Kicking it Old School: Belts and Suspenders for LBE

A question was asked in another thread about where you could learn about legacy systems of LBE, such as "pistol belts" and such.  Well, I was thinking "right here" but then I realized there are several threads that are actually in other areas, other than "Second Line Gear".  There was a good thread about jungle kit, which included "second line", or what I like to refer to as "belt kit", because that is my primary system.  There are also a couple of threads in 3d Line Gear which touched on these things.  So maybe to help guys out who didn't participate in those threads, we could re-cap some stuff here.   Where you normally might go to find this info.

So to kick this off, I will start with belts.   Legacy systems of load bearing equipment used belts to carry the majority of your fighting load.  Various other systems, such as chest rigs, ammo vests, and "flak jackets" were used in conjunction with them, but the main method of carry was the belt.  About the mid-90's this started to change.  "Flak jackets" were upgraded to protect against pistol and rifle fire.   Then some guy (or probably a committee) decided it would be a good idea to hang all sorts of shit on these new "armor carriers", and then "plate carriers".   So we saw a shift from the main fighting load, from the belt to the "armor carrier".  The belt now usually carried pistol kit, and not much else.  

While this is a valid way of doing things, for certain terrain and situation, I would also submit that returning to belts, as the main method of carry, is also a very valid way of doing things.  Lots of variables here, and reasons why for doing things certain ways; I will just say, if you determine that using a "belt kit" is something that supports your mission statement, then there are many subject matter experts here, with lots of experience, that can help you out in procuring, building, and using this method of LBE.

I will give you some of my preferences; hopefully the other guys will chime in as well.  I like a lightly padded belt base.  By that I mean less than 1/4" of padding.  I have found that the leaner I am, with less fat layers around my hips,  the less padding I really need.  I presently use a 3" wide belt base (although I am experimenting with the Brit "hippo" belt at 8".  Yeah 8 fucking inches!  But it has it's own peculiar charm, especially when combined with a rucksack).  Next I like lightly padded shoulder straps, in a "H" harness format, like UW or Velocity/Mayflower gear.  I like a 4-point attachment, although I am experimenting with the Brit 6-point styles.  

I wear the belt kit cinched up against my hips, so that when I humping a ruck, the belt will act as a hip belt and soak up some of the weight.  I mention this because another technique is to "free float" the belt, on the suspenders, because it's more comfortable.  I've done that before  when just wearing the belt kit, after dumping the ruck.  An adjustable buckle, like a Cobra two-way, facilitates this.    

I wear the pouches "low carry" or Brit style, which is flush with the top of the belt.  The reason for this is to create a shelf in the back for the ruck to rest on.  I also happen to think all the pouches ride better this way, even the mag pouches on the sides, which btw, are kept behind your hip point, so you can take a knee, or prone out.  Yes, they will bounce a bit more when moving rapidly, so one technique is to use a small bungee cord to connect all the pouches together.  Issue Brit pouches have a web loop on the back just for this purpose.       

 

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine where a person claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." Heinlein

Original Post

I have very, very little military experience in this area, but I do have backpacking experience and a historian's knowledge and perspective.  So maybe I can offer thoughts, that coming from a different angle, will inspire an "Aha!" moment from others with an infantry experience.

I did a lot of backpacking when I was younger and packing the weight on my back and not my front.  For anything other than a relatively short distance and low weight, you didn't want to carry the weight on your shoulders.  A good, well-padded hip belt, and a frame (internal or external), was essential.  As a kid, going on hunting trips, we would gut, skin and quarter a moose and then lash it to a pack frame to pack it out.  These were WWII, GI surplus pack frames, and 150lbs hanging on your shoulders was painful no matter the amount of padding.  The difference between those and a modern pack is inexpressible.  

So throughout my backpacking period, I struggled with how to also carry magazines, water, etc.  I perused SOF, etc., to see how it was done.  This was the 1980's and 90's and ALICE gear was the standard.  That meant no hip belt.  The best I could think of was the Israeli Ephod set up, worn as high and tight as possible so it was a "midsection" ride, leaving room for a backpack hip belt.  No body armor then, so that wasn't a consideration.  No really good way to carry a pistol other than stuffing it in a magazine pocket.  The "SAS" low hanging nylon holsters strapped to your thigh were a no go as everyone knows.

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Mark

Swear allegiance to the flag Whatever flag they offer

Never hint at what you really feel

Teach the children quietly For some day sons and daughters

Will rise up and fight while we stood still

 

Joined:  2/24/2003                          Location:  Nevada, USA

I used a DFLCS harness overseas as a dismounted infantryman in Afghanistan in 2009/10. I Used a 64 pattern rucksack with it, and the shorter frame sat just nicely above the rear pouches on the back of my webbing. Same went for my assault pack. All was worn over my issued CAF armor and plates.

I wear my webbing right about at my waist, as to not interfere with my mobility, taking a knee etc.

It was not ideal for being in a vehicle, however it could work with the old school LAVIII bench seating. In an RG/MRAP or any sort of vehicle with individual seating, it was cumbersome and a chest rig would have been a much better choice.

 

 

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-We are the sheepdogs, bad people looking out for the good people by killing worse people
-Don't get PTSD, Give PTSD. Make the taliban wake up screaming in the night because he fears Canadians are coming to Kill him.

