Do I need that? Bi-Annual kit maintenance and item evaluations

I was going through my equipment the other day during my bi-annual maintenance checks. During that time, I swap out items from the previous seasons and put in clothing and other kit for the seasonal changes. I do maintenance on items that require it, and it gives me a chance to go over and handle all the various kit items I use or carry depending on the duty. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Soldier, LEO, or prepared Citizen (Or Civilian, some people go back and forth for what the proper word is for the law abiding people that make up our nation.), this is a ritual that many do. There is always equipment, gear, or kit (Depending on the term you prefer to use.) that one either uses more often than others or relies on for more a broader spectrum of tasks than others.

I can go a number of directions with this opening paragraph, but one thing that is also good about this ritual is one also sometimes gets around to making changes that they’ve been meaning to do. One also has the opportunity to make things better and refine what they are using. There are many things that are nice to have, but can be left in a “Maybe” bag back in the vehicle rather than the “Go-Gear” that’s meant for grabbing right now for the matter at hand. I’m guilty of the kitchen sink syndrome. My early years as point man on the SWAT Entry Team many years ago started me down that road as I tried to carry items to meet the wide spectrum of possibilities that building searches and rural duties entailed. I was known as the one who had doorstops, had more than two magazines, and probably had some extra handcuffs to deal with more than anticipated persons inside a mobile home on the reservation during a search warrant. I still think most of the items I carried were necessities (However, did I NEED another baton or ear plugs?). I just think now there are smarter ways to go about it.

A couple of examples of my “kitchen sink” rig setups.

I’m reminded that this phenomenon is not limited to just me. I see it still occur when I look at various plate carriers that LEO’s set up for Active Shooters, or others set up as so-called SHTF rigs. They are weighted down with six to twelve rifle magazines, two-to four pistols magazines, a large first-aid pouch, and various sized utility pouches, and all the gear I used to carry on my Blackhawk Tac-Vest and then some. Now, some environments may require such heavy loadouts, but there are many that don’t, or they can be accomplished more efficiently. I know that as I get older and I see more and more officers and citizens around me with back troubles, I want to be more efficient.

The mission drives the gear. In other words, the task or goals you are trying to accomplish should dictate what gear you use and how. Active Shooter response needs require a kit setup that is not only accessible and quick to get into the environment, but it also something that doesn’t inhibit efficiency of movement. The huge turtle-like armor carriers or loaded plate carriers stored in the trunk of the squad aren’t either. I also look at what it carried, and I ask why someone needs to carry a first-aid kit instead of a more compact gunshot kit, or why they need to carry 2-3 extra pistol magazines in addition to ones on the belt, instead of more efficient patrol rifle/carbine reloads. I like to ask those I work or train with why they carry or set things up the way they do to understand as a trainer the thought processes some people use. There isn’t always a right or wrong answer, and the person’s real needs, not perceived ones, are sometimes a very reasonable explanation. A reasonable explanation to me is the officer that knows that he will not always be able to use the carbine, so he balances out an appropriate amount of spare magazines for either weapon platform and understands the compromise. Others don’t have a reason they can always clearly articulate, and others a light bulb comes on with factors they didn’t think about.

This is a good time of year to go through your gear, or kit, and evaluate what you have and why, and how you carry or use it, and why. Is there a better way that’s more efficient? Are you using equipment to help you accomplish your tasks, or are you trying to make stuff from other tasks and goals work for this one?

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