Product Guides & Reviews
3 common Interview questions and how to answer them
Our visit from The President's Own Drum Major
Camelbak: The comparison
Whist the Camelbak Motherlode lite has been a resounding success in the UK tactical market, we've explored their range to answer the commonly asked question, why are these Camelbaks' more expensive than the Motherlode?
The bags in question are the Sparta, H.A.W.G and the BFM.
Coming in at £198.40 the Sparta is around £20 more expensive than the Motherlode lite, however, has a slightly smaller capacity at 33L instead of 40L. A common question we're asked is why would I pay more for less storage space? The answer is in the upgraded features. Optimised for shorter missions, the Sparta is light, compact and comfortable.
- Rear entry reservoir access
We found this to be a very useful feature, unlike the Motherlode Lite, the crux is located in its own compartment for quick access which means no unpacking to refill.
- Laser cut Molle system
The molle system is laser cut from the main compartment of the bag meaning more secure fixing of attachments.
The H.A.W.G is the Camelbak answer to a day sack for medium-long missions. With a storage capacity of 20L and a 3L reservoir. Equipped with the Trademarked Air Director back panel for comfort, breathability and load distribution this really is a comfortable and convenient pack. Costing slightly less than the rest of the range, this is great value piece of kit.
- Extended Molle
Whilst the load size is a little smaller on this pack, the laser cut molle has been extended to allow for extra field attachments.
- Removable waist belt
We found the removable waist belt very useful for comfort whilst hiking. It bought the center of mass closer which made the full sack feel non existent. As with all straps in the Camelbak tactical range this is quick release, or you can remove it totally.
- Extra hydration
Like the Sparta, the H.A.W.G is fitted with a rear entry compartment, this means you don't need to access the main compartment to refill or access your reservoir. However, a special feature of this model is the ability to add a second reservoir to the main compartment for quick hydration without stopping.
The name says it all. Big ____ MOTHERLODE. With over 47L of Cargo, the BFM™ is built with the FUTURA™ Harness which telescopes to your specific torso length. This optimum fit keeps you mobile, comfortable, and efficient on even the most intense missions.
- The FUTURA harness
Adding another Trademark to their artillery, the FUTURA harness is incredibly powerful, simply and effectively sits at the optimum point for your torso length, whether that be short or tall.
- Multiple hydration options
In addition to the designated, insulated reservoir compartment, the BFM has multiple tube exit ports meaning you can fix your hydration tube where you feel comfortable, including under arm or over shoulder. The pack also features a hang loop for an extra reservoir.
- ASIPS Radio attachment points
Hold communications securely with dual antenna ports on top of pack.
- Extra storage
The BFM features large, deep side pockets with grommet drainage holes to store everything you need to keep you moving for days on end.
- Long range straps
Designed for longer missions, the comfort straps on the BFM are a lot more robust. The waist strap features 3 point adjustment, is padded, and removable. It also features a comfortable sternum strap which works fantastically well with the Futura harness.
The Motherlode Lite
The undeniable leader amongst British forces is the Motherlode Lite, only available in the UK, this 37L system is useful, robust, and great value. Available for £174.99 whilst their are obvious savings on features the saving is also noticeable.
As this was the "control" for this comparison, please check out the spec below.
Tasmanian Tiger Mission pack & single mag pouch, Kit review
We sent the MKII Tasmanian Tiger mission pack & Single mag pouch to Longmoor to be put through its paces at the hands of a LCpl. Here's how they fared. Due to the nature of this review the images are classified.
Is it compatible with the VIRTUS system? Yes
Is it compatible with an armoured/vehicle platform? No
Does it handle wet weather and stand up to the rigours of patrolling? Yes
Is it comfortable to use? Yes
Does it make your operating any easier? No
Daysack - Its robust, comfortable and enough internal space for radio and equipment. Mag pouch- good bit of kit compatible with VIRTUS molle system and not too tight on magazines or too loose like issued pouches mag retaining bungee was good and wasn't too tight where you struggle to put over the mag.
Daysack- Way too big to the point you struggle with vehicle platforms. Difficult to use with Bergan. Also too rigid which further adds to this problem.
