It's no surprise that preparing for a Blackline event has a lot to do with your mission. Whether you're deploying by helicopter, conducting urban surveillance, or setting out on a CSAR mission... your kit will change a lot.
That said, there's a quick and easy way to determine what you'll need. This short guide will provide you with some essentials to consider, with a focus on overnight events in rural areas. You can skip to the bottom of this article for a rural events checklist.
Gear breaks down into four categories:
Safety gear is the minimum equipment you should always have on you. In many cases, it's absolutely required for your participation. Failure to have it may mean you get retasked. In the event of an emergency, it can be these small things that will help you out the most.
Whether you're attending one of our urban surveillance events or a 48-hour operation in the woods, you must have eye protection if airsoft is being used. We highly recommend the use of wrap-around or full-seal glasses or goggles to keep your eyes safe. Your choice of eye protection must meet an internationally recognized standard for eye impact protection such as:
Flashlight and Compass
One of the worst possible safety issues is being alone, lost in the woods, in the dark. A flashlight and a compass are required to prevent this.
At the start of the event, we provide you with a 'safe direction' to go if you are lost. If you become disoriented at night, you can use your compass and flashlight to navigate to safety.
Notepad and Writing Tools
While a notepad is critical for recording mission objectives, radio frequencies, and timings, it's also a foolproof way to remember safety information.
While missions are often time-sensitive and benefit from quick access to a watch, having one is also critical for event timings and to know when a failsafe ENDEX occurs.
You must have a way to call for help, coordinate with the event hosts, and receive instructions. A radio and a cellphone are an excellent combination with one being able to replace the other if it fails.
If all of your other safety equipment fails, a whistle is your last resort. Universally recognized as a distress signal, three short blasts on a whistle will elicit help from anyone nearby. This is particularly useful if you're unable to move or can't call out loudly.
A Note on Phones
Many people ask if they can use their phone to replace a watch, a compass, a notepad, and a flashlight. The answer is yes, but we STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU DO NOT DO THIS.
Your phone is a delicate piece of technology which relies on staying dry and charged. If it is damaged or dies you have lost many critical safety items. It needs a signal to be a useful emergency communications device, and it produces light which may be an issue during covert events. Redundancy is important when it comes to your security, so consider a quick Amazon order to pick up additional equipment.
** FOR SOME EVENTS ** we will prohibit the use of a phone as a safety item, and you will be required to have a notepad, watch, flashlight, and other communications tool. We will ensure you know where your phone will not be sufficient to meet the equipment requirements.
If you're attending an event with a tactical component, and are not renting any gear from us, you'll need your personal fighting equipment. Primarily this consists of an airsoft device and load-bearing equipment to carry magazines, radios, and other essentials.
A critical note here is that many of our events take place away from electricity. You'll need to carry extra batteries, air, or gas for your devices. When it comes to ammunition, we require you avoid silica BBs as they can damage glass or eye protection. We also recommend you use bio degradable BBs.
When you're operating in a remote and tactical environment, you need sustainment or existence equipment. This means hauling your shelter, sleep, food, and water on your back. The equipment you need varies a lot on your capabilities, the seasons, the weather, and the type of event.
Sleep and Shelter
For sleeping, the seasons and weather will dictate your choices. During the summer, a simple insulated jacket or poncho liner will keep you warm. In cooler weather, more robust cold weather gear is necessary. Regardless of the season, you'll want to ensure you've got a ground pad that keeps you dry and warm.
Shelter at a Blackline Event differs from your standard camping trip in that your shelter must be low profile to avoid detection. A large tent isn't as flexible in where it can be deployed and is often more visible in colour and profile.
We recommend a tarp and cordage. This will allow you to build multiple shelter types in a low profile way. For this, the minimum you'll require is a tarp, cordage (like 550 paracord), and a knife to cut rope. For ease of setup, we also recommend tent pegs that will fit through grommets on your tarp.
A more detailed breakdown of options for shelter can be found in our article "Shelter Options - Operating from a Three Day Pack"
Food and Water
It is hard to dictate requirements for food and water as it varies so much on personal needs and weather conditions. As with fighting equipment, many of our events do not have food or water available.
We recommend you ensure you bring enough water for the event length and the predicted temperatures. Failure to have enough will make you less effective and can lead to medical emergencies. Consider personal experience when choosing the amount of water to bring. Three to five litres is a good starting point in warm weather.
Personal preference will dictate how much food you bring. Once again, consider the duration of the event and the weather when packing. Food options include include prepared meals such as sandwiches, dehydrated food, and snacks. When selecting items, remember that some items require additional logistics. For example, cooking dehydrated meals means you must bring a stove and fuel. They also require you to haul more water. You can read more about your food and water options in our article "Pack Options and Sustenance - Operating from a Three Day Pack"
While we would encourage you to pack a toothbrush and deodorant (even if just for the ride home), you may also find bug spray and sunscreen critical items to pack. Insects are prevalent in the woods and remaining effective means not being preoccupied with killing mosquitos. Similarly, sunscreen will help you avoid burns both during and after the event.
Finally, you need the specific equipment for the mission at hand. This will be completely up to you and your team as you develop your plan. Night vision? Camouflage nets? Radios masts? Litters and medical supplies? Your team can distribute the gear across personnel as required, so ensure you leave some room to help your unit with the load.
YOUR RURAL EVENT CHECKLIST
Compass and Flashlight
Notepad and Pencil
Ammunition and magazines
Gas or Batteries
Load carrying gear
Sleep gear (insulated blanket or jacket, sleeping pad)
Shelter (tarp, cordage, knife, tent pegs)
Water (3+ Litres)
Food (48 hours)