I have been getting down into it this past week or two, and wanted to share some thoughts.  Shoobe01 came up with an excellent topic for discussion, about how light is too light, or the limits to this new light weight stuff, but I wanted to encompass several more things in with that.

To begin with, what are we looking at when we design a piece of gear.  Well, besides the obvious, like how it fits the widget that goes in it, we are thinking about what kind of materials and hardware, what kind of closure, what kinds of construction techniques, and how/where it will attach.  In regards to the new light weight initiatives, we have seen new, lighter base materials, "new" sewing techniques that minimize the use of binding tape, smaller sized webbing and hardware, replacing webbing with hypolon, and in general, just minimizing the use of webbing, hardware, and other stuff that adds weight.  This not only takes weight off, but keeps it off, when the gear is soaked.  

And this is a good thing.  If you shave just 5 lbs off your kit, that 5 lbs becomes 10, or even 15 lbs when you're totally smoked.  So the concept is sound.  But, how does it apply to you.  Some factors are: WTF are you doing?  Military, LE, armed citizen.  How long are your typical missions or training evolutions.  A couple of hours, all day, several days.  What kind of shape are you in.  Young stud, "pretty good shape", old dud.  Terrain, weather, environmental factors.  Suburban, or woodlands.  Mountains or jungles.  Hot or cold.  Dry or wet.

If you are doing training evolutions of a few hours duration, you may not see any ROI in light weight kit.  It involves a considerable investment up front.  It requires a lot of time and/or miserable conditions to really see it's value-add.  And it's durability, not to mention comfort in some cases, may be in question.  

But, if you are on deployment, with multi-day missions and training exercises, then this shit starts to shine.  The cost no longer matters (or let's just say the cost is on a sliding scale with function).  You have been out long enough for the light weight features to kick in.  If it wears out, fuggit, get another when you get back (or at least it's available).  And you are probably young enough to not be worrying about, or I should say be effected by, some lack of comfort.

So to Shoobe01's question: can we get too light weight, or really, what is the right weight for you.   Well, in an optimum situation, where you are a member of a team, with unlimited funding, your support equipment can be optimized for your terrain and situation.  It can be light weight, but also very durable, with the use of expensive, cutting edge materials and technology.  As long as it lasts a deployment cycle (or a specific mission really), it's GTG.  

At the other extreme, you may be with a group, with very limited funding or access to critical support equipment.  What you have, is what you have, and you just have to make it work.  Light weight may not even enter the conversation.  It has to last, or you go without, because there is nothing else available.  

In between are all the other areas where we all live.  Be it Mil, LE, or civvy; we have typical training evolutions, we have our daily lives and threat levels, and then we have potential threats and events. Your daily training/duty schedule may/may not require it, but you foresee potential bad times on the horizon that definitely will.

If you decide that light weight is for you, pay attention to the details.  If materials, webbing, and hardware is down-sized, or replaced, make sure it is done right.  VM, 1st Spear, and others would be the standard here.  Someone making quality mil-spec stuff.  As opposed to even the Gucci civvy stuff, where I think compromises are made for the sake of ultra light weight.  Be very wary of that gossamer weight shit.  They baby that shit in ways that would be incomprehensible to the average grunt.                   

 

"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

Then there's use.  How are we gonna use this stuff.  We touched on some of this earlier.  Mission/ training duration, terrain and weather, physical fitness, not to mention threat levels, both actual and potential.  Does it work for us, in our particular terrain and situation.    

Is it for daily use, occasional use, or in case the balloon goes up.  This regulates how much actual use it gets.   Does the gear wear out, or hold up.  Does it become a pain in the ass after awhile, or still do it's job, by making your job easier.  For instance, tuck tab closures.

The terrain you will be using it in.  Here we see a return to thought being given to LBE in other areas than the typical environments seen in the G-WOT.  In particular, we have been discussing jungle terrain, but also mountain/artic warfare.  Wet environments.    Extreme heat or cold.

Physical fitness.  This is often omitted from the discussion, as if it's a given, but the reality is it plays a big factor.  As Slangvel mentioned in another thread, I ain't as good as I once was.  I have been testing out belt kit and rucksacks, where the re-occurring theme is : this just sucks.  When we were in our twenties, we could, and did, carry all sort of shit, in all sorts of shitty LBE, and while we bitched and moaned the whole way, we got it done.   For most of us, to one degree or another, we may not be as capable as our 20-year old grunt-selves.  But we work out, and do the best that we can.   And improved LBE may help out in this regard. 

