View Full Version : Best LBE fur under $100?

Steve Smith
February 3, 2001, 02:44 PM
The guys at FN-FAL forums are talking about their South African systems... Is the ALICE system a better system than most other country's systems? What should one pay for your recommended LBE? Thanks!

February 3, 2001, 06:24 PM
Quality costs! It all depends on what you are looking for. I would suggest Blackhawk Gear. First and top notch quality. Also LIFETIME GUARANTEE! Made by former special ops for special ops. The owner is Mike Noell former navy SEAL who had his ALICE pack come apart in an minefield duruing Desert Storm. Depending on what you want/need prices run $25-100's. Just remember an old military law: Your equipment was made by the lowest bidder!! (also goes for the weapons too!). Buy quality once or keep buying the same item over and over again. Hope that this helps---DAROGUE1

February 3, 2001, 06:57 PM
There are actually a few good manufacturers of gear, some make vests for under a hundred bucks, and some have systems that cost much more.

The question you should be answering are how will it be used, what weapon systems, how long does it need to last, and what do you plan to keep in it (is this just going to hold your bullets are do you plan to survive with just your vest)?

ALICE gear is fine and it is cheap; The South African Vests are a great value because of their price, but neither is the best. The ALICE is more configurable but the Vests are more comfortable and can carry more weight realistically. Again, decide what you need the gear for and then find what works best to fit your need.

All the World's Finest!


Scott Evans
February 5, 2001, 05:12 PM
The Marine Corps recently adopted the “MOLLE “( MOdular Lightweight Load carrying Equipment) system. I have heard good things about this system (such as "best yet")and will have a complete set in the shop in a few days. Word is that the entire setup is near $1000.00 but I have yet to confirm this. I’ll give a better report on this in a few days.

Jeff White
February 5, 2001, 06:41 PM
Go to http://www.specialtydefense.com they make the MOLLE gear. You can buy direct from them at a much cheaper price then US Cavalry (the only people retailing it that I know of).

MOLLE uses a lacing system with stiff webbing and pull the dot snaps to attach the pouches to the equipment. My only complaints are that pouches to carry items like compasses and strobe lights don't yet exist (they do have ALICE clip adapters so you can use the old pouches) and there are no "D" rings anywhere to tie lanyards to. The rucksack is modular and attaches to the padded belt of the equipment vest. No more wearing your pistolbelt below your hips so your rucksack frame doesn't push down on your buttpack.

I've been through the Vietnam vintage M1956 cotton web gear, LC-1 and LC-2 ALICE gear, and the Enhanced Tactical Load Bearing Vest and the Lowe Alpine Rucksack that the Army adopted and I think MOLLE is the only gear that was REALLY designed to work together as a system. You can purchase just the components you need. It's higher then $100.00 but you can get what you actually use and add to it as your budget permits.

While you're at their website, look at the RACK or Ranger Assault Carry Kit. It is a chest pouch that will allow you to carry 8 M16/AR15 type magazines a canteen, a two way radio (comes with pouches for two different models) and a large utility pouch that you can attach to either thigh. It goes for $185 and is in production again. It is used by all three Ranger Battalions and so far is only in production when the military places an order.

I had the first order from Defense Specialty Incorporated within a week (their plant is in Eastern Kentucky and I live in Southern Illinois) but my next order has taken three weeks so far.


February 5, 2001, 09:46 PM
But I don't like most vest type systems for extended operations, ie if you're in the field for over a week at the time. In addition I find that most vest contain my body heat too much for me to be comfortable wearing them in the summer time. Not only that, but for me at least they're a pain in the a$$ to wear under a chute harness, keep in mind I'm talking static line, not HALO or HAHO.

My personal LCE is set up the following way, 2xM16 ammo pouches, 2xSAW pouches, 2x1qt canteens, 1 knife, 2xcompass pouches and 2xcompass pouches with first aid packets in them. Strobe light pouch sown on my canteen cover. The pads on the Y-harness are cut off for further ease of carrying under ruck straps.

I think that the vests are great for specialized work, but for my purposes they don't work.

Besides, I really don't like the price tags on the ones that I've seen. I may be jsut a cheapie, but you can put together what I did for about $50.00 in any good Army-Navy store.

Just my $0.02. :)

BTW the RAck is well liked by some of my buds in the Ranger Battalions, but then again they're not doing sustainment ops for long periods of time in the woods.

All that said, mission specific equipment is the best way to go if you have the money and time to set it up that way. What I described is my personal compromise since I've been in a couple of units that allowed you to individualize your personal Load Carrying Equipment.

