IWA and Enforce Tac 2023 – Tactical Gear (Part 1)
IWA 2023 tactical gear and Enforce Tac tactical gear – these phrases make a gear enthusiast’s heart sing! This year both fairs opened their doors again after the lock down and the toned down version of the last year. Of course we took the chance to learn about all the new things that are going to be released soon. There was so much to be seen that we can only give an overview about what we were excited about the most.
As you can imagine there are lot’s of brands who all try to cater for the needs of operators. Be it professionals or just people who like to use great gear that won’t let you down. This first part will be focusing solely on gear and equipment while the second one will focus on clothing.
As in the last years, Direct Action likes to go slowly and concentrate on a few items that really make a difference.
This year there’s a new medium sized first aid kit. It closes the gap between a full blown medic backpack and an IFAK (individual first aid kit). It has a big main pocket, smaller ones for gloves and other items and PALS all over. So you can mount things like a tourniquet or a field stretcher – even on the bottom of the bag. The shape can look a bit unusual because it’s not low profile like we are used to. But the main idea behind it is it can be mounted beneath a plate carrier and even combat or patrol backpack.
The other new item is a rope pouch for descending without letting the rest of your rope dangle below you. And the new deployment bags are now available in 3 different sizes, from 42 L to 150 L. They are not as thick and durable as we are used to from the military issue ones, because here the idea was to have them lightweight and be able to roll them up when empty. So the fabric is Cordura 500D, same as gear, instead of 1000D or more.
While saws and wood crafting tools might not be per se tactical you will want to have means to cut wood for shelters and others. Since there are already many different saws Silky now showed something different: A very tactical variant of a traditional Japanese machete called “Nata” from the Outback line. While heavier and thicker than classical machetes this one will work better for hacking thick branches or splitting trees. The new version has a black blade and a second edge on the back.
Following the trend of grey man compatible gear Wisport presented some backpacks that have the same tough build as their military backpacks but don’t look as tactical as the others. There are some “civilian” versions coming of some daypacks. You won’t get them in camo patterns and they have no PALS webbing. So they are not only more unconspicous looking but also a bit lighter than their tactical counterparts.
Wisport also showed some bags and backs of the new “War hog” brand – civilian gear by new designers. New camouflage on the market called MAPA (by a industry giant Maskpol) was sharing the booth with Wisport and we got so excited that we will most likely be getting their gear and uniforms.
You might know PhantomLeaf for clothes from different brands in a pattern called “Wasp II”. If you follow #10secondstohide you will know how well it works. Over the last years Wasp II was the only PhantomLeaf pattern available to civilians and only available on clothes (the only exception was a “Compadre bag” by Ventum Gear). At Enforce Tac 2023 there were the first pieces of tactical gear to be seen in Wasp II. Namely pouches and a plate carrier by frog.pro.
IWA 2023 brought a totally new civilian pattern called “Wasp I”. There’s not only clothes to come in the new pattern but also camo nets and woobies. Perunika has took over Phantom Leaf distribution in Slovenia in entirety. We are looking forward getting amazing gear from different producers, perhaps even raw material to make some Gorkas etc. ourselves!
For more very exciting news about PhantomLeaf read on to the corresponding section in the next post about clothing.
Woobies a.k.a. poncho liners in a modern interpretation seem to be trend over the last years. Carinthia shows not only one but two new items of this category. Both can be combined with a waterproof poncho to make a very warm and rain proof set. You can disconnect the two and rebuild them into a makeshift sleeping bag with the poncho as a bivvy bag.
One of the sets focuses on the usage as a warming liner for ponchos while on the move. The other one focuses more on the usage as sleeping bag. You can even add an extra part that makes a hood including mosquito net. Some details of the liners differ from other similar items like they are using buttons instead of zippers to be more resistant to dirt and other wear and tear. The cherry on top were undoubtedly the products in the new Austrian ‘tarnanzug’ camouflage and the German Multitarn (Flecktarn shaped spots in the Multicam color palette). They will probably never be available on the civilian market, but they were a joy to look at!
While other companies kept releasing items as usual over the last years, Clawgear took the time of the pandemic to more or less rebuild their whole brand. As you can expect there is a whole load of new items available. More than we can mention here.
There are lots of new pouches where one of the most important parts is that you can choose if you want versions with MOLLE straps or laser cut PALS loops. Since both have their fans that seems like a good move. There are also several plate carriers available from very feature rich and heavy to extremely minimalistic. The most interesting part is that you can mix and match the parts of the carriers to build the exact platform you need.
Clawgear also released a new ghillie suit. What’s new is that the suit consists of several parts you can connect or disconnect as you need them. Long sleeves, short sleeves, long legs, short legs, whatever you need. The whole suit is not built of traditional fabric but what could be best described as mesh material. Don’t think of classic mesh because it’s holes are way bigger than usual and it’s stiff plastic instead of flexible yarns.
A very simple but very helpful item is an expander for rifle magazines. They help to turn civilian legal 10 round magazines into the length of 30 round magazines most pockets and pouches are made for. Yes, you’ll waste some space but it’s a great compromise for situations when you’re not allowed to use regular 30 round magazines. These expanders are just one of many new accessories for rifles. Apart from the hand guards and tube covers we all know well, we can even expect their own rifle suppressor/silencer.
The focus of Tasmanian Tiger is again on improving existing items and more medical gear. You can expect different plate carriers including an amphibious variant made of material that will collect less water than other items. There is also a matching pouch available.
Tasmanian Tiger now also has several back panels for plate carriers. They will not only fit via PALS but also with zippers depending on the options you have on your plate carrier or backpack.
Regarding medical gear there’s a new backpack for mass casualty scenarios. It can hold loads of important items partially split up in several detachable first aid kits.
Additionally two waist packs will be available. Both can be attached as a pouch to other backpacks or plate carriers.
In the booth of Templar’s Gear you could see different plate carriers. From very sophisticated ones to totally minimalistic systems. As with other brands the components of the plate carriers are interchangeable so you can build your personal carrier as you like it.
Several pouches can make the setup of the plate carrier complete. The most innovative one seems to be a smartphone pouch you can mount like an admin pouch on the chest and have access to your phone all the time. Of course you can also mount it everywhere else where you have PALS webbing available. Templar’s Gear is (apart from the past) now focusing on less different products but more multi-purpose. We got the most excited about the new low-profile plate carrier and low-profile ultra-light dump pouch.
More about tactical and military clothing from IWA 2023 and Enforce Tac 2023 in the part 2.
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