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Re: Belts

12 Jun 2014
@ 09:27 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Hi Kelvin, great thread! This has been a bit of a bug bear of mine for many years. My issues are:

1. keeping my pants up (bloody annoys hell out of me).
2. Keeping kit handy including the essential knife.

If you guys don't mind, I want to wind the clock right back.

In our early settler photos, you will see pioneers and soldiers wearing wool pants. The truth is, these pants were often what what men posed in but did not actually wear in the field. The kiwi bushman actually went native pretty quick (including soldiers) and adopted a basic blanket doubled over and worn around the waist, held in place with a wide belt and large pins- job done. This meant that if the legs got wet (river crossings many times per day), they would dry out quickly. The blanket could also be used as- well a blanket!

In our time and in NZ, a common approach to clothing (sorry to digress from the belt) was the basic short shorts. With the invention of poyprops, this could be taken a step further by wearing polyprop tights under shorts. This really is a great set up, the legs stay warm but are unencumbered. The material dries super fast after water crossings. The system is OK for summer and winter (snow) use. Gaitors can be used to protect the lower legs. About the only weakness of this system is that it cannot really be used for the combat soldier due to fire / melting hazards.

With the short short system, there was no need for a belt to keep the pants up as there was no weight to hold up. A knife belt could be worn separately. I also adopted a belt bag (fanny pack in U.S terms, always a giggle for us down here as this refers to the front bits of a woman). But I have found that belt bags give me a stomach ache once they hit a certain weight (which is where light chest rigging has its advantages).

Fleece pants came next. These are the absolute pits for river crossings, the baggy legs trailing in stiff currents. That's the main problem with fleece pants, the legs being too baggy. Couple this with small belt loops (or none) and you are back to pulling up your pants every five minutes after crossing a river or being out in the rain. Otherwise, fleece can be very good.

Many of you will notice that I have been wearing combat fatigues these last years. This started when we went through a patch when the site and my research was paying so poorly that I was reliant on whatever came along. A retired soldier in a similar situation owed me for rifle work and pair of hand me down pants and kit was given as payment. Amongst the kit was a 2" duty belt. The soldier had purchased most items himself so there was no free lunch from the MOD other than the worn hand me downs. I found that this duty belt kept my new second hand pants up a great deal better than slimmer belts and it could carry a load. The British / Aus / NZ style of pants has wide belt loops for such a belt, something lacking in the U.S kit. I have been using this system exclusively for a while now. I sometimes wear two belts (knife belt separately) but of late I have been wearing just the one belt.

The Mil pants have their limit. They are baggy in the legs and can hold a lot of water, plus they are cold when wet so i have to be careful with upper layerings. On the plus side, they are hard wearing.

The more I look into this though, the more I think our medieval ancestors had it right. From the Roman tunic through to the Robin hood men in tights type set up, I think the tunic was a good idea. A basic wool or fleece tunic, knee length with polyprops would alleviate my pants issue. But I am not sure that I wan to be the first to wear a dress in the hills. Not just yet anyway. Still, I think this has merit. From this, a belt would only have one job- to hold a knife and small pouches. But as soon as the load gets heavy, we are once again faced with the problem of the belt slipping and or stomach problems from wearing a tight belt all day. A tunic with belt loops could partially resolve this- but again, anyone for a dress and tights? I have a wool Swanndri that I seldom use these days. I still wonder about cutting out the arms and making it into a tunic.

I have looked at suspenders but gave up on that idea for no particular reason other than the difficulty of finding something local (industrial type) I could try on. In the old days we used to wear suspenders, especially with our monkey suits when working nightclubs. Industrial type suspenders are an option though.

There is certainly merit in chest rigging so long as it is not cumbersome and allows the shooter to drop into the prone position if need be, without taking a face plant like a human seesaw. Much of the chest rigging I have seen in surplus stores is quite rubbishy, far too much bulk. As hunters, if wearing chest rigging, we really just need something simple to hang a knife on, plus a few handy items. Everything else can be stowed in a day pack. I don't think I would ever ditch this. I have not ventured into chest rigging yet. I may do one day if I can find something suitable that will allow me to hang knife and small items. This may solve some of the problems I have with the whole pants falling down issue.

As for a basic pants belt, either a duty belt or sturdy leather belt have served me well. The 2" duty belt has made a difference, helping keep my pants up!

I see a lot of these modern belt bags (fanny) lack somewhere to mount a decent knife. It is as if the designers have no actual connection with the world of the hunter at all.

In summary, I think both the belt and pants are a combined issue.

Personally, I will be interested to see how you get on.

Most of you guys on the forums do not know Kelvin but he is a close friend of mine, my hunting buddy. Kelvin has been working away from home for many years now so we seldom get to hunt together these days but we both hope this will change in time (looking at kit sounds promising!). Several of you will have seen Kelvin in my videos (SMLE) when he visits home. Kelvin built our first website many years ago and without him, this entire concept would not be in existence.

Kelvin with a boar shot using a .338 Win Mag and 225gr SST. The .338 is dynamite on pigs. The pigs legs are tied together for back packing.

A head shot pig destined for a hangi (hangi = Maori earth oven).


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