> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Reader question: Do you have your load carrying equipment figured out?



Reader question: Do you have your load carrying equipment figured out?

I was going to do a poll for this, but figured we'd get a more robust discussion with a straight up question:

Do you have your load carrying equipment figured out?

With "load carrying equipment" being the catch-all for nylon kit to carrying magazines and support gear out on a patrol, to stand guard or fight an engagement. Usually, this is spoken about in terms of 3 tiers - first line being on person/belt kit, 2nd line being a chest rig/plate carrier/lbv, and 3rd line being a backpack of support gear - but those tiers don't always have to be the hard/fast case.


Do you have guns but not much in the way of support gear - spare magazines go in pockets?

Are you working on putting together your first 'kit' - a battle belt, chest rig or plate carrier?

Do you have a couple different lines, but are working on integrating them all together?

Fighting gear but no pack?

Have the gear but haven't been able to test it?

Or been there done that, tested and refined everything and happy with the results?

Is it not a priority at all for you and you're instead focusing on other areas?

I'm interested to hear where everyone is, what you are figuring out and what barriers might stand in your way.

It seems like there are a lot of folks out there that have guns, but nothing to really support any kind of activity with 'em outside of informal plinking and target practice.

I'm always tinkering with this stuff and working on my own gear, and am not a certified expert by any means, but want to get a good gauge of where people generally are.


  1. I'm trying to decide on this as we speak. I've got a 2 mag belt carrier for my CCW weapon, but haven't figured out how to do a "battle rig" that would incorporate my AR and mags. I know i want something better than the old LBE I wore 30 years ago in the military. I'll be watching this to see what the opinions are on a battle belt vs. a vest.

  2. On my belt I currently run 3 pistol mag carrier and a drop leg holster. For a chest rig I have a First Spear Stranghogg with 3 AR mag pouch and an Admin pouch, radio, cummerbund. Normally I keep the hard plates out of it, but have them close by. There is a small blow out pouch on the weak side cummerbund, strong side is left clear for clean draw of secondary weapon. I also have a camelback attached to the Strandhogg. As for 3rd line I run a 5.11 RUSH 24 with an assortment of extra gear, this is always getting tweaked, but the basic idea is as needed I can strip off backpack, vest and still have my pistol and mags directly on me. My new years resolution this year was to get out and train with this gear and I will take the first class in 3 weeks. I'm sure it will get even more refinement as I go.

  3. been working on this issue for 30 years. i have everything out there just about, but i keep going back to alice/lbe. i just keep thinking there has to be something better but i am beginning to realize it all sucks so just embrace the suck. that said, we really don''t NEED any of this. insurgents run n gun all over the world in jeans, old field jackets and tennis shoes. realistically, how many mags do we expect to expend before we get the golden bb?

  4. I'm with riverrider on this. ILBE set up works very well for most tasks. If you are going to wade into a wall of fast moving lead, you have been playing too many video games. Stay as light and mobile as possible.

    "Movement is life."

    1. "Not Getting Hit is Life"


  5. It's a never ending cycle. I'm swapping from 5.56 main weapon to 7.62x51, so everything must change. New TACO mag pouches from HSGI hit my mailbox on Friday. They will do double duty so now I have 2 extra OD shingles I should get rid of. For the most part, my IFAK/Mags/dump pouch configuration is set, it's down to the nitty gritty with admin pouches and the like. Never ending it seems.

  6. i started with a LBE, then 2 eagle vests, next camel back delta V, a TAG marine gladiator rig over a slick plate carrier, and right now a the same PC with a VAC brokos belt with 2 fast mag pistole, and 2 rifle mag holders. Also ITS ifac, blade-tec pistole holster, ken onion fixed blade, dump pouch. the a Blue force Minmus split front rig mostly with taco pouches for flex and 2 double closed tops(I can use these for manny things.), plus a camel back hydro on its back(I rigged myself, they're working on one strait from factory). Plus a 5.11 moab pack for patrol load out. This gear is tested all this year even in the current freeze out, it is the best I've had to date. Can I get by with a lot less, sure, but if I have a choice why would I. Do your best where ever and when ever.

  7. I have put together a chicom chest rig and hellcat modded ALICE pack. I can use them together, they fit well enough, but I need to do some more testing. Eventually I need to get in come longer distance camping with them.

    Belt rigs seem difficult to use if your pack does a good job resting the weight on your hips, but if others have different experiences, I'd be interested in learning.

