‘Minute Man’ Load Carrying Harness: An old favorite with some modern twist Part #2

At the previous part,i had talked about the general idea behind this set-up and i had discussed about the belt,the Y suspenders and the padded sleeve.In this part i will explain the type of the pouches and some gear essentials that i carry on my harness.

The ammo pouches i choose to carry are two MOLLE M60 woodland camo pouches,made for Specialty Defense(SDS).These are military issued and are designed to hold 100rounds of linked ammo for the M60/M240 machine guns.The great thing with these pouches is that they can accept four M16 30 rounds magazines each or three M14/FAL 20 rounds magazines each.Also they can accept at least 25-30 shotgun rounds each,although the rounds will be noisy while you are moving;but in case you are wearing the harness and are on the move something went really bad…As you can see these pouches can cover the ammo needs for the rifles,in case a call to arms and for my shotgun in case of a SHTF situation.

Starting to discuss the pouches from left to right side of the belt; there is first a small OD green pouch that can accept  a pistol mag or a folding knife or a multitool or a flashlight or even a tourniquet.Personally,i keep a flashlight but if i had to join the military again i would put a pistol magazine there.Next,is the woodland camo ammo pouch and next is my trauma kit pouch.This pouch is a Tactical Tailor 1V utility pouch and it contains a pair of EMT shears,latex gloves,a 4” Israeli bandage,couple adhessive tapes and gauzes and antibiotics pills.(I also keep a packet of Celox but it got expired and i have to replace it)

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Contents of the first aid kit

After the small first aid pouch is a Maxpedition small rollypolly OD green dump pouch.I can use this pouch to throw my empty mags in or to carry some extra shotgun shells.Right next to it is my Escape and Evade pouch;it’s an Eagle Industries MOLLE horizontal utility pouch.The folding dump pouch,the E&E pouch and the canteen pouch

This pouch contains my survival kit, 50ft of 550 paracord,a SOL emergency blanket,the belt extender,a small pouch with an extra metal clip and a camo paint for the face.In case of an emergency i can drop all the harness,take off that pouch and try to survive.The main goal is to never leave my harness no matter what…I can drop the backpack but never the harness and the long gun.

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Contents of the E&E pouch

Next to the E&E pouch is a water canteen pouch in woodland camo,made from Safariland and is also military issued.I have a 1qt water canteen and a stainless steel cup at the main compartment and at the small pouch i keep CRKT Eat’n’ tool.After the canteen pouch is the second M60 pouch.

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The right side;woodland camo ammo pouch and same camo canteen pouch
Water Canteen,Stainless Steel cup and Eat 'n' tool
The water canteen,the stainless cup and the Eat ‘n’ tool

When i am wearing the belt there are two small spaces left on each side,one before the first aid kit and the other between the canteen pouch and the ammo pouch.These are left on purpose in case i had to wear a drop leg holster for the pistol on the right side and place my knife at the left side or just to put my knife on my right side(my strong side).I have one last small pouch,also made from Eagle Industries, attached on the left shoulder strap and it carries a small SOG folding knife.This folding knife closed makes a great strap cutter.I used to carry the knife that way and when i was serving,especially during parachute jumps.The place there is very convinient and easily accessable in case something goes wrong…

SOG knife at the shoulder strap sheath
SOG folding knife and the knife sheath

When i was serving,i used to run the harness with the usual ALICE ammo pouches,a butt pack and a usual water canteen pouch.After i finished my military days,i upgraded the pouches with the new MOLLE style pouches,since MOLLE was starting to spread fast and i think that the harness still have many days to serve me well.I  want to get me a chest rig sometime but i will never leave this harness of duty!Don’t forget that many companies in our days offer MOLLE padded belts and suspenders,which is the upgrade of the old style LC belt and padded sleeve.

In the current time where MOLLE platforms have taken over the field,old trusty gear can be found for less money and with couple budget friendly upgrades you can have a very good system for your long gun and for any case.

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‘Minute Man’ Load Carrying Harness-An old favorite with some modern twist PART #1

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.

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The padded sleeve on the belt

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.

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The Y suspenders;notice the two web loops on the shoulder strap and the sternum strap.

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…

LTWK Genesis:report after three years of use

It’s been three years since i purchased my LTWK Genesis,the first model LT offered after the split of Blind Horse Knives.I managed to score one of the first run(the first run were 100 knives made and have PT stamped on them)with beautiful Desert Ironwood scales.It’s the only knife i have got that has such scales.For the last three years it’s always on my right side every time i am camping at the woods.I can’t say that i had abused it alot,but it has been put in use many times.

