The Approach Load, what else am I going to carry?

The last post dealt detailed my vision of a personal fighting load given a post-disaster security environment. In my scenario, my neighbors and I have established foot patrols and overwatch within a six square mile area. Our mission is primarily to keep parties of aggressive gang members away from our families while we wait for federal/state assistance.

My fighting load totaled 41 lbs. This consisted of 9.5 lbs of clothing (boots, socks, pants, underwear, base layer, jacket, hat); 17.2 lbs of weapons/ammunition; and 14.3 lbs of other equipment (4 lbs of which is just in two 1 qt canteens of water).

My goal for total combat load (fighting and approach) was to stay below 45 lbs. I have to admit that I was surprised how quickly the weight added up, especially considering that I don’t think such a load would be very cumbersome to carry. Obviously, if I want to stay below the 45 lb limit for everything, then I have some sacrifices I need to start making from the fighting load. There probably good reason that Army regulations specify that the approach load (which includes the fighting load) should be below 72 lbs total, and doesn’t try and stick to 48 lbs for everything.

Regardless, let’s discuss what I plan to take along in my backpack. Remember that the approach load consists of all other equipment needed to survive in the field until resupply is available. For a military team on long range patrol, that could be several days. In my scenario, where shifts last from 12-24 and stay relatively close to the “base camp,” resupply will happen often enough that lots of food may simply not be required.

Again, this is primarily based on equipment that I already own or intend to purchase relatively soon.

S.O.C. Three-Day-Pass backpack, 2300 cubic inches (48 oz)

TAD Ranger fleece hoodie (10 oz)

Signal whistle ( 0.8 oz)

100 oz Camelback Omega water bladder (7.6 oz dry, 107.6 full)

2 broken down MRE (22 oz each)

50 ft 550 cord (4.3 oz)

Spool tool (2.9 oz)

First aid kit for general use (8 oz)

Lifestraw (1.8 oz)

Total Weight: 227.4 oz, or 14.2 lbs

Total weight, minus water: 127.4 oz, or 7.9 lbs

Total Combat Load (fighting + approach, with water) = 55.2 lbs

At 55.2 lbs or 30.6% of my lean body mass, I have achieved a fairly reasonable standard. 55 lbs is about in line with what the average soldier carried during WWII. Still, my overall goal was to be below 45 lbs. So the question becomes where can I shed 10.2 lbs of gear? Or, perhaps more importantly, should I?

I see weight savings in doing things like losing one MRE and saving 22 oz or 1.3 lbs. Carrying a total of 164 oz of water works out to 10.25 lbs, I could save quite a bit of weight by reducing the amount of water carried. I could ditch my pistol, holster, and ammo for 5.3 lbs savings. I can use a lighter rifle, as my lightweight carbine is nearly 2 lbs lighter than the Musket. I can lose some of the survival gear (emergency blanket, fire-starting tools, etc). I could also look into lighter weight clothing. Everything is a tradeoff, and decisions must be made in accordance with METT-T prioritization.

In this case, I’m inclined to keep it all, as written. My thinking here is that the load will grow lighter, and reach my weight goal, as I consume water.

Now, this was all predicated on a far-fetched neighborhood defense scenario. How would the total load look different if this was a day trip to go hog hunting? How would it look different if it was a 48 hour land navigation/marksmanship competition like the Sniper Adventure Challenge? Those, too, are interesting through experiments. The bottom line, though, is that you have to figure these things out for yourself based upon your priorities and your capabilities.

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