Toggle Ropes.

According to Home Guard Instruction Manual No.51, Part III a toggle rope is six feet long and made from hemp of one and a half inches' circumference. Spliced to one end is a wooden toggle, six inches long and one inch in diameter. At the other end is a spliced eye, described as “four inches”. Since the eye must fit over a toggle I suspect this dimension is the internal width. I will note here that most toggle ropes that appear in photographs appear much thicker than a circumference of one and a half inches would suggest. See here for more on how to construct a toggle rope.
The toggle rope is more an item for a soldier than for an individual such as a hiker or survivalist. A single toggle rope is useful, but its real strength is that it can be combined with the other toggle ropes carried in a unit. I will save descriptions of some of the ways a toggle rope could be used for a future post. Just to whet your appetite, here is a bridge made from toggle ropes.
For a modern version of a toggle rope a number of questions need to be addressed.
The first question is “how long it should be?” A storey of a building is about nine or ten feet high, so a three metre rope may be more useful in such an environment.
“How thick?” is another question. The rope needs to be thick enough that a soldier can climb it, but not so bulky it becomes a serious encumbrance. Is it practical to carry the rope with an overhand knot tied every half metre or so? If so, this may allow for an overall thinner and lighter rope. B-720 suggests: If your mission requires long ropes, consider the use of 1" [climber's] nylon tubing instead. It is lighter, more compact, and just as strong.
Rather than a toggle it may be more useful to have a large loop at one end and a smaller loop with a carabineer at the other. The larger loop should be wide enough for a booted foot to be placed in it. Two ropes can be joined by using the carabineer as a toggle in a sling toggle knot or toggled bight and eye.  
Should the toggle rope actually be a rope? Would one inch webbing work as well while being more compact. This line of thought suggests at least one man in the squad should carry an etrier rather than a toggle rope.

Soldier's Load Checklist

Over the past couple of years I have looked at the soldier’s load several times. Today’s blog attempts to bring many of these ideas together as a single checklist.
The list below does not include weapons, armour or other protective clothing. Nor have I included radios or other specialist items. The later may be subject to a future article. In passing, I will note that body armour becomes counter-productive if its weight limits activity to such an extent the soldier becomes more likely to be hit. Similarly there is little point in carrying such a weight of water that your water consumption increases. Munition loads must also not be excessive. In an urban environment shelter can easily be found, so there is little point in carrying a tent. Packs should be cached whenever possible. Ideally the soldier will be able to operate for a day or so with just the “body” items suggested below.
·       Space blanket, trouser pocket. Can also be used as a waterproof and for signalling.
·       Combat utility knife, worn on weak side pectoral.
·       Swiss Army Knife. Avoid multi-tools that weigh more than a few ounces.
·       First aid kit, trouser pocket. Kit for minor injuries and aliments.  
·       Fire kit, trouser pocket. Pair of lighters and some tinder in a tube or bag.
·       Fishing and snare kit, trouser pocket.
·       Battle trauma kit, belt pouch. For major injuries. Complete kit must fit inside one two-litre pouch.
·       Water bottle(s) or bladder, belt pouch. Two litres of drinking water carried on the person. Either a single bladder or two one-litre bottles.
·       Water purification tablets. A small supply carried in either a pocket or a pouch.
·       Compass. Some personnel will need sighting compasses. The average rifleman will find a wrist compass adequate to most of his needs.
·       Fish line, 30 metres. Numerous uses, this is in addition to any line in the fishing kit.
·       Toggle rope. Exact form to be discussed in this article.
·       Flashlight with filter. This is in addition to weapon-mounted systems. Can be used for signalling. Probably carried in misc. pouch.
·       Pencil and notebook. In waterproof plastic bag.
·       Small mirror. Lightweight and unbreakable. This can be used for signalling. Mounted on a lightweight telescopic handle this may be used to look around obstacles or search under vehicles.
·       Zip ties. Numerous uses, including securing suspects and prisoners. A small number may be attached to a belt with elastic and passed behind a pouch. Additional ties can be carried in a pocket or pouch or in the pack.
·       Camouflage face paint. A small stick or piece of burnt cork to be carried in a pocket or in the misc. pouch.
·       Minimal weapon cleaning kit.
·       Small bottle of insect repellent.
·       Small bottle of sun cream.
·       Plastic whistle (brown or olive) and Photon light on neck chain.
·       Additional field dressings.
Patrol Pack.
·       Groundsheet/ All-Weather blanket or kipmat. One man carries a kipmat, the other a groundsheet.
·       Blanket/ poncho liner and/or lightweight sleeping bag with liner. Either or both may be carried depending on conditions.
·       Pair of sandbags. Used to cover boots if sleeping in boots. Numerous other uses.
·       Pegs (with screwdriver). Pegs of a design suited to the type of terrain anticipated. Screwdriver used to make holes for pegs
·       Pole sections and guy ropes.
·       Spare socks. One pair of spare insoles.
·       Foot powder.
·       Wash Kit. Mesh bag with
o  Half bar of unscented soap or small tube of liquid soap.
o  Child’s toothbrush and small tube of toothpaste.
o  One disposable razor.
o  Deodorant/ antiperspirant stick (unscented).
o  Plastic comb.
·       Bandana, to serve as towel.
·       Metal canteen cup, spork and canteen cup stove.
·       Brew kit.
·       Paracord, about 10 metres.
·       Reserve insect repellent. A larger bottle, to top up that carried on the body.
·       Reserve sun cream. A larger bottle, to top up that carried on the body.
·       Repair kit. Needles, safety pins, whetstone, invisible thread, pack/ pouch buckles, buttons, superglue, electrical tape wrapped around spare pencil.
·       Remainder of weapon cleaning kit.
·       Extra first aid items.
·       Extra water.
·       Extra water purification tablets.
·       Extra fire items.
·       Toilet paper. In waterproof bag.
·       Duct tape.
·       Bivibag (optional). Carried by man with groundsheet.
·       Hammock (optional). Terrain dependent
 ·       Lightweight section of camouflaged net. (optional).
Movable items: Some items may be more comfortably carried with the pack but are transferred to the body if the pack is cached. These include:
·       Poncho.
·       Tool. This may be a spade or pick, a crowbar, brick hammer or small axe. A variety of tools would be carried by a unit and the exact load out varied with environment.
·       A few 4"-6" nails. Can be used for shelter construction or as emergency pegs. In an urban environment can be used to secure doors or windows or construct a ladder.
Clothing. What additional clothing carried will depend on mission duration and conditions. There is little point carrying clean underwear on a patrol intended to last just a few hours.
·       Accessories such as hats, scarves and gloves.
·       Spare jacket and trousers, depending on mission duration and climate. The soldier changes into his drier, cleaner clothes to sleep.
·       Underwear and socks.

