My short range gear is my favorite. I use it during VBSS and short-medium range ops. Why is it my favorite? It’s light and fast! I’m going to skip on the Comms/batteries and all that and just move straight into what gear I run starting from the ground up. Under Armour is my choice of boot. I can’t tell you why but they are the most comfortable out there for me. Not necessarily the most durable by any means but they are light, fast and also what I run in when I workout. I wear the Under Armor Valsetz in Coyote brown sprayed with a high dose of Atsko Silicone water guard. I spray almost all of my small boat ops gear with Atsko. You will never find a waterproof system to spray on (or at least I have not) but Atsko does a damn good job in my opinion. A pair of Valsetz Not be suitable for a full deployment, But they last a decent amount of time depending on how much you wear them. Personally, I would bring 2 pairs on a deployment – one for training and one for operations.
Depending on a low-vis or high-vis situation dictates what I wear. If it’s low vis then I’m usually wearing a pair of Walmart wrangler’s (The best $15 you’ll ever spend) and a T-shirt. High vis I’m usually wearing London Bridge Trading without thinking twice. London Bridge Trading has recently come up into my life as my go-to for pants and they make some of the best combat shirts out there. I have a few pairs of the Multicam combat pants and a few of the Multicam combat shirts they sell. If we are running maritime operations I tend to stick to the Frog Combat shirt because it is NWU type III. Back to London Bridge; Light, durable and comfortable. The pants have a reinforced seat and reinforced knees with the option to throw in knee pads. I’m not a big fan of elbow pads so for me I’m not looking for a combat shirt with elbow pads (I would recommend getting a size up on the combat shirt though) I wear a medium but buy or get issued larges. The only downside to the London Bridge pants is that usually, the Velcro on the pockets tends to come off. I personally reinforced the Velcro with a new stick and have had no problems. Underneath my uniform, I usually will wear an Under Armor base layer and if it’s cold I will throw a Drifire long sleeve over that. I also was issued Dri Fire short sleeve t-shirts so every now and again I will wear one of those if it is hot. They are Flame Resistant and they keep ya cool and dry on hot days and nice and warm on cold days. Now getting down to the gear – hydration is key in all environments. I have a 2-liter and a 3-liter Camelback bladder I’ll use depending on the op. I attach them to my plate carrier via a Fox Hydration pack in coyote brown that hooks up by the ever so beautiful Molle system. Once again, Molle if you’re out there, I still owe you that date.
The plate carrier I run is the Voodoo Tactical 20-0096 Light Weight Plate Carrier. If you want to know more about it, you can read my review here. As far as my plate carrier set up goes I’ll run you from left to right starting on the back. I run coms on my left side up through my shoulder strap. Next to that is my Fox Tactical 3L bladder carrier. I have my second personal Tourniquet on my back right on or next to my Fox Tactical Bladder carrier. I carry it on my back because it’s easy to access for my teammate to grab if I’m hit. On my right side, I carry a drop pouch. Depending on the op I may ditch it and throw an extra flashbang in replacement of it. Next, to my dump pouch, I have my primary tourniquet. Easily reachable to apply self-aid. I carry a Gerber next to that. Easily the handiest thing on my plate carrier. Up front, I carry 3 M4 mags in a Voodoo tactical retention 3 mag pouch. I like to stay flat, open and free on the front.
Depending on the op I may or may not throw my double mag pouch on there but for basic maritime or fast attack ops, I will run a 3 mag pouch. Behind my mag pouch, I carry a Sandel Med Pen. They are better than a sharpie and they definitely don’t smear or run off of skin or paper. I carry 2-3 chem lights or IR lights and a set of trauma shears. I wear an IR American flag patch and a 9 line card in a single pistol mag pouch above my mag pouch. On my left side, I have a flashbang pouch and a weapons retention system. I used to stay away from plastic weapons retention systems because I have had them break but lately I’ve been utilizing one. If I’m not using the plastic weapons retention system I will use one I made from 550 and an old carabiner. I stole the idea from Jason Phalin’s video on the Tactical Rifleman. I do like using the 550/carabiner idea because it does save a lot of space where I can throw an extra flashbang or grenade in place of the plastic weapons retention system. I currently am in between a drop leg holster and a holster that connects to my battle belt.
I run my battle belt for most of my land ops and every now and again for small boat or maritime operations. I carry my pistol mags on the left side of my battle belt. I shoot my sidearms right handed and my rifles left handed. I run my IFAK in the middle of my battle belt. I won’t go into details because everyone is different with their IFAK and it’s all personal preference. The last thing I have on my battle belt is 2 extra mags which put me at 6 total. I tend to stay around 6-8 mags. If I need extra mags, I’ll carry a small backpack with extra mags in it or I will wear a double mag pouch on the front of my plate carrier. I always stick 2 cans of wintergreen Copenhagen where my side plates go just in case I’m out longer than expected and I usually stick a few kind bars of cliff bars in my hydration bladder carrier. Better to be safe than sorry. Lastly, my helmet. I have a standard issue maritime helmet that I take on all my ops. I run NVG mount on it as well as a MANTA Strobe. Manta Strobes are great because of the sleek design. It won’t get snagged on anything and it’s quick and easy to use. I mount it on the back over to the right a bit.
Remember, the most important thing about short to medium range loadouts is that they are made for a short to medium range. Stay light. Stay fast. Stay aggressive.
Author – AJ P. Is a former US Navy Sailor who made the transition to private military contracting. He currently is working as a DoD contractor on the east coast. In his free time he enjoys training, shooting and hunting.