The colored indicators on the altimeter's face usually indicate minimum altitudes to pull your
main and reserve, but using this free tip will ensure your jump goes exactly as visualized.
Whether you are a student or an experienced skydiver, it will help to mark key altitudes for
lock-on and pull altitudes on your altimeter. It may also be helpful to write in shorthand the
maneuvers you plan on performing, and wear/read your altimeter during rehearsals. The permanent
pen can be easily removed using rubbing alcohol or a correction pen.
Tired of your laces getting shredding from the hooks on your gaiters? Loop a piece of wire
between the first set of eyelets on your boots. Next time you strap your gaiters on, give
your laces a brake and hook 'em to your new gaiter anchor.
1x waterproof bag
When a few days in the great outdoors leaves you smelling like moldy cheese, a basic shower
might ensure continued harmony in the campsite. Store-bought solar showers run from $15-30
but we can save you some money with our DIY version. Tackle this project a couple of hours
in advance to allow time for the water to warm in the sun.
Begin with an army waterproof bag (about $7) and scope out a good tree branch one that is
about three feet above your head. In the upper portion of the bag, say the top quarter, poke
a few dozen toothpick-sized holes. These will ultimately be the shower holes. Put a small,
walnut-sized, smooth rock in the bottom of the bag. From the outside of the bag, feel for the
small rock and tie a 5 meter piece of cord around the bag in a way that snugly keeps the small
rock secure at the bottom. Essentially, you are creating a way to firmly hold that end of the
bag, which you will need to hoist up later. Click here to read more on this method of creating
Now fill the bag with about five gallons of water and tie the top shut using the pre-sewn ties
on the waterproof bag. Tie a second length of cord around the top of the bag and hoist it up to
the branch, so that the whole bag hangs above your head. Let it hang in the sun for 2-3 hours to
heat the water. When you are ready to shower, throw the cord tied to the bottom of the bag over
the branch, and raise the bottom of the bag up and above the top, and tie it off. Inverting the
bag forces the warm water out the holes you poked in the top portion of the bag. Now get busy and
1x sleep pad
1x permanent pen
Stuck in your tent and tired of reading? How about a game of chess, checkers, or backgammon?
Use a permanent marker to draw a chess board and backgammon board on your sleeping pad. The
chess board should be an eight by eight grid of squares. Draw chess pieces on a piece of paper,
or use light and dark stones for a game of checkers.
If you don't mind packing dice, you can also play a game of backgammon. The completed backgammon
board should have a total of twelve black and white isosceles triangles (six of each on either
side) and each triangle should be directly across from a triangle of the opposite color. Find
light and dark color stones to use as the markers and of course, you will need a die (rolled
twice for each turn) or even better, a pair.
1x can plastic coating cmpd.
Don't Fret the Fraying
Finish rope ends without whipping or heat shrinking. Use a plastic coating compound. It adds
no bulk to the rope and won't come off.
Before cutting the rope, use an acid swabbing brush or popsicle stick to paint a one inch band of compound around the area where the end will be. Let the compound dry overnight.
Cut the rope through the band.
Dip the rope end (approximately two inches) into the plastic coating compound. Let it dry overnight.
Grip Tape Uses
Appropriately named, this tapes rough surface allows you to firmly grab any object it is
affixed to. Similar to duct tape, it has many uses and can be used to modify your gear in
various ways. A couple of ideas include wrapping it around the body of your water filter
for a firmer grip when your hands are wet. Placing strips of grip tape across your sleeping
pad helps keep your sleeping bag from sliding off at night. Be sure to place the strips
running the width (not length) of your pad so the pad still can be rolled up. Grip tape
is available at your local hardware store. Make sure you buy rubbery grip tape and not the
rough sand paper grip tape.
10x zip ties
During Field Training Exercises (FTXs), things like the canteen or ammo pouch can come loose
from the load bearing vest (LBV). Use electrical tiedown straps (zip ties) to secure your
accessories. Run the straps through the back sides of the different pouches and around the
belt. Lock the ties in place and cut off the excess strap, making sure there are no sharp edges left.
Shower Curtain Rings
Metal shower curtain rings ($2 for a 12-pack) can be used in place of expensive carabiners
to hang items on your pack or in your camp site. Used this way, they are perfect for hanging
wet socks, cups, or even sandals. In winter, they make great zipper pulls that are easier to
grab when wearing gloves.
Keep your socks, electronics, cameras, or 550 Cord safe and dry with basic zip-lock bags.
They are available in various sizes and are lighter and more versatile than hard-shell
equipment cases. For additional protection and durability, use 100 mph tape to form an
additional seal around the top and edges.