Threat levels.  This is your reality.  Military, LEO, or civvy.  As a grunt or a lawdog, it's more actual threat, with some potential stuff.  As an armed civilian, it's some actual threat, with lots of potential stuff.  Either way, we train for The Day.  Our gear needs to support this effort by making our job easier, not fighting us or getting in the way, at the worst possible moment.  Fuck Murphy.  And amen.                

"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

Sustainment is an issue we give lip-service to but rarely take into account.  When you get my age, you have gone through lots of gear, not to mention weapons, and training techniques.  But rarely have I ever worn anything out.  This stuff evolves over time, so we move on to new things, way before it wears out.  I have thrown out much serviceable gear, sometimes because it was just the wrong color.  

Also, for many of us, the use factor just isn't there.  Either we aren't using it on a daily basis, or if we are, it is under fairly mild conditions, in the scheme of things.  But, if we want to prepare for worst case scenario, according to your estimate, then we have to take this into account.  

As I mentioned before, I used to go through boxes of stuff, when my buddy returned from surplus auctions.  I would see pouches, packs, sleeping bags, etc. that got torn up in service.  So I got a pretty good idea of what might break, tear, wear out, or fall off.  So while most stuff is pretty durable, with the proper amount of force, it can be fucked up.

So unless you have your own supply chain, where everything is readily available, it makes sense to do some worst-case scenario planning.  Stock up with spares of mission essential kit.  Repair kits.  In this case maybe even basic sewing supplies.  You might be surprised what you can do with a needle, thread, and some manual labor.  

And hopefully, we are getting pretty close to some optimum load outs.  After almost 40 years of fiddling around.  I'm kinda excited about that, but that's just what I do.  Then I'm gonna try and lock that down, and stock it deep.  But, stitch bitches plan...  

  

"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

I’m gonna jump in on Diz comments on PT.

I have seen a lot of dudes both military, LE, and civy side (the most from the latter two) neglect the physical fitness side of the house completely. Some don’t buy good gear or training, some spend a fortune on good gear but no training, others get good gear and good training, but like the others do no PT. Thus they may know how to fight around a vehicle, but they can’t unass it for crap and when they do get out they have to woddle around to the back of the vehicle to take cover. This next part is gonna come across blunt and rude but that’s just how infantry show we care.

If you can’t look down and see your cock standing up naked no amount of light weight gear is going to help you. Instead of buying the latest greatest light weight plate carrier you need to be spending your time, money and, energy on becoming the latest greatest light weight you. You see guys running around with these enhanced Glocks wanting to improve their performance. Let’s take the Roland for instance. The dude that came up with this mod did so because he was at the point where he was outshooting the Glock. HE WAS LITERALLY OUTPETFORMING HIS FIREARM. Thus he had to modify it to keep up with him. TO KEEP UP WITH HIM not the other way around. So let’s go back to the PT topic. We go fairly regularly to a range where we will have to bound (prone out, jump to your feet, sprint as hard as you can for 3-5 seconds, drop to prone, return ACCURATE fire, repeat until told to stop) 500-600 meters, we’ve gone days where they would make us do this 10-12 times back to back with a village at the end we had to clear, all uphill in full kit. How many guys wanting the newest lightest gear can do this slick? Meaning no gear just them and a rifle? What I’m leaning to is this, if I can’t do my job without all my gear on then the lightest gear in the world is pointless. Is good gear necessary? Yea of course. Is light gear necessary? For me definitely, and our dudes get to the point where the equipment weight is so much no amount of PT can help. But dudes need to realize your equipment has to offer you something -- getting a new piece of equipment needs to enhance your capabilities, not take them away.

That awesome $500-2000 First Spear plate carrier is no different then a Mayflower APC if you can’t hump it. You may not have the coolest or lightest plate carrier, but you got a solid one and you’ve saved $250-1750 that you can now spend on a membership to a good functional fitness gym and a couple military athlete training programs to square yourself away (and don’t forget the nutrition side of the house -- a healthy diet and 8 hours of sleep are more important than the PT itself.  PT is useless without those two).

