Part 1: Load Bearing Equipment (LBE) Selection
There are many gear options out there today for one’s fighting load and sustainment ruck. As our overall goal is to show the NPT how to protect their neighborhood in the event of disaster, we want to do this as efficiently as possible. One way to achieve efficiency is to provide information that equates to much less time needs to be spent worrying over which LBE set up or ruck is better and using that time instead for training and study.
As you most likely know, a person can spend anywhere from a few hundred bucks setting up LBE and rucks with military surplus items to upwards of several thousand on the latest and greatest ‘special-ops’ equipment in the latest and greatest camouflage pattern. It’s safe to say that American preppers virtually have the greatest availability and choices of military/paramilitary gear in the world, and as neat as that is, it does tend to complicate gear selection for people who are new to the point of becoming overwhelming. Even when asking, “expert” advice, the tendency is to see the advice given based upon personal tastes versus objective analysis based upon the specified purpose for the selection.
So, when you’re helping the new NPT member to get equipped, you, as the NPT leader, must be able to quickly outline the best return on investment of potential gear selections so the new member can get focused on training as soon as possible.
With that said, DTG recommends a “general purpose” approach when selecting gear. The definition is offered for clarity, as we try to stick to the definition closely in 98% of all circumstances.
gen•er•al-pur•pose / adjective
1. Having a range of potential uses; not specialized in function or design. “a general-purpose detergent”
For the requirements of the NPT, general purpose load bearing equipment should facilitate “normal” (that is, ‘routine’) NPT security tasks. To be considered ‘General Purpose, the LBE you choose should have the following attributes:
- Capable of mounting all necessary pouches/equipment holders without being so front loaded so that one cannot get very low to the ground, (think H-harness / Battle-belt). Chest rigs are great for the right circumstances, but they really don’t fit the GP parameters.
- Comfortable enough to be worn to complete daily grid down chores without extra fatigue.
- Capable of being put on and taken off without any discernable noise (think of the loud “SKWAAAAP!!!” sound that some Velcro pouches, plate carriers or chest rigs make). Buckles and snaps are your friend when it comes to quiet.
- Capable of being put on with or without the use of a low profile plate carrier (the H-harness/battle belt set up work very well in this regard), should that be one of your choices to augment your equipment.
Remember, what works for elite soldiers doing specialized missions might be different than the day to day gear needs of Mom and Pop providing security in their NPA while going about daily chores. Available cash may also be a constraining factor when it comes to choosing gear. To preclude the loss of precious time and money when NPT members experiment through trial and error what works best in most situations, and for what cost, the NPT leader should provide all the lessons learned possible so the ‘noobs’ don’t have to go through all the things the veteran NPT leader or member did. Remember, unless Mom and Pop are in superb physical shape, they might have a hard time with 12 mags hanging off their tummy trying to get into a prone firing position, or low crawling to cover after being encouraged to get a chest rig or plate carrier set up. (An aside, helping Mom and Pop do reasonable PT helps, too, but you, NPT Leader, need to be busting your ass on PT.)
How do you get the ‘most bang for your buck’ in relation to time saved when learning about gear?
Have new NPT members get some training in SUT with one of the trainers or schools offered by writers on this site. Their courses are structured to show students, through the performance, if gear is incorrectly set up or can be tweaked a bit.
When you’re home, if appropriate to your AO (meaning you won’t bring a stack down on you after a terrified neighbor calls the local PD on 911) wear your LBE around the house doing normal tasks, yard work, etc. Nothing teaches you how to wear your gear like performing daily chores or the occasional SUT drill!
Any time you attend the training, check out how the instructors set up their gear. If it seems to work, and it’s possible for you to mimic their set up, test it when you train with your group or family. If you don’t understand why something is set up a particular way, ask! Remember, the instructors have tailored their LBE set ups used during their experience in the military to that of citizens training to defend their families. Pick their brains; they know what works and what doesn’t work so well. If you have a question, drop them a line.
DTG’s LBE and Ruck Suggestions:
General Purpose Option 1: “I have an extremely limited budget, but need all the quality I can find!”:
Get an ALICE H-harness/web belt and an Enhanced ALICE Large Ruck. My good friend JC Dodge provides some great advice on modernizing the ALICE: Get a CFP-90 patrol pack to add to the top of the ruck. With mag pouches and canteen’s, etc, you’re looking at about $200 give or take, maybe less depending on what you find or where you shop. Example: In the not too distant past, I was at a flea market and found 4 M1956 canvas M-14 pouches for a buck each. ALICE frames for $20 (US, not knock offs.) Below you can see two typical ‘old school’ examples that still work very, very well.
General Purpose Option 2: “I’ve got some cash” option:
Get an Eagle Industries RLCS harness (ebay $100 new, $50 to $75 used) with molle pouches ($15 ea) and a USMC FILBE ruck with attachable small patrol pack ($325 new). You’re looking at about $400 to $600 after pouches for your LBE, if you want to go the surplus route. I’ve had a set up very similar to the one below for the last 5 years – haven’t had an issue with it, and I routinely ruck. The harness is bomb proof, and it will accommodate flotation pads if you think you’ll need to cross a river.
*Note these estimations do not include the cost to fill your LBE or Ruck with actual field gear.
The next post will be on gear layering. The idea is not to get into all the supporting theory behind layering as much as it is to give a good example for general purpose gear placement so that (if you like it), you can show an example to new people how/where to wear their gear for security tasks.