In a previous article i had reviewed my personal survival kit which is part of my battle gear.This means that the survival kit stays at the belt all the time,until the need arises and i have to use it.
When i was serving i was a big gear-holic!(still am,but since my budget are limited,i try not to spend much;that doesn’t mean though that i don’t try to learn what new gear is out and what can offer).I had three different types of load bearing equipment but all had the same configuration in mind,five different types of boots,couple knives,backpacks and other stuff….I used to own an Eagle Industries Air Rescue vest,an Arktis NL-rig and an ALICE belt,harness and few pouches.After i finished my service and due to the bad financial situation i am facing the last years,i had to sold most of my gear to cover basic needs.But,since i’m still considering as reservist(all Greek male population considered reserved military personel until the age of 65) i had to keep some things,in case of a draft and also because i am preparing for emergency situations.I had sold the two vests but i kept all the ALICE gear that i had and i also bought couple new pouches for my rig.I really like ALICE equipment(and the concept in general)for couple reasons;it’s very affordable,still can be found in large quantity,it has very good construction quality,it’s light and offers awesome ventilation,so it’s perfect for hot weather and long range patrols.During the hot summers,it was my preferable gear and for eight years had served me well.Drawbacks are the limitation of the things that you can load and that you cannot combined it with a large pack.The waist belt of the pack will interfere with the LC belt causing problem;you had to remove pouches from the belt which is no good,during an operation.If you choose a smaller pack,like a medium ALICE pack(without the frame,though) or a modern 3-day pack,you will not have any problems.
I had set up the configuration of the harness with two things in mind;that the gear should served military rifles and my shotgun.Legal firearms you can own here are shotguns and under specific circumstances handguns.Shotguns are wide spread,cheap and the process to get one is very simple .On the other handguns have way more restrictions;to own one you must prove that your life is in danger(forget it,only rich people can go that way)and you need to carry one or be a member at a shooting club,no permit to carry though;the trick with the club is that you must participate in certain number of matches every year to keep the ownership license of your handgun,otherwise you will loose it.This is expensive and not many can afford the fees for the matches and the ammunition you had to provide during them.I used to be a member of an IPSC shooting club when my finacials were better but after i moved in the countryside and without a stable job,i had stopped that hobby for saving reasons.Luckily, i hadn’t prurchased a handgun by that time,i needed two more matches to be eligible to apply for a permittion to buy one handgun,otherwise it would have been confiscated now…The military rifles that are in service are the M16 and M4 family,FN FALs and HK G3.The first two(the M16 and the M4 are the standard issue since 2000,limited number of FALs are kept for the reservists) are used by my fellow Raiders,Marines and Spec-Ops Units and the third is the basic rifle of the rest armed forces.So,the gear should have the ability to accomodate magazines and ammunition for these type of guns and other essentials like first aid kit pouch,water canteen pouch and other items that i will explain them during this article series.
The belt i am using is a simple LC-2 belt with the black quick release button;i also have a belt extender in case i had to wear body armor so i can wear the harness over it.Adding the green padded sleeve from Eagle Industries make this belt very comfortable to wear,even for long period of time.The padded sleeve isn’t something new;English soldiers used to add such sleeves to their belts,so the system is already tested and proven.Keep in mind that many companies nowdays offer padded MOLLE belts(aka war belts),even the issued US Army FLC vest comes with such a belt.It’s simple the modernization of this system.
The straps are ‘Y’ shaped,padded,similar to the issued ones;the particulars i use, are made by Eagle Industries and have some unique features that you will not find to the issued ones.First off,the straps are shorter than the surplus ones.Also,they have a sternum strap that helps when the harness is fully loaded,distribute the weight better and also makes the shoulders straps more stable;it works just like a sternum strap on a pack.There is a loop at the sternum strap for the hoose of the water bladder.The shoulder straps have two web loops to attach gear instead of the one that the issued straps have.Also at the end of the retantion straps there are retaining bands.
The common features between the issued and my suspenders are the retaining snap hooks at the end of the starps,the two wire loops at the shoulder straps(one on each side) and of course the adjustment procedure is the same with both systems.
Continued in PART #2….In the second part of the article,i will analyse the pouches and what i carry in them…