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View Full Version : Padding for your LBE / LBV or other gear



Stickman
01-24-21, 18:48
The purpose of this is to discuss why a few dollars worth of foam and nylon are able to create a comfort zone (padding) for load bearing equipment, as well as showcase the method of installation of the mentioned material.


Starting with the padding, a closed cell foam will tend to break down less and hold its form better than its open cell sibling. Closed cell foam tends to be less flexible and provide more structure and stability, which is a long term asset. If you need heavy padding, consider two rows of closed cell foam, or one open cell and one closed cell layer. If you go with one open cell (softer) piece, use that side towards your skin and the closed cell away from yourself. Both open and closed cell foam should be available from any upholstery or fabric shop.

Eagle Industries makes the inserts which function as padding, or holders for padding. These shoulder straps come in several sizes, with some being marked as padding, and some being marked as for ballistic protection. The ballistic protection ones are larger, and open easily (with hook and loop) for padding or ballistic inserts. In this case, the larger versions won't be used for ballistic protection, they will be used to insert padding and create a more comfortable load carriage system. Ebay is a great source, and prices tend to run in the $10-$15 range.

Whether you are using a LBE (Load Bearing Equipment), LBV (Load Bearing Vest), Y or H harness, or pack, shoulder padding makes a substantial difference, especially as weight is increased. The secondary function is to aid in comfort for injuries, especially shoulder injuries.

Once you have the foam and shell, trace and outline and cutout the foam to match the shape. Scissors can be used, but a sharp knife slices through foam and works nicely as well. Remember to cut towards the large side, and trim as needed to get a tight fit.

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You will probably end up with a lot of left over foam, you can throw it out, or you can figure what the scraps can be used for. In many cases, the extra foam can be trimmed down to silence equipment in pouches, or provide extra padding on other equipment.

https://64.media.tumblr.com/e02f9f220cd7a3a820d5fb54721c861a/4851703859513a2e-96/s1280x1920/e519ea82b0e8e351cae0135954ef51f89ac90763.jpg

Stickman
01-24-21, 18:48
In this case you can see the padding and insert is being used on a Harness which has thin padding. Remember that you do NOT want the side with velcro (hook side) against your skin or clothing. You want the velcro side against the equipment, otherwise it will tear up skin or clothing as it makes contact and rubs.

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Take note that placement is important. You want your new padding to ride over both your shoulder, and slightly towards the back and front. This eases rubbing or chaffing and helps disperse weigh around a larger surface, making your load carriage system both lighter and more comfortable. Typically you will place the padding back farther than you expect.

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Stickman
01-24-21, 18:49
Once you have the padding placed where you want, check both sides to ensure there is nothing stuck or accidentally under the padding or stuck in the nylon. Think of the princess and the pea. What might feel like a minor issue can ruin your day after a few miles, never mind wearing your gear for extended periods of time or wearing addition items over it.

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Try the gear on with your padding in place. Once you are sure its good to go, break out your good tape and use it to secure the shoulder padding in place. On this case we are using green gaffers tape. Gaffers tape works well and doesn't smear around or leave residue like 100 mile an hour tape (Duct Tape). Another nice feature of the gaffers tape is that it remains pretty sticky, which means if you needed tape for securing a load, locking down seams, or detaining persons, you can peel it off and reuse it.

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Stickman
01-24-21, 18:49
Here we can see this First Spear harness is being used to carry an HK .45 Tactical, 6" DPx Gear knife, as well as magazines for pistol and rifle. While there is room for plenty more equipment, this basic setup keeps things manageable for all day use. The extra padding provides much more comfort for an old shoulder injury which never seems to heal.

To end this, I think most people will find the minor outlay of cash ($15-20) is more than made up for by the extra layer of comfort given by this upgrade.


Thoughts, ideas, ways you've upgraded your LBE, LBV, Y or H harness? Go ahead and post your thoughts. You can certainly tape foam directly into your shoulder straps, but this gives you a more professional look and feel, as well as allows for easy trying out of different materials.

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vandal5
01-24-21, 19:31
This is a great write up Stick.
Thank you!

Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk

sinister
01-24-21, 20:35
Open-cell foam tends to suck up and hold water if that's a consideration.

Gaffer's tape will eventually slide and can wrap on itself. It can still leave gummy residue.

An option is to use "Super-tack" waxed braided flat nylon thread (jumpers and riggers are familiar with this). You simply run your needle through the fabric and pad (to keep it from rolling or shifting), then tie a surgeon's locking knot.

Stickman
01-25-21, 00:07
This is a great write up Stick.
Thank you!

Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk

Thanks, I tried to make it so people could just look at the pics and ignore the words.

Stickman
01-25-21, 00:12
Open-cell foam tends to suck up and hold water if that's a consideration.

Gaffer's tape will eventually slide and can wrap on itself. It can still leave gummy residue.

An option is to use "Super-tack" waxed braided flat nylon thread (jumpers and riggers are familiar with this). You simply run your needle through the fabric and pad (to keep it from rolling or shifting), then tie a surgeon's locking knot.


Open cell isn’t a good choice for the vast majority of the people, it just have too many negatives.

Gaffers tape will roll or slide under lateral pressure, especially in the heat. However, and it’s a big however, I do think that GOOD gaffers tape will work better than most duct tape, but nothing beats stabbing a few stitches through it. My concern is that if we start talking about stitching gear, most people will go “shields up” and write it off.

For any of us that were around for LBEs, I’m going to guess I’m not the only one who still has duct tape residue from taping snaps shut.

chuckman
01-25-21, 09:12
When we were doing a lot of water ops/VBSS, etc., we used a type of yoga mat with the LBE and as padding with the body armor. The type we used (can't recall the name) didn't act as a sponge and added some buoyancy.

Stickman
01-25-21, 13:02
When we were doing a lot of water ops/VBSS, etc., we used a type of yoga mat with the LBE and as padding with the body armor. The type we used (can't recall the name) didn't act as a sponge and added some buoyancy.

Yup, a lot of the guys I served with used sections of the foam sleep mats and just taped them on. It was certainly better than nothing.

vandal5
01-25-21, 13:44
Thanks, I tried to make it so people could just look at the pics and ignore the words.

Well I am certainly guilty of that too. It is nice when people take the time to type up a thoughtful presentation. I myself am far from a wordsmith...
As to your other comment about knowing how to add some stitches. No everyone needs to be a seamstress but having the basic knowledge sewing is a good idea. Think Home Economics was the best class I took in HS. Between sewing and cooking feel that was quite important to learn as a kid.

Not that everyone wants to go sewing up and modifying their new equipment but some of this stuff is quite expensive. If you can make helpful modifications such as you have or repairs to extend life that is very handy. Not that I have any hard use Tac type gear... but back when I used to ride/race dirtbikes I would often need to patch up or modify some of my gear in the high wear areas. Hell, I even had a Dr cut a shirt off me when i broke my collar bone up the seam so that I could sew it back together. THink i may still have that shirt in the basement.

HardToHandle
01-25-21, 18:10
Gaffers tape.
Nothing compares. Whatsoever. 97% solution to 98% of situations.
Great thread.