Civil Air Patrol UDF gear

I joined the local Civil Air Patrol squadron a couple of months ago, and Saturday was my first day of ground-team training in preparation for a training exercise next month. (During the last exercise I attended, I did radio operator training.) With not enough time to put together a full ground-team-member (GTM) gear setup, I settled for putting together Urban Direction Finding (UDF) gear. Most of the UDF gear list items showed up last week, and here is what I have put together:

Uniform
I had already purchased BDUs at the local surplus store, Bates waterproof, insulated boots and a belt and name tapes from the CAP Vanguard store. I took the uniform with name tapes and flag decal taped in their proper places to the local dry cleaner and was pleasantly surprised to see they had apparently sewn everything correctly. In addition, I bought a CAP polo shirt from Vanguard and charcoal Taclite Pro tactical pants from 5-11 Tactical. I would like to be wearing the BDUs, but it is too cold around here to go without a jacket, and I still need to pick up the ECWCS Generation II parka in Woodland camo and Gen III fleece that I have my eye on. The polo and pants uniform works alright for now. More info on the ECWCS layers is here: www.adsinc.com/gen-iii.

CAP identification
The CAP ID card goes in my wallet, but I took my 101 card, ROA card and other cheat sheets to FedEx office and laminated them in the ID-card sheets that have a slot at the top. A simple ID-card clip that I got at a conference or somewhere clips them on my uniform. Next time I need a new 101 card laminated, I am going to do a small copy of my Form 60 (medical) as well.

Watch
I know this is required, but be careful if you are going to wear it on your wrist. Watches throw off compass readings pretty easily, at least in my experience.

Notepad
Waterproof notepads from Rite in the Rain seem to be most popular, but since I was in need of some fast Amazon shipping I went with this one.
Orange vest
There are plenty of ways to go here. You could buy one from the Grainger catalog or any number of sources. Again, since I need a quick ship on a lot of these items, I grabbed this one from Amazon. It has a velcro front, seems secure and strong enough.
UDF and GTM Task Guide
Buy it from Vanguard, print it yourself after downloading it here (PDF) and have FedEx Office bind it, or whatever. While we are on the topic, this supplemental Ground Team Reference Text (download PDF) fills in a lot of the blanks and is very helpful.

Compass
I bought an orienteering compass, which is the standard, open compass consisting of a flat piece of clear plastic with an inset, rotating face. The Suunto A-30L was recommended, and it is not a bad compass. It does have the requisite mark for every two degrees and a glowing face and needle, and it is very easy to use.
However, I will probably make this my backup soon and purchase a lensatic compass, such as the Brunton 8099 Eclipse. When shooting an azimuth, an orienteering compass has maybe five degrees error, and the lensatic two degrees — both likely more in inexperienced hands. CAP requires a compass that can read in two-degree increments, but typical orienteering-compass error is higher than that. In addition to the increased accuracy of a lensatic compass, it would be beneficial to be able to read the degree of a slope occasionally.

Flashlight
I think I found a good item here: the Smith and Wesson Galaxy 28 LED flashlight. This model has 20 white LEDs, 4 red LEDs and 4 blue LEDs, so there is no need for colored filters, spare bulbs or storage thereof. All three colors seem adequately bright, and there are two separate switches to prevent accidental activation of the white LED when trying to preserve night vision: one controls the white LEDs only, and the other cycles from red to blue to off. The included holster includes battery storage and a Velcro strap. I am extremely satisfied with this purchase.
Map protractor
I’m not sure I have the right item here. Ranger Joe’s might be a better source, but I did pick up this USGS-sourced UTM grid reader from REI, which includes a protractor.

Map case
I know you can use Ziploc or similar sealable plastic bags, but I picked up a four-pack of variously sized dry bags from REI — the LOKSAK Aloksak. Along with the larger bag for a map, the smaller ones can be used for cell phones, wallet, etc.

Alcohol pens
I went wrong here. There are artsy, refillable alcohol pens and colored inks available on Amazon and elsewhere, but this four-pack of alcohol pens from Ranger Joe’s is probably the way to go. I’ve also heard interpretations of this requirement being dry-erase markers or Sharpies, but these ones from Ranger Joe’s seem more correct. As for an eraser, I have individual alcohol swabs, but Ranger Joe’s also sells a proper alcohol-pen eraser.

Ruler
Plenty of options here, but I got this one from Amazon with a sliding clip/gauge. It is small, light and flexible.

Miscellaneous
Some things just need to be found in the house or picked up at the local store. Mechanical pencils, pens, packets of facial tissue, individual alcohol swabs (Walgreens) and snacks.

Other things that make sense
Of course, I am going to carry water on any mission — even an “urban” one. A litre in a BPA-free Nalgene bottle works. Sunglasses (polarized Native Eyewear-brand from last year at REI Outlet) are good, and this time of year proper gloves, hat, etc., are essential. A flashlight is necessary, but a good headlamp with white and red modes is a definite future purchase. I picked up an (expired) airport directory set from another member, and that goes in the bag.

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Packing
All of these items that took so much thought and effort barely start to fill even the smallest backpack, but that is where they live for now. My next step is to fill the remaining gaps in the 24-hour and 72-hour gear lists, and the above UDF-gear items will be combined with the 24-hour gear and moved to a gear vest.

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