Beyond Clothing Outlaw

If you’re here, you might well be a bit like me, in so far as you might want clothes from brands you like/trust that can actually be worn around daily when you’re not doing ‘tactical stuff’. It’s certainly nice when said garments can still maintain that level of practicality that you’ve become accustomed to in your tac gear, yet not also scream “I’m in the service/am concealed carrying/have a lot of expensive military kit” – whatever your circumstance might be.

Of course you can tick off a lot of those things by going with mountaineering brands, but I’ll refer you to the ‘brands you like’ part because, personally, a lot of the brands I really like are purely contained within the military sphere and often do not have a civilian line in their catalogues. I’ll also buy stuff that’s made in the US/EU/Aus where I can.

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The Beyond Clothing​ Outlaw is a pretty sweet jacket all around given the above context. Of all the layers I have accumulated for outer wear in the winter, it is one of the few that is actually a softshell, alongside the OR Ferrosi, though they’re very different animals. That selection is not due to a deliberate avoidance of shells however, it’s just that if you want a nice looking jacket it’ll probably be canvas/cotton, leather, wool or something along those lines. Generally the smart looking items you find out there will not be made from a more modern technical fabric. From an everyday perspective that sort of thing is not the end of the world by any stretch, but a shell will of course serve in a far superior fashion in the event you do get caught in the less pleasant elements.

The Outlaw is not a thick insulator, but of course the shell blocks all wind and combining that with a fleece lining makes for quite an effective end result. As you might expect coming from Beyond, all the materials are very much akin to what you’d find amongst PCU garments, which is certainly a huge plus to my mind.

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It is not the ideal jacket for the likes of serious mountain climbing or the like, as you might imagine, not that I hold that fact against it. It has a few zips it doesn’t really need and some of the pulls can rattle about and be slightly noisy. The press stud storm flap at the front over the main zip is also somewhat irritatingly slow to fully secure and when not secured the metal studs will move around and hit against each other. Not in any sort of cataclysmic fashion, it’s not just tactical (imagine air quotes around that).

The Outlaw is however good looking, features plenty of pockets in convenient places with no compromise for the sake of pack belts and still has those weather resilient fabrics. Dry time is a crucial one, especially compared to any sort of cotton and wool, a shell will dry many times more quickly and last better in the very long term vs leather. The vintage/worn look can be cool of course, but there will be occasions in life when that just isn’t appropriate and nylon shell does an amazing job at staying looking like it just came out of the bag even after years of use.

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Interesting bit of backstory to the Outlaw that I discovered when chatting to one of the head blokes at Beyond at the FirstSpear​ range day during SHOT 2017; the jackets were all meant to originally be sold in very high end, fancy clothing stores in New York and it would appear that at least some of them were:

Beyond Clothing Private Reserve Collection Launch in NYC

MSM Raw Hoodie – Redux

If you missed my video on the MilSpecMonkey RAW Hoodie I would definitely recommend checking that one out if you are interested in colour options for tac gear.

As I mentioned in the video this is a jacket I wear absolutely all the damn time, constantly. When I want something to put on to warm up, the RAW is what I take out of the cupboard. Many of you that are also in the UK will probably just be getting to the start of the cold weather in the past week or two and since that’s been happening I’ve been living in this hoodie. I am in fact wearing right now as I type this.

As I’ve spent time in it, there’s a couple of features that have really stood out the most to me.

Primarily it’s the fact that it is a fleece, yet unlike fleeces I’ve owned in the past I don’t hate it or find it useless, quite the opposite. Generic fleeces have absolutely zero wind blocking abilities which makes them frankly redundant without a rain jacket or softshell over the top. The MSM Hoodie may not cut the cold wind as much as something like an Arc’teryx Atom AR which comprises a thin nylon shell with synthetic fill, but then it also costs a small fraction of the Atom and frankly for daily wear the nature of the fleece makes it a nicer, more comfortable proposal all around. The RAW is a hard faced fleece so you get the ‘fluff’ on the inside but a smooth appearance and feel on the outside, making it better in the wind and far, far less of a magnet for hair and dirt and bits of plants and whatever else it out there that just loves clinging on to normal soft faced fleece.

