Gear through Night Vision

We all know what the different camo uniforms and gear look like during the day, but what about at night through night-vision goggles or IR illumination? It's pretty amazing - objects made of different materials that look like the same colour under daylight can look completely different under IR illumination. Look at the 'various items' picture below. The DOAV vest looks completely black under regular lighting, but through NVGs under IR illumination, the nylon takes on a much lighter shade. The rubberized shoulder pads appear black, though. Under IR illumination, the camo green Kifaru pouch on the left and the black DOAV look exactly the same. How an object looks under IR illumination in darkness depends on the emissivity of the material - objects of the same colour can look different under IR illumination. See this pic of a black glove made of different materials below:

Some cloth materials 'wet out' and turn very dark when wet. However, under IR illumination, the camo pattern can still be visible (depending on the