Two basic laws of the Infantryman and how they apply to Preparedness

Both of these simple rules I learned as a young Lieutenant.  On the face they are simple, but each has a larger context as it relates to prepping.  The first rule applies to water and the second involves “snivel gear” (the Army term for warm/comforting clothing).


Rule 1: Water.  I grew up in the Army before the days of the CamelBak and other hydration systems.  We had high tech devices called canteens (and no we did not carry muskets).  Each soldier regularly carried 4 quarts of water.  You had a 2 qt canteen attached to your rucksack and two 1 qt canteens on your pistol belt.  The rules for consumption were simple and commonsensical.  The first water to be consumed would be from the 2 qt on your rucksack, even though this was typically the least convenient when you were on the move.  The reason is simple. If you are separated from your pack you will still have 2 FULL canteens on your pistol belt.


Rule 2: Snivel Gear.  No matter how cold and/or how wet you become ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS maintain ONE piece of dry clothing (it could be a t-shirt, sweater, poly-pro top, etc) in your rucksack.  Again the reason is simple.  When you are suckin’…I mean REALLY suckin’…knowing that you still have a dry piece of clothing is a HUGE morale booster and gives you hope that when it gets warmer or stops raining you can change into something more comfortable.  When everything you have is wet and you are cold it is infinitesimally easier to give up and quit!


How does Rule 1 apply to prepping?  In the simplest form it can be useful advice, but let’s consider the larger context.  Here’s a scenario. The power is out (you pick the reason) and you have the following fuels available for cooking; one 20 lb bag of charcoal, a propane grill with a full tank, 2 gallons of gas in a can for your lawn mower and 1 rick of firewood for your fire place.  Which should you use to cook with first?  My answer is none of the above!  I send my kids to the woods across the street to gather as much dead fall as they can carry home.  The reason is simple.  I save my “convenient fuels” for when I need it.  There will be a time when I HAVE to tap into my convenient preps.  The reasons could be illness, security, weather, etc.  As a result, it is important to save convenient preps. The important point is to make every effort possible to preserve your reserve.  Obviously do not take this to the extreme and die of starvation with a basement full of Mountain House #10 cans.  However, I’m not sure it’s a great idea to figure out if you can shoot a squirrel when you are out of Mac-N-Cheese and starvin’ to death.


Rule 2 involves Hope and Morale; both in my view are imperative to survival.  The point here is to pick something (and the something should fit the context of your situation) that you preserve until “the end”.  If you like “ZombieLand”…maybe it’s a box of Twinkies.  It could be a pack of cigarettes, can of food, bottle of Jim Beam…whatever.  The point is; keep something to look forward too.  This will help you maintain morale and look to the future.  If you eat all the good stuff, wear all your dry clothes, shoot up all your ammo, or spend all of your silver too early there is no future.  Quite simply, you will lose hope.


On some level these concepts are simple, but I hope it provokes some thought on how you prep and how you prioritize.



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  1. As a retired infantryman/grunt, this author is absolutely correct! We also use the 6 P’s; Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance! The writing is on the wall; we are too far in debt (that’s how I see it) to recover and our elected leaders continue to put a band-aid on a amputated arm! You have a choice, you can be like the majority of Americans (thankfully many are starting to wake up, however, not enough) and be sheeple or you can be the sheepdog and prepare for the wolves who are salavating and howling…waiting to pounce!

    Thunder 7

  2. Good ideas JeSter, both for everyday and for a SHTF day.

    Dry socks saved my sanity dozens of times. Wrapped them in a towel, wrapped that in a green plastic trash bag, wrapped that in my poncho, strapped that to my butt pack. After a long, messy walk in the jungle dry feet were one of the few immediate benefits we had available. For some reason, the REMF’s never managed to get a case of cold beer on the hueys.

    We didn’t carry 2 quart canteens – too much to drink in one sitting. We stashed 2 to 4 extra 1 quart canteens in our rucks. Whenever we took a drink, we emptied the canteen (in us or on us). A partially filled canteen creates a loud sloshing noise when one is trying to be stealthy. So, they were empty or full, never in between. Just a bit of old guy history.

