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Archive for June, 2015

The Baldwin Articles – The Canteen Cover

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

This is second guest post by Terry Baldwin. It concerns the venerable canteen cover which has been used over the years to carry a wide variety of gear, including canteens. While the study isn’t exhaustive, it does include a wide survey of modern canteen covers.


As you can see from the attached picture I own a lot of different canteen covers. And I’ll admit that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I never intended to acquire so much gear but it just turned out that way. I have way too many tuff boxes full of it; as I am sure a good number of the other readers of SSD do as well. But I am not a collector of militaria either (although my wife has accused me of being a hoarder and wants very much for me to sell the gear I have accumulated). Almost everything I have was used by me during my professional career in the Army. A few other items I have acquired over time for personal ‘”experimentation” and future use.

I “grew up” in the Army in the late 70s and early 80s before there was much of a “tactical gear industry”. In those days soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, conventional forces or what we now call SOF all used what Uncle Sam issued (with perhaps some minor modifications) because there simply wasn’t anything else. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. You learned to work with and optimize what you had. There was nothing “perfect” available…just lots of OD green “good enough”. That actually worked for me. I enjoyed tinkering with what I had and seeking improvements to my kit throughout my service.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’m claiming to be any kind of a gear “expert”. I definitely don’t know all there is to know or have all the answers about anything. But the American taxpayer did spend a lot of money giving me loads of gear and training and then sending me places all over the world where I could put it all to use. And I learned a few things about what works for me (or doesn’t) along the way. So I will attempt to use this forum as an opportunity to share my experience and perspective with others who might, hopefully, find it useful.

So let’s talk about canteen covers. Bottom line, whether general military issue, special issue or personal purchase, all of these covers will do what they are designed to do; i.e. securely carry the standard one or two quart canteen. But some just do it better. Starting from the bottom left of the photo we have the issue ALICE cover that should be familiar to everyone. To the right of it is one from Eagle Industries. For all practical purposes these two are identical. The only substantive difference is that Eagle dispensed with the much disliked pile lining of the issue cover. Still, they both attach to the pistol belt with metal “ALICE Clips”. They are sized to fit (rather snugly) the canteen and canteen cup. In fact, sometimes it was a real pain to unholster your cup from these carriers. But conversely having the cup inside did help hold the carrier open and made it much easier to reinsert the canteen itself. These canteen covers could be used as expedient utility or ammunition pouches as they were sometimes in Vietnam. But they were designed to be strictly single purpose.

Third from the left is the original SPEAR / ELCS version. Despite the cosmetic difference and the molle attachment system, this cover is really no different than the first two. It is sized exactly the same and is also a single purpose design. It even has a pile liner that most people chose to immediately strip out. The elasticized closure wasn’t well designed and tended to get snagged on the canteen neck and cap. This was, in my opinion, a disappointing swing and a miss for SPEAR out of the gate. I didn’t use this one long.

Fortunately something much better came alone about the same time. This is the multifunctional canteen / general purpose pouch that was originally part of the R.A.C.K. fielding and later became molle general issue. I really liked this pouch. It was sized to be a little looser than its predecessors. So the canteen, cup and even canteen stove could be inserted and extracted much more easily. But what really made it a game changer is that it came with two closure options including a full flap that supported carrying other items besides canteens securely. Pictured on the bottom, third from the right is one with a canteen in the normal carry configuration. Next is the padded sleeve that can be inserted to protect items like NODs. The sleeve is a handy piece of kit in and of itself and will work in numerous utility or ammunition pouches. And on the far right is the canteen pouch in general purpose mode with five Magpul magazines. On the top row center is one last example of this pouch with the flap over the canteen. I know full well that this isn’t considered the “right” way to stow the canteen in this pouch. But if you are in say a “moon dust” situation or in any area when the cap and neck of the canteen is subject to become contaminated with dirt or debris of any kind I suggest you keep the entire canteen covered as best you can.

That brings me to what has become my preferred style of canteen cover for about ten years now. The three on the top right. From left to right they were made by LBT, Paraclete and HSGI. All solidly built products as you would expect. But I like them specifically because they are all sized to fully enclose the canteen (including cup and stove). And therefore they are a little deeper than the issue pouch and can carry more items when used in the utility role. Not really a new or unproven idea here. The Brits and Aussies have been using pouches like this to carry their canteens for decades.

Sadly, despite my enthusiasm for the design, I don’t believe any of these three pouches are being produced today. Many people now have gotten into the habit of carrying hydration bladders as their only water source. Old school canteens (and canteen cups) are an afterthought. So today’s consumers apparently favor more compact general purpose pouches that are just barely big enough to hold the issue canteen alone. And that is of course what the industry is producing. I’ll not argue against that. If you are still in the fight then you are certainly in a better position to judge what works for you than I am. But I’m convinced that canteens still have their place and provide a viable and valid alternative. For example, canteens are much easier and quicker to top off from a stream than a bladder when you are operating away from fixed bases and at the end of long supply lines. That is not to say that I think a canteen is the right tool in all situations. I myself didn’t carry a canteen after about 2004 in Afghanistan or Iraq. But after that timeframe I wasn’t doing extended dismounted patrolling either. If my mission set had evolved differently I would have reconsidered and reconfigured.

