After the slight trouble I ran into with the Ten-Speed mag pouches on the BELTminus, I went with a different design. However, I was quite impressed with both the strength and the lightweight nature of the Ten-Speed products. Feeling that they simply needed a firm platform, I placed them on my old Spartan II armor carrier. These two pouch sets replaced a Condor Kangaroo triple mag pouch.
Testing proceeded slowly after that. Armor is hot and heavy, not something you want to be wearing when the temperature is in the 90s. I know, you’re saying “But that’s the same armor you wore in 120 degree heat in Basrah, Iraq.”
Yeah, and I absolutely despised it. I also sat on my laurels, mostly in an air-conditioned trailer while in Iraq. But, I did need to test the Helium Whisper backing, and wasn’t about to wait until autumn to do so. So, on a scorching July day, I downed a liter and a half of water, donned the armor and walked out into the blazing heat. In order to destroy the Triple M4 mag pouch, I low-crawled across an asphalt parking lot. I fully expected the friction and grinding to tear the elastic to shreds.
While it did indeed tear at the pouch material, you can see that the pouches remain relatively intact. Most elastic products have “worms” that run horizontally through the inner workings of the fabric. The BFG elastic is military grade and the “worms” are reinforced inside the elastic for added durability. They run horizontally so that the elastic only stretches in one direction.
As a side note, the friction and drag that this test put on the MOLLE backing of the Ten-Speed Pouch was considerable, but it held up and didn’t budge a bit.
Helium Whisper – Incredibly Light
One of the secrets of Blue Force Gear MOLLE pouches is their Helium Whisper technology. Helium Whisper is simplicity; a single piece of laminate, cut to be both the backing of the pouch and the MOLLE attachment. Instead of multiple parts, requiring factory assembly and leading to greater weight (as with traditional MOLLE), Helium Whisper simply has the attachment straps fold over and weave through a couple of strips of material which are sewn to the backing, and then attaches via hook-and-loop covered tabs. This leads to an incredibly lightweight system.
How light? The weight of the Blue Force Gear BELTminus (small, padded), Ten-Speed triple M4 mag pouch, Ten-Speed double pistol mag pouch, Ultralight dump pouch, BFG Medium utility pouch is just under 20 ounces (561 grams). This is 45% of the weight of a Belgian Camo Load Bearing Harness, QP Gear Triple Mag Shingle, QP Gear triple pistol mag pouch (both with MALICE Clips) and Condor Double M4 Mag Pouch.
Okay, so the difference is only 24 ounces. No big deal, right? Well, wouldn’t you rather be able to carry an extra 24 ounces of water? Or how about an extra magazine, some food or maybe just that much less weight on your shoulders and back?
This rather revolutionary technology has already been licensed overseas by the STRATAGEM. Sadly, STRATAGEM doesn’t yet have an office in the States, or I’d be hitting them up for some Fecktarn pouches.
As I mentioned in the previous article, if you take a calculator and add the weights of the Blue Force Gear components listed above, the total weight comes to 561 grams. When measuring the weight of other items, I decided to check the accuracy of this, and placed my BELTminus setup on the scale. It read exactly 561 grams. This is important for two reasons. First, it shows how well I cleaned all the sticky briers off my gear. Second, it shows the attention to detail and exacting standards of Blue Force Gear.
While it is a major improvement, Helium Whisper isn’t the end-all and be-all for modular gear. I’ve gone on hikes without HW-equipped pouches and will continue to do so. Of course, this isn’t exactly by unfettered choice. As Blue Force Gear adds new products to their line, I will invariably switch over to lighter gear, as should you.
What gear could BFG possibly add to their line? I’m glad you asked.Here are a few suggestions from me to the Research boys behind such wonders as the MOLLE Minus:
- For those of us who want a large butt pack on our BELTminus, a 4.2 liter pouch, similar in size to my Flecktarn Mask Pouch.
- In the name of John Moses Browning, please work out some sort of deal with STRATAGEM so that we can get Flecktarn pouches!
- I’m open to replacing some of my Flecktarn pouches with Wolf Grey. Either the Trauma Kit NOW! or the Medium Vertical Utility Pouch could replace my current pouch. Unfortunately, neither of these BFG products are in Wolf Grey… yet.
- A lightweight hydration carrier that integrates with the BELTminus. Make it now.
What products would you like to see incorporate Helium Whisper? Sound off below.
-By Allen Cosby