Good luck

Mike Kilo Niner
February 5, 2001, 10:07 PM
The South African rig is way slick -- I'd get one except for the fact that I have all this old ALICE gear laying around. So here's how I made myself a little "3-Day-Lite" pack:

Components Required-

1 GI Pistol Belt
1 GI Pistol Belt Pad
1 Camelbak/Hydrastorm/Whatever works for you mini pack -- I
use the Hydrastorm Cyclone because I got it cheap from a
friend. CamelBak HAWG or MULE or something similar would
do the trick.
Assorted pouches that attach with ALICE clips -- pick whatever works for you.

(1) Thread the (unpadded) pack waist belt through the attachment loops that hold the belt pad to the pistol belt. (2) Attach ALICE gear to the belt.

Voila! Instant light pack with ALICE attachment points. Easily adaptable for a hunting daypack or whatever you need a light pack and ammo pouches for. :P

The advantage to the Hydrastorm Cyclone is that it has Blackhawk attachment webbing for two butt packs (on the back) and a couple of miscellaneous pouches (on the sides). Going camping: clip on the buttpacks for more storage and cinch your bedroll to the buttpack's bottom. Just out for a stroll? Shed the extra gear and you've got a light bag with water and a MUCH more comfortable waist belt. Hiking in bear country? Clip a holster to the belt and pack that big old revolver.

It'd be nice if some company made something like this "out of the box," but with surplus web gear so cheap it's easy to rig your own -- just the way you like it.

Admittedly, this is slightly OT, since the Hydrastorm will set you back more than $100 (most likely). But I just thought I'd share. I'll borrow a digital camera and post some pics if anyone cares to see them.


February 9, 2001, 10:23 PM
My wife's site carries Blackhawk gear, 20% off for military (active and prior), police, EMS and S&R. It is however, open to everyone.

As for me, vests are pretty popular on my team. I prefer a vest over other setups. I use a Blackhawk EOD vest (http://albums.photopoint.com/j/ViewPhoto?u=1092947&a=9512486&p=35555403) so I can carry both medical supplies and plenty of ammo. It adjusts to fit just me, or go over my body armor. The panels are mesh and it has a pouch in the back for my Hydration bladder.

Hope this helps.


FYI -- hydrastorms run from about $55 on up, just a bladder will be a bit more than $20.

February 11, 2001, 07:53 AM
but it's kinda expensive. Although, I like the system.

I'll shoot photos of my Swiss Army gear when I go down into the cellar
again, but this equipment is kinda expensive, and available in olive
only, which is less than ideal if you're pulling an alpine ops.

I'll have to get a white camo drab for me.

February 13, 2001, 03:16 PM
Hey gents,
As you know, most special operators spend alot of their own money on tactical equipment. This is because the gear that they are issued falls apart. There are many gear manufacturers and some are better than others. The bottom line is, you get what you pay for.

For those of you that have not used vests for a long op. The design is a very important factor. A good vest will evenly displace the weight of your gear and allow the use of a backpack. Vests with a mesh body and a zippered closure do not provide the weight distribution that most operators would like. A zippered closure is also not as durable as fastex, nor can it be repaired in the field.

As far as H-Harnesses. We, along with other companies, build an H-Harness system. Most operators prefer this for belt fed weapons. SOE's has high density foam in the panels to provide flotation and help with weight distribution. All of our gear can be augmented with Camelbacks, Buttpacks or any item that uses ALICE clips or zip ties.

If you have the actual need for tactical equipment and your command authorizes use of outside sources, you should do your best to save and save, so you can buy one good system that will last you forever. Before you purchase, do your research. Make sure its triple stitched and has at least two layers of cordura on all the mag pouches and panels. Pull on the seems and try to rip them, if they do, don't buy it. The SEALS and FORCE bubbas don't use SOE and EAGLE because they are forced to. They spend their own money to make sure that they have the best gear they can get.

Study up, don't make an impulse buy because of a neat picture in a catalog. There is a reason something is under a hundred bucks.

Let us know if you have any questions.

Semper Fidelis



February 13, 2001, 09:51 PM
QUOTE: For those of you that have not used vests for a long op. The design is a very important factor. A good vest will evenly displace the weight of your gear and allow the use of a backpack. Vests with a mesh body and a zippered closure do not provide the weight distribution that most operators would like. A zippered closure is also not as durable as fastex, nor can it be repaired in the field.

I have to disagree. I've gone on some very long ops over in the woods/jungle and mountains in Thailand, all over the S.E. and Pacific N.W. in the US. I've used a mesh bodied vest on all these ops. With ammo, water, medical gear and equipment the weight of my vest has reached upwards of 65 pounds. I've worn it on DA missions over full body armor also. It is always very comfortable to wear (with or without a ruck) and does not restrict my movement in the least. As far as the zipper goes, it has never given me problems, it's built like a tank. I have had fastex break before, usually from me stepping on 'em.

