Agilite_Ropes2Agilite, a tactical gear company based in Rehovot (about a half an hour from Tel Aviv), is looking for “extreme climbers and adventurers” for their forthcoming Agilite Outdoor branch. They are looking for “professional adventurers and extreme climbers who are interested in taking part in the evaluation and R&D of our new static and dynamic rope lines for the upcoming Agilite Outdoor.”

Applicants should be able to provide a legitimate background justifying why AO would pick them – evaluators will be in the company of a tough group. As an example, one of the initial designer-evaluators (pictured to the right ascending a cave in the Negev Desert) was in the Israeli Defense Force’s 101st Paratrooper Brigade before being shot in the Al-Atatra neighborhood of the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead five years ago. He was rescued by 669 (the IDF equivalent of PJs) and eventually returned to his unit and then went to work for Agilite when he left the military. T&E on the new rope line also being conducted by elements of Yamam (Israel’s top counter-terrorism unit) and the USAF PJ school in Albuquerque.

“People ask what our employment process involves and I usually joke that it starts with being shot and rescued,” said Agilite’s Elie Isaacson. “But we won’t make military service, being shot up or blown up a requirement for Agilite Outdoor evaluators!”

If you’re interested, apply to

In other Agilite news: [click to continue…]


The Load Trainer by Innovative Performance

Road marching with weights instead of gear in your ruck isn’t new, but a North Carolina-based company is now producing a pack frame specifically designed to carry steel weights from the gym. Just think of it — miles and miles of convenient, self-torture.

Before you make a judgement, please read this review of the Load Trainer by Stew Smith, former Navy SEAL and Associate Fitness Editor at

Check it out:

During the NSCA Tactical Strength and Conditioning Conference this year, I met a special operator who created what he calls the Load Trainer.  It’s basically an ALICE pack frame specially designed to be an Olympic plate holder. It makes it simple to get the weight perfectly right for a long ruck march.

 Yes – now someone has invented a gift for the masochist in your life.  At a cost of $45, this souped-up pack frame is a convenient and cost-effective solution for training for ruck marches.

[click to continue…]


BDS Non-Tactical Tactical Pack

As I was at the airport waiting to catch my flight for SHOT, I realized that I didn’t get the memo about appropriate attire. I guess I should’ve been completely kit’d out and ready to kick down a door. At least that’s what a ton of guys looked like! Here’s the problem; We all love the functionality and features of our favorite kit, but I personally don’t like looking like I’m down range. BDS Tactical has a new great line that addresses one part of this: your pack.  They just launched their new line of Sport packs. [click to continue…]


We wrote briefly about Wilderness Athlete’s Meal in a Bottle supplement back in December and the good folks at the company sent me a bunch of samples of their products they think might be of interest to troops in the field.

As the Army tries to forge “Warrior Athletes” with its new PT program (and other services have done the same) it stands to reason that the extreme sports industry and its nutrition component will have greater application to military life than ever.

Now as for the WA stuff: they sent me a box of energy bars, a tub of their chocolate flavored Meal in a Bottle, some Hydrate and Recover powder and an Energy and Focus supplement.

Let me just say one thing first — I am NOT a big supplement guy. Sure, I’ve downed my fair share of GU, PowerBars and Clif Bars in my mountaineering/kayaking/skiing days, but they were always a means to an end. So I approached these samples with a slightly pinched nose.

At the top of my list is the Hydrate and Recover powder. It tastes good, seems to work and doesn’t leave an evil residue in your Nalgene. Next down the line is the Meal in a Bottle. It’s essentially a chocolate shake and seems to fill me up just fine on those couple days where I had to have lunch on the run. My problem is that the scoop is too big for anything but the widest mouth bottle and you need a hefty amount to make the mix per the instructions.

Next I’d put the Performance Bars. They taste no different than a Power Bar and have the same stretchy, tooth aching grind to gulp down. Drink a shit ton of water with these because you’ll be gasping for air when you’re done with one.

Lastly, I’ll talk about the Energy and Focus supplement. All I can say is Whoa! This stuff is raw, unprocessed, pure crack…Think of a Red Bull in powder form. Sure it’s got all the vitamins and nutrients that a solid hangover helper should have, but it also has Golden Root, Gotu Kola (whatever the heck that is) and, more importantly, 125mg of Caffeine. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Gulp down a bottle of this and you’re buzzing bigtime. Sure, it tastes like a banana-flavored Flintstone vitamin, but it’ll keep you up through the end of your 0100 to 0900 watch.

But beware, the Energy and Focus leaves a nasty residue and smell that you just can’t shake, so devote one bottle to just that.

So again, I’m no expert, but I will say the Wilderness Athlete stuff seems like a good alternative to the Cyber Builter roidrage drinks and it’s made specifically for the type of Warrior Athlete we’re seeing in the field.

For anyone interested in trying some of their products, be sure to use coupon code 15%KITUP for a discount.


We’re teasing a story here that’ll run tomorrow morning in full as the lead story on

For the first time in more than 20 years, the Army is gearing up to change its fitness test for every Soldier and recruit in the force.

Gone is the simple push up, sit up and run routine and in its place comes a battery of sprints, jumps and rows.

And just when you thought you’d have a breather, the service is introducing a grueling battery of slalom runs, balance beam walks, casualty drags and ammo carries it calls the Army Combat Readiness Test – a totally new evaluation that simulates the kind of body crush Joes are seeing on deployment.

