Words: John Danter

Pics: Alfred Encallado

If you’re heading for a milsim event, it’ll probably mean you’ll be in the shit for 24+ hours.

Part of my preparedness strategy is living with my kit before I go, to make sure I can be relied upon by my team and that I’m as effective as possible at the event. I don’t want to be limping around in boots I’ve not broken in fully, or whining that the jacket I’ve just bought makes me feel like I’m wearing a bin liner.

The pics which accompany this piece were taken at a walk-on at Limerick Airsoft Camp, a week or two before a milsim was due to take place at Bellurgan Park.

My aim at this skirmish was to fully test my kit, ready for the big game at Bellurgan.

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I always like to trial the kit I expect to use a few weeks before a milsim event.

This gives me a chance to iron out any snags or niggles – particularly with new gear, or new combinations of old gear. Does anything jingle when I move? Does anything cause discomfort? Basically it’s an exercise in asking, “Does this work?” You’re not going to get the same feedback wearing kit around the house and posing in the mirror.

Milsims tend to be long games with no breaks and no safe zone or car park to retreat to, to rectify issues. You’re dependent on your gear and you need to be able to trust it.

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The faction I was due to play as part of at Bellurgan was meant to be highly agile, self-sufficient and able to traverse the huge undulating site on foot. Tasks would rotate from stag, to patrol, to QRF, to CTR, to door kicking. So a varied portfolio.

I ditched my usual UKSF-based plate carrier loadout for a more lightweight chest rig setup. This would allow me to carry more food and water and also take up less space in my outdoor base.

Yes. I have an outdoor base. More on that later.

Bellurgan Park is a big, big site. A PMR radio is never enough there. They are OK for close-up work but in this massive site you need powerful, far-ranging comms.

This is why I chose my PRC148 over a smaller, lightweight Boafeng. The TRI PRC148 can blast out 10W vs. the Boafeng’s 5W. Or even a PMR at 0.5W.

I also like to test-out sleeping arrangements. Solo ones, obviously – so don’t get any ideas. No spooning.

Some milsims have an indoor forward operating base (FOB) for you to make your nest. Most guys take cot beds. Indoor FOBs are great, as you have more space and comfort.

I hate bulk, so I take a small and light Thermarest cot bed even for indoor FOBs. These things pack down to the size of a pair of shoes – and I have tiny feet, so you know what I’m saying here.

Outdoor FOBs are a little less homely – for obvious reasons. But if you pack smart and take only what you need, you can make a really effective space.

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Bellurgan Park is all outdoor. So you have to take a tent and/or tarp and – for me – an inflatable mattress. The latter gives you a bit of separation from the ground – which is often cold and damp, even in summer. So you’re insulated. Otherwise the ground will suck the heat from you and you’ll have a shitty time getting what little sleep you can.

Equally, I use a Snugpak Softie 9 Hawk sleeping bag – with a silk liner. A great combo.

In order to help suspend disbelief, some milsims don’t allow outdoor FOBs with a myriad of bright tent colours. So tarps are usually favoured – or small, one man, drab-coloured tents/bivis.

Outdoor I run a Terra Nova Jupiter hooped bivi. It’s amazingly light and comfortable, and generates little condensation as it’s basically a massive Goretex sock. It goes up in under two minutes. I also use a tarp for my outdoor dry space, and take large dry bags to enable me to keep most of my kit outside. For instance, the chest rig would fold up into a dry bag and be left outside the bivi under the tarp.

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The cooking side of things is long tested by now. Coffee making kit, wheat tortillas for wraps, cheese slices, ham slices and one or two hot meal pouches cooked in a Jetboil. The water used to clean your hands, face or have a drink.

Going back to the loadout: the apparel I chose consisted of a Crye G3 combat set in Multicam Tropic. I love Tropic in the summer. It’s a brilliant camo.

However, the fact that it’s Crye isn’t important.

What is important is kit that wicks moisture, is highly mobile and articulated, doesn’t have any nasty seams that will rub over the extended day; and doesn’t make me feel like I’m running in a bin bag, as the sweat drips off and has nowhere to go.

I won’t take a gamble on running repro kit. Sorry if that sounds dismissive, but that’s my experience with popular reproductions; their suitability is only skin deep. They replicate the look, but not the performance.

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The rest of the kit included Arc’teryx LEAF Cold WX LT gloves, an Icebreaker merino base layer, Lowa Zephyr Mid GTX boots (sooooo light), various C2R nylon gems and a modified High Ground Gear ‘The Chest Rig’. Flimmuur Tactical was kind enough to make me a mid-zip for the latter, so I can remove it from the front like a jacket; or more easily go prone.

For sustenance on the go I ran a Source 3 litre hydro pouch at the test skirmish, which also has room for a few snacks.

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I decided to add a pistol to my belt to see if the loadout could handle it, if needed.

The headgear worn at Bellurgan is chosen for you, based on the faction you’re playing in. To fit the brief, I reached for my trusty Platatac boonie which breathes really well, being composed of 100% cotton.

So how did my testing session go?

It turns out my kit choice was 90% there and I’ve found I have got better at selecting the right kit as my experience has grown.

Based on the test game at Limerick Airsoft Camp, for Bellurgan I changed the PTT to a smaller in-ear Silynx covert PTT and I dropped the pistol. I don’t usually run one, but you have to keep checking!

Kit List

  • Lowa Zephyr Mid GTX
  • 1000 Mile liner socks
  • Smartwool socks
  • Nautilus long john liner
  • Crye Multicam Tropic G3 set
  • C2R MRB-style MOLLE belt with Flimmuur Tactical inner belt
  • Safariland 6530DO ALS
  • S&S Precision Holster Extender GRT
  • TM Glock w/Mini Docter
  • Blue Force Gear pistol pouch
  • Blue Force Gear Micro Trauma Kit Now
  • Jimmy Pie Winkler Knives II
  • Icebreaker merino baselayer
  • High Ground Gear The Chest Rig w/Flimmuur front mid zip
  • High Ground Gear double side access M4 shingles
  • High Ground Gear double M4 shingles
  • C2R flapped single M4 pouches
  • C2R utility pouch
  • High Ground Gear MBITR pouch
  • C2R flash bang pouch
  • TRI PRC148
  • Thales antenna and relocation cable
  • Peltor PTT
  • Bowman headset (swapped for Silynx covert earpiece and sniper PTT for the milsim)
  • Source Hydration backpack (w/food storage compartments)
  • Petzl headlamp
  • Arcteryx LEAF Cold WX Contact gloves
  • ESS photo-reactive lenses
  • TacBelts UK VTAC-style sling
  • Platatac 100% cotton boonie
  • Allied Risk Equipment Consulting UK Flag ARID Face Wrap