View Full Version : Does anyone still use military gear?

2003-09-12, 10:52
Hello all,

I,am new to the site. I want to ask anyone. Does anybody still use Military gear. I have always carried an ALICE Large pack. I tried a few of the civilian models over the years (none in the last five years) and I always wind up back to my good ole ALICE.
The fact that I will be 50 years old in a few weeks, and I have been hiking and camping for most of these 50 years does not mean I am a creature of habit, I really try to keep an open mind about such things.
My son and I have been stealth camping for many years, always with hammocks, and I just recently purchased the famous "Hennessy" But we often use new military gear. We never pack a stove we use our canteen stoves with a fuel tab and small branches to enhance the flame. We carry ponchos for rain and other multi uses we eat MRE's or other like foods. We do use civilian sleeping bags for the rating and minimum weight. In fact my son just purchased the new "Becker Patrol Pack" used by the military in some units, so we are told, which he is field testing. So far he says it's better than the good ole ALICE. We shall see. We use canteens but I have had to purchase the new wide mouth plastic bottles, because our mini works water purifiers are not compatable.

I'am a very experienced and seasoned outdoors kind of guy. But when I read some of your posts, you folks are brilliant.
I learn something new every time I log on. Just really great stuff.
That's why I would like your input, maybe there are some changes I need to make. I noticed even the First Soldier rarely mentions military gear, and I can never find any reviews. So let me just throw this out and get your educated opinions.

Looking forward to your response. Pappy m100@bellsouth.net

2003-09-16, 11:48
you bet. Though I dont really use the alice etc. as there are to many better packs out there, I still have 3. As far as all the rest of their stuff you can bet if it does the same , performs the same and is cheaper than the civ. market I use it. In particular the field jacket and pants liners. Why pay that for fleace when those and some velcro do wonders. Cost 10 bucks. Mil gore tex the same way. There is more but thats my 2 cents.....stick

2003-09-16, 13:11
I've got some wool pants from someone's military that are hard to beat when it is bitter cold. My $140 Scholer dryskin pants look better though, so I am more apt to suffer with the chill. Stupid, huh?

2003-09-16, 15:22
With few exceptions, I prefer military gear.

However, one of those exceptions is the ALICE. I hate that thing!!!! If your wanting a military quality ruck, but with GOOD suspention and support, that doesnt creak like a banshee and cut off circulation to anything past your ribcage. Look at Kifaru. The Kifaru Pointman at 3000ci is about midway between a medium (2500ci) and large (3200ci) ALICE, but with the use of expansion pockets or piggybacking a Scout, you can bounce up to over 4200ci (about the size of some of the Mod'd ALICE packs out there) Or, get the MMR (4200ci standard) and if you need more room... expansion pockets or the Scout (or both) The cost is a bit up there... but if you pick right, youll never have to buy again. These Rucks are in-service both in the Stan as well as the Sandbox by Special Forces and others with the cool jobs. They will do what you need them to do.

The Becker Styled Patrol packs... interesting design but have been theoretically (due to alot of tactical conditions and changing warfighting needs) obsolete for about 10 years. (though ALICE has been obsolete for over 20 and no one seems to care... infact people still have thriving business' built on making ALICE carry even MORE)

Nalgene bottles (I assume thats what you ment by wide mouth... not the old USMC WW2 wide mouth) are the HEAT... unbreakable and multifunctional. HOWEVER, If your not using a Camelbak by now... for shame for shame. :D Get one.

2003-09-17, 10:19
Thanks for the reply, it's good to know there are others out there.
Sgathak you're insight was very helpful, I will be looking into the new pack's.

Since I have learned to use the "Pak-Lite" method, carring the ALICE has not been to bad on cutting off the circulation, but you are right on long uphill humps, it can be a painful experience. I guess I like the pack cause it feels so damm good to take it off....<<..>>

Thanks again good info.......Pappy

SGT Rock
2003-09-18, 09:23
**Note: I got cut off yesterday sending this follow up (Blame Baghdad servers) and the file was truncated, so I re-posted this with the rest of the text that was missing**

I had written this for Whiteblaze.net and was planning a piece someday on it. Maybe in about 6-7 months after I get back.

Original review:

I'm often asked about gear I use, specifically about this piece of gear or that piece of equipment. Almost every piece of gear used by the military is built heavier than it needs to so it can withstand intense use, because of that, it is not well suited for long distance hiking. But there are some items out there that are worth considering.

