Platecarriers, vests, chestrig and low profile. The Global War on Terror changed the look of the soldier of the 90s we are all familiar with drastically. Reasons for this are on hand. Vehicle borne operations, IEDs as a major threat. Cover and concealment werent the main concerns of military operations in the past two decades.
But not all conflicts are fought in cities or in the desert. Not all operations are vehicle based or offer short supply chains. Especially in woodland and jungle areas. Those non permissive environments were the reason why US based manufacturer Velocity Systems created the Jungle Kit.
RBT took over 365 days to test the kit.
To be honest, we didnt go to the jungle with it. But our journey lead us through the German forests, the Austrian alps and the cold Danish border.
Our main goal was to conduct an enduser test and not a benchmark. An enduser test is always reflecting the real issues and problems of equipment, while a benchmark just simulates and repeats worst case scenarios to show how durable the kit is.
But lets start with the kit set-up itself:
- Belt: The belt consists of two 50mm pieces of jacquard webbing sewn together every 40mm. Its closed with a fastex buckle. The 40mm sewn segments allow you to use pouches without the need for a pad. This is done for either when you have a small body frame or when you simply want to save weight.
- The pad strongly resembles the Velocity Systems Operators Utility belt. It has two collumns of PALS webbing so you can attach pouches. Also its padded with spacer mesh.
- The suspenders: The suspenders are laid out as a six point H-Harness with eight points of attachment. The system is not attached to the belt or beltpad itself, but to the pouches. All adjustment is done with low profile metal ladderlocks to prevent chaffing. The webbing has a 25mm diameter. The suspenders are made of a 50mm strip of Ultra Comp material in the shoulder areas and a 20mm sternum strap. The Ultra Comp straps are very flat and comfortable and wont absorb any water. If you need more comfort or need to route comms or hydration hoses, you can add two shoulder pads made of Tweave, a stretch material. They really add up to the overall comfort and show Velocity Systems approach of using functional, high-end materials.
Now lets talk about the pouches you get with the jungle kit.
- Magpouch, Jungle, 223: The pouch is boxshaped, reinforced with ultracomp laminate and water repellent. It is fully enclosed and features a big drainhole. There is no chance for dirt or water to really harm the contents of the pouch. Closure is done with velcro and a 20mm Fastex buckle. The end user the system was initially made for wished to only use 20mm buckles to cut down weight even further. On the left and right side you find 20mm Ultracomp pals webbing that works great and saves even more weight. Every pouch fits three .223 AR15 mags or two G36 mags. Youll find loops on the pouches to compress them with a bungee cord to prevent sagging and for added noise discipline.
- GP Pouch, jungle: The pouch is set up like the mag pouches, but fits a canteen with cup and has a divided pocket inside to fit an ESBIT stove, drinking powder or other field kit. You can also stuff a small sleeping bag or similiar sized items inside the GP pouch if you dont want to use it for your canteen. It is closed with a snowskirt.
- Buttpack, Jungle: This is your classic buttpack. It fits everything you will need for a day. It also has a daisy chain to stow quick acess equipment like rain ponchos. The lid is closed with two 20mm Fastex buckles and also has a low profile lid pocket for maps etc. On the outside you find a velcro area for ID patches. If you carry a short „Bergen“ like pack you can place the pack above the buttpack so it will relief your shoulders. The buttpack also features a simple snowskirt.
I used the pack for combat patrolling in the following configuration:
Padded belt, size medium
4x Magpouch 223, jungle
2x GP Pouch, jungle
I also attached a multitool pouch, a radio pouch and two frag pouches on the outside of the magpouches.
In this configuration i saved space for a column of PALS to hold my mora knive.
Comfort and functionality: During a combat patrol exercise we did about 100 kilometres in two days. One day we did 70km with only short breaks. The jungle kit was loaded with almost 10 kilogramms. Additionally I carried a ruck of the same weight. The weight was well distributed and my main conern were my feet and not my shoulders. Job done. Last but not least i like to mention that the low profile layout of the harness never interferenced with my backpack. Donning and doffing was super easy and the buttpack transitioned the rucks weight all over my hips.
Back and chest were always free of any material and were able to breath. It was super easy to move to and in the prone position, the main advantages of a belt kit by the way.
The magpouches were intuitive and easy to use, even when it’s cold or one has to wear gloves.
This was given for all pouches. The only complaint were the snowskirts on the GP Pouch which tended to get in the way when easy acess is critical. But speed and protection are always antagonists. If you really have problems with the skirts you can use other pouches or just cut them off.
The biggest advantage of the system, besides the ability to work from the prone, is its massive load bearing capability. Especially with the buttpack you were always able to get your third line essentials with you even when you had to ditch your pack during parts of the exercise. Participants that used chestrigs or platecarriers were then left with ammunition and comms. In one particular situation we had to ditch our pack during a recce for almost one and a half hour. When it started to rain i was the only one who had a poncho at the ready.
After over a year of fieldtesting during exercises and private training classes, the construction held up well. Only the stretch shoulder pads took a little hole. Everything is made in the USA by a veteran owned business.
Final Opinion: This is a specialized piece of equipment for: A) operators that work in harsh terrain were cover and mobility is the go to protection and some fieldcraft supplies have to be carried in your second line. B) machine gunners that carry much ammo and often have to go prone. Below you find a picture of me during a deployment rocking a Blackhawk! LBE kit because I was my squads SAW gunner:
This is not your kit for the flat range or MOUT operations. Keeping that in mind it is a revival of the LBE harness that was the soldiers second and third line for over 100 years. Combat Patrolling, Fighting in rural or jungle areas or even arctic warfare are the conditions that this kit was designed for and it forfills this rule outstanding.
You can get the complete jungle kit directly at Velocity Systems