Your Gear

Level 1, 2 & 3 gear:

Level one - is what you carry on you in your BDU pockets (compass, matches, knife, etc. Pistol if in a drop leg holster)

Level two - is the above plus your rifle, web gear/vest, buttpack, mag pouches, etc.

Level three - is all the above plus your full pack w/sleeping bag (aka, “72 hour gear”)

This is not a list of required gear, but you should try to equip yourself as well as your wallet will allow. Remember, you're staking your life on this gear!


Rifle -​ Should be semi-auto, but rule number one of a gun fight is: "Have a Gun." Should be of a common caliber e.g.. 7.62x39, .223/556, .308win. Military surplus are also perfectly acceptable, but you should bear in mind that ammunition may well become scarce, and 8mm and .303Brit should be well stocked if you opt for one of these calibers.

Also, remember one of the great lessons learned by the south in the War Between the States... “Live off the land, resupply off the enemy”. I don't think our enemies will be shooting .300 WinMag.

Sidearm - If you choose a secondary weapon it should be of a major caliber: 9mm, .40S&W, or .45acp for semi-autos, and .38spl/.357mag for revolvers are going to be the most common. Be sure to choose a reliable handgun with a well established reputation. A 1911, 92FS, Glock, or S&W would serve you well (as would many others).

Ammunition - You should carry as much ammunition as you can comfortably bear. Obviously, weight will be a concern, and while .308 win has more punch than .223 rem, you will not be able to carry as much of it. Most folks will carry about 200-300 rounds on their combat load. If you opt for a sidearm, you should have at least 3-5 magazines (or speed-loaders) for your sidearm in your 72 hour kit.

Weapons Cleaning Gear - For obvious reasons. If you don't keep it clean, it ain't gonna work.

LBE /LBV - (Load Bearing Equipment / Load Bearing Vest) -

LBE/LBV is what you use to carry the stuff you can't do without. It is not your pack.

    Generally, it will consist of a vest (possibly plate carrier type), and you will attach your canteens, magazine pouches/ammo bandoleers, first aid pouch/kit, sidearm, etc or a pistol belt/suspenders with a similar configuration.​ Many folks opt for the USGI issued pistol belt and H/Y Harness or the USGI load bearing vest.
There are a multitude of different types of vests, harnesses, and the like (too many to list here). Basically, you need something to carry the gear that you need to have immediately on hand and still keep your hands free.

Pack - You may well be on the move for a while, so you will need to have something to carry your equipment (that isn't on your LBE). Most folks use the USGI A.L.I.C.E. (All Purpose Individual Carrying Equipment) pack or the new MOLLE pack. A "Real Tree" (or equivalent hunting gear) day pack will work until you trade up.

Boots - Be good to your feet and they'll be good to you. Uncle Sugar spends millions of dollars to figure out what boot is best (for the smallest amount of money) for his soldiers. He knows full well that if his fighter’s feet are fubar they simply can't fight (say that 5 times fast). Having said that, any boot worn by our combat troops will be more than sufficient. Don't expect to last very long if you plan to fight in a pair of sneakers. Go get a good pair of boots, and don't skimp.

Water - Without it you're dead in 3 days, it is that simple. You absolutely must have water purification tablets. Plus, you'll need something to carry it in. USGI canteens can be had for less than $5 each, they hold 1 quart, and you can normally fit two canteen pouches on your LBE along with all of your other gear (and they have a neat little pocket on the pouch made especially for the little water purification pill bottle). Two quart canteens can also be carried or attached to your pack with Alice clips. There are also hydration packs available (Camel Backs). These can be had in a variety of capacities. I have seen them available in sizes up to 72 ounces.

Shelter - Tent and/or sleeping bag. Some may opt to sleep under the stars and save the weight, but if you are in a harsh climate like the high desert, a hooch (tent) will keep you from getting baked (it can be used as a lean-to during the day to provide shade) or in the north during the long cold winters, a decent sleeping bag will keep you from getting frostbite or hypothermia. To conserve weight in your ruck, two men can share a sleeping bag. Also, Mil-issue "pup tents" can be split between soldiers (each carries one shelter half w/ poles). These can be purchased for about $25-$30.

Food - You should have at least a 3 day supply in your 72 hour battle pack. MREs are expensive, but they will last a long time. Canned food is cheaper, but heavier than an MRE. Another option is Coast guard survival rations. A three day supply of food is about the size of one MRE. They taste like a sugar cookie, and you need about a quart of water to wash down one ration, but they will keep you alive. You can save space by breaking open the MRE and tightly wrapping the contents into a smaller package. But keep the heavy plastic bag. It has a multitude of uses (including as a dressing for a sucking chest wound).

