Is M81 Cool yet? Oh yeah.
Worn in conjunction with the ALICE Standard Equipment belt, this was about as high speed as you could get from the US back in the 80s and 90s., This is the Enhanced Load Bearing Vest or just LBV for short. It was our first attempt at making proper chest-mounted equipment, taking a few notes from South Africa's successes with pattern 83: Velcro pouches for easy access to magazines, ITW fastex buckles, and light weight. We just made it a little more complicated because we're America.
What you might notice immediately is the angle of the mag pouches — It was believed that this was ergonomically better than vertical pouches for reloads, and even made an appearance on the early MOLLE platform known as the SPEAR ELCS made by Safariland. Whether or not it actually matters that they're angled is up to you, but it definitely gives off a retro aesthetic. Green berets and plenty of other spooks had angled mags on their kits well into Operation Enduring Freedom.
The vest is constructed with a breathable mesh, ITW Nexus Fastex buckles on the front, and a corset-style field repairable back (it literally uses paracord, which you could easily replace yourself). The shoulder harness is a padded slightly-angled H harness with loops for routing radio cords/antennas, but also comes in handy for routing hydration if you're using a more modern pack/carrier. Lastly, with an ALICE belt, you can loop it through the snapped loops on the bottom of the vest and even attach a M81 buttpack.
Antiquated? Yeah, a little bit. But that's the fun of M81 gear — It's in its golden years now which means its cheap, plentiful, and aesthetic as hell.
- Made in the USA by Reyes Industries
- 4 Piece construction: Shoulder harness, left & right mag panels, and back
- Breathable nylon mesh construction
- Corset-style paracord adjustment on back
- Holds 6 USGI Aluminum magazines. Outer mag pouches hold 2, inner holds one. No guaranteed fit with other rifle platforms.
- 2 grenade/compass pouches
- ALICE belt compatible snap-closure loops around base of the rig
- Padded shoulder harness with snap-closure loops for routing cables/hydration
- Rear panel has 2 D-rings for attaching M81 Style Buttpack (will need ALICE belt)
- Reinforced stitching on all load bearing points & wear areas
Load Bearing Vests are perfectly functional with either minor or no cosmetic blemishes, abrasions, or other signs of use. M81 Woodland pattern remains vibrant.