Why? Well if you have ever been to a surplus store, you will find tents, sleeping bags, ponchos, rain gear, boots, clothing, etc at what are rediculously low prices compared to stuff found at REI or EMS. The lure of cheap durable gear tugs at you, plus all that cool earthtone blend in stuff can make a statment when you encounter the yuppie hikers with their $300 GoreTex jacket and $250 boots on a day hike - "I'm a real hiker man! I don't need all that expensive stuff to hack it out here!"

So on to my review.

Reviewer: SGT Rock

Age: 35

Height: 68"

Weight: 155 pounds

Experience: 17 years active duty in the US Army. Positions include Scout, Scout Squad Leader, Scout Section Sergeant, Scout Platoon Sergeant, Bradley Gunner, Bradley Commander, Scout HMMWV Commander, PLDC Instructor, 19D BNCOC Instructor, PLDC Senior Instructor, PLDC Division Chief, Academy Chief Instructor, Recruiter (very short tour, dont hold this one against me), and finally First Sergeant of a Light Ground Cavalry Troop. Units: 3rd Armor Division, Germany; 1st Cavalry Division Fort Hood, Texas; USARB Milwaukee, WI; 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (The Regiment of Mounted Riflemen), Fort Bliss, Texas; NCO Academy, Fort Bliss, Texas; NCO Academy, Fort Knox, Kentucky; and 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment (Dragoons), Fort Polk, Louisiana.

Equipment Used: Just about everything the Army has. Things I have not used but would like to are the new compression GoreTex bags with bivy, the one person shelter, and the single layer GoreTex raingear.

Locations/conditions tested: From the frozen winters of the Bavarian Alps to the steamy Lousisana Swamps; deserts of Kuwait, New Mexico, West Texas, and the Mojave Desert.


Most miltary clothing is still in the age of cotton. BDUs get wet and stay wet, but at least the socks are wool. Boots are heavy and designed for protecting from wire and spikes, not neccissarily walking.


1. Army polypro long underwear works. I was caught in an ice storm on Mount Rogers in 1997 and all I had was a set of Army polypro underwear - I was warm even standing still. The good points: Warm. It has a fleece like inside that should be worn against the skin. It is very comfortable. The neck zips open or closed for some venting and in the up position makes it to the top of my neck. The pants weigh 8.3 ounces for mediums, and a medium top is 10.6 ounces.

2. Knit PT cap. It is a black watch cap made from wool, very warm and only weighs 2.1 ounces.

3. Polypro neck gaiter. Newly introduced as official issue gear, it has been used by soldiers unofficially for a while. When combined with a knit cap and polypro underwear it gives you complete protection from ankles to head. It can also be used as a scarf, handwarmer, hat, headband, etc.

4. Dress nylon socks. Solders have been using these as sock liners on ruck marches before there was polypro liners. Durable and only weigh about 0.5 ounces a pair.

5. Poly/wool glove liners. Dry quickly, cheap and only o.6 ounces a pair. These are light brown instead of the wool green inserts. The benifit is you can wear them inside other gloves so that you can remove the thicker glove and still have dexterity while keeping your hands warm for short time work.

6. Field Jacket/Pants Liners. Quilted liners made to button inside a field jacket. These liners are very light and highly compressable. Unlike some high tech polarguard 3D type jackets like the Puffball, these do not loose loft over time when stuffing. I have the same field jacket liner I was issued in 1985. Soldiers know what work, and most don't even wear the field jackets these are made for, instead they wear them under their BDU tops. While I was in Germany, it was before the days of GoreTex and polypro. The warmest jacket was what was called a "Graf Jacket", basically a rain top with the field jacket liner sewen into it. Buy the tops and bottoms a size smaller than you normally get, they are made to go over bulky uniforms. My small liner weighs 10.5 ounces, and my field pants liners weigh 8.3 ounces.

7. Trigger Finger mittens. Although not light, these are VERY WARM. They weigh 3.5 ounces, but the main benifit is the index finger and thumb can still be used. I use a pair under OR rain mittens in very cold weather, then I can take off the mitten shell and use my idex finger and thumb for minute work. Anything really complex and I can wear just the liners if I have all three (not likely!)


Most Army shelters are too heavy. Canvas with steel pegs and wooden poles, the shelter half needs to to operate and the design is the same since about 1901.