Lastly I’d like to mention the two quart canteen and carrier. I wore one or two of these on my ruck for years in the days before bladders. They did the job. But still I was pretty quick to put them away and slim down the lateral profile of my ALICE once I discovered Camelbaks. In fact I didn’t realize until I started putting this article together that I apparently had only one two quart canteen and two covers left in my gear menagerie. The one on the far left is the OD version you all know. It is also produced in tan and if you are still being issued a two quart canteen this is what you are getting. The SPEAR / ELCS woodland cover, like its one quart sibling missed the mark and was a copy but not an improvement on the venerable ALICE version. The cover aside, probably the best thing about the two quart canteen was that it could be collapsed as it emptied and therefore made minimal sloshing noise when moving.

Provided for your consideration and comments.

-LTC Terry Baldwin, US Army (RET) served on active duty from 1975-2011 in various Infantry and Special Forces assignments.

Smith & Bradley – Sans-13 Tactical Watch 4th Of July Sale

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015


Now through July 4th, Smith & Bradley is offering their Sans-13 Tactical Watch at the special discount price of $235 from the original price of $399. This is the lowest price this watch has ever been offered, so take advantage of the pricing while you can.


TNVC Announces NightGoggles, Inc.

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

This is an announcement from TNVC regarding their new sister company NightGoggles, Inc. 

Congrats, guys!

We are pleased to announce NightGoggles, Inc. (NGI); the sister entity to Tactical Night Vision Company (TNVC INC). NightGoggles is dedicated to bringing the unique first-hand knowledge, experience and service enjoyed for years by the professional tactical community, to the burgeoning hunting market. NightGoggles exists to outfit the consumer who wants the best night vision gear their budget can afford. Like you, our staff has a passion for hunting, be it hogs, predators, or even gators. We are prepared to answer all of your nighttime hunting questions and ensure you end up with a product that balances budget and performance.

Like our sister company TNVC, we realize that you are looking for a shopping experience tailored to your mission. We present you with a plethora of hand-picked night vision and thermal optics, as well as pertinent accessories. Recognizing that not every night vision end-user is looking for the most expensive military-issue devices, we supply field-proven gear at a budget-minded price. Our customers know that they are getting a solid product that will provide years of faithful service. We won’t sell something that we would not purchase ourselves for our own hunts.

NGI Customers will find a unique offering of products, exclusive to our website. These include some more-affordable variants of popular TNVC products as well as exclusive gear. You will find some familiar night vision systems with a twist: utilization of high quality Gen2 and Gen2+ image intensifier tubes. These solid tubes provide great clarity and target identification capability for a fraction of the Gen3 price. What’s more: many of these systems will be housed in the exact same bodies as their government-issue counterparts. If you are looking for MILSPEC quality at a consumer price: NGI is your huckleberry.

Thanks for checking out the launch of NightGoggles Inc. Make sure to stop back often as we will be continually adding new products to our exciting lineup. On behalf of our entire staff and myself: thank you for your continued support. Stay safe and happy hunting!



Extreme Outfitters – Hydrate Or Die Sale

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015



The Beacon Box – Now On Indiegogo

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Beacon Box

The Beacon Box is the “world’s first waterproof, crushproof, solar-powered phone case.” The Beacon is capable of charging a wide range of electronic devices, which are stored within its durable, crushproof case. It features a 15,000 mAh battery, and a solar panel with a 17% conversion rate, so the Beacon is constantly charging in sunlight; the Beacon also features QI charging on the inside lid which allows for a QI capable device to charge just by touch. The Beacon is waterproof up to 10ft. Additionally, the Beacon features an on-board flood/emergency light and yellow light to act as a camping-style lantern.


Procurement Specialists, LLC – Soldier Systems Daily Discount

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Procurement Specialists, LLC is offering a permanent 15% discount for all Solider Systems Daily readers. Simply use coupon code SSD15 at checkout to apply the discount. Procurement Specialists also happens to be one of the absolute best sources for Aku boots Stateside.


High Speed Gear – Limited Edition Patriotic TACOs

Monday, June 29th, 2015


In celebration of Independence Day, High Speed Gear is now offering a limited release of Patriotic Red, White, and Blue TACO pouches. The following pouches are available in the Patriotic colorway:

  • Pistol TACO
  • Rifle TACO
  • Double Decker TACO
  • X2R TACO
  • iTACO
  • The Patriotic TACOs will only be available for purchase through July 12th, so get yours while you can!


    GEMTECH – Silent Hunters – The Family

    Monday, June 29th, 2015