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Recently had to arrive at a city destination 2 1/2 days in advance, so I decided to make a training opportunity out of it. Took a pack, filled it, walked the streets for 10 hours a day, 2 1/2 days, while trying to fit in Gray Man style. I'd like to share some opinions / observations.

1. Light is better: After one day, I was glad it was not a huge ruck. Even 20 pounds gets heavy after a couple of days. Better to be able to cover some ground. I learned I probably don't need it if you have the knowledge to accomplish it, the skills to make it, or the cleverness to craft / use a substitute.

2. Nothing tactical: Sure, it can be made better but you'll certainly be noticed, if not pursued, especially if SHTF. My opinion is "college bookbag" size is probably your maximum pack.

3. KISS Design: My opinion is a top-opening, sack style design is easier to use, --you can retrieve items while holding it like a sack, much less prone to problems (vs. panel loading zipper(s)). Make sure it has a hip belt; if you don't, you're an idiot. I've used and tested 30 or 40 packs, and the only one I ever used that could pass muster without a hip belt is the Timbuktu RollTop. All others, use the hip belt. It puts the weight on the legs, not the back.

4. Water and food: One bottle isn't enough. I use Kleen Canteen's 18 0z standard size, plus a 32 oz Nalgene which of course really holds 35 oz. Both are always full and refilled when I drink. Snacks should be easy to eat on the go. Low key, not some $20 Supreme Pemmican Magic Bar in shiny wrapping.

5. You may lose the bag: Via confrontation, confiscation, or accident. Don't lose your life is you lose your bag. Some things on you person. I have a Fenix AA on my keyring in my pocket, and a Leatherman Wingman or Sidekick clipped inside the waistband of my underwear. Before you give me the jokes, I've relied on it more than once. It's always with me and should all else fail, I have a pretyy good all-around tool. Also I always keep cash ( a lot of it, folded in a little zip pouch) on me, and some kiddy vitamins and energy bars. Sunglasses and a ball cap also.

6. Afte roaming city streets for 10 or more hours a day, you learn things about the steet and yourself. Good practice.

Good luck to all.
 

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First off thanks for the post. Second, that was pretty gutsy and pretty neat idea to do what you did, especially in a new city. You made some great observations, especially concerning moving around in a city.
 

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Blame Canada.
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Recently had to arrive at a city destination 2 1/2 days in advance, so I decided to make a training opportunity out of it. Took a pack, filled it, walked the streets for 10 hours a day, 2 1/2 days, while trying to fit in Gray Man style. I'd like to share some opinions / observations.

1. Light is better: After one day, I was glad it was not a huge ruck. Even 20 pounds gets heavy after a couple of days. Better to be able to cover some ground. I learned I probably don't need it if you have the knowledge to accomplish it, the skills to make it, or the cleverness to craft / use a substitute.

2. Nothing tactical: Sure, it can be made better but you'll certainly be noticed, if not pursued, especially if SHTF. My opinion is "college bookbag" size is probably your maximum pack.

3. KISS Design: My opinion is a top-opening, sack style design is easier to use, --you can retrieve items while holding it like a sack, much less prone to problems (vs. panel loading zipper(s)). Make sure it has a hip belt; if you don't, you're an idiot. I've used and tested 30 or 40 packs, and the only one I ever used that could pass muster without a hip belt is the Timbuktu RollTop. All others, use the hip belt. It puts the weight on the legs, not the back.

4. Water and food: One bottle isn't enough. I use Kleen Canteen's 18 0z standard size, plus a 32 oz Nalgene which of course really holds 35 oz. Both are always full and refilled when I drink. Snacks should be easy to eat on the go. Low key, not some $20 Supreme Pemmican Magic Bar in shiny wrapping.

5. You may lose the bag: Via confrontation, confiscation, or accident. Don't lose your life is you lose your bag. Some things on you person. I have a Fenix AA on my keyring in my pocket, and a Leatherman Wingman or Sidekick clipped inside the waistband of my underwear. Before you give me the jokes, I've relied on it more than once. It's always with me and should all else fail, I have a pretyy good all-around tool. Also I always keep cash ( a lot of it, folded in a little zip pouch) on me, and some kiddy vitamins and energy bars. Sunglasses and a ball cap also.