The Poncho is a nice piece of gear that weighs 21 ounces and can serve as both rain gear and a shelter. Earl Schaffer sent his tent home early on his long cruise and relied only on an Army poncho for the rest of his trip.

Sleeping bags/pads:

Every Army sleeping bag I have ever used is too heavy and bulky.


1. Poncho liner. Some hikers like to ditch the sleeping bag in warmer months for fleece, but occasionally freeze. I watched a hiker have a miserable night the first shelter out of Pearisburg on a cold JUNE night because he went with the 23 ounce Wal-Mart fleece bag. The Poncho liner is a quilt which in my experience is a lot warmer than the fleece bag and it only weighs 20 ounces. I also find it highly compressable.

2. Sleeping pad. The Army standard sleeping pad is a 72" x 24" x 3/8" pad with built in straps. I have successfully used this pad, a poncho liner, and polypro underwear down to about 45 degrees while inside a Hennessy Hammock. The wide long pad is easily trimmed for those people wanting a pad wider than what seems to be a 20" standard in most sleeping pads. It weighs 19.8 ounces.

3. Sleeping pad, self inflating. Personally I don't care for it, but if your looking for cheap surplus, the Army now has a Thermarest Litefoam Long pad, only in green. Same as the civilian model. It weighs 23 ounces if I remember correctly.

Packs, bags, and other carrying gear:

Tha ALICE pack is very durable and is also heavy, but you can get one cheap. If you go that route, trim off all those external mounting points, get rid of the radio pocket, maybe trim off the back poacket like Earl Schaffer did, and maybe get rid of the top pocket flap and straps, just use the top cord lock for closure. My main problem with the ALICE pack was the frame must be designed for someone 5' tall, everone else gets a compressed spine. The military has a million little cases designed to carry this and that, all modular and easy to get into, but not what a backpacker needs.


If you are flying with a pack and need something to carry it in, the duffle bag is tough and huge. The opening is as big as the rest of the pack, so if it fits inside the bag, it will get into the bag.
Mess Gear:

Most stuff is heavy steel like the plate and utensils, the canteen cup is heavy, canteens are hard plastic and weigh 5 ounces empty. Most stuff is not suited to a backpacker's needs. The food (MREs) are heavy and produce too much trash.


The MRE spoon is light, plastic, and has a long handle that comes in handy on occasions. I keep one in my gear that is now about 2 years old. Disposable spoon, yet tough enough to make any hike, and only about 0.4 ounces.

Other stuff:

There are a lot of things in the Military that don't always get used for the intended reasons. Soldiers find ways to make things work like using a decon wipe container to store cigarets.

1. 100 MPH tape. This is a brown form of Duct tapr that we use in the Army. I find it a lot more durable, yet easier to tear than silver duct tape. I have found it at surpluss stores and I carry it instead of standard duct tape.

2. Hexamine fuel. Hexamine and Esbit tabs are the same thing. In the Army you can sometimes get a cardboard roll of about six 1/4 ounce blocks. I have found these at surpluss stores which can save you money. Beware the Trioxane tablets which are foil wrapped and usually come in a brown cardboard box, they have about 1/2 the BTUs of Hexamine and burn too quickly to be effective.


You may noticed that I didn't include prices. In my experience you can buy brand new stuff and pay more than you would at REI, or you can find a deal and get almost any of this stuff for about $5-$10.

As for what I personally reccomend, I use the following items very regularly in my backpacking equipment:

Polypro underwear, poly/wool gloves, knit PT cap, neck gaiter, trigger finger mittens, field jacket and pants liners, poncho liner, and 100 MPH tape.

Imagine, buy most of your cold weather clothing for the same price as some guys spend on just a jacket!

End of old review.

Since then I have used the GoreTex sleeping bag bivy and sleeping bag. I don't know the parts weight but so far:

1. The bivy is waterproof as far as I can tell. In the desert it doesn't have much condensation problem.

2. The green lightweigh bag piece is slightly warmer than a poncho liner.

3. The black bag piece is about as warm as a intermediate bag.

4. combined they are too warm for any weather I have seen so far, but the whole thing weighs 10 pounds. Not what I consider a good system. the compression sack with all this really doesn't compress it enough for a good backpacking bag.

2003-09-18, 13:20
Thanks Top as always your article hit it's mark. Would have responded sooner but the Great Blow Isabel should show her buttocks in about an hour. Everybody in Charlotte closing early today. Was planning a trip to Croatan Swamp on the coast, but that won't happen now.