I’ve gone to training on the civy side before with ALICE belt kit and other dudes running around with Crye and other cool gear. They thought I was behind the times. I stayed at the front of the pack and I wasn’t winded. Take care of the Indian first -- a cool bow does you no good if you can’t pull it back.

So Diz, here’s a question in the design side. I like the First Spear Tubes. I also like the dangler systems like you see from Spiritus Systems (the SACK, LUNCHBOX, and 40mm belt etc) what I’ve noticed is almost all of these require a front flap on the the plate. My APC that you modded to use the tubes that’s not a problem, but for say my FS AAC that is purpose built for the tubes that’s not a option as there is no Velcro flap to attach the pouches to. Wonder what a solution for that would be?

It wont work with the velcro flap that secures the plate?  I know not all PCs have a flap that folds up in the plate pocket so Im not sure if the FS PCs are like that.

"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

Yeah I didn't mean for this to turn into a Mountain Guerilla rant on PT again.  But.  Running wolf is zeroed in on this deal, like a bum on a baloney sandwich.  I just finished my training season and I'm down to 158.  It's amazing what a difference it makes to take off just 10-15 lbs.  So while most folks are pigging out this time of year, I'm within 3 lbs of my weight at Quantico back in '76.  I say this illustrate what RW is talking about.  If I can't hump a basic load through a forced march, and/or a fire and maneuver course, then all this smoke about improving/lightening up our gear is just a gear queer circle jerk.  

It's a question of how much weight you can handle efficiently and still function.  A 50-60 lb load is no joke, and that's on the low side.  If you can't insert and go 10 klicks, and then do your job when you get there, and then hump back another 10 klicks for extract, you're not ready for prime time.  Do something about that.  

My buddy and I are looking at places we might be able to set up our own military "biathlon", where we hump in, do a mission (either recce or a live fire course), and then hump back out.

But back to nylon.  Given I'm already in decent shape, lowering my empty kit weight, while still retaining it's strength and durability (no easy task), will allow me to carry more mission essential gear.  So that means 12 mags instead of 8.  More smoke n frags (if I had them).  Claymores.  Linked ammo.  60mm.  Etc.  

Or, as "swamp fox" militia, I could go further with just my basic load of ammo n stuff.  

You have to look at who pushed this light weight initiative we're seeing here.  Between "CAG" and "DevGru", you have some pretty hard core pipe hitters.  Like the example Running Wolf gave, they have "out-shot" their gear and are looking for ways to improve performance.  But also like Shoobe01 brought up, you can get too stupid in this regard as well.  Like much else, you have to find the right balance here.  

"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

Keep in mind with those JSOC cats, their budgets are huge, break something and supply will be handing them 3 more to replace it almost instantly. I’m liking where I’m at right now with the ruck and belt kit. Could they be made to be lighter? Probably, but would they still be able to take the same beating? Who knows. I think the more important part is the materials rather than the weight. These jungle pouches and the BFG beltMINUS don’t hold water, which ultimately saves a lot of weight.

what would be cool to see is my current rig, the modified APC built out of the same material BFG or FS makes, it would shave a little weight off for sure but more important, it wouldn’t hold water and would possibly be less bulky.

Fitness has several factors. My strength, endurance and even balance is coming up nicely, but my flexibility is still poor. 

20 years ago, I'd have used things like the side-access zippers on the DG16 bag while wearing it. That's so out of reach now I cannot consider it. Especially on the left (where the injury was) I can barely reach those sustainment pouches I have, especially when the ruck is on top. 

Not sure of a permanent fix for me, though working on it. Dragged a friend to the basement after brunch this morning to help adjust the bits I cannot see while wearing my rig/ruck combo, found I have room to drop it all an inch or so without belt interference which helps. 

Anyway another good thing to think about in picking your gear, or specifying for others who are not all spry 19 year olds. 

 

On a different sub-topic: as to the part where Diz mentioned me, I sent him this photo: 

The wife borrowed an Ospey UL frame pack of mine for an air/transit/walking trip to NYC the other week. She liked the GoLite for the euro trip, so no more luggage for her, but it's all top loading expedition packs. Anyway, This 1/4" ladderloc failed under load at some point. Cracked, and the webbing slipped out the side of the lower loop. 

This strap is part of a zig-zagging side retainer, so probably either the wife or a cargo handler picked up the whole pack by that strap as it was conveniently sitting there to grab. 

