Background to the load out
Following on from Jomarre’s post about building a load out and how to go about it, this load out came half from doing what I wanted, and half from a change in the camo rules at the AI500 that forced me to reassess how I was going to make my load out.
In short the organisers have decided that the camo I usually rock, being ATACS FG, is classified as for use only by the Tan team, because at a distance in the AI500 event at Anzio in early 2014, some people thought it was tan coloured rather than green and so mistakenly were letting those players through and then getting jumped because they were actually green. So whilst I don’t agree that ATACS FG should be classified as Tan, thems the rules and I needed to come up with something different.
Fortunately the rules don’t apply to gear, only to camo, so at least a good chunk of my load out idea could stay in tact, along with my wallet!
The thoughts behind the loadout
So this summer’s AI500 is being held at the UCAP Sandpit, which is a 1,000+ acre site, with a mix of terrain, buildings and a pretty decent size lake, and with the Green Team’s mission brief generally being to try and take as much of the site over as possible, securing objectives along the way, the load out needed to be light enough not to start taking its toll a few hours into a 2 day event, but also be able to carry enough to keep me going throughout the day(s). And of course it had to try and look good right?
Load outs featured in Airsoft International also helped inform the style of the load out, as a mix of two load outs they featured (Grey Gear, Vol 9, Issue 9 and The Hired Gun, Vol 9, Issue 12) had bits that appealed to me.
So what made the cut?
So with the rules preventing any kind of multi-terrain patterns (which ruled out my next go to idea of Kryptek Mandrake), and a team vote between the guys that are attending from the island, the basis for all of our load outs, including this one, was Green/OD trousers with a black softshell or t-shirt (depending on whether the British weather decides its summer or not), with a sort of PmC/Militia feel to it to match the brief of what the Green Team (or Norsemen as they often get referred to) are meant to be.
So I went looking for a decent pair of green/OD trousers that fitted the bill and came across the Blackhawk! WarriorWear line up, which had the right look to them, were decently priced (Found here: http://www.tactical-kit.co.uk/blackhawk-warrior-wear-lightweight-pants-86tp02-3820-p.asp £40 from Tactical-kit.co.uk – who are my go to kit retailer in the UK now) and came packed with plenty of pockets, features and importantly the ability to take internal kneepads as a look over some site pictures, UCAP Sandpit looks a bit on the rocky side in places, and are also fairly lightweight and breathable.
The top, well on this one I decided to treat myself and splash on a bit of Arc’Teryx LEAF kit. Here I have plumped for the Arc’Teryx Naga Hoody in Wolf, again from Tactical Kit, which if the sun decides to show might not even get worn but it’ll definitely see use in the Manx winter as part of this load out when it get used again. The Naga Hoodie is something that I first noticed in the AI Grey Gear load out, and it definitely tickled my fancy although that same cannot be said for the wallet. It fits well with the concept of Militia/PmC, looks good (in my opinion) and should be hard wearing enough for occasional airsoft use given Arc’Teryx’s rock climbing pedigree.
Finishing off the base level of gear is a Notch Classic Cap in Kryptek Typhon, some Mechanix gloves, a HSGI riggers belt and 5.11 tan boots, nothing amazingly special but the notches in the cap are definitely noticeable when wearing.
So the base level ends up looking something like:
Now the basics are out the way, it’s decision time in the tactical nylon department. Given I’m going for the PmC/Militia look, a full blown plate carrier is edging into the military side rather than the private contractor so my usual PIG Plate Carrier is getting a rest for this one. Instead I have gone for a chest rig and PACA soft armour solution, along with an assault pack and belt kit, all the while trying to keep it fairly lightweight given the AO its needed for.
The PACA is nothing particularly special in its own right, its a Flyye replica of Protective Apparel Corporation of America (PACA) soft body amour. All adjustment is done via velcro, either on the shoulders or across the body. It is also relatively thin and therefore doesn’t add much weight to the load out. As can be seen in the picture below, it does not have any load carrying ability itself, so using this, it has to be paired with something else, and realistically that is going to be a chest rig, as there is no point in layering a plate carrier over this.
