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Review: Blue Force Gear BELTminus

The load bearing belt concept behind BELTminus is not new but the execution certainly is. It is the latest iteration of Blue Force Gear’s MOLLEminus technology which seems to have near endless potential for application to tactical gear.



BELTminus harkens back to the belt and suspenders style load bearing equipment (LBE) that has been worn by warfighters for nearly as long as warfighters have had the need to carry gear to support their mission. In recent years, chest rigs have surpassed the LBEs in use but they have never completely replaced them because of the inherent advantages of the LBE in certain roles and environments. For instance, chest rigs cover the wearer’s chest which makes shedding excess body heat difficult while an LBE keeps the chest clear. Chest rigs also place the weight of their load on the shoulders while an effective LBE puts the majority of the weight on the hips which are far more efficient for bearing weight.


BELTminus was designed to be a simple, compact, lightweight load bearing rig. If you are familiar with LBEs, the BELTminus will feel like an old friend because it is true to the concept while still being thoroughly modernized.

If you have never used an LBE before, you can think of BELTminus as a sort of hybrid between a chest rig and a “battle belt.” It is like a chest rig in that it carries your second line gear like magazines, first aid, and similar items. It is also a bit like a battle belt in that it is worn low on the waist (I wear mine just above my pants belt) and it has storage capacity around nearly its entire circumference. It differs from a battle belt in that you probably will not mount your handgun on it and it is designed to be worn with the included suspenders.

BELTminus consists of 2 main components: the shoulder harness which is available in 2 versions (padded and low-profile) and the “belt.” Both components are mainly constructed of the laser cut ULTRAcomp laminate material that constitutes Blue Force Gear’s MOLLEminus technology.


Close up of the slots and voids that are laser cut in the ULTRAcomp laminate material

Both shoulder harness options are made in the “H” pattern. I have been using the low profile harness which is similar to the one used on the RACKminus and SPLITminus chest rigs. It is constructed from ULTRAcomp with a mesh backing. The ULTRAcomp is laser cut with large voids to allow it to accept MOLLE compatible pouches or to be used for routing cables and hydration tubes. The harness is attached to the belt at 4 locations and can be adjusted for height at all four attachment points.

The belt component of BELTminus is laser cut from a single piece of ULTRAcomp. It is laser cut with the series of slots and voids that is typical of MOLLEminus gear. These slots and voids completely replace the need for a sewn on PALS webbing matrix. The result is a piece of gear that is much lighter than a traditionally constructed piece of gear can be and one that is more durable due to its near complete lack of seams/stitching. The amount of MOLLE real estate varies based on the size of BELTminus that the user chooses, but each size consists of a 2 row tall section on each side and a 3 row tall section on the back. The belt is closed with a side release buckle in the front and offers about 10” of adjustment range.

BELTminus is available in 5 sizes that cover waist sizes from 31” to 53”. Those numbers are actual measurements, not pants size. BFG obviously chose their sizing to make me feel good about myself because the size small fits me with plenty of room to grow and I could easily get into an extra small.

The low profile shoulder harness is thin, lightweight, and very breathable.

The low profile shoulder harness is thin, lightweight, and very breathable.

Observations from Use

It took me a while to get BELTminus adjusted to my liking. It really helps to load your belt with all the gear that you will typically carry. It is so lightweight on its own that you will not get a realistic idea of how it will fit when it is loaded down. For instance, when I tried adjusting it while empty, I found that when I loaded my magazines on the range the cross brace part of the “H” harness was riding on the back of my neck instead of between my shoulder blades like it should. You will really need some weight on the belt to strike the right balance between bearing the weight on the hips and the shoulders. I found that I can tighten or loosen the waist belt to transfer weight on or off the shoulders much like you would with a backpack. Transferring the weight periodically in this way may keep your more comfortable over longer periods.

There is plenty of adjustment available for height. I am about 6’ 2” with a long torso and, with the BELTminus adjusted to ride on my waist, I still have enough webbing left to just about double the length of the straps on the shoulder harness.  Thankfully, Blue Force Gear (BFG) thoughtfully provides a slim metal tri-glide on each shoulder harness strap that can be used to secure the loose ends of webbing. I suspect that most users will be able to trim a substantial amount of strap off the harness if they wish.

BFG BELTminus Strap Managment

These small metal tri-glides help keep all the excess webbing from getting out of hand.

You will want to work out early on in your time with BELTminus how you will carry a sidearm. BELTminus is not an ideal place to mount something like a handgun. It lacks the structure necessary for gun bearing duty. I left the right side of mine fairly open so as not to impede my draw stroke and used a dropped holster like a Safariland 6280 or 6004 attached to my pants belt or an overbelt worn below BELTminus. This set up worked without drama.