The knife is made from A2 steel,which holds the edge longer than O1 and resists corrosion much better.It’s my favorite steel by far!The thickness of the knife is 1/8”(3.175mm).The knife has a spear point and has a scandi grind.You can also find it with flat grind and convex grind and also in 3v and AEB-L steel now,but the first run came in scandi grind,high polished with zero degree edge.The handles is straight and are attached with two fish eye bolts and have a lanyard hole. The overall length of the knife is 9”(22.86cm).The blade length is 4.25”(10.795cm) which is a very common length for bushcraft type knives.The spine is sharpened,so you can through sparks from a ferro rod or scratching bark to collect tinder.Another great feauture is the thumb scallops that allows better control while performing some tasks,like carving.

Notice at the pictures the PT stamp and the LTWK stamp.Also,see how the light condition effects on the beautiful Desert Ironwood handles.

The high polished scandi grind is perfect at wood working.I have make feather sticks many times,made notches and i also had removed the bark from couple walking sticks that i had made these past years.The knife excels at these tasks.I had also used it at camp kitchen sometimes with no problems.The disadvantage of a scandi grind knife as kitchen knife is that you will get more chunky pieces of meat or vegetables when you cut them,but if you don’t care about that then there isn’t much of trouble!Personally it doesn’t bother me alot.

Pictures above show a feather stick and a bag of shavings.I use to keep some shavings for tinder(for the fireplace during winter).I don’t have the best technique on feather sticks but the Genesis helps make nice curls.

Now,i haven’t used the knife to skin game while hunting;i tend to carry a flat grind knife(LTWK Maverick Scout) at my hunting trips.Anyway,the Genesis performs excellent after three years.I am very pleased with it.Sharpening isn’t hard at all.The knife hardly shows signs of year;there are no rusty spots at all.I do however take care of it just like all my gear.The LTWK shop offers lifetime warranty and ‘spa’ treatment if you ever get your knife into much abuse.For more information on knife spa, you can contact the LTWK shop.

The Genesis is a true STAR and you can find out that yourself, if you purchase one and if you are watching History’s channel ALONE reality show;it’s the only knife that had been carried from participants in all three seasons.And that says a LOT!

 

First impressions of Esbit Dual Fuel Cook Set

So far i have used for cooking kits many different choices.I mean,i have a percolator for my coffee, a small 12cm Zebra pot,an MSR 750ml pot,couple stainless cups.Depending on what i was going out for and for how long,some or most of them were my cooking kit.I like  it very much when i start my camp fire and cook my meals there;who doesn’t after all?

I had the luck to get one Esbit Cook Set as Christmas gift from a very good friend and i thought that i could share couple of my thoughts with you.I have to say that it will not be 100% review because i can’t find any denatured alcohol here,for unknown reasons and i had tried only Esbit fuel tablets and Fire Dragon gel fuel tablets from BCB company.

The cooking set comes in two mesh bags.The bigger bag keeps the pot and the pan,while the smaller mesh bag keeps the base,the alcohol burner and the solid fuel stand. This way the whole set nests inside the big pot and takes minimum space in the pack.

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The cookset in the mesh bag.

The cookset is made of light,hard anodized aluminum,except the alcohol burner of course,which is made of solid brass.The whole system weights 459gr/ 16.065 oz. Hard anodized aluminum is a very good alternative to titanium cookware.It doesn’t weight to much and it also doesn’t cost as much as titanium. This set looks very well made.The two pots have  fold out stainless steel handes,which are covered with some sort of plastic material to avoid burning your hands.The big pot has measurements at the side, from 200ml -750 ml/12oz-24oz.This helps when you need to boil the right amount of water for cooking or making a brew.

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I wanted to try the BCB’s Fire Dragon gel tablets,and see if i can use them with this set.It’s good to have some alternatives.The Fire Dragon tablets are bigger and taller than the normal fuel tablets.Also,after  catches fire they liquidate,so you have to avoid any fuel leak.

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BCB Fire Dragon fuel

Obvious,you can’t use the solid fuel stand with the traditional way…So,i make a small “pot” from aluminum foil to place the gel tablet and i use the stand reversed…

With this way,i managed to boil water to make a very nice cup of cocoa,during a brake from a short hiking.The water boiled in around 6-7 minutes.

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I am very pleased with this set.It is lightweight,compact and comes very handy in places where open fires aren’t allowed.You can make a brew or boil water for dehydrated meals easily.You can use the alcohol burner and fuel tablets and i think with the trick i made gel tablets are good option too.It won’t replace completely my other devices,but i can use it during short hike or when i am going for day hunting and during the season where open fires aren’t allowed.Personally,i recommend this cookset to anyone who is looking for a good quality cooking kit.

