Assembling the perfect battle belt can be a tall order. In fact, we’d argue one perfect battle belt can’t exist because each belt is so customized for its user. A civilian in training will probably have very different gear needs than military personnel. That said, there are a few pieces of gear that most battle belt setups simply can’t go without. Read on to learn when and where a battle belt is necessary, the essential gear we recommend, and how to organize that gear so it works harder for you.
ESSENTIAL GEAR FOR YOUR BATTLE BELT SETUP
- Choosing Your Tactical Belt
- A Holster
- A Multi-Tool or Combat Knife
- An IFAK Pouch
- A Dump Pouch
- Choosing Your Mag Pouches
WHAT IS A BATTLE BELT?
Battle belts (sometimes called war belts) are ideal when tactical operators need access to critical gear, but don’t want the burden of a plate carrier or backpack. They’re generally padded, lined with MOLLE webbing, reinforced with stiffeners, and outfitted with gear like a handgun, mag pouches, first aid kit, etc. During transport, working on chores around base, or cycling rounds at the range, the light weight and maneuverability of a battle belt is hard to beat. So how should you choose your belt, and what gear do you need to outfit it with?
CHOOSING YOUR TACTICAL BELT
Choosing the right tactical belt will have a big impact on your setup’s comfort, durability, and organization capabilities. The first thing you should know is that a standard tactical belt does not always have the MOLLE webbing necessary to attach your gear. You’ll need to add a separate slotted belt that slides over your tactical belt in order to attach your gear. Consider these features when you’re shopping for your tactical belt:
- Comfort – Your battle belt is going to be supporting a good amount of weight. Consider starting with a taller, padded tactical belt that disperses the weight evenly and comfortably.
- Reliability – The tactical belt you choose should be made with heavy duty materials that can withstand a beating. While they may save you money, things like plastic buckles or poor quality Nylon may not be reliable in the long run.
- Organization Capabilities – Some tactical belts offer more flexible organization capabilities than others. Do you have a holster that is belt mounted instead of MOLLE mounted? Some tactical padded belts let you weave the inner belt out of the outer sleeve as a solution.
5 PIECES OF GEAR EVERY BATTLE BELT SETUP SHOULD INCLUDE
A SECURE HOLSTER
Your handgun is arguably the most important piece of gear on your battle belt. After all, the entire purpose is to keep you protected and prepared when you’re not wearing a plate carrier, backpack, or other loadout. Make sure you start your battle belt setup with a secure, heavy duty holster. We recommend choosing a holster made with durable materials like Kydex because you may be brushing against rocks, dirt, and other rough surfaces as you’re working in your belt.
A MULTI-TOOL OR COMBAT KNIFE
Depending on the circumstances, either a trusty multi-tool or combat knife are a must have on your battle belt. We like to carry this Sog Powerpint multi-tool just in case we need a screwdriver, need to cut wire, or find an opportunity to use its bottle opener.
When the potential for conflict increases, you’ll always find this TOPS C.U.T combat knife on our battle belt. With a curved handle and finger ring, drawing this knife is fast and easy with either hand. Plus, the carbon steel blade is durable enough for cutting harsh materials that would dull or break other knives.
From an active combat situation to the range, accidents happen everywhere and injuries are a real possibility. One of the most popular pieces of gear every belt should carry is an IFAK pouch (Individual First Aid Kit). Here are some considerations for choosing the right IFAK pouch:
- Accessibility – If you’re like most of us, you’ll probably attach your IFAK pouch on the backside of your left or right hip. However, if you or your company end up getting injured it’s crucial that you can reach the content of your first aid kit quickly and easily.
- Capacity – The size and capacity of the IFAK pouch you choose should be closely related to your intended use. A first aid kit on a gun range battle belt should take up a smaller footprint than that of a war belt.
- Contents – Again, analyze your operation and plan to only carry the most necessary first aid items. Scissors, hydrogen peroxide, and splints can get heavy, so make sure you’re only carrying the items you anticipate needing in a worst case scenario.
For many soldiers, law enforcement professionals, first responders, and all other battle belt owners the dump pouch is a favorite. This is the best space on your belt to throw all of the accessories you can’t do without. Empty mags, food and water, tactical gloves, shotgun shells, and any other small gear you can think of is perfect for your dump pouch. If you’re out in the water or the sand, we love this easy-cleaning mesh dump pouch.
Last, but certainly not least, is one of the most common pieces of gear found on battle belts – mag pouches. Deciding which mag pouches to outfit your battle belt with can be one of the most personalized decisions you’ll make. Single or double stacked? Cord, hardshell, or nylon? No matter what you choose, here are some things you should consider:
- Capacity – It can be easy to overcarry magazines. Make sure that you’re reasonable in deciding how many pouches to put on your battle belt, because weight and accessibility are important factors to consider as well.
- Weight – One of the most common complaints we hear from fellow battle belt owners is that the mags on their left hip cause the belt to start sagging. While most belts contain stiffeners to prevent this, overloading one side of your belt with mags might introduce weight and balance issues.
- Function – Do you anticipate carrying multiple magazine types during the life of your battle belt? Some pouches are designed to universally accept either rifle or pistol mags, while others are more firearm specific.
Here at HYDRA Tactical, we love the flexibility that the HSGI Double Decker Taco mag pouch offers. Each pouch is capable of carrying a rifle mag and a pistol mag, or a combat light, multi-tool, etc. This allows us to carry 2-3 rifle mags, along with 1-2 pistol mags and a combat flashlight. Fewer columns of MOLLE webbing for more carrying capacity is a deal we’ll take all day long.