Mounting a Radio on Your Kit

Continuing in our conversations about the theory behind gear, let’s have a quick talk about mounting a radio. Bottom line up front, just like any other gear, you should be thinking about how you’re going to use it and how you’re going to access it. I know, once upon a time, wearing a radio on the back of your kit was a thing. Thankfully, it’s a thing that has mostly died out. If you look now, you’ll see a radios worn predominantly (although not exclusively) on the front or sides of most kits.

There’s a practical reason for the transition – access. If you put your radio on the back of your kit, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to access it by yourself. You’ll likely need a second person to pull the radio out of the pouch and either manipulate it themselves or hand it to you to manipulate. That takes two people out of the team to deal with a single radio. Having the radio on the front of your kit allows you to deal with it yourself, without taking that second person out of the game.

I typically mount my radio on my non-dominant side, which means just left of my placard. This allows me to easily access it as needed. I run my wiring for remote antennas and microphones under my left arm and up over my shoulder, using One-Wrap and my shoulder pads to keep the wires secure and out of the way. When it comes to pouches, there are generally two options – sleeve and flip-open.

I generally prefer flip-open radio pouches, because they allow me to access the controls on my radio while still keeping it retained within the pouch. Now, the need for access to the controls varies. For a lot of military and first responder radios, the controls you need to access the most are on the top of the radio. You can turn it on and off, adjust the volume, change the channel, and even the dreaded Z-ALL without needing to touch the front panel. In these cases, you don’t really need to access the front panel for most scenarios. A lot of users probably don’t even know how to really use the various functions available from the front panel, anyway. As an additional bonus, sleeve pouches can often be mounted behind a cummerbund, keeping your kit streamlined.

However, for a lot of off the shelf radios (especially the very popular Baofeng UV-5R/BF-F8HP), the only thing you can do with the radio in a sleeve pouch is adjust the volume. That’s honestly not very useful. To even change the channel, you need access to the keypad. This is where flip-out pouches come into their own. Generally speaking, the flip out pouches allow you to access all the controls, while still retaining the radio in the pouch itself. So if you have something occur in the middle of fiddling with the radio and have to let it go suddenly, it doesn’t end up in a pile of plastic pieces on the ground. In contrast, a sleeve pouch requires that you remove the entire radio from the pouch to work with it, removing any retention.

That’s not to say sleeve pouches can’t work. In fact, a one-size-fits-most sleeve pouch may be a great idea when you are first experimenting with communications and might be working your way through multiple models of radios. They’re also usually less expensive if you’re on a budget. They definitely have some pluses for the armed citizen, so long as you’re cognizant of their risks as well. As we go through the coming series on radio pouches for the Baofeng, I’ll be covering both types of pouches.

I hope you’ll stay tuned.


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