Gear System: Philosophy, Set Up, Use, Fitness & Mindset

Spreading the Word: ‘Tactical Notes: Force on Force Team Tactics’
April 2, 2016
April 5, 2016


I get many questions about my gear setup. It is also a perennial topic on the MVT Forum, and of course across the internet. It’s an important subject. Many people ask me specific questions about my gear setup and make/brand of equipment items, and so here I will attempt to give some guidance not in terms of specific brands of gear, but what I am trying to do when I set up my equipment. It is also important to note that gear is no use without training, and the focus by so many on gear is often either 1) part of the process of getting ready for training, or 2) a dead end pursuit that has limited purpose. Be in the first group. You must actually use your gear, and see what works for you, and not fall for that common mindset that gear can be bought, tried on, and then left on the shelf for a rainy day. I will therefore talk a little about physical readiness, and actual use of gear, as part of this post.

For questions on gear brands and specific examples, there are plenty of experts on the MVT Forum and I urge you to start discussions there.

Why this post? Because I want to help those who are genuinely attempting to set up a gear system as part of a training and readiness program. And on the flip side, I will attempt to wake up those who are simply bluffing themselves in terms of their physical and training readiness, and their ability to even function in their chosen gear when necessary.

I must also add that my gear setup changes, as I evolve, find new products, adjust etc. I was asked recently about suspenders on my Lite Battle Belt. More about that in detail later. But yes, I had added pouches and suspenders to my Lite BB, and now I have removed them. Just like in tactical training, don’t look for absolutes, but principles and ideas – take what you see others do, and what works for you, and evolve it into a system that is best for you.

As a side note, it seems to be silly season on Facebook right now, with a number of ‘groups’ posting photos of ‘training.’ My words to you are: get in shape and get some real training. You may want to also check out my recent posts ‘Thoughts on Camouflage Clothing‘ and ‘‘Team Coyote’ – Gear‘ to get some perspective on looking professional and profile / posture considerations. Team Coyote is about Proficiency, Presentation and Professionalism.


Read the rest on the MVT Forum: Forums The Armory – Gear and Equipment Load Bearing Equipment



  1. Ragnarok says:

    I assume the MVT shield goes in the daypack?

    • Max says:

      Not necessarily. Depends on your situation. In the 3 day pack, yes, probably not in the daypack, unless you face a definite thermal threat in your day to day operations.

    • Bergmann says:


      Ppl have asked me often where I store shelter items.. Situation dictates tactic is what I tell them- but I always I recommend they never do “The Hobbit” and have their shelter rolled up and exposed on their ruck or webbing. By exposed I mean unprotected from rips, punctures and tearing abrasions or the like..There will be no way for replacements when the hammer falls..

      I recommends they construct a simple draw-cords closing sleeve if they need to stored on the outside and at the ready..


      • Anonymous says:

        You can find cast off folding chair bags at SA and other similar locations for a $1. Many of these cord locked bags are pretty tough and large enough for shelter carrying. Long enough to carry take-down poles if you want to.

        • Max says:

          The MVT Shield comes in its own bag and is small enough to fit inside your patrol pack.

          The Shiend will be available again in the gear store shortly.

  2. shooter says:

    This is GREAT stuff, Max! Would have saved me a lot of trial and error if it had been posted 10+ years ago.

    Question: Would you recommend the small day pack strapped on top of the 3-day ruck as a “grab and go bag”, or do you just recommend that when humping the BIG extended ops ruck?

    …I assume it depends on how heavy you load the 3-day ruck, and whether you’re fit enough to do a bunch of fire and movement wearing your loaded 3-day ruck?

    • Max says:

      No, daypack and 3 day pack separate things. If you are going for the huge ruck, the daypack can be the grab bag from it (see my gear posts on that) in case you need to dump the large ruck in a contact, or patrolling from a patrol base. But avoid that monster load if you can.

  3. Omni says:

    What are your thoughts on assault packs that clip directly to the PC? Tactical Tailor makes one and I have a SF friend the highly recommends them. they do fight tight to the back of the PC, but may be difficult to remove.

    • Max says:

      I don’t like them, because you can’t just take them off to get at gear, or rapidly put it on if you are in some kind of bug out or escape from vehicle situation. You would either have to have your buddy put it on for you, or take off your PC.

  4. Philip says:

    Another brilliant post! I’ve come to many of the same conclusions as you, Max. The main difference is I’m an Eberlestock fan. Mystery Ranch makes great stuff, though, so I can certainly understand why you recommend it. We just got hit by another snow storm here in RI, but as soon as it’s melted, I’m loading up a ruck and hitting the trails again. I may even incorporate my PC, depending on the strange looks I get from other hikers. Thanks for the motivation!

  5. Bunny says:

    Timely post Max. I did a write-up of odds and ends I’ll be sending your way from March CTT, which centers on y personal experience on shaking out my gear and breaking it in without having to throw it down the driveway.

    The plates were killer even on short humps up the hill. I do the vanity muscles, yes, but also submission wrestling and BJJ, and focus my weightlifting to those sports. This just goes to reinforce what you say about training with your gear: although I thought my cardio and explosiveness were decent enough for a middle-aged man, there is no substitute for taking your gear out for a good hump (hence my huffing and puffing up the hills…and being slow on the objective)

  6. GJ says:

    Thanks for the valueable information. Would you please expand on your comment about using the next 9 months to prepare. Not so much as what to do, but what exactly do you anticipate happening in that time frame. Thank you.

  7. Diz says:

    Kits boils down to what YOU need, and what you can carry. You have to define your mission statement(s) and then build your load out accordingly. You then have to go out and train with it, until you can handle the required load.

    I think a very good example of what you should be doing is what Bergmann has going on in the great white north. He sticks with simple, readily available/issue kit, for the most part, and trains his ass off. This is a very good starting point.

  8. Colorado Pete says:

    Thanks Max, good article.
    My details are different for specific reasons, but nice to see my logic (based on non-military 4-season hiking, hunting, and backpacking trips,) approximates your military experience.

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