I'm an open advocate of the three-line method of layering tactical gear and equipment. Slightly less known, but I would assume inferred, is the reality that I don't walk out the front door, even to run out to the truck for something, without tucking my Glock 19, Benchmade folder, and Streamlight light in my pockets. I certainly don't get in the truck to drive anywhere without all of my EDC gear, plus my fighting load and M4 in the truck (seriously, we're at the point where I never leave home without halfway expecting to have to fight my way back), with the occasional exception of a particular tasking at work that precludes it, and even then, I've got my EDC load and a go-bag.
I've recently been using my go-bag as a combination go-bag and "Ah shit, we're going to have to walk our asses out of here" bag. For the most part, when I travel without HH6 and the Morale Officer, this is not a major issue. I keep some basic survival gear in there, and know how to leverage it for comfort and sustenance. Unfortunately, I've gotten into the habit of focusing on the comfort side of the equation when packing it. To begin the trip we are currently on, I dumped most of the sustainment gear out, leaving only a few basic survival necessities in it, in order to pack extra clothes for the trip. HH6, meanwhile, has a go-bag set up as the "walk-out" bag, that she never modifies (and honestly, I'm not sure even knows what's in it, more than an hour after we inspect it or do some specific training with it). This led to a major headache Saturday night, but also opened up some very useful training opportunities for my family (and yes, even myself), as well as some necessary modifications to logistics, that offer the ancillary benefit of allowing us to save money.
I've never been a fan of the concept of "vehicle-specific" bags. I carry my go-bag, know exactly what is in it (more or less), and it's seldom more than a short sprint away from me. Recent regular-life jobs have involved occupations that meant I'm in other people's vehicles as often as I'm in my own. A vehicle-specific bag just never seemed to fit. Until Saturday.
While driving through one of the western mountain states, we stopped around 0300 for the night, to find a hotel room, in a mid-sized city (for the western mountains) with a small state university. We weren't aware that it was "Rush Week" for this college, since it's not the state we've currently been living in. Whoops. There was not a single room available in the entire city. None. Zilch. Nada. Shit. The next place to find a hotel was another two hours of driving away, and I was getting to that point where I was tired enough that I didn't want to drive anymore, with my family in the truck, for safety's sake.
Fortunately, this city was also largely surrounded by National Forest. Being the hard-core former SOF soldier and survivalist that I am, with a wife who is fully on-board our preparations, I decided we'd just stop in the forest somewhere, on a USFS road, toss the sleeping bags we keep in the truck down, and sleep. The Morale Officer could sleep in her car seat, since she was already there, doing that. Then reality (the evil bitch) boot-stomped me in the face.
HH6 you see, grew up camping in the mountains with her avid outdoorsman dad and brother. Unfortunately, while she'd told me numerous times in the past, I'd failed to listen and hear; she'd never camped out without being in a tent. Ever (if you're anything at all like me, your response was something along the lines of, "the fuck you say!"). Folks, outside of FOBs, I've never slept IN a tent...ever. I've used poncho hooches and shit, and lived in GP larges and GP mediums in the military, but a backpacking tent? That shit is GAY (and I'm not referring to the "cool," socially-acceptable, "I take it in the ass" sense of the word. I mean, it's fucking GAY!).
As we drove through the backroads of the nearby mountains in the dark, looking for a cut-off (I only had highway maps of the local area), to "cache" ourselves in for a few hours, HH6 informed me that she and the Morale Officer (hereafter referred to as TMO) were not sleeping outdoors for the fucking bears to eat. They'd sleep in the truck (apparently, she overlooked the fact that I had to bear sprays: one 9mm, the other 5.56, not that I particularly care to get in a gunfight with a bear with either caliber)
My response? "What the fuck are you gonna do when we HAVE to sleep outside, on the run?"
Her response? "I'm sleeping in the truck, or you're buying a tent."
So, I lay in my sleeping bag, under the firs and pines, watching the meteors streak through the sky, thinking about this issue.