Magazine Pouch- No negative points
Daysack- down size slightly to resemble the size of the motherlode variant where its a larger daysack compared to the jay jays litefighter but still not too big. Make it more flexible so it would be easier to top flap for heavy carrys.
Mag pouch- No points
A brief history of pace sticking
A pace stick consists of 2 tapered pieces of wood joined by a hinge at the top covered with polished brass at the bottom. Similar in shape to a drafting compass sized relevant to the user.
They are used ceremonially, by opening at set distances to match a quick march, double march, step short, etc. The user will rotate the stick as they step so that the stick 'walks' with the user.
Uses in History
Roman Military Engineers used a pace-stick almost identical to the modern British Army version, with the main difference being a length of rope in place of the modern brass locking bar. When the Roman pace-stick was fully open, the rope went taut and the stick was locked at an angle that measured two Roman marching paces. When building roads, the Roman “sticker” would turn his implement 500 times, which equated to 1 Roman Mile. A mile stone would then be erected. This would be done for the entire length of the road. The length of the modern day pace-sticking course is somewhat shorter, but it is heartening to know that even if Rome wasn’t built in a day, at least it was built with the aid of a pace-stick.
The Royal Regiment of Artillery lays claim to being the originator of the pace-stick, using it to measure the correct distances between guns, limbers and ammunition caissons. Sir John Moore, Father of the British “Light” Infantry writes of the efficient use of pace-sticks” by the Sergeants, in a training manual written in the early 1800s, around the time of the Peninsular War.
In 1928, the late Academy Serjeant Major Arthur Brand developed a drill for the pace-stick and promoted its use throughout the army.
Flag raising ceremonies start ahead of Armed Forces week
Up and down the country flags are being raised to mark the start of Armed Forces week. A week where we honour the men and women serving from the Reserves to the full time.
In London, The Houses of Parliament will fly the flag in New Palace Yard all week.
This comes as the House of Commons signs the armed forces Covenant, joining 7,000 other organisations, including Military Direct, to ensure that military personnel or veterans are disadvantaged in the workplace.
The Speaker, who is Honorary Colonel of 3 Medical Regiment, had this to say;
“As an active supporter of the military and a champion of diversity in Parliament, the Armed Forces Covenant brings together both of these passions”’ he said.
“I would like to do everything we can to encourage former service personnel to see their very relevant skills and experience as an asset to our workforce in the House of Commons.”
Mr Wallace said: “As we kick off events to mark this year’s Armed Forces Day, I’m delighted that the House of Commons is showing their support for our Service personnel by raising the flag and signing the Armed Forces Covenant.
“This week is an annual opportunity for all of us to recognise the work our Armed Forces do, at home and abroad, to keep us safe.”
This year, we are pushing for our gold award through the Employer's recognition Scheme, we are already silver award members.
Let us know how you're getting involved with Armed Forces week by messaging us on Facebook or Instagram.
The Veterans Gateway launch new mobile app
Whether it's for yourself or someone in your life, finding the right support online can feel like a stream of old information and dead ends.
This can be particularly frustrating for somebody already facing challenges finding employment, accessing funding or suffering with poor mental health.
The Veterans Gateway has just launched an app for your phone or tablet that is linked with over 2,000 charitable organisations that are organised by function, location and requirements.
The app will use your location to bring you an intuitive list of services you may require that are in your area with exactly how to use them.
Tasmanian Tiger Warrior Belt MKIII Kit Review
Top 5 wild camping destinations in the UK
The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Vs Suicide
After learning of the tragic loss of 7 Fusiliers to suicide over the last 12 months, the Colonel and the RHQ are taking a stronger stance against this devastating enemy.
In addition to the already powerful Fusilier family network, further training is becoming available to any family member, partner or friend of the military to take part.
In conjunction with SAFEtalk and Rev Andrew Rawding, former 2nd Fusilier, alertness training will be given to help spot the early signs of mental health suffering with the view of preventing further losses.
RHQ is planning the following;
- A number of 3 hour training sessions for the Regiment, across the four Areas and the Battalions
- Probably taking place midweek in Newcastle, Bury, Sheldon, RHQ and Tidworth, and probably in the evening
- Group size can be between 10 and 30.
- RHQ will fund all training costs, including the formal accreditation.
- Attendees can come from all parts of the Fusilier Family, including wives, partners and friends of the Regiment who want to offer their support.
Details of how to express your interest will soon be passed out to the Association Branches.
What is safeTALK ?
safeTALK is a half-day alertness training that prepares anyone over the age of 15, regardless of prior experience or training, to become a suicide-alert helper.
Most people with thoughts of suicide don’t truly want to die, but are struggling with the pain in their lives. Through their words and actions, they often invite help to stay alive. safeTALK-trained helpers can recognize these invitations and take action by connecting them with life-saving intervention resources, such as professional caregivers.
Since its development in 2006, safeTALK has been used in over 20 countries around the world. Over the course of their training, safeTALK participants will learn to:
- Notice and respond to situations where suicide thoughts might be present
- Recognize that invitations for help are often overlooked
- Move beyond the common tendency to miss, dismiss, and avoid suicide
- Apply the TALK steps: Tell, Ask, Listen, and KeepSafe
- Know community resources and how to connect someone with thoughts of suicide to them for further help
Do you need help now?
List of Emergency Services
If your, or a family member’s, life is in danger, don’t hesitate, dial 999, ask for Police or Ambulance and, if you have time, explain there is a Veteran involved.
Combat Stress’ emergency, 24 hour, contact details are:
Call 0800 138 1619
Text 07537 404 719
Finally, don’t forget the Samaritans who also have a 24/7 response service, as follows:
Tel: 116 123 (UK & ROI). All calls are free
OP COURAGE - better support for military veterans.
The office for veterans’ affairs and the NHS have this month launched OP COURAGE aimed at making support for ex-service personnel more accessible. Aimed at those most at risk, Doctors, nurses and other NHS staff will work with military charities to provide therapy, rehab services and, in extreme cases, inpatient care to hundreds of former soldiers, sailors and RAF personnel each year.
Speaking in the house of commons MP Johnny Mercer spoke of a history of underinvestment and a promising plan going forward.
NEW: “It is incumbent upon all of us to get that cohort to understand where that help is, to understand what the care pathways are, and to have hope because you can get better and you will be looked after”— Johnny Mercer (@JohnnyMercerUK) March 16, 2021
Talking about Op COURAGE for Veterans Mental Health in the Commons y’day. pic.twitter.com/xxc638BuUc
OpCourage is part of a nine-point plan unveiled by the NHS to help ex-service Men and Women have a successful integration into civilian life. Other commitments laid out in the plan include ensuring access to quality secondary care, reducing healthcare inequalities, and increased support for veterans’ families, children and carers.
Speaking at the annual Kings’ Veterans’ mental health conference at King’s College London, NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said:
“We owe a special debt of gratitude to those who risk all for their country and the NHS is determined to do its part in honouring that.
Anyone can be affected by mental ill health but armed forces veterans may have seen and experienced things that few others – thankfully – will.
That can create a special set of challenges which working with military charities helps to overcome and that it what is at the heart of Op Courage – ensuring that the NHS is a National Hero Service.”
Accessing the service.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health or wellbeing, expert help is available from Op COURAGE.
It does not matter if you’re due to leave the Armed Forces, just left the Armed Forces or left many years ago. Op COURAGE are here to help and understand the courage it takes to speak to someone.
When you contact Op COURAGE, you’ll speak to people who:
- Understand the Armed Forces and military life
- Are either from the Armed Forces community or highly experienced in working with serving personnel, reservists, veterans, and their families
- Will work with you to make sure you get the right type of specialist care, support, and treatment.
How to contact Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service
- In the North of England, call 0303 123 1145 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- In the Midlands or East of England, call 0300 323 0137 or email email@example.com
- In London or the South East of England, call 020 3317 6818 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- In the South West of England, call 0300 365 2000 or email email@example.com
- If you experience a mental health crisis (when you no longer feel able to cope or are not in control of your situation) you can contact Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service or you can get help by:
- Calling 111
- Booking an emergency GP appointment, visiting A&E or calling 999
- If you're still serving, you can also call the Military Mental Health Helpline on 0800 323 4444.