SOME LESSONS LEARNED ABOUT BELTS
First off while the term “War Belt” is accurate enough for what a Prepper might want to use it for, the kind of battle one would associate with organized military unit is not the same as a Prepper will face in a post event environment. One is offensive by nature, the other defensive.
The purpose of a War Belt in post SHTF for me is to always have a standard of minimal gear on me at all times. Be it while doing all the manual labor that a grid-down situation will require, or just living inside the house in the new normal, this is gear designed to shoot, move, and communicate at a moments notice in a reactive situation.
WORK AND WAR BELTS
What I’ve discovered in the past year using a belt around the homestead and patrolling the woods behind it, is that a traditional big padded MOLLE belt with inner webbing belt does not work for me.
Finding that balance of packing “essential gear” while keeping everything low-profile is a fine line, but leaning toward “light” and “minimal” is the best policy for me at least.
My previous 1st line belt in “stripped down” configuration with only the “essentials” did not work out as planned while doing choirs on the homestead.
It was light and comfortable but because of the slop between the huge pad and belt, movement on the hips during normal work (shoveling, packing wood, etc.) was too much for my taste. That particular setup also taught me that a dump pouch is a tactical name for trash can, needless to say I don’t use one anymore.
To make the belt more comfortable I added suspenders and left the belt loose, which worked well for doing chores as it returned to it’s normal position on the hips easily, but it needed enough weight equally distributed on the belt for it to work, thus the extra AR mag and BOK seen below.
My favorite thing about the harness addition and loose belt setup was that it could be donned over cold weather gear without adjustment, which was nice. Again though, I was back to the “kitchen sink” on your first line mentality and it offered zero concealment due to bulk.
SO WHAT’S THE MISSION OF THE BELT?
If the “mission” drives the gear, we should define that mission before selecting gear. For me it’s always been:
- To allow for quick access to a handgun with several reloads for it.
- Quick Access to an emergency reload for my carbine.
- A way to carry a light not attached to a weapon.
- A way to carry an HT Radio for comms with others.
- A way to carry a mini survival kit.
- A way to carry a fixed blade
- Traditionally I carried a CAT-T also on this gear, but have moved it to a cargo pocket along with a basic trauma kit, as that is where I EDC one already and prefer to keep it’s position the same.
The hardest part of selecting a new belt system for me was finding a setup that provided the above criteria and yet remained low profile and comfortable. The belt is the “1st line” gear that I want with me at all times, it has to work in all spaces and be quick to don at zero dark thirty.
THE GUNNER’S BELT
For such a setup I considered switching over from a traditional War Belt setup to an inner/outer shooter’s belt setup like the excellent G-Code Contractor’s Belt shown here.
The only drawback I saw with this setup is that in cold weather it would be under your heavy garments and hard to work from which is not good when speed of reloading and transitioning to a secondary is suppose to be it’s main purpose in life.
A NEW BREED OF BELT
I finally decided on the Gadsden Dynamics Enhanced War Belt instead of a traditional setup or gunner’s belt for the following reasons.
- One it has light low-profile mag pouches sewn in, (2) Glock Mags and (1) AR Mag, which is the exact setup I run anyways so it’s a good fit for me.
- After getting their chest harness, I knew the quality would be there.
- The double row of MOLLE is a better approach than the single rows you get on a “shooter’s” belt setup like the G-Code Contractor’s Belt. Items don’t tend to lean out or flop around.
- Comfort. I had read that the soft belt verses the traditional 2″ webbing belt made for a much more comfortable setup.
Now that I’ve had the belt and used it for a while, I can attest to it’s comfort and excellent support of gear on it. The thinner belt and non-slip material on back are both winners.
The TT harness does not carry the load like I had previously set it up to do, but serves only to stop the belt from slipping down under working conditions. The tacky grip panel on the back of the belt works amazingly well and is a close second to a Velcro double belt setup.
I would have preferred a non-padded harness setup like Gadsden’s chest harness straps, but they have not come out with anything yet. The TT harness was the lowest profile setup I could find when I setup my original HSGI belt and it is a keeper, but I will be curious to see what innovative thinking Andy (Gadsden Dynamics Owner) puts into his design when the time comes.
MOLLE HOLSTER ATTACHMENT
The one hesitation I had about the belt was it’s lack of a “liner belt” from which traditional holster setups are hung. I initially used a drop down holster off my EDC belt and just laid the Gadsden belt over it. This worked fine, but wanting the ability to “grab and go” the whole setup mandated anchoring the holster to the belt, which I did with a G-Code Battle Belt Adapter.
If you do not already have the G-Code setup (I did) it will cost you another $50 dollars or so and it is limited in holsters that will work with it. All Safariland holster will and the ALS holster is the best retention/speed setup available for a super low cost so it was a “no brainer” in my case.
Perhaps a better option than the G-Code setup though would be to sew in a small section of 1.75″ webbing in the three-o’clock position of the belt that would allow use of normal belt holsters. Something as simple as two overlapping Velcro’d pieces of webbing might work or the use of a G-hook sewn into the end of the webbing that hooks into a loop on another piece of webbing to allow threading on a holster designed for a belt?
My only advise when ordering is that you pay attention to sizing. I read a review at spotterup.com that the reviewer stated: “The Enhanced War Belt fits well. The fit chart on the Gadsden Dynamics website is accurate. My belt is a medium which according to the website fits 36”-40” waists. I typically wear a 36 in all of my pants and the belt fits me well with a little adjustment.” He later stated that he wished he had ordered the next size up because of the “dead space” this sizing left in the front of the belt.
Unlike their chest harness page, there are no instructions on how to to actually measure your waist, so I assumed that meant on top of your EDC belt and pants as that’s were the belt will ride. Doing so gave me a 42″ measurement even though my pants are 38″ sized.
I opted for the “Large” (40″ to 44″) belt size and it seems your best bet is to select a belt range that your actual measurement comes to if you want maximum MOLLE coverage.
FITTING IN WITH OTHER GEAR
This is my SHTF EDC setup which will likely be the last version as I can’t think of any improvements to be made. The suspenders in this case do not carry the load completely but share it with the belt’s tacky backing which is better than the HGSI stuff.
The belt’s low profile and light weight is where it really shines though. It is amazing how light the whole setup is with the elastic sewn in pouches and “missing” heavy webbing traditionally found on war belts.
I could not be happier with the setup and highly recommend it.
No matter what setup you go with be sure to get out there and use it for several days / weeks to make sure it works for you while you have time to find what does.
Please post any questions or opinions in the comment section.