But even a UL pack nerd on their weekend hike I could see breaking it. If you snag, try to tighten a well loaded pack, etc. I can see overstressing it. While this is an extreme case for what we talk about day to day, it seemed worth chatting about the trend to use smaller than 1" webbing and hardware for many purposes on LBE and packs. Might be worth checking the load limits, and considering what happens at failure. 

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

DOD has done quite a few studies on load carriage over the years.  I've managed to compile a pretty large file of some of those studies.  Unfortunately these are pretty low on my list of things I need to read.  I plan to get to them sometime after retirement.  Gonna post some up for anyone that really wants to nerd out on this stuff.

 

 

"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

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I forgot that there area some Canadian, Aussie and NATO studies in there too.

"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

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Great list dude thanks.

Yeah, Shoobe01 brings up a good point.  When you have these gossamer materials and reduced webbing sewn together, inevitably (IMHO) you are gonna get some blow outs like this.  Unless that kind of joint is reinforced, it's just waiting to fail.  So yeah how light is too light.  I think that's gonna be a fine line for mil apps.   

"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

Having been a part of JSOC I can tell you, yes, they have a very, very good supply system.  Some of the guys in the Central Issue Facility and arms rooms can issue you stuff from all the items on the various issue menus just by looking at you or by you telling them your size ("That brand tends to run narrow, try these on.  That model tends to run large, try this.  That tends to burn batteries fast -- better take these spares"). 

The problem comes when you're downrange and the stuff fails.  I don't care if it has a lifetime guarantee.  I can't ship it from here, and I can't wait for the replacement to arrive by FEDEX, DHL, or the APO (let alone Hajji-mail).  If I'm in isolation or in alias I can't use a world-wide 1-800 number or NIPR (unclassified) e-mail.  This was the impetus for Mike Noell to found Blackhawk gear.  Funny thing is, fast-forward 30 years and you're back to lowest-cost offshore manufacture your J4/G4/S4 can't buy since it's not from a domestic, North American, or allied source.

One of the reasons I carried an M4 carry handle in an ammo pouch and why I like the lightweight kevlar-back cordura Tyr introduced about 8 or 9 years ago.  Once the EOTECH failed I would have been up a creek.

Jason was very, very smart.  Once Diamondback Tactical folded (with a non-compete agreement) he did other stuff.   Then bought some sewing machines and a trailer, formed Tyr and prototyped a bunch of things, went to the annual SF sniper competition at Bragg, and put out his tables of stuff asking for feedback. 

Since the competition is run on the SF assaulter and sniper school compound, any shooter, visitor, or guest could come by, make comments, and have a prototype sewn on-site.  That piece of gear could then get abused at the school or downrange.

Talk about your short turn-around and cycle time.

Did he also design for AWS in their early days?  

"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

OK, I'm just gonna say this; you guys take it for what it's worth.  Jason Beck is PNG for a lot of folks in the SF community because, like the man said, he took his travelling circus around the different posts, and made custom shit for the lads.  The down side of that, is he also made a shit-load of money commercially selling these designs, without any offer of compensation for all these guy's intellectual property.  This has caused much ass-burn within the community, especially those guys that came up with great ideas and never got a penny for them.  I guess Beck thought a pouch was enough compensation for their ideas; there are others who think that's bullshit.  I personally won't use Tyr gear because I don't like the guy's business practices, but that is your choice.   Obviously, opinions vary here.  

Running wolf brings up another good point.  Which is in line with brother Shoobe's thoughts.  Is this light weight shit gonna hold up?  Well the short answer is yes, I think so.  But you never know until it's a done deal.  Going lighter can have consequences, as Shoobe01's pack strap has shown.  But if done right, I think it's gonna be a major revolution within the industry.

I remember back in the day, when everything just had to be1000d.  Bombproof, bitches.  We over-built damn near everything.  But there is a penalty for that.  It's heavy as fuck.  Some folks with lots of money started thinking about ways to lighten up their kit.  And so here we are.  

The reason I think it will work is the lowly ALICE pack.  That original "packcloth" material actually worked quite well, especially in the jungle.  Most of the blow outs we pointed to would have happened in 1000d as well.  IMHO.  It was perfectly fine; we just knew better and wanted to improve it.  

