COMMON SENSE GEAR GUIDE (REVISED) 3/2/05
With another Summer Season on the horizon, and so many Out of State Games on the docket, I thought it prudent to revise and repost the age old "Common Sense Gear Guide". This is aimed more at larger Operation type games than the more forgiving Open Session skirmishes but the information is useful. Whether you're a new player or an old one, this list is tried and true.
A couple of things before the Gear list:
1. BE PREPARED
- Know what the weather forecast is and be prepared for it. Bring rain gear if there's a chance of rain. Bring cold weather clothes if the forecast expects cooler temps.
- Know what's expected of you (IE: required gear) and your role in the game and be prepared for it. Do you need standards only? Are you supposed to have patches in a certain configuration on your BDU's? Do you need specific BDU?s? Know what you need and get it well before the game.
- If you have a few months to prep, make a list of what you still need. Don't get caught missing something on game day.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help, just do it early. Nothing is more annoying and generally scoffed at than asking for help the day before the game. Know what you need and get it done well before the game.
- Make sure your gun works and you have the appropriate loadout to play the game.
- Charge your batteries before the game. Bring a charger too but make sure you are ready to play without delays. Sleep with them if it's cold. Know where they are in your bag or your kit. ALWAYS have spares. Live true to the military mantra, 2 is 1, 1 is none.
- When at the game, make sure you know where all your stuff is. Don't drop things here and there. Police your own area and keep your stuff where you KNOW it can be found later. Close cases and bags. Theft isn't a huge problem in Airsoft, but don't tempt someone by giving them easy access.
- Bring enough food and water to sustain you for MORE than the time needed. Always have extra, just in case.
- Don't assume anyone will help you out with anything. Chances are there will be but always plan to be self-sufficient. If you do that, you'll never be at a loss before game time.
2. REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
Know your body and what it can handle. Don't weigh yourself down with heavy gear if you don't need it. Don't wear gear you haven't broken in or aren't used to yet. Realize you are playing a game. Have fun and don't take things too seriously. Don't be upset if you don't get a ton of trigger time. Everybody has a job to do on the field, make sure you do yours. Watch out on the field and listen for known issues. Ruts, holes, bee hives, slippery areas, etc. Know the field and moreover know to look where you are going. Don't be afraid to ask if you don't know what's going on. Don't be afraid to use your voice if you are having trouble or want to do something. Being meek won't help you in this game.
3. MARK YOUR GEAR
Make sure your gear can be told apart from everyone else's. How do you tell your M16 apart from the hundreds of others? If your answer is, "Mine has a scratch on the magwell?"....that is not enough.
- MARK YOUR MAGS!!! ALL OF THEM!!! Paint them a special way, a way NO ONE else has/does. Engrave/paint your initials on your mags. Make and affix labels. Draw on/tag your items in a unique way....and make sure your Team and friends know it. Mags are the #1 thing lost on the field, and when it happens you have no one to blame but yourself. Take the time to mark your mags and save yourself a lot of headaches....and money.
- Mark your guns. If you're using something unique (M249, M60, etc.) you don't have to worry. The fewer of your gun on the field, the less the chance of "misplacing" it. But if you are one of the many who uses a mainstream gun, you'll find a LOT of similar configurations. A PEQ and ACOG. Removable carry handle. Silencers. Flashlights. 3 point slings. In the end there's not a ton of stuff you can do to your gun....so with that in mind, mark your gun so you can tell it apart from others.
- Mark everything else too. Mark your kit, your bag, your jacket, your gun case, your plastic bins, etc. Everything. Airsoft players have a ton of common gear. Make yours....yours. Put your name on everything. It's your insurance policy.
People lose things on the field legitimately all the time, just do your part to make sure if/when you do lose something, there's a better chance of getting it back.
Better safe than sorry.
Methods differ person to person. Some lay everything out and pack carefully. Some guys just know what they need and throw it in a ruck 5 minutes before they leave for the game. Some guys pack their gear weeks in advance so they know they're covered. Some retentive types, like me, make a checklist and mark things off as they pack. If you have a method that works for you, great, keep it. If you don't....and you haven't made it out to a lot of larger games or more specifically camping Airsoft games, then read on.