Condom Survival Uses
For carrying water, non-lubricated condoms do the trick when supported in a sock or shirt-sleeve.
Stretch the condom as you pour water in by shaking it. Condoms will also protect dry tinder in
wet weather. They can also be used to rig a catapult system in a trap or snare. When blown up
and placed against a highly vegetated background it can be easily seen and used for signaling
(use a bright colored condom for best results). One condom can hold 1.5L (2.6pt) of water (among
other precious things).
CD Reflector Mirror
Signaling can be done using any run-of-the-mill compact disk so why waste money on pricey
mirrors specifically designed for this task? Just use the hole in the CD for targeting and
try to keep the CD perpendicular to your line of sight. Find that old CD that reminds you
of your ex- and put it to good use!
Make your own fire starter from an empty disposable lighter. Strip off any unnecessary parts
like the fuel lever. Then go to town with a rotary cutting tool, and trim off as much plastic
as possible. Make it big enough that you can still hold onto it. The fire starter on the left
is from the $20 Ranger Rick Special Ops Survival Necklace, and the 65 DIY fire starter is on
the right. Throw on a 15 fishing swivel, a 10 small key ring, and a 5 section of rubber tube
and presto you have a "Special Ops" fire starter for less than a buck!
Tampon Tinder & Field Gauze
Fire-starting and/or first-aid can be simplified using any brand tampon. (We recommend O.B.
brand as they are the most compact.). Did you know one tampon has a burn time of 2 minutes?
(They never mention this in the TV ads, do they?) Its true that cotton ball tinder has a
longer burn time, but the tampon is truly multipurpose for first-aid purposes one tampon
can be pulled apart to create a palm-sized dressing for an injury as well. At last, a good
reason for a guy to buy a box of tampons.
5x cotton balls
Cotton balls rubbed in petroleum jelly make excellent waterproof tinder and will save you
some bucks over the pre-packaged stuff on the market. Have an empty film canister on hand
and begin rubbing/rolling cotton balls (one at a time) in a jar of petroleum jelly. Pack
as many petroleum jelly-covered cotton balls into the film canister as possible (one canister
can usually hold 30 to 40 balls). When the time comes to start your fire, just reach for your
home-made tinder! To start the fire, pull one cotton ball into a fine web, place it under
your base of twigs, and light. One cotton ball has a burn time of 5 minutes. Watch out for
cosmetic balls that are made of nylon which will melt rather than burn like cotton.
some lint and wax
Egg Carton Tinder
Make hand fire-starters by filling egg carton cups with dryer lint or saw dust. Then pour
melted paraffin or wax over the lint or saw dust. Break the cup off to start each fire.
Light the edge of the paper pocket and it will burn for four to eight minutes.
Happy Birthday and Fire
Trick birthday candles that relight are good for cheap tinder (and cheap laughs, as you
know). They have a good burn time and some pocket change buys a whole box! On the down
side they have a tiny flame and may be difficult to light with some fire-starting devices.
Milk Carton Uses
Waxed-paper milk cartons have several lives left in them after the milk is gone.
Make a drinking cup by cutting off the carton about three inches from the bottom.
Make a water scoop by cutting off the top.
Waxed milk cartons are an excellent source of emergency kindling. Cut a container into slivers. Wrap them in plastic and put them in your pack or pocket for emergency kindling on a camping or hiking trip.
Make a leak-proof mini-garbage can by opening up the top of the container and putting in your scraps.
1x pack matches
1x bottle nail polish
Waterproof Your Matches
Waterproof matches by dipping them in nail polish, shellac, or wax. Only a thin coat is needed.
Once coated, place them in a waterproof container. Before using, scrape the coating with your
finger nail to prevent build-up on the striking surface. The matches can sit in water for up
to 15 minutes, but it's still essential to put them in a waterproof container.
Mesh lingerie bags are made of 100% polyester and made to protect delicate fabrics in the
washing machine. We have found they are equally excellent at keeping your camp kitchen gear
clean and organized. This compact organizer frees up table space and provides a place to
store clean dishes, utensils, dish soap and sponges. The mesh lets you check contents at
a glance and provides ventilation for drying purposes. Lingerie bags are made with either
zipper or draw-string closures, the latter being easy to hang from a branch or carabiner.
Heres the best part: Camp supply stores carry mesh bags specifically designed for camp
kitchen use but retail between $10 and $30! The lingerie bag on the other hand, can be
purchased at your local Whatever-Mart or large drug store for under $5.