BELTminus is really designed to be worn on its own, not when you are wearing a chest rig or plate carrier. I tried it anyway and Blue Force Gear is right, it isn’t ideal. You end up with a mess of straps across your shoulders and chest. If you want a place to keep gear on your belt line while you wear a chest rig or plate carrier, get something without suspenders like a SOC-C Modular Padded Belt.

If you are used to using a battle belt, reloading from BELTminus will feel natural to you. If you aren’t used to going to the belt area for your reloads, you are in for a treat. The belt area is much faster and more natural to reload from than a chest rig.

If you choose your pouches carefully, BELTminus can be covert. I discovered this by accident during testing. I was on the range, packing up for the day and I threw my jacket on over my gear. It wasn’t long before I noticed that BELTminus completely disappeared under the jacket. This was due to a combination of factors. BELTminus is very, very thin on its own (about half the thickness of a dime). BFG’s Ten-Speed pouches are also extremely thin and they hold the magazines very close to the body. Additionally, the belt line is a very advantageous place to conceal bulky items thanks to the way clothes hang off our shoulders. BELTminus’ ability to be used as a concealment rig is phenomenal, especially in conjunction with Ten-Speed pouches. It is even more impressive when you realize that BELTminus is just as much at home carrying a heavy load in an overt manner than it is carrying a lighter load covertly. That is some serious versatility.

Believe it or not there is a Glock 17 magazine, Elzetta flashlight, 2 AR-15 Magazines, a dump pouch, a full IFAK with tourniquet, and room for more under that jacket.

Believe it or not there is a Glock 17 magazine, Elzetta flashlight, 2 AR-15 Magazines, a dump pouch, a full IFAK with tourniquet, and room for more under that jacket.

I experimented with several different configurations and basically found that as long as I put pouches where I was generally used to them being on my battle belt, I was happy. I eventually arrived at two favorite configurations. The first was to use BELTminus is more of a heavy load bearing role. This meant that I had as many as 4 Helium Whisper Double M4 Mag Pouches toward the front of the rig, a Ten-Speed Dump Pouch toward on the rear pushed slightly to my weak side, and a Trauma Kit NOW! on the rear pushed slightly to my strong side.

The second configuration that I liked was more of a light and slick set up. I placed a Ten-Speed Double Pistol Mag Pouch as far forward as possible on my weak side, a Ten-Speed Double M4 Mag Pouch just behind that, a Ten-Speed Dump Pouch mounted on the rear toward my weak side, and a Boo Boo Pouch or Small Utility Pouch on my strong side toward the front. This set up concealed well and was so light that I could wear it indefinitely.

Wrap Up

BELTminus’ military application seem evident to this non-military user. It allows high mobility and reduced stress from heat while still offering impressive load bearing capability. Its application to regular guys like me was less evident until I tried one. Its ability to be very covert really carves out a niche for BELTminus in the gray man’s gear bag. BELTminus is my favorite application of MOLLEminus yet.

Check out BELTminus on BlueForceGear.com.

Blue Force Gear Licenses Helium Whisper to Mayflower


Helium Whisper technology continues on its march toward MOLLE domination:

SAVANNAH, GA—February 19, 2012—Blue Force Gear® announced today that they will provide their weight-slashing Helium Whisper™ pouch attachment system to Mayflower Research & Consulting.  Mayflower joins the growing number of adoptees for Blue Force Gear’s Patent pending Helium Whisper and this technology will enhance the products they currently provide to elite users.  Mayflower anticipates full stock of their pouches with Helium Whisper backers in approximately 45 days.

“Mayflower Research & Consulting is proud to be working with Blue Force Gear moving forward with a great addition to our product lineup.  Blue Force Gear has made a giant leap forward in removing weight off of the warfighter’s back and we see it as a natural compliment to our philosophy of building products for the military athlete,” said Travis Rolph, Mayflower’s CEO.

“Quiet professionals know Mayflower to be a forward-thinking company and we have the highest respect for Travis and his team,” said Ashley Burnsed, Blue Force Gear’s CEO.  “We look forward to helping them improve the comfort, speed, and survivability of their customers with Helium Whisper.”

Helium Whisper allows modular pouch backs to be constructed from a single piece of high-performance laminate versus the multiple straps and snaps of outdated designs.  This amazing breakthrough increases strength and durability of pouches while eliminating failure points and reducing weight by up to 60 percent.  Helium Whisper licensing allows OEM customers to reduce sewing costs, minimize alignment errors, maintain or increase durability, and stay relevant to today’s weight-conscious military customers.

About Blue Force Gear, Inc.

Blue Force Gear® designs the best weapon slings and leads the lightweight equipment revolution with its Ten-Speed™ multi-use pouches.   They also reinvented MOLLE to be the world’s lightest with their revolutionary MOLLEminus™ technology and Helium Whisper™ pouch attachment system.  Unrivaled innovation and attention to detail set Blue Force Gear apart from others in the tactical equipment industry.

