We all hear about how the services want to lighten the load on their troops -- particularly with the mountainous fight they're in trudging the Afghan hills.
Well Blue Force Gear has developed a formula to shed as much as 50 percent of the weight off of magazine pouches and other MOLLE accessories using a new blend of materials.
Called the Helium Whisper, Blue Force Gear has essentially taken its Ten-Speed line and hybridized the construction to eliminate the webbing MOLLE attachments and replace them with a one-piece High Abrasion Resistant Neoprene.
The new technology fuzes the printed elastic material on the front of a Ten-Speed M4 mag pouch, for example, with the HAN backing. Officials from Blue Force Gear who briefed us on this say the neoprene material (which is the same type of tough fabric used in Blue Force Gear's pack bottoms as well as the material that makes up Zodiac boats) has several manufacturing advantages -- which cuts down in cost and sewing errors -- but it also makes it easier for troops to attach the packs to gear that has mis-aligned MOLLE rows.
Blue Force Gear raised a couple good points about the advantages of their new pouches, including how the overall weight savings could mean more troops on an assault helo and less trips to the FOB for fuel. But one of the most compelling factors to the Ten-Speed design overall is that when the pouches are empty, the elastic material forces them to lay flat, keeping a low profile and guarding against snags.
One of the things that concerned us when we handled the new pouches was the durability -- they seem a bit too flimsy to hold up to the rigors of operations in the combat zone. But Blue Force Gear assured us that the Ten-Speed line is battle proven and that the new HAN backing is stronger than 1,000 Cordura.
This product is so new that Blue Force Gear only has hand-made prototypes to show off right now and it's unclear yet how much they'll cost. We'll be anxious to hear how these things perform in the field once they're pushed to units for T&E.