These bags are traditionally used by canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts. Like the lingerie
bags above, they make excellent stuff sacks. The mesh allows you to identify contents at
a glance and dunk bags still cost less than the mesh bags marketed for camp cooking gear.
Since mesh is clearly not waterproof, we always encourage you to line your pack with a
large garbage bag or use a pack cover to keep your contents dry.
1x vinyl-coated hanger
Don't let your water reservoir get stanky and moldy dry out your bladder-type drinking
system and not your wallet. (most reservoir dryers cost $9 and merely hold the bladder open
to allow evaporation). To make your own, begin with a vinyl-coated wire hanger. Bend the
hanger in 3 or 4 places to create a wavy shape. This shaping allows you to feed the hanger
into the bladder and, once inside, hold the inner walls apart for water evaporation. You may
also store you drinking system this way - just hang it in a closet until the next use!
1x old bike tube
Homemade Ranger Bands
Don't waste your money on Ranger Bands. Chop-up sections of an old bicycle inner tube and make
your own. Place them around your M16 magazines to keep them from rattling around your ammo
pouch. Use them to keep your flashlight or your first aid pouch from bouncing around. Cut a
section and stretch it around the barrel nut and handguards on your M-16 for a better grip.
What ever you use them for, its like recycling from cycling.
Find Your Coordinates Quickly
Reduce fumbling by customizing your protractor with some needle and thread. Begin with about
6 inches of colored thread and a sewing needle. Thread the needle and tie a good knot in the
end of your thread. Push the tip of the needle through the center crosshairs of the protractor.
Don't heat the needle, it will melt too much away. Slide the needle free then tie another knot
in that end of the thread. To determine and quickly read your azimuth, just put the crosshairs
of the protractor at point A and then pull the string out to point B (and no more fumbling for
something with a straight edge!) Add tick marks to your string in 100m intervals and use it to
measure the distance of irregular routes.
Some people don't like the knot in the center of their protractor. Try running a piece of
elastic through the center and tying the loose ends together. This method will also prevent
the string from falling out at the worst possible time.
There are a couple techniques to improve the protractor's 1:50,000m grid scales and direction
scales. One is to get some oil based model paint in white, yellow, or orange and paint a strip
of color underneath the grid scales to make the numbers stand out. Another technique is to glue
pieces of luminous tape (used to make "cat-eyes") underneath to make glow in the dark strips
under the scales. Be sure to use a clear glue that will not fuse the plastic.
The military issue protractor has two scales. One in degrees and one in mils. If you aren't in
a Field Artillery unit or you don't plan on doing a call for fire mission, chances are you won't
be using mils. Trim the mils scale off the outer edge. Try using a ruler to ensure you cut a
straight edge. Make sure you don't cut any degree markings.
Cold Dog-Tags meet 550 Cord
Cold dog-tags adding insult to injury? Cover your dog-tag chain with some 550 Cord next time it
gets cold enough to freeze the balls off a pool table. Simply pull out the 7 strands of guts
and slip your chain through. Use a lighter to singe the frayed ends of the sheath. Fasten your
chain back together. Now you can conserve your energy in cold weather to complain about something else.
Canteen Cap Shower
Having trouble finding a shower while in the field? Follow these simple instructions and make
your own shower. Buy one canteen cap without the built-in NBC adapter. Drill 15-20 holes into
the cap with a 4mm diameter drill bit. Make the holes bigger depending on how you like your
shower. Then heat your water in your canteen cup, and pour it back into the canteen with your
new Canteen Cap Shower attached. Make sure you find a good tree to hide behind.
1x ALICE clip
Do you have any gear that doesn't have a built in clip or any way to attach it to your LBV?
Take an ALICE Clip and tape it around your gear with some 100mph Tape. This works great with
flashlights, pepper spray, and any other inexpensive clip-less item.
20cm 550 cord
26cm 100mph tape
Attach is a piece of 550 cord taped to either side of the magazine, forming a loop to help
retrieve the magazine from the magazine pouch. The tape will help silence magazines inside
the magazine pouch.
You can also run some 550 cord through the drainage hole in the bottom of the magazine. Fold
the 550 cord in half and knot the two loose ends together. Slip the other end of the cord
through the drainage hole and add another knot to keep it in place.
1x upper handguard
1x Weaver #54 Mount
2x 3mm hex nuts
2x 3mm lock washers
2x 3 (or 4)mm flash washers
1x 1" scope ring
1x weapon flashlight
To mount a flashlight on a rifle/shotgun that doesn't have a mounting system, try and mount
the light on the left hand side of the handguard just where your left thumb could reach the
First, drill holes in the handguard and mount a weaver or picatinny rail. Then put the
flashlight in a scope ring, and mount the scope ring on the weaver rail. It works great and
is quite reliable. You just need to be sure that there's enough clearance on the inside of the
handguard for a stainless steel washer and nut.