Press Contact:
Brittney DeVane
Blue Force Gear
(877) 430-2583

Licensing Contact:
Dawn West
Blue Force Gear
(877) 430-2583

Blue Force Gear, Ten-Speed, Helium Whisper, and MOLLEminus are trademarks of Blue Force Gear, Inc.  Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Visit BlueForceGear.com and Mayflower-RC.org

mayflower pouch with helium whisper

Review: Blue Force Gear Project Helium Whisper

Some gear makers are content to make a piece of gear the same way as everyone else. Some makers innovate small changes that tweak the functionality of a piece of gear. The best gear makers seem to be able to completely re-imagine a piece of gear from the ground up and create something that is extremely functional, very unique, and demonstrably better than anything else on the market. Blue Force Gear (BFG) is cementing themselves as one of those rare gear manufacturers that fits the last, best category.

You can look at the BFG Ten-Speed line to see a great example of the kind of innovation that I am talking about. When everyone else was making nylon box shaped magazine pouches, Blue Force Gear made theirs from heavy duty elastic. The result is a pouch that is extremely functional and completely different than anything else – not different for the sake of being different, but different with a purpose.

Now it seems that BFG might be set to turn the tactical gear market on its ear again with Project Helium Whisper. Helium Whisper is an effort to make the lightest possible load carrying gear without sacrificing durability through the use of modern technology, design, and materials. The project is getting a ton of attention (for good reason) and I am happy to have gotten my hands on a few examples from the new line to review.

Helium Whisper Overview

Project Helium Whisper represents the convergence of several factors like new light weight materials and innovative design, but the key is the entirely new way of manufacturing a MOLLE pouch’s backing. Most MOLLE pouch backings consists of several pieces of webbing, snaps, and stiffeners. The backing for the Helium Whisper line is made from a single piece of CNC laser cut laminate. This laminate is very light weight and very durable. By cutting the backing from a single piece, BFG also cuts out several manufacturing steps and eases the challenges around aligning and sewing the webbing.

There are other benefits to this new thin, flexible laminate backing. The MOLLE tabs are flexible enough to be able to fold onto itself and they are cut to be narrower where they pass through the MOLLE webbing that it is being threaded to. This allows the pouch to be attached to webbing with out-of-spec spacing like in cases where a row is cut short because of a zipper. Pouches with stiff MOLLE tabs could never be mounted in these narrow columns, but this becomes usable space with the Helium Whisper line.

An additional benefit is that the laminate material can be laser etched. This means that the additional weight and manufacturing complexity of a label is unnecessary. The manufacturer name, pouch name, NSN, etc. can all be etched directly onto the pouch. So, if you think about it, instead of adding weight with a tag, they are actually reducing the weight of the pouch when they laser etch it.

All of the above means that BFG has created a durable and versatile line of pouches, some of which weigh as little as half of what their similar current issue MOLLE pouches weigh, and they hope to be able to deliver them at around the same price or perhaps less. Amazing.

Ten-Speed Single M4 Magazine Pouch

The regular, non-Helium Whisper, Ten-Speed Single M4 Magazine Pouch is already a lightweight at around 40 grams. The Helium Whisper version of the Ten-Speed Single M4 Magazine Pouch weighs an astonishingly light 30 grams! To put that in perspective, I weighed several other manufacturers single M4 magazine pouches that I had access to and they weighed anywhere from 59 grams to 77 grams. The lightest single magazine pouch that I own weighs 1 gram short of double what the Helium Whisper pouches weighs. Two large MALICE clips weigh 28 grams. The Helium Whisper Ten-Speed Single M4 Magazine Pouch which includes MOLLE straps weighs only 2 grams more than just the mounting system of other pouches. The numbers tell the story.

I own other Ten-Speed pouches so I knew what to expect. These pouches are far different than anything else on the market. They are soft like nylon but function much like an open top kydex magazine pouch in terms of ease of access. The elastic is very heavy duty and has proven to be extremely durable. It almost has a slightly toothy texture that seems to help it grip whatever you can fit in the pouch. I have used the Ten-Speed Single M4 Magazine Pouch to carry everything from a Motorola radio, to a GPS, to a tourniquet. The unique properties of the elastic allow it to fit and retain a wide variety of items and yet still lay completely flat when not in use.

This magazine pouch has so many applications thanks to its extremely low profile and feather weight. The most obvious is to build an entire load carrying system using these pouches, but there are tons of other possibilities for those who just need to update or expand the capabilities of their current gear. Let’s say you have a 3 magazine shingle on the front of your plate carrier and want the ability to occasionally carry more than 3 magazines. Add a few of the Ten-Speed M4 Magazine Pouches and now you have the ability to carry additional mags with negligible additional weight and almost no bulk. If you aren’t using the pouch(es), you will not even notice that they are there.