Reference the gear, yea it can be heavy and like Sgathak wrote, the shoulder straps on Ms ALICE can cut off the blood flow. But some pieces are good.
On a trip to Pisgah back in May I lost my lensatic compass that I had since 1975. I replaced it but the quality of these new Cammenga compasses don't hold a candle to the older ones. Dial sticks every so often and such. I think perhaps the gear Special Ops utilizes is much closer to it's civilian counterpart. Backpacker Magazine had a good story (Stone Cold Killers)last month involving new issue cold weather gear that is modeled off new civilian technology, durable warm and light. It's expensive now like the Kiraru system Sgathak referenced. but I expect these prices to go down soon. Based on what I heard and read this new technology may be the best of both worlds.

Well better go gas up the generator, the winds picken up. Pappy.....

2003-09-20, 16:45
My son and I use the Gortex Bivy and triple sleeping bag system in winter. mostly for car camping with the scouts but when we hike in the cold or wet, we bring the outer gortex bivy piece.

I also live in my Swedish Army winter pants.
They are wool and are knicker length so dealing with the gaiters are a breeze. I use their wool socks as well.

Jim Henderson
2003-09-24, 14:17
I like and use lots of surplus GI gear, US and other. The way I figure, if it is tough enough to handle what a GI dishes out, it is tough enough for me. So far so good. Gear I have used and liked are as follows:

New(?) Swedish heavy wool pants. These are great. I wore a pair of these over some polypro undies for a "disaster" training with a local ski patrol/paramedics group. I was a "victim". My job was to lay in the snow on a bubble pad until "rescued". I was wearing the wool pants, poly pro undies, a new GI camo jacket and liner, Goretex gloves with insulation, mickey mouse boots, and USGI insulated hood/facemask. I layed in the snow for about 3 hours. The air temp I guess was in the 20s and it was windy and it snowed on me, maybe an inch accumulated on the outside of my clothing in a crust. Everything on me was warm except my fingers. Several people had to be removed from the mountain with actual cold problems. I was peachy all the way back on the snow cat strapped into the stretcher. The pants were slightly damp but still warm.

USGI "butterfly" hexamine stove. Works great with hexamine. Triox leaves a mess. Been using this over 35 years.

USGI mess kit, keavy but indestructable. USGI canteen, cup and belt. Been using it for over 35 years and never had a desire to change. I have also used the wide mouth Euro canteens so I can put ice in it. The USGI "thermos" canteen is kind of effective but heavy and large.

Trangia Swedish Surplus cook kit. Works great but is really heavy.

USGI Lanterns and "Pocket Stoves". In general these are indestructable and almost always work after a little maintenance. Only problem I have had is the Rogers style stove from Fiesta. The little rubber valve in the pump doesn't seat on one of my examples.

I have an old USGI "fishtail" jacket with liner and "Wolf Fur" hood that I like to bubmle around in when I expect to get dirty. It is pretty warm and durable but does eventually soak thru and the tie strings occasionally get caught in stuff, my leaf blower likes to suck up the loose strings. The hood is useless, too big for my head without a helmet.

I have mixed odds and ends of various GI, US and otherwise, bags, belt pouches and cases that are all extremly durable and very handy to keep things organized. I like the British style(chinese knockoff)map case to hold magazines and books for quick access when moving about. I like the Brit gas mask cases(6x6 square, maybe 12 long, with top flap and shoulder strap) for a "possibles" bag to carry whatever around camp or on excusions. The USGI(Indian knockoff)mechanics bags are great for stuff in the car.

Just my experience. A lot of the new lightweight camping stuff is really good for what they are but much of it isn't very durable especially if you are somewhat of a brute or clumsey. The price on most mil stuff is also usually much cheaper than commercial and often it is new or like new. The only negative on the GI stuff is sometimes it is heavy and sometimes it is just too old.

Jim Henderson
2003-09-24, 14:33
Oh yeah, the poncho liner. A life saver. I have used mine for over 20 years and it is still nice and warm and silky soft. The newer ones are kind of plastic surfaced and don't seem as warm, especially with the head hole right in the middle. Mine stuffs anywhere and it seems like it raises the temp rating of almost anything I sleep in by 10-20 degrees.

Even my two boys whoe are 9 and 11 already swear by it and plan to take theirs whenever they camp out. If folds to maybe the size of a thin 3 ring binder or it stuffs to nothing and weighs almost nothing so there is no reason not to take it unless you plan to sleep in 100+ heat.

