Getting Started in Airsoft: Essential Kit
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- Last updated: 23/03/2020
As a new airsoft season starts, I always get a little tingle of excitement as to what it will bring me in event terms. Many of us continue to skirmish during the winter, but it’s the thought of those longer days and lighter evenings that really get me thinking about which games I’m going to sign up for. I’m as fond of a good Sunday Skirmish with the team as any man, and the occasional, fully immersive MilSim is always good to get you on top of your game, but it’s the middle ground that I enjoy the most!
I’ve played weekend games that have encompassed military training areas in the UK, vast tracts of New Forest woodland, French mountains, and even former monastery buildings on Crete, and a good weekender to me is the best possible form for an airsoft game as not only will it usually give two full days, possibly with a night game thrown in, of airsoft, but it will also give me an opportunity to catch up with fellow players from different parts of the world! There will always be a bit of a social element to a weekend game with good friends slinging plastic death at one another all day long and then coming together for a barbeque and a lemonade when play ceases.
Tactics from the day will be analysed, new kit will be discussed and rated, and new RIFs will be drooled over; it’s always great fun, especially if it’s warm and fair, and the evening is mild. But in the UK of course we must always be prepared for that liquid sunshine moment, and the preparation of our gear, what we carry, and how we carry it must always be a primary consideration. Of course you’re already going to have all the gear you would normally play in and that’s a very personal choice so I won’t go into that; what I am going to lay out is a format for what you need in addition to your line gear to make your weekend fully enjoyable!
I always pack the same set of gear whether it’s an informal weekender, or a more structured MilSim event; the real things to consider for any weekender are actually quite straightforward and can be broken down into eight key elements; Load Bearing, Hydration, Food , Cooking, Lighting, Sleeping, Hygiene, and Comfort (I’m assuming here that most of us carry some type of First Aid Kit as part of our usual gear), and this time I’ll address the first three.
First up is Load Bearing, and what I mean by this is simply how you’re going to carry your gear. At many weekenders you’ll be able to camp directly next or at very least close to the vehicle you arrived in, so having your kit packed and organised in a large haul bag, something like the Snugpak Subdivide Roller which gives you separate compartments to keep everything stored and ready to hand when you need it.
However, there are some games where you can crash out in buildings onsite overnight and this will often mean that you need to carry everything on your back; indeed part of the scenario itself may involve you actually making a march in to a FOB site which will become your home for the duration so not only do you need to haul your gear in, but you need to keep it squared away too. Therefore, your very first consideration must be some form of Ruc or backpack.
I usually try to look for packs that sit in the 40/50L volume range as that’s big enough (if you pack properly!) to hold everything you need without becoming overly cumbersome. Look for a pack that offers not only a good harness system with a sternum strap, but also a good, solid belt harness too; anyone who has spent any time hauling a ruc will tell you that you actually want most of the weight distributed onto your hips rather than hanging from your shoulders which becomes very tiring, very quickly.
Hydration is the key to keeping going and keeping alert, especially when things get warmer, but important at all times. I’ve been to games in the very height of summer where even in good old Blighty the temperature has been way up there, and at one particular weekender I recall going through some 12-litres of water during the course of the day! Now there’s no way you’ll be carrying all of that on your back and you can usually rely on re-sup, but I tend to have a two-litre bladder mounted on my plate carrier, and another inside the ruc. I also carry a stainless steel widemouth Nalgene bottle which I keep filled when I’ve dropped my ruc off; this is a great bit of kit which allows you to get liquids into yourself far faster than a bite valve.
Food is also an essential; many players I know heading for a weekender will always stock up on good, old fashioned ration (RAT for a reason!) packs or MREs (Meals Rejected by Ethiopians!) and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this at all as the packs are designed specifically to provide all the necessary calories and nourishment to keep you going in the field. Camping and outdoor stores are also a great place to find food that’s prepared with hauling it in mind, and many of the boil in the bag meals are super tasty and can be eaten straight from their foil packets. I like to carry a nosebag too, basically a Ziploc bag into which I crumble digestive biscuits, nuts and dried fruit which is a good way to give yourself a quick boost without the highs and lows of sweets or chocolate bars!
Next month in Part II, I’ll come on to the all-important snivel gear that will make your gametime in the field not only bearable, but positively comfortable!
For gear choices please do check out one stop shop: military1st.co.uk.