ALICE Magazine Pouch Turned MOLLE

From the Laboratory of Insane Schemes.  ALICE military surplus has been my load bearing choice since the mid 1970’s.  Not perfect for sure but it was a great place to carry my canteens and other items that would fit into ALICE 30 round magazine pouches.  Cut off the grenade pouch and they fit together nicely on an issue pistol belt.

Moving into the 2000’s.  After checking out some of the PALS / MOLLE surplus available I decided to change over.  Although the webbing can be hot and heavy the PALS way of attaching pouches or attachment of any kind to LBE or packs is a good one that almost makes the attached item a part of what it’s attached to.

Moving forward left unused canteen and ALICE magazine pouches packed in boxes and me wishing I had a better way than the adapters made to use ALICE on MOLLE.  The adapter still leaves the pouch flopping around like its on a pistol belt.  Not a very good solution.

I had the idea recently after a resupply to take apart an ALICE magazine pouch and see if I could convert it over to a MOLLE pouch.  If it would work it would fit perfectly on the space fillers on the DF-LCS rig elastic section I’d made from a zippered FLC purchased to salvage for parts.

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Inside view of FLC adapter/filler and “new” MOLLE magazine pouch attached.

First I had to figure out where the attachment straps would be placed near the top of the pouch and where to snap it on.  At the top I chose the hinge point for the lid so it wouldn’t interfere with access.  Snaps on the bottom.  When the snaps are on the back of the pouch they tend to push it out due to the bulk of the snap.  If snap popping becomes an issue they can always be changed to lift-the-DOT.  We’ll see what happens in the future.

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Finished pouch.

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Location of snaps

The web straps were the same length.   Doubled, folded in half and sewn together.  Measuring the magazine pouches for the PALS webbing I discovered that the pouch width could vary as much as a 1/4″ between 4 pouches.  I chose the widest width and cut all the pieces that size.  There are no actual dimensions in here because the variation in pouch width, measuring devices and points of measurement may not be the same as mine.  Duplicating it exactly may cause problems.

After lots of seam ripping and thread picking the pouch was in half and the ALICE webbing was removed.  Laying out the PALS is as simple as can be 1″ x 1 1/2″.  Since the pouch is so small I sewed a center line and the edges like I’ve seen on some issue pouches.  Sew the straps to the hinge point.  Keep it simple.

Although the snaps used and the Pres-n-Snap are designed to cut through the fabric without punching a hole, I did punch because the amount of pouches were small and I wanted more precise location of my snaps.  I’ve had puckering and slight movement of the snap post under pressure from the hand press that the finished snap was visibly off mark times I haven’t punched a hole first.  It’s also much easier on the body with a hand press if the hole has been punched.

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With the holes punched and the webbing sewn on, the stud part of the snap was installed on the bottom of the pouches.  I try to leave them until the end of the project or leave them off for as long as possible.  In the past I’ve put them on early thinking I’m saving time but they were in the way of the sewing machine on many occasions or were scratched up.

Once the snap half was in place the pouches could be sewn back together again.  The top and bottom received four stitch lines and the whole side of the pouch received two stitch lines.  That complete, the other half of the snaps were installed on the web straps and that was it.  Those are the steps I took to convert ALICE to MOLLE.  Now I have some of my favorite pouches to use again.  There’s a video below of the process.  -13

Materials used: Mil Spec DOT snaps, poly webbing, sunbrella thread.

Marine Expeditionary Boot: Danner Waterproofing Spray

WATERPROOF

In the blog/videos Marine Expeditionary Boot: First ImpressionsMarine Expeditionary Boot: Why I choose the M.E.B. for everyday wear and Marine Expeditionary Boot: Notes of the First 7 Days the topic of waterproofing new boots was left out to make this blog/video.  I’ve read some product reviews stating that the nap and color of the boot had changed after using the Danner waterproofing spray.  Function over aesthetics every time lets find out what happens.

VERTSPRAY

Wearing the Danner Marine Expeditionary Boot for a few days indoors and deciding to keep them the waterproofing spray was applied before I wore the boots outdoors.  The online reviews made me think the worst.  Drastic color change, ruined nap.  I’d rather have ugly waterproof dry boots than pretty khaki color wet ones.

RUB

The water based Danner waterproofing spray was easy to apply and smelled a little like Armor-all.  Due to the runny nature of the spray I found it worked better if the surface was horizontal.  At first I was spraying the boot in vertical.  As soon as my first spray hit the leather/nylon the liquid ran off of the surface.   It seemed to be better to spray the area, then distribute it evenly by hand.  Washing hands first or wearing gloves will prevent dirt transfer from skin.

