Gear for the prepared civilian
I am a civilian - a prepared civilian. I was never in the military, but I have spent thousands of dollars over the years on training with various instructors from many different fields of expertise. As I trained in both urban and rural tactics, I realized how big of a difference the proper gear can make. I also noticed a common theme in the gear I kept moving towards as my experience level increased and as I gained more knowledge and practice.
The first class I ever attended was a combination rifle and pistol course taught by a retired S.W.A.T. officer. During that class, I wore a Condor tactical vest with surplus magazine pouches attached to it. That's it. At the time I knew very little about gear and it "worked" adequately enough, but after that class I realized that the vest was not going to be the best option moving forward. I moved on from the vest to a full battle belt setup with much better quality mag pouches instead of the closed top, velcro flap surplus pouches I had before. The battle belt setup actually worked fairly well for the first few classes I took which were all rural small unit tactics classes without the involvement of vehicles. I mention the lack of vehicles because the first time I attempted to train in and out of vehicles wearing the battle belt setup I very quickly experienced the almost impossible challenge of sitting while wearing a fully kitted battle belt. The belt I had was an American Made, high quality belt. The problem was, it was WAY too thick. With no accessories installed at all the belt alone stuck out almost two inches on all sides. Adding mag pouches, medical kit, a knife and a handgun made the whole belt circumference feel like it doubled my waist size.
The next several classes I took I started wearing a chest rig instead. Chest rigs are great because they shift a lot of the weight and bulk to your core which helps with weight distribution and also gives you a narrower profile (and allows you to actually sit down if you so desire). The chest rigs I started wearing were closed top chest rigs with PALS webbing across the front and on the sides. Overall good rigs, but I still wasn't satisfied with how bulky they were.
I attended a class taught by John Mosby from Mountain Guerrilla on vehicle patrolling, which basically ended up being the turning point of our gear and business. We had been talking about gear, and John mentioned he really wanted a super minimalist chest rig designed to be easily concealed under a light jacket or even sweat shirt. At first this seemed a little odd to me, but we agreed to give it a shot and working together with him, came up with what we ended up calling the Underground Partisan Chest Rig. This chest rig was a huge success for a number of reasons. We decided to use 4" elastic for the magazine pouches, and came up with a unique design to allow quick access to the mags but with optimal retention. Elastic magazine pouches are great because they achieve excellent retention and are also incredibly low profile. The chest rig design is extremely light and easily stored in a backpack, glove box, etc. making it much easier to carry around and actually use on more of a day to day basis than the other chest rigs I had worked with. When worn, it is easily concealed with just a light jacket or even hoodie.
I began running the Underground Partisan Chest Rig exclusively, but also felt a longing to have some sort of battle belt in addition that could carry some auxiliary gear. I tried a few different battle belts from other companies, and just wasn't satisfied. Either the belts were too thick or they would shift too much around the waist when running. I began to hunt for a material that had excellent grip properties, but was also extremely rugged and would last a long time. One day, I found it! Thank you, Google. I stumbled upon a grip material (no, i'm not telling you what it is) that worked just perfect. We use this grip material on our War Belts and Enhanced War Belts, and the performance has just been phenomenal. Our belts are the thinnest battle belts we have seen on the market, and with the proprietary grip material are simply the most minimalist battle belt you can buy. Because the belts are so thin it brings all of the weight of your mags and accessories close and tight against your body, allowing you not only to comfortably sit down with no issues, but also run as fast as you need to with no shifting or flopping of your gear.
Have you picked up on the common theme I mentioned in the intro yet? Minimalist. I have really come to find that minimalist gear is almost always the best and most practical option for the prepared civilian. Gear that is lightweight, easily transported in tight spaces (backpacks, bins, etc.), and can survive most if not all day to day events and activities without being noticed. As prepared civilians, we need to be able carry our gear with us unnoticed when not in use. When in use, our gear needs to be able to function in the harshest of conditions and you must have full mobility. A tactical vest is very difficult, maybe even impossible to conceal and practically still use. A thick, bulky battle belt won't work if you still plan on driving in a vehicle and using your gear at the same time. But when you look at what we offer with our minimalist, purposeful designs, I think you will find the perfect combination of minimalist but sufficient gear solutions to be your best companions as a prepared civilian.
-Andy Huffman, Owner of Gadsden Dynamics