July 28, 2016 at 8:16 pm #29542MaxKeymaster
I get many questions about my gear setup. It is also a perennial topic on the MVT Forum, and of course across the internet. It’s an important subject. Many people ask me specific questions about my gear setup and make/brand of equipment items, and so here I will attempt to give some guidance not in terms of specific brands of gear, but what I am trying to do when I set up my equipment. It is also important to note that gear is no use without training, and the focus by so many on gear is often either 1) part of the process of getting ready for training, or 2) a dead end pursuit that has limited purpose. Be in the first group. You must actually use your gear, and see what works for you, and not fall for that common mindset that gear can be bought, tried on, and then left on the shelf for a rainy day. I will therefore talk a little about physical readiness, and actual use of gear, as part of this post.
For questions on gear brands and specific examples, there are plenty of experts on the MVT Forum and I urge you to start discussions there.
Why this post? Because I want to help those who are genuinely attempting to set up a gear system as part of a training and readiness program. And on the flip side, I will attempt to wake up those who are simply bluffing themselves in terms of their physical and training readiness, and their ability to even function in their chosen gear when necessary.
I must also add that my gear setup changes, as I evolve, find new products, adjust etc. I was asked recently about suspenders on my Lite Battle Belt. More about that in detail later. But yes, I had added pouches and suspenders to my Lite BB, and now I have removed them. Just like in tactical training, don’t look for absolutes, but principles and ideas – take what you see others do, and what works for you, and evolve it into a system that is best for you.
As a side note, it seems to be silly season on Facebook right now, with a number of ‘groups’ posting photos of ‘training.’ My words to you are: get in shape and get some real training. You may want to also check out my recent posts ‘Thoughts on Camouflage Clothing‘ and ‘‘Team Coyote’ – Gear‘ to get some perspective on looking professional and profile / posture considerations. Team Coyote is about Proficiency, Presentation and Professionalism.
Before I go on, I am going to mention a couple of things:
- The daypack, or assault pack. This is often overlooked, and I will come back to it as an integral part of your gear setup. So keep it in mind. You should probably have three types of packs:
- Daypack/assault pack. This is also a ‘grab bag’ when vehicle mounted.
- 3 day patrol pack
- Large ruck: which, if you read my ‘Gear: Patrol Packs & Sustainment Loads‘ post, you will realize you want to avoid using whenever possible. Like the plague!
- You need to avoid having everything and the kitchen sink on your gear. This is with the exception of the basics, which is ammunition, water, basic medical and energy. I would rather do without, and be lighter and faster, than be loaded down with every contingency.
- Lighter and faster isn’t when you have the right amount of ammo on your person. The solution there is PT. The bottom line is that if you can’t be bothered to do the required PT, you are kidding yourself, and shouldn’t even be bothering to look into tactical gear. You will be fine on your porch with your Mosin-Nagant, or whatever. If ‘sportsball’ and stuffing your face is your priority, then you lost your man-card, and your ability to effectively protect your folk. Don’t tell me your life is busy – have you any idea how busy my life is, and the lives of guys who work hard and still fit in fitness training? And yes, I’m not as fit as I have been or could be, I’m very busy, and I am injured in many various ways, but I can still haul my ass around the hills wearing my gear. The effective range of an excuse is zero, so get over it and man up already.
- Stop buying cheap useless crap, such as ALICE mag pouches and suspenders! You will end up with, for example, a rats nest of straps over your shoulders, or mag pouches that you cannot access fast enough.
- Related to 3) is the fact that you need to get out and move and train in this gear, and then you will soon find out the uncomfortable crap sucks.
Your gear should be set up for a multitude of situations. To listen to some, the fact that MVT teaches effective combat proven individual and team TTPs means that we are preparing only for a ‘Mad Max” situations, No, we are preparing you for all tactical self defense scenarios.
Thus, you should be flexible with your gear to adjust to situations. We are already in the collapse, and as it progresses, let’s look at that:
- Day to day you are probably concealed carrying a handgun. Thus you have options to run a handgun set up, either concealed or overt, on your pants belt.
- If you have an immediate emergency situation your go-to in this situation is your handgun.
- If you have time / access (due to planning) you then have the option of grabbing your rifle.
- When you grab your rifle, you need the ability to feed it rifle ammo, which is not contained on your everyday carry belt.
- Your option to carry rifle magazines should be some combination of chest rig (CR) / plate carrier (PC). I am a big fan of ballistic plates, of the ceramic type, because I don’t like the idea of high velocity round(s) into my torso. Key factor here again – physical training (PT) – more later.