6. Afte roaming city streets for 10 or more hours a day, you learn things about the steet and yourself. Good practice.

Good luck to all.
Just a note from a daily concreat pounder, the feet. Take care of them. All the rest is a great post.
 

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reluctant sinner
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+1 for padded hip belt. I wear a Photon light w/switch on my necklace always. Most times I have a Neck Peck knife by CRKT on too.

Yesterday I tried one of the Datrex bars. A friend bought a 3600 calorie for about $10 and passed out samples. The outer wrapper was heavy duty. The individual bars had has a thin plastic sealed wrapper. The bar tasted ok. I think I'll score one or two for the BoB.
 

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Different kinds of packs;

Living in Seattle we have colleg's all over, along with homeless and, urban shoppers, you cannot get plastic shopping bag's any longer. So people use cloth bags or back packs! Also tactical is common here even for the non prepper?

Military green, and camo are also used a lot. Color here would not make a difference! Attitude and posture would, look strong, street thugs, gangs prey on the weak!!! Cops here are too busy dealing with important stuff, too even worry about bothering you because you have a tactical bag.

Cat and Turtle :thumb:
 

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Welcome to the rice field
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With bicycle commuting and mass transit, backpacks are commonplace in cities. At least ones I frequent. I carry one every day regardless of setting (rural, urban, suburban). I see all kinds, ranging from skittle colored book bags to molle. What stands out the most to me is size. You see a big bag loaded down and think either they're homeless, grocery shopping, or doing laundry. Military type bags do give some cues, but aren't overly attention getting unless they have a lot of visible gear or pouches strapped to em IMO.

The same muted earth tones I carry in the wilderness blend well in the city too. I take the brand patches off, no identifiable markings. Nothing clipped to outside. Not shiny new, not tattered and old. Water bottles... I carry 2 just to balance the weight. The pack, however, is only part of the equation.

Just kind of habit, but I'm always people watching and analyzing. Most folks display a lot about themselves subconsciously through dress, hairstyle, etc. Shirts chosen and worn to cover a concealed handgun are often an easy one. Even little things like key chains, what they are drinking or eating, watch, phone, jewelry, shoes. The placement of callouses on their hands. The placement of stains and wear on their clothing. Scars, tan lines, make up. Demeanor is telling as well. How they walk, stand, speak, interact and react to the environment...

Sorry, getting off topic. My point is, when it comes to blending in, standing out, or displaying information, what someone is carrying their stuff in is only 1 piece of the puzzle. That said, your average person is mentally preoccupied and not overly perceptive.
 

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With bicycle commuting and mass transit, backpacks are commonplace in cities. At least ones I frequent. I carry one every day regardless of setting (rural, urban, suburban). I see all kinds, ranging from skittle colored book bags to molle. What stands out the most to me is size. You see a big bag loaded down and think either they're homeless, grocery shopping, or doing laundry. Military type bags do give some cues, but aren't overly attention getting unless they have a lot of visible gear or pouches strapped to em IMO.

The same muted earth tones I carry in the wilderness blend well in the city too. I take the brand patches off, no identifiable markings. Nothing clipped to outside. Not shiny new, not tattered and old. Water bottles... I carry 2 just to balance the weight. The pack, however, is only part of the equation.

Just kind of habit, but I'm always people watching and analyzing. Most folks display a lot about themselves subconsciously through dress, hairstyle, etc. Shirts chosen and worn to cover a concealed handgun are often an easy one. Even little things like key chains, what they are drinking or eating, watch, phone, jewelry, shoes. The placement of callouses on their hands. The placement of stains and wear on their clothing. Scars, tan lines, make up. Demeanor is telling as well. How they walk, stand, speak, interact and react to the environment...

Sorry, getting off topic. My point is, when it comes to blending in, standing out, or displaying information, what someone is carrying their stuff in is only 1 piece of the puzzle. That said, your average person is mentally preoccupied and not overly perceptive.
Say hello to Dr. Watson for me.
I wish I was an observant person. How do you practice it?
 

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Excellent original post. All good points.
Light is better.
But there is a lower limit and an upper one.
The pack I can live out of reasonably comfy for 3 days (and beyond) pushes 30 lbs.
Just a bit too much for 'school' packs.

And the comment on top opening bags... just the opposite advice that you hear from the 'operators'.
My Kelty is a top opening, internal frame, I hang nothing on the outside, no molle bags, nothing to swing around. I use no belt pack, no canteen on shoulder sling.
All that stuff just gets in the way.
 

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EXCELLENT post with lots of great common-sense tips thrown in.

The only part I disagree with is about the size & bookbag look.
I carry a surplus USMC MarPat 3-day assault pack on my motorcycle as part of my daily commute, with all unnecessary straps & buckles tucked out of the way.
No one gives me a second glance or thought.

Surplus military packs, as well as pseudo-tactical knockoffs, have become SO common in cities that they blend in just fine.
I'm unwilling to sacrifice my essential items in order to become part of the background --- not having them would diminish my probability of surviving by leaving me vulnurable.
And, after all, surviving is what it's all about.
 

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Living in Seattle we have colleg's all over, along with homeless and, urban shoppers, you cannot get plastic shopping bag's any longer. So people use cloth bags or back packs! Also tactical is common here even for the non prepper?

Military green, and camo are also used a lot. Color here would not make a difference! Attitude and posture would, look strong, street thugs, gangs prey on the weak!!! Cops here are too busy dealing with important stuff, too even worry about bothering you because you have a tactical bag.
I agree completely. Somehow, it's gotten to be accepted as some sort of conventional wisdom that something in a military color or pattern is a bad idea that will get you singled out, but I've long argued that this was nonsense. OD green,desert tan, and various camoflauge patterns are so common these days that they don't attract any more attention than anything else.
Now obviously, if you're dressed head-to-toe with military clothes and accesories, you'll look like an idiot or a trouble maker, and people will take notice, but simply wearing a camoflauged pack, or some BDU trousers with a T-shirt and tennis shoes won't have people or authorities singling you out.
I think the grey-man/opsec thing often gets carried to ridiculous extremes.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Sorry for the several typos in my original post.
Rio, we all do what's best for ourselves; my Gray Man inner self will not go bigger or stylistically different than a "school-pack" size. And true, Operators (and I have a bit of field experience myself), EMT's, and others would not want top-openers for their missions. But long-term durability, KISS, and on-the-go/on-the-run stuff-retrieval demands a top-opener, at least for me.

Ivan, I suppose reasonable people may differ. I've used the Mar-Pat and other stiffener-inclusive framless packs. Good stuff. Too tactical for me. I'm a bit older and more of the "business casual" executive type, so I need to go with what fits my persona and can go office building, street, sewer tunnel.

Jon, when doing trail hikes for exercise, I average the standard 3 to 4 miles per hour. I walked almost continuously, with some breaks, so I'd estimate 20 to 30 miles per day. Again, I wasn't race-walking, I was focusing on getting through different neighborhoods and zones, commercial, residential, the 'hood...and being low-key, fitting in, or vanishing.

I'm starting to like this whole urban hide thing. Hide in plain sight, part of the scenery.

Hopefully I'll report again soon.

Thanks to all for the kind feedback!
 

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Sorry for the several typos in my original post.
Rio, we all do what's best for ourselves; my Gray Man inner self will not go bigger or stylistically different than a "school-pack" size. And true, Operators (and I have a bit of field experience myself), EMT's, and others would not want top-openers for their missions. But long-term durability, KISS, and on-the-go/on-the-run stuff-retrieval demands a top-opener, at least for me.

Ivan, I suppose reasonable people may differ. I've used the Mar-Pat and other stiffener-inclusive framless packs. Good stuff. Too tactical for me. I'm a bit older and more of the "business casual" executive type, so I need to go with what fits my persona and can go office building, street, sewer tunnel.

Jon, when doing trail hikes for exercise, I average the standard 3 to 4 miles per hour. I walked almost continuously, with some breaks, so I'd estimate 20 to 30 miles per day. Again, I wasn't race-walking, I was focusing on getting through different neighborhoods and zones, commercial, residential, the 'hood...and being low-key, fitting in, or vanishing.

I'm starting to like this whole urban hide thing. Hide in plain sight, part of the scenery.

Hopefully I'll report again soon.

Thanks to all for the kind feedback!
I like the 'school pack'. You can pick them up cheap at 2nd hand stores, some of them very good quality.
Very few have waist belts, and they are not quite big enough for me.
I tried pairing them with belt packs and shoulder bags/pouches, but that just seemed too complicated.

And I was happy to read about the usefulness of 'top loading' packs, since that's what I use. You make sense.

My pack is a red colored Kelty, internal frame, very comfy. But I have a GI camo blouse that I can cover it with if in the woods.
Best of both worlds - yuppie/hiker/nerd in the city, GI in the boonies. In certain areas, maybe a tattered trash bag cover would be best.

Anybody that looks like they have even a candy bar will be targeted in certain circumstances. Grey man - that's the survival mode. Flexibility. Be a chameleon.
 

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I'd be really interested in hearing about the complete contents of the OPs bag and the philosophy underlying his decisions.

I've been through several walking pilgrimages where a large group of us walked 100km through the Quebec countryside over three days, though our packs and bags were ferried between locations for us, and I never carried more than a small pack with some extra water, snacks, a jacket and maybe my portable fishing rod. I would have to agree that if one were to be walking almost non-stop for eight or more hours, that even 20lbs of gear will be noticed by the end of the day!

I suppose the question comes down to what one wants the bag to do and how far they think they might have to walk with it. I could comfortably walk a few hours with about 50lbs of gear, and probably repeat that at least two or three times in one day without overly straining myself, though some continued exercise would help build the stamina to repeat that for two or three days without looking to ragged by the end of it. But is that really what I'd be doing in an emergency situation? I can picture a bag that I could quickly grab in case of fire or a sudden evacuation, and perhaps even be able to carry several miles to get home from work or get to a relatives place, or maybe hike several miles into the woods with for a few days of fishing and hunting. Getting to a rural BOL location might require walking further, but even if road access were dicey I'd probably get most of the way there on wheels. I don't foresee a situation where too many of us would be humping it far to get ahead of the masses, like the streams of refugees that tried to outrun the Blitzkrieg.

That's not to knock the OPs experiment, which among other things sounds like a neat way to develop some situation awareness of his new home, while offering a realistic test of his physical abilities and kit. And while I'm less concerned about the tactical look, perhaps that's because much of coyote brown or other subdued tactical bags that I've seen could also fit with the business casual look that I too would want to convey in the city. It's actually neat to hear about people actually testing there kit!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Canadian,
Thanks for the insightful comments. I haven't posted much because I'm one of those who just doesn't like too much personal information being out there, but I'm learning to overcome that bias.

I totally agree with you that it's somewhat ludicrous to assume we can have a huge ruck and outrun the blitzkrieg. I was not in a new home, just visiting a new city for an appointment and tried an experiment. It was more about blending in than the quantity of gear I could transport. I am largely urban and don't think it's realistic for me to head into the deep woods. For me, it's more about gray man, and being part of the scenery. Therefore, my gear was largely urban survival: water, food, jacket, button down shirt to swap for the polo shirt in needed to hang around an office building, lockpick set, pry bar, change of socks and underwear, notebook and pen, phone cords and extra power packs, GPS, compass. Oh, and one of the durable door-lockers so you can hide out in a large closet or room, which may or may not have a key lock, and secure it from the inside. (Eschew the hard plastic devices, go for the durable metal ones; they work.)