-Location - Canada - Joined - 2006MAR19

We have been slowly going back to the belt kit style set up for GPF Infantry use in the USMC, The MOLLE LBV is no longer standard issue and we now issue a modular belt with attachment points for suspenders, Unfortunately they are low pro, thin and Y harness style to fit under the armor carrier, A H harness would be a much better option, the current issue Y suspenders limit the amount of weight that guys want to put on the belt, leading to the use of assault packs to carry things that would other wise be carried in utility pouches mounted on the back of the belt. Our pouch issue is still the same, All of them will hang from our belt from the top with the exception of the canteen pouches. One thing I am planning on doing once I get back over to a Infantry BN from the schoolhouse is set up a belt with some top flap utility pouches  in the back, Similar to Brit stuff to try out as a shelf for ruck, My next unit is slated for a Okinawa based UDP mid next year and while I've never played in the jungle before all the stuff I've read indicates that Chest rigs, LBV's and PC's don't work as great there as they have on my other deployments. Our current issue ruck (FILBE) is not horrible, actually I like it for what it is over anything other than my MR SATL or a Large modded ALICE that I have had forever, but probably can't get away with using as a Company Gunny this go round.

 

"If you are not prepared to use force to defend civilization, then be prepared to accept barbarism."         - Thomas Sowell

"A Republic, if you can keep it" - Ben Franklin

 

LOCATION: Jacksonville NC

JOINED:  Feb 2012

     

I'm sitting here looking at a pile of Alice gear as well as a recently acquired MTP British belt kit.  They are probably going to mate into something wonderful.  They are being set up for nothing more than the fantasy SHTF scenario where it will be worn for 24hr patrolling (rural hunting area) or less (large homestead area)

I used to wear my LCE up, above my navel.  Saw some guys training for Best Ranger doing that and realized that it wouldn't cause scars on my back like it did in RIP when also carrying ol' ALICE.

I always thought that an improved harness with a couple of open top mag pouches would have been pretty damn good. 

 

Joined 12/2/02          Location: Puyallup, WA

 

"malo periculosam libertatem quam quietam servitutem"

Thomas Jefferson 1787

These threads need to be stickied; that’s why they unfortunately get buried over time.  The  knowledge is there, but a moderator just needs to take the time to do the pruning to bare the nuggets of writing.

Or find new moderators to do that sort of stuff.

 

It is better that they do it imperfectly than that you do it perfectly. For it is their war and their country and your time here is limited.

 

                                                                                                                        —T. E. Lawrence

 

 

POSREP: UAE

I used to war mine high as well and kept everything off my suspenders except a pace cord to keep shoulders free to shoulder weapons. If it rode low then it rubbed all over your hips and waist. I had two canteen covers ( one with a strobe light pouch sewn on it), and four magazine pouches. Field dressing pouch and a compass pouch with a butt pack in the back. The old butt pack was great and the MOLLE one has only been good to attach to a assault pack for more space. I remember pouches attached with ALICE clips and then dummy corded down and taking the padding off my suspenders to lighten them up. I carried full magazines down and had a snap link on my suspenders (that rested at the bottom) to hastily hook used mags I didn't have time to put away. 

Training is everything, everything is training.

FourNinerZero posted:

 

I wear my webbing right about at my waist, as to not interfere with my mobility, taking a knee etc.

It was not ideal for being in a vehicle, however it could work with the old school LAVIII bench seating. In an RG/MRAP or any sort of vehicle with individual seating, it was cumbersome and a chest rig would have been a much better choice.

 

 

Trick for belt rigs with fairly open harness systems (such as LC2 Y yoke & UK PLCE style) in vehicles: unlatch the belt buckle-shrug off one shoulder- rotate the rig so it now sits on your lap/across your abdomen while keeping the yoke strap on one shoulder.

Donning is simply the reverse on vehicle exit or when moving up from your seat.

With a bit of practice you can do it quickly & it will teach you if there is any surplus strapping/snag magnets on your rig.

Which shoulder you should disengage & which hand you use to latch/unlatch belt depends on which is your master hand, weapon carriage & pouch set up on the rig.

Question for the historian of stitching, especially now that you are messing with a wide belt as you said: Are not lots of LBE "belts" if you wish them to be? 

I was not loving some relatively thin battle-belt rigs I tried, so got rid of them and replaced with...a two-piece MAV. I wear it the same place, in the same way, with the same stuff, but find the wider platform to be more stable, and then no longer need padding (with it's weight and inclination to suck up water). 

 

Back in my backpacking days I wore my waist belt on TOP of my hips. Much higher than most. This has screwed with my ability to get a ruck to settle properly with load bearing gear, but over just the last 3 years or so, I tried again and changed up. Now I wear: 

  • LBE as high as I can. Very often, literally as high as I can with the shoulder straps bottomed out. LBE must not bear all on the shoulders, but offloads weight by being tight on the chest. This means adjustment, by me, while being worn. These days, I re-thread the back adjustment to allow for a single, pull-to-tighten strap
  • A pistol belt, through the pants and holding them up, like a Wilderness lined one. I wear my pants a tidge higher than most. When carrying a pistol, which I don't always, a UBL to drop it down a bit and keep away from armor, etc, but keep it rigidly mounted to the belt. No leg straps. 
  • Now if I need to ruck, I have a gap where the waist belt goes. If the UBL is on, I may have to bring the waist belt up under it (and certainly clear it when doffing!) but otherwise my low-waist secure area is clear so I can toss on a ruck any time, and walk for miles with it. 
  • And for all things: as little on the front as possible. Well, I do wear strobes, compass, etc. on the shoulders, but nothing forward on the belt line, and/or have split fronts so I can open it old-school style and go prone without any equipment in the way. 