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The second key point is that the RAW is not a hoodie. I don’t mind hoodies for lounging around indoors when nobody’s going to see me and they can be ok as a mid-layer for everyday use. However I’m 30 now and for the most part I want to wear layers that fit, not ones that hang a giant kangaroo pouch in front of me and have a generally loose, overly-baggy appearance. Crucially also a full zip allows for controlled levels of insulation which is why I largely despise shirt style or half/quarter zip insulating layers. The issue PCS item for example is very warm, however the thick nature of the fleece and the one-third zip mean if you put it on when you’re cold then run in it you will boil yourself alive and getting the bloody thing on and off is an absolute nightmare and a half. This makes temperature regulation far more difficult than it should be when alternating between slow and fast paced activity.

As far as the MSM Grey colouring goes, well frankly I love it. It does a brilliant job of tricking the eye to switch between appearances of green, brown and grey depending on light/background and balances all 3 colours very nicely indeed. I would certainly jump all over some quality NYCO combat clothing in this same colourway, and indeed some 500D load bearing kit, because to my mind this is the true solid-colour equivalent to Multicam – perhaps even better than MC in some ways, certainly against concrete and buildings. As it stands the Gruppa 99 L5 apparel comes very close to MSM’s colour selection and I intend to pick up some more of their kit down the line. Fingers crossed UF-Pro might produce something equivalent in their Striker series because at the moment their ‘Brown Grey’/RAL 7013 is basically just one tiny shade away from Ranger green and not nearly different enough to Crye’s RG to warrant the purchase for me personally.

 

G3 Combat shirt – The Best For Bookend-Multicam?

I have talked about the Crye Precision G3 Combat shirt in the past, so you can either search here or over on the The Reptile House for the foundational information. That said I’m not one to shy away from absolutely squeezing every single drop of juice out of a fruit so I’ll say a couple of things about this particular example in MC Arid.

First thing’s first – at this time, I am not aware of a better (cost excluded) combat shirt in this pattern that is currently in production and available for sale. Or indeed one that has ever been in production in the past. There are certainly some that might be better value, although again in MC Arid this isn’t as much the case as with other patterns. When looking at commercial camouflage there is always a lower level of take up when it comes to the desert-centric variants, something that was particularly evident when it comes to the PenCott and Kryptek families. Multicam doesn’t suffer that issue quite as badly and enjoys a lot of native support from Crye, but there’s certainly far more choice of regular Multicam out there on the market by comparison to Arid.

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As mentioned however I am not aware of a better combat shirt in this colourway so the CP G3 is what I have in the collection, taking in to account my personal goal of having the all around best quality (for recreational use) garment in any given pattern or colour. As an example, I’ve eschewed the G3 in favour of the UF-Pro Striker XT in MC Black as that design better suits my preferences, though there’s no doubt the Crye offering is the better option for a military application. During my stint deployed I certainly took great strides to avoid ever leaving the base while wearing an issued combat shirt and those feature the same torso fabric as the Striker. The PCS kit is great for 99% of the time when everything’s going ok, but it’s the 1% of course that is actually worth worrying about.

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A couple of points to mention as far as labelling goes. First off I know some folks have had queries about the lack of white box around the label on some G3 items. Some pieces of apparel feature said border around the label and some do not. Both are common and perfectly legitimate however, certainly since this shirt came directly from the CP web store and, as you can see, does not feature the border. Second, just for interest’s sake I wanted to upload a shot of the ‘Multicam’ brand label which will sometimes feature the words Arid/Tropic/Black. The NYCO fabric itself will also on occasion do the same, though seemingly not on every batch of fabric and it’s not terribly common to actually find the script on a given garment since it doesn’t repeat very often within the print.

