There are loads of options when it comes to customizing and setting up your battle belt.
The overall battle belt or war belt setup depends a lot on what you are planning to use the battle belt for. Are you using the rig for home defense, range practice, active combat, etc?
Each situation has its own factors and gear requirements. For example, if you are using your battle belt for pistol shooting practice (or if you only carry a handgun in general) you lack the need for rife magazine pouches and so on.
So when planning your battle belt setup always keep your actual needs in mind – consider your mission. Think about what you are using the setup for and in what environment you are working at.
That all said, there are some pouches and pieces of equipment every battle belt setup should have. Some more crucial some less.
Battle belts are for making holes and plugging holes. Making holes meaning your fighting equipment and plugging holes your medical equipment. Those two categories are your essentials for the belt.
The key components for your belt setup should be focused on those two goals. Your magazine pouches and handgun holster for making holes and your medical/ IFAK kit for plugging holes.
Everything else comes second. And is either mission-specific equipment or comfort equipment.
The Battle Belt Setup
Before getting to the actual setup, and what the battle belt setup should consist of let’s talk about some key points to consider before setting your belt up.
- Consider Your Mission At Hand!
Ask yourself what is your mission. What do you need the battle belt for in the first place? When you have concluded what your task is, then you can start thinking about what equipment you need to accomplish that task.
Whatever gear you decide to put on the battle belt, must be easily accessed. Gear that you cant get to, won’t be much help to you on the field! Also when placing gear and pouches, your pouches shouldn’t interfere with accessing other pouches.
If the belt gets too heavy it will start to drop down and you will need to use suspenders to keep it up.
Also stuffing too much equipment on one side can make the belt heavier on that side. Thus making it sag and tilt on to the side. Making wearing it uncomfortable.
- Don’t Overdo It!
You shouldn’t stuff your belt full of useless equipment. Battle belts should focus on your essentials and nothing else. Extra gear will just add weight and start to interfere with accessing your other gear. Sometimes simple and a minimalistic approach is better.
While designing this basic battle belt setup I tried to cover all the key components and bases.
I focused on one’s essential needs, battle belt setup basics and my own experience wearing and working with a battle belt in various environments and situations.
So that all said, the basic battle belt setup should consist of the following:
- The Battle Belt Itself
- Sidearm Magazines
- Rife Magazines
- Sidearm Holster
- A Dump Pouch
- An IFAK Pouch
- A Tourniquet
- Misc/ Admin Pouch
- A Knife
The Battle Belt
A battle belt usually consists of two things: an inner belt and an outer molle belt (or belt cover).
There are battle belts that don’t have a separate inner belt. Instead, these belts have the belt either sowed on or just have a belt buckle straight on them.
For any battle belt setup I strongly recommend using a separate inner belt and a molle belt, that slides on it. The two-piece battle belt allows for a lot more room for adjustments and customizing.
Plus you can attach things like your holster or knife on to the inner tactical belt. In general, they are a lot more comfortable to use.
The Inner Belt or Tactical Belt
For the inner belt, you can really use any kind of a tactical belt that fits your personal preferences and feels comfortable to wear. But with all things, there are a few factors to consider here.
Let’s start with the belt buckle. The buckle should be easy to work whit and simple to open. The buckle should either be a tactical quick release type or some kind of a clip buckle.
I would suggest opting for a belt with a strong metal quick release buckle. Because the buckle has to withstand all the weight and pressure you put on it. Trust me a broken belt buckle on your battle belt is the absolute last thing you want in a tactical situation.
The belt itself should be a little wider and thicker. The with should be anywhere around 3-5 cm (1.2-2 inches).
Belts should be made of a stronger, sturdier material like heavy-duty nylon belts. A sturdier and wider belt will help you effectively keep it in place and it will take the load better.
Outer Belt or Molle Cover
The molle cover belt ( or outer belt) is the thing that makes your belt a battle belt.
It is the base where you can attach all your equipment and pouches. These belts usually have two or three molle webbing strips/ lines where you can attach your pouches.
The molle belt should have some extra padding in the inside. Because depending on heavy your battle belt is, it can but a lot of strain on your waist.
Too little padding and the belt can start to really rub and push into your waistline. But then again if there is too much padding the belt might not fit as well, and start to move around on the waist.
So you should test around, to find the perfect fit for you.
The handgun/ pistol mag count should stay between two and three on the belt. Of course, this depends a lot on your situation and task.