Make a list, lay things out, and make 100% sure you have what you need. Start off with what you know you're going to need, your Airsoft guns and loadout. Gun, check. 6 Mags, check. 3 batteries, check. Then go to your gear. BDU's, check. Boots, check. Goggles, check. Then to your kit/gear. Then your camping supplies. Then your food and water rations. Then your peripherals. Start off with a big list, add everything you can possibly think of that you absolutely and might need. Then pare it down as needed. Let your experiences guide you for further games, until then follow the lists and recommendations of those who already have the experience. Once you're satisfied with your list, stick to it. The better prepared you are before you even leave your house (Hmmm, being prepared. I've heard that elsewhere), the better gaming experience you'll have.
Allow me to speak with the benefit of experience, arriving at the game site, getting ready to play, an hour before the game starts, is the WORST time to realize you forgot something.
5. THE LIST:
You will find that every player has certain things they like to have with them. Things you won't find necessarily useful. Just keep an open mind as you will no doubt learn things from the more experienced players. There are also the Universal Absolutes. The things that every player, regardless of preference, needs to play Airsoft. You would think these were common sense, but every game there's at least one hunyuck who didn't bring something they needed.
- THE "UNIVERSAL ABSOLUTES":
- GOGGLES/FACEMASK: The most important and necessary piece of Airsoft equipment, even before your gun. If you do't have proper safety equipment you won't even be able to walk on to the field. You're done before you even get a chance to get started. Also, if you forget yours and end up borrowing....they are not yours. I don't know about the rest of you, but I like MY goggles. I'm more comfortable and play better with what I'm used to. If I have to borrow a pair to play, I will, no doubt.....but I'd always rather have my own. Personally, I usually bring 2-3 different goggle systems, just in case. Also, make sure to check the rules of the field you are playing at. Under 18 needs full face? Shooting glasses acceptable? Ear and neck protection mandatory? Know the rules of the field before you get their and make sure to have the appropriate safety gear.
- A WORKING AEG: Duh, but you'd be surprised how many jerkweeds don't bring a working gun, hoping/expecting someone will be available to fix it for them. Or that they can rent even though they never let anyone know. Though I know many Operators will let a person play with a crap gun or even just with a rubber knife, that IS NOT why the rest of us came. If you don't have a working gun, you are a detriment to your squad and your Team. There is NO EXCUSE for not having a functioning Airsoft gun.
- CHARGED BATTERIES: Don't expect there will be a place to plug in your charger. Don't expect people will let you use there's. Don't expect anything but to be chided and to be sitting out. Be prepared (again with this preparedness stuff) and have your batteries ready to go.
- WATER: You should have at least have 1/2 gallons of water available to you PER day. You may not use it all, but better to not need it and have it....than to need it and have none or too little. Also, you need a way to carry some of that with you at all times. A canteen, Camelback, HydraStorm, plastic bottle, etc. Have a convenient method and use it. When you're not playing, drink. When you're winding your highcap, drink. When you're sitting around gabbing, drink. Even if you're not thirsty. By the time you get dry mouth, you're probably already dehydrated.
- FOOD: High Calorie Snacks, some thing to keep your energy stores filled. Even just a candy bar. If it's an all day affair or a camping weekend, plan accordingly. Bring a cooler for perishable items, a camp stove if you want to cook or heat up water, etc. Plan your meals and bring what you need to make it happen. Don't expect others to supply food for you.
- MAGS FOR YOUR GUNS: Another Duh. You can’t shoot, if you don't have anything to hold BB's.
- GAME SUPPLIES: BB's and Gas if needed. If the game does not provide any, bring you own. If you aren't sure there will be any for sale, pick some up before the game. No supplies, no play. It's as simple as that.
- EMERGENCY MONEY: ALWAYS a good idea to have some extra cash in case you're in a pinch and need to buy something. 5 to 10 bucks for an emergency. Also, don't just spend money because you have it in your pocket. Sure there may be vendors at the game, and you REALLY want that BB loader, but unless you have the disposal cash, save it. I've ridden with many a guy who's spent his last dime at the game site....and who has no cash to eat on the way home. Don't cut yourself short.