I’ll say one thing, if Crye release Gen 4 combat shirts down the line with colour matched loop fields and torso fabrics in MC Arid (and Tropic) I’ll definitely be a happy camper.

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Centurion C4 (A Quad Rail? Srsly??)

Great product, bad purchasing decision – not necessarily mutually exclusive.

I opted for this 10″ Centurion Arms C4 rail for a few reasons. First off because I had this older VFC/Avalon AEG with BCM markings and the C4 is a type of forend that Bravo Company do actually sell on their AR-15 uppers. Secondly I wanted to have at least one quad rail in my RIF collection for both posterity and the extreme range of accessories that are already available on the market. I believe, if memory serves, that at one time Centurion were marketing the C4 as the lightest quad picatinny rail on the market, something I dug in to deeply at the time of purchase (back in winter 16). The website description now says it is the lightest quad rail to attach to a standard barrel nut, so I’d be interested to know who’s out there manufacturing a lighter freefloat quad. Purely from a curiosity standpoint.

The C4 is a 2-piece design that easily clamps around a standard type of USGI AR barrel nut and it mounts on there with no question of the security or rigidity.
This is aided by the extra set of screws towards the front end that join together the 2 sections and keep everything perfectly lined up. It is machined from 6061 T6 which is essentially always the go-to when you want a quality handguard possessing of the right properties. Surface finish is again the bar setting standard in the form of Type 3 hard coat anodise which not only looks consistently good but even under simple handling and installation holds up a lot better than some other finishes I’ve seen on even more expensive forends.

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The rails are of course 100% true to the 1913 picatinny spec. Centurion have even included the small cuts in the slots at the very end of each quadrant to enable old school KAC cover panels to mount correctly. Then there’s a total of 4 QD sling socket points, both near to the receiver and way out up front, catering to either preference. Most impressively for a 10″ quad rail the weight sits at around 11oz with the barrel nut included and when you consider some old tube forends like the Troy offerings weigh double that then you really start to see the achievement in design. Even some very recent and slightly shorter M-LOK tubes with minimal pic rail along the 12 o/clock will still weigh around 9oz when using aluminium and some skinny M-LOK tubes will get to over 10oz at lengths of around 11″. Again, impressive numbers and all part of the reason I picked up the C4 in the first place.

The unfortunate rub for me is the diameter of the C4, that’s the only significant reason I decided not to keep it in the end. The internal diameter around the curved surfaces is only 1.37″ which is very much comparable with many modern negative space handguards featuring KeyMod/M-LOK, however the 4 pic rails make the outer diameter of the C4 far, far larger than the inner diameter. There are some hefty old quads out there which are even wider and heavier so the Centurion design still does very well in its’ own league, but having gotten extensively accustomed to far narrower handguards over the past 4-5 years I personally just could not go back to the old style given the actual feel in the hand.#

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Does that mean nobody should consider the quad in 2018? Not at all. There is one real downfall to negative space systems that I’ve experienced and very, very rarely see mentioned online; it’s a problem that is particularly exacerbated with narrow diameter tubes and when using silencers that sit within the rail. Because the modern rail accessories have to go through the handguard vs purely clamping on to the outside they require space on the rear face of the accessory slot i.e. inside the handguard. Any time the gas tube, piston or gas block (or a silencer) get close to the inside of an M-LOK slot you lose the ability to attach items to that slot. I’ve noticed a distinct tendency for aftermarket M-LOK handguards for AKs and HK roller-locks to be quite wide in order to avoid this issue, though AR rails often try to go slim and sacrifice mounting slots for that.

On a daylight usage rifle or one with a long barrel this is usually not much of an issue and the weight savings of M-LOK over quad 1913 really make themselves known and felt when examining 12-15″ rails, but short barrels and lots of front end electronics for night time use are of course the norm these days and a short barrel necessitates a short rail. When you’re potentially trying to mount a white light, front BUIS, laser unit, a remote pressure switch and a foregrip all within the area of the forend you want to hold while shooting (and your hand does actually require an area to slot in to as well) then space is very much at a premium. With some super narrow M-LOK tubes this can raise an issue as mentioned with accessory attachment and especially when the 1913 along the 12 o/clock is deleted in favour of more M-LOK. Is this insurmountable? Far from it, it is entirely surmountable in fact, but it is still an issue that can be encountered and the narrower the rail and the more stuff you try to put on it, the further exacerbated the problem can potentially be.

