Communications is key in any operation. Fortunately, today there is a lot of interest in communications, as well as a lot of affordable options in that realm. Entire Facebook groups and internet forums exist to discuss radios and their uses. To me, this is awesome.
However, one thing that I haven’t seen a lot of discussion on is actually putting the gear on the kit and how/why it gets mounted. I’m not saying the discussion doesn’t occur at all, just that what I’ve seen is mostly people showing pictures of radios mounted, but with no background on what led them to mount in that way. With that said, I’d like to give my thoughts on some mounting options for the Baofeng UV-5R/F8HP.
My first mounting option is the Tactical Tailor Enhanced Baofeng Radio Pouch. Here is their description:
Sized for Baofeng UV5R series radios with the extended battery pack, this specifically designed pouch fits the needs of Baofeng users. Because the Baofeng radios channel selector and screen is on the face of the radio the pouch is designed to “fold down” allowing the user to not only view the screen and what channel he is on but to also make any channel or setting changes needed through the vinyl window. Made out of a combination of 500D Multicam Cordura and 3 inch Multicam Jacquard Webbing the radio pouch attaches to standard MOLLE webbing via the new lightweight MALICE CLIPS®.
Some key points: the pouch completely covers the front, back, bottom, and sides of the radio, with a loop-secured opening in the side for accessories. The “wear surfaces,” such as the outward face, are made of webbing versus standard Cordura or laminate, so it’s a bit heavier. It is also a full two columns wide, as opposed to “lightweight” designs that are typically one column wide.
First off, I like the fact that it’s built a little heavier. The UV-5R, while inexpensive enough to be popular, does not have a reputation for being the most durable radio available. Having a little more abrasion/bump resistance isn’t a bad thing.
Second, the vinyl window allows me to easily manipulate the keys while still protecting the radio from sweat and splash/light rain when folded down. I was originally worried that the vinyl would be inflexible and cause me to push multiple buttons at once, but it appears my fat fingers are the far greater threat.
Third, it has a dual closure system that includes both a strap over the top (secured by a side release buckle) and a hook and loop strip at the top edge. This means that you can still keep it closed for short periods of time without having to fumble with the buckle in an emergency.
Fourth, it has an adjustable side opening for accessories if you choose to use them. I personally use a speaker microphone, so it’s nice to be able to adjust for this.
First, while I personally like the heavier build of the pouch, it does make for greater bulk and width. For those of you who may be constrained by space, you’ll definitely have to choose for yourself if the protection factor is worth the bulk.
Second, while there are dual closure options for the pouch, there are not dual retention options. The radio is kept in the pouch mostly through friction when folded down. Depending on how you have it set up, this might suffice, especially if you have an antenna relocation kit or a microphone attached, but I would love a secondary retention, like a bungee across the top of the radio itself. I can tell you that the friction fit will not keep the radio in the pouch during physical activity if the pouch is allowed to open fully. Plan on using the dual closure and make sure you get that buckle locked down.
Third, while there is a hook and loop section that will provide some retention if you don’t secure the buckle, it won’t hold up to extended physical activity. I wish it was a little larger for more retention, but it’s a function of the size of the radio and the capabilities that Tactical Tailor wanted in the pouch.
Fourth, there isn’t any protection for the side buttons, other than the stiff webbing lip around the pouch. On the UV-5R, locking the controls only locks the front keypad – the side buttons can still be activated. This means hot mics can still happen unless the side buttons are protected. It’s probably not a huge threat, but it is something to be aware of.
Overall, I really like this pouch. Don’t take my list of cons as condemnation – take them as considerations. Tactical Tailor has a well-deserved reputation for quality, and it’s evident here. This is built as tough as a legitimate military pouch, even though it’s serving a non-military radio. I think it should definitely be on your list of pouches to consider. While it is advertised as designed specifically for Baofeng radios like the UV-5R, it will most likely serve just as well for similarly sized and shaped radios, as there is enough flex in the design to accommodate minor variations.
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