BLOTCH

Two, soaking coats were applied, drying in between each coat.  When first applied, before it dried, the surface of the leather did not look good.  It was blotchy, light and dark spots throughout.  It looked bad. Like the discoloration was permanent.  Thought for sure I ruined them.  After drying for several hours the color seems to be unchanged.  Like disappearing ink.  Remember that stuff?

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A quick test under running water resulted in water beading off both boots like car wax.  Not sure how much confidence I have in water based waterproofing.  It worked or seems to.  I’m wondering how long it will hold up.  The real test will be on the fringes of the Everglades and getting the trash can to the curb.  Check out the short video below if you want to see what happened. -13

 

Marine Expeditionary Boot: Why I choose the M.E.B. for everyday wear

My search for boots.  What a change in experience over the past 40 years or so.  I used to be in a place where I had access to multiple individuals wearing the best boots available at the time.  Shopping for boots back then involved asking lots of questions to those who had them on their feet as we spoke.  Checking out company claims then trying on a few prospects in store until I found what worked best.

flight flying helicopter

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2018 the search for new boots is much different.  I’m no longer around multiple individuals with the best boots and trustworthy opinions.  I’m surrounded by bare feet and flip-flops!  Now if I need an opinion on boots I have to watch a video if I can find one or read a rating posted online.  Given the nature of corporations to censor bad ratings, good rating sources must be scrutinized.  Sucks not being able to ask the person wearing them the questions I’d like to.

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Most retail stores won’t carry the kind of boots I would buy.  They’re more of a speciality and much too expensive to have sitting around collecting dust.  In the past there were only a few places that would sell them.  With the internet I haven’t found any local stores that carried any of the boots I’d considered.  They were only available online.  That leaves me ordering boots online.  If they don’t fit ship them back then order the next size or a completely different boot.  Don’t like it much but that’s modern shopping.

working macbook computer keyboard

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I’m very picky about my boots.  My opinions began to form in the 1970’s.  From first hand experience as a Boy Scout on local hikes to my favorite, advise from infantry soldiers and pilots returning from Vietnam.  I can still spit-shine boots if I have too.  You?  There is  lace breaking, eyelets tearing out, soles falling off, laces caught in pedals, foot rot, leather or nylon/leather combo issues, vents or not, zippers and more.  I could never have imagined all the possibilities of failure or discomfort, it pays to ask questions.  I was really lucky.

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My preferences then evolved from experiences responding to emergencies with a rescue squad, fire department, ambulance service and some related type side jobs.  I no longer look for daily wear boots with NFPA ratings, nothing else has changed.  My requirements are few but hard to find in one boot.  Fit, comfort, materials, reputation, durability, confidence, performance and no excuses.

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My requirements narrow the choices quickly.  Goodyear welt fully sewn and a Vibram brand outsole.  A heat fused sole as seen on most boots, once separated from the boot renders the boot useless.  Unrepairable!  Goodyear welt soles can be repaired multiple times.  Can also be field repaired with the right materials.  One should know how to fix one’s boots and have spare.  I’ve never had a Goodyear welt sole fail me.  Every pair of heat fused/glued boot or shoes I’ve tried failed.

Laces.  How laces pass through and attach to the boot is also a major factor in my boot choice.  Only two types of eyelet are acceptable.  One or two piece eyelets or a loop type speed lace combination.  Never, ever, hook type speed laces.  One pair of boots 30 something years ago taught me everything I needed to know about them.

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If I had a pair I would demonstrate the issues on video.  But I made a vow then that I would never buy another pair of boots with them and support that crap ever again.  Anyone who has the responsibility of life and property as a job task, hope the following helps you.

My why- never again of hook speed laces.  The hook in the photo above is a good example.  It’s the first hook located at the top of the boot.  Items can catch that hook and pull it outward forcing the top of the boot inward flipping the lace off the hook requiring the boot to be tied again.  These hooks can also be bent outward so the lace won’t hold or bent in trapping the lace preventing it from being untied.  When attempting to bend it back into place the hook breaks.  Also, the placement of the lace make the hook pull the boot body outward and from above.  Eyelets pull lower and do not cause the inward motion caused by the hook.

Actual never again with the speed lace hooks come from emergency calls I was working. I like many saw the speed laces and thought it would be great to be able to put my boots on faster when a run comes in.  Until several in field experiences changed my mind.

On the roof of a house about to lower a patient down a ladder, the wire part of a Stokes litter catches the top speed hook, flips it out, unties my boot.  Pain in the ass I thought as I quickly tied the boot.  Good thing there were others around it was doing CPR compressions.  Didn’t give it much thought after that.  Seemed like not such a big deal at the time just a hassle.