2003-09-24, 15:52
Thanks Jim great stuff, your gear lists sound like mine. You know I tried one of the space blankets in my sleeping bag as a test for an upcoming trip. After about thirty minutes into my HH experience, I decided to go back to the jeep and get my poncho liner, and that was the ticket, slept like a newborn. Keep the faith, Pappy

2003-09-24, 16:12
You cant use a space blanket like that... it needs "stand off". put it between your poncho line and your sleeping bag and youll increase your temp rating aother 10-20 deg. Of course youll be clammy as all get out, but youll be warm.

Heres a brain game... Anyone interested in putting together a UL list using predominatly military gear? either MOTS or COTS type gear works for me.

Jim Henderson
2003-09-24, 16:27
Yeah I also use a space blanket, but almost always only as a ground cloth. Like you discovered too clamy for most situations. In a pinch it will keep you warm and keep the rain off.

The poncho liner is really a great piece of gear, at least the older soft ones are. My younger kid likes his modern "hard" plastic(more like stiff rip stop nylon) one with the hole in the middle, so who knows. My 11 year old drags his soft one around like a security blanket even at home, but then he is always cold even in summer.

I am not sure what sgthak means by UL, I guess ultra light. I am not sure that UL and GI surplus go in the same category. I would go with UD Ultra Durable tho.

I was never a GI so my experience is just ground pounding the woods as a teen and adult for fun, not an adventure like in the Army. I have no where near the savy of a good GI when it comes to woodcraft, least I hope they are better than me.

I'll spend a few days this week end and check the weight and utility of my GI gear. We will be using it at a scout campout so I will see what I really need and how UL it was. Only piece of gear off the top of my head is the poncho liner and the butterfly stove, but the fuel adds up quick. Course the good old P38(John Wayne, can opener) is about as light as you could ask, mine has been on my key chain since 68, made in 45 by Shelby. The P51 is huge in comparison.

Just my amatuer experience.

Jim Henderson

2003-09-24, 16:53
UL - Ultralight
Mots - Military off the shelf
Cots - Civilian off the shelf (used for military purposes)

Heres an example:

Medium ALICE (cut down. remove outside pockets, lid, extra straps, etc - Though Id prefer a Kifaru or Mountansmith, this IS for example ;))
Thinsulate lined Poncho Liner (Warmer, lighter, compacts smaller. 1 or maybe 2... sewn together with an opening [zippered or velcroed] for putting in extra insulation as needed)
GI Poncho
550 "para" cord
GI sleeping pad (cut to size)
Space Blanket
Canteen cup
Canteen Stove
Pocket knife

Id guesstimate that weight to be... ball park.. 10 lbs. Doesnt include stuff like clothes and all that Jazz... but using the first layers of the SPEAR suit, and a Karrimore Zoot Suit (used by SAS) you would be pretty well covered with Capiline Fleece and Pertex Nylon (both all the rage when going ultralight)

2003-09-24, 17:11
Well Jim, most G.I.s are not that savvy either, you got an excellent handle on ground pounding. This is not a military thing, its a gear thing, and you got the right idea.
Sgathk, you got a good idea,since we all seem to use various components maybe we could rate them for weight and durability.
I am in to anything that works military civilian, hell experimental
sounds interesting. Never too old to learn the tricks of the trade.
Guess we should post to the gear section when we find something that works, just don't want to re-invent the wheel. Look forward to it.

2003-09-24, 21:32
I got to test a M1950 stove last weekend. The scout troop bought a few and we took them on a hike. they are not super heavy for WG but burn HOT. priming was amazing.We could not get it working and the scoutmaster and I were being harassed about being dumber than the average grunt:D The jet was full of dirt, but it was a new stove.:D:confused: Finally we cleared it and followed instructions on side exactly (I know I shouldn't read directions, but with stoves I feel safer reading them, because then when I blow up myself and evveryone around me, I don't get blamed as it is the stoves fault, not mine:D )anyway, the thing shot flames to the ground upon lighting, and then had 3 FOOT(not joking) flames shooting off it for about 45 seconds after lighting.Lets just say we got funny looks from a group of hikers passing by flames. Once it calmed down, it was great for cooking. I particularly liked the wide pot rest and the fast heating.
I also like the alice pack, but the frame is too short. It works great for small scouts in our troop. The polypro is great. I also have an old sleeping bag that is rated to -20* but it has lost so much down over the years, I dont stay warm below 0*

2003-09-25, 05:38
I was never a GI so my experience is just ground pounding the woods as a teen and adult for fun, not an adventure like in the Army. I have no where near the savy of a good GI when it comes to woodcraft, least I hope they are better than me.