 

All in all, this works great. I mean, in all situations. While armor can turtle me up a bit, the LBE and belt line doesn't tend to bump into stuff while seated, like in vehicles. And it all is convenient for laying prone, sitting, or slouching at a rest. 

The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life. – Theodore Roosevelt

 

Joined: 19NOV2004   Location: Mission, Kansas

Back when I wore an LBE and carried a SAW, I recall wearing it a little loose and lower, somewhere around the pouches being level with my navel or slightly lower.  I ran 2 200rnd saw pouches, 2 m16 ammo pouches, buttpack, 2 canteen covers (yup one with the strobe) a first aid kit and compass pouch.  I kept the shoulders clear.

Wearing it here I could "hike it up", secure the waist belt of my ruck and allow my LBE to rest on the hip belt.  I have nothing but stateside rocks to use as the metric as to whether it was good or bad but I found it comfortable and it spared my shoulders. 

Oh Yeah there have been many hybrid permutations over the past years.  I think it was the Israelis, who did an off-shoot of the South Africans, that first came out with a combo belt/vest like LBE.  So yeah, if you basically combine the belt and chest rig, you get various configs we've seen over the years.  Then LBT, Eagle, and BHI all came out with their own versions, popularized by the Teams as "riverine patrol" rigs.  Not to mention the more conventional "LBV" from Adventureline Specialist (whom I talked with on the phone), which was ripped off and copied by Eagle and many others.   But that incorporated a conventional belt with a chest rig/vest of sorts.   Not to mention the "SOMAVS" vest, designed by a Team guy (whom I met BTW), and again ripped off by Eagle.  Disclaimer:  Not banging on Eagle, just for drill.   Just telling ancient history like it happened.   

So yeah this idea of making an extended "belt" or cummerbund really, has been around for awhile.   And while it works, for certain occasions, having a padded belt, cinched tightly around the hips, works best with the short back ruck, if that's what you're doing.

On the wearing of the belt.  Yeah back when I dropped ruck, as soon as possible, in the ORP, and patrolled with belt kit only, wearing it loose  was just more comfortable, especially in hot weather.  It could move as you changed positions, keeping tension on the shoulder straps.  But later when I rucked a bit more, I started to cinch it up tighter, especially when I lowered my belt pouches and could use the rear pouches as a shelf.

After my first contact with the Brits, I modified the issue US kit into resembling something like theirs.  First of all, I took a (cotton duck) GI pistol belt, cut it down to just under the correct length, then sewed on 1 3/4" parachute harness webbing, with a "roll pin adapter" (Brit term), or Friction Adapter (US term) otherwise known as an adjustable buckle from a parachute harness.  I could now cinch up the belt, on the fly, instead of having to disassemble the damn thing. Then I took the (cotton duck) "H" harness, removed the metal, replaced with para cord, and rigged this onto the belt.  Since the old belts had all these grommets,  I used them to lace the paracord through, tying them off with an overhand knot.  Next I removed all the ALICE clips and webbing from the backs of the ammo pouches, 3 mag x 4, and then using a hand sewing awl, added loops of 1 3/4" para webbing, so the pouches would sit flush with the top of the belt.  Same thing with the canteen pouches, again making sure the caps would sit flush with the top of the belt, NOT sit up higher, as std US kit.  Usually ran three around back, with 2 x 1 qt canteens and cups, and one with folding stove, heat tabs, brew kit, etc.  Since the webbing loops were a bit looser than ALICE clips, I used more paracord, laced into the grommets, to hold each pouch in place.  This was all then sprayed with flat enamel paints in woodland colors.

Nowadays, I like a padded belt base, that doesn't necessarily need a web belt running all the way around it.  As long as you have sufficient stiffness and support.  So yeah this does resemble a cummerbund of sorts, but cinched up like a belt.  There are so many on the market, with varying degrees of padding.  I finally just made my own, but commercially the ATS belt and molle pad is pretty close. Yeah it's a bit retro, compared to the newer, lighter designs, but I want a certain level of support for use with a full sized ruck.

For shoulder straps I like a light, "H" harness type, which I've made, but commercially I like the ATS and Blue Force designs.  The main thing here is to provide support, but be thin enough to fit under ruck (and possibly chest rig) straps.  What you want to avoid is 2-3 sets of heavily padded straps, all piled up on top of each other.  

For pouches, again, I make my own, but the Brit PLCE in MTP come pretty close.  You will get the right positioning on the belt for carrying rucks.  I prefer "tuck tabs" for closure vs all that other shit, but if you can live with it, a good start.  The std Brit ammo pouches are much like our old ones, with 3 mags.  This sounds like a lot, but if you use 2 x 3 mag pouches on your "other strong" side for reloads, and the other two strongside for extra mags if required, but also smoke and frags (well whatever we can get), then it's a pretty good system.  Now, the canteen pouches are totally enclosed and more like sustainment pouches, which can be stuffed with all manner of things, depending on how big you are and how many you can fit onto the belt.  I'm a skinny dude and can only get three in; others can do four.  They fit a Brit canteen and cup nicely (highly recommended since the cup sits on top of the canteen, thereby creating this lovely shelf for your ruck), not to mention your folding stove, heat tabs, etc.   But also may include IFAK, NVG's, binos, whatever.