As this blog has taken off, following my offer to travel to people and conduct training, at very reasonable cost (after all, our expenses are minimal, since I only charge for fuel, lodging at the local area, and food), we've been on the road a lot; like every weekend or two, a lot. I can use this to my distinct advantage by leveraging our road trips into "bug-out training."
So, as I informed HH6 this morning, after the current trip, from now on, anytime we're on the road traveling, regardless of where we're going, we camp out. No more hotel rooms, except the final night before we show up at a location, so we can be showered and presentable. The rest of the time, we use it as a training opportunity. She was worried about hygiene issues. No sweat. I can teach her canteen cup and Camelback shower hygiene. Food? No prob. We'll fix it on the MSR stove, or we'll get it on the go. Takin' a shit? Let me introduce you to my old friend, Mr. Cat Hole.
I woke up this morning, more refreshed than I've been in a long time, since the only time I ever sleep outside is on training weekends, and those are far too stressful for me as the instructor to really relax and enjoy the quiet time with God. HH6, on the other hand, woke up sore, stiff, and not very refreshed, since she was crammed in the back of an SUV.
Activating this planned CoA however, will require some changes to my load-out structuring (thus the other reason I'm sharing it on this blog...you guys don't read this blog to find out what I ate for lunch, and what movie I saw last week, right?).
Instead of our go-bags, which are really pretty much EDC items (since HH6's doubles as a diaper bag expansion--I carry TMO), we need dedicated truck bags. I will set them up as "backpacking packs," with tactical specific needs met, and leave them in the back of the truck. I'm talking full-on, "we're living out of these bags for the next month" type backpacking bags. After all, ultimately, they are designed for us to live out of if we have to walk cross-country, to get home, or somewhere else, when shit gets hot.
Our go-bags will have extremely limited, basic survival gear in them; two fire-starting methods, two methods to produce shelter, two methods to purify and collect water, and two methods of collecting/harvesting and preparing food, plus some long-term, easily prepared foodstuffs, and a medical trauma kit (basically, a souped-up blow-out kit). The rest of the space in the go-bags is for whatever we personally want/need to carry on any given day, from lunch to a spare rain jacket, to snacks for TMO, or whatever books I'm reading at the time; enough survival gear to get home, in a pinch, and the shit we need to have to accomplish a day's tasks.
In addition to the opportunities this gives me to better train HH6 (including the comfort of sleeping outdoors without a tent, which she has now agreed to learn), it will introduce TMO to the woods and wilderness at a very early age. One thing that occurred to me last night, is the fact that, far more than any town, state, or even building, the woods have always been my safe haven home. When I was growing up, in a very, uhm, physically... uncomfortable...home life, the woods were my escape. To this day, sleeping under the stars puts me at ease like nothing else in the world (with the POSSIBLE--not absolute--exception of good sex).
Further, it provides me leverage to get HH6 to incorporate ruck marches in her personal PT program, instead of just jogging (God, I HATE that term! If you're doing PT, you should be running, not "jogging." It's not a difference of speed, but of intensity and mindset) or walking.
So, while I hate posting too much daily personal bullshit on this blog, as it detracts from the underlying training focus, in this case, it relates. I found, and offered, a way to incorporate further, real-world applicable training into our lives, and determined what modifications were going to have to be made to my family's gear, to effect that training.
Go forth and do likewise, young Padwans!
I do however, have an information request for any readers with kids, who have taken them into the woods, as toddlers...
TMO is at the very beginning of the toddler stage. She doesn't really walk yet, more than a couple of steps, when she really, really, really feels like it, but she's mobile enough now that I can't just put her in her own sleeping bag between us and expect her to stay there, without trying to crawl out of it, and away. If she's lying with either of us within arm's reach, she just won't go to sleep, period. She'd rather 'talk.'
So, does anyone have an experientially-proven solution? I thought about a jungle hammock, where I can zip the mosquito netting closed to hold her in, and I thought about just packing along a "pack-n-play" playpen-type thing that I can fabricate a method of covering with mosquito netting, but surely someone has a better answer.
In the Mountains, traveling