- Note that the Lite BB concept does not work well in this emergency every day scenario, simply due to the logistical factor of getting a Lite BB on over an already existing pants-belt EDC handgun load. Thus you skip the Lite BB in this situation, and go straight to the CR/PC rifle option.
- Don’t try and carry too much on your CR/PC / Lite BB combination: this is where the lite daypack concept comes in. More later.
- You want to avoid a situation where your gear concept involves a full battle belt, a full chest rig, and a plate carrier, all with big chunky straps, and with too much gear all up. The Lite Battle Belt is deliberately a fairly light piece of equipment, with the CR/PC being the main support item for your rifle. Sustainment and admin items then go in some kind of patrol pack, sized for the situation (more below).
Lite Battle Belt (BB):
- This is really any set up you want. Unlike a basic pants belt / concealed carry load, the Lite BB also contains rifle ammo. You can therefore decide to skip the Lite BB concept all together and simply carry a handgun and mag load concealed / overt on your pants belt, and rifle mags / gear only on your CR/PC. This is default the situation you are probably running now for day to day emergencies, and works well for gray collapse and emergency attack scenarios.
- Although the original MVT Battle Belt concept that I put out a couple of years ago has a lot of validity to dismounted operations, I try and steer people away from the full Battle Belt concept (i.e a full belt with pouches all the way round and yoke/suspenders). It is not very flexible and hard to operate in conjunction with vehicles and everyday life. It is also not ideal with ballistic plates, and as per above, does not translate well from an everyday to an emergency situation, whereas a CR/PC can go straight on and not interfere with what you already carry around your waist.
- The Lite BB functions as an overt item that allows for easy everyday carry of handgun, plus handgun and rifle mags, plus miscellaneous items. In a ‘tactical scenario’ where you have no worry about overt carry, then this provides a great solution for everyday (i.e. all the time) carry of handgun and also a couple of reloads for rifle and handgun. It is not designed for patrolling, where you will add the CR/PC plus the Daypack. Tending the tomatoes? Yes. Lounging on the porch? Yes. Walking round the backyard? Yes. I also wear mine all the time at training, and have the option of adding the CR/PC as necessary.
- My Lite BB has been through several configurations. It started out light, then I added some pouches round the back, not large enough to interfere really with sitting in a vehicle, and very light/low profile suspenders. I have now taken off the suspenders and removed many of the pouches, so that it has never been lighter, I even took off my small IFAK, and the only medical item I carry on my Lite BB at this point is a tourniquet (TQ).
- Current Lite BB configuration:
- I only have pouches on the belt at 3 and 9 o’clock, on my hips. Nothing on the front and nothing on the back.
- Right side:
- TQ Pouch.
- Handgun: in a Sarafiland kydex retention holster (thumb break).
- Left side:
- Multitool pouch
- 2 x Taco mag pouches – the ones with the handgun mag pouch stuck on the outside. Thus 2 x rifle and 2 x handgun mags.
- I run 20 round AR mags in the Tacos most of the time, simply because 30 rounders interfere with my PC when I wear it (height of the mags). I can plus up to 30 rounders when I want to.
- No pouches on the back?: This means less interference when sitting down or in a vehicle. Thus comfort. Also any pouches on the back will be pushed down upon when wearing a ruck/patrol pack. This means there is a danger of losing the belt over the hips, or having to do it up so tight it messes with your hip and butt muscles when walking.
- Suspenders?: If the belt is truly light, you won’t need them. If you have rear pouches on the belt and wear a pack, then you need the suspenders so that you can hang the belt on them without having to do it up too tight. Also, consider patrol base: suspenders on the BB usually run under your CR/PC. Thus, you have to take off your CR/PC to take off your belt, which you may have to do to be able to sleep i.e. get into your sleeping bag. You may want to keep your PC on while in the patrol base if you consider you need that level of readiness, and thus being able to easily take off the BB to sleep is a bonus (note: sleeping on your back due to a Lite BB on your hips makes it more likely you will snore, and thus be woken up). You may also not want to take off your PC if it is held together by velcro, because if it is, it may be too noisy! Not having suspenders also reduces the strap junk running over your shoulders.
Chest Rig / Plate Carrier:
- You must also avoid the temptation to ‘go large’ with this item, with huge admin pouches and the like, particularly below your armpits or right on the front (note: daypack concept coming!).
