MIL Inventory Lessons Learned

There is a lot that we can learn from those in the military.

Obviously we don't all want to wear clothing made from the most rugged materials out there. They'd chafe and be darned uncomfortable pretty quick. That said, if you're preparing for a crisis situation, cotton and silk aren't going to be your best choices. Canvas and denim still top the charts in field use and abuse. Polyesters designed for different temperature ranges may do well too and ripstop nylon works fine in moderate temps as well. Usually I'm quite happy to trade off a small bit of comfort to gain extra longevity from anything I'm wearing in an emergency situation.

Ergonomics - or the study of them - have been around a long time. Very few clothing designs I'm familiar with have incorporated ergonomic concerns. Our arms, wrists and hands all move a particular way and moving them "outside the normal range of motion" is uncomfortable. Yet on many garments the pockets are placed so that you are forced to move in an unnatural fashion simply to access the pocket. If you can, as you select your clothing for any type of crisis, choose those items that have been designed to work most efficiently with your body's natural function.

We someties neglect - or go "cheap" - where our bodies contact our environment the most: our feet. Proper footwear is absolutely necessary to our survivability in crisis situations. The shoes or boots you choose should:

  • Provide proper support for your foot and ankle
  • Be as light as they can be without sacrificing function
  • Already be broken in

It's often easiest to simply select a boot that was designed for the military but that's just as often a mistake. Even different parts of the military are issued differently designed boots because various units work in different environments and on different terrain. The boots for the 10th Mountain Division are not the same as for SEAL Team 2. As you select your footwear you have to look around to determine the environment you are most likely going to be operating in and then make your selection based on your needs. As an example: I live in a fairly wooded area with plenty of water around. My boots need to offer me protection and support for slightly hilly terrain and should wick sweat away from my feet. However, they must also either be waterproof or allow for good quick drainage if water gets in them. I want them to be as light as possible, but I prefer a solid shank (composite or metal) in the sole because you just never know what's under forest debris when you're stepping down with all your weight.

Every soldier I know is issued either a hat and sometimes also a helmet. A hat serves many purposes from protecting your scalp from sunburn to keeping rain off your head. I recommend you select one that protects your ears as well as your face and neck. Gloves are also issued and are a necessity. That said, you don't need 100% leather "fencing" gloves if all you're doing is protecting your hands from a hot black steering-wheel in your Jeep. How thick and how well insulated your gloves need to be is, again, a function of your needs - what environment you're working / living in and what you expect to encounter. Almost any glove is better than no glove when you encounter rough conditions that can scratch or damage your hands. Think of gloves as a surrounding layer of hardened skin - because that's essentially what they are.

Now, just like their law enforcement counterparts, soldiers have tools of the trade. Those tools include:

  • hydration support systems
  • firearms: long and short
  • illumination devices
  • personal protective devices
  • shelter materials

I listed hydration first because it is so high in importance. We can live for a pretty long time without food but we can die in less than three days without water. Whether you choose to carry canteens - such as those manufactured from Nalgene by BLACKHAWK! or if you use a hydration bladder system or if you simply put a bunch of collapsible 5-gallon water jugs in your vehicle - you'll need to insure a clean water supply for drinking. At the most personal level I've found that a 100 ounce hydration bladder system with an inline filter is most efficient. If you have a surplus store around you anywhere and can get the old canteen carriers that the Army used for decades (and still does in some places) throw away the aluminum / steel / plastic 1-quart canteens that come with the carriers and replace them with modern Nalgene canteens. They are more durable especially where temperature extremes are concerned and they don't hold the flavor of anything you put in them.

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