Is there some risk?  Yeah probably; you can't just apply one technique across the board, willy-nilly.  You can selectively lighten up some stuff, while reinforcing other stuff.  I think mag pouches will be the kicker.  If it holds up there, it will probably work most anywhere.  

Is there some built-in obsolescence?  Yeah I suspect so.  If it will last a whole deployment, but not a "lifetime" I think that's  a compromise some are willing to make for light weight performance.  Other folks may not have that luxury.  Or can it be both light weight and durable?  Yeah probably, if you get it right.          

     

"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

On the danglers, lots of ways to go here.  1" loops on the PC for tab attachment.  Or if you use a mag pouch panel/micro chest rig, it could be extended to include either provisions for attaching, or just build it in.  Or my buddy uses a belly band to attach it separately, so it stays on him, as 1st line gear.   Velcro would be my last choice.  

One advantage of having a separate belly band for it is, it stays on you when you take off your other kit.  This gives you some E&E kit, TQ, and spare mag, which along with your rifle lets you walk around camp or whatever with a minimal load out at all times.

Any way you want to go with that shit; I can make it happen. 

"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

runningwolf posted:

It’s the Spiritus Systems lunch box. I only have one plan for the contents. Things that go boom. 

It works well for this purpose. I have run it attached to the CB panel and the plate pocket. I prefer the plate pocket as it keeps it closer to my body, but I have to drop it lower than "flush" with the Velcro of the plate pocket (if that makes sense). That pouch will hold a lot of bang and is a good way to organize you kit for that purpose. I didn't realize that it would work with a F-S PC, though.

On the L/E side, most of the time weight is not a big factor in our events - until we get weeks long, month-long operations. What I'd throw out for consideration is that cops are working in that gear more consistently (4-5 shifts a week) and for longer careers. As a result, while weight may not matter on today's two-hour perimeter plus 30-minute clearing of the store, it's cumulative effect will be felt. The switch from all leather belts/holsters/pouches to nylon/hybrid set-ups being one example.  

My mil time is several years past so I will stay away from anything there. 

Diz posted:

 

Running wolf brings up another good point.  Which is in line with brother Shoobe's thoughts.  Is this light weight shit gonna hold up?  Well the short answer is yes, I think so.  But you never know until it's a done deal.  Going lighter can have consequences, as Shoobe01's pack strap has shown.  But if done right, I think it's gonna be a major revolution within the industry.

I remember back in the day, when everything just had to be1000d.  Bombproof, bitches.  We over-built damn near everything.  But there is a penalty for that.  It's heavy as fuck.  Some folks with lots of money started thinking about ways to lighten up their kit.  And so here we are.  

The reason I think it will work is the lowly ALICE pack.  That original "packcloth" material actually worked quite well, especially in the jungle.  Most of the blow outs we pointed to would have happened in 1000d as well.  IMHO.  It was perfectly fine; we just knew better and wanted to improve it.  


 

     

Possibly a major issue is lack of specifications? I'm assuming (I know zip about the skill) that when people talk of gear being 'para rated' they are referring to set specs?

Take a pack strap: just what should it have to put up with?

One thing I'll say is the user is never wrong. So, pretty much every strap should take the full load of the pack at static + 10% + margin, at any angle, without tearing out or breaking and after a reasonable life exposed to the elements, wear and tear. And this is not a UL problem, it's a build-it-right spec issue. 

My example for this is the LCS84. Lovely pack, always liked it, but they "improved" the shoulder height adjuster in a very, very bad way. And not very much UV exposure or freezing (why would that happen with a ruck?) and the adjustment slider got a bit deformed or brittle. 

Careful use and they'd drive on a while. But woe be unto you if you pick the pack up by the shoulder straps. Snap. Not a pack anymore. 

I used to repair these packs. Rip out the slider, make a new system that uses the stays to keep it all together. Bomproof and a few oz lighter to boot. 

We break a lot of stuff, so I have many more stories. 

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

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Ha!  The CFP-90: love it or hate it.  That was definitely a step in the right direction, however they took a big trip along the way.  

I too had piles of those things, surplus from my buddy.  Great bag, shitty harness.  "All" you had to do was fix the harness and you had a good ruck.  As close to the Brit Bergen as we came, until the Jarhead Arctyrex.  Which still didn't quite get there.  One was under-built, the other was over-built.  Oy veh.

