I kit bashed this bad boy together myself after failing to find anything on the market that met the requirements I was looking for. It is essentially an updated and upgraded form of the old-school Load Carrying Equipment or LCE. Taking my personal experience into account from Iraq and Afghanistan and combining them with the military theory of people like H.J. Poole and William Lind, I then incorporated what I’ve learned from studying military history, particularly, the Vietnam War and the Rhodesian Bush War.
Today, soldiers are weighed down with far to much equipment. This is an issue I’ve addressed in this blog before, as have others, and I’m not going to rehash it again at this time. We wear heavy, cumbersome body armor that makes it difficult to maneuver, reducing our effectiveness as soldiers. The LCE served its purpose but needs to be taken into the 21st century. Chest Rigs are also great for many applications, but can become unsuitable when loaded to capacity, making it difficult to lay in the prone or crawl on the ground while under fire.
Before moving on, let me list the components used to put this gear together. It is built on a ENDOM’s CM Belt and Battle Suspenders.
The chest piece is built on a Tactical Tailor modular bib panel. Attached to the bib is a ATS triple magazine shingle and one single mag shingle for a total of four magazines. Mounted on the magazine shingles is a Kifaru admin pouch for holding various odds and ends such as maps, compass, GPS, ect.
Attached to the back of the suspenders via Malice clips and some lengths of nylon is hydration pouch.
On the belt, to the six o’ clock position, under the hydration pouch, is a horizontal Tactical Tailor E&E pouch containing basic survival items. On the left hand side of the belts is a Eagle double magazine pouch for .45 mags, located near the belt buckle for easy access. Behind that is a Bench made fixed-blade knife, and Maxpedition dump pouch.
On the right hand side of the belt is a double grenade pouch, a modified Safariland drop holster, and ATS medical pouch.
Doing some field testing, I would go for kit runs wearing everything seen here and running for several miles across varied terrain to make sure everything felt right and functioned properly. While running I found that the front panel bounced up and down quite a bit, slamming down on my stomach and becoming fairly painful after a couple miles. For this reason I added the horizontal strap you see under my arm pit that connects the front bib to the hydration pouch. This strap has the effect of tightening down the entire rig for a closer fit, making it ride much more comfortably.
What I was looking for in the design was something I couldn’t find commercially. I wanted a modernized LCE, something that was light weight and facilitated maneuver and unconventional warfare to include infiltrations. When it comes to the latter, I’ve found that when chest rigs are filled to capacity that it becomes difficult or impossible to high crawl or low crawl, the same goes for plate carriers.
Later, I did feel the need to add more than what you would expect from a simple LCE. There was some modern kit that is so useful that I felt I had to include it. Sure, expended magazines can simply be dumped down the front of your shirt, but a dump pouch sure helps and also gives you the ability to carry extra mags in it during an emergency or use it to carry intel taken off dead enemy. Likewise, I felt that a modern medical pouch is something you don’t want to compromise with. For a soldier operating behind enemy lines, a bare minimum of survival and Escape and Evasion gear is also needed, hence the horizontal E&E pouch. With all this space taken up from the get go, I found that I needed to attach a hydration pouch and a panel for extra magazines above the belt line.
All and all I am very happy with how this project turned out. I only wish that I had had the opportunity to use it in combat. If need be the straps can be loosened and soft armor or concealable body armor can be worn underneath making this rig even more versatile. Readers may be interested to know that this is the exact same rig described and used by Deckard, the protagonist in “Reflexive Fire”. I’ve also been working with the cover artist to ensure that the uniform and kit on the cover of the book matches what you see here exactly to maintain continuity as well as show readers something they’ve never seen before.
I’m sure that a professional could refine this design and sew something much better, whereas I had to cobble it together from spare parts. I think experienced soldiers are finding that less really is more and adopting a “combat ultra-light” mentality is the way to go. Sadly, the Brass doesn’t see things the same way. Until then, lets hope some people run with this idea and see where it goes!
7 responses to “Custom made Unconventional Warfare web gear”
I like the rig, Jack. I also found it next-to impossible to manuver well when loaded down like a pack mule, but then loaded myself down almost as heavy when left to my own devices. I guess it would have helped, if I had been confident that resupply was never far away or that 4 magazines would be plenty for the duration of a given mission. But some of my earliest experiences stuck with me and it was hard to get out of that mentality.