If you like open top magazine pouches, you will like the Ten-Speed Single M4 Magazine Pouch. The elastic retains the magazines aggressively, almost like kydex. The pouch presents about 3″ of a 30 round PMAG above the top of the pouch so retrieving it is fast and easy. The pouch would basically swallow a 20 round magazine, but the hold is so aggressive that you can just insert the magazine part way and it works. I spent part of the testing time with this pouch on a plate carrier and part of the time with it on a MOLLE belt. It worked great in both locations, but it really shined on the belt. There might not be a faster way to reload than from the belt with a well designed open top pouch like the Ten-Speed Single M4 Magazine Pouch.

The biggest (and really only, in my experience) potential downside to the Ten-Speed line for some users is that it can be difficult to insert a magazine into the pouch with one hand. It can be done, and I do it all the time, but it does take some practice. However, I do not train to put empty or partially loaded magazines back into pouches, so it is not something that I need to do in a hurry. Insert magazines into pouches are almost entirely an administrative action. So, for me, this is a complete non-issue.

There is no lighter, lower profile, or more versatile magazine pouch on the market than this.

Ten-Speed SSE Pouch

The Ten-Speed SSE Pouch weighs in at just over 65 grams which means it is the lightest stand alone dump pouch on the market… or, at least it used to be the lightest. The Helium Whisper version of the same pouch weighs only 53 grams!

This pouch is just too cool. In its compacted state it packs into a 3×4″ package. The thin ripstop nylon bag packs into a small elastic faced pouch with only a rip tab protruding. When you need to use the dump pouch, you simply rip down on the tab to release the bag. It takes up almost no space on a belt, chest rig, or plate carrier but provides a very usable dump pouch.

I’ll take a second to say a few words about dump pouches. Many dump pouches on the market simply stink. You either have to cinch them so tight that you can’t easily drop anything into them or it looks like you are leaving a yard sale in your wake as soon as you start move. If a dump pouch is mounted to rigidly to your body, it will move with your body while the contents of the dump pouch knock around freely until they happen to find the opening and fly out. The best dump pouches, like the Helium Whisper Ten-Speed SSE Pouch are mounted only at the top of the pouch. This allows them to swing freely and move with the items that they contain. I dare you to try to get something to pop out the top of this dump pouch by jumping around or running. It just isn’t going to happen and that is a very, very good thing.

Utility Pouch, Zippered, Small

At first, I didn’t think that I would have much to write about when it comes to a simple utility pouch, but I was wrong. This pouch is actually packed with features.

The laminate material that is used for the backing is extended down to make the bottom of the pouch. The bottom of a utility pouch is going to take the brunt of the wear from shifting objects inside so having a bottom made from this durable material is a real plus. It also eliminates an entire seam which saves weight.

The Helium Whisper Utility Pouch, Zippered, Small weighs only 82 grams. A pouch with the same linear dimensions that I own from a different manufacturer weighs 101 grams. 20 grams here and 20 grams there can really add up when you have to carry several different types of pouches.

This pouch also has two interior loops made from gutted para-cord. These can be used as lash points for important items that you might store in the pouch like a compass or flashlight. The ability to dummy cord items to the pouch can be especially useful in the dark or over water to prevent loss.

The Utility Pouch, Zippered, Small also features a Multicam printed zipper. This is the first zipper with camo printing that I have seen in person and it is a really nice touch.

So, while the Utility Pouch, Zippered, Small is the most traditional of all the pouches that I received for review in terms of shape, it also one of the most feature rich. The way that the backing is extended into the bottom of the pouch makes it the perfect showcase for the weight savings and durability of this new laminate backing. BFG says that in the future, they may be able to print camo patterns onto the laminate backing which would allow them to extend it on the front of the pouch, saving even more weight.


If you can’t tell by now, I think these pouches are amazing and maybe even revolutionary. This blog has afforded me the privilege of being able to check out some really innovative gear and I am not sure that I have ever handled anything more innovative than these BFG Helium Whisper pouches. On one hand, they are just simple load carrying devices, but on the other, their combination of design, technology, and materials seem like the future of nylon gear.

I’ll leave you with this… Blue Force Gear has shown that the average soldier’s load carrying gear can be reduced in weight by 1-3 pounds by replacing the current issue pouches with Helium Whisper pouches. That means that an additional 1-3 30 round M4 magazines or an additional 32 ounce container of water could be carried with no weight penalty versus what is currently issued right now. Wow.

You can read more about the Helium Whisper line on the Blue Force Gear website.

Disclosure: These pouches were provided to me by Blue Force Gear, free of charge, for review.

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