- The exception is ammunition, which is why light and fast is never really light and fast unless you can balance it with light enough, and sufficient PT ability to be fast.
- On the MVT Chest Rigs, both the VERSA which is on the market and the coming single caliber rigs, we look to always have at least 6 x 5.56 magazine pouches. Plus the one on your rifle and the possibly two on your Lite BB, that gives you from 7 – 9 magazines on your person. That is a good load – I use the figure of 8 mags as a good basic rifle load-out, with a possible resupply for a potential contact situation on your back / vehicle (here comes the daypack / grab bag concept again….).
- If I am running my PC with mags directly on it, I usually run 7 mags on the PC – 3 on the front plate, and two to each side on the cummerbund.
- Other than the magazines, keep the amount of admin stuff and huge pouches that you put on your CR/PC to the minimum. The rest goes in a daypack. You want the CR/PC to be relatively close to the body and comfortable. You also want to be able to wear it in any number of profile / posture relevant situations.
- You need to be able to move and fight in your Lite BB / CR/PC combination. It will weigh due to the plates and the ammo load, but you can limit it as required, and train in the gear, and do PT, to ensure that the load is something you can handle and that it is comfortable, with no hidden chaffing or surprises. If you can’t wear the plates and move, then you either need to do more PT or ditch the plates. Sucks to be unfit, right? Ditch ammo if you have to, but it is not good to be unable to move.
- This is really very much overlooked (see: ‘Gear: Patrol Packs & Sustainment Loads). It is, again, a balance. Stop throwing stuff in there because “two is one and one is none.” How about instead: my gear weighs so much I am too exhausted to patrol professionally and effectively?
- You need a light daypack that will be worn in conjunction with your Lite BB /CR/PC combination. A daypack is comfortable and versatile; thus this is where excess gear should go. It will also work as your vehicle grab-bag.
- You must still work very hard not to put excess gear in this. This is what is worn for any type of patrol away from your base or vehicles. It still has to be, overall, a combination that you can move and fight in.
- The 3-Day Assault Pack is what is worn if you are ever planning on going out overnight, or for any extended (short) period of time where you may have to sleep out in the bush. Avoid this unless mission essential. Stay light. Avoid the massive ruck scenario like the plague! You may plan to do it, but you probably don’t have the fitness in reality to remain alert and agile enough and not give in to the temptations of complacency, and even if you do have the fitness level, if you come under contact you will have to dump the whole load.
- What goes in the daypack (or light patrol pack, if you will)? Just some suggestions, but keep it light:
- Spare mags – maybe x 4
- Hydration bladder 3L – this is why we don’t attach a bladder to the back of our CR/PC.
- Energy: in terms of ‘packed lunch’ plus emergency energy rations.
- Night vision gear/batteries.
- Means to purify water – puri-tabs or a straw/pump.
- Small IFAK.
- Wet/cold weather clothing – limited.
- Misc items such as basic rifle kit/rod.
- Kitchen sink x 2 because one is none and two is….STOP! Be ruthless.
- As you can see you have to carefully balance an effective load with what can be carried by you ‘light and fast.’ You have to be ruthless, and stop putting things in ‘just in case’ – everything is a calculated risk and the most important thing is your effectiveness on the ground. If you can only carry 4 mags and remain effective, then that is your solution. Or, lose 30 lbs of fat and vanity muscle and there you have it, you have 30lb of gear at no penalty
- I will make one gear recommendation in this post, and this is specifically for those who do wear plates. You may have figured out that with any kind of pack, plates can be a pain in the ass, with the rear plate pushing the pack out to the rear so that the shoulder straps are pulling directly to the rear and pulling you backwards. I did at one time investigate Kifaru because they offer a specific ‘armor back’ setup that is designed to sit well on body armor. However, these knuckleheads only offer this option to ‘unit orders’ and thus fall heavily into the category of those who do not support the armed and prepared citizen. However, Mystery Ranch offers some great gear for those wearing PC’s. The quality of their packs is very good anyway, but they do offer their ‘3 Day Assault BVS,‘ with ‘BVS’ standing for ‘Bolstered Ventilation and Stability (BVS) system: increases stability of the pack over armor.’ Yes, you have to shell out treasure for this gear, but that is the case with anything worth having. The straps on Mystery Ranch packs are very well designed and hang well, and the BVS system makes the pack sit well over your back plate.