Not long after that experience I had another cardiac patient untie mishap.  Doing compressions on an arrest I had to quickly brace my foot on the gurney to keep from falling when the ambulance made an evasive movement to avoid an accident.  I was trying to get my footing on any part of the gurney I could.  As I moved my foot the top speed hook caught on the gurney and untied it instantly.

Once part of the hook system comes unlaced it all goes.  That time I was pissed off.  Swore off the boots “never again!” and casually started looking for another pair.

But I didn’t get the message or move quickly enough.  About a month after that I’m chest deep in Spring Creek with a patient clinging to the bridge foundation.   I don’t know what’s under the water but the lace hooks at some point catch on something.  Can’t reach it by hand without going under water.  Not a reasonable or safe option at that point.  Moving my foot around didn’t work so I pulled hard as a could.

It felt like I ripped the boot.  Couldn’t see anything until we got out of the water.  The patient was packaged at that point all that mattered was getting up the embankment into our ambulance.  The way up the embankment was the last time I ever wore boots with speed laces.  On our way to the place where we get back to the road I noticed that two of the hooks were bent.  During a pause as we were preparing to go up the embankment I had the bright idea to bent the hooks back and broke them both.

So, that is the why, of the never again, with speed lace hooks.  There are more  problems I’ve seen over the years when other people were wearing them.  On the opposite end I’ve heard from many people over the years how much they love their speed lace hooks.  I wonder how much they’d like them if any of that was happening while they were being rescued.  Can’t do that to anyone or myself ever again.  It’s hard to believe those things have made it this far on boots.

Shank is also a must have.  Prefer metal over plastic.  Working on a ladder or pushing a shovel you will tell you very quickly if you have them.  The M.E.B has a fiberglass shank.  We’ll see how that works out.

agriculture backyard blur close up

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Leather is a must, some nylon is also acceptable for hotter climates.  As much as I’d like to have vents I have never found them practical in any application.  In some of the driest locations I’ve been there is still a need for the ability to walk through shallow bodies of water.  I’d rather have a boot be a little warm and dry and have to change sweaty socks than worry about wet feet for the shift because I stepped in a puddle of possibly contaminated water in boots with vents.

 

brown leather textile on top of drafting board

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That was a long ass winded way to get to this place wasn’t it?  The Danner Marine Expeditionary Boot has what I’m looking for.  Snug, comfortable out of the box.  No excessive foot movement within the boot that needs to be filled with insoles and socks.  There is enough head-room over the top part of my foot to allow comfortable movement/flexing of my foot and toes.  Like a glove fit.  I did add *arch support like I do with all my footwear it was no surprise.

Leather/Cordura outer for durability and comfort in hotter climates like we have in Florida.  A Gore-Tex liner so I can keep my feet dry when the water isn’t deep enough for rubber boots.  We often have storms that leave standing water that require wading.  Eyelet and loop speed lace combination works great.  It’s easy to fine tune the laces.

Goodyear welt construction with a replaceable Vibram outsole.  Danner says this boot is recraftable meaning they can repair the boot but not in every case.  Based on past experience a good cobbler may also fix issues if the factory wasn’t able or not available.  Then there is a USMC reputation for durability and confidence when my or someone else’s life depends on it.

I made notes of wearing the boot in the blog Marine Expeditionary Boot: Notes of the First 7 Days I’ll make an update video/blog in six months.  We’ll see how the boots are holding up and if my opinion changes.  Also there is a video review below check it out.  -13

 

*NOTE: Spenco Total Support Max will not fit this boot.  After trimming the insole to match the factory insoles I attempted to put one into the boot.  With or without the laces in place it was so difficult to get into place I was sure I would either break the plastic support of the insole or the edge of the plastic support would tear the inside of the boot or liner.

The insole seems like it might be too wide or inflexible to work properly with these boots.  I was able to angle them into the boot after much trying, aggravation and fear of damaging something during the process.  Once in the boot it was clear it would not work in any way at all.  In place the insole wanted to push up down the length in the middle as if it was being folded in half.  Not a drastic bend, just a small raised area from lateral compression making them unusable in the M.E.B.

Marine Expeditionary Boot: Notes of the First 7 Days

Thought it might be a good idea to make notes from my first week wearing the M.E.B. and keep track of how the boots felt each day.  I’ve never kept notes on boots before but in the age of the internet and censored reviews it may help others make a wiser choice when purchasing vital items like boots.  Don’t want company propaganda, I want real people sharing their experience.  Here’s my first 7 days wearing the Danner Marine Expeditionary Boot

For those interested and for consistency I’m wearing Darn Tough Cool Max socks exclusively.  I’ll blog/video about them after I’ve worn them longer.  At present they are comfortable to wear and help keep my feet dry when moisture builds up.

