Description of how I usually spend my free time for me at tacticool HQ:
For some reason something I read over at Soldier Systems Daily had me thinking about something Arc’teryx make (and how disappointed I was at the rudeness of the guys manning the Arc booth at SHOT), so I went on to Tactical Distributors for a browse since they’re the commercial side of ADS, Inc. and the main source for LEAF stuff. Then I headed to TD’s clearance section because they ALWAYS have a ton of good stuff on clearance. Noticed they had some of their rather rare High Speed Gear US Woodland pattern load bearing items on sale.
That lead me to sidle on over to the HSGI main site, and as I generally do at any tactical store I clicked on to their new products section. Most of the new offerings were variations on their TACOs, lots of LT, belt mounted and combo options to suit any requirement. More unusually they also had this new chest rig:
Yep, it’s the same basic shape at the front as the Eagle RRV, just like a thousand other chest rigs that almost every tactical nylon company has made over the years. FirstSpear have done one just like it but it’s never been shown on their website.
It would certainly be interesting to see someone try to mount a hydro pouch on the back of this one using the PALS slots on the backs of the shoulder straps and the pad on the back strap. I generally run PCs in airsoft because I’m yet to find a chest rig that integrates hydro without the weight of the water at the back pulling the front of the rig up.
This new offering is also in 1000D cordura instead of 500 which is unusual these days, someone at SHOT actually said to me they didn’t think 1000D multicam was even being made anymore. What the cordura is laminated with they don’t say, probably hypalon but lots of companies are really cagey about that for some reason (even though the construction is super obvious as soon as you see the stuff in person). Not surprising that basically everyone now is gradually moving over to reverse/negative space PALS using laser cut clots.
They f’d up by backing the entire thing in their neoprene though if you ask me. The biggest complaint I see all over the place with the HSGI SureGrip PALS belts is how sweaty and non-breathable that neoprene is, I’ve got a couple of sets of their shoulder pads with the same material inside and it’s basically like rubber, literally zero sweat escapes. It’s one of those materials that leaves a perfect shape of where it was been in the form of a soaked sweat patch on your shirt once you take it off.
Not going to lie folks, I’ve spent years in total ignorance when it comes to naming conventions on Arc’teryx & Arc’teryx LEAF. Given their propensity for making up silly names for their colour options, I had if I’m honest presumed the suffixes on the item names were some sort of strange code in latin.. or whatever. I haven’t checked the LEAF site yet, but the website for the civilian line does now display definitions for the suffix acronyms which are very handy indeed. If you’re going to make the considerable investment in any of their products, you absolutely need to understand *exactly* what it is you’re investing in and the capabilities it will have; and even more importantly, the capabilities it won’t have.
For example, I’ve owned an Atom LT Hoody for a few years now and it’s one of my favourite pieces of clothing in genera. Widely regarded as one of the most popular items in the entire Arcteryx line-up (LEAF or otherwise), but if truth be told when I bought it I didn’t truly understand what it exactly it was, the thinking behind the design or materials used in making it. I didn’t have any concept of how a PCU (or similar) layering system worked, I just knew the Atom was some sort of a insulating jacket, I wanted the brand and it was on sale at a good price. Also it was the civilian version with no velcro in grey so I can wear it anywhere without any concern at all. Now luckily for me, it turned out that the Atom was a really good buy and I grabbed a good deal, however that was as I say pure luck and if you don’t put the time in to getting a decent base of understanding in layering and materials (and lots of other details) it can be easy to end up buying something that doesn’t really fit your needs. I got lucky that one time but I’ve made a few erroneous purchases in the past too.
The Arc website is very useful in that it properly breaks down all the key materials used on any given item/garment and explains the where and why. Something that the majority of tactical manufacturers are very lax in doing. It’s worth investing in quality when it comes to outdoor kit because if you use them properly those items will ensure you stay as warm and dry as possible while still breathing, resisting wear like champs and generally providing faithful service to the wearer. It’s still possible to outfit yourself pretty well on a budget, you just need to take the time to research options, check out mil surplus kit (specific items, not all of it) and most importantly ask people who’ve used lots of layering system options in the past; not some bloke who bought a shell one time because it was the tactical thing to wear, but has never actually spent any time any time out in the woods/hills during the colder months, or had to stand guard duty in the winter, or hump a backpack a decent distance through rain and hail (hail is the best, I can tell you).
HOPEFULLY I’ll actually get somewhere near the Arc’teryx booth this year, I tried at least once a day last year and it was rammed non-stop wall to wall. Based on a post over at Soldier Systems Daily, they should have some new combat clothing on show using the new ‘Katana’ fabric from gore-tex which is something like a super-breathable softshell; but in a multicam combat uniform. Similar idea to the field cut uniform Outdoor Research currently offer, but far better laid out from what I’ve seen. Going to be pricey (along the lines of the Tyr Tac jungle multicams) but possibly the best all around multicam uniform money can buy with more versatility than the Crye All-Weathers in terms of warmer/humid environments.
Guess what I’m going to be posting this year? That’s right, the exact same bloody stuff as every year up to now.
NB – Stuff in bold text is a link to facebook.
So here’s the MilSpecMonkey ‘Tac-Organizer’ pouch that I use to carry some basic first-aid stuff in to longer airsoft games. Airsoft is a sort of sport where you can always guarantee someone’s going fall over and cut themselves, or get burnt on the constant barrage of pyrotechnic devices flying all over the shop. I don’t think I’ve been to a game where something like that hasn’t happened, and my brother now almost exclusively wears FR camo gear to skirmish because flammable materials at sites have a habit of going up when he’s nearby (not his fault I should say, he doesn’t use pyro).
There are 2 things I particularly like about this option from MSM:
1. It’s made in the US by Tactical Tailor so you know it’s good to go in terms of materials and stitching.
2. They really focused on the ‘organiser’ part. This is something a LOT of ‘admin’ pouches out there fail to do. One big, featureless compartment is no use for organising stuff, especially little bits like medical kit.
This isn’t necessarily the absolute ‘perfect’ FAK option as pouches go since a lot of people would prefer a tear-off, but I keep this on the side of my backpack so for dealing with minor injuries I can sling the pack on to the floor and get at what I need quickly and easily.
The picture of the internals above is something I snapped super quick to give a ROUGH idea of the way the internal dividers can sort out any medical or admin items you store inside the pouch. Overall MSM and TT have done a really solid job of laying out the inside to securely accommodate stuff you actually want to carry. No pocket that’s pointlessly large and leaves your kit sloshing around, or vice versa. The external stash pocket (with plenty of loop) and elastic retention accommodate anything you might want to get at at top speed.
You probably don’t want to put one of these on your chest above your magazines because it’s pretty deep when filled. I also still hate MALICE attachment, but you can always get some Whiskey Two-Four straps for a huge improvement in that department.
All in all, a well designed and built product and one of my more frequently used items.