Sunday, October 3, 2010

Survival Gear - The Weight Factor

While having the right gear can make your survival efforts easier, there are two important factors to remember. The first consideration is having gear that is not on your person or in close proximity to you may not be of much help in a survival situation. As a result, you may be limited to what you can carry on your person. This simple factor can be very limiting depending upon your skill levels, your survival knowledge and your present physical condition.

While skill levels can be improved through practice and your survival knowledge can be increased through study of various survival tactics, the amount of gear you can carry will still be limited. Even persons in superb physical condition will have a limit when it comes to carrying a certain amount of gear. Persons who have limited physical abilities will have even greater restrictions that may affect their ability to carry necessary items for their survival.

Having been an avid hiker and backpacker for many years this was a lesson that was quickly learned. A heavy pack that included items for me and two kids made for a pretty good load that tested my limits when I was younger. Loads that ranged close to 40% of my total body weight made for some difficult trekking. These were loads, that even in decent physical shape and with few actual physical problems, that are no longer possible for me to carry safely as I’ve gotten older. Sometimes you will have to set a limit that will not endanger your survival efforts.

Gear loads that run in excess of 20 to 25 per cent of your total body weight will create what may be an intolerable physical strain on your body. Gear loads can be difficult to handle even with these lower limits and may not be possible even at these reduced limits. This is why you need to be careful in how and what you carry for survival.

Take a person with an average body weight of 160 pounds. At a level of 25% of body weight, that equals 40 pounds. That’s roughly equivalent to that large bag of dog food you lugged from the vehicle to the inside of your house, while complaining that the dog eats more then you do. Even at a 20% level, that would still be an astonishing 32 pounds to carry. Try simply walking a short distance while carrying a backpack that weighs 32 pounds and see how far you will get. This could be a quick lesson in the real world of survival.

When considering the weight factor, try to use items that are compact, lightweight and have value as multi-use items. This will help decrease your load while maintaining the versatility of your gear and reduce the physical strain on your body. Give proper consideration to what you will actually need and place a limit on extra items that may add relatively small amounts of additional value to your survival efforts. Pay close attention the weight of your items and gear you consider necessary for your survival and look for ways to reduce that weight.

Remember this simple truth, knowledge weighs nothing but is your most important survival gear.

Staying above the water line!



Anonymous said...

As a hiker I have made the transition to ultralight backpacking. While not as much of a fanatic as those who even cut off half their toothbrush I have noticed the difference. I can hike longer and further and feel better. But the important thing for anyone bugging out is with a heavy pack you will often "run into the wall". You will be totally spent and may have to lay around for 24 hours just to get enough energy to hike again. The heavier your pack the more likely you will use up all your reserve strength on a strenuous hike. This could be a real problem if you suddenly find yourself in a dangerous situation and need to get a couple miles down the road really fast.

Jack said...

Ruiverwalker, this is a great post... One of the things I am currently doing is trying to scale back my BoB size because of weight. It's nice to be able to carry the kitchen sink around with you so you have it when you need it, but it is clearly too heavy to trek if you needed to.

In several weeks a few of us are having a "Bug Out Weekend" to test our BoBs. I'll know after that exactly what I think I am going to need to get rid of, I am sure...

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 9:44

All excellent points...

I've been working to minimize the weight of my BOB for years and have come to realize that many items I've carried weren't that necessary or critical in a true survival situation.

They were carried more for my own convenience than necessity.

Thanks anon.

riverwalker said...

To: Jack

Glad you enjoyed the post. It is always a challenge to find out just how much or how little you can get by with in any situation. I fear too many people have the "kitchen sink" mentality and want to "take it all" knowing that it is a very bad decision in a survival situation.

Although your resources may become limited, it doesn't mean that other resources aren't out just have to know where and what to look for when it's needed.

Thanks Jack.


Josh said...

"Take a person with an average body weight of 160 pounds."
You're living in the past RW! Having you noticed how fat Americans are? According to the CDC, in 2002, the average weight for men was 190 lbs., and the average body mass index was 28 (anything over 25 is considered overweight, over 30 is obese).

Not that those fatsos are capable of carrying any more than 40 lbs! :)

Josh said...

Oops, that should have said, "haven't you noticed," not "having you noticed."

That'll teach me not to proofread.

riverwalker said...

To: Josh

Being overweight or underweight actually reduces your ability to carry additional loads...

It's important to get in shape and stay that way.

Thanks Josh.


Make some errors myself when it comes to typo's, etc.

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