Thank you Brian for your very nice gift!

Review of 180 FLAME stove

Since this is the first article for the 2017,i would like to wish you all HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I was looking at the market for a while now to find a lightweight stove to use at my outings,especially during season where camp fires are not allowed.I wanted a small,easily packed and deployed,made of stainless steel to keep the cost down,titanium items can be pretty expensive and preferably wood burning.I am not very big fan of gas canister stoves and also alcohol stoves.I don’t want to carry fuel canisters in my pack,that might leak too, when i can pick up from the ground pounds of dead branches to start and maintain my fire.

I had seen many different types of stoves and watched enough video reviews,and i decided to go with 180 Flame stove.The stove comes in a resealable heavy plastic bag which contains a user’s guide too.You can use the bag to store the stove or carry water in an emergency.The stove parts are holding together with two large ranger’s band.Very easily replaceable,if you loose one.

The stove is made from 304 stainless steel,weights 6.4 oz and the measures 5”L x 3 1/4” x 5/8”H stored and when it’s assembled 5” L x 4”W x 3 1/4” H.I like the fact that this stove has just five parts;no rivets,screws,hinges or spot welds are needing to assemble the stove.The parts are interlocking in a simple tab and slot design.The stove is very stable thanks to it’s simple design;sturdy sides to support the weight of a pot and no moving parts at all!The design is so simple but ingenius that even if you step on the stove by mistake and bend it,you could easily fix it to usable condition.

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The stove’s parts

The three sides of the stove allows great ventilation,the front side is open enough to help you feeding the fire with ease.At the back side the chimney slot allows very good airflow,even if your frying pan is bigger than the surface of the stove.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You can use all kind of natural fuel with this stove;wood,grass,pine cones and needles,twigs.And you need small amounts of fuel to boil your water or cook a meal.The time for boiling water is around five minutes.I made a nice cup of greek coffee in that time.

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Getting the stove ready for making a cup of coffee

I do think that this is an excellent stove.It’s very well made,lightweight,easily maintained or repaired at the field and most of all i like the simplicity of this stove.Sometimes the simple things are the greatest things of all!The 180 FLAME comes at great price($35 is what i paid for it at eBay) and that’s another bonus.

 

A Hunting Pack Load for Day Trips

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Christmas are around the corner and the hunting season is at high peak here.The season started late August but not all game was allowed for hunting.After September 15th,rabbit,warthog and grouse season started,so more hunters got involved.

At the beggining of the hunting season,i used to carry a haversack with some essential items.The days were much hotter than now and light clothing and gear was prefered.For this time of year,i had managed to acquire one Scout Pack,from Duluth Packs.I wanted for years to get one Duluth Pack and i finally made it.

The pack i picked is a brown color pack and i have to admit that the quality is excellent.Very good canvas quality and excellent double stiching.The leather straps are of excellent quality leather.The shoulders straps are pretty comfortable,despite the missing of padding.Very impressive pack;i like a lot the traditional look it has.

I have loaded the pack with the items i used to carry to the haversack.These are; a first aid kit,a 270z stainless steel bottle,a titanium cup,a kupilka cup,paracord,three tent stakes,a poncho(for make a shelter or wear it,in case of unexpected rain),a space blanket,an emergency sleeping bag,a bandana,a small cloth bag,a tin (with few essentials like duct tape,emergency whistle,fire steel) and a toilet paper.I also carry couple plastics bags,to pick up my empty shells and my trash, and in case i find any wild edibles plants.

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Scout Pack contents

This load is great for spending few hours at the hunting spot.I usually start hunting around 07:00 at the morning and finishes around 10:30.The most common game I am going for are quails,dovetails,rabbits,woodpigeon,partridge.Οccasionaly ducks.For this season and for time i am spending at the field these items are just fine.I also have my hunting belt on me,which has my knife,a LTWK Maverick Scout on my right side and two small pouches where i keep my shells,a #8 Opinel folder and a spare fire steel.

I would like to mension to all fellow hunters always follow the safety rules,respect the Nature(not trash and spending shells at the ground) and the game.

Happy hunting trips to all and Merry Christmas!

 

 

Survival Kit:Multiply Your Chances to Survive

Many of us had heard before the terms survival kit, personal survival kit, urban survival kit and other similar kit. At the market you can find many kinds of survival kits of different size, small for pocket carry or bigger in tin or plastic containers. Some have a lot of items, others had less items. If you look carefully, some of the items that included in these kits are the same. Why? Because all kits are based on the same principals; to provide you items that will cover the basic needs like fire, shelter, water and multiply your chances of survival and possibly rescue in emergency situations.

