Many of you have been asking for this for a long time so I finally sat down and put it all together. I’ll go through the contents of the pack and discuss them a little. My gear as with all things is a constantly evolving organism and many changes have been made over time. But this is going to be straight from the book. I still have all of that gear. The inspiration for Morgan’s pack was pretty easy; I simply dumped my pack out an went through it.
“But for a longer or protracted event you may need more room. The downside to this is you can obviously load way more into them than you can or would even want to carry.”
We’ll start with the pack. Morgan carried a Rifleman’s pack with the additional sustainment pouches good old surplus packs are a great value and stand up to abuse. I still have that pack, it’s one of many in my collection. I know a lot of people opt for smaller packs like the three day assault style. But for a longer or protracted event you may need more room. The downside to this is you can obviously load way more into them than you can or would even want to carry.
I’ve read countless comments about the MRE’s. I know there was a lot of detail about them. But you’ve got to remember I wrote Going Home on a forum. I was getting constant comments from people reading it which had a huge influence on things. But they are a good option if you’re going to be on the move. Edible right out of the bag you don’t have to stop and heat them. This has a couple of benefits. Firstly is you don’t need to carry a stove, though having one does come in handy. Secondly, they can save you time. No need to stop and boil water to rehydrate. And lastly, if you’re moving through a world where everyone you meet is a potential threat you don’t need to build fires or mess with a stove as already mentioned thereby lowering your signature. Do not underestimate this.
With that said though, Morgan did carry a stove and pot. While carrying MRE’s or dehydrated or freeze dried foods are great, what do you do when they run out? Carrying a pot and a stove can be a life saver. In the pack was a MSR pot like this. Currently I use a Zebra Kettle in my large pack. If traveling light I use a MSR Alpine teapot. This is especially good for those times you are carrying freeze dried goods or all you want to do is heat up some water.
For stoves Morgan had a couple of choices. He carried a Primus multi-fuel stove as well as an Esbit stove and Trioxane tabs to fuel it. As anyone who’s ever used these things knows they can be handy but seldom live up to their expectations generally requiring more than one to heat a cup of water hot enough to do anything with. If you’re going to do any serious cooking you need the stove, or you could build a fire.
Another item everyone talked about is the Grilliput. Many thought it was cool, I did. Many thought it was ridiculous. Yes it was a little heavy but it served it’s purpose perfectly. It was good for holding a pot over a fire or to grill meat or fish. This too I still have and use on Kayak camping trips for cooking fish.
There was also the assorted bit of cooking kit to go along with all this. A folding spoon/measuring cup, stainless steel cup and of course, the cutting board. This is another one of those things that surprised me by the reaction it got. I guess people pictured a large tabletop version and not the, thin, lightweight version I actually keep in my pack like this. The reason why I carry it is to have a clean surface to prepare food on. This kind of item is so light you won’t even notice it in your pack.
Imagine Morgan in that little shack with a deer heart. Without the cutting board what would he have used? Certainly you don’t need it, but it sure beats the hell out of having sand or other debris in your food.
Then there are the various tools. Most of this can be found in about any pack and will be familiar to all of us. Item’s like a firesteel, Leatherman Surge and a small trowel like this one. Some of the smaller items include snare wire and a GP-4L radio from County Comm. This a great little radio with Am, FM and shortwave bands. It also has a small LED built into it and I carry the upgraded version GP5 SSB radio in my EDC bag still. There was also leather work gloves, bandannas and some actual tools like a small pair of Channel Locks.
“As most of you know I’m a fan of ESEE knives. So what else would he carry?”
While we’re talking about tools let’s look at the cutting tools Morgan carried. As most of you know I’m a fan of ESEE knives. So what else would he carry? Morgan had the ESEE 4 and the ESEE 5. Did he need two fixed blade knives? Of course not. But like I said I took a look at my kit for inspiration. The ESEE 4 is carried in my EDC bag and the five was on the pack. So when Morgan leaves the car he has them both. Of course there was the Gerber Hatchet as well, we all remember that. And lastly was his folder, an ESEE as well, the Avispa.
When talking about blades we also have to consider their maintenance. Morgan carried a couple of items for the job. One item which I really like is the rust eraser. This is a fantastic tool to keep your blades clean and free of surface rust. When it the field this can be a real challenge, this little eraser makes it a simple task.
To maintain the edge there was the DMT Diamond Card. These are small, lightweight sharpeners that make short work of the dullest blades in the field. Another item is the DMT Dia-fold. Morgan carried the blue/red version. This too is a great product to maintain knives, axes and hatchets.
Lighting is another category we need to look at. Morgan carried a couple sources of light. One of my favorites is the Glotoob. This is the lithium model and puts out a great amount of light. A headlamp is always good to have both hands free for other tasks. An inexpensive one like the Energizer is sufficient for most camp related tasks. With the advancement in LED lights there’s no reason not to have a good quality flashlight as well. I like the Olight Warrior and is what I currently carry.