Food. Food is supplied in forms that can be eaten without cooking, and preferably without utensils. A few items are carried on the soldier, the majority in the pack. Food can be heated with Zesto-therms so the canteen cup is the only cooking vessel carried.


Quickly Polished Off

Today’s blog is actually a follow up to two previous posts.
In The Great Locker Opening I mentioned that I intended to order another credit card kit and add the tools to the Serenity Plus kit. The new items arrived last night. In my review of the credit card kit I mentioned how nicely finished the items were. The new set was quite different. Not so shiny and with some very distinct burrs on some tools. On the other hand, the five-piece kit actually had six pieces, a duplicate snake being included. My cheap micrometer indicates the cruder picks are 0.2 to 0.5 mm thick while the better finished set are 0.1 to 0.2 mm.
If you read my previous article and the credit card set you received was not a nice as my first set, this is easily and quickly solved.
The burrs were quickly removed with a few swipes of a needle file. 600 grit abrasive paper is usually recommended for polishing picks but I didn’t have any. Given how rough the picks were I used 400 instead and then moved down to 800. This does not require a great deal of effort. About 30 seconds on each side of the pick should be adequate.
Most picks I have do not need polishing. I did recently apply some 800 paper to my Sparrow Worm, Warlock and Octo-rake. I think the two larger picks are designed with American locks in mind so could afford to lose a little bit of thickness. Likewise, the Worm is mainly used in narrow locks. The Worm had also got a bit discoloured so some light polishing cleaned it up.
The Great Locker Opening has an amusing footnote. The other day I noticed one of the lockers I had cleared had a new lock on it. Distinctive, since it was the same model of lock as that I had previously removed. Seems our squatter had got a two for one deal. A quick enquiry revealed the rightful tenant had not started using the locker yet. This may have been one of the quickest picks I have ever done. Not only did I know exactly the right turning tool and pick to use, but I even had the lock’s twin sister to practice on the night before.