Thursday, May 1, 2014

Fighting Load Contest Entry #17 by Chris

Today I am proud to bring Entry #17 of our Fighting Load Contest by Chris formerly of AK.

We'll be talking chest rigs and battle belts as well as guns and get home bags/ assault packs. Get yours together to win some great prizes including:
1st: Blackhawk 3 day Assault Pack ($90) AND a $50 gift certificate from ($50 value) plus 2 copies of The Reluctant Partisan by John Mosby.
2nd: HERC stove from Titan Ready Water ($169 value) plus The Reluctant Partisan by John Mosby.
Note: Prizes 1 and 2 are really closely matched. As such the overall winner can pick the Lucky Gunner stuff OR the HERC. 2nd place gets what is left. 2 books will go to #1 and 1 book to #2.
3rd Place: 3 Sport Berkey Water Bottles donated by LPC Survival ($69 value)
4th Place:  A Lifestraw donated by Camping Survival ($20 value)
5th Place: A pair of Gyver Gear survival tin's
6th Place: The Western Front (hardcopy) or 3x e books by Archer Garrett.
Wildcard: This one goes to whoever I want to give it to for whatever reason I feel like. It will be a grab bag donated by yours truly. The exact makeup is TBD depending on what I have lying around  and may include books, gear, medical stuff or even a couple silver dimes. ($30+  value).
For a good example of a post reference my EDC Contest entry. Those should give you a good idea what type of thing I'm looking for. I will probably do a full fighting load post some time before the contest is over.

The contest is closed but we still have a few more posts to show due to my technological issues and some field time. Voting will start after the last entry is shown on the blog. Voting will run for about a week and will decide the winner's who get the prizes. Onto the Entry.....

I am currently traveling, so I could not share my primary rig.  However, I did want to share the rig I keep in the trunk of the car.  It was designed to be inexpensive so I can have several copies:  I have a similar set of gear prepositioned in each car, at the office, and so on.  I think it could also serve as a suitable setup to leave in a cache or similar application.

I have a gym bag with an old pair of boots, good socks, a base layer, and cargo pants with each rig.  The idea of that is that if I get stranded somewhere and I am wearing impractical clothing I can immediately change into something more suitable. If I have to move on foot I don't want to be stuck with shorts and sandals.  So the assumption is for the rest of this gear that I'll have decent clothes on.

ARMOR (<$140)
Pictured is a police surplus carrier I got for ten bucks or so off EBAY and steel level 3 plates from TheTargetMan which have been RhinoLined to mitigate spall and frag.  The plates were $125 shipped.

I have ceramic plates at home, but the steel plates are ideal for the trunk/cache application.  They are inexpensive, temperature insensitive, and not fragile at all.  You can bang them around in the trunk of the car with no risk of cracks or damage.  I also use them for PT; they work great to do some basic cross-fit type workouts in a hotel room.  For example, throw on the plate carrier and do squats, lunges, push-ups, etc.

On the downside, you need to be aware of frag/spall issues with steel; the RhinoLiner seems to help a lot, but the testing that has been done is not full-up lab vetted.  Additionally, steel is generally only level 3 and can have issues with AP ammo or 5.56 green tip at close ranges/high velocities.

Not every car and cache has a set of steel plates, mainly due to expense.  The rigs in climate controlled environments just have a level 2 surplus soft vest with expired panels and a stab level 2 panel, which can be had very inexpensively if you buy in bulk.  I put together a few soft vest setups for about forty bucks each.  The expired panels are a bit questionable, and I have nice unexpired level 3A panels at home and for work, but for a cache I feel comfortable enough with an expired level 2 vest...  It certainly is better than nothing!
CHEST RIG ($20 + mags & ammo)
Pictured is a Type 56 Chinese chest rig.  They go for ten bucks or so.  Mine has three AK magazines in the main pockets.  The smaller pockets have an NPA, oral rehydration salts, gauze/bandage, an Israeli bandage, and a tourniquet.  My nice rig has CATs, and I usually carry a CAT in my level 1 gear, and these cache/travel rigs make use of the less expensive TK4; I bought a bunch in bulk and got them for ~$5 each.  I had the rest of the medical stuff laying around.