Day one notes are in the blog and video Marine Expeditionary Boot: First Impressions

Day two feet feel good.  No hot spots or rubbing.  Still new stiff but soften up a little with body heat/moisture.  The fit is snug and well fitting.  Will need more arch support than the original insoles provide.  It feels like the space is slightly empty in the arch.  I have high arches I expected to add them and ordered *high arch insoles in anticipation.  When standing stationary the rounding on the sole is noticeable.  My ankles are wanting to tilt inward or outward.  Depends on where I position my body weight.

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Day 3 sat on my ass all day in front of a computer, boots on.  Comfortable, so much for day 3.

Day 4 of boots on my feet.  Light duty day.  Grocery store, water the plants, worm bin maintenance.  Really hardcore test huh?  There are some notable experiences.  The addition of an insole used for high arches helps the boots fit a little more snugly.  Unexpectedly making the boots feel much more like they had been made for my feet.  When I first put on the boots I had over tightened the lace in various places causing fatigue.  Once this was addressed the comfort and fit felt good to be wearing.

Day 5 working on projects required me to be knelt down after several minutes noticed a pressure point in the same place on the inside ankle bilaterally.  Not bad because I try not to spend time working like that because it is uncomfortable to work in any way.  It could get uncomfortable when kneeling on the ground or in a confined space for a lengthy period of time.  The shifting weight/switching sides or slightly moving could help remedy or give some relief.  I make a note so if you’re in a predicament out there you won’t be surprised.  It won’t keep me from wearing them and it’s a position humans don’t normally spent time much time in anyway.

 

ANKLE POINT

Ankle pressure point when kneeling.

 

Day 6 88°F/31°C, 65% or so humidity, thunderstorms on the way.  Perfect time to move stuff into storage.  Moving around obstacles, pushing heavy carts the tread kept traction on pavement, concrete and painted concrete.  The arch or roundness of the tread is noticeable.  Since the sole isn’t flat the ankle tends to tilt lateral until it settles.  So far not a deal breaker it is something to be aware of.  It may be the way I walk, when I do there is a rolling feeling when the toe part of the boot moves into the next step to push off.  Not so sure how descriptive that was it is demonstrated in the video.

The heat build up but was never uncomfortable.  I’m sure the tan color helped when in the sun.  The socks and the Gore-Tex liner may be helping with moisture buildup.  The socks were very wet with sweat.  The liner of the boot felt dry.  After a change of socks it was back to normal.  No noticeable hot spots or rubbing.  An issue that surprised me was the top speed lace loop on the left boot pressing into my leg.  The way the boots are tied, the wrap around of excess lace presses one of the lace loops into my leg.  Just the one on that boot.  The right one, nothing tied the same way.

 

LOOP PRESSURE

Top speed lace loop pressure point.

 

After experimenting its clear it had to do with the way the lace crossed the loop and amount of pressure on it.  Fine tuning that really helped.  It hasn’t been a problem after the adjustments.

Had to go through some mud and wet sand typical of Florida after the storm.  Shortly after was able to hose them off.   All of the dirt washed off.   The leather beaded water like car wax.  My feet were dry.  This was after I’d changed socks.  The boots stayed dry inside no problem. So far, good comfort without all the excess padding.  My feet are liking these boots.

Day 7 putting the on boots is getting faster.  The paracord lace has stretched and is settling into the memory spot it develops after regular use.  No hot spots, rubbing or compression on the foot, ankle, arch or lower leg.  As long as the laces are adjusted properly.  My heel fits into heel cup well adding to the comfort.  Although boot has a glove like fit on my foot there is enough space to flex the foot and toes as is sometime necessary for comfort.

The tongue stays centered like no other boot I’ve worn.  With the help of a tool from the window glass industry I like to call a tongue fid I’m able to keep the tongue centered and free of bunching that causes pressure points.  The tongue fid is stout but flexible plastic.  The tapered end has rounded edges.  It works really well for pushing the tongue into place as the boots are laced up.  Those double folds can cause gnarly pressure points and be hard to move once the boot is tied.  Sometimes it can also be used it for scratching parts of my leg or ankle without having to take off the boot.  Some itching can’t be ignored.

The heat factor isn’t as bad as I thought it might be.  In south Florida heat and humidity are part of life here.  It’s expected.  These boots don’t seem overly hot here.  At this point it does seem I can feel a difference in temp where the Cordura is.  It seems to be cooler than the foot.  The foot area does build up moisture.  The Darn Tough Cool Max socks are making a difference in a different way than I expected.  Watch for a blog/video soon.