On specs, "jumpable" etc.  Specs are what they are, meaning if they are legit, you're GTG, if not, then they're not worth much to the guy in the field with a broken strap.  Parachute Rigging specs are legit, in that the best practices are codified for repairs and such.   So I use those as general LBE specs.   Would that Natick labs and the rest of that lot used them to.  Alas.   

Jumpable usually means the "Airborne Board" or committee has test jumped the thing and given it their blessing.  Usually has more to do with having added straps to hang it on the harness, and/or the right shape to fit under a reserve without dragging on the deck.  Not usually associated with stronger strength ratings and so forth, like I think you were getting at.

But on a tangent, I was in San Diego back when the Teams were having problems with their rucks seams splitting open when thrown from helos.   In those days, before fast ropes, you use double GI static line, with separate lines for rucks, that the crew chief threw out after you.  Usually about a 70' hover (much higher than fast rope).   The rucks were splitting at the seams upon impact.  Bummer.  (They were Lowe-Alpine, but I don't blame them for not for-seeing that abuse.)  So Gregory made them some rucks, with completely taped and triple sewn seams, which held up to this abuse.  So yeah,  this pretty much became the industry standard, and you really didn't need to do anything else to "airborne" qual a ruck, other than the stuff mentioned above.

And on yet another tangent, this is why I always tape and triple sew my ruck seams.  Because I know it works, and coincidentally, it's a rigging standard.  How about that.  Sometimes standards actually work; you just need to know which ones to follow.              

"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

So case in point, if you were building a ruck, and you are trying to "goldilocks" the strength vs weight.  You need to take a close look at how to join rolled goods with webbing, which we have discussed before.  Merely inserting it into a seam usually insures it will fail.  If you insist on building your ruck like typical "bookbag" construction, this is what usually happens.  If you, I don't know, maybe consult Poynter's Parachute Manual, Vol 1, you'd find the right way to do this kind of stuff.  

Taken out to sewn tactical gear in general, it's the same general principles.  Materials, hardware, construction techniques.  If you rely too heavily on the rag trade, things have a tendency to fuck up.  If you rely too heavily on PR practices, it might be over-built (read too heavy).  Being able to combine them both: money.      

"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

The garment trade is generally for that -- garments.  Outdoor gear companies (tents, sleeping bags, packs) generally don't cater to ruggedized military equipment.  Civilians make the decision in the store whether a piece of gear works for them or not (price and weight being big).

Mystery Ranch rarely made stuff in military colors until post-9/11.

Parachute gear is built to military design standards and (civil gear) tested against FAA Technical Standard Orders requiring live drop-testing.  Using those as a standard (for life support gear), it either works or it doesn't.  Little to no humor for parachute or restraint gear failing or unraveling -- it won't get certified.

The Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate (formerly the Airborne Board, then the Airborne and Special Operations Test Board) tests and validates-certifies military or commercially-produced equipment -- they aren't designer-builders.  Their "Airworthy" stamp is generally in-lieu of an FAA TSO certification.   Natick Lab and PEO Soldier have folks who may know stuff but generally don't make, design, or wear it.

SOCOM's operational testing means guys use and abuse their gear.  If it fails it either gets improved or shit-canned.  We don't necessarily have to outfit 12 divisions (regular, reserve, Guard, and training -- maybe with Marine Corps spillover, most often times not) worth of troops.

I seriously like the idea of gear made from ultralight fabric.  I'm leery that it will take normal foot soldier/special-ops worthy use, let alone abuse. 

On testing and certification.  I completely re-built a de-milled MT-1XX system.  Meaning the main lift webs were cut, along with all the lines.  I was apprenticing at my buddy's paraloft at the time and had access to all the machines, including Class VII.  I fabricated a new harness, re-lined the canopies, and put the whole system back together.  Under the direct supervision of a Master Rigger of course.  Using the sewing techniques right out of PPM Vol 1.  I then proceeded to jump it.  That's one way to test your gear.

Since my day job was at Lockheed-Martin, I had access to pull test equipment, so I took each sew pattern build up in and tested it to destruction.  Not only on my jump gear but also for LBE.  So that gave me a good frame of reference, as far as what the actual strength of each joint was.  That's another way to do it.  

So I knew for a fact that my gear would hold up to practically anything I threw at it.