One small pocket is empty.  I usually use it for a monocular, small radio, flashlight, or cell phone once I get out to the field.  I guess I could preposition a ten dollar TracFone with each chest rig but haven't bothered to do so.

The canteens cost me about ten bucks each.  They hold 2 liters and have the shoulder strap.  I've added some extra gear to each canteen carrier:  three glow sticks, a whistle, matches, and water purification tablets.

I got a set of East German field packs for about two dollars each, surplus.  I've stuffed them with all sorts of useful stuff:

Map: Copies of parts of USGS topo map.
Compass: I tossed in some coghlan brand cheapies I found at a big box store.  Is it a great compass? No. Will it find north? Probably. Cost: $2.
Sunglasses and Sunscreen: I picked up bottles of SPF 50 in travel size for <$1 each. Amazon has tinted safety glasses (Pyramex Alair Safety Eyewear) for $2.50 with free shipping. Cost: $3.50.
Extra Clothing: I went through the closet and pulled out some old clothes. Each ruck has two pairs of boot socks, two pairs of gym socks, and two undershirts/tshirts. The bad thing is that most of this gear is cotton. Cotton is bad. The good thing is that it was free, because I needed to clear the old stuff out of my closets anyways. I would also like to add some underoos in there but just cleared out the dresser, so those will have to wait. I threw in a ball cap for each bag too -- I have a bunch laying around. Cost: Free.
Bandanas: I also tossed in two orange bandanas (Bandanas by the Dozen (12 units per pack, 100% cotton) for about $1 each. Bandanas are super useful for lots of things, and the bright orange color is good in an emergency to draw attention. Cost: $2
Gloves: I threw in a pair of wool glove liners for each bag. Wool is good as it is non-flammable and warm. The bail out bags I keep in the car have leather work gloves, so you could use the liners to double up for extra warmth. Cost: $1.50.
Belt: Finally, a sturdy belt is not something we always wear but is something that has many uses. I shelled out for a new, basic rigger's belt for each bag. Cost: $2.50.
Headlamp/Flashlight: The Bailout Bags in my cars have good minimags and/or surefires. So, for the ruck, I am throwing in a handful of lightsticks (Cyalume SnapLight Industrial Grade Chemical Light Sticks, White, 6" Long, 8 Hour Duration (Pack of 10). They cost about a buck each. I am including 2xwhite, 2xgreen, and 2xred. I am also tossing in a mini-GI style light ($2.89). Cost: $9.
First Aid Supplies:  Each car has a $20 basic first aid kit.
Firestarter: I am including 2xemergency candles. Cost: <$1.
Matches: I tossed in a box of matches. Cost: About $0.30 per box.
Knife:  I am hesitant to include sharp objects in the rucks as they will be left unsupervised around kids. So, for the rucks, I'm including a set of blunt tip kid scissors. Cost: $1.
Extra Food: I tosses an MRE in each ruck. I also threw in some granola bars and instant oatmeal packets. Cost: Free, I had all this in the pantry already.
Soap & Shampoo:  I added some travel cleaning supplies from a hotel.  Cost:  Free.
Stickers, colored sharpies:  I added some stickers and sharpies.  The sharpies are good for entertaining kids (let them draw) and for many more practical uses.  The stickers are a good way to distract kids.  Cost:  Free, had stuff already.

The rifle paired with all this is a beater AK-47 "trunk gun."  I keep it stashed with an additional four magazines for a total of seven mags (four with the rifle, three in the chest carrier).  I figure one of the four mags goes into the rifle, then the other three get stuffed into cargo pockets or into the ruck sack, as the chest carrier can only carry three mags.