By the way, I happened to traverse a small town where they essentially prohobited cell towers. The "GPS" on your phone, if using cellular triangulation, won't work. It bounced all over the place, like the damned Bermuda Triangle! Have a back up compass and the knowledge to use it. And learn to tell time by the sun and your watch.

I forgot to mention defense items, gray man style. Ersatz Kubotons (large sharpie pen at the read), NON-tactical looking tactical pens (another favorite topic), and my favorite, a high intensity (300 lumens or more) small non-tactical looking flashlight. When accosted, it will blind and disorient even in daylight .Teach the women in your family how to use it; better than mace. I also have some martial arts training although as I am an older guy now, Situational Awareness is more important a skill. Back in my home state, me and the wife have concealed permits and I long ago taught the kids to safely operate revolvers, semi-auto pistols, bolt action rifles and battle rifles.

If I seem a bit nutty for a suburban family guy, part of the reason is I happen to be the grandchild of an Auschwitz survivor. So I heard the stories/testimony first hand growing up, from an eyewitness and victim. Lessons learned.

Hope I've in some measure answered your question.

Be safe.
 

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Urban and rural BOBs can and should be different within those areas, if you travel from an urban area back into a rural area then tip your bag more towards the wilderness side of things. This section is for urban survival though.

As for pack size, up to the person, but you can't say you differ with the OP if you carry the pack on your bike and he on his shoulders, just makes no sence. Walk away from your bike with your pack for 10 hours and see what your opinions are after that.

There is no purpose to camo colours in the city, if you are not in 100% camo then there is no point other than looking like a city hipster going to university or a high school drop out. If you want to seek help from more mature/established people than ditch the camo bum look and look more like the people you will be seeking help from.
 

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What time of day did you run around with a pack for 10 hours a day? Cool practice, but what about spending the night in a city with a back pack.

If the SHTF that back pack will become a huge neon target that scream, I have stuff come rob me. Try spending a few nights out and about now and see what happens.

What you did was cool enough, but you are barely scratching the surface of reality.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Klick,
I was day and evening hours. Did not sleep in the street. I don't plan to. I do not ascribe to the "lone survivor" ethos nor plan for that. I have family and colleagues who can be counted on so at minimum it's going to be a small group. There is also a larger group but I don't want to get into that here.

In my earlier years, both in the NYC megalopolis, as well as numerous western European, some eastern European, and several Middle Eastern capitals, I did indeed have to roam the streets and seek hides / resting places for days and weeks on end. Depending on the locale, my ability to blend in culturally and linguistically (vs. being an obvious foreign tourist or worse), I would sleep at night, but often remain aware overnight and find an urban spot to sleep for a few hours during the (presumably safer) days. I was totally on my own, however, without support.

I learned that if one finds oneself at 2 or 4 am in certain central train stations in certain countries, representatives of terrorists will offer to buy your American passport for a considerable amount of money. I don't advise using that as a method of financing your continued journeys, however.

What's right for me may not be right for you or anyone else. I have scenarios I plan for and understand the exigencies and contingencies thereof. Your situation is different.

And the backpack won't in my opinion, be a huge neon target that screams come and get me. It's just a bookbag size and structure like everyone else. And while I won't hold off the Nomads chapter of the Hells Angels, should they come round, I can indeed defend myself against the usual street thug or two, unaided.

I'm glad we're all discussing this. It's brought me out of my shell as a lurker.
This board is among the best of the survival boards, but the EDC boards are also very good.

Safety first, lads and lassies!
 

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Not impressed at all. Walking 10 hrs a day in a normal city under normal circumstances means nothing and all it does it gets you blisters and sore feet. Under the SHTF conditions you can not stroll around the city with your back pack no matter what color it is or what you are carrying in it..And practicing in a strange city? if you live in a city you may want to map out and maybe walk several escape routes but in a strange city that you may never come back to again? Don't see much value to it except for the exercise. IMHO much to about nothing
 
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