US OCP pouches are not bad.  They will get you up and running.   Two-mag pouches, canteen pouches, IFAK pouch, etc.   Relatively cheap and still available.

Of course custom after-market.  Mild to wild.  If you've been really good, treat yourself to Velocity/Mayflower jungle kit.        

Where to get this shit.  Well.  Start on line and see what's out there.  Then maybe hit some gunshows to see the surplus stuff, possibly some after-market stuff.  Ebay is a good source, when it's out there.  Look up stuff like "DevGru" to see what items are out there and made by who.  Then go to the vendor websites and check it out.  If you are lucky(?) enough to live near a base, go to some of the local gear shops, or pawnshops, or haircut/tailor shops (just keeps going down hill huh) and see what's available.     

              

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine where a person claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." Heinlein

Yeah no shit, I am working on that as we speak.  

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine where a person claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." Heinlein

libertarian45 posted:

Diz, your descriptions are well-written in such a way that the reader can visualize what you are talking about.  However...

I should would love to see some pics...

Just think of it like 19th century naturalists, no ability to reproduce photos, so precise language. 

He'll have a talk at the library next month where he will show off a collection of his etchings though  

The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life. – Theodore Roosevelt

 

Joined: 19NOV2004   Location: Mission, Kansas

Would you guys like a poetry reading?  There's was a young man from Nantucket...

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine where a person claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." Heinlein

Well haiku used to be a thing here sooooo...

"A pirate is not the sort of a man who generally cares to pay his bills...and after a time the work of endeavoring to collect debts from pirates was given up."

          -Frank R. Stockton

Diz you just reminded me I’ve got a few weeks of playing in the swamps of Louisiana when I get back and instead of my old ALICE (before my time but it’s what my mentors pre enlistment taught me to use. Actually a pretty cool story, or stories, behind the kit and it’s pouches.) I have a BFG Beltminus V2 that is in need of pouches. I’ll be watching this thread pretty close for ideas.

The BFG beltminus is a really nice rig if you arnt inclined to have belt padding.  BFG had some upgraded belt minus kits that I think were overrun on sale awhile back.  They had padding on the belt and there might still be some in stock.

the Eagle lightweight H harness is pretty solid, the shoulder harness is only 4 point but looks influenced by British PLCE yokes.  There is a flotation pad that can be attached to the inside of the belt for some added bouyancy or for padding.  

Ive got various ALICE and pre-ALICE rigs.  Theres nothing really wrong with any of them.  The plastic snaps on the early M67 gear were garbage.  Really if you could find an ALICE MBITR/152 pouch and a couple smoke pouches you could have a real nice setup.  

I still want to try cutting out the padding on the Y harness to see how I like that.  

For whoever was asking about history and development, if you search “Terry Baldwin” on SSD, he’s done some articles on the history of various components of field gear.  US militaria forum is full of good info on old stuff, but getting a membership approved and being able to search there is a big PITA.

"A pirate is not the sort of a man who generally cares to pay his bills...and after a time the work of endeavoring to collect debts from pirates was given up."

          -Frank R. Stockton

It was something being done ~late 90s when armor started being worn alot more.  It made for a more slim profile between the armor and ruck shoulder straps

"A pirate is not the sort of a man who generally cares to pay his bills...and after a time the work of endeavoring to collect debts from pirates was given up."

          -Frank R. Stockton

I got to thinking that maybe I had something similar to what you are describing in an old box of gear.  I put this together many years ago as a 7.62 rig that was similar to the Israeli Ephod.  Everything except the buttpack is from Diamondback Tactical/Battlelab.  They are no longer in business and they were having a 50% off sale on their ODG stuff.  The enhanced buttpack was made by Tactical Taylor.  Accessories are by Randall Knives (Model 14) and S&W M&P Mod 2.0 in an old Bianchi M9 holster, which also speaks to the age of this gear.

IMG_1431

The base consists of 3 panels held together by shock cord.  The panel is unpadded and just has a mesh panel sewn to the back.  It is velcroed at the top so it can be used as a pocket for stuff such as maps, or even some foam padding if you wanted.  The front face has MOLLE webbing.  It fastens in the front with two fastex buckles.

IMG_1433

Here is a front view.  The magazine pouches hold 2x 7.62x51 magazines.  For me, that meant FAL, and more recently AR10/SR25.  I just received 10 Brownells 20rd Aluminum 7.62 mags for $99, so 8 of those are sitting in it now.  The two pouches on either side of the buttpack are large utility pouches that will hold a canteen and cup/stove.  They sit slightly higher than the "belt line", but could be adjusted one row lower.  The TT buttpack has 3 external pouches, roughly the same size as the old 3 mag ALICE pouch.  There is a small pouch on top of the buttpack lid and a small zippered pouch on the inside of the lid.

IMG_1432

The back panel accepts a Camelback/hydration bladder.

Memory is a fickle thing.  I said long ago, but my receipt from Tactical Tailor was in the buttpack and it says 2007, so that was only 11 years ago.  Anyway, I don't claim expertise in this and I've never carried it for field use.  But it seems to be close to what DIZ was describing.

-------------------------

Mark

Swear allegiance to the flag Whatever flag they offer

Never hint at what you really feel

Teach the children quietly For some day sons and daughters

Will rise up and fight while we stood still

 

Joined:  2/24/2003                          Location:  Nevada, USA

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Photos (3)

Anyone want a like new Arktis DPM camo vest?