The last item in this category is the night vision Morgan carried. In the book he carried the Pulsar Edge. This is a GEN 2 device that performs best if the onboard IR source is used. This will enable you to see in the dark! The problem with it though is that if anyone else around that you may not want to know your out there has a similar device, as soon as you turn on that IR source it’s like turning on a beacon. This kind of gear is expensive and for the money something like this will get you going.
” I once heard it said that if you have night vision and the other guy doesn’t, it just ain’t fair.”
But if you want to step up your game you can move to a GEN 3 device. I currently have a PVS-14. Unlike the Pulsar which is a binocular device this is a monocular. But don’t let that fact fool you about it’s capabilities. The PVS-14 is a milspec device. It’s waterproof and the level of performance it offers is incredible. The device can act either passive, in that it magnifies available light or active with the aid of an IR source. I once heard it said that if you have night vision and the other guy doesn’t, it just ain’t fair.
If you’re carrying lights you need batteries. I like rechargeable batteries for lights. It saves money and if you carry a way to recharge them, you never run out. To ensure I can keep my batteries charged I carry a Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus. This is a great piece of kit. While it adds a little weight to the pack it can not only charge batteries for your flashlights, you can use the power pack to recharge phones, GPS or cameras in the field.
Water is always a concern and having ways to carry it and purify it are crucial. Morgan carried a stainless water bottle as well as a CamelBak 100oz bladder. To ensure his water would be safe Morgan had a Sweetwater filter with a spare filter. I carry one of these in my pack and many of us carry one sort of filter or another. If you do I would highly recommend carrying a spare filter. One of the things I like about the Sweetwater is the ceramic element is encased in plastic, making it a lot harder to break it.
Update: Someone reminded me of the Platypus bladders Morgan had. I’d forgot all about those. These little gems are a great item to keep in a pack to be able to put treated or even untreated water. Keeping water in your pack can be a risky proposition. It could leak into your pack depending on your container or it could just like swamp water after sitting in your hot car for so many months. Carry these and you can fill them from the first source you come to using your filter or tablets.
As a back-up to the filter Morgan had purification tabs. We all should have some of these in our packs. It’s also a good idea to have them in your EDC bag, even if all you’re doing is going to work. All you have to do is look at the Atlanta snow storm to se how easy it is to find yourself stuck. As a last ditch back-up there’s the pot to boil water.
The last thing to talk about is Morgan’s shelter system. Like many of us he carried a modular sleep system. These are good systems that can be had at an affordable price. The Gortex bivy can be used alone in warm weather or in conjunction with one or both of the other bags. The green bag is great for warmer nights and the black when there’s a chill. Put the two together and you’ve got a powerful sleep system that not only will keep you warm but dry as well.
“Morgan’s trip takes place in Florida. And down here sleeping on the ground is only done as a last resort.”
And no discussion of Morgan’s sleep set up would be complete without taking a minute to talk about the Woobie. For some the term may be a little confusing, but for anyone who’s ever spent time wrapped up in one they know exactly what I’m talking about. The trusty poncho liner is try friend to those venturing into the field. My girls all have one and they love them to this day.
In addition to these there was the ENO hammock. Morgan’s trip takes place in Florida. And down here sleeping on the ground is only done as a last resort. Of course the season has a lot to do with that. In the winter months it’s not so bad. In the summer you’ll share your bed with an infinite number of creepy crawly guests. So having a quality hammock and suspension system like that offered by ENO is crucial to a good night’s sleep. Add to this a quality tarp and it opens up many shelter options.
I think it’s worth spending a few minutes talking about the difference between a survival pack and a assault pack. Many people look at the contents listed here and say, that’s too much shit. And it is to a degree. But this pack was designed to live out of for an extended period of time. It had to carry everything Morgan would need to feed and shelter himself. To procure, purify and carry water. It had to be capable of providing adequate shelter. And it had to do all this quickly and efficiently.
If Morgan had to rely on this pack then it meant the fecal matter had hit the oscillator and he needed to get home quickly. That meant building primitive shelters was out of the question. The time they would take everyday would simply be too much. Not to mention, why would you want to sleep under a bush lean-to if you can simply stretch out a quality tarp that is completely waterproof?
“That’s when the hard questions have to asked and you need to go with the old travel light and freeze at night.”
If you add a combat load-out to this pack then it would quickly become uncomfortable to say the least. Carrying a long gun and several hundred rounds of ammo would add many, many pounds. And as we all know, ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain. But that doesn’t mean the survival pack and the combat pack are mutually exclusive. You could easily find yourself in a position where you are trying to carry both of these. That’s when the hard questions have to asked and you need to go with the old travel light and freeze at night.
I think too many people get caught up in the idea that every survival situation means you’re going to be doing an escape and evade from zombie bikers. Or worse, the unwashed masses of the cities pouring out to devour the countryside of resources. While these make for good books the reality of most survival situations is quite different. With that said though, we still need to be ready for those unwashed masses as it is only a matter of time.
So prepare your kit, load it with what you need and want. Once it’s ready, put it on and take it to the woods. Too many people load them up and wear them around their living room only to find out the firs time they take it to the field they aren’t as young or strong as they thought. The time to sort those issues is now, when you can still go home and make changes. Remember, don’t be scared, be prepared.