When we as Armed Prepared Citizens (survivalists, preppers, militia, etc…) go about selecting our fighting/support gear, there is often a strong inclination to follow certain trends, trends that are honestly not the most appropriate ones to be following. Now, let me preface the rest of this by saying up front, I own a gear business and make gear for a living. So take that for what it’s worth.
It’s an oft followed trend for the Armed Prepared Citizen, to follow and mimic current military and law enforcement in selecting their gear. This is honestly a trap that many fall into, and one that people should really try to resist the urge to do. We need to be selecting gear that will work for OUR purposes, and ours alone. Just because the military uses something, or LE, or 3 gun competitors, etc… use something, doesn’t mean that it’s the best or even the appropriate items for us. The trend that I’ve seen for quite some years now, is for guys to copy what they see the cool guys doing and using. There is a flaw in this though that many seem to not realize. The way those guys operate, from their direct mission all the way up to and including their support chain, is vastly different than what ours are now, and ESPECIALLY if/once things go bad. We do not, and will not, have their same support structure and logistical train.
One specific example of this, is the trend to always use a plate carrier. Outside of a static defense role, this is a potentially fatal thing. How so you ask? I mean, after-all, armor stops bullets and that’s what we want right? Well, yes and no. Here are the negatives. For everything outside of the aforementioned static defense (think security/watch) we will want to be as absolutely mobile as possible. Even with the newer lightweight plates, you still won’t be as light and mobile as you will with a simple chest rig. Mobility is key for us. We have to be able to get out of a fight as quick as we got into it, and/or outmaneuver a threat. Like it or not, mobility and heavy infantry assault loads and/or plate carriers do not coincide. Another issue is heat. In all but the absolute coldest months, with any kind of movement, you will get hot. Very hot. For the military (and LE) this isn’t an issue, as they have a constant supply train to keep them stocked on things such as water. You an I however, be it patrolling our neighbor hood, our rural retreat, or whatever, water will be an issue. Go out in the mid-late summer months (especially in the deep south) and wear your plate carrier and all related gear, and do a realistic (distance/time wise) patrol and see how quickly you burn through your water. At my place, we can’t physically carry enough water to do a simple perimeter walk of the property wearing a plate carrier. Becoming a heat casualty will take you out just about as quickly as a bullet.
Our role’s as Armed Prepared Citizens, will most likely be much more akin to the LRRP teams of old (think Vietnam era) than of a modern day infantry platoon, SWAT team, or CAG/SEAL team. We’ll need to do security patrols inside of and around our neighborhoods/property, but not with the goal of getting into a fight. Our goal should be intelligence/information gathering, IE – know what’s going on immediately around us, and getting an early warning before someone who is a threat gets right on our door step. We want to be unseen, and, wait for it……, mobile. If we do end up in a fight, more times than not, our best course of action will probably be to get away from it, as opposed to fighting it out. Most of us (if we’re honest) just don’t/won’t have the manpower to field large teams, especially on a constant basis. Our gear should reflect this. A simple chest rig with 4-6 mags, and some spares in our pack, is probably a far better choice than our plate carrier with 8 mags on it, or a 10 mag chest rig that can double as a self worn TV tray.
There are reasons why I make my gear the way I do. I’ve tried a lot of different load carrying setups over the years, starting with Vietnam era gear as a kid, my issue ALICE gear, up to and including current systems and plate carriers. I’ve also talked to many folks, who’ve worn it a lot longer and in a lot more places than I ever have, most of who had people shooting back at them, and I’ve taken a lot of input from them. Now, I’m not saying my gear is the way YOU should go. There may be someone else who makes something that fits your requirements better. The point is, look very hard at how you choose your gear and how you are setting it up. Keep mobility in the forefront of your mind.