More good info. from DTG.
Some history on the USMC ILBE:
As stated, the ILBE was produced by Arcteryx, a well-respected civilian backpack manufacturer. There are actually 2 generations of the ILBE. The first gen., produced in 2004 will have black padding and the later gen. will have coyote padding. The major problem with the ILBE for the Marines was the internal frame, which consists of 2 metal outside bands and 2 larger spars that run down the middle of the back. The pack works fine in a civilian backpacking role, however, the two spars in the middle make it nearly impossible to wear the pack while also wearing the rear SAPI or the follow-on ESAPI plate in their modular tac. vest. So, unless you plan on toting it around while wearing your body armor, don’t throw out the 15 ILBEs you picked up for your group at a great price down at the Army/Navy store.
DTG also mentioned the Military Sleep System. These are popping up at surplus stores and gun shows everywhere. Hint: don’t buy the ACU camouflaged bivy, stick with the Woodland pattern. The system consists of 4 parts: A compression bag, a Gortex bivy, a green light patrol bag and a heavier black intermediate cold weather bag. The patrol bag is touted to keep you warm to 35 deg. The black bag to -5, and in when snapped together down to -30. YMMV depending on what you consider comfortable. Here in the Southern Appalachians, the system works fine. You have to get out and test them in the cold in your AO.
In the interest of lowering our ruck weight and bulk, a few friends and I have tested a bivy, made by Survive Outdoors Longer. The Escape is a highly water-resistant, breathable, thermal insulated, very lightweight (8.5 oz) bivy. This thing is tiny when rolled up in its stuff sack. In case you are concerned about the blaze orange color (and you should be), they do come in green.
I have used it extensively with the MARPAT woobie down to 20 deg. F. and down to 4 deg. F. with the green patrol bag. All tests were done while wearing a long-sleeved shirt and long pants, light polypro long underwear pants, a poly t-shirt, light wool socks, walking shoes and a poly snookie. I also used my Klymit Static V2 sleeping pad (which now comes in a subdued color version called the Recon) for ground insulation. No overhead cover was used. I slept like a baby.
The Military Gortex bivy is bullet proof and you will probably get a thousand nights sleep out of it. It is very bulky and provides very little to no insulation. Will the SOL bivy hold up as well? Most likely not. I’ve used it several times this winter and if I can get one seasons use out of it and cut down on weight and bulk, allowing me to carry more ammo, I’ll buy several to keep on hand. Another plus, using the SOL allows me to go with the woobie or lighter patrol bag which also cuts down on weight and bulk. I was also able to ditch the issue compression bag and replace it with a smaller, lighter civilian version since I was only using one bag. The downsides: the SOL bivy’s zipper system is only about 30 inches long, but with practice, I can slip out of the top of it very quickly; less than 3 seconds. It is also tight around the shoulders, so if you are not used to mummy style bags or are claustrophobic, this might not be the bivy for you. Good hunting.
From time to time, a debate will arise on a NPT’s use of full sized ruck sacks that may weigh 1/3 or so of the carrier’s body weight or more. Arguments for and against will rage from the perspective of denying the capability due to the writer having one reason or another to not work toward achieving the condition necessary. Things like,
- “I’m too old,”
- “I can’t get motivated to start,”
- “Carrying something that big is unrealistic,”
- “You’ll stroke out,”
- “I’ve got a heart condition,”
- “I’ve got Lumbago,”
- “I’ve got ______________,”
- “That’s retarded, all you need is a rifle, a few magazines, a couple MREs, and your rifle.”
- Etc, etc, etc, etc.
For those with medical reasons, (real medical reasons – not “I smoke” or “I drink too much” or “I like getting stoned” or “I get sore when I exercise,” or “I’d rather go to a ball game or watch ‘Survivor'”), understand that there is no…
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