One of the first things I had to figure out when a young James P. started contracting in Iraq was setting up my “kit” of armor carrier, rig, mag pouches, IFAC and a bunch of other crap I had never carried before. At that point in my career I was not in the tactical gear world and had pretty much never even owned anything ‘tactical’ except a black CamelBak. So when I had to buy a full load of kit I basically ordered a bunch of cool looking shit I saw online.
Two weeks later I got a big ass box that puked out the entire Blackhawk! catalog onto my hooch floor in the IZ. After putting every pouch I bought on my super cool SWAT vest I pretty much ended up looking like a Coyote Tan Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. My kit was also so poorly placed I could not even scratch my junk. I ended up fighting my kit on every mission for the next two weeks until I adjusted everything.
Like most people who have never been deployed to a war zone where they would have to wear full kit, I thought it would be all yelling “follow me lads” and burning villages when wearing all my ninja slick gear. I suppose I had fantasies of going from battle to battle pulling mag after mag while rescuing white women from the clutches of Ray Ban wearing dictators.
Nope, not even close - Even if you were on a mobile team running the most dangerous roads in the world like I was, in reality 99% of the time you are wearing full kit you are doing glamorous stuff like; frying eggs in oil for breakfast next to a Land Cruiser, buying 83 gorditas at Taco Bell on base because half your guys don’t have an MNFI badge or sitting in a truck trying not to fall asleep.
So if you are setting up your first all-out full kit I have the following suggestions:
-Wear your kit at home for one week.
The 4th day on a mission outside the wire isn't where you want to find out your kit pinches your neck whenever you lay on your back or you are constantly bumping into things with your side mounted IFAC. Like I said before, 99% of the time you won’t be shooting people when wearing full kit, you will be walking around, sitting or eating.
Usually something annoying about your kit won’t start bothering you until 10 hours after you are wearing it. Your kit also needs a ‘break in’ period for it to settle and that will not happen until you have worn it for a while. So everything may seem ok at first, but 6 days later your helmet strap starts annoyingly curling around the sides and cutting into your face.
So this is why I suggest you wear your kit while doing everyday things for at least a week. This is when you will really get to know it. Every time you try to walk through a door and every time you bend over to pick something up, you will make an adjustment or just throw it away and start over with a different brand or style.
This is much like the first time you make angry love to that stripper you picked up on leave, you will learn every dirty nook and cranny – and how to adjust your movements to make it lay down and do what you want. You are now building muscle memory that may save our live someday (or give you super AIDS).
I am sure most of you have seen pictures of SF, Rangers and Security Contractors in the field with worn out looking kit and thought “dag, they can’t get new shit?” – Nope it’s not military cutbacks - look closer, like a fine wine they have aged their kit. The right-hand mounted IFAC has now has a slight divot on the corner where his arm was rubbing against it (but no longer does) and the left-mounted flap double M-4 mag pouch now has a crease on the right side from tearing it open so many times.
Vintage Kit Baby.
-Please do not take out the garbage or pick up your newspaper while wearing your kit.
It will freak your neighbors out and scare children. Also having to constantly take on and off your gear will let you know if the way you set up all of the pouches and shit interferes with getting your kit on and off smoothly. This is the exact reason why I only use he H-Harness for my rig, it is easier to get on and off - but some guys think the X style strap is faster, this is where you will figure all that out.
Constantly taking your kit on and off all day long is something you will do if you are ever in a situation where you have to wear full kit for an extended period of time. Tape down or move around stuff until putting it on and off is as easy as putting on your Members Only Jacket before hitting the clubs. Duct Tape is your friend, who cares if it looks like shit - it works for you.
-Do not sleep in your kit
Don’t even bother, no matter how squared away your kit is you will be uncomfortable sleeping in it, so no need to be uncomfortable for no reason but to be uncomfortable. It takes months and for some guys years before they can get a proper night’s sleep in full kit, and some dudes never get used to sleeping with all that crap on.
The only advice I can give you for this is: if you have access to a vehicle sit in the passenger or driver’s seat, notch the seat back 3 clicks. That’s as comfortable as you will get sleeping in full kit
-Do not take a shit indoors in full kit
I don’t care how many times the C-RAM sounds you will take your kit off to crap indoors no matter how dangerous it is, you just will.
-Do pop and squat
The only time I ever wore my full kit while pinching one off was when we would pull over on the side of the road because one of the trucks broke down or we were taking a break. Prepare to have poo everywhere, but with practice you can eliminate or limit the amount of poo on your kit and hands.
Hint: Wipe reaching between your legs unless you have gorilla long arms. Try not to get poo on your balls.
-Buy an expensive heavy duty Backscratcher
You are welcome
I know many of you pimps won’t be in a situation where you will wear full kit 24/7, but many of the problems you will work out while wearing your kit for a week are the same problems you will encounter while under stress. You will also build the before mentioned muscle memory. How many times have you been to a training class where your fellow attendees unnaturally move like they just popped out of their mom yesterday? That is because they do not have the muscle memory built up from wearing kit for an extended period of time.
A mag pouch one inch out of place for your particular body movements, a pinch that will distract you, or just needing to take a deuce half way through a training class and getting poo all over yourself are all things you can work out beforehand by doing this.
If you do this please let us know in the comments below what you learned, thanks.
DISCLAIMER: If your girlfriend or wife leaves you because you wore you kit every day for a week at home and you refused to take it off DVM accepts no liability, but your welcome, now go angry bang that stripper with a clear conscience.
Founder – Editor in Chief DVM
James P. is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in Southeast Asia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and referring to himself in the 3rd person.