- MEDICATION: This is more of an overall addition to this list. If you have a specific malady and take prescription drugs for that condition, bring it to the game and make sure people know you have it. If it's something rare or unique or has a special device, make sure someone other than you knows how to use it/apply it. On top of that, bring spares and make sure people know where the spares are. This is a general tip for life, never go anywhere without medication you need to LIVE.
Some people would argue there should be more required items to that list, but Empirical Evidence has shown that THAT is the bare minimum.
- STRONGLY RECOMMENDED:
- BDU'S/CAMO: Depending on the game this may well be required but as it isn't always, this is under the strongly recommended category. Woodland, Marpat, OD, whatever. Buy yourself a good pair of BDU's and bring them.
- BOOTS: Not necessarily Military Boots, but have something with good traction, ankle support, and something meant to endure the outdoors.
As I said, depending on the game this may not be required or they may have certain allowances....but keep in mind that most big games and "OPs" are involved Military Simulations, and that dressing the part is not only preferred but expected.
- TAC GEAR/VESTS/LBV/LBE/ETC.: Something to carry all that expensive gear you've got. Something to hold your mags, batteries, water, snacks, BB's, etc. It doesn't have to be fancy. Bring a fanny pack if you want (not the most tactical but whatever) just make sure you can carry and access your supplies on the field.
- CAP/BOONIE/HANDKERCHIEF/HEAD WRAP: Something to keep the sun and elements off your head and out of your face. It's just a little extra protection.
- GLOVES: Same reason as the above, just keeping stuff off your hands. Also a good idea to soften those inevitable finger shots.
- BUG SPRAY: Bugs can be more than an annoyance; they can ruin your day. Have some bug spray or ointment and use it.
- LOADING TOOL/AUTO LOADER: You can get used to loading your mags by finger but it's always faster to use a tool. Just a convenience but one that makes you more effective on and off the field (less time wasted).
- GUN CASE - Get yourself a good sturdy gun case. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just something to protect your gun from bumps and scratches while in transit. It's also a great place to store all your gun accessories like mags, scopes, batteries, etc.
Most importantly, it's something discreet to put in your trunk. Yes, it's a gun case and if, Heaven forbid, you ever get pulled over while travelling to a game, your gun/s are in a safe, secure, and LEGAL place.
Make sure to mark your case, as every squared away Airsoft player has one. It's just more convenient to have yours marked or labeled so when you're looking at the pile of 50 cases....you can pick yours out of the crowd.
- SPARE AEG/AIRSOFT GUN - If you have one, you should bring it. Airsoft guns, especially AEG's, go down all the time. A simple grain of sand can screw them up big time. And trust me when I say it sucks to pay a big hunk of cash and travel hours to play a game....only to have your only gun go down in the first 10 minutes. It happens a lot more than you might think. So, bring a spare. Another AEG, a GBB, AEP, Shotgun, even a springer pistol. Whatever.
Having your gun break sucks and can be very disheartening, but not nearly as much as not playing at all.
- OTHER USEFUL ITEMS:
Obviously, some of these can/should be carried during play, while others are for the trip or the staging area. Regardless, you'll see a lot of these items used by other players....and that's because they're all good things to have.
- A change of clothes: There's nothing worse than a 2 hour car ride home in stinky bug infested clothes. Do yourself a favor and bring a spare set of clothes. Be comfortable before and after the game
- Wet Wipes/Baby Wipes: Nice for cleaning off dirt, grime, and face paint. Refreshing. In a pinch can be used as Toilet Paper. A real nice luxury.
- Toilet Paper: Not everyone can use leaves and dirt. Something easy and often forgotten. Also, those "Porta-Johns" don't have an infinite supply....and as anyone who's run out before can tell you, having a spare roll can be a life saver. A good fire starter if needed as well.
- Trash Bags: Not only for trash but for wet clothes and gear. Clean your area/camp site.