QUOTE: If you have the actual need for tactical equipment and your command authorizes use of outside sources, you should do your best to save and save, so you can buy one good system that will last you forever. Before you purchase, do your research. Make sure its triple stitched and has at least two layers of cordura on all the mag pouches and panels. Pull on the seems and try to rip them, if they do, don't buy it............
Study up, don't make an impulse buy because of a neat picture in a catalog. There is a reason something is under a hundred bucks.

I totally agree with those statements. Buy the best you can afford so you only have to buy it once. You'll never regret buying quality.

Just an "operator's" opinion :D


February 14, 2001, 04:45 PM

That is great that you have had succes with such a vest, however I am sitting with some recon marines that just returned from the MEU, they seem to disagree with the effectiveness with such a vest. You see they have used a vest like the one pictured on real world missions and know first hand that they do not carry the amount of gear they need. Also, mesh has no distributive ability only hanging support. Also if you have ever worked in sand and water, you would know the inherent troubles zippers have. They also have had gear from that manufacturer fall apart on missions, causing their platoon to trash it all. In fact VSW just ordered a bunch our vests because their recently purchased chest rigs(built by the same manufacturer), fell apart. Rep your gear for what it is, don't mislead people.

There are guys all over the world using our gear, and we have never had one complaint. The arguments you have posed are not the general consensus for NSW, SF, TF-160, FORCE, Bn Recon, SOTG, VSW, BORTAC, REACT etc.

If mesh and zippers worked, we would use them. They are cheaper and easier to build than our vest design. However, we are concerned with the operator and his safety.

Just the opinion of a whole lot of Operators.




Jeff White
February 14, 2001, 07:24 PM

The new MOLLE gear uses a lot of mesh. The entire vest isn't mesh, but the front and side panels are. I haven't really used it much yet but it is much more comfortable then either of the earlier issue LBVs. I find it does distribute the weight well but it doesn't have the carry capacity of some other designs I've seen.


February 14, 2001, 08:19 PM
OK, I can see this has the potential to be a pissing contest. I'm doing my best not to laugh at your post.

I'm an active duty Special Forces soldier, I use this gear real world. I'm on a MAR-OPs team, so I think I'm exposed to sand and water on occasion. I use, and have used for years, Blackhawk because it's the best gear I've ever had.

FYI -- My wife sells it because I was spending so much money on it, she figured it was the only way to support my gear habbit :D

So, I do rep the gear for what it is, the best I have ever used. I have never seen or heard of any operator here at 1st Special Forces Group having any problems with their Blackhawk gear.

While I'm on the subject, I don't know of any SF guys that own SOE gear, if there are some, put me in touch with them so I can ask their opinion. If not, send me some gear. My team and I will eval it for you and tell you what we think. Who knows, if it's as good as you say, my wife may be contacting you about adding it to her equipment line.


February 14, 2001, 10:18 PM

We didn't mean to start a pissing contest. We respect your opinion and your service, We are just being honest about what we've learned over the years. We began as a repair shop for the SEALS in Coronado and have spent almost a decade refining our products. You are the first operator we've ever heard of that liked that configuration. We use to build one also, but after extensive testing and use by the frogs and Marines we found the inherent problems in the design and materials.
As far as SF operators that use our gear, e-mail us or come by our shop and we can put you in touch.

Here are some comments from a Recon Marine to elaborate on some of this. He was looking over my shoulder and felt he had to offer his opinion.

"Java head I am currently stationed at camp Pendleton with First Recon Bn. My platoon just currently returned from West Pac and I was a tm leader in that platoon. My experience with black hawk has not been up to par. Our op tempo is very high and the amount of time that I have spent repairing the gear is unbelievable. A year and a half ago I stumbled on to SOE gear and have not been dissatisfied. Here are some of the problems that I have seen with in the recon community with black hawk.
1. The zippers tend to be too loud.
2. You have to put limejuice after every amphib op
3. Once on the beach you have to insure to keep the sand away from the zipper so you do not run into problems with trying to unzip.
4.You have to have your vest custom made or it will not fit properly and you can not change your shooting gear for the various missions due to this
5.You also can not change out your pockets like you can with S.O.E. gear for various missions this is problem for us because of the various missions and gear we take.
6.You have to constantly check your seams on the gear because the are not as durable.
7. During a field trauma package we ripped off a drag handle from one of their vests when we were breaking contact.
Javahead these are just some of the problems I have had personally. I know how you feel though when you become attached to a certain style and brand of gear. I hope that every thing I have written helps you understand a little about the quality of gear that S.O.E has and the people who test it. Thank you for your time.