I also assume that I'll have my CCW pistol on my person.

This is definitely not a perfect rig.  My "western" MOLLE gear at home is significantly nicer.  However, for well under a hundred bucks (plus armor/mags/ammo), you can have a serviceable fighting loadout stashed in your car or office.  Moreover, the gear is very compact and fits in a medium sized gym bag, so it doesn't take up much space in the trunk of my car.  I've used this rig on a few field days out in the woods and while not super high speed, it is serviceable.

Even if you have a "nice" setup, I think it is well worth having an extra set of gear stashed in the car or in a cache.  This setup is an example of a low cost setup that most people can put together and stash away without breaking the bank.
End Post:
Ryan here. As always a big thanks to Chris for participating.  I like this setup. Most of my back up rigs are either built from the surplus gear box or US MILSURP specifically ALICE stuff. Doesn't make the Combloc stuff any better or worse, though it has an obvious edge in supporting the AK platform,  I just don't have much of it. Incidentally it occurs to me I have that same backpack in my operational cache.

As to stuff to add, change, etc all. The only big thing I can think of is that depending on the type of holster used for carry potentially a second, more tactical type holster could be beneficial. Many IWB CCW type holsters do not work particularly well when a plate carrier, chest rig, etc are added. Also they aren't the best for long walks, etc. An outside the waistband holster with some element of retention might be handy to have. Aside from that hearing protection was not mentioned (though it would be easy to overlook) and that could come in handy.

All in all a good rig and one that anybody can afford. 



Aesop said...

I wouldn't worry too much about "expired" vest panels.

Richard Davis used to pull twenty-year expired panels out of a conex box in the parking lot at Second Chance and proof fire into them, and invariably they still worked as good as when brand new.

The expiration dates serve two purposes only: CYA from legal liability; and planned obsolescence, forcing agencies and their minions to have to buy all new vests every few years.

BTW, rhino lining serves another purpose: bare steel rusts. Especially in a 1000D cordura nylon carrier that gets sweated in, and rained on. Steel with a coat of bed liner doesn't. It doesn't entirely solve the spalling problem, but it helps a lot.

The take away, I think, is that if the first "Ding!" didn't get you to move to better cover, you're not doing it right.

Prairie Patriot said...

Very nice back up setup and for little money. Big plus!

If the situation dictated keeping a lower profile (i.e. situation isn't completely FUBAR, but sketch), then would your soft armor or plates conceal somewhat under the clothes you packed? It's something to consider if you haven't already.

Chris said...


I tend to agree, especially if the armor doesn't show obvious signs of damage or abuse.

Still, I take care to store soft vest panels in a temperature controlled environment. Hot, humid environments can degrade the kevlar fabric. Steel is a better choice for a vest that lives full time in a hot vehicle trunk, I think.

The slick plate carrier will semi-conceal under any basic sweatshirt or windbreaker. I always have a rain jacket so that would work I suppose. I say "semi conceal" because you will not pass close inspection wearing plates of any kind. Steel is actually better than ceramic here (thinner) but still quite noticeable. That said if you're in a car, its dark, etc they can be well enough concealed.

I know some of the stuff is a bit "basic" but my intent was to have a kit I could spam out across two cars, two workplaces, and one or two other caches for a reasonable price. I am rarely/never far from one of these kits. I've actually used the contents a few times for day to day stuff, and they've been handy. I also feel comfortable using it as a "level 2.5" basic sustainment load for a day or three if necessary.

Prairie Patriot said...


Good deal, I just wasn't sure if you had "bulky" type clothing in your stashes to conceal it. I've run around with my low pro carrier with various garments just to get a feel for what what may work or not work. I agree, it won't survive close scrutiny unless you have a heavy winter coat.

Thanks for the reply.

Theother Ryan said...

Chris, I generally agree. My level 2.5 ft bag could lastnwell beyond a day, especially sinceni couldn't plus up foodnwith stuff from my vehicle.

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