But now you have folks making light weight kit.  Well known folks within the industry.  I'm having a hard time believing they didn't test their shit just as thoroughly as I did.  I only assumed they did.  I don't know for a fact that it will hold up; my assumption is that it will.  The critical point will be these new materials.  If they are just as durable as the old stuff, then you're GTG.  Since I haven't pull-tested any of this new shit myself, I dunno.

"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

shoobe01 posted:

One thing I'll say is the user is never wrong. So, pretty much every strap should take the full load of the pack at static + 10% + margin, at any angle, without tearing out or breaking and after a reasonable life exposed to the elements, wear and tear. And this is not a UL problem, it's a build-it-right spec issue. 

Only 10%?

One bunch were given shiny hard vehicles to play with but there was no interior storage for packs: the vehicle had started as a police or para-military design...and I suspect whoever adopted it for military work assumed no packs were required if you have wheels.

Packs were hung on the exterior of the vehicle via their shoulder straps.  All failed within 10 days- presumably due to repeated jerk as the vehicle went over bumps, ruts etc.  

I was just thinking picking them up, and did  add the margin for your industry. E.g. +100% for most load bearing structures.

But this is excellent contextual data. If I had it, I'd make the engineer tell me what the maximum-likely vertical load is from bouncing, etc. 

Simply "build it stronger" isn't enough, and you need specs and weights and vertical accelerations. This is also —to me! — a good argument for ethnography. You get into the field, and observe what people do... but don't much ask people anything. They don't know. Then you set requirements for your project based on that real live stuff.  

Worst case is of course, these. War stories, and now a few people who build stuff and are lurking on the thread will remember for years: "what if they hang it off the side of a vehicle by the shoulder straps?" 

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

Ha yeah so true, but so legit.  All the early mobility vehicles ("Pink Panthers" and so forth) were exactly like this.  All rucks hung off the sides.  To me, this kind of feedback is totally legit.  Like if Natick Labs had done some similar testing and/or feedback with the troops in the field, the CFP-90 mighta been a good ruck.  

Not to put engineers down, but I see nothing wrong with doing your own testing and reaching your own conclusions.  If it works for you and your'n, GTG.  Don't get me wrong, big believer in robust QC programs for mass production.  But not to discount R&D at the grass roots level either.     

"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

Diz posted:

... I see nothing wrong with doing your own testing and reaching your own conclusions.  If it works for you and your'n, GTG.  Don't get me wrong, big believer in robust QC programs for mass production.  But not to discount R&D at the grass roots level either. 

Richard Feynman said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.”

I can go on and on about this, but by default even your own recollections will be biased. Be careful making decisions based on your recollection, etc.  Or for another quote people in my practice area say a lot: 

The plural of anecdote is not data. 

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

I get where you're coming from,  I really do, but, I also know what I know.  Maybe I can't give you the scientific proof for it, but I know that it works.  So, if it works for me, what does it matter whether if it was proven by whatever method a person might prefer?  I'm not writing a thesis on it;  I'm not trying to establish some new doctrine; I am merely looking for what works for me, in a given situation.  So I guess you have to take that for what it's worth.  

I'm sure Natick Labs and whoever have all their degrees and protocol to test all this shit out, in a scientifically proven manner.  And I'm sure they do some wonderful things.     But they have produced some real turds as well.  So while I do respect the scientific process and so forth, I don't believe it is so sacrosanct that it can't be questioned, or even that I, lowly parachute rigger, at large, can't figure some of this stuff out for myself.

I believe there needs to be a synthesis of process you are referring to, whatever that may be (not being a dick, I really don't know) and the field experience of grunts like us.  I think there is probably much to be learned if you try and combine the theoretical with the actual experience.  I think it would be a mistake for either one to discount the other.  

For example, if you tell me what the force vector or whatever would be for a ruck strap hanging off a vehicle.  We could design a sewn joint for a certain tensile strength and test it out (yeah, I have the formulas for that).  What I would hazard to guess is that there are other forces at play that we hadn't even accounted for that bite us in the ass.  Then it's like, ah, no shit, we actually need to have this kind of strength.  So then from practical experience we would know that a ruck strap needs this sewn joint in order to hang off a typical vehicle.  

Theory and process are fine.  Not discounting them.  But there's something to be said for just going out there and doing it.  If you can find balance in both worlds, I'd think you'd be on the right track.  But it's like officers and NCO's; sometimes hard to get them to trust each other.   Or acknowledge that each one brings something to the table.        