Sad to say, but fieldcraft isnt taught to most military guys. Sure theres field training excersizes (FTX) but for the sake of many things... they arnt always that realistic. No realism = No real skills.

The only guys who routinely get solid training in how to handle the woods like a real pro are Special Forces, SEALs, Force Recon, Ranger, Airborne "High Speed" Infantry units, Snipers, Some Scout units, etc... Your average Pouge REMF (bad words for the guys who would rather spit shine the soles of their boots than go learn how to survive in the sh*t) has no idea how to rig a hootch out of 2 rucksacks and a poncho, would starve to death in a cattail marsh, couldnt land nav out of their living room, and thinks that wilderness survival means having a Commo truck with Internet Access.

Dont feel bad that your experience is limited to the times you have chosen to go out and spend time in the woods. Youve done more out of choice than many "soldiers" do out of duty.

Jim Henderson
2003-09-29, 16:34
Didn't get to use a lot of GI gear this weekend with the scouts since the campout part was optional and only a few showed up the night before, and we didn't plan any heavy duty camping activities. This was more of a training session for neophyte boys preparing to go into Boy Scouts from Cubs.

Still the GI gear I took was as follows: 3 USGI canteens with 1 cup, 1 USGI insulated canteen. All on GI web belt. GI magazine pouch used as a first aid kit. USGI P38 can opener, poncho liner. All of these items got used except the P38 since we didn't have any cans. Also had some MRE's with heaters. My kid loves MRE's I do too. We also had a tent, sleeping bags, thermarest self inflating ground pad, GAZ lantern, Optimus Crux butane stove, small pot and cup, LED headlamp.

It was 60 at night and almost 100 in the day. So the poncho liner and sleeping bag had minimal use. The stove was just for coffee.

I drank up all the water in the canteens. The insulated one worked fine but like I said is large and heavy. I only wore one canteen at a time. Everyone else had a camel back, I must be old fashioned. I also must be a collector since one USGI canteen was dated 1918 and another 1945.

Those MRE heaters are strange little contraptions. Either mine are old or I am not using them properly. Seems that I almost always need two to heat a regular MRE. I fill to the line with water and then put the MRE in and usually I swish it around and try to lay it flat to get the water into the heater. They hiss and sizzle and puff up and get hot but still need two to get the food piping hot. Sometimes I get the extra surprise of having one explode on me. First time it happened was last year when I had one sitting under my chair. Almost flipped out of my chair when that one went off. Maybe I am closing them too tight. They are handy and save weight but they are expensive for regular camping and leave a lot of trash.

So far I like the Crux stove. I could hide 2 or three in my closed hand. But they really put out the heat when cooking. Too bad you need a can of butane to use them, that adds weight, bulk and trash. Otherwise the stove is the smallest I use other than a butterfly.

I should get a better work out when snow hits in a couple months from now in the local mountains.

Jim Henderson

2003-09-29, 17:43
Hey Jim reference the M.R.Es

Just open the bag, note which side the heater is on, then add the water. Don't swish it around. Fold the top of the bag down next to the M.R.E. then put the whole kit in its cardboard container, which can double as a cutting board if you need it to be. then tilt it up against something to about a 45 degree post. Make sure the heater is still under the meal. Wait at least 15 minutes then open the box take out the very hot meal. Tear the upper portion away, and simply pull the meal out. The trick is the water and keeping the heater below the meal. My kids love them as well. When I open the bag for them, they act like its Xmas. I got pound cake, or I got chips and candy.

When I go on extended trips I always strip the meal down to its original components and throw away everything else, main wrapper and the cardboard. Less trash and weight to carry. I only take the parts of the meal I like. The main meal is about 8 oz, so two are a pound. I only eat 2 a day max. In the morning you can have the cider and fruit, lunch the peanut and crackers and the meal at night, lets me sleep better. Make Ranger pudding for the kids, take your cocoa powder and pour in the coffee creamer,add a few drops at a time and stir, drop in some crushed crackers, and they will sing your praises all night. There of hundreds of receipes.

Those canteens you mention are they the old aluminum with a chain cap?
Our learned friend Sgathak can probably help you with the other stuff he knows his military gear...