In order to keep this as lightweight as I could, I’ve gone for the First Spear 6/12 Modular chest rig. The 6/12 system is a new attachment system that First Spear have produced, but it is also fully backwards compatible with the MOLLE system. Essentially rather than adding loops to the chest rig, the slots to weave straps through have been laser cut out of the material, which saves on weight and gives the chest rig a flatter profile. I’ve then paired the chest rig with possibly the best mag pouches I can recommend to anyone, the BlueForceGear (BFG) TenSpeed M4 Double. These are again designed to be as lightweight as possible, and when empty, will return to being completely flat against the back of the pouch, meaning you have nothing flapping about when empty to get snagged on all and sundry. Once paired together the rig looks something like this:
The next area to take care of was the back pack/assault pack, and fortunately First Spear have provided the answer here once more. The assault pack that I run on the back of my PIG Plate Carrier also came with shoulder straps that can be swapped out for the G-Hooks that allow it to be attached to the back panel. The pack is the First Spear Exigent Circumstance Assault Pack, and is probably one of the more expensive packs available on the market and unless I already had it, I probably would have gone with something else. This is the area where you have to add some unavoidable weight in the form of a hydration bladder, which is going to add at least 2kg to the load out (for a 2L bladder), or 3kg (for a 3L bladder), but at least the harder you fight, the more you’ll drink and the lighter the load will get. The pack will also be used to hold other bits and pieces like extra pyro, a spare battery, and it can also carry a helmet in the external pouch should I decide to start filming using my GoPro on a FAST helmet.
Finally we then have the belt kit, which is lifted straight from my usual skirmish load out, which carries my WE XDM 3.8 Compact (needs an actual holster rather than an M4 pouch), two HSGI pistol mag pouches, two FASTmag pouches for speed reloads, an OPS dump pouch and a HSGI large utility pouch. This is what I ‘fight’ from, by which I mean I will always reload from the two FASTmag pouches during a firefight (I’ll only reload directly from my chest rig if there is nothing going on and I’ll shuffle all my mags across so that I always have two mags on my belt), the pistol in case my primary goes dead for whatever reason mid-fight and the utility pouch for carrying bits and pieces that I might need to get to quicker than storing them in my pack. All of this is mounted on an OPS MOLLE belt, on a belt that I really ought to upgrade to something tougher and easier to adjust.
And of course the most important part of all load outs, the eye protection. This load out is using Oakley SI Assault M-Frame 2.0 shooting glasses, which have been my staple eye protection for a number of years. I would thoroughly recommend them and if you are going to splash some cash on anything, definitely make it eye pro and a good set of boots, the rest is just extra luxuries.
All that is left to do with this load out is tidy away all the straps so that they don’t get snagged up on stuff and it should be good to go!
Kit list and where to source for anyone that wants it in one place:
– Blackhawk! WarriorWear OD trousers – http://www.tactical-kit.co.uk/
– Arc’Teryx LEAF Naga Hoodie in Wolf – http://www.tactical-kit.co.uk/
– 5.11 Taclite 8″ Coyote Boot – http://www.tactical-kit.co.uk/
– Flyye SVS Personal Body Armour (PACA replica) – http://www.landwarriorairsoft.com/ (although now out of stock)
– First Spear Modular Chest rig 6/12 – https://www.skdtac.com
– BlueForceGear TenSpeed M4 Double mag pouch – http://www.tactical-kit.co.uk/
– First Spear Exigent Circumstances Assault Pack – https://www.skdtac.com
– FASTmag M4 pouches – http://www.tactical-kit.co.uk/
– Notch Classic Kryptek Typhon Cap – http://www.tactical-kit.co.uk/
– Oakley SI Assault M-Frames 2.0 – http://www.eyearmour.co.uk/
– Mechanix M-PACT gloves – http://www.tactical-kit.co.uk/
– HSGI pistol and large utility pouches – https://www.skdtac.com
– OPS Molle belt and dump pouch – http://www.ur-tactical.com/