What Does a Military Combat Tracker’s EDC Gear Consist Of?

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What Does a Military Combat Tracker’s EDC Consist Of? John Hurth of TÝR Group Walks us Through His Loadout

By John Hurth

Combat Tracker Load by TYR Group

A combat tracker squad needs to travel as light as possible, but still carry the right equipment to survive on the battlefield. In order for the tracker and his squad to successfully perform their combat tracking mission, mobility will be key. The trackers ability to react to the enemy is reduced when overburdened with a heavy load, which will cause physical/mental fatigue and place the trackers in danger when needing to rapidly react to enemy contact.

The trackers combat load is the mission-essential equipment required to fight and survive in the environment he’s operating in. He can’t be expected to carry gear for every possible contingency or combat situation, rather his loadout must be based on his particular mission and the ability to remain mobile but combat effective. When deciding on equipment, choose items that are light and multipurpose. Fighting loads must be light so that the tracker may remain alert, agile and stealthy.

Combat Tracker Load by TYR Group

Mission essential equipment is broken down into three categories:

  • Level 1: Describes the uniform and equipment that is worn by the individual tracker. These items are the uniform, boots, belt, dog tags, compass, tourniquet and any other survival items carried on his person.
  • Level 2: Describes the fighting load carried by the tracker which should not exceed 48 pounds. These items are typically the trackers individual weapon, basic load of ammunition and load bearing equipment.
  • Level 3: Describes the approach-march load carried for extended operations, which should not exceed 72 pounds (including your fighting load.)

Level 1

Combat Tracker Load by TYR Group

1. Camouflage Jacket. With 1″ square piece of infrared identification, friend or foe (IFF) tape attached.
2. Camouflage Headgear. With a 1″ square piece of Infrared IFF tape placed on the top of the headgear for identification by friendly air.
3. Signal Device. Phoenix IR-15 programmable transmitter with a 9V battery for marking one’s own position at night and a 10″x10″ orange signal square cut from a VS-17 Panel. This panel is used as a recognition signal device for linking up with other ground elements.
4. Identification Tags.
5. SAR Eclipse Signal Device. The SAR Eclipse device is very compact and has been tested and observed out to 10 miles during daylight conditions.
6. INOVA Microlight. This small flash light comes in white, green, blue and red colors and is perfect for signaling or conducting map checks at night.
7. Signal Mirror. Besides using a signal mirror for signaling, applying camouflage or shaving, it’s also a good piece of equipment to deflect and manipulate light in order to view details of an impression.
8. Whistle. A whistle comes in handy when having to signal commands to other friendly elements over gunfire.
9. Magnetic Compass. Although a GPS is a good piece of equipment, it will never take the place of good compass.

Combat Tracker Load by TYR Group

10. Camouflage Trousers.
11. Trouser Rigger’s Belt.
12. Lighter.
13. Notebook. This notebook is used to record information gained during the mission, along with footprint data cards.
14. Map, Protractor and Lead Pencil.
15. Field Expedient Patch Kit. To quickly repair minor rips or tears to the uniform during a mission.
16. Rations. Should be high energy food items.
17. Boots.

Level 2

Combat Tracker Load by TYR Group

1. Load Bearing Equipment (LBE). In this case a Tactical Tailor MAV, Split Front rig.
2. Radio.
3. Magazines. No more than a basic combat load of ammunition for the weapon system should be carried on the LBE.
4. Electrical Tape. To secure items together while in the field.
5. Colored Surveyors Tape. For marking the last known sign.
6. GPS. The GPS is a good piece of equipment that can track the route of the squad and give the squad’s precise location. However, don’t become over reliant on technology that’s battery operated. When not pinpointing your location, keep the GPS turned off to conserve the battery life.
7. Strobe Light with IR Cover. For signaling friendly forces.
8. Multi-Tool. These are great for making small repairs and typically have a knife, file, flat tip and philips head screw driver, can opener and pliers.
9. Spare Batteries. Enough for all your equipment during the operation. When acquiring equipment, choose items that require the same type of batteries. AA batteries are compact and common enough that they can be found just about anywhere in the world.
10. Weapons Oil and Brush. A bottle of oil to protect and lubricate your equipment is essential in any environment. A shaving brush is also useful for brushing dust and debris from equipment.
11. Measuring Device. For taking measurements of impressions or showing scale when taking pictures.
12. Headlamp. A headlamp is a good item to have when it’s important to have both hands free such as conducting a prisoner search or some other type of exploitation.
13. 550 Cord. 25-30 feet of cordage should be carried for repairing, tying or lashing items.
14. Knife Sharpener. Carrying a sharpener is essential, as your knife won’t do you any good if it’s not sharp.
15. Camouflage Face Cream.
16. Water Bottles.
17. Knife. A multipurpose knife that has at least a six inch blade should be carried. The knife should be heavy, sharp and versatile enough to use for building shelter, various survival tasks or in use as a fighting knife. The knife pictured above was a collaborative design between the author and custom knife make Jeff Crowner.
18. Smoke Grenade. For screening or signaling.
19. Fragmentation Grenades. At least two fragmentation grenades should be carried when on patrol.
20. Individual First Aid Kit. This kit provides the necessary equipment to perform Self-Aid/Buddy-Aid and addresses the two leading causes of death on the battlefield, extremity hemorrhage and airway obstruction. Kit in photo includes: Tourniquet, (2) Elastic Bandages, Gauze Bandage 4-1/2″, Adhesive Surgical Tape , Airway Nasopharyngeal Airway, (4) Exam Gloves, (2) Pri-Med Gauze Bandages, EMS Shears, Triangular Bandage and Water Purification Tablets.
21. Gloves. Used to camouflage and protect the hands from sharp objects.
22. Mag-Lite Flashlight/Blast Match. The Mag-Lite is for tracking during night time conditions. A Blast Match is another great fire producing survival tool designed for all-weather use and can be operated with one hand in case of injury.

