Civil Air Patrol GTM gear

The next step after putting together the basic Civil Air Patrol UDF gear is to compile my 24-hour and 72-hour bags for Ground Team Member (GTM) missions. I’m in the middle of this process, but here is what I have so far and what I am planning to use to complete it:

For GTM training, I will need BDUs, boots, hat, etc, and not simply the polo-shirt uniform discussed in the previous post about UDF equipment. The one item remaining on my list is to get BDU outerwear and some base layers. My legs tend to stay warm, so some moisture-wicking ECWCS Gen II long underwear is all I am going to add on the bottom for now. Up top, I plan to layer a light undershirt, the BDU blouse, the ECWCS Gen III fleece and the ECWCS Gen II parka. The parka will need to go to the dry cleaner down the street, this time with my BDU blouse as an example, to get patches sewn on.

BDU cap
In northern climates, the BDU cap with earflaps is an easy choice.

24-hour gear pack
It seems best to have 24-gear stowed in a front-loaded gear vest rather than a backpack. This potentially leaves room to carry the 72-hour gear on your back at the same time. While looking for an appropriate vest, it immediately became clear that this is something on which I could spend an obscene amount of money. However, a CAP discussion board link led me to this reasonably priced load-bearing vest. Maybe in the future I will look again at a 5.11 Tactical vest that holds my individually customized MOLLE attachments, but that does not seem prudent until I experiment for a few missions and know what I want to carry and where.

For now, I’m using a generic multi-tool I picked up at a conference, but this Gerber Suspension model is on my list.

Signal mirror
It needs to be lightweight and unbreakable and contain a sighting hole. This one seems to work.

I received this one as a gift a few years ago. The compass isn’t much to rely upon, but it is potentially better than nothing. It also contains a magnifying class and thermometer. A thermometer probably would not be missed if I didn’t have one, but since I have it along it gets quite a bit of use.

First aid kit
I have a couple of these picked up through the years, and REI is a good source due to their variety, from kits meant for a day hike to those meant for a serious expedition. I know a couple of items on the CAP list are not found in any of mine (gloves, triangle bandage), and I will need to hit Walgreens to restock.

“Survival kit”
I am mystified as to why these things would need to be stored in a waterproof bag, but here we go. Light sticks can be bought from Amazon, or I hear you can get them cheap at drug and grocery stores right after Halloween. REI has a match case and matches that are better than waterproof — they are rain-storm-proof.

Very strong general-purpose line can be picked up in REI’s climbing section, though you want to get the thin utility cord shown below that is not suitable for climbing. I have also seen 1″ webbing recommended in addition to cord.

Assuming you are carrying a tent, wrap your emergency duct tape around that section of pipe that is supplied with the tent for doing a pole repair — it is light and round and you need to carry it with you anyway. A large “lawn and leaf” bag (and two more in the 72-hour bag) finishes up this kit.

Miscellaneous things
A spare set of socks. Toilet paper (a half-empty roll should work). Leather work gloves (in addition to any winter gloves). Cell phones (sealed inside the heavy-duty dry bags I mentioned in the previous post). Biodegradable surveyor’s flagging tape. Small containers of insect repellent and sunscreen lotion. ChapStick with an SPF rating. Blank CAP interviewing forms (I cannot find a good link for this). Individually packaged moist towelettes. All of this zippered into resealable freezer bags.

Flashlight and spare
I mentioned in the last post this awesome Smith and Wesson flashlight. My backup flashlight is also a AAA-powered LED model, but not quite so bright or featured and picked up for free somewhere.

Civilian and some military MREs can be bought online and in surplus stores, or backpacker meals can be found at REI and other outdoors stores. Neither option is particularly cheap, but MREs usually contain their own heat source, more meal components and more calories. I haven’t made up my mind here. I plan to carry my MSR Pocket Rocket and fuel canister, but only in my 72-hour gear, so perhaps MREs are the better choice for 24-hour gear.