Later Pappy.

2003-09-29, 22:51
Military gear to use:

- Poncho liners are great. I had someone sew two together for me and use it as a summer bivy sack (when it's cool) or just as a sleeping pad to lay on top of in my hammock. Very convenient, and with a compression sack, you can squish it down smaller than a breadbox.

- For car camping (yeah, I car camp from time to time; you would too if you lugged around 60 lbs. of camera gear), the old cloth GI sleeping bag is great. Works well with the HH.

- I always keep a GI entrenching tool in the back of my CR-V.

- I have a GI lensatic compass with tritium night sights; it's indespenable, accurate, and precise.

Military gear to lose:

- Have to say, I hate the ALICE pack. I mean HATE it. My Kelty Haiku bag is the most comfortable thing I have ever strapped onto my back.

- The 2-liter issue canteen is a piece of crap; I have yet to find one that doesn't leak. Same problem crop up consistently with the 1-liter canteens. Give me a nice 100 oz. CamelBak any day.

- Issue rain gear (other than the poncho) is awful: bulky, smelly, and heavy. Even the issue poncho can be a pain to use, although I'll take it over nothing.

Jim Henderson
2003-09-30, 11:26
I have 3 USGI canteens. And one Japanese knock off I got back in 68 when I was just a boy and gramps was taking us camping, whooo hooo.

The 1918 dated one has the date and some company name(mostly initials), it is welded with vertical seams. It appears to be all aluminum including the cap. The surface of the canteen has a pebbly texture, not smooth and not due to oxide. The cap is held on with a flat chain. The cap appears to be a bit tinier than the newer models I have, since I had to shave down a cork to fit. It is in surprisingly good condition considering the age. Only a couple dings.

The 1945 canteen has a horizontal welded lip, flat chain and plastic cap.

I have a later model(forgot the year) that is vertical weld with plastic cap.

I also have matching cups for these but they are around 1946 manufacture.

All three are in those canteen covers that have the studs for a snap closure. One has the old style wire bail type belt hanger.

None of these are for sale BTW. My boys will get them sooner or later.

I guess I just like to collect canteens.

As far as the MRE heaters go. I have followed the directions as you mentioned and as printed, but they didn't seem to absorb the water and they never got more than warm. So that is why I swish them around and lay them flat for a little while, to get them to absorb the water. They do get too hot to touch but the meal doesn't seem to get hot enough for me, but then maybe I am just impatient. I have used two types, one has a flat package about 1/4 inch thick that has holes in it. That model seems to get hot when you swish it around etc. Then there is the type with a flat thin pack that has maybe 4 separate "sticks" of the material in it. This seems to absorb the water better, but I am not sure it gets as hot. My guess is that my problem is that they are too old or they absorbed some moisture from the air in storage.

If I was to do this campout again, I would have used some hexamine tablets and my canteen stove and cup to heat my tea. That would have been less weight than the Optimus Crux stove and fuel can.

Oh well, guess that is part of having fun in the woods, trying stuff out.

Jim Henderson

2005-05-24, 22:52
1. In wet/windy/slushy early-season climbing conditions, I have found the Marine Corps wool scarf very useful. Others dis me 'cuz of its weight, think it is badly-used energy on my part but I think it rocks because it is so versatile under rapidly-changing conditions & can be put on/taken off/adjusted without stopping the rope or removing my helmet.

2. I sure do miss the MRE Potatoes Au Gratin. I am OK with most of the rat deletes they have made over the years but I sure wish I could get more Potatoes Au Gratin.

2008-01-10, 22:17
How heavy is an Alice pack? Thanks. -Davey

2008-01-10, 22:45
How heavy is an Alice pack? Thanks. -Davey

With frame, the medium ALICE goes about 5 1/2 pounds. The large pack bag pushes it to about 7 pounds.

There are MANY external frames that are lighter and carry more comfortably.

2008-01-16, 10:14
My son and I use the Gortex Bivy ...
I looked at them, but a local Army Surplus store wanted $100. What did you pay for yours, if you don't mind?

2008-01-16, 19:45
Still use my British issue poncho, mess tins, hexy cooker, sleeping bag (bulky but the only way to be cold in one is to be in the more advanced stages of death), boots and my small patrol pack.

As for clothing the British issued "Norweigan" shirt is a favourite and the gortex rainsuit is a good piece of kit.