of living and transporting items to be used. So this means food, shelter, water, and clothing for adverse conditions.

In a military setting, the pack is also used to move to an objective and carry mission essential items and living items. This means that mission essential equipment that is given out by the boss. A variety of heavy, bulky equipment needs to be distributed around the unit. This mission essential equipment competes for space in the pack with personal equipment such as water, rations, shelter, clothing, toiletry items and protective equipment like respirators.


The 2nd Line or mission items are what’s needed to fight, or achieve the mission.


So for recreational bushwalkers, this can include cameras and associated equipment, optics, flora and fauna guides, and travel/trap guides. This is often the smallest component of the equipment load. Although I know several die-hard photographers whose camera equipment is the largest and heaviest component of their load when they go stumbling into the wilderness.

Climbers will be in a similar situation, with ropes, harness, helmet, pitons, and all the other paraphernalia they require to resemble Spiderman.

For the military, the opposite is true. The mission equipment is often the biggest portion of the load carried. Weapons (of all manner and description), ammunition, explosives, tripods, optics, radios, batteries to power everything, camouflage nets, star pickets, hand tools (weapon maintenance as well as entrenching tools, shovels, picks, sledgehammers), power tools (eg. chain saws), only just begins to describe some of the things necessary.


The 1st Line then, is small items in the pockets or on the belt to aid in survival should all of the equipment be lost.


It can be seen then, with this very brief description, that the 3rd line is used for day to day living, whilst moving to the objective. When the objective is reached, the 3rd line is dropped; mission essential items are grabbed and prepared for the mission.

The 2nd Line is to conduct the mission on the objective. Whether that be to engage the enemy, or setup a defensive position, or secure a physical location, or conduct any sort of activity.


If, and maybe when the world goes to hell in a handbasket (which is what all planning should be based on), then the 1st Line of items in pockets and on the person then comes into effect.

I’ve always found that it’s that simplifying, paring, and reducing the load as much as possible that stumps a few punters. There’s a quite a few out there who believe that ALL emergencies need to be catered for. They do, but like most things in life, a basic risk assessment needs to be carried out and analysed for the most common and likely occurrences.

When in doubt, multi-use items can reduce the load a great deal.


In future articles, we’ll look at how’s and why’s of setting up equipment.


So, question time: Has this been useful, and do you wish to read more?

Posted in Blog, Civilian, Military by with 2 comments.

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