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Mark

Swear allegiance to the flag Whatever flag they offer

Never hint at what you really feel

Teach the children quietly For some day sons and daughters

Will rise up and fight while we stood still

 

Joined:  2/24/2003                          Location:  Nevada, USA

Is that a Randall I spy? 

@rcbusmc24 I thought it was interesting/funny that the Corps started moving back towards belt kit as I was getting out, for most of my time everything or near to it was worn on the armor as SOP in many places. One place had us wearing the friggin LBV over armor, what a disaster that was. 

The new Mayflower/Velocity Jungle rig looks amazing.  I picked up a closeout Beltminus from BFG that I want to make into a summer backpack rig with just utility/nalgene pouches and their butpack. 

@Rich275 did you say above the navel? How? Why? You're talking belt located 3-4" above your hips? 

I wound up using BFG suspenders on an ATS warbelt with a stiff inner belt to carry some stuff, my primary reload was carried at 9 o'clock on a drop panel in the issued speed reload pouch, a BFG boo boo pouch at 1 o'clock with TK4 and z pack gauze, a SpecOps 4 mag pouch would carry 3-4 more mags with ranger plates at 7/8 o'clock, a BFG small utility at 2/3 carried a compass camo paint survival kit, sharpening rod, multitool, EWL and extra ear plugs.  then I used the issued pouch from the assault pack as a mini butt pack/catchall/snivel gear/ranger roll carrier. 

This wound up working great for me in conjunction with a mostly slick plate carrier, and I still had room on the belt for the TKN and more mags if I ever needed to go to just the belt kit.  This worked well for the spectrum of grunt shit that we were doing, mostly patrolling with some urban mixed in to keep it real. 

senorlechero posted:

 

...

@Rich275 did you say above the navel? How? Why? You're talking belt located 3-4" above your hips? 

...

 

Not Rich, but FWIW, I sometimes get that high, for sure. Yes, with old LC2 gear when I have worn it, but I cannot prove it as I don't have a full selection of photos. I am the one taking them, and rarely does anyone find me interesting enough to photograph, but I found this from an LAV class a few years ago: 

I am on the right, wearing something I sewed up myself. You can see my belt to tell how high it is, and the guy in the middle has "normal high" for comparison. 

Since the rig is functionally a wide belt, not a PC or anything with a bib, it doesn't matter. Less shoulder strap real estate if you care, but you are still miles from mags bumping you in the chin or anything. Here, I've scooted the rig up even higher while going prone, and it's still not so high the IFAK bumps into my armpit or anything, but you can see how there's a crapload of room above the belt line items to get to them. 

I don't have this much adjustment range on my current rigs, so they are a bit lower than this. 

The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life. – Theodore Roosevelt

 

Joined: 19NOV2004   Location: Mission, Kansas

Senor,

 So we never really used the LCE belt as an actual belt, it just was sort of there for you to hang your gear from.

Here are a couple of old school pics that might help,

August 1988 at Ft. Campbell

The belt is at the same height as the SAW.

October 1988 at Ft. Lewis, getting ready to head to Panama for JOTC. Gives you an idea of how most wore their gear with Nick standing next to me and the two O's in the background.

I went through RIP in April 1988, that's 30+ years ago and I still have the scars on my lower back from the meathooks rubbing me raw during the 12 mile road march.  Thought I just needed to suck it up, but finally moved the belt up a few inches to clear the pad on the ALICE ruck and never looked back.   I found it increased my mobility without the whole thing swinging around and was actually more stable.  Not to mention the ALICE style H-harness I bought from good old, Brigade Quartermaster.  Who remembers getting that catalog in the mail?

We also weren't carrying a lot other than the basic combat load, two 2-quarts and maybe an extra ammo pouch for pogie and utility junk.  Oh, and the super-duper useful M9!  Never know when you'll need that POS in Panama.

Joined 12/2/02          Location: Puyallup, WA

 

"malo periculosam libertatem quam quietam servitutem"

Thomas Jefferson 1787

So, for history....OSUT in  '86, Airborne and Light Infantry till '98

Units varied on what was allowed or mandated..some units were more strict then others.

My "kit" was always changing and getting adjusted, years later pat had commented that your set up is always changing/ongoing.

Belt: various GI issue belts..including the old metal hook style..I settled on the quick release style. I wore it about on my hips, not quite snug..this allowed it to move around as needed, allow some ventilation, room for snivel gear. ..when humping a ruck, you could unbuckle it, and it would hang a bit lower, under the Alice frame pad. Some units were nazis on a buckled LBE, this led to rearranging shit...I could get my two canteens to sit just barely outside the ruck pad. Some guys wore there belts way low, under their ass, which is how we jumped them...configuring for jumping played a role in this. A few wore them a bit higher and snug...most of those guys came from mech and leg land. But, it is actually how it was meant to be worn

Suspenders: I used the standard Y harness, with no real mods at first..later I cut the hooks off and used 550 cord..later still I wrapped it in 100MPH tape to hide the fact that they were cut off, which was forbidden in some units. The metal hooks were always taped up..usually bent down also, or they would hang up on everything. Some guys had the old M1956 cotton H harness, these actually came in sizes..so often long lengths of 550 cord were needed to get them to work. Those guys claimed they were softer and more comfortable...but I just saw them as soaking up water and smelling bad..I actually had a set since before HS, and used them camping once or twice.

