As some of us are still in our enforced “stay at home” time, it really is a great opportunity to ensure that ALL your kit is squared away and prepared for the day we can get back out on the field and play airsoft!

Whilst at this time of year it’s 100% important to ensure that your clothing and footwear is ready for the Winter Months, this “pause” we find ourselves in is also a great time to give your fighting rig, load bearing kit, and sustainment gear the once over, so Bill thought he’d share a few of the things he’s doing this weekend!

Battle Belts, Chest Rigs, and Plate Carriers – These are your all important “tools of the trade” that you’re going to be using whether you’re at at short and sharp skirmish, or a longer duration Battle or MilSim, so it’s important to make sure that all this kit is completely ready for action! Empty your gear of all equipment, remove comms setups and have a close look at seams, straps and closures. Check them all thoroughly for any signs of degradation or excessive wear, and make repairs where you need to! If closures like buckles are starting to feel loose, then it’s worth replacing these. If you’re using MOLLE/PALS then check the fitment of all your pouches to make sure that the closures are secure, and it may also be the time to make those positioning changes you’ve been thinking about!

Packs and Load Carriers – just like your “battle gear” you need to go over your packs carefully and once again check all the straps and closures, replacing where necessary. Particularly important with packs is the main harness/carry straps; one common point of failure on a load bearing pack is the point where the bottom of the shoulder strap meets the base of the pack body, and if you see that starting to wear or separate, it’s time for a serious repair to avoid your pack falling off you when you most need it not to! Also check the water-tightness of any dry-bags you use to store gear inside your pack, paying attention to the seam-sealing tape runs!

Sustainment Gear – Looking to what you carry for longer duration Battle or MilSim games it’s worth spending some time on your “snivel gear”! If you store your sleeping bag compressed in its stuff bag, take it out, give it a wash (use a specialist product for this, my favourites are from the Nikwax range of cleaning products), and then hang it somewhere warm to dry naturally; if possible leave it hanging or laid out so that the fill doesn’t become overly compressed during longer-term storage. Do not store your bag compressed in its stuff sack as this will eventually damage the fill, and watertight storage bags are also a bad idea as condensation can build up inside and result in mildew. If you use a bivvy bag, again it’s worth checking all the seam tape, and then giving it a wash and re-proof like you would your other waterproof gear, and of course if you carry a self-inflating sleep-pad then also check this for wear and punctures; if you use a foam version ensure that this is not completely compressed, and if it is, replace it.

Clean and sterilise your hydration systems or waterbottles (most outdoor stores/outfitters can sell you “steri-tabs” for this), especially paying attention to the hoses if you use a Camelbak, Source, or Platypus system. Pull out your cooking gear, messtins, plates, KFS, and of course your stove and make sure that these are all spotless! If you carry a gas cooker with a hose connector then make sure that the connection is sound, and that the gas tube itself is free from wear… don’t forget to check gas canisters if you use them to make sure these are full and good to go!

If you store ration packs or long-life food items with your sustainment kit then make sure that this is all in date! Also, if you store your kit in a garage, outbuilding or loft then make sure even pre-packed foodstuffs are in sealed containers… it’s my experience that mice love a good ration pack!

Finally, check your personal First Aid Kit; items like disinfectant creams can go out of date, and even simple plasters and blister pads can lose their adhesive properties over time. If you don’t carry a personal FAK I would thoroughly recommend that you do, and if you’re unsure of what to include then you’ll find some great articles about this over on the UF PRO Blog written by an SF medic!

Fact is we all (sadly) have time to really get all these vital small jobs done at the moment, so use your time wisely and prepare! Don’t be “that guy” that’s always messing around with their kit when they should be “eyes on”, be “THE GUY” that everyone looks to as the one that always has their sh1t dialled and is ready for Game On each and every time!

Whatever you’re doing this weekend, stay safe and well, and we hope to see you out on the field soon!