An aspect of my gear geekery that I try and keep in-check is my military kit habit…
I’ve been an army reservist since 2007 and have played airsoft since around the same time, so I’ve had and continue to have plenty of time to use and abuse kit. Unsurprisingly, this sort of activity is harder on kit than general mountain adventures tend to be.
An instagram pic I posted this week proved relatively popular (for me) and gave me an excuse to finally write something on weekend milsim event kit. You’ll note that I didn’t write ‘operation’ or ‘mission’ or that sort of bollocks there – it’s a weekend running around with toy guns and having fun where the car is 15-30mins walk away. It’s not a military operation, there’s very little objective commitment and if it all goes wrong, you wander back to your car and drive home. Nevertheless, it’s testing on your kit (and on you) and it’s all good fun; so in that spirit:
The event in question was another fantastic weekend from Legion Airsoft and ran from Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon. There were no breaks, no safe areas and everything you needed had to be carried in, including water. I took in 9.5L of water and drank all of it except for a solitary liter – it was wonderful weather, 30 degrees and sunny so actually bloody warm work, and my kit reflected this.
Another key factor was that I was playing enemy forces – imitating a Russian SF element – who were mostly about recce’ing rather than assaulting, so helmet and plate carrier were out and boonie and chest rig were in. In the heat, the blufor team members who had gone all SAS assault in plate carriers and ops core lids looked miserable – it must have been super hot. All of the heat casualties I saw were guys in plate carriers: remember function and safety > looking cool. And you look like a dick when you’ve gone down with dehydration and heat stroke because you wore a plate carrier.
Anyway – this was the rough final product – photo courtesy of Alpha Group with whom I had the very great pleasure to play:
Main bits of kit:
ArcTeryx WX Base T – merino loveliness. Wicking, cool and doesn’t stink after being soaked with sweat for a day and a half. Lovely mental image, I know, but a good base layer is well worth the investment.
Original Russian Ratnik 6sh112 recce suit – light, great camo and looks the part. Not sure I’d choose it for anything other than playing red forces but interesting to use a completely different style of combat uniform. Very baggy but handy hood with built in face net for CTR sneakiness.
Crye G3 combat trousers with AirFlex knee pads – super comfy, bomb and nettle proof trousers. Compass, pens, immediate first aid kit and team (game) medic supplies. TQs and dressings in every pocket.
On my head was a ReFactor Blasting Cap with a 3M Peltor Comtac headset. My hearing is important to me and with lots of pyrotechnics being thrown about, I don’t fancy tinnitus or other hearing damage. I did switch to a small covert ear piece for our green-side recce’ing because I was sweating like a good ‘un in the Peltors.
Boots were Meindl Respond Mids – light but good support. The Goretex lining was a bit warm in these temperatures but I don’t have any desert boots an to be honest they were fine. My fall-back would have been MOD Altberg Defenders but the Meindls are lighter and more comfy, although less supportive and with the Goretex lining.
And, the key airsoft kit: rig, pack and weapon system:
Weapon system is an E&L AK with a cheep rail for a Surefire Scout light. I don’t have any night vision/observation devices and so a ruddy bright torch is the best bet. And it provides a bit of a disincentive for people to keep their NODs on when someone has a lighthouse beam strobing around. The E&L was fab although two CYMA magazines broke on me which I wasn’t impressed with.
The sling is a Ferro Concepts Slingster. I’ve been running it for around 6 months now and I still can’t make up my mind on it…all slings are a faff, I think that this is less faff than most but I’m not totally convinced yet
Chest rig is a Haley Strategic D3CRX, bought for a bargain price second hand so my first event with it. It took the AK mags fine but the GP pouches are tiny and while this is good in as much as it forces you to carry as little as possible, I prefer the Velocity Systems Mayflower rig which I can get a 500ml water bottle into. As it was, water went onto my belt… Anyway, the rig was fine, just not ideal for me. As for the H VS X straps discussion – I didn’t even notice to be honest.
Bergan was an Arc’Teryx LEAF Khyber 80 with a Mystery Ranch ASAP daysack under the lid. I carried the day sack (ammo, pyro, food and water) for around an hour and then just worked off my belt kit and chest rig – just didn’t need it.
Details of my rig and other second line kit, all orientated around ammo, pyro, water and food.
- 4x AK midcaps from CYMA. Not recommended, half of them broke on me.
- Two smokes and a couple of bangs
- Baofeng and either PTT to Peltors or covert ear piece for recce-ing and when it got too hot.
- Electrical tape on a grimlok. Dead handy.
- A few cylumes and that was it.
- Base belt: Crye MRB
- Blueforce gear pistol mag pouch
- British Tactical double magazine pouch which fits a 500ml Nalgene in perfectly
- Warrior utility pouch with first aid kit and a load of food in it, plus my Black Diamond Storm head torch.
- Knock-off mid-rise UBL and SERPA-style holster for my WE P228 with a bodged leg strap.
Within the bergan:
- My trusty Jetboil and small gas canister
- A better parts of an MOD 24 ration pack…
- A Hydropak Expedition 8L water bladder: a relatively new purchase but bloody awesome when you need to carry LOTS of water.
- Thermarest NeoAir sleeping mat.
- Enlightened Equipment Revelation.Have a look at my recent article on my backpacking kit for more info on the quilt: I’ll do a full review at some point because quilts are still considered so novel in the U.K.
- MOD bivi bag. Quilt in bivi bag works ok, it’s not ideal. But, it was a warm night and I didn’t have much chance to kip (and I didn’t need the bivi in the end, we were indoors).
- MOD basha (tarp), with bungees aready attacked as always.
- Arc’teryx Atom Light jacket in case it cooled down, plus spare boxers, clean socks and foot powder; basic personal admin needs.
- Wet wipes and the rest of my wash kit
- A bigger first aid kit – orientated around cuts, sprains, burns and bites. A quick diversion on first aid kits: There was a relatively serious cut at the event and my FAK on my belt was the only one immediately near the casualty with gloves. Lots of people with sexy looking taniquets and chest seals but gloves are just basic…no excuses. Get your FAK right for the event and get training on how to use it. Most of the time for my every day wanderings, gloves are the only think I’ll carry because almost everything else can be provised and you’re more likely to deal with cyclist knocked off their bike than a marauding terrorist firearms incident anyway.
- Loose ammo and a speed loader (and a spare) – I was carrying around 580 bbs on me (1 mag in the weapon, 4 on my rig) and had another 2 or 3 thousand for reloads. I don’t get excited about 0.2g bbs (although I do often go for heavier stuff when it gets windy).
- A fully charged G&G tracer unit. This goes on as an ugly looking suppressor and gives the fantastic star-wars look to fights at night. Love it. But tracers work both ways and it does mean that your position is totally compromised!
And that’s about it. There was also things like spare batteries and stuff I won’t list out but hopefully that gives you an impressing of my thought process and some of the specific kit I carried.