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I would tend to say that all things considered the quad is somewhat comparable to the idea of the SMG at this point. It can have some niche applications but it is only getting increasingly obsolescent every year that goes by. The range of M-LOK accessories is only growing and elements of US SOF have already adopted it in the form of the Geissele Mk16 rail. I’d predict the entire US Army to follow in time with either a completely new rifle or an M4A2, after which the rest of the US military will follow and we might well see a replacement of the HKey forends on our L85A3s before moving on to a new rifle.

In the meantime however, if a quad pic rail fits your needs you’d not be underserved by the C4 from Centurion by any stretch given the overall quality of manufacture and design. I’d tend to not recommend a quad, but if you are going that way then this one is a very solid bet.

BCM Gunfighter Mod 0 Stocks and Rail Panels

Tired of all that Magpul on absolutely everything? Well if you’d prefer something different that’s still incredibly tough and durable you won’t go far wrong with the Bravo Company USA Gunfighter line of polymer accessories for your firearm/replica. I’ve opted for the Mod 0 stocks on 2 of my VFC AEGs, one being the original type and the other being the SOPMOD variant which features the wider construction with sloped cheek weld areas as per the original military SOPMOD/’Crane’ AR-15 collapsible stocks.

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For an extremely economical price you’re getting a very tight fit on a Mil-Spec buffer tube with a strong latch system that isn’t going to get knocked and collapse your stock at a bad moment, but is still perfectly easy to adjust for length of pull. Essentially, the spring on the latch is just stronger than most other stocks since there’s no other material around said latch to cover it; like the lever inside a CTR for example. The general build strength of course will be welcome for shooters in the event of an accidental drop or having to mortar the rifle to clear a stubborn stoppage. There’s an integrally moulded tab that will retain an elastic band should you wish to fold up a sling for stowage and you can attach your sling at the rear via either a traditional pass-through slot or QDs. The QD sockets are not rotation limited but BCM have gone for the cheaper, lighter option in the form of simple, thin metal plates drilled through to the correct size vs machined solid sockets that could accommodate the anti-rotation notches.

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Fortunately the SOPMOD variant is not quite as excessively wide as the older style stocks that share the name and as you’ll see from the underside shot the plastic is all hollow with a few reinforcement ribs, so if you do prefer that sloped cheek weld you’re not adding too much weight. They lock in to place very solidly indeed and the colour matched rubber butt pads are a nice touch that’s certainly comfortable in the aim. All your favourite tacticool colours are also catered for to include this nice shade of so-hot-right-now grey.

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While I’m here I’ll also mention the rail panels BCM produce, which are available in KeyMod and M-LOK variations. If you own a handguard that has modular slots all the way around (i.e. diagonals included, not just 3, 6 and 9) then a slim panel such as this design is certainly my personal recommendation as they conform nicely, add minimal width to keep the forend slim and do not interfere with each other. If your rail does not have KeyMod or M-LOK on the diagonals then something wider like the Magpul Type 2 covers is the way I tend to go, but if you want the narrowest profile possible while still insulating your hand then these solid plastic BCM panels definitely work well. They also weigh nothing at all and have a nice middle-ground grip texture.

The Ultimate Modular Panel/Chassis.. ?

*Queue jumper alert*
 
A lot of the time when I get some custom piece of cordura gear made it ends up as a highly successful commercial product about 12-24 months later purely down the the principle of multiple discovery. Multiple discovery being a term I just had to google myself and references different people who’ve never communicated with each other all coming up with the same concept at the same or similar time. It’s pretty well documented through history back to the inventions of weapons like bows and arrows.
 
