Colour code your shit.
Disclaimer: This item was provided free of charge by The Lamp and Sandbag for testing and evaluation purposes. There has been no exchange of money, and the terms of any item being provided are that if I like a product, I review it, if I don’t like a product, it gets sent back. With this is mind I always remain as unbiased as possible, my thoughts are my own, and the sole purpose of this blog is to provide helpful information to someone who might actually need it to find the right solution for their problem.
So this is one of those weird reviews where it is 50% of a product, and 50% of an idea, let’s start with the latter. There are many situations where unit SOPs or just personal admin lead to the marking of an area in your gear in which mission critical equipment is stored.
The most common example by far in my experience being the location of a lightweight stretcher or team med kit. In many of these situations the solution is to quickly tie off a length of orange or white mine tape to the zip of the pouch and call it done. This method presents a few problems though:
- The mine tape is tough, but still prone to snagging and tearing
- It is bright orange or white in its entirety, meaning it is often cut very short and can come undone
- You are limited to 2 colours
To get around this I’ve been thinking about colour coding using custom zip pulls, and asked Rob at The Lamp and Sandbag to put them together for me.
LAS Paracord zipper pulls
The core concept of the zipper pulls is very simple: a cheap, readily available product that can be easily identified, but without the possibility of being glaringly obvious or easily damaged. 550 Paracord is an obvious choice for this role as it comes in any colour or length and is renowned for its hardiness. Paracord is also a rattle free replacement for any existing metal zip pulls.
In my version, I asked for a green/black combination in the body, with a single stroke of several bright colours on the knotted end of each pull to tell them apart. This series of colours helps the pulls to blend in to the colours of my kit, and still has that crucial stripe to identify which pouch is which.
As with all paracord products everything can be customised, including the size and length of the pulls. On mine, the total overall length of 11cm means that each pull can be easily looped through itself on just about any zip or MOLLE loop without any frustration. This length combined with the chunky knot at the end also gives you a nice big handle to grab onto with gloved hands, which makes getting access to the essential gear like a med kit even easier.
The stripe itself can come in just about any colour you can think of, meaning easy connections can be built between colours and kit to make recognition easy, e.g red for med, blue for mine/IED clearance etc.
Colour coding in practice
I see something like the LAS zipper pulls being best put to use in two scenarios; either as a Company/Platoon/Section SOP, and for personal admin.
From the Company level down these pulls can be bought in bulk, and dished out to the relevant men in each section to be used for a certain task. As these are more than affordable they are almost as disposable as mine tape, but with the added durability and more professional image. Company subs are wasted on a lot of shit, but in my opinion having well organised SOPs isn’t one of them, and tatty scraps of mine tape might have the effect of either falling off altogether, or at least looking unprofessional to partner nations.
The other use for colour coded pulls is at the individual level. As any British squaddie can tell you the secret to a well packed bergen or daysack is drybags. The problem with them is; they all look the same. Yes we all use the garishly coloured Karrimor ones, but even then feeling the difference between an orange drybag containing your spare socks and an orange drybag with your soft hat in can be tricky, and leads to a lot of unnecessary unpacking. Changing this up by adding a coloured paracord pull to the drybag will go a long way to making sure that you get the right bag out first time, even in low light.
Even the simple use as a way to tell which side pouch is which might just make your life in the field that little bit easier.
As far as my conclusion goes there isn’t a great deal to say other than this is a cool little widget that costs next to nothing, and might just make your life a little easier. If like me you get weirdly OCD about having the right kit in the right pouch then this is definitely the sort of thing for you.
One question that I know I will get is “why not just use the Spiritus or Haley coloured pulls?” and this comes down to cost and availability of colours. While the “big brand” versions are hardly expensive, to buy them in bulk would add up, especially if you treated them as a disposable item after each exercise. They are also limited to just a few colours. The paracord offering is simpler, cheaper and much more versatile.
Thanks for reading my thoughts on the Lamp and Sandbag coloured zip pulls. It was really nice of Rob to bring my ideas to life, and I’m more than happy to recommend him to anyone interested. If you’ve got any question about this or any other review, feel free to fire them over to my Instagram @thegeardocrow