On June 6, 1944, a young man from the heart of the Appalachian Mountains rushed onto the beaches of Normandy to fight the greatest threat to freedom the world had ever seen. On him, he carried the basics of battle: a weapon, blade, 2 grenades, 120 feet of rope, bible, map, compass, small first aid kit, and 10 En-Bloc clips for his M1 rifle.
I do not wish to tarry on what he carried, but how he carried it. In this world of High-Speed Lo-Drag ballistic nylon and elastic, we easily forget the one thing those before us carried. The first line, other times called a sub-load, sits below your carrier if you have one, or would just be whatever you have on your belt. For weekend games, it could be considered a full load out, and for long Mil-Sim games, it is an outright necessity.
These belt-like systems should contain little more than what you need to do battle. If you do not need it to Shoot, Move, or Communicate, ditch it. For Mil-Sim or anytime if you are trained, put your First-aid kit on your second line, so if there is a real-life medical emergency, you can ditch the carrier and move faster. By keeping it light, it will pay huge dividends by spreading out the weight throughout the day.
A high-end custom kydex battle belt. At the cutting edge of tactical technology, this would not come cheap.
It stands for All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment, but not much about these rigs is light. They were usually well constructed, and have been in use with the U.S. Army since before Vietnam until today. They can be had for cheap, as in their 40+ years of use, almost millions have been made. They served as the main storage for magazine and survival gear from Vietnam to desert storm. Not much else could be said for these trusty workhorses, as they are simple, rugged, and familiar pieces of gear, worthy of a spot in any player's kit bag.
An ALICE kit similar to the authors, but this has been set up as a chest rig, showing the utility of this piece of gear.
What is now the standard in the American warfighters kit is the new reincarnation of ALICE. However, this MOLLE covered wonder has multiple ways to be worn, and is available in different colors. They vary in price greatly, from the condor battle belt at $22, going to the Crye Precision Blast Belt at $184. The best (or worst) part of the battle belt is that they come without any pouches, so you can customize it to be a mission-specific as you want, without having to buy a new plate carrier. These should be kept light, containing only a pistol and magazines for both your primary and secondary weapons. The HSGI Taco pouches seem to work well for this application because they can hold practically anything, but feel free to play around with specific pouches to fit your needs.
A Real-Steel kit using both a chest rig and battle belt.
In conclusion, you are somewhat limited in what you can do with your Sub-Load, as most follow either the ALICE or MOLLE setup. Remember, a Sub-Load does NOT have room for Hydro unless it is in bottles, so take that into account before buying. If you have questions about this, go check out the gear section of the forum, they can answer probably any question you have.
Next week on "A Chip off the Block," we cover the second line, or plate carriers, vests, and chest rigs. Until then, wear eye-pro, and keep your guns stowed away from public view. Don't be the idiot that gets it banned for all of us.
Author Steven 'Chip' Statzer's "A Chip off the Block" is a weekly column dedicated to helping beginner airsoft players become better, and giving veteran players a place to go to brush up on their skills.