“The key difference is between ‘readiness’ and fitness,” said Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, the Army’s deputy commanding general for initial training, during a March 1 phone interview outlining the new tests.

“It’s one thing to be fit … it’s quite another thing to be ready for the things we are being asked to do,” Hertling added.  “And in our case, it’s becoming a ‘tactical athlete.’ ”

The Army will likely implement the tests service wide by fall or winter.

The APRT is good, but the ACRT is like the Corps’ Combat Fitness Test adopted in 2008 but with one major caveat. The CFT is meant to be administered in CONUS or in the AO; the ACRT has some equipment associated with it so it’s likely to be run as a pre-deployment for Joes heading to The Box.

One thing’s for sure, there’s no getting around this one. You’ll have to be all Cross Fit nowadays to keep in the game for promotion — and for readiness.

Army Combat Readiness Test

Make sure to stop by the Fitness Center for some expert tips on how to prepare for stuff like this…it’s gonna be a killer!


A couple weeks ago I had the great fortune to participate in a two day blogger seminar with the folks from WL Gore — you know, the company that makes the waterproof/breathable membrane used in the best foul weather gear.

While it was in illuminating look under the curtain of a normally secretive company — with tours of their production floor and rainwear test lab in Elkton, Md., and their nearby glove and boot lab — my primary emphasis was on the development and testing of the only Gore camo patterns the company will own up to.

While I tried to pry information out of their military products PR person about what role Gore might be playing in the camo market, I was monumentally unsuccessful. But I did get a lot of great info on a ground-breaking pattern the company developed with some of the best minds in the military camouflage science world.

The two patterns, Optifade Open Country (developed in 2008) and Optifade Forest (released this year) take a radical departure from what most people think of in camo. Both patterns are used exclusively for hunting — the Open Country pattern was developed primarily for hunting elk, antelope, bighorn sheep and other horned game in the mountain environment; the Forest pattern was released this year for the tree stand deer hunter. But each takes the scientific approach on how such animals see color and contrast.

Gore provided a full hunting setup of Optifade Forest gear from their sister company Sitka for me to try out during the season. 

Most commercial camo patterns for hunting are so-called “mimicry” patterns — they essentially replicate a photo snapshot of the background and try to match it exactly. That’s fine as long as you don’t move and the background matched perfectly. But in 99.9 percent of situations you’re hunting in, that’s not possible.

I got a good lesson in the science of camouflage and, more importantly for our discussions here, from the man behind the innovation of Optifade, retired Army Lt. Col. Tim O’Neil. Tim is known as the “Father of Digital Camouflage” and worked closely with Gore, the clothing manufacturer Sitka and Guy Cramer, the man who runs Hyperstealth, a Canadian camo innovator.

Tim is a consultant with Gore and continues to work with the company on further camo designs for the civilian market (rumor has it the company is working on a pattern designed to fool a bird’s eyesight to be used for turkey and waterfowl hunters). But he’s also got a close relationship with PEO Soldier and is working as a consultant on the Phase IV camo effort in making sure the Army has good test methodology to evaluate contestants.

I include a video of a brief he gave at the Gore headquarters on Optifade and the advantages of digital camo over other methods. It’s something we should think about as the Army begins to examine camo patterns during the Phase IV program. MultiCam has some digital aspects, but is nowhere near as “digital” as other potential contenders.

I will say that, while weird looking and radically different from anything I’ve hunted in before, the Optifade Forest worked well. I had one big buck bust me at about 10 yards, but it could have been from the contrast of my uncovered face (we were bow hunting at a Gore-sponsored outing in eastern Maryland). But I did end up harvesting a good doe who moseyed by me with about three others, glancing around and completely unaware of my presence.

While it’s rumored that Gore will not offer Optifade for any military camo competition, it’ll be interesting to see if they attend the industry day next week. If their efforts on the science behind Optifade inform the engineering of a military camo for the Army, be prepared for some very intriguing stuff from them.

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Last week I had the opportunity to spend the day with a technology I’d heard a lot about, but never spent any time tinkering with.

A good friend of mine clued me into a new company called Kodabow which makes a crossbow that takes a radical break from what most Kit Up! readers might have seen. This new crossbow is a no joke “tactical” weapon borrowing from AR platforms and firearm mechanics.

The CEO of Kodabow, Chuck Matasic, is a Navy veteran and 1975 Academy grad who looked for any excuse to drive down to Quantico or Belvoir to hunt deer back in the day. Over several years in the outdoor sports industry, Matasic leveraged his sources in the firearms world to build a crossbow that looks more at home in HALO  than Agincourt.

Except for the curved carbon fiber limbs, you’d think it was a combat rifle.

The ported aluminum fore-end. The AR-15-style pistol grip. The Picatinny rails running down every angle of the bolt retainer. An adjustable M4 buttstock. You name it, all the Gucci furniture an AR-lover would want can be attached.

In fact, the crossbow comes with a vertical foregrip or a Magpul-like angled fore grip. The scope, light and optics that could be mounted to the chassis are limitless.

Though designed for hunting, Matasic admits he’s had some interest from the snake eater community in his crossbow. The thing can be broken down into a shoebox-sized package and re-assembled in 15 minutes. It’s accurate as hell and a breeze to shoot.

I don’t know how many Kit Up! readers are hunters as well, but for pure enjoyment of shooting and aesthetics, the Kodabow crossbow might be of some serious interest.

Check out more at Kodabow’s web site.

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