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modular radio harness

3324 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  AbbyK9
For the past few years I have used this radio harness:

<ul>[*]Conterra Tool Chest Radio Harness[*]Conterra Transceiver Pouch[/list]

It served its purpose well, but over time I found it lacking so I started to look for something more suitable.

Like most people, I use my radio harness for carrying much more than just a radio. Anything that I use frequently or that needs to be easily accessible I like to carry in front of me so I don't have to take my backpack off. This includes the following items: soap bubbles, compass, map, GPS, avalanche transciever, cell phone, flagging tape, nitrile gloves, multi-tool, notebook, ID cards, pencil, pen, highlighter, ruler, protractor, flashlight, headlamp, extra batteries, glow sticks, sunglasses, sunscreen, lib balm, insect repellent, power bars, dog treats, lighter, hand warmers, dog thermometer.

The Conterra harness, even with the attached transceiver pouch, does not work well with such a load. The issues I have with it are:

<ul>[*]Capacity - there is simply not enough space for everything I want to carry.[*]Organization - most everything has to go in the main pouch, and with it all jumbled together it is difficult to locate each individual item quickly.[*]Stability - the straps are elastic, and with all the weight of my stuff it sags down. When running it bounces around so much I have to hold on to it.[*]Security - the main pouch is secured by velcro, and that leaves openings on the side where small items fall out and rain gets in.[/list]

So when searching for a new harness, I had the following requirements in mind:

<ul>[*]Large enough capacity to carry my intended gear[*]Easily organizable[*]Load bearing straps[*]Zipper closures[/list]

After reading about various products, I also decided that I wanted a modular design so that I could customize the selection and location of pouches to my liking. So I started considering MOLLE gear. This is the modular system used by military, law enforcement, and paintball types. I discovered that there are many different types of vests and pouches that use the MOLLE system. Military Morons has good reviews of MOLLE equipment. That is where I learned about the TadGear OP1 Pouch. It sounded like the perfect pouch for me to organize many of my miscellaneous items, so I bought one and then started looking for a suitable platform for it.

I didn't have to look far. Tactical Tailor has a nice line of MOLLE gear and since they are not too far away from me, I paid them a visit. Although I have seen some dog handlers wear full MOLLE vests, I just wanted a chest harness, and I found it in the TT MAV Vest. This comes in either 1 piece or 2 piece. I chose the 2 piece so that I can take it on and off easily. I also got the center adapter and X-harness that is made for it. The center adapter covers up the buckles in front so an additional pouch can go in the center. This is the perfect place to locate a compass. The X-harness makes it easier and more comfortable to carry heavier loads, and has MOLLE webbing on the back. This is a great place to attach a hydration pack when I'm not wearing a backpack. Luckily Tactical Tailor was having a sale at the time, so I got a significant discount off the usual price. Even so, this MOLLE approach to assembling a custom radio harness costs a lot more than a one-piece harness.

Over time I have tried various pouches, some that work well for me, and some that don't. It is easy to go overboard and put too many pouches on. But this can make it too bulky and restrictive to wear comfortably, so I have settled on the following gear which is pretty low profile and satisfies all my requirements:

<span style='font-size: 11pt'>Harness</span>
<ul>[*]Tactical Tailor MAV Vest Body 2 Piece [*]Tactical Tailor MAV Center Adapter[*]Tactical Tailor X Harness[/list]

<span style='font-size: 11pt'>Pouches</span>
<ul>[*]TadGear OP1 Pouch[*]Tactical Tailor Radio Pouch Small (1 for radio, 1 for GPS)[*]Tactical Tailor Multi-Tool Pouch[*]Tactical Tailor Knife Pouch (for SureFire flashlight)[*]Blackhawk STRIKE Compass/Strobe Pouch[*]Emdom USA Smal Utili-Shingle (between harness and radio pouches)[*]Emdom USA Glove Dispenser Pouch[*]Wolfpack Gear Flagging Tape Dispenser[/list]

<span style='font-size: 11pt'>Attachments</span>
<ul>[*]Cyco Active BarMap Map Case (velcro straps attach to D-rings on OP1)[*]Gear Keeper Compass Retractor (pin attachment)[*]Pet Gold Waste Bag Dispenser[/list]

It is not too difficult to reconfigure pouches to tailor it for specific uses. For example, before going into avalanche terrain I add another pouch on the side to hold my transceiver.

