Submitted by Eric Daniel
I have a love-hate relationship with my web-gear. Back in the day (the late 80's for me) the only thing available was the LBE (Y-harness) and pistol belt. While the LBE itself wasn't 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 didn't 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 can't 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, I'm told that it was developed specifically to meet the Ranger's 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 isn't without limitations. While the RACK is easy to wear in a vehicle because there's 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 couldn't 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 today's 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 mine's bought and paid for, and I'm disinclined to spend modern money to upgrade something that currently still meets my mission requirements.