    It has taken me about 3 years to try different things and settle on this system. It is relatively cheap. I need to do some cheap mods to the chicom chest rig though. Add some snaps for better use with mittens and gloves. The toggles will stay for muddy conditions. I'll also add some light shoulder padding, like the Russians use.


  8. I figured out a versatile system for my personal use.

    Battle belt has a drop leg on either side; G-Code Mule on one side, Costa Leg Rig on the other. Belt also holds a knife in horizontal carry at 11:30. Four pistol magazine pouches at 10:30. Two rifle magazine pouches at 8-10:30. Folding dump pouch around 7:30.

    Plate carrier has 3 magazine pouches in the front, 2 on the left side. Bib area typically left empty. I am debating whether or not to have a small IFAK on the right side.

    Speed reload priority on the Costa Rig -> belt -> sides -> front.

    Magazine pouches are HSGI tacos, so I can go from AK to AR without switching gear. (At this point, my gear is much faster than my brain when it comes to switching. Under stress and failure drills, I have the occasional brain fart and try to thumb release and rock and lock a speed reload on an AR.)

    I've settled on this setup from training: 80% dry fire on reloading, IPSC drills, and when the house is empty, clearing the house of monsters and boogeymen with a boltless fire arm. 20% live fire on private lands or carbine classes.

  9. I am at the very beginning stage of this section of my gear. I'm squared away for weaponry (Pistol, Shotgun & AR), but am trying to decide how best to carry these plus all the assorted accessories. I'm undecided between a tactical vest, chest type rig and/ or plate carrier set-up. Any recommendations with links would be appreciated. I'm not on a super tight budget but don't want to overspend either.

  10. I am still working on number one. I have a shotgun, and a pistol, but not a rifle. I have been doing some research on carriers, pouches, armor, mags, and all that other good stuff.

  11. Chewylouie:

    Based on some stuff by Mainprepper, I'd consider skipping the rifle and getting that shotgun and pistol set up and trained, before moving on to a rifle.

    I'm skipping the shotgun and sticking with my rifle and CCW pistol. Really, this means I am focused primarily on my rifle; the pistol is truly last ditch. I'm getting trained, with ammo and parts put away, and my rig set up with one weapon, before moving on to the triad (fighting rifle, fighting shotgun, fighting pistol).

    I believe in getting squared away with one long arm and survival skills. After you have those two trained right, then I believe in adding another weapon and training with it. Then add another weapon and train with that.

    Any weapon brings with it more than just the price tag. It brings with it the need to train, the ammo for training, the ammo to put away, spare parts, knowledge on how to fix and maintain that weapon, carrying equipment, other accessories. There is a logistical tail behind any weapon, and adding a weapon should not be taken lightly. The value of a weapon should be weighed against the stress to your personal logistical system.

    Just my thoughts.


    1. You're a solid thinker. #1 priority is the CCW pistol because that's the weapon that you need NOW, both on the street and at home. I prefer subcompact autos because they are 4 season concealable and will do for home defense.

      The rifle is priority #2 because TEOTWAWKI may never come or at least may not look like Mad Max, but if it does then you sure are going to want a fighting rifle.

      Priority #3, for me anyway, could either be a shotgun or a rimfire, depending on the situation. I'm not a real proponent of the 'fighting' shotgun, but I do have a pump outfitted with a light and sidesaddle by my bed. I'd just as soon have a SBR, but those come with baggage.

      Good comments about logistics, training, etc.

    2. I would agree. A good carry gun plus a fighting rifle will 'do the job' for defensive purposes nicely. If your carry gun is small, I would then get a larger/more effective handgun for home defense, open carry, etc.

      A shotgun is not a 'must have' at all and is sub-optimal in a lot of ways, though if it is what you have and can afford, it can be made to work.

  12. As far as guns go--AK with two spetznaz style mags duck taped together. I'm saving up for the 45 rounders. That'll give me 90 rounds in a gun that is pretty much guaranteed not to jam or malfunction. With that set up there's no need to carry more ammo or really a pressing need for a backup pistol. No huge need for a chest rig, sneaky bag, bandoleer etc etc. Inside the handle are all the tools need for any foreseeable repair/maintenance. With 90 rounds the gun is heavier than it otherwise would be but with no other gear to speak of I think it keep the weight down quite a bit. And then I'm totally free to carry a BOB on my back or whatever additional supplies I might need. Might not be the perfect set up (no plates) but its dang simple and I think it does the best with what I have to work with and covers my needs pretty well.

  13. 1st line is good to go. It fluctuates day to day but that is more about choice of gun/ holster/ etc than anything else.