Combat Tracker Load by TYR Group

23. Rifle. The rifle that is issued. Contrary to popular belief, soldiers and Law Enforcement alike don’t get to pick and choose their weapon system or the caliber it shoots. No matter what type of weapon is issued, the operator needs to be an expert with it.
24. Weapon Accessories. Optical scopes or red dot sights may be required for the mission depending on METT-T. Also, a Target Pointer/Illuminator/Aiming Light is good to have for operations at night.

Level 3

Combat Tracker Load by TYR Group

1. Ruck Sack. This piece of equipment holds all mission essential equipment that’s to be carried by the tracker for extended operations. The size of this pack is dictated by the amount of equipment the tracker will need to sustain himself until a resupply can be requested. The estimated time on operation, terrain operating in and weather conditions the trackers will have to endure are all be factors to be considered.
2. Rations. Enough rations for 48-72 hours should be carried.
3. 3-Liter Hydration System. The tracker needs to carry enough water to last for the duration of the operation, or until a suitable water source is found, or resupply occurs. Water is always consumed from the pack first. Should the pack be dropped for any reason during the operation the tracker should have full canteens on his LBE.
4. Carlton’s CAT PAWS (Super Sneakers). CAT PAWS are a great item to place over the soles of the boot so the tracker can conceal his own tracks.
5. VIPER Hood. The Viper hood breaks up the recognizable and familiar outline and shape of the human head and shoulders. The best aspect of the Viper is that it is designed to be worn in conjunction with the trackers combat equipment without interfering with the trackers ability to get to the pouches on his LBE.
6. Large Trash Bag. For waterproofing or to store trash while on an operation.
7. Weapons Cleaning Kit. This kit should be capable of maintaining your weapon in a field environment. At a minimum, the kit should contain a bore brush, chamber brush, cleaning rod, slotted tip for patches, patches, CLP, lens brush for optics and an all-purpose utility brush.
8. Night Vision Device. Night vision is required when conducting operations at night.
9. Spare Magazines. Three extra loaded magazines.
10. Binoculars. Should be used whenever possible to detect the enemy from a distance. They also provide a larger field of view than a monocular or scope.
11. VS-17 Panel. The VS17 Signal Panel can be laid out on the ground to identify troop positions to friendly aircraft or to identify where help is needed.
12. E-Tool. The E-Tool is a lightweight collapsible spade shovel that can dig or chop.
13. Hammock. Depending on the operational environment, a hammock may be essential for staying dry when bedding down for the night.
14. Sewing and Equipment Repair Kit. This should include sewing thread, needles and safety pins.
15. Hygiene Kit. Minimal hygiene items such as nail clippers, tooth brush, tooth paste and small wash rag.
16. Compression Sack or Waterproof Bag.
17. Basha/Tarp. This needs to be large enough to provide protection from the elements as a shelter, or used as a makeshift litter to transport a casualty.
18. Sleeping Gear. Depending on the environment, this could range from a sleeping system with a ground mat for extreme temperatures, to a poncho liner for more tropical climates.
19. Gore-Tex Bivy. The bivy provides a waterproof, breathable cover that keeps out wind, snow and rain.
20. Bungee Cords. For quick lashing of items such as the tarp.
21. 550 Cord. 25-30 feet of cordage should be carried for repairing, tying or lashing items.
22. Spare Socks. Foot maintenance is imperative! Dry clean socks will help prevent blisters, hotspots and athlete’s foot.

