Backpacks and hiking. Sometimes it's a conundrum. However, you have an alternative. Let's be honest, the number of hiking backpacks available at your local outfitter and online could take you on an endless search.
And with good reason, there is any number of bags that will work when on the trail, and details ranging from size, function, and materials can leave you with analysis paralysis.
I propose an alternative for those that are out hiking and don't want a backpack. Or maybe your treks are shorter and you don't need as much stuff. There are also a number of reason that you might consider downscaling to a belt solution. Enter the stage, the tactical belt.
Considerations for Making the Switch to Tactical Belt
The tactical belt is available on quite a few websites -- perhaps 5.11 tactical, a local retailer, or a search on Amazon can lead you to some great options. One of my favorite options is a combination of all of these options. And include:
Works great for 'dog stuff' ... that is k9 first-aid, Garmin Alpha 200i, and whistles + leashes are somewhat more conducive to this setup
It's really for hikes that are short enough that don't require lunch, that's typically the deciding factor on backpack vs. belt = snacks
Is solely dependent on the mood of the infant in tow, which may require changing pad, diapers, and associated accouterments
All and all, most of this can be accommodated in a 'tactical style' setup.
Configuration for Tactical Belt
Let's start with the base and build on the items that I have selected for my belt. Which of course has evolved over time.
The tactical belt: I added suspenders and remove the actual belt part. And the OneTigris in my opinion is the beefiest. It has 3 layers of Molle options and the outer belt is substantial enough that it doesn't require the actual clip belt.
I have tried a few of these and the Melotough has a panel on the back that allows me to attach the infant gear. Plus this suspender setup has Molle options on the shoulder pads to clip your necessary items.
Left side belt: First Aid
Right side belt: Gear and tools like a Leatherman
Rear center belt: Water bottles, which I carry 2
Back top panel: Pouch for infant gear (e.g., diapers, changing pad, wipes, etc)
I carry 2 pouches for specific purposes on the belt. The OneTigris are great on this belt, just large enough for gear but not too large that they encourage overpacking.
First-Aid: We built a first aid kit that combos for human and K9 needs (BLOG POST: First Aid: What first aid items do I bring with me hiking? Resources for hiking first aid.)
Gear Pouch: Includes camera rain jacket, Leatherman, Bug wipes, Muzzle for K9, and few other odds and ends
Detachable Pouch for Infant Gear
Using the OneTigris Molle Pouch would require taking off the Molle each time and re-snapping. For this instance, we have opted for a rip-away solution that is typically used for First Aid.
This pack is a great example of one that can be attached by hook and loop with a clip. This bag is solely infant gear and is removed if I don't think we'll need it.
Garmin Alpha 200i Holster
The trusty GPS device holsters on the Pyke Gear molded plastic clip. This also comes with a loop and snap that will connect to the shoulder pad on the left shoulder (BLOG POSTS: Why We Selected the Garmin InReach Satellite Communicator and Our View on the Device Capabilities & Hiking with Your Dog: Consider a Garmin Dog Tracking Handheld)
Tactical Bottle Holder
Water. This is pretty straightforward. Please don't forget the water. For you, for the dog. The Excellent Elite Spanker is adjustable and has the loop on the top to keep is latched in.
Dog Whistle Holder plus Whistles
I typically attach the whistle for the dog to the retractable clip to keep them out of the way. As the dog gets older, she doesn't require the whistle as much. We still get a routine going each time to make sure that we don't forget, but it's not as frequent as when we were first learning.
Leatherman attached to a typical holster that is Molle enabled.
Extendable Multi-tool Pouch for Knipex Bolt Cutters. The dog is frequently on hunting land, backcountry, and places that are super rural. There is barbed wire, hunting snare traps, and wire everywhere. The Knipex is always on my right shoulder and ready for quick use.
Dog Lead Clip
And finally, I need somewhere to hand the dog lead when it's not in use. Previously this would hand around my neck. It's easier to just clip it to my belt.
Conclusion: The Options are Endless with MOLLE Systems
The point here is that any number of configurations are possible with a MOLLE system. This is just my setup. The beauty of the system is that you can setup yours any way you'd like. I encourage you to explore options and what could work best for you.