Chest rigs, bandoliers and now even a plate carrier…I’ve tried the lot. A few years ago I started wearing a battle belt and the format is yet to be bettered for the majority of airsoft I play…and for my aches and pains.
As far as weight bearing and a bad back goes, a belt is the optimum solution. With a belt, weight can be evenly spread across the hips – taking pressure off the spine and back muscles. Nowadays, even plate carriers are jumping on the hip-centred load bearing bandwagon. Check out Crye’s StKSS system, which:
“…allows a wearer to selectively transfer some or all of the weight of his armor load vest to his hips. StKSS™ allows the wearer’s shoulders and spinal column to be completely isolated from the weight being carried. Instead, the weight is transferred directly to the pelvis (hip bone) and legs. The effect is unmistakable, and the benefit is undeniable to those familiar with what wearing a 60+ lbs. vest for months on end does to your lower back.”
Simply show me a chest rig and my lower back aches. The plate carrier is the same…and far too hot for even my lo-fi athleticism. Luckily, although I’ve come to appreciate impressions, I don’t run one myself – so I get to choose.
A few people have messaged me about my new FirstSpear belt’s layout (full review here), so I thought I’d write it up. My belt is a purely functional, practical piece of kit which, as mentioned, suits the majority of games I play. For that reason, it’s not that interesting.
It’s very much a standalone item. It’s not an additional weight bearing structure. It contains everything I need to engage in prolonged, intense exchanges and nothing else; although there is space for expansion. I don’t carry a pistol. None of the friends with whom I regularly play airsoft carry them, either.
The belt is set up to allow easy access to mags and to the receptacle used for storing spent mags (dump pouch). All other considerations are secondary. As it happens, there is only one final consideration – reloading. This is facilitated by reaching back to the utility pouch for a speed loader.
Front right, FirstSpear double mag pocket (click for review); holds four mags. Rear, Blue Force Gear medium vertical utility pouch. Front left, FirstSpear double mag pocket; holds four mags. Behind this, Emdom MM dumper.
The mag pouches are mounted high. They’re easy to reach but provide adequate clearance while crouching. Mounting the pouches high also means the belt’s very first attachment point can be used, thus using space more efficiently. With previous belts, I’ve located the initial row of pouches at my sides so they didn’t conflict with my thighs when crouched, or taking a knee. With the mags mounted higher, there is less of a conflict – so they can be mounted as far forward as there are attachment points. The FirstSpear pouches lend themselves well to this, because the pocket itself is low cut.
Again FirstSpear pouches really come into their own: When I took a first look at them a few days ago, I couldn’t work out why the lids were so short. One advantage of this is that the lids aren’t flapping about and in ‘yer face while mags are being drawn, or while managing them. Shorter lids are also particularly ergonomic when pouches are mounted high, as in this implementation.
Behind the right-side mag pouches, there’s a free segment of 6/12 (two channels) and a free single channel. I can use this for additional kit or provisions, should the need arise.
Next, at the rear of the belt, just off to centre-right, is the BFG utility pouch.
Three speed loaders in the BFG utility:
Moving clockwise, after the utility is another free segment of 6/12 (two channels). Next is the Emdom MM dumper.
This really is an excellent dumper. I’ve been through quite a few and this is still the best I’ve tried. It’s my third. You can read a full review at Military Morons, here.
Lastly, another FirstSpear double pocket (four mags) occupies the final two 6/12 segments (four channels). This is a mirror image of the front-left side.
I like to try new things and I like to optimise, but I can’t see me dropping the battle belt any time soon. Particularly since FirstSpear’s implementation is the very best I’ve seen.