    2nd line is 85%. It's good enough to go now but there are probably a few small things that are pulling double duty or aren't quite right. None of that would be mission stopping but it would be nice.

    3rd line is good. Stuff rotates by season/ enviornment but that is an endless cycle. Move from the desert to the swamp and gear needs change, etc. There are things in this setup I would like to upgrade, swapping my light shelter from a used wooby to a higher end $200 version of the same thing, etc.

    I think it is worth noting the difference between a setup not being finished and the endless trial and error of new products, replacing a $50 knife with a $200 knife after your birthday, etc.

  14. 1st Line - I have just got that set up, just a Blackhawk belt with a Condor pad with Molle system, with 3 AK Magazine holsters (1 empty) and 3 handgun magazine holsters, small first aid, flash light, knife and spot for the hand gun. It's as much weight as I want to carry and still stay mobile.

    2nd Line - Nothing yet, right now I'm focusing on mobility and using cover. Eventually I'd like to get a concealable vest that would go under a shirt, I figure if you have a big vest with plates in it folks will just aim at your head, I'd rather them not see my vest and then aim for my chest.

    3rd Line - I need to work on a bag with support gear. I'm slacking on this. I have a good bag, and started supplies but they are all over the place, in an emergency I'd be scrambling... something I need to work on.

    I just moved from an AR to AK, so I'm sucking on magazines right now, got to build the stock up. Only two 30 round magazines and two 75 round chinese style drums. I like the Chinese style to have the ability to not stress the spring until needed, I have both mine loaded and waiting to be wound. I want to get one more Bulgarian Circle 10 magazine for the holster and about 5 more for spares and cargo pockets.

  15. Rifle, mags, ammo, light, aimpoint, sling, cleaning kit, spare parts, TRAINING! All good.

    Pistol, mags, ammo, holsters, cleaning kit, training. Lacking spare parts, but it's a Glock...

    Chest rig with five (could be 10) mags, holster, IFAK, pistol mag, multi tool, extra batts.

    Camelback lumbar pack with water, power bars, batts.

    AR500 plates in low profile plate carrier (Blackhawk?)

    Gregory ruck, forget the name, but it's big enough for winter warfare. The chest rig is comfortable with the ruck but the camelback gets stowed.

    Rifle + Chest Rig w/ 5 mags 7.62 X 51 and Camelback : 27 lbs

    Plate Carrier: 12 lbs (never to be worn with ruck, I'm no longer Superman)

    Ruck: 40 lbs current, with sustainment for 3 days in cold wx; looking to get a new down sleeping bag to lighten the load.

    Always tweaking.

  16. Everyone here has made a lot of very good points and im glad to see there are many like minded Partiots out there.
    Just to give my two cents about gear. What I have learned through years of having gear (and the ability to do actual testing and evaluting on it) is that I NEVER have it packed the way I want it. It will NEVER be complete and will be ever changing.
    I cant count how many timesI have repacked my kitt and packed it back just to do it all over again. Almost everytime I head out for work I wear it, and everytime i get back i talk about the things i want to add, the things i want to take off, and the things I swear Ill never look at again because they gave me a blister, or failed or something.
    What I have learned is that there are a few CORE items that every kitt should include and EVERYONE who has them should master them.
    Im sure this will cause a large debate over the CORE items, so i will leave them out of this comment.
    I will end this by stating that I have several bags packed for several different missions, not all are high dollar or sophisticated.But they are somewhat mission specific. This way, I can grab my kitt which has my CORE items, and can then add to it with the additional gear.
    On a side note I also place several sets of this mission specific and spare CORE gear at caches around my house and at relatives houses, if im unable to get to mine.
    Hope this rant wasnt too much and may have helped those fellow few who have all of their gear dumped out right now trying to figure out what the best gear to pack.

  17. I have everything and have tested it with everything but the firearms. Firearms are a touchy subject in my state and even in the woods its hard to open carry. This I have huffed it with my pack, water, food, shelter, ammo, and back up rifle (folded Ruger 10-22). But as yet have not added an overt carry side arm or my AR and mags.

    1. I have also never walked more than 5miles with the pack, although I did the 5miles with added weight to simulate a rifle and ammo.

  18. I'm still working on it. I have some basic weapons support gear that will serve the purpose should the need arrive but it is far from being a streamlined and perfected kit. Per some of Max Velocity's advice, I would like to have a couple or three different rigs that vary from low to high profile that are redundant in basic gear (mags, ammo) but differ in the amount of extended support gear (food, water, bivy gear, etc.)