- Ziploc's or sealable plastic bags: For valuable items like your wallet or cash. For stray items or parts that always seem to pop up. For spare BB's. Plastic bags have endless uses on and off the Airsoft field. Very handy and take up very little room.
- Para cord and or Duct Tape: For those impromptu repairs. It's always good to have some supplies to deal with the little inconveniences life throws at you. Maybe some zip ties as well. You'd be surprised how many guns can be "fixed" with a little Duct Tape.
- General Tool Kit: It happens to everyone. You're right in the middle of a firefight, and WHIRRRR!!! The Mechbox locks up. Have a little toolkit with the essentials:
o Screwdriver with multiple heads.
o Allen Head tools
o Spare fuses (if you use fuses)
o Electric tape
o Shock Oil
If you don't know how to work on your own gun then this may be moot but again, better safe than sorry.
- Personal MedKit: Band-Aids, alcohol wipes, aspirin, Benedryl, Tums, Imodium, etc. Just a little something for those general bumps, cuts, bruises, and general ill feelings that are inevitable being outdoors.
- Camp Chair: For the staging area/campsite. If you want to sit on the ground, more power to you tough guy. But this is one of the most often brought luxury items in Airsoft, not to mention camping.
- Watch/Stop Watch: It's just nice to know what time it is. If you're an experienced player you want to know when the game started and when it will end. A $15 piece of junk watch can be one of your best friends.
- Compass: Even if you don't know how to use one, they can be useful so you know your directions. "Where is the enemy base?" "Um, over there?" "Over where?!?"
- Radio: Not everyone likes to have one or even use one, but they are a valuable tool if used correctly. Also can be used if you need non-game related assistance. A head piece or mic with boom is a luxury here but can be really cool and really add to your look.
- Towel/Wash Cloth/Rag: Something to wipe the sweat away with or clean off with. Something to wipe off your gun and gear too.
- Flashlight/Lantern: For night games having a flashlight is a must, if not when playing, just to find your way back to camp after the game. Or as a signal if you are hurt. A lantern is always a great thing for the campsite. As some fields don't allow campfires, lanterns and flashlights may be your only light at night.
- Battery Charger: Just in case there IS a place to plug in?.
- CAMPING GEAR:
50% of the time larger Airsoft games involve an overnight stay....so you'll be camping. 9 out of 10 time's those camping will be "car camping". Meaning you'll drive to a spot in the staging area and set up camp right next to or very near your car. So, you can bring things you wouldn't normally bring when you go camping, luxury items if you will. Bigger bulkier items that most back country campers wouldn't be caught dead with. If you want to be a hard case and carry all your gear, Airsoft and camping, on your person, then go ahead tough guy....the wise Airsoft player, knows what to bring and how to stay comfortable during the downtime.
Now, I'm not going to post an actual list of gear to bring while camping. The reason being so many people like different things when they camp (foam vs. inflatable sleeping mats, blankets instead of sleeping bags, fleece instead of wool, etc.). If you've never camped before, ask questions and people will give you advice. If that still doesn't help, go to a camping store (like REI or Midwest Mountaineering) and ask them for help. You're looking for a good basic camping set up. Also, since this isn't hardcore, bring some luxuries like a pillow and shoes or sandals so you don't have to wear your boots all the time. Experience will be your personal guide when packing up your camping needs. You'll find some things you thought would be needed, you don't. Some things were only slightly useful but as they don't/didn't take up much space, you'll still bring it next time. And invariably, you'll find some gear you just can't live without.
Camping at Airsoft games is half the fun of bigger games. The camaraderie of the campfire. The cooling down period after the game to share heroic stories. The quiet mornings. For many of the veteran players and especially the older guys, travel games or games with camping are just like a vacation....with guns.
Think ahead. Be prepared. And don't be afraid to be comfortable.
6. THINGS NOT TO BRING ON THE FIELD:
The following are recommendations based on empirical proof. There are some things which are better left in the staging area or in your car. Items that have nothing to do with Airsoft but if lost, affect your "real life".