I am planning to pick up a military poncho and poncho liner at the surplus store. This is also to be a ground sheet for the tent carried in my 72-hour gear. Since I have to carry the weight of a poncho anyway, there is no sense carrying another special footprint for the tent.

I like narrow-mouth Nalgeens, always have.

Other items that overlap with UDF gear
No need to address these again: compass, notepad, pencil, CAP ID and forms, watch, reflective vest, tissues and GTM handbook. See the UDF-gear post for details.


72-hour pack
More out of convenience than design, I plan to use a Gregory Shasta internal-frame backpack, 1999 vintage, approximately 5000 cubic inches but highly cinchable for smaller loads. (The Gregory Palisade 80 shown below would be a comparable pack today.) A backpack rain cover is a necessity, in my opinion, even if everything inside is sealed in individual zippered bags. Whatever you find for a backpack, make sure it fits. If you must buy it online, go into the store first and get fitted for a backpack that can be carried all day while riding properly on your shoulders and hips.

This was a steal: the REI Crysalis UL solo tent, close-out special on for just under $100 after a 20% coupon and bought just before they sold out of the last of them, to be replaced by the REI Quarter Dome T1 shown below. I set it up in the house last night: adequate room for me (at 5’10”) and some gear. The backpack will probably have to stay in the vestibule, and it is not likely I will be sharing this tent with anyone, though another person would fit in an emergency. Best part about this tent: it packs down as small as a folded sleeping pad and it weighs in at 3.5 pounds with rainfly, poles, stakes and cinch sack.

Sleeping bag
Again out of convenience, I have a down bag for now. The newer synthetic fills have come a long way in price and performance, and when this one finally wears out (it has seen some periods of heavy use over the past twelve years) I will get a synthetic bag. REI and usually have a good variety of on-sale and closeout bags, and who cares if you are buying last year’s sleeping bag?
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Sleeping pad
These do not have to be expensive, heavy or bulky, and they are absolutely essential to a good night’s sleep in moderate and cold temperatures. The sleeping bag’s fill when compressed against the ground provides almost no insulation, and a foam sleeping pad works wonders for keeping you warm and comfortable. I use an older version of this foldable one.

Spare clothes
A spare set of BDUs and three changes of socks and underwear go into zipped, resealable bags. I need to get another set of BDUs and have them sewn up with patches.

More meals
Same issues as above, but in the case of this 72-hour pack I am more inclined to substitute some backpacker meals for MREs, since a stove will allow for cooking. Of course, this means bringing along a cookset and utensils.

Toilet kit
Toothbrush, toothpaste, razor and soap are easy. For washcloths and towels, I use light, quick-drying backpacker towels like these from MSR.

Uniform care
A tin of shoe shine, a soft rag for shining boots, a little sewing kit from Walgreens or the surplus store, and a spare set of boot laces from wherever you got your boots — another freezer bag should hold it.

Entrenching tool
I just have a little garden spade for now, but a folding shovel or similar product is probably a coming purchase.

Water purification tablets
Per CAP training, this is for emergency use only. Further, iodine-treated water should only be consumed for short durations, not for long trips or as a regular practice. However, the days of drinking yellow, nasty, iodine-tasting water are long, long gone. Buy a two-pack purification tablet system from Potable Aqua. Make sure it’s the two-tablet treatment process! One tablet treats the water; the second, dropped in after the first has had time to work, treats the taste and color from the first. For emergency usage, this beats a filter system on weight, cost and effort, and the water tastes excellent.

Introductory knowledge
Along with Civil Air Patrol training and reference materials, it may be worth picking up a book about hiking, picking a campsite, cooking, survival and animals. One of the best is The Backpacker’s Field Manual. Also, since CAP training mentions the ideals of Leave No Trace living, you may want to read more about that, and Leave No Trace: Minimum Impact Outdoor Recreation is a good place to start.

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