16 March, 2014
The Combat/Survival Smock is an idea that’s been around for a long time. It’s not just an article of clothing, it’s a 1st line equipment conveyance. As such, if you use one, serious consideration should go into the gear you carry in it.
My friend Bergmann does a very good job on his page of explaining the details of the smock concept. http://alaska-evasion-fieldcraft-survival.webs.com/smocks.htm
Max Velocity also has done some great instructional writing on the smock concept as well. http://www.maxvelocitytactical.com/2013/11/follow-windproof-smock-concept/ (he uses the Arktis version) I agree with everything that these guys have put out on the subject, and the reason for this post is primarily to get their info out, and secondarily to give some of my own thought on the subject.
I first learned about the combat smock when I was a teenager. The info was about the Brits use of that item, and of course as a kid, everything from the British Para’s/SAS was serious cool factor info, not to be overlooked. I actually purchased my first one from a surplus store, used, and I loved the roominess the pockets provided for 1st line survival gear. Fast forward 15 years to 2010, and I found an even better version at Begadi in Germany http://begadishop.eu/catalog/index.php?cPath=406 listed as the BE-X Smock and I use the distributor SE Airsoft in Ireland. http://seairsoft.com/ From what Max has told me, Begadi has discontinued that model of smock (he talked to them), and is coming out with an improved version.
The Begadi version of the combat/survival smock is in my opinion, one of the best adaptations yet, and the colors and patterns available, cannot be matched by any other manufacturer, that I have seen. The fabric is 65/35 nylon cotton ripstop, which is known for its durability, and quietness in use. In a nut shell, this is how I rig my smock. I use Spec Ops Brand cargo pocket organizers http://www.specopsbrand.com/tactical-gear/pocket-organizer/cargo-pants-pocket-organizer.html
which fit perfectly in all the lower pockets, front and back, and have a “dummycord” lanyard with clip to secure it in a pocket. The Begadi smock had D-rings (see pic) in all four front pockets, to secure those sensitive items you can’t do without. One of the advantages to using some of the spec ops organizers rests in the ability to place the pouches on your pants belt after your survival ordeal begins, giving you easier access to those items, if they originally rode in the back pockets.
This smock has 10 external pockets, and three internals. 8 of the 10 externals are very generous in size, and 2 of them are napoleon chest pocket, which are great for easy accessing items if your wearing a vest. The four front button pockets contain the D-rings I spoke of, the two side pockets are sized to fit rifle mags, and the rear pockets are the same size as the front lower ones, but without the D-rings. One of the features I really love on this type of smock, is the hood. It has multiple adjustments, and it’s not overly bulky, but still does what a hood should do, protect from the wind and rain.
I’m not going to get into my total smock survival load out in this post, but I will tell you how I organize it (cold weather). I have two spec ops pouches with basic survival gear in the back pockets. One pouch contains medical items, the other contains wilderness survival gear. The advantage of the rear pocket option, is that you still have the front pockets for regular use items, and that space is not reduced by what you want to carry for on person survival/first aid emergencies. Being able to carry rifle mags in a pocket design to keep them from rolling around is an awesomely practical addition (I would only do this if I had to ditch my gear, and still had a functioning weapon), but keep in mind, due to the weight, they will still slap you in the hips if you have to run. I carry a goretex boonie hat and cold weather flight gloves, in the lower right pocket, a shemagh scarf, and camo veil, lower left. A neck gaiter is in the right side napoleon pocket, flight gloves in the left one. I usually try to keep the upper outside pockets empty. One, because my vest covers them and I can’t access easily, and two, because if I have to ditch my gear, I want to have pocket space to throw last minute equipment into from my load bearing gear. I can also secure bulky items like a space/casualty blanket, and poncho in the internal lower poacher pockets.
I have two smocks, one is coyote brown, the other is woodland camo. the reason for this is simple. I use the coyote brown one from mid-late October when the leaves have changed, all the way to mid April, when it starts to turn green in my AO. I use the woodland version the rest of the year, when it’s cool enough to actually need it. The only difference between the two, other the coloration, is the buttons I sewed into the coyote brown version, to actually button in a mil field jacket liner.
This is more of a convenience modification, than a necessity. It’s simple, I’m more apt to need the liner in the Coyote brown model, for the seasons I’m using it in. I have a liner for the woodland model as well, but I didn’t sew in buttons, because it doesn’t get used as often in the camo smock. The liner I use, is the one designated for the original military ECWCS (goretex cold weather system), and the liner has its own buttons to secure itself under another garment (see pic)
If the possibility exist for extreme wet weather, I wear a goretex rainsuit top under the smock, to retain the quiet advantage of the smock’s noiseless exterior.
Well that’s it, simple, durable, versatile, which happens to be my unofficial motto concerning necessary gear qualities. Make Sure you check out Max and Markus’s sites for more info on the smock, they’ve both put a lot of time into writing about it.
Next post will be “Pocket Load Outs For Survival Scenarios”
American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE