Through this article I would like to introduce you more deeply to a specific product: the Recon Kit Bag by Hill People Gear, as some of you showed interest after seeing it in one of the photos related to my article on How to Choose Women’s Bug Out Clothes.
by Kyt Lyn Walken, professional tracker and contributing writer
The Recon Kit Bag by Hill People Gear
The Recon Kit Bag is a thin pouch with a PALS grid on the front that sits on your chest for easy access to various gear. It happens to be a development of the original Runner’s Kit Bag. It is designed and produced by People Hill Gear in Colorado.
There are many lower-quality knock off brands of this bag. The price point may be higher than some will want, and if that is you, there are much less expensive chest rigs. The Hill People bag, however, is top of the line.
The MOLLE system allows you to add more compatible pouches on the front of the Recon Kit Bag, and it is intended to be a mini-chest rig you can take advantage of anytime you need to have any item at very easy reach.
Basic Bag Features:
- Thin but extremely tough and resistant, it is made of 500d Cordura and features 8 channel/3 row PALS grid.
- The zippers (two) grant you a quick access to the inner room, which is designed to be a concealed pistol compartment.
- The presence of a comfortable mesh backed H-harness lets you to wear the Kit Bag by itself (especially in Spring – Summer season) or underneath of a pack, a sweater and a jacket, most likely in autumn and winter.
- The H-harness straps are extremely comfortable for men and women and have elastic keepers.
It doesn’t weight at all on your neck as well on your breast (I am talking specifically to all the women out there: I can 100% guarantee you this, as I never had any kind of issues in wearing the Recon Kit Bag).
In the same manner, the existence of Velcro loop and a dummy cord loop inside the main compartment allow for several retention options.
How and Why this Chest Bag Works
It all began when I spotted that “curious” pouch on the photos on Facebook of two of my fave human beings: Kenneth Galbraith, exceptional man with tons of experience with gear and equipment; and my mentor, David Michael Hull.
I used the “curious” intentionally, because back in the time (2015) I had never seen something quite like this bag. I immediately found that the kit bag was cutting edge for several reasons:
So it came the moment to purchase the Recon Kit. I tested it immediately, in order to understand how I could fill it with the right items to avoid to carrying too much weight, as, like many people, I was not accustomed to carrying so much weight on my breast.
The first test ended up in a total satisfaction. The Recon Kit not only allowed me to unburden my back, but it also helped avoid carrying a belt with pouches attached, which always caused issues traveling through forests and scrambling over ground. This bag kept all of my critical items close to my body in an easily-accessible location.
Combining a Chest Kit with a Backpack
The ability to combine the Recon Kit with a backpack only adds to the versatility of this bag. Need a tactical setup? The MOLLE straps create options on the front while carrying a pack on the back. Need to bug out of a city? Keep critical gear on your chest with less-critical gear in your pack.
I started combing the Recon Kit with the Tarahumara Backpack (named so after an indigenous tribe located in the North of Mexico). You can actually see this pack in some of my photos.
The Tarahumara features include:
- Weight: 1.44 lb.
- Length: 4 in.
- Width: 9 in.
- Height: 17 in.
- Capacity: 918 cu. in.
This duo worked properly for a one-day training, allowing me not only to move fast, but to bend easily in order to look closer to the ground in my ordinary training in tracking.
During the spring and summer, I typically just wear the Recon Kit over a shirt. In fall and winter I wear it under a fleece and jacket. It’s a just a matter of a blink of an eye and I can open the fleece zipper and I can easily reach everything I keep inside the bag.
What I Carry in My Recon Kit a.k.a. my Tracking Kit
In my case, the Recon Kit soon became my tracking kit. I use it to carry the following items:
- mobile phone
- battery bank
- pen and pencil
- light and colored sticks to mark tracklines
- four-color flashlight
- measuring devices
- signal mirror
- plastic ruler
If the list can appear long, don’t be surprised. The Recon Kit is, in fact, extremely roomy.
What I Do Not Recommend Carrying
Speaking by my very own experience, I recommend not carrying anything that is too bulky. This is a kit bag designed for easy and fast access for smaller items. Larger items like the following should be carried in a backpack:
- food rations (well, snacks like good beef jerky can be stuffed in!)
- big survival knives
What You Can Carry in Your Recon Kit Bag
Surely, anyone can take advantage of this frontal kit according to his/her need, priorities, and excursion objectives. For this reason, the list below is not intended to be a dogma! It’s just a matter of keeping important items in a safe place, protecting them for possible falls, from humidity, and adverse weather conditions.
You can easily store the following items for quick access:
- fire kit
- medical kit
- maps and Suunto Global Compass
- personal items (ID card, mobile phone, charging station, home and/or car keys)
The Current Use of My Recon Kit
Because of this bag’s comfort and versatility, I have extended my personal use of the Recon Kit to other occasions beyond tracker training days. I also used it during Man and Animal Tracking, Survival and Remote Life classes.
I have been absolutely delighted to see how carrying it seemed to be… non-existent! That comfort is why it has become an essential part of my gear.
My satisfaction towards this trustful companion of mine shows no sign of decreasing. It is still going strong after many uses and it shows no signs of wearing out.
Have you ever used a front chest rig like the Recon Kit? What has your experience been?
I like them, but not crazy about the price that comes with it being made by a small company. Condor makes one which is more affordable and there is a really cheap one on Amazon which you’ll have to fashion or buy the straps for. But either way, they allow use of “real estate” on your body that would probably go unused or unrealized.
I do own a Thermite from Maxpedition that goes around the waist and hangs on your thigh. Haven’t used it yet, but in the hot and often humid, sticky, miserable Florida climate, the ability to feel air around you as you walk is important to comfort. Many people do use small to medium backpacks, but I drive everywhere, so it’s not practical. Also people tend to be wary of someone with a backpack in retail stores. I prefer less conspicuous bags or pouches. Even on the chest, those Hill People pouches don’t seem too obtrusive and driving (also entering and existing the car) shouldn’t be a problem. If anything maybe when I get a dog, I will use one since a shoulder bag is okay, but dogs kind of get in your way and having two hands free is often best. 🙂
I use daily Ghost Recon 25L pack with 4 L utility pocket that I modified to carry as back or chest pack. Great article. I am just finishing the video on gear for urban or wilderness 365 outdoor living. Www.blackravensolutions.com