The nice thing about this setup is that you can use ARMS quick detach scope rings. This will
allow you to keep one semi permanently attached to the light (which doesn't get in the way of
normal use) and to quickly mount and dismount it from the weapon for whatever reason. If the
outer diameter of the flashlight is smaller than the inner diameter of the ARMS scope ring
(1 inch or 30mm depending on the model), build a bushing out of PVC pipe or take the specs of
the bushing to a machine shop and have them machine it out of Delrin. ARMS makes the best shit
(the Ferrari of mounts).
1x sleeping mat
Slim-down the Sleeping Mat
Does your sleeping mat stick too far out on the sides causing you to get caught on trees?
Lay down on the mat and see how much excess you can cut off depending on your body type. Before
you start cutting, make sure the sleeping mat belongs to you and not CIF. Most people will be
able to trim about two inches off each side of your mat. Use the left over foam for the next
1x pistol belt
1x sleeping mat
Pistol Belt Pad
The pad is fabricated from a piece of USGI sleeping mat. Once a piece of mat has been cut to
size, wrap it in 100mph tape to reduce friction between you and the pad. Attach the pad to the
inside of the pistol belt by lacing 550 cord around or through the pad and into the grommets of
the Pistol belt. The pad adds comfort to the LBE/LBV and lends some floatation value as well.
This is a popular mod, but we found that it added some comfort to a product that wasn't very
uncomfortable to begin with. If you're a big fan of pussy pads, sorry this one doesn't have
"wings." KISS and if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
LBV Mod: Cut the Cord Locks
When you wear a 50+ pound rucksack, the weight of the ruck pushes in on the kidney pad. Army
issue LBVs have cord locks on the back that sit right at kidney level. When the LBV is worn
in conjunction with a heavy ruck, it tends to push the cord locks into your back. I have two
scars in the small of my back thanks to these things. Remove the cord locks and tie the two
loose end of 550 cord together with a joining knot (such as a square knot with two overhand
safeties). Cut the excess 550 cord and melt the cut ends. Save the cord locks and reattach
them later and replace the cord with some new 550 cord when it comes time to turn you LBV
back in. If you own your LBV, save your cord locks and use them elsewhere. Learn from my
experience and ditch the cord locks or risk being scarred for life.
61cm of 550 cord
Keep your name-band in place without expensive "Turtle Straps" ($4 each!). Use your brain and
save your money by making your own out of 550 Cord. Begin by cutting a six inch section of 550
Cord. Pull out the "guts" then fold the cord in half. Wrap the folded cord around your name-band
and pull the loose ends through the looped portion of the folded cord. Next, pull the loose ends
into one of the small holes in the side of the Kevlar cover and tie the ends to the velcro straps
of the Kevlar cover itself. (Believe me, this sounds more complicated than it is- but just look
at the picture to the left!). Repeat this process 3 more times so that your band is held in 4
places altogether - 2 in the front and 2 in the back.
Rucksack Mod: Side-Release Buckle
A broken buckle on your pack can cause real problems! Avoid this situation and get to your gear
in a pinch with this modification. Purchase two side-pinch buckles (made for one inch-width
webbing). Also purchase about 8 of webbing (equally, you could just cut 4 of the surplus
webbing from each of your rucksack straps). Cut the 8 strip of webbing in half. Next, find
a tailor in your neighborhood and drop off the clips, rucksack, and webbing asking that the
tailor stitch 2 short strips of webbing between the original metal ladder buckle and the new
side-release buckles. If the new buckle ever breaks in the field, simply cut the stitched
webbing and thread the rucksack webbing through the original buckle.
Rucksack Mod: Strap Pulls
Ever carry a 60+ pound ruck? As if that in itself doesnt suck enough , youve also probably
maxxed-out the ruck strap too (when the end of the strap sits right against the buckle)
making it almost impossible to adjust once your pack is loaded. So... how do you get a good
hand-hold on the strap to cinch it down? Easy. Make a fold in the strap about 2cm from the
end and sew the fold. This will leave you 2cm worth of strap, which should be plenty to pinch
and pull tight. This mod is a must for anyone that does the "Side-Release Buckle Mod."