- If the 3 Day Assault BVS is a great option for Plate carrier users as a 3 Day pack, then the ‘ASAP‘ is great as that day bag. because it is small, and hangs well with the MR strap system, and molds to your back well, and thus it makes a good daypack system to go on the back of your PC. Precisely because it is small, it will prevent you from carrying too much gear.
Practical Gear Use / Fitness:
- Your gear is designed to support your tactical operations, and thus should support you defeating the enemy and staying alive.
- If your gear is a hindrance, some kind of cluster, then it will not support your effective conduct of operations. Something needs to be adjusted.
- You will not be able to move around effectively, alert and without falling into complacency and exhaustion, unless you have the basic PT level to do so. You will not be able to fight if your gear is too heavy for your PT level. Factors:
- Your gear is too heavy.
- Your gear is badly rigged / put together / organized.
- Your fitness is lacking.
- You weight to much, a combination of fatness and vanity muscle.
This is what you need to do with your gear:
- Once you have put it together, you need to train in it. This is everything from shooting on the range in various positions, to moving in it.
- This is what I do with my gear, which is separate from any specific rucking or other PT training:
- I have some backwoods behind my house that I have a number of hilly trails on. I can do figure 8, back and forth, loop the loop or whatever.
- I put on my:
- Lite BB.
- Plate Carrier with full magazine load.
- (No rifle required at this point)
- Go out there at a fast walk for 30-45 minutes. Drive hard up the hills and walk down, at a fast walk, but no need to run.
- As you do this more and improve, you can add shuffle running if you wish on the downhill.
- If this is too much for you, then you know your gear plan was not right for you at that point. So you can work up to it.
- Consider re-rigging or purchasing better gear if the issue is one of comfort and how the gear works with you on the move. Mags bumping into the plate carrier/rig are all things you will discover.
- Consider temporarily or permanently reducing the weight of the gear. If temporary you can drop items like the number of magazines you carry, and add them back in as your fitness increases. If you realize this is all a step too far, you may take decisions such as deciding not to wear plates.
I realize that some may have difficulty finding a suitable area for this. A hilly area is best, because you can use the hills to get the heart rate up without having to run. If you have to do this in public, you may have an issue with what you look like. This is partially why rucking with just a pack is a useful activity. However, if you replace the PC with a weight vest, that may be viable, but it does not give you the opportunity to actually test the PC itself.
I suggest the above because it is an easy activity that can be progressed as hard and far as you want. It is not a PT program, and is designed to both test your gear, and your ability to move in that specific gear. It will also inoculate you to the sweatiness of working out in gear such as a PC. We do offer actual Tactical Fitness Training Plans, and if you look on the page at THE LINK you will see a simple test of basic fitness for a class. You can also do that test in your gear, in order to test both your fitness and your ability to move yourself in your chosen gear. If you want to get fit, I recommend one of the actual plans, but I realize many simply do not have the motivation for that, so I offer you a simple test/solution instead.
At the most simple, I am saying that you have to get out and move about in whatever gear you plan on wearing. You have to use it, test it, see what works and does not work. You also need to improve your fitness.
Here at MVT, we are working on various designs of gear to work well with this effective gear philosophy. The VERSA Rig is already out there for those who run both 5.56 and .308. We are going to be improving / offering upgrades to the VERSA with kydex magazine pouch inserts, so you can do away forever with the elastic pull tabs on the magazine pouches. We will be following up shortly with single caliber specific rigs, and then moving towards other gear that we consider tactically useful. Stay tuned!
‘Team Coyote’August 11, 2016 at 6:47 pm #30140MaxKeymaster
Bumping. Read Please. Assimilate!August 11, 2016 at 10:07 pm #30144PinkyParticipant
Consumed. Good stuff.
"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."
-- Thomas JeffersonAugust 22, 2016 at 10:40 pm #30502WeberParticipant
This, along with the Vision statement, should be part of a “required reading” program for all members of the forum. You know, with the old, “By checking the box you are acknowledging you have read and agree with these statements.”
My mom said I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up. So I chose to be a man.April 16, 2017 at 6:15 pm #43533wildbillParticipant
Bumping because it needs to be pounded home and often “ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain”; pair it down to only what you need and get in shape or you will be combat ineffective.
Western North Carolina ― LRMC-1 Sept. 2017, CQBC May 2017, DCH March 2017, RS & CTT October. 2016, CTT 1511, LN 1
“We don't rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” ― Archilochos
“I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence..." - Gandhi
- The daypack, or assault pack. This is often overlooked, and I will come back to it as an integral part of your gear setup. So keep it in mind. You should probably have three types of packs:
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