Each individual user has to decide what his setup and load out is going to be. What is mission essential? What is Gucci? Do I want protection, mobility, of a hybrid set up? What is my most likely AO and potential threats and engagements?
Once you have asked and more importantly answered these questions, then it is time to put it all together. After your initial setup is done, it is time to shake it out, is it balanced? Can you reach all or most items with either hand? Is the position of a piece of kit interfering with my movement, stance, or weapon? Adjust and shake it out again, test it by walking with it, running, squatting, climbing, exiting vehicles etc. Your movements should feel natural with it, you should be able to wear it for long periods of time without aggravating your lower back and neck.
Often overlooked items are footwear and gloves. Footwear should be comfortable, able to stay on your feet if you are propelled through the air from an explosion. Loose fitting slip on comfy footwear is not going to help you if it is lost in a foot race as well. Gloves should be snug and give you good tactile feeling on your weapons, radio or other equipment and offer protection from abrasions, heat/flame, and sharp edges.
Ballistic eyewear is very important and most operators have good quality protection… for the day. What do you use at night? My Oakley SI’s are awesome in the day with the dark lenses… at night I switch to my night eyewear, clear lenses. It is easier for me to have a second pair for night Ops.
I use a hybrid set up which offers me protection front and rear but also lots of mobility. I can fight hand to hand, I can draw my Dagger as fast as I can draw my pistol with my set up. I can still run easily with it and it is very comfortable and balanced and I can access everything with either hand. For me this is the set up I like, it feels natural and unencumbered.
I have tried many different set up and have plate carriers and vest ranging from $68.00 to $400.00 and this is my current set up:
This is my “Fox Vital” plate carrier. It is a well-made piece of equipment and holds 10″x12″ plates front and back, 6″x8″ plates or soft armor in each side, and a cumber pouch area. Also featured are quick release drop buckles.
(2) 10″x12″ Lvl 3A plates (front and rear);
(2) ATAC double mag pouches (front);
ATAC double pistol pouch (front top strong side);
(1) 15 round 9mm magazine (strong side);
Gerber Multi-tool (In pistol pouch);
Radio pouch with Motorola GP340 radio (strong side);
6″ stiletto dagger (strong side);
Tourniquet (strong side);
IFAK (weak side);
Benchmade seatbelt/cord ripper (front top weak side);
(7) 30 round AH-47 magazines (4 in pouches and 3 in cumber);
Serpa drop leg holster (strong side);
Surefire KX4 C2 Centurion LED light;
Benchmark 4″ auto opening folding knife;
PGST Kevlar helmet;
Surefire helmet LED/IR red/white/IR light.
(2) 15 round 9mm magazines (belt weak side) and (2) cell phones.
I am not advocating any particular brand name, each user has to decide what he wants to use and should be able to use it to its maximum capacity or ability. I get a lot of slagging from Range Rats, Arm Chair Commando’s and Gear Queers for the gear that I use. I don’t care. Beard on.