- Keys: Car, home, locker, keyless entry device, etc. Your key chain. A lot of players have these in their pocket when they get to the field and don't bother to take them out when they go to play. Though we all understand that you might not want to keep these in a bag or something that someone else could rifle through, losing your keys in the woods sucks. Plain and simple. Not to mention they can jingle and poke you in the leg. If you're going to carry your keys on the field, don't put them in your pants pockets, even if they button down. Put them in the chest pocket of your BDU's. If you don't have a lot of keys put them on twine or paracord and hang them around your neck (or put them on your Dog Tags if you have a set). Put them in a pouch on your gear that you DO NOT usually access during a game. People have lost their keys while playing Airsoft. Not a ton of players, but enough that I think it merits mention.
- Wallet/Cash: Another essential of life. Your cash, ID, credit cards, etc. This is another item that if you lose it on the field you are screwed; maybe even more so than if you lose your keys. As far as I'm concerned, your wallet should never go on to the field. Not only could it get lost, but it could get ruined if it gets wet or slammed enough. More than ruining the wallet, it could ruin what's inside. If you're set on keeping it on you (for security or general peace of mind) during the game, take precautions. Again, I recommend NOT putting your wallet in your pants pockets. Chest pocket of your BDU's or a dedicated pouch on your gear that is easy to check but rarely accessed. We've had more people lose wallets than keys....and when it happens there's ALWAYS the initial concern that "someone stole it". When the truth is, most of the time it's just lost. Now, if you're going to leave your wallet in the staging area, take the time to put it somewhere safe, somewhere out of the open. Don't just throw it in your open bag next to your cell. Wrap it in a towel and shove it in the bottom of your bag or in a side pouch. Give it to the field owner or ref for safe keeping. Put a lock on your bag (carry the key on you) and secure everything inside it. Whatever you choose to do, just think about it before you go onto the field.
- Cell Phones: I see guys carrying these all the time and just wonder why? A cell phone is an expensive piece of gear that you really have no business taking onto the field with you. Are you really expecting a call while you're playing? If so, maybe you shouldn't be on the field. Cell phones do not take kindly to BB shots (trust me) nor to being smashed or soaked. All of which is possible on the Airsoft field. Why take the risk? Now I know some people will still feel the need to carry there phones out on the field....so if you're one of those retentive types, follow the same guidelines for keys and wallets. Not in your pants pockets, somewhere secure and seldom accessed.
Why seldom accessed? Because the less likely you are to open that pouch or pocket, the less likely something will accidentally fall out. Not brain surgery here. Just common sense.
When I do feel the need to bring something of my real life onto the field I always add the safety precaution of putting the items in a Ziploc or some other plastic bag. This prevents any water damage and keeps everything together. I also take the time to put them in a secured pouch, usually on my back, that closes with Velcro and a clip.
In closing, let me remind readers that this guide was written with larger games, Operations, and travel games in mind. Games where once you get to the field, you are pretty much stuck there until the game is over. They are not forgiving venues to be unprepared. As far as the MAA is concerned, if you do not have the proper gear to play, you shouldn't even show up.
Airsoft is a game, yes. A hobby too. And some newer players just don't have the funds or time to build a flawless field kit. We understand this, but always keep in mind that larger games are more than just a big Open Session Skirmish. They are a Military Simulation. Time has been spent planning, making props, assigning Teams and missions, etc.; it's a lot more complex....and given the heightened level of planning, players are expected to match that dedication to the game. Having the proper equipment is not only preferred in these games, it's usually mandatory. Regardless of "how much" you want to play, be honest with what you think you can provide yourself. If you don't think or flat out cannot meet the requirements, don't sign up.
That being said, if you have the basics, the required items, and want to play....don't let people tell you you can't. If you meet the gear criteria, get out there and play. Will there be things you'll find you want later? Yes, and there always will be. Will you see and learn about new things that you may want to get? Of course. This is Airsoft, there's always something else to buy. The most important thing is to get out there and play. Learn by doing, by experiencing.
I hope this guide is helpful to at least some of you. It has been written and rewritten hundreds of times....as I'm sure this one will be edited someday too....so that you, the Airsoft players, can have a basic reference.
<small>[ December 30, 2008, 11:00 AM: Message edited by: THE ARCHANGEL ]</small>
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