Celebrating over 14 years of LF forum reading by asking the sort of question that got me here in the first place. Why is this going to be long? I'm gonna walk through who I am, what I want and what I've used to try and solicit some advice from the more experienced and learned folks here.
Me: I'm 5'10" and 160 lbs (ish), I generally wear a 40 jacket (or 50 in Euro sizing) unless they're really slim cut.
What (to be carried):
- >= 4x 5.56 mags (if wearing a belt with 2x),
- pouch or PALS for pens, chemlights, head lamp, etc.
- pouch or PALS for map/notebook pouch (yes, separate from the previous)
- pouch or PALS for AN/PRC-148C
- PALS for EUD / NettWarrior (hard to see this anywhere but a bib)
- pouch or PALS for conformal battery (because the two previous are thirsty!)
- PALS for IFAK (either in addition to or in lieu of a belt worn IFAK)
- a means to carry H20 (either space on the rig or the ability to mount a camelbak)
- a means to control cables and route antennas
I'm probably forgetting something. I usually prefer space for NODS, compass and cutter on there...but, the PSQ-20 is massive and I'm not sure how to skin that cat yet. There's the possibility I might need to haul two radios. Ideally, I could wear it stand alone or throw it over an armor carrier / PC.
What I've used in the past (and what I liked or didn't):
TAPS - the Army's institutional chest rig solution, approved for static line parachute operations and my main line gear for the last 7 years or so. The Army took a stab and integral pockets and pouches that worked fairly well for organizing kit - I worn mine with a few external pouches that accommodated 2x 1QT canteens/Nalgene, padded NODS pouches, cutter, compass, extra mag pouch and R/T pouch. Not a bad effort, the cons would be that the harness is pretty garbage and doesn't really position the TAPS properly on someone my size (and pity the JM that has to JMPI me wearing it), the pouches use hook and pile tape and/or snap fasteners. Theoretically, this could answer the mail with an improved harness and a decent spot to stash the EUD.
TT 2-PC MAV w/ X-Harness. Loved the idea, didn't really like how it fit on someone with my less than barrel chested proportions. The X-Harness is nice, and the overall load carrying is similar to the TAPS, though I like the internal pockets on the TAPS better. Honestly, probably would have preferred the 1-PC (maybe w/ bib).
Naturally, I've worn the FLC, LBV, and LCE - however, they're a in a different class. I like the LCE concept with or without low profile suspenders. I've got a vintage ATS war belt and a Crye blast belt to work with, and my intent is to divy up my kit between first and second line. That said, I need a chest rig that sits high enough on my body to actually make belt mounted kit viable - it's not an abs/belly rig, amirite? I generally prefer canteens to Camelbaks because wearing one more thing that keeps my torso from breathing and interferes with any gear I carry on my back isn't appealing. The TAPS, for all its flaws, did transition pretty seamlessly between over armor and stand alone wear.
I've been experimenting this week with the Crye AVS. The fit is "OK"-ish and the yoke/harness is pretty good for managing ride height as well as managing weight/load. However, the pouches are a mixed bag. 6x mags and a radio, 4x mags and 2x R/T is good. A single PALS channel on each is less so and the FASTEX closures are "meh." The elastic bands will help with mag retention until they wear out, at least. I haven't figured out how to actually get what I want on/in the AVS. No, I didn't spend my own dough on it...I love Gucci kit, but not $500+ worth. I'd like an option beyond simply hanging ALL THE THINGS on the Crye AVS plate bags and cummerbund.
Thoughts? Too ambitious? I lost my train of thought in there a couple times...kids!