Again, when deciding on equipment, choose items that are light and multipurpose. Fighting loads must be light so that the tracker may remain alert, agile and stealthy.

Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Please join us in welcoming John Hurth of TÝR Group as a Contributor on ITS. John is a retired U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier who served with 1st Special Forces Group at Ft. Lewis, WA where he participated in multiple deployments overseas to include two combat tours in support of the Global War On Terror. He now uses his years of tracking knowledge as the owner and lead instructor of the TÝR Group where he and his staff conduct training on various tracking techniques.

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  • ChrisBrooks2

    Seems like the perfect bugout bag. Now where can I get some grenades 🙂

  • Brian

    Great article! I think the take-away from this article is the methodology of the load out. Take the brand of equipment out of the picture and its about the how and why of the systems and overall load. Best write-up I have seen on a load out!

  • ChrisWaddell

    To  https://www.facebook.com/RVSGear?fref=nf
    How can you be a respectful company, when you get free advertisement by joining a Giveaway & have people sharing your posts & getting you page likes. Then at contests end you don’t Honor your end of the deal. I just happen to be the unlucky recipient who got drawn for your prize package. Here it is a year or two later & you still refuse to HONOR your agreement.  
    https://www.facebook.com/RVSGear?fref=nf you have No Honor nor Respect. End of Rant.

  • Marc3477

    Really like all the kit… but Tactical Tailor?  Why not go with a better quality LBE?

    • Vet

      Then you have obviously never used their gear. TT may not be “cool” anymore but that’s because they were one of the first. I’ve used their stuff over six tours and endless training in a decade. TT has been custom building concepts and gear based on the needs of 1SFG, 2/75 Rangers and many SBCTs since the beginning of the GWOT. Their original shop is still outside of fort lewis where they modify and repair gear for any troops, usually for free.
      During the first Iraq surge the army didn’t even have enough MOLLE gear at fort lewis and issued two battalions Vietnam Alice web gear. Logan DONATED load bearing gear to two battalions of infantry guys.
      Tactical tailors gear is combat tested and has been seen more action than most of the newer and flashier (though still quality and innovative) companies.
      While their innovation has slowed since the founder has passed (RIP Logan) their quality and commitment has not.

    • Doc3452

      Name one then? I’ve used TT in numerous combat deployments with zero deficiencies. Sounds like a gear snob comment from the uninitiated.

    • Marc3477


      Original S.O.E.  Toughest stuff out there, I’m just not a fan of TT.  
      I’ve got a mix of kit too…. over 7 years downrange in Iraq you kind of try different things.  
      Guess 7 years hasn’t entitled me to an opinion though.  
      ALL of our TT bags are ripping apart.  As for their other kit, it just isn’t built to the standard I would expect from a US company.

    • Doc3452

      I’m not debating your impressive internet resume. I once got a bronze star for actions during the battle of Hoth. But I digress.
      The article did not once tout tactical tailor as the only brand to get. It just showed a load bearing harness and his happens to be tactical tailor. Your only contribution was that he shouldn’t use that brand. Basically you just wanted to have another version of the redneck argument between Ford and Chevy.
      Seems like with 7 years deployment experience you would have more to offer than arguing brand names.

    • Shayhan27

      Marc3477 I have this exact same rig and it has gotten me through three deployments. I have mixed in a little T.A.G. stuff with it but This is a nice piece of equipment.

    • BadDad310

      I’ve always had good experiences with Tactical Tailor

  • MAD

    Great set-up & great article, thanks for sharing!

  • nDjinn

    As civi tracker trained for SAR/leo uses, I found that pretty cool.

  • Awesomeness1

    It’s interesting that the key place he saved weight was that there is no body armor in this load-out.

  • TheWaker43

    Very good article.  I’m interested in the Phoenix IR-15.  But as a civilian I was wondering if there is anything similar that emits a white light.  I can see it coming in pretty handy for a hiking or backpacking trip if one becomes lost.

  • Guest

    ITS, TYR, or anyone that knows- what pack is that in the Level 3 picture?
    Also what is the make of the 2 large sustainment pouches on the level 2 rig?

    • DTM Countersniper

      USGI Molle 2 Medium Pack

  • theonlyomar

    I need more articles like this one, very interesting would like to see what other combat units carry.