"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

Troops use what they're given.  In "Squared away" units they are not allowed to modify their gear.  Troops most-times don't design the gear but have to use what's provided (often at lowest bidder rate).

GWOT latitude and shitty gear give the force much more lee-way -- much more different than WWI or WWII.  You paid for it, it's generally the right color, knock yourself out.

The OD green Lowe ruck begat CFP-90, which begat armor crewman's pack which gets dropped into or lashed to a bustle rack.  The tanker's ruck has straps to carry it from the barracks or trunk to the bustle rack, but are useless for cross-country movement.  No hip or waist belt.

Mount it to a rack outside a Stryker or light wheeled vehicle and more likely than not you lose all your swag.

Related imageRelated image

Diz posted:

I get where you're coming from,  I really do, but, I also... 

...Theory and process are fine.  Not discounting them.  But there's something to be said for just going out there and doing it.  If you can find balance in both worlds, I'd think you'd be on the right track.  But it's like officers and NCO's; sometimes hard to get them to trust each other.   Or acknowledge that each one brings something to the table.        

Maybe worth a different discussion, but I am arguing for "going out and doing it" AND observing/measuring in ways that reduce biases. Not just me. It's a tenet of the faith of my day job, and well proven by people who run stats for fun, for decades. But, making too slow progress. If anything, a bit going backwards in the military as (crappy) business practices get infused into the USG.  

A lot of current product development process is straight from engineering, and still around either sterile engineering studies with no outside consideration of real world use, OR straight from B-schools' "voice of customer" sorts of thoughts, running focus groups and having feedback forums which provide flawed (not reproducible, for example) results and miss out on stuff all the time. I can elaborate on why if important. 

For an on-topic example (I do this work all the time, but for products you won't care about) the The Modern Warrior’s Combat Load report has an excellent methodology. Embedded team trained in research methods watched 82 ABN guys plan, pack, and execute missions. 

While it doesn't outline the philosophy of ethnographic research, the Methodology section is quite detailed on what they did. 

You can do significantly cheaper and less dangerous methods by accompanying training, and doing snapshots (a few hours, instead of weeks embedded) and get 80% results as well. Other methods are also available like note taking and video from end users, if planned well. 

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

Sinister posted:

Troops use what they're given.  In "Squared away" units they are not allowed to modify their gear.  Troops most-times don't design the gear but have to use what's provided (often at lowest bidder rate).

GWOT latitude and shitty gear give the force much more lee-way -- much more different than WWI or WWII.  You paid for it, it's generally the right color, knock yourself out.

The OD green Lowe ruck begat CFP-90, which begat armor crewman's pack which gets dropped into or lashed to a bustle rack.  The tanker's ruck has straps to carry it from the barracks or trunk to the bustle rack, but are useless for cross-country movement.  No hip or waist belt.

Mount it to a rack outside a Stryker or light wheeled vehicle and more likely than not you lose all your swag.

...

The LCS84 I posted above regarding fragile shoulder slider was neither of those, but a sort of interim step between them. I think there's even another pack in there between the Vector and the CFP 90 but it's been years since I paid attention to those.

I also have one of those tanker bags! Use it a lot, but only as an A-bag replacement. Sent it with a friend to his unit's couple weeks at NTC and got it back with a report everyone was jealous (compartments are a nice upgrade), but he was indeed careful to not just hang it on the outside of the vehicle, and even without shells flying into them, reported a number of yard sales from bad securing of stuff like it. 

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

Gotcha.  Yeah I didn't mean to piss in your Cheerios, as I'm sure you know as metric fuck-ton more about this than moi.  I think boots on the ground testing, as illustrated in your photos, needs to be integrated into any R&D program.  

In point of fact, when I worked at Lockheed-Martin, I enjoyed working with the process engineering studs, cuz it was fascinating to get the science behind all the shit we built.  When we worked together, we often had amazing results.  They got their hands dirty, which we appreciated, and we tried to understand the theory, which they probably thought was cute.  Actually it did help us to know the why behind the what.  If problems arose, we could make better informed decisions, by knowing the designer's intent.

This is what I'm talking about when I say a synergy of theory and practical app.  Officers and NCO's.  Engineers and technicians.  Natick Labs and a bunch of dumbasses on LF.  Ok, maybe not the last one.          

"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

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