Pouches & Placement: Mostly we were mandated to two 30rd mag pouches, two compass/1st Aid pouches, and two canteen pouches. Some units allowed a butt pack, others would not...who the fuck knows why...some units had diagrams and specific ways to set up the LBE..including a bayonet, etc...but usually you could do what you wanted w/i reason.

I wore my canteens just forward enough to clear the ruck pad. Mag pouches farther back, as noted to take a knee or lay in the prone..but the looser belt and unbuckling it in the prone alleviated much of this. I usually used a 3rd mag pouch on my right side as a diddy pouch..I used a 20rd mag pouch which was much sought after and especially high speed. The compass pouches were worn in front of the mag pouches toward the buckle. Some guys wore them on the shoulder...never was an issue shooting, I put the buttstock to the inside of the suspender. I ended up putting them on the belt, as they interfered with the ruck straps.

Bayonet and/or personal knife was sandwiched between ammo and canteen pouches. Usually you could not lay my bet flat, I had everything squeezed in so tight.

 I guess some guys removed the alice clips and usd 550 cord, I didn't..later zip ties were used. While in the 25th, a platoon sgt from a Ranger batt made us dummy cord them down with 550 cord. I had never lost a pouch due to a failed clip. The clips could rub and catch on your uniform.



Ruck: Almost everyone just taped the hip belt too the frame and ignored it. Some of this was due to jump requirements, the other was just the need to ruck up fast, and drop ruck fast..I would use the hip belt at times, usually for a road march..but it could be an issue.

I never saw a flac vest until the Gulf war..some guys wore it over the LBE..I tried that..others wore the LBE over it....again mech guys that had more experience with the vest.



When the LBV thing and the CFP90 ruck came out..it didn't last long at all. The vest was never worn in the 82nd as you couldn't jump it. The ruck was used once or twice and we dumped that also...besides issues with Airborne operations, it just plain sucked. 

Later in the 25th, the guys said they all dumped the vest as soon as they were allowed to.

The patrol pack from the ruck had some value, but it was thin and really couldn't handle even an assault load.

For awhile, there was a Bn in the 504PIR we called the butt ruck BN, as they would forgo the ruck and load down their butt packs with everything. I guess it didn't last long, as by the time I came back to Div and ended up in the 504..it wasn't being done.

I have some old "men at war" series books by Osprey..they have a lot of good illustrations and at least on issue that covered kit from WW1 thru the 90s fairly well.

----------------------------

"Good landing, good fight, and good luck" James M. Gavin 09Jul43

 "they say if it works, it's a good tactic...I say anything can work once" 

R.Moran posted:

Suspenders: I used the standard Y harness, with no real mods at first..later I cut the hooks off and used 550 cord..later still I wrapped it in 100MPH tape to hide the fact that they were cut off, which was forbidden in some units. The metal hooks were always taped up..usually bent down also, or they would hang up on everything. Some guys had the old M1956 cotton H harness, these actually came in sizes..so often long lengths of 550 cord were needed to get them to work. Those guys claimed they were softer and more comfortable...but I just saw them as soaking up water and smelling bad..I actually had a set since before HS, and used them camping once or twice.

A few of you have mentioned this.  If your pouches have loops rather than eyelets, you can do this:

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You can do that anyway, by tying loops of paracord, or wiretie. And that's old school, before you get clever and get split loops! I have seen US Army guys using key rings to replace the issued snap hooks. All sorts of weird stuff comes up. 

When I had to use LC2 (not in the actual Army, but way too much!) I replaced the metal clips with elastic cord knotted into loops about 1.5" in diameter, and then gutted paracord loops just a bit bigger than the max stretch of the elastic. Elastic can wear out, so the paracord was a backup for almost no weight or bulk. 

Taping over the whole setup, as above, is a good way to make it look like you just taped over the metal clip, and not attract attention. 

The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life. – Theodore Roosevelt

 

Joined: 19NOV2004   Location: Mission, Kansas

shoobe01 posted:

You can do that anyway, by tying loops of paracord, or wiretie. And that's old school, before you get clever and get split loops! I have seen US Army guys using key rings to replace the issued snap hooks. All sorts of weird stuff comes up. 

When I had to use LC2 (not in the actual Army, but way too much!) I replaced the metal clips with elastic cord knotted into loops about 1.5" in diameter, and then gutted paracord loops just a bit bigger than the max stretch of the elastic. Elastic can wear out, so the paracord was a backup for almost no weight or bulk. 

Taping over the whole setup, as above, is a good way to make it look like you just taped over the metal clip, and not attract attention. 

Yas- I taped over the bottom sets of buckles once I had them set up...mainly to stop stuff snagging on them.  The beauty of the system was that it adjusted as you changed position.

Rich,

Your pics remind me of being in our bn located in Victoria on Vancouver Island (best kept secret in the army) 85 - 91.  It was easier to go across the border and train in Ft Lewis or Yakima than it was to travel to Alberta.  US Army was in BDUs except for you guys and the SF Gp.  We, of course, were still universally in OD (until about 1999) and wore an assortment of berets (predominantly green in my bn - 3 PPCLI).  That sometimes got us some looks from youngsters who didn't know better and made us feel a little...."special"...

Joined sometime in 2008.                  Live in Canada.        

Background: I was stationed at JRTC as Opfor (1/509th) from 1995-1998 and spent plenty of time in the swamps of Fort Polk.