  3. Great article! I like sending the kids for wood. The whole family unit will need to be involved. As the grow, they will need to understand the basics for survival. Water, heat and shelter. These will be the basic minimum tasks that will need to be performed daily.

  4. infinitesimal |ˌinfiniˈtes(ə)məl|
    extremely small : an infinitesimal pause.
    noun Mathematics
    an indefinitely small quantity; a value approaching zero.
    infinitesimally adverb

    “When everything you have is wet and you are cold it is infinitesimally easier to give up and quit!”

    perhaps you mean a different word?

  5. Great post! I hadn’t thought of gathering wood even if you have plenty, the “save for a rainy day” policy. I have done the “save the best for last” when backpacking and during my days a Boy Scout. Interesting about using the 2-qt canteen first, in case you become separated from your main gear/pack, you have 2 full canteens of water on your person.

  6. @ dsd, thanks for the precise definition. I did actually mean “infinitely”. Perhaps my ideas out paced my fingers or maybe one glass of wine too many…who knows? While attention to detail is an admirable traight, I’m thinkin’ you might be on the wrong site if that’s your only comment. DiZKlamer: I didn’t spell check this post.

  7. Rourke,

    T H A T is how you spell “that”.


    Yep, that’s what they issued us too. We bought, stole, borrowed, or otherwise requisitioned the extras. What were they going to do, ship us off to another “conflict zone”? Usually, when we received our monthly TOE complaints we returned them with a hand written response, “Delta India Lima Lima India Golf Alfa Foxtrot”. Thanks for serving.

  8. Well JeSter, If the only thing people can complain about is the grammatical errors in the piece…..then it must have a pretty darn good message. No complaints here. I understood it, without having to be told there were grammatical issues. Geeeeesh!

  9. I type on my laptop in the dark. We live in the country and sit facing a large window to a lighted area in the yard where deer and coyotes and other wild animals are regular visitors. So we leave the lights out for better viewing. This laptop has a numeric pad and it puts me off causing frequent mistypes that I don’t catch. While I can appreciate that sometime mistypes detract from the message especially if it succeeds in spelling the wrong word correctly for the most part mistypes are not a reflection on the message or messenger. But some choose to nitpick and since they cannot shoot down the message they shoot down the messenger. My next laptop will not have a numeric keypad on it.

  10. A few other rules:

    3) Clean your weapon (gear) before your [expletive] – meaning, when you’re done with operations, perform maintenance on your gear before standing-down and conducting personal hygiene and rest.

    4) Take care of your feet – keep them dry, keep them clean. They are your primary movers… ignore them at your own peril.

    5) Big difference between cover and concealment – despite what you see in hollywood and first-person-shooter video games, just because you can’t see someone (concealment) does not mean you cannot open a can of whoop-butt on them.

  11. @ Tarditi…Great points. I’ll add; eat when you can and sleep when you can, because you never when you’ll get a chance to do either again!

  12. @ Harry, just a thought about sloshing canteens making noise… My final hurah was a deployment to Afghanistan in 04-05. I admit that I had a unique assignment and didn’t spend time with the line dogs, but it seems like an awful lot of the field craft that I learned from the last remiaing Vietnam veterans as a youngster are lost on todays infantryman. I could be wrong. Just an observation.

  13. @JeSter,
    I think you are right on the money. I was medically discharged in ’80 (broke my left knee and leg in multiple places on jump 367) and wouldn’t take a leg assignment. I never went to ‘Nam, but did crawl around some other interesting bush. Early on, I got to train under a A/R MSGT who had spent 3 tours in ‘Nam and who was willing to distill the hard lessons into some seriously effective training exercises. He is still one of my 6 mandatory toasts on St. Pat’s Day (the other 5 are my Mom’s father and 4 friends whose families got “Deeply Regret” letters from the DoD).

    My youngest has been to Iraq twice and complained both times that even his “upgrades” are severely lacking in the basics I drilled into the kids when they were teenagers. Of course, my generation took long walks in the woods rather than putter around in hummers. Different mind set. I do like all the toys and doodads they get to hang on their weapons – holographic sights, lasers, tactical slings – beats the crud out of our basic issue.

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