Improvise, adapt, and overcome – one of the first lessons (of many) I learned as a young FMF Corpsman. It’s a lesson I have carried with me every day and one that has truly served me well. I train like I fight, which means plate carrier with plates, combat load, med kit and so on. That came to a halt last year when it was discovered that I needed herniated disc surgery, and with that, any training that I was working on came to a grinding halt.
During the course of my rehab I found it was necessary to keep my skill set strong, but at the same time make sure I didn’t have any serious setbacks. So with the wearing of a plate carrier out for the time being, I began to seek out a chest rig as an alternate. It’s not an easy task as there are literally hundreds of options with regard to manufacturer, configuration, and so on. After researching numerous options and speaking with friends and professionals, I decided upon the HSGI Double Decker Combo. I chose this setup because it has the functionality I was looking for and easy access to my rifle magazines, pistol magazines and medical kit.
A few things that factored into my decision were craftsmanship, reputation, functionality and yes I’ll admit it, a little cool guy factor as well. The crew at HSGI were gracious enough to send one of their Double Decker Combos out, but in a new configuration. In lieu of the Blowout Pouch that’s normally shipped along with the combo, they included their new M3T Pouch which was designed by NOLATAC Training and Consulting.
My first impression was that it’s HSGI. This meant that it is purpose-built and rock solid. Every stitch, buckle, and strap was done to the highest standard. I found no flaws whatsoever with my rig. For those of you that are already familiar with the TACO pouches, you’re already well aware how well they work. For all the people new to HSGI TACO pouches, I will say that they are some of the most innovative pouches I have seen in my 15+ year military career.
The ability of the pouches to retain different magazine sizes and shapes makes them a great all around pouch. They’re perfect for anyone who runs a plate carrier, chest rig, and/or battle belt setup. Instead of buying numerous pouches for each specific magazine, you simply loosen the attached bungee strap and manipulate the pouch until your magazine is retained properly.
The shoulder straps come in a “H” configuration and fulfill their purpose as designed. They’re not too big, not too small, and are easily adjustable and quite comfortable. Another bonus to this setup is the storage pouch located behind the magazines. I found this to be a great addition as my rig fits inside my bugout bag perfectly. I simply remove the straps, fold them up nicely, and stow them in the storage pocket. There are no straps to get entangled on anything else and they clip on in a matter of seconds.
The M3T Pouch deserves a review all to itself. It features (2) quick Tourniquet release straps on each side and also comes with (2) medical pouches that you can fill with various accessories as needed. NOLATAC is in the process of manufacturing their Individual Trauma Kit and once these are available, I can assure you MOTUS will get our hands on one and review it for you.
While testing out the HSGI Double Decker Combo with M3T Pouch, I was able to run the rig while at the range and went thru quite a few drills that required standing, kneeling, and lying in the prone position. True to form, the chest rig stayed in place and I didn’t notice any weight shift of any kind. The magazines were easy to access and I liked the security of knowing my med kit was close at hand.
Overall, I would have to say that without a doubt this is my favorite chest rig that I’ve run so far. Period. Its got everything I need and nothing I don’t. If you’re in the market for a new chest rig, I suggest taking a look at the HSGI Double Decker Combo with M3T Pouch. You won’t be sorry.