Uniform - Most militia folk (at least most of those in organized groups) wear some manner of uniform (also, it's required by the Geneva Conventions). Generally, they wear some manner of BDU (Battle Dress Uniform) with the pattern determined by their AO (Area of Operations). This is not to say that you MUST use BDUs. Anything that you would wear to hunt in the field would be perfect for militia use. The point is to blend in using durable clothing that can stand up to extended wear, and is comfortable. 

Knife - For Combat purposes this should be of the fixed blade variety, not a folder. A 5" blade seems to be the unspoken standard. The USMC issued K-BAR fills this requirement and is relatively inexpensive.

Compass - Preferably the lensatic, military style with some manner of luminous dial. Along with a compass you should have topographical maps of your AO and surrounding areas, and a copy of the "Map Reading and Land Navigation" Army field manual.

Entrenching Tool - An E-Tool, if you don't know, is a shovel. They are available at any camping store or military surplus outlet. Some have said, "If you buy from a military surplus store, opt for the more current tri-folder, versus the WWII style with the wooden handle. The tri-folders are more compact and lighter." The tri-folds are more compact and have that nice handle for digging. However, the old style are sturdier and can be used as a weapon (thrown, hacking). Study WWI trench warfare, the straight handled shovel is an indispensable backup weapon.

Flashlight - Any size or style, just make sure that it has a second red colored lens to use at night in tactical situations (reading a map) under a poncho, of course. Remember, even a red lens covered flashlight looks like a Christmas Tree in Night Vision Goggles.

First Aid Kit - At a minimum, you should have a combat field dressing, in a small first aid/compass pouch attached to your suspenders on the left shoulder. Also, you might consider a small first aid kit attached to your pistol belt or ruck. Ready-made IFAK kits are available at most camping stores, and surplus shops.

These should contain:
1. Pouch: attachable to web gear and conspicuously marked.
2. Compression bandage 1 minimum.
3. Assortment of bandages for minor wounds.
4. Tourniquet.
5. Tape (Heavy).
6. Pain medication, OTC.

These are minimum requirements for a basic IFAK. You may include other items as you need, such as needed medications and other items you feel may be beneficial.

Other items for consideration are:
1. Decompression needle.
2. IV starter kit w/ catheter needle 14Ga.
3. Blood stopping agents.
4. Suture kit (small)

Cold/Wet Weather Gear - For the cold, you'll want to be sure you have some decent long johns to wear under your uniform, along with a good pair of wool or polypro socks to keep your feet warm and dry. For wet weather, you'll need a poncho, preferably two (one in your ruck and one under your buttpack with a poncho liner).

Hygiene Gear - Ya’ gotta keep clean, otherwise you are going to come down with nasty diseases and infection soap, razors, shaving creme, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc. These are not optional things that are nice to have on hand, they are essential pieces of gear that you absolutely must have in order to fulfill the mission.

Helpful hint: Take a roll of TP, pull out the cardboard tube, then flatten and stuff into a
ziplock sandwich bag. Dispense by pulling tissue from the center of the roll.

Additional Gear - (Get this stuff as your budget allows) 

Helmet - Kevlar or steel pot, worth it's weight in gold. Get one. (FYI... the kevlar helmet will better protect you noggin', but you can't use it as a shaving/wash basin). 

30 Day Food Supply - Hopefully you will have a base of operations, because there is no way you are going to be able to carry a 30 day food supply on your back. Same as the 3 day supply for your 72 hour kit, it should be nonperishable, nothing that requires refrigeration. 

Ammo Cache - 1,000 rounds for your primary weapon. You should have as much as you can afford, and keep adding to it whenever your budget permits. If you opt for a sidearm, you should keep plenty of ammo on hand for that, too. 200 rounds is a good start. 

Binoculars - Admit it, your eyes aren't as good as you think they are. You need a good set of Binos to be able to identify friend from foe at a distance. Stieners are probably the best you can get, but you can get a decent set of 10x50's from the “Big Box” or similar stores for less than $60. 

Body Armor - Body armor is worth its weight in gold for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, it weighs about as much, too. So there’s a trade-off. (protection vs. mobility) 

GPS - GPS (Global Positioning System) is a piece of electronic gear that uses satellites to triangulate your position on the Earth. Since it is electronic, it is not foolproof, and does not replace your compass and topo maps. 

Water Filtration System - If you are pulling your water from a river and not your kitchen spigot, you need some way to get all of the unknown nasties out of it. 

Night Vision Equipment - If you decide to buy night vision equipment, be it goggles, or rifle scopes, don't skimp. Be sure to get 3rd generation technology. 1st generation plain ol' sucks, 2nd isn't much better, but 3rd generation actually works. 

Spare Rifle/Pistol Parts - The loudest sound on the battlefield is not a bomb going off or the belch of a machinegun, but the unmistakable "click" of a trigger being pulled, followed by silence. Carry spare parts