Getting yer RACK On!

LBE-gear.jpg

I have a love-hate relationship with my web-gear.

Back in the day (the late 80s for me) the only thing available was the LBE (Y-harness) and pistol belt. While the LBE itself wasnt good for much, it did help take the weight of the loaded pistol belt off your hips, and my pistol belt was loaded. I carried 5 three-mag pouches, 2 canteens, and a butt pack (in addition to the regulation bent neck flashlight, compass, NOD bag and first aid pouch.) In the pack went an MRE, socks, NBF powder and small toilet kit, alcohol pens and tape for maps and such, and trioxane tabs for cooking water.

For years this arrangement worked because all of the dismounted stuff I did was truly dismounted. We might get delivered somewhere in a deuce and a half or hummer, but we didnt patrol in one; all that we did on the ground.

Then came modern times, where everything you do is mounted, even getting to the point that you cant go 50 feet without having to get back into the truck. That, coupled with the fact that uniformity was now our primary focus (meaning you had to have your kit on when ever you got more than 5 feet from your vehicle) meant that a change in how I carried my equipment was in order. As much as I liked the canteens (with their attendant cooking stand and cup) and the butt pack, they both had to go.

There was simply no way I could ride in a Humvee wearing my LBE with those canteens sticking out of my back like 2 cancerous tumors, and going through the chore of donning, removing, and stowing the LBE every time I got in and out of the vehicle was not only a waste of time and a big pain in the ass, but it was tactically unsound; you ought to dismount the vehicle in a fighting condition.

So I started looking for an LBE replacement. The one I settled on was the RACK (Ranger Assault Carrying Kit.) Developed by Specialty Defense, Im told that it was developed specifically to meet the Rangers requirements for assault oriented gear. The RACK, in effect, is a MOLLE apron. All it is is a wrap around vest with MOLLE loops on it for you to attach bags and pouches too.

What you attach, where you attach, and how much you attach is completely up to you. In addition, everything on the RACK is in your front plane, meaning you can see it and get to it without having to grope behind you, and with nothing behind you, you can wear it while in a vehicle without any discomfort or loss of mobility.

As great as I think the RACK is, it isnt without limitations. While the RACK is easy to wear in a vehicle because theres nothing behind you, that does limit the amount of stuff you can carry. I could carry more with my old LBE-pistol belt rig than I can with the RACK, but I couldnt carry it all the time, so the trade off is now, if I go on walkabout, I need a bail-out bag as well (Camelbak in my case) to carry a few additional essentials.

The RACK, by todays standards, is also relatively old technology there are systems out there that are much more advanced than my lash up, made of more exotic materials and what not, but mines bought and paid for, and Im disinclined to spend modern money to upgrade something that currently still meets my mission requirements.

-- Eric Daniel

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