If you use your handgun as a sidearm, then there really isn’t a need for more. I for one, always keep two pistol mags on my battle belt.
The mag pouches itself should be open-top type, preferably with stronger sides to them (to help with tactical reloading, and to fix the mags better). This allows for quicker access to them.
As for the placement, it’s fairly simple. The mag pouches should be placed on the reload side of your belt. They have to be placed so they are easily and quickly accessible, and you don’t have anything interfering with accessing them.
An extra mag (if needed) could be placed somewhere next to your holster aswell.
You can almost never have enough ammo or mags.
A battle belt is great for storing an extra mag or two (if you carry a rifle). And they are quite easily accessible on the belt.
And even without wearing a plate carrier or a chest rig you would still have that extra mag at hand if needed.
But you shouldn’t overdo it. You don’t want to place too much weight on your belt (if the battle belt gets too heavy it will start to sag and drop down and eventually you will need suspenders to keep it up).
Plus the space on your battle belt is pretty scarce. So one or two extra mags would be a good path to take.
The rifle mags should be placed on the reload arm side of the belt, after your handgun mags.
I recommend using open-top magazine pouches. They are a lot faster to work with and its easier to do tactical reloads.
If you run two rife mags on your battle belt you have two options. Option one is to have 2 separate mag pouches next to each other and option two, have a double mag pouch (or 2 mag pouches on one another).
I tend to use double mag pouches on my battle belt. They are a bit more on the bulky side, but they spare a decent amount of space on the belt.
At the end of the day, the type of mag pouches you use should depend on your mission needs and personal preferences.
There are a lot of different holster types out there, but not all are suited for a battle belt (from ankle holsters to concealed belt line holsters).
When choosing a holster for your battle belt setup you should focus on your tactical needs.
When it comes down to battle belt holsters you have two options to choose from. Either drop leg holsters or on belt holsters.
Drop leg holsters (aka thigh holsters) are holsters that are attached to your belt by a strap (or two) and then run down to your thigh, where they are fixed to your leg with straps.
If you want more information about drop leg holsters and how to use one with a battle belt, continue to my article about Drop Leg Holsters And How To Use One With A Battle Belt
While on belt-mounted holsters are any kind of a holster, that is either fitted on your belt. Either on the molle webbing (using molle adapters or attachments) or onto the inner belt of the battle belt.
For the basic battle belt setup, I would lean toward using an on belt holster.
Drop leg holsters can be a hassle and I would recommend using one only if you are wearing heavy body armor.
In my opinion belt holsters are more comfortable to carry and use. And I for one like to have my handgun on my belt line.
The pistol holster should be mounted on your main hand side of the belt, where your hand naturally sits. This makes reaching for the gun and drawing it more natural and faster.
You should keep the belt area where the holster is mounted relatively empty. You don’t want anything interfering with your draw and gun access. So no fancy pouches straight next to your holster!
Dump pouches are used to store your empty magazines. Dump pouches are good for speeding up your tactical reloads. They help you avoid dropping your mags on the ground and losing them.
They come in two variations and sizes: a little smaller foldable ones and larger roll-up drop pouches.
Both can be used on your battle belt quite effectively.
But I usually opt for the foldup version. Because they are more fixed to your battle belt. But this is just my personal preference.
Although the roll-up pouch can be easily attached to your belt, so it hangs down from it. This allows you to attach it under your other pouches, or even on to them. Meaning you can save a lot of space on the battle belt.
You have two good options when it comes down to a drop pouch position on your battle belt. You can either place it on your reload arm side of the belt or in the back of the belt.
Having it on your side makes it a little more comfortable to use. And it can slightly speed up your reload time compared to having it in the back.
While having the drop pouch in the back end of the battle belt means you can access it with both hands.
An IFAK Pouch
An IFAK pouch is a medical or a first aid kit. The acronym IFAK means an individual first aid kit.
In my opinion, an IFAK pouch or a med pouch is one of the most important parts of your battle belt setup.
As we talked about, one of the main tasks of a battle belt is plugging holes. Here comes to play your IFAK pouch.
The med pouch (well the compiled medkit/ IFAK inside) is your main tool for this. A well assembled and easily accessible med pouch can be a literal lifesaver.
Tactical situations can be quite hazardous. You never know what can go wrong or what can happen.
From small scratches and cuts to life-threatening wounds. Accidents happen, even in the shooting range or at training exercises. Having a med pouch at hand to deal with any possible injury is not only a good idea but can be life-saving.