  • pierotiz

    are excellent tips, plus they could add that also to be in good condition should be proper and abundant water consumption before leaving, besides underwear should be comfortable tights runner or cyclist and socks treakking, as it says in article accessories must have dual functions besides being minimalist, which is not waterproof this always tight. 

    pd: Original text in Spanish translated by google translate. 
    “What you Carges, survive”

  • ModernHeretic

    Mr.Hurth, are you able to utilize the hip belt on your ruck while wearing the MAV as loaded/configured in this article? Is there any impedance with the pack at the rear of your MAV where the pouches mount?

  • NathanZachary

    I was just a humble 13F in a LRRP unit, and it’s been some years ago….not some delta-fied, tracking bloodhound. But I question the validity of the load out here. Has the author gone native, or does he truly suggested a load out for a 3-day pack sans TP?

    • AndrewKim1

      There is tp in the MREs.

    • Thank you! I honestly don’t believe they have ever tracked someone wile in combat. Like bring a hammock? Wtf your more than likely not going to sleep. I don’t even stop to take a piss. Do you know who you’re tracking? Because leaving any spoor what so ever could get your team or platoon killed.

    • ipsd48

      ………………and nobody mentioned a spare pair of socks?

  • DaFerg

    Just my two cents. I like to wrap a some 100 mph tape around my canteens/water bottles. Easier than a whole roll of the stuff and lots of uses. I prefer to carry two contractor trash bags with me. They are thicker than normal trash bags and make less noise. I fold mine up, rubber band them good and put them under my water bottles. I always carry pace beads with me and probably always will. Good for a faulty GPS and gives my hands something to do while I’m thinking. Last thing I always have is a small pouch of hard candies. Great for an energy boost when you’re out for a bit. Plus they are good for any kids you stumble across. Give a kid candy and he might give you some info or help you out. Civilian tracking I carry a small all-weather flip camera for video and still shots. Its something that can take a beating unlike my cellphone and I won’t cry if I lose it.

  • MatthewDrake

    So just as an added measure – if the time out could be longer term that as planned – you might consider throwing in a pocket sized KJV New Testament. Not merely for religious purposes, but reading keeps the mind clear and fresh through the down times.

    • KevinMassey1

      MatthewDrake Even though I do not condone this action but the New Testament can also be used as good tender for an emergency fire. The paper is thin,dries quickly if wet, and ample supply.

  • DeniseLynnHemmingway

    Liked this article so I shared the link to it with one of my MAGs (Mutual Assistance Groups) to give the members a better idea on what to pack and how to pack lightly for tactical operations.

  • robtaylor1234

    Excellent article.  Could you please identify the brand of canteen pouches and utility pouches on your MAV.  There is very limited real estate on the MAV

    Question;  why do you prefer a MAV to a battle belt like the British load bearing gear

    • Efrain Suarez II

      I belongs with the MAV.

  • DarrenPugh

    Shouldn’t the multitool and knife be at level one. I work as a civie facilities person on a naval base and i use a multitool and knife everyday.

    • chasebyrd

      DarrenPugh with it being at leval 2 its not cluttering up your cargos and its eassier accesable from the fighting load carrier

  • JimDangerFisher

    I would add a small set of binoculars and a digital camera with spare batteries. The binos are very handy in finding trails if you lose them (helps you focus without disturbing the spoor) and the camera to take pics of prints for easier reference to go back to.

  • Honesty I don’t agree. It’s bull Shit. You not a Boy Scout. You need to have your flankers worry about security. If your tracking someone you have to see every tack not every track is a track. When you find your spore you move forward not worrying about marking it. Your spotter will stay at last spore flankers not to pass until your next spore. To each there on. But when I’m tracking someone its not a good reason. You take the time to fuck with all that crap your wearing then your the one being tracked.

  • Sirant1

    When I graduated high school and enrolled in the local junior college where I lived–I would somtimes go and grab a bite to eat in cafeteria–At that time ,the guys were coming in from the Vietnam war on I guess the GI reeducation bills–I always seem to sitting next to an ex-serviceman  who I think needed some big therapy as he seem mentally troubled ( most likely from combat). He always hold decent conversation ,but he always was muddeling a phrase under his breath “loop the skinney”–One day he just disaappeared ,but I found out from a some other guy that knew him better–that he was a Marine sniper–I had a dream last night and I kept seein this guy sitting at that cafeteria tabel and saying that same phrase over and over–some 40 years ago–I have a feeling what that meant ,but does anyone know for a fact what that phrase that guy was sayin actually meant

  • ultraraid

    Hi. That is attached to SAR Device? Greatland Laser?

  • Jonathan Wilfred Michelin

    Im planning to do a similar pack loadout, just a few more items added, trying to narrow it down, and adding food stuffs, what is the weight on this specific loadout?
    also what type of outer gear would you have for say Northern Canada areas?

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