At present, they’re comfortable boots.  Over the next six months I’ll take more notes and video with an update.  Check out the blog Marine Expeditionary Boot: Why I choose the M.E.B. for everyday wear and video below. -13

 

 

*NOTE: Spenco Total Support Max will not fit the M.E.B.  After trimming the insole to match the factory insoles I attempted to put one into the boot.  With or without the laces in place it was so difficult to get into place I was sure I would either break the plastic support of the insole or the edge of the plastic support would tear the inside of the boot or liner.

The insole seems like it might be too wide or inflexible to work properly with these boots.  I was able to angle them into the boot after much trying, aggravation and fear of damaging something during the process.  Once in the boot it was clear it would not work in any way at all.  In place the insole wanted to push up down the length as if it was being folded in half.  Not a drastic bend, just a small raised area from lateral compression making them unusable in the M.E.B.

Marine Expeditionary Boot: First Impressions

New boots! First impressions of the Danner Marine Expeditionary Boot (M.E.B.) 53111, GTX, Mojave.  GTX is for the Gore-Tex liner and Mojave is the color code.  These boots are keepers!

Finally found a boot made on a last that fit my feet.  Many brand boots have too much space above the foot.  My foot in other brand boots properly tied would have at least 1/2″ of vertical movement.  When I lifted my foot to walk the boot would shift downward moving the footbed off my foot.  Then on the down step the boot hit the surface first, then the foot onto the footbed of the boot.

To remedy this I used a combination of socks and sole inserts which put my foot at an awkward place in the boot and never worked well.  No more of that with the M.E.B.  I can wear a single pair of socks and skip adding thicker sole inserts.  The fit is more like an athletic type shoe, much more comfortable around the foot.  Snug and supportive without binding.  The leather has no visible flaws, stitching is perfect.  The overall finish and look of the boots are aesthetically pleasing.

Materials quality will be determined through use.  Concerns with the sole are an arch that causes the boot to want to move in a rocking motion.  Maybe this will flatten out after the boot breaks in.  I’m wondering if the sole might stay like that and wear out the protruding part until it evens out.

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There is a short length of stitching that holds the front end of the sole onto the boot as reinforcement.  This line of stitching is not protected and might wear through enough to break the stitch.

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The laces that came with the boots are too thin and I prefer to use Mil-spec type 3 paracord so they were changed.  The sole inserts feel comfortable, but I might add some arch support.  I’ve worn them at home for about 7 hours walking as much as possible and am confident they will keep me happy for years.  Since an opportunity presents itself to track these from the start I’ll post periodic updates on the state of the boot.

Next post will explain why the M.E.B. was chosen and a progress update. Video review is below check it out. -13

My Pack Rat Moving Experience

Here is another video from my catch up list.  The video is new, the information is from 2016, 2017.  The important information is in the video.  It’s mostly still images of the containers and condition of them with my narration.  Overall the experience was good check out the video for more detail. -13

 

 

Austere Medicine: Mega Medic Bag / MOLLE 2 Pack Frame Attachment Points

The first video I made on this bag.

 

The Dyna-Med Mega Medic bag is one of my favorite bags to use.  Only problem is when I pack the bag it gets heavy.  Sometimes 35+ pounds.  I need a better way to move the bag than hand or over shoulder carry with that kind of weight.

I have a broken MOLLE 2 pack frame I like to use for experiments so I don’t break a good one.  By chance I laid the frame next to the mega medic bag setting on a table one day.  It was easy to notice how close they were in size so I set the bag on top of the frame and this is the result.

A video how I modified the mega medic bag to attach to the MOLLE 2 pack frame.  It’s not a how-to, it’s a how I did it video.  The process was simple but time consuming.

Put the bag on the frame, pick the best spots to attach webbing.  Mark it, get the dimensions for the webbing, mark, then cut the pieces.  That process took maybe 45 minutes to an hour.  Once the webbing is ready its sewing time.

I knew sewing was going to go slow.  The pieces I’ve added would have been sewn on much sooner in the assembly process reducing the time drastically.  The time was no problem since quality/accuracy is more important to me than speed.  The webbing straps make it easy to attach to the MOLLE 2 frame.  Think this took more like an hour plus but I’m not sure.

I did notice over the last few videos how bad the audio is so I’ll attempt to make it better. Several issues there that must be addressed.  After I’ve updated the kit contents I’ll make another video about the bag to include kit content and modifications. -13

Video of modifications.