If you have any questions please let us know.

I hope we can keep a good dialogue going.



February 15, 2001, 12:51 AM

Wow, I hope when they occured you got in touch with Mike and let him know about those problems. He is 100% behind the consumer and his products.

I guess things have changed since you used his gear. I'll comment in order.
1. I Was just playing with my vest, it's pretty darn hard for me to hear it. I've crawled around a bunch of beaches and never had a problem with it.
2. What the hell is limejuice? If it gets nasty during an op, I just hose mine off. Still going strong.
3. Like I said, no problens with sand, even when sugar cookied.
4. Custom made? It adjusts, girth and height. I can fit it for just a shirt underneath, or body armor with front and back ceramic plates in. Pretty darn adjustable I'd say.
5. Can't change the pockets, but I can add 'em on the back and belt. If I wanted to change 'em, I guess I'd buy Blackhawk's modular vest.
6. Never had a seam problem with any Blackhawk gear, nor has anyone on my team or any other SF trooper I know.
7. I've hung from mine (I was drunk at the time, it seemed like a good idea :D) The handle held up just fine, no pun intended.

With the problems you mentioned, I'd have dumped the gear also. I haven't, nor anyone I know, experienced any problems.

I'm not so attached to a brand as I'm attached to staying alive. I try to pick the gear that will do the best job keeping me this way.

I understand where you are coming from. I also understand that your reputation is a good one. I feel Blackhawk has an excellent one, but posts like this that call me misleading and the one by Mr_Joshua on my one day old forum, here (http://gogetemgear.community.everyone.net/community/scripts/thread.pl) just seem like mudslinging.

If that makes him happy, tell him to go for it. I'll leave his post up, but it makes him, and his associates (allow me to quote him "I work for SOE, so I am obviously biased),
look a bit unprofessional.

I'm all for open discussions, just like I'm all for trying out new gear (I wasn't kidding 'bout trying out SOE if you want to send some up north, Oceanside is a bit out of my way) If I get my hands on your stuff and it's as good as you say, I'll sing praises for it also. I'm only biased against crap gear. So, understand where I'm coming from. You say you're surrounded by operators that had problems, well I'm surrounded by operators that swear by Blackhawk gear.

Any more discussion, let's either start a new post, send e-mail or give me a call, phone #'s on the Go Get em Gear's website (www.gogetemgear.com). We've twisted this poor guy's post askew enough :).


Scott Evans
February 15, 2001, 11:08 AM
SOE ; Javahead

Check your e-mail

February 15, 2001, 01:26 PM
Javahed and others,

This is Josh with SOE. I apologize if I came off like an A-Hole. I was only trying to inform on what we have experienced. What we have presented are the facts as we know them, however I apologize if it came across in a condescending way. We have spent years repairing gear that has fallen apart. Sometimes there are specific locations where that gear was produced through a sub-contractor etc. that may have done a sloppy job. This may not mean that all of the gear bearing that name is garbage. In order to let manufacturers know, the details must be put out. I have personally stood up for BHI on forums that seemed to just attack and attack without any real substance. What we have posted are simply facts that we have come across. Javahed obviously has gotten some well made gear, so it is important to find out why his seems to be different than the rest. Maybe a different distributor, or maybe there are a lot of knock-offs out there. BHI is a huge international company, and if it happens to NIKE it can happen to them. Javahed and I have both listed the pros and cons, and people can go and decide for themselves.
To clarify,
When I login as Mr_Joshua, those are my personal opinions as a US Marine. They are not the opinions of everyone at SOE. I openly admit I am biased, and I would be lying if I said I was impartial. If anyone ever wants to meet face to face, you all have the address. And I am sometimes at shows. I really do appreciate the experience of warriors like Javahed and the rest of you. I come to these forums to learn and share what I know.

I'm sorry that this got out of hand, Javahed. The post on your site was to try to get some of the info I specified earlier, not to personally attack you. You can delete it if you want, I just wanted to clarify.

Thanks for the time gents,

Semper Fi


February 16, 2001, 01:48 PM
No sweat :)

Hey, we're all on the same team, we just use different toys to get the job done when we're zapping the bad-guys :D

About knock offs and imitation gear, I've seen some that looks like Blackhawk and is absolute crap. It was not marked as Blackhawk. The label clearly showed another maker, but the basic design was almost the same.

On the same note, I just received the 2001 Blackhawk catalog. There are many new designs, like the IVS (Intercooler Venting System} backs on all the backpacks and hydrastorm products. Is someone is trying to create imitation products, those innovations ought to be very difficult to reproduce.

Have fun out there!