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At a race this past June, a little help from the armed forces’ vast array of load-carrying equipment saved me a good six miles of walking back and forth between the car and the pits. The equipment goes by several names, but it’s most often called a leg rig. It’s designed for quick access to small items, and it accepts a variety of tools perfectly. Leg rigs compatible with the MOLLE standard will be compatible with a staggering number of pouches and holsters, so once you get your hands on the basic rig you can customize it to hold just about anything.

In this case, two ratchets, sixteen sockets, a multimeter, wire, solder, two screwdrivers, needlenose pliers, silicone RTV, a tire pressure gauge, pry-bar, zip ties, Crescent wrench, propane soldering iron, electrical tape, wire cutters, and water bottle are all contained securely by the system. It may make one look like a bit of a poser, but it’s worth it. I was surprised by how securely the tools stayed in place; nothing fell off in three days of running around like a madman.

The coup de grace? With a trio of pouches included, leg rigs cost around $25 — cheap for the utility and versatility they provide. Your local army surplus store is probably the best bet, but various online retailers have many styles in everything from black to digitized camo. Mine is from Joe’s Army/Navy near Detroit, but it’s identical in all but color to this model from Maine Military Supply’s website.

Leg Rigs [Ops Gear]
Leg Rigs [Op Tactical]
MOLLE Pouches [Ops Gear]

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12 Responses to Leg Rigs

  1. jeffrey immer says:

    wow i have a bunch of M.O.L.L.E. gear that was issued to me, and i love it but i never thought of using it in this was in particular, iwas going to say it’s not too expensive, but i really like my carpenter’s rig i got from Lowe’s with an LBE suspender setup from a army surplus supplier, it has nice padded shoulders and little places to hook stuff

  2. Lex Dodson says:

    Strong suspenders are a must with the amount of gear I was carrying. I was using a pair (Duluth’s excellent side-clip suspenders), and the elastic straps were just enough to keep the gear from pantsing me.

  3. Toolhearty says:

    Be forewarned: it’s possible to end up with quite a collection of MOLLE/PALS gear and still have things be “not quite right” (DAMHIK). There’s a wide range of pouches out there, but they tend to be sized and marketed for military-type items (a 9mm magazine, M-16 magazine, hand grenade, radio, strobe, etc.). Finding the right pouch for a non-military item can be a pain.

    If you have access to a PX, or a military surplus store with a large selection of pouches and carriers on hand, you can take your items down there and see what fits what. If not, mail order can be hit or miss.

    Personally, I’m impressed with the range of more general-purpose nylon tool-toting gear available from big box retailers and would try those first (unless there were some very specific need). Most pouches for consumer items can be slid on a wide belt, but won’t attach to PALS webbing. Also, many PALS-compatible pouches are made so they can also be attached to a belt.

  4. Cameron Watt says:

    Wow. I hated wearing a bolt bag and a spud wrench on my waist, let alone a rig like that. Whatever it takes, right? Lucky for me I don’t do any, “tactical,” repair work and can carry my stuff in a box.

    I will confess to stitching up a leather holster to carry an adjustable wrench on my belt (an idea I ripped off from a toolmonger post) but that’s the extent of it.

    Lex: Load that rig up too much and you’ll be running in circles. ;)

  5. Lex Dodson says:

    @Cameron

    You might want to try ballistic (ripstop) nylon or duck cloth next time you make a custom holster. Both are more workable than leather, and pretty darn close to just as durable.

    Good point about the loading. Maybe I should get two. ;)

  6. Bill says:

    I think you’ll soon reach the point of your pants dropping.

  7. toolhearty says:

    You know, after looking at the photo and thinking about it a bit… notice how the ratchets (plus whatever that is in the front, a flashlight maybe?) have to be threaded through several loops of PALS webbing? I can’t imagine this system as being any faster than having a well organized tool bag at hand. Maybe Lex will fill us in after another year or so and let us know whether or not he’s still using the same rig.

  8. toolhearty says:

    Oh, and by the way, it’s obviously a staged photo. I don’t know about you, but there aren’t a bunch of people standing by waiting to take a photo of my thigh.

  9. Lex Dodson says:

    @toolhearty

    The items in front are a bunch of zip ties, not a light. The ratchets are stored that way for security more than anything (God forbid I drop my Snap-On flex-head Dual-80 in the middle of Michigan International Speedway’s infield), and they’re plenty quick on the draw. Easy to thread back once the webbing loosens up a bit, but tricky when the rig’s brand-new.

    Part of the rationale for a leg rig was theft prevention. Detroit natives are paranoid to begin with, and there were a few hundred tool-savvy gearheads at this event, so I didn’t want to risk setting down a tool bag and inevitably turning my back.

    You’re actually wrong about the photo; it’s not staged :) See how the water bottle’s still moving? This is about ten percent taken from the bottom-right corner of an otherwise interesting photo. Professional photographers have some ridiculously high-resolution gear these days.

  10. Toolhearty says:

    I stand corrected. :)

  11. jeffrey immer says:

    just food for thought if you get M.O.L.L.E. for your thigh get the kind with mesh webbing on the back that breathes, when i wear one on my thigh for a 9mm the solid ones make you sweat unmercifully

  12. THomasR says:

    I work in telecommunications and have a variety of small tools that disappear into the depths of my standard tool bags…I carry a CLC service bag on a shoulder strap and have made a thigh rig using my tactical holster as a base…since I work in and out of the cold constantly I have coats and/or jackets of different types and they always hang up in the regular tool bags..the thigh rig is well below the coat/jacket but just as accessible.

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