My tug toy (see earlier post) is attached to the side of the harness.

<span style='font-size: 11pt'>Left Side</span>

<span style='font-size: 11pt'>Right Side</span>

<span style='font-size: 11pt'>Center</span>
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Ah yes. I thought you had come up with something on your own.
How does the Molle gear attach? Clips, pins, velcro?

True North has some nice options as well for harness gear.

All expensive

I have one thing I can recommend against - and that is hunting belts with buddy lok system. They are cheap but come off way too easy when you are crawling or going through heavy brush.

My flagging tape dispenser is a 50 cent camera case I got from WalMart on closeout (I have several of those; they are sweet)
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Great looking dog, and gear too...but that GSD, he's beautiful!!
Originally Posted By: Nancy JAh yes. I thought you had come up with something on your own.
How does the Molle gear attach? Clips, pins, velcro?
Well I didn't break out the sewing machine for this project, but it took some time and effort to arrive at my current assembly. This particular combination of gear may not be ideal for anybody but me, but it is an example of how you can make a custom rig adapted for you instead of you having to adapt to an off-the-shelf product.

The harness has multiple rows of webbing sewn at regular intervals forming standard size loops. The backside of the pouches have a similar grid of webbing. To attach a pouch, the rows of webbing are interleaved together and then flexible clips are weaved between the loops to form a very secure attachment.
For Mollie gear, check out Cheaper than Dirt. I think they have a web site but we get their magazine. They have some great prices on all kinds of tactical vests ect and lots of Mollie gear items. They really are Cheap too. Hubby got a really nice tactical vest to carry all with and its really light weight for the summer. It has pockets large enough to carry everything needed for shorter, urban searches and then some. It disperses the pack weight around you instead of all the weight being in the back and its easier to retreive needed items.
I was very saddened to learn that the president and founder of Tactical Tailor, Logan Coffey, died yesterday along with a passenger in a tragic accident in a Ferrari.

Rest in peace.
I'm so sorry to hear about Logan Coffey. TT makes excellent, although pricey, equipment.

Now, before I say anything about modular vests, let me state the obvious: I don't do SAR work and I don't know what most SAR people carry. However, I have some familiarity with military equipment, both modern and historical, so maybe I can be of a little bit of help.

As far as MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment) goes, it's an upgrade to the old ALICE (All-purpose Leightweight Individual Carrying Equipment) system.

ALICE gear attaches using ALICE clips, which are metal clips that slide open and closed to attach pouches and equipment to belts and other places that have webbing for this purpose.

MOLLE gear uses webbing straps instead of metal clips. The straps are looped through the webbing and secure at the bottom with a lift-a-dot type fastener.

Both of these styles of attachment have pros and cons. ALICE clips tend to start wearing out with use and sometimes come undone easily. In rough terrain, that can lead to pouches coming loose or getting lost. MOLLE gear experiences similar issues, especially if snaps are not secured properly, and can also come off. For additional safety, the military tends to secure pouches with 550 cord, 100mph tape, or (in the realm of making a simple thing complicated), MALICE Clips which are made by Tactical Tailor.

Most chest rigs like the one pictures in the original post and the ones used by the military are set up for personal preference. That's made pretty easy today since you can buy the rig and then add various MOLLE (or ALICE) pouches to suit your tastes and purposes.

A basic rig for carrying can be had in many different styles, colors, and widths. Most companies carry them in solid black, solid coyote brown, solid OD green, and various camo patterns. There are also companies that make custom chest-rigs with sewn-on pockets, usually based on your descriptions and measurements, and there are websites providing materials and instructions for do-it-yourself chest rig building.

Below are a couple of links to sites that sell MOLLE gear, ALICE gear, as well as replacement / repair materials:

DIY Tactical - (go to "store")
Cheaper Than Dirt -
Sportsman's Guide -
Blackhawk Tactical -
Brigade Quartermasters -
Diamondback Tactical -
Galls -

Hope the links are useful!
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