It was a dark and stormy winter night in Northern Iraq. My patrol had just been ambushed by bad guys, and we had casualties. Guess what “Patrol Leader”, you’ve got to call in the 9-line, ASAP! I hurry up and fill it out with a grease pencil, and start to relay the info to higher via radio. Guess what? While reading off line three, my headlamp died. “WHAT THE HELL DO I DO NOW!” is the first thought, which is immediately replaced with “Wait, I have a clip light in my front gear pocket.” I get it out, clip it to my helmet band, and am able to continue transmitting. Why am I telling you this? I bring up this example to point out why redundancy in certain areas of your gear is CRITICAL, and how you might want to prioritize what should have redundancy.
When people in the Civilian Survivalist/LEO/Mil arena think about redundancy, it’s usually tied to the phrase “Two is one, one is none.” There’s a lot to be said for that mindset, but taken to the extreme, it will do nothing but add extra crap (that you don’t need readily available), and probably slow you down in the process, due to the extra weight it adds to your gear. Whether you are a Civilian, LEO, NPT (Neighborhood Protection Team) member, or member of the Military, understanding the need for redundancy in you essential gear, and how to prioritize it is essential to giving yourself the best chance at survival in a non-permissive environment. First we will talk about prioritization of gear that needs redundancy, then we will talk about a method to use when looking for redundant gear options.
How do you prioritize what needs redundancy? Here’s the questions I ask myself to make my decisions. 1) If I lose use of the item while in the middle of using it, could it drastically alter my chances of surviving? 2) Is the item of such importance in my line gear (1st on person, 2nd is load bearing gear, 3rd is your ruck), that not having it alters my chances of success and/or mission accomplishment? “Mission accomplishment” being different things to different people. An example of this for Survivalists would be surviving a life and death situation, whether it is natural or man made. For the LEO or legally armed civilian, it could be an “Active shooter” situation. For an NPT (Neighborhood Protection Team) member, it might be conducting operations in your AO after your area has devolved into TEOTWAWKISTAN, whether those operations are purely defensive, or what I call “Aggressive Defense”. 3) Is the weight of the redundant item that is added to my gear offset (less important than) by the importance of that item?
Let’s discuss them in order,
1) If I lose use of the item while in the middle of using it, could it drastically alter my chances of surviving? As I illustrated in the first paragraph, having that extra light (same type, a hands free design) was critical to mission success, which at that time was callin’ in the status of some of my patrol’s wounded soldiers.
2) Is the item of such importance in my line gear, that not having it alter my chances of success in mission accomplishment? Due to the “priorities of work” being done at the time, It would have been “less than optimal” to pull one of my other soldiers off of their assigned task, just to hold a light for me.
3) Is the weight of the redundant item that is added to my gear offset (less important than) by the importance of that item? In the case of the hands free light HELL YEAH! Those clip lights from a number of vendors are very small, lightweight, and can be tucked almost anywhere for a future need. The only downside is their proprietary type of small watch battery (my normal headlamp uses AA, along with almost all my electronic gear, except for a few 123’s).
Things that I think are good candidates for redundancy. Firearm– If in the field, I am never without a handgun on my 2nd line gear, and usually carry a small backup as well on my 1st line gear. Large fixed blade knife (6 or 7 inch blade minimum, it’s a weapon and a tool)- If you loose your large knife in the field, and you’re surviving in TEOTWAWKISTAN, you’re going to have some issues in the field living and survival section of that “exercise”. I carry a Randall 1-7 on my 2nd line (A) H-harness (survival rig), and I carry a Cold Steel Recon Tanto on the shoulder of my 2nd line (B) tactical vest which goes over the H-harness. See this post for illustrations of that gear. Next I look at tools.
I carry a Cold Steel Kukri on my ruck, but also carry a pocket chain saw in my H-harness buttpack. Obviously, both of these items are, among other things, for processing wood for use in camp. Other tools included in redundancy are multi tool (one on my 2nd line vest, one one my 1st line pants belt). We’ve already talked about lights, but I also carry a AA LED Mini mag, and of course there is a tac light on my long gun. Medical, I carry 2 tourniquets on my person (sleeve pocket, leg cargo pocket), two on my gear (H-harness, Vest), Quick clot or substitute (cargo pocket, sleeve pocket, vest). Two things I know my Friend Bergmann and I are HUGE advocates of are Compasses and fire starting tools. Two things from the redundancy aspect, Mini Bics, and Button compasses can fit anywhere. Go check his site to learn more about them and other survival tips. Anyway, I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
Now, things that you don’t need redundancy in. Extra long gun, Unless you have a specific task such as “Breacher”, “sniper”, etc. , there is no reason to look like Col. Matrix in “Commando” with extra long guns. Electronics (radio, GPS, wearable night vision, etc.) Unless you are the RTO (radioman) you have no reason to be carrying extra radios. GPS’s, well you should always have extra compasses (button if nothing else in the extra category), so redundancy in LandNav is done old school (one GPS is a “nice to have” for me anyways, but I don’t need it). Night vision should only be redundant if it is a different type (passive night vision vs. thermal), or different use (weapon mounted vs head mounted). As I said earlier, you get the picture. You should always try to get what we called in the military “Durable items”, not “expendable” ones. One time use items might be cheaper, and lighter, but we want quality over quantity, and we’re in it from the “long haul” side of preparation, right?
Now, on to a method to use when looking for redundant gear options. Although I’m not a big advocate of multi function tools (I like tools that are “task designed”, not “fill in anywhere” types), from a redundancy aspect, they are acceptable, and can lighten and thin out your overall load weight and bulk. Multi tools instead of a swiss army knife. A poncho instead of a rain suit and/or tarp. I put a pic of the small clip light (from the earlier story) with my Gerber headlamp to show the size difference, since this was the task of the clip light (small, out of the way back up for my hands free main light source) in the first place. The key points of looking for redundant gear are: QUALITY (don’t skimp and buy crap due to cost if you can). Size, Can a smaller item do the task of the larger one if needed in an emergency, and multiple times (not a throw away)? Weight, Is the extra weight worth what the item can for do in a serious situation?
That’s all I’ve got for now. Realistic redundancy is all about planning ahead and coming up with practical options to cover the gaps created due to inevitable gear failure. It will fail, everything does eventually.
"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.