Rucksack Mod: Zippered Map Pocket
Velcro is convenient in the field for some equipment, but not on a rucksack. The Velcro on the
map pocket makes too much noise, easily frays and the stitching can come loose. The original
pocket is also too narrow for the size of the pocket. Solve all these problems with a wider
zippered pocket. Purchase a black, 30 cm, medium weight, separating zipper (made for jackets
and sportswear) which can be found at your local fabric store. Remove the old Velcro as well as
an additional 3 cm of stitching on each side of the Velcro. Next, take the ruck to your local
tailor and have them sew in the zipper. Ask them to make sure both ends of the zipper are sewn
inside the flap so that the tag (the pulling device) cannot slide all the way to either end
of the zipper. This will reduce the chance of the tag jumping track or coming off completely.
Why didnt the military think of this in the first place? Probably a result of contracting to
the lowest bidder once again.
Rucksack Mod: Synch Strap
Finally, we have just one more problem to resolve with the standard-issue rucksack. If you have
a large ruck, sometimes it isn't packed completely full. Take out the extra play by using a
weapon sling or the sling that comes with the 5 quart canteen cover. Attach the clips on the
sling to the grommets on the ruck and run the sling through the loops on the outer pockets.
Adjust the length of the sling to keep your ruck compact. If you have a lot of sloshing around,
your ruck won't be very comfortable.
Rucksack Mod: Extra Shoulder Pad Padding
If you need some extra padding in your shoulder straps, head to your local auto parts store
and buy a couple of seatbelt shoulder protectors (generally used to relieve the feeling of
the strap cutting across the neck or chest in a vehicle.) The 8-10 length works equally well
for pack straps and seatbelts. Pads are available in many colors. They are adjustable with hook
and loop fasteners, washable, and very durable.
Sew a false bottom into your patrol cap (PC), field jacket, ruck sack, or any other piece of
TA-50. Use it to hide intel or maps either in real-world situations or while playing OPFOR. Make
sure you sew as close to the natural seam as possible. Leave a small opening for the pocket. The
use of a hook & loop fastener is optional, but keep in mind that sewing a fastener on might give
the secret pocket away. Also use this trick to smuggle restricted items into school environments
like Ranger School, Sapper School, Airborne, Air Assault, etc. Just don't get caught or your
integrity will be compromised.
Some people sew small pockets into their PC using a square piece of luminous tape. Their theory
is that it would make a good hiding place and you can use it as a signaling device at night time.
First off, how secret can a pocket be if it's made of luminous tape? Secondly, signaling device...
heard of a flashlight or your tritium compass? Luminous tape has to be charged by light before it
can emit light, and the inside of your PC doesn't get very much sunshine during the day. Luminous
tape, not a bright idea.
1x water proof case
Going into the desert or jungle? Pack all of your electronics into a waterproof case to keep
out sand or water. We recommend the Pelican 1200 case because it easily fits in to a large
ruck (and because it is the only one we have had time to test.) Made of ultra-high-impact
copolymer, it is virtually unbreakable, totally watertight, dustproof, chemical resistant,
and corrosion proof. Should you find yourself in the ocean or sea, it can float with up to a
7.94 pound (3.6 kg) load. Its exclusive 1/4" (6.4 mm) neoprene o-ring and ABS latches seal
perfectly and includes an automatic purge valve for quick equalization after changes in
atmospheric pressure. It maintains its structural integrity in temperatures ranging from
-10°F (-23°C) to +210°F (+99°C). One case will provide enough room to pack an MP3 player,
GPS, international power converter with adapter plugs, AA battery charger and adapter cables.
Pack whatever you likesome of us like it as a handgun case, as well.
1x battery charger
Recharge AA Batteries Off A Car Battery
Take a battery charger with you if you get deployed. You can charge your AA and AAA batteries
off a generator. With a lighter adapter, you can charge your rechargeable batteries directly
from your car lighter. HMMWV drivers can purchase another type of adapter that converts the
lighter adapter to alligator clips, enabling you to charge directly off one of the vehicle's
12V batteries. These alligator clip adapters can be found at your local electronics store.
1 BNC Connector
2 alligator clips
some electrical tape
Home-Made Radio Antenna Adapter
When making field expedient antennas for your radio, it is handy to have an adapter that allows
you to connect a loose wire to your radio. Make an adapter by soldering a male right-angle BNC
connector for RG-6 and RG-59 coax cable to two short lengths of wire. Next, solder the other end
of the two wires to the alligator clips. Wrap electrical tape around the BNC connector and the
alligator clips to prevent your soldering points from being broken.
After trying to make our own, we found that it is less expensive to buy a ready-made Antenna Adapter.