I wonder, though, if the gear on your stomach won’t also interfere with your IMTs?
BTW–I like the padded-knuckle gloves. I incorporated my pair of padded fingerless bag/sparring gloves, and kneepads, into my field gear back in the day. A few years later I noticed tactical kneepads being sold at the outlets, and now, judging by the pix I see from Iraq and Afghanistan, it appears they’ve become standard issue. That’s a good thing. My knees would give me a lot less trouble now if I’d been granted the initiative to protect them at all times when just a private.
Yeah, that is a good point. The front panel can be easily removed if you want to go that route but the idea is to keep it as low profile as possible. A single magazine and the thin admin pouch really are not thick enough to interfere with IMTing, getting in the prone, or high crawling. I suspect that low crawling would be a little difficult, but possible if need be.
Gloves are helpful in most situations but hardly anyone wears knee pads anymore. Various uniforms have attempted to incorporate kneepads into them though. The ACU’s have foam inserts in the knees and elbows, which suck by the way because the pads just bunch up inside the pockets for them. Crye Precision has these cool looking knee pads that velcro onto the front of the uniform. A buddy who used them in Iraq seemed to think that those worked out okay. My uniforms from Hyperstealth are interesting in that they have nylon loops around the knees so that if you do decide to wear knee pads you can tie them into your uniform with some 550 cord or something so that they don’t slip down during movement.
See, now I used to envision something like that–velcro or ties incorporated into the uniform pants to keep the stupid pads from slipping down. I should have patented it!
(I thought of the slots inside the knees for pads, too, but predicted just what you describe based on experience of how stuff shifts around on the move.)
I tried medical tape and all kinds of stuff that didn’t work (I kept them under my pants so they wouldn’t be obvious and some lardass sergeant-major wouldn’t have a conniption).
Surprising that nobody’s wearing the kneepads anymore. Especially mercs and “occupational troops” who don’t have to shoot-and-scoot that often. And since I see them in so many photos.
But then it makes sense to forego them if you can’t secure them in place during movement, in a way. A lot of NFL players actually strip most of their pads out for a game, needing whatever edge they can gain in speed (according to a book I read by a former player) at the risk of whatever injury. My kneepads falling or slipping down on the move was a pain at the time, but that doesn’t cause me pain to this day like the times I didn’t make that sacrifice of speed and convenience.
Just “thinking out loud” compadre–not trying to be argumentative. (Never have to try–it just comes naturally.)
Oh yeah–what kind of boots do you prefer for temperate zone, desert or tropical/sub-tropical?
Please don’t say jungle boots. For some reason, after a few klicks in those things it felt like somebody was crushing my heel in a vise. I buried those Nazi torture devices and wore my leg boots the whole time overseas.
Actually, one thing that the Army has gotten right (or at least greatly improved on) is the new(er) desert boots that you see soldiers wearing with ACU’s these days. They don’t have to be broken in, are comfortable, and hold up pretty well. I had a issued pair that I wore for 4-5 years no problem. I had a pair of Soloman mountain boots that were great for Afghanistan, but I foolishly wore them backpacking in Costa Rica…horrible idea. The Merrill Sawtooth boots I’m wearing in the pictures above are awesome as a all terrain lightweight boot. I bought two pairs over the years because I liked them so much.
I think the reason why no one wears knee pads any more is because of the temperature in the areas we operate in today. Its hot as hell and a lot of those kneepads are very restrictive. Also, I never had a pair of “tactical” kneepads that I felt were comfortable. The best ones I ever tried was a buddy’s skateboarding pads. Also, we do a lot less IMT/small unit maneuvering these days with our focus being largely on Direct Action raids.
Jungle boots are okay when they fit right and are broken in, the sweat/water vent is a life saver at times but they were, as you say, painfully old school. I’ve seen some pictures of updated, modernized jungle boots that look very good though. Check out militarymorons.com if you want to browse all the latest gear queer stuff.
The chest piece is built on a Tactical Tailor modular bib panel. … kkneet.wordpress.com
Nice rig, I am interested in the origin of the camo and the Merrell footwear you are wearing.