The most important needs to have in mind when assemble a survival kit are cutting tools, fire, shelter, water, cover, orientation and signaling. Many people are familiar with the 5C’s and if you based your kit having these 5 essentials in mind, you will end up with a very good kit. The kit should also be tailored on your own standards but you must have always in mind that you must cover the most basic needs. Another factor, you should consider is the terrain that you are living or going for outdoor activities…you might need different things at forest, desert/dry environment or at tropical area.

You must consider, also that the items that you are willing to add to your kit must be tested before and prove their value. It is always better to know what a specific item can do before you included in your kit. Always test your gear. You can pick items that can have more than one uses too. For example a safety pin can make a very nice fishing hook. When you have decided what items you would like your survival kit has, put them preferably inside a waterproof and airtight box, or tin or any other container you like. Never opened the survival kit again, unless the time and need for it has arrived.

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Picture 1: Waterproof bag that contains my survival kit

I keep the items of my survival kit in a waterproof and airtight container for maximizing the protection of my items. I have put together this kit based on the area I live now; which is less than four miles from the sea and about 15 miles from a woodland area. At 50 miles from my town there is two locations covered with thousand acres of forest and lot of small creeks and river. I have searched these areas and I had found my SHTF camp bases there.

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Picture 2: Plano Molding waterproof and air tight box.

Analyzing the Items of the Survival Kit and Their Uses

This kit contains tools that will help me to make a fire, construct a shelter, and carry water. Also it will help me to catch food and repair my clothes or gear if needed. Some of these items have multipurpose uses too that will explained further on. The items I had chosen for my kit are based on mine knowledge, and skill set and are tailored to my needs. These items work for me, but maybe not for someone else.Let’s see all the items and explain their purpose and usefulness. First are the items that make my fire kit.

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Picture 3:My fire kit

My fire kit items consist from a Bic lighter, a small ferrocerium rod, five waterproof matches with their striker and a small Live Fire tinder box. This tinder can also be used for emergency light. In a forest area you can find tinder, for example pine needles, fatwood or birch bark but having ready tinder in any case is a great preparation. Also this tinder is waterproof, so you can start a fire in a rainy day. The ferrocerium rod will help you when the lighter’s fluid or the matches end.

Next are some items that are my repairing kit plus small tools that will help in different tasks.

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Picture 4:Repair kit

From left to right you can see a can opener three large safety pins, a small folding saw, a small folding razor blade, a duct tape role, a needle and some thread. These items can have many uses. The safety pins can be used for keeping your clothes together but also and as fishing hooks. The small razor blade is great for cleaning fish and prepares small game. It will stay sharp for about a month, if I don’t use it on hard materials. You must care and preserve the blade of your main knife. The thread has a lot of uses; not only you can patch your clothes or gear, but you can use it as dental floss or cordage. The canvas needle is a heavy duty #14 needle. Because the eyelet is wide I can use sinew for sewing. Also it can pass through leather because of the bigger and harder tip. The duct tape can be used for repairs and as adhesive tape for small wounds too. The small saw can be handy and helpful for shelter building and processing wood for the fire.

I have included a small fishing kit to my survival kit, because as I had mentioned earlier sea is close and my bug-out locations are near river too. So I have good chances to find food. This is a ready kit, made by BCB Company. It has two hooks, two lures, two swivels, two weights, winder and approximately 100ft line.

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Picture 5:BCB fishing kit

For carrying water and disinfect it, I added a small zip lock bag and few water purification tablets. The best way to have clean water is to boil it but if for some reason you cannot build a fire then the tablets can help you drink safe water.I have also included a magic tissue, which is a shrunk towel that gets larger when you put it in water. It will be useful for cleaning yourself somehow, in an outdoor-survival scenario.

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Picture 6:Zip lock bag,water purification tablets and the magic tissue

For general direction use I had added a small button compass to my kit. It’s handy and useful if you don’t have any other mean to check your direction.

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Picture 7: Button compass

A survival kit will help you to improve your chances of surviving if you ever faced a difficult situation. The items that you have included in your kit will help you to survive along with your mentality and initiative. Don’t expect to survive only because you have the best survival kit. You must consider that your survival kit is the catalyst, the ‘bonus’factor that will help you in a survival situation. The main tool you should have in your kit is your personal skills. These skills you have to develop first and these are the first things that must be included in your survival kit.

 

LINKS:

BCB INT http://bcbin.com

Live Fire Gear www.livefiregear.com

Light my fire http://www.lightmyfire.com