All that in mind I wanted to post up my idea of a modular placard that I’ve had made by Roman Kurmaz (who you can find on facebook via the Replica Linderhof Tac grouo). Obviously there’s no huge revolution here for the most part it’s generally a combination of ideas others have had before me, but to my personal tastes this is the ‘best’ that a placard can be and it forms the ideal core to my notions of a supremely flexible load carriage system for box magazines.
 
If you’ve not seen the previous blog post that details my ideal of a system of plate carriers and chest rigs that can very rapidly adapt to any common magazine type then you can check it out here:
 
http://thefull9.net/picnmix/
 
The key element with the above system is the placard itself, or chassis if you use the Spiritus terminology. It is the almost-literal glue that binds everything else together and connects the magazine specific inserts to the mounting platform of your choice.
 
On the market at the moment there are already some great options for modular/convertible placards that will accommodate various mag types by swapping inserts. Prime example would be the Spiritus Systems Mk3 Chassis, Whiskey Two-Four PIMPs accessory panel, Haley Strategic Partners D3CR-M and the Ferro Concepts Kangaroo front flap.
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They’re all genuinely brilliant options in the world of gear, but me being me I didn’t quite find any of them to be 100% absolutely perfect. So, as per usual, I drew up a mental list of what I wanted in a panel/placard type micro chest rig kinda dealie-thing.
 
1. Single cell like the Ferro kangaroo to enable a slim profile and migrate extra kit that might be stored in a front pouch to extra PALS pouches at the sides of a PC/Chest rig. I have a real thing against any stacking of gear where at all possible and I never use more than 1 mag even in a double magazine pouch.
 
2. Somewhat taken as read, but it needs to be compatible with the Mayflower/Vel Sys mounting spec that’s become standard in terms of size and placement of 1″ male buckles along the top as well as the inclusion of a hook field on the rear. While the Ferro Kangaroo fulfills requirement number one it also uses G-Hooks at the top instead of 1″ plastic hardware and most brands have taken the side release buckle route. I also hate G-Hooks in almost all applications.
 
3. Another size consideration is being able to fit all the best inserts on the market. The Spiritus chassis is, as I discovered a bit too late, smaller than the inserts made by Ferro. The Spiritus inserts are great for a lot of reasons; very light, fast and effective, compact to store and economical to buy with a wide selection available and I’ve tried them out and like them a lot. I just want the very maximum possible modularity here and it only takes a small amount of extra cordura to achieve that.
 
4. Full interior lining comprised of loop for compatibility with the Spiritus inserts (of which I have many) as well as the HSP inserts. Ferro and WTF inserts will work with the simple addition of a piece of hook sewn back-to-back with another piece of hook velcro.
 
5. Ability to hide the four 1″ webbing loops on the sides for placard use when a harness/back strap is not clipped directly to the chassis.
 
Number 5 is for the most part a vanity/OCD consideration on my part and it was the one feature I can most definitely say I devised for myself and I’m fairly sure has not been done previously in this context. The 1″ webbing here is of course adjustable in position via the velcro and the fact there’s addition hook on the rear face means there’s no loss of staying power when the placard is mounted. It’s not necessary for one end to be un-sewn of course with the advent of split-bar field repair 1″ hardware but it is actually slightly less awkward to remove the buckles this way. Side benefits (apart from hiding the webbing when desired) include the ability for a manufacturer to use all the non-split bar hardware in their inventory if that’s all they have and if the end user wants to swap the female buckles for expander wings of some sort that attach via closed loops of cordura they can do so which is a lower profile option compared to adding yet more layers of velcro between the placard and mount (and they really add up if you’ve got expander wings, a drop pouch and whatever else).
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The size requirements, mounting spec and fitment of inserts are of course all also covered off. As you can see the Ferro Kwik Triple Shingle that incorporates the HSP MP2s fits in beautifully and 30rnd 556 mags are retained in what I would personally call the ideal fashion if one is not hopping out of an aircraft. Further down the line I’ll be showing off the F9 Placard (which is what I’m calling this specific configuration) in other setups, fully loaded with SMG mags and attached to a plate carrier etc etc.
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There are certain companies I’m a big fan of but my philosophy remains that I’d rather integrate the best features of a variety of the best brands out there where I can and you never know maybe someone might see them and take the ideas and bring them to a wider audience. Not something I can personally do on account of not owning a large nylon sewing business.
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If you want one of your own drop Roman a message and show him one of these pictures or ask for the setup Chris got, he’ll know what you mean and he can make them in a variety of colours I’m sure. If you get one and get a good enough pic I’ll obviously feature it here.
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Patch Display from Mil-Spec Monkey

Quick mention to a product I stumbled across in the MilSpecMonkeystore while I was doing my usual rounds of online patch shopping. If you’re after patch display area, this is definitely one of the best options available on the retail market. It’s called Halco Luxmed Loop and MSM are selling it by the yard right off the 60″ roll in exactly the same way you’d buy camo fabric or 500D cordura. For those not using imperial that means you’re getting a total of 1.36 square metres of loop area for about 18 dollars. I chucked a pair of 32R G3 Fields down on top for size comparison sake. Not a small surface area, as you can see.

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I was given this stuff by the monkey, however as per usual this is something I specifically requested because I needed patch display materials anyway and I think it’s good value for the money if you want proper loop to put your morale items on. My opinion is not for sale however, fact is you can slap hook backed patches on scraps of old carpet or any vaguely fluffy material you like and you can probably obtain such a fabric for free if you hunt around. But if you do want something that’s smart looking, factory new, thin, light and very easy to display then this stuff is a better $ per square inch price than any other patch mats I’ve personally seen for sale.

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You don’t get edging tape or metal grommets for hanging of course it’s just raw loop, but the idea here is really to use the fabric in a project of your own. I’ve cut my yard up and used adhesive backed Velcro to attach it inside a wardrobe here in a simple manner for displaying all my manufacturer/brand logo patches. What you can see in the picture is only about half of what was supplied. But that’s just one option, you can either do something as simple as punching some holes and hanging up a piece with paracord or go all the to building a picture frame of the right size and using spray glue to create a huge fancy patch display board. The possibilities are endless really if you’re a creative type.

Here’s the link if anyone’s interested:

https://milspecmonkey.com/store/hardware-diy/910-halco-luxmed-l20-60in-loop.html?search_query=lux&results=1

G-Code RTi System

This is a big if, but IF you’re like me and want to use lots of different pistols types (with lights/lasers fitted) and also fully encase your pistols then I can recommend the G-Code Holsters RTi system. It simply allows you to attach a modular wheel to any tac gear be it belts or PALS, then if you have the right hanger on the rear of your holster you can swap holsters around with no tools in quite literally about 5 seconds. A big plus for me is that it’s not just the G-Code holsters that work in the system, they also make hangers to attach to Safariland (and Blackhawk), so when you factor in the fact that almost all the hundreds of custom kydex companies out there use those 3-hole drill patterns on the rear of their products it turns out you are extremely well catered for.

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That said, it should be mentioned there are 2 perhaps better alternatives of course in my mind:

1 – Just stick with one pistol type, whether it’s airsoft or firearms you’ll always do better by practicing more with one weapon type and you’ll be able to keep better track on maintenance issues. Also saves money by just using the one holster in the first place. Not to mention magazine, ammo and parts compatibility.

2 – Where you can, use a universal type holster. If you’re not using pistol mounted lights or lasers then there are some good Safarilands or the Warrior universal which will serve you nicely. If you want a light then consider the light-grabbing holsters from S&S and Surefire.

The equivalent system from Safariland is also well worth looking at, though I’ve had zero issues with my RTi items from G-Code and I own a lot of them at this point and have been using them for longer than I can actually remember; definitely 5 years or more. Reliable and robust equipment that can provide a very useful function if it meets your personal gear needs and requirements.