I suggest using a rip off style med pouch. They are pouches that are attached by a velcro panel and a supportive clip.
Rip off pouches are super easy to access, and easy to work with. You can just pull them right off their velcro panel, and bring them into your ´´work zone´´.
You can easily go through the content of the pouch, and take the supplies you need at the moment, without having to go through it blindly or making a huge mess.
When placing an IFAK pouch on your belt, the most important thing is accessibility. You must be able to access the medkit with both of your hands.
And none of your other equipment should interfere with accessing the pouch.
For this reason, med pouches should be kept in the back of your battle belt. There you can reach it with both of your hands.
One could argue that it would be better to access the pouch if it was kept in the front section of the belt. But med kits ted to be a little bigger in size, so they would take quite a lot of space in the front of the belt and start interfering with the use of other equipment.
To read more about med pouches and IFAK’s continue to our in-depth article about IFAK’s and how to compile one.
Tourniquets or CATs ( Combat Application Tourniquet) are basically tight bands that are used to stop heavy bleeding.
They are essential pieces of military medical equipment and your personal medkit.
Whether you are on the combat field or shooting range having a tourniquet at hand can mean the difference between life and death.
As for all your medical gear, the tourniquet should be somewhere you can access it with both hands. Either in the front of your battle belt or in the back where you can still reach it with both arms.
To place the tourniquet on your battle belt there are two good options. You can either use a special tourniquet pouch.
Or something as simple as a couple of thicker rubber bands. You just have to lace the rubber bands through your molle webbing and fix the tourniquet on the belt with them.
Using rubber bands is great because when you actually need to get your tourniquet out, you can just grab it and pull it off your belt.
Saving you time and making it easier to access. Remember- every second in critical situations might mean the difference between life and death.
Misc/ Admin Pouch
Admin/ misc pouches aren’t really that important part of your battle belt setup.
The point of an admin/ misc pouch is to contain all of your knick-knack equipment and utility gear.
For example, you can fit your flashlight, glowsticks, multitools, survival kit, maps, etc in them.
There are a lot of different options for an admin/ misc pouch. Choosing on really depends on what you need it for.
I use a rip off style pouch for mine. And use it to store my multitool, glowsticks, fire starting kit, rope, some ducktape, and other gear depending on what task I have.
For the placement, I suggest keeping it somewhere on the backside of the belt.
I keep mine in the back right side, where I can reach it easily with my right hand and where it doesn’t bother me, nor get in the way of accessing other pouches/ equipment.
I’m not going to go too deep into the reasons why you should carry a knife on your battle belt setup.
Because there are just too many reasons to count. From the last line of self-defense to a simple utility tool, knives are super useful tools to have in your battle belt setup.
So we are going to focus more on how to attach a knife onto your battle belt and where to place it.
A good option for attaching a knife to your battle belt is to use paracord.
You can tie/ wrap your knife onto the molle webbing of the belt rather simply and effectively. You can even tie the knife onto the inner belt of your battle belt.
When using paracord to fix the knife on the belt, you can easily place the knifes sheath under other pouches. This allows you to save quite a lot of space, and have a little bit of extra concealment.
Of course, there are other options like special molle attachments, adapters and just belt clips for your innerbelt.
For the placement, I suggest that you carry it on the front section of the belt, where once again you could draw it with both of your hands.
Other Gear To Consider
Depending on your needs and task or mission, there are a lot of other options for pouches and other gear for your battle belt setup.
I didn’t include any of these in this basic battle belt setup because they are either more or less comfort equipment or very mission dependent things (such as handcuffs or some kind of a tech pouch).
But here is a short list of pouches/ equipment you might need or want to add to your battle belt setup:
- Radio Pouch
- Water Canteen
- Multitool Pouch
- Flashlight Pouch
- Tech pouch
- Survival Pack
- Map Pouch
- Grenade/ flashbang pouches.
- Handcuffs, and so on…
We covered all the basics of the battle belt setup. Went through all the essential pouches and gear and where and why to carry them on your battle belt setup.
When putting together or tweaking your own belt setup, keep in mind that…
Battle belts are for making and plugging holes. Hence the essential gear on the belt should be focused on these two goals.
Consider your task or mission at hand. Your setup should be built accordingly.
When placing pouches and equipment on your battle belt setup, don’t forget about accessibility.
And don’t overdo it! Sometimes simple and a minimalistic approach is just better.
But as always, at the end of the day, it all comes down to YOU. And your own preferences. So try different approaches and figure out what works best for you!