Missions alternated between being either light infantry or if we were lucky, we’d ride in humvees or Kawasaki Mule UTV’s.  

As I recall, my ALICE LBE was set up with compass pouch, 4 rifle Mag pouches, 2 canteen pouches and a buttpack.

Standard load out was USGI compass, 6 30 round magazines in two ammo pouches, smoke/CS grenade in 3rd ammo pouch and cleaning kit/CLP/miscellaneous in 4th ammo pouch. Canteen pouch included the canteen cup.

Modifications:  

Metal buckle hooks in the rear were removed and replaced with 550 cord to keep from having your back chewed up while under a ruck.  

Front hooks were left intact but taped over with 100mph tape. Excess webbing from shoulder strap adjustments were rolled up and taped down.

Buttpack had cat eyes sewn on, typically packed with poncho/poncho liner and broken down MRE.  Sometimes I substituted an issued space blanket to cut down on bulk if I didn’t have to worry about cold weather (about 8 months out of the year in Louisiana).

I also added the fastex buckles to the buttpack, probably purchased from either the US Cav or BQ mail order catalogs. Excess webbing was also rolled up and taped down.

All pouches were either dummy corded with additional 550 or zip ties in addition to the ALICE clips.  

Canteens were tethered with gutted 550 cord (at full length the canteen would be at your feet) since we were an airborne unit and still had to jump with our LBE’s.

The single best thing I ever spent my hard earned pay on as a Private was the Kovatch clip which acted as an extension for the LBE belt.  It helped when wearing over snivel gear or as others have posted,  it allowed you to loosen the belt if under a ruck without incurring the wrath of the uniform Nazis.

I typically wore the belt so that the top edge was under my hip bones.

The system worked pretty well considering the technology wasn’t that different from WW2 or even earlier. IMO the clasps on the ammo pouches are still better than any of the bungee retention or fastex buckles you see on MOLLE ammo pouches. Quiet, low profile and you can pop them off & on by feel.

We didn’t have dedicated assault packs initially, so we made due with civilian backpacks, medium ALICE packs or later on we got issued the Becker Patrol Pack that was discussed in a previous thread.

The first generation camelbaks got issued to us, black carriers with blue drinking tubes which we covered up with green nylon tubular webbing.  I stopped using mine because the tube would inevitably get caught up, something would catch on the end and I’d leak out all the water in my camelback across my shirt or pants. 

It also wasn’t integrated in to the LBE at all, maybe helpful if needing to carry water while doing admin stuff like going on a work detail but not so much when our running and gunning in the woods.

Disclaimer:  since we were opfor, we also had to wear MILES gear which added a whole extra layer of shit to get caught up on and twisted. 

So if you start with LBE, add camelback, add MILES harness, then add ruck, it was about 4 layers of shit you were hanging off your shoulders.

I’ll see if I can dig up a pic somewhere...

PS: it’s discussions like this that make we wish Pat were still around 🙁

Oh jesus. I'd actually forgotten about MILES layered rigs. Once I tried to use the MILES harness AS the harness, wearing a battlebelt to hold mags, etc. in much the same way as a normal belt/suspender rig. 

Once.

Sadly, the MILES 2000 harness was such junk that it killed me for load bearing. Twisted, bunched, etc. So went back to just layering it over again. 

Here I am (on right, Stagg is on the left) fucking around in some manner at the AA. 

I was forced to wear my whole LBE lower than I like as the MILES rig doesn't have height adjustments and it had to be secured to something on the bottom. So, we'd strap it to the belt on the LBE. Hated it.  

The rig underneath is some Blackhawk universal chest rig whose model name I forget. It was... okay. And OMG, I have a leg strap! Not my mags, so I had to wear a dumper and with the MILES control box, etc. I ran out of space for it, so tossed a roll up on a drop platform of some sort on the belt. Lots of stuff about MILES opfor training sucked. 

The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life. – Theodore Roosevelt

 

Joined: 19NOV2004   Location: Mission, Kansas

While posted to Germany in 87 we used MILES quite a bit on the big annual fall exercise.  We were instructed to replace our webbing suspenders with the MILES harness.  It was a big PITA every time you took off or put on your webbing - mainly due to the horizontal strap that ran across the chest and connected the two shoulder straps.  This necessitated lifting the whole rig over one's head.  The troops, being ingenious/devious decided it would be much easier if that strap was cut off with a knife and tossed in the bushes.  The fact that a thick wire ran through that strap didn't stop them...

I wonder how many sets of MILES were ruined by that bn?

Joined sometime in 2008.                  Live in Canada.        

Wow, lots of good shit in here guys.  These are golden T,T,P's for the guys who never wore belt kit but may be considering it now.  In no particular order. 

The GI 3-mag pouch closure was good, in that it worked fairly well, but you wouldn't believe how many of those forks broke off.  I had a buddy who used to attend auctions for a surplus store and he would come back with boxes full of them, that I got to cherry pick through before they went on the store floor.  Number one cause of surplus status:  corroded ALICE clips.  Number two was broken closure forks.  Number three just ripped or torn some how.  So they may have been superior to some closure methods, but they lacked long-term durability. 

Cotton duck webbing.  Yeah it could get moldy and stink.  And it sure took days to dry out.  But I used it way after nylon came out.  The nylon seemed to stiff and shiny, and made different sounds when dragged across the bush.  Harder to paint and camo down.    I eventually switched over to nylon, closely followed by scuba belt nylon, then padded Molle belts, with various nylon belts.  

Belt position.  Seems as many ways to wear it, as guys wearing it.  Most guys I knew preferred the lower location.  I think that's a really good explanation, about the jump rigging, because Airborne/Ranger SOP drove the SOP for a lot of the rest of the military; stuff they did trickled down to other units, even to the other services.  

Taping up the ruck belt.  Huh, I was dragged across the coals for daring to say this was a valid technique on another website.  And I also happen to think this was another example of jump rigging that just became a way of running the damn thing.   I still roll this way or with a modified lumbar pad and straps that act as "load stabilizer straps".  

LBV.  Oh boy here we go.  I actually liked that rig, in conjunction with a belt kit, but this was pretty much OBE when the new BA came out.  I would say the LBV or chest rig, used in conjunction with a belt kit, makes a lot of sense, if you're not wearing BA, and it's not hot and humid.  Good place for ready mags, radio and PTT, and bleeder kit, in lieu of a PC.

Shoulder harness hardware.  Yeah in CONUS you had to play the game, but overseas (at least for us), things were a little looser and you could get away with some "salty" gear mods.  I ended up with most of my issue set stored in my room, and replaced by stuff I bought out in the ville.  So I felt free to mod the shit out of it.  Our command was pretty lenient about that shit.    

When I was in the reserves and even later in the Guard, you could get away with a lot more, mainly because we went to the bush, and all the pogues stayed back and never saw us.  So it was pretty simple to kit out for the bush, and then take all that shit off and clean up at the drill center or armory.  Occasionally the staff would come out to see what the fuck we were up to, but nobody ever said anything.  I guess they thought we were just being gungy so they left us alone.      

Much later, when I started making my own stuff, I still went out in the bush to test it out.  So I really started to experiment with anything that struck my fancy.  Back before 9-11, it was no big deal to go back on post and patrol.  Just one more guy practicing land nav or whatever.  Every once in awhile someone would notice my non-std gear, but there were enough "different" people floating in and out that no one really paid much attention.  I would imagine that's all changed these days.

Today after much experimentation, I am pretty much set on a 3" Molle pad, with a soft nylon belt, and low profile suspenders.  The only difference is I make sure the belt sits at the top of the pad, not in the middle, as in times past.  This way it won't roll under the weight of the pouches, and supports the ruck much better.

I am still playing with Jay Jay's 8" hippo belt, but the jury is still out.       

 

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine where a person claims all the benefits of the body politic, without any of the responsibilities, and then claims a halo for their dishonesty." Heinlein

MILES:

 I tried using it as a harness, that sucked, I tried just clipping it to my LBE...that sucked..best thing I tried, for me..was clipping the front and back straps together, and just sling it on..usually with the cross strap behind my neck..until some OC would tell me to wear it to the front. Some guys wore the box in the front, at least for rucking...I know one guy split his lip that way though.



Alice ruck hip pad...IDK who would argue that it was done...it was near 100% my whole time in...route the belt over the square back of the frame, and tape it down with multiple turns of 100MPH tape...in fact the few times I would use it as a hip belt I got odd looks.



LBV:...can't say..I was issued one, new in the bag, and that's where it stayed..I remember when I was AAS, they were trying to figure an acceptable way to jump it..they ended up just binning it. 

I can tell you this, the reason why the Harness, Single Point release is so long, is the CFP90 ruck...it sucked out loud also.

Mag pouches...my biggest issue was the interior threading would fray..I was constantly cutting and burning on them..I think on one set I just cut out the extra interior layers. Never had an issue with the closure..interestingly after I got out, I found some nylon 30rd mag pouches with the M14 pulltab/metal loop closure and bought them...that system was pretty straight...durable, quiet, low profile..IDK what I did with them.

 The interior dividers were  universally cut out. I once saw the oldest of ol..that actually had three interior flaps that snapped over the individual mags. I played around with various ways of carrying the mags..rounds up, down and even facing the buckle.

I once tried a saw mag pouch with all my mags clipped together with those spring steel, so called Israeli clips...that was a huge mistake..huge

One or two wraps of 100MPH tape at the bottom of the mag was common, with and w/o a loop of 550 cord.

The belt extender thing was money...550 cord was used prior with varying amounts of acceptance from the CoC.

Just before I got out, guys started using CamelBaks, as described...my last trip to NTC guys had them, but CSM dickhead made them wear it under their BDU top...sigh. 

----------------------------

"Good landing, good fight, and good luck" James M. Gavin 09Jul43

 "they say if it works, it's a good tactic...I say anything can work once" 

Oh...I had like 3 sets of TA50 by the time I ETSd

Set one: Issued from CIF..I would only use the hard to get, easy to clean or expensive stuff..like a sleeping bag.

Set Two: My personal bought stuff I used in the field, LBE, canteens, ruck, etc..I used the issue frame, cause they would get tore up on jumps.

Set Three: Inspection/lay out stuff..again stuff that was a bitch to clean, etc...SGM would look at it and say.."I don't wanna see this shit..I wanna see what you take to the field"....uh.."No you don't SGM, that shits dirty:

 CSM:  "this Etool has dirt on it"

 ME:  " well, I dig holes with it Sgm"

----------------------------

"Good landing, good fight, and good luck" James M. Gavin 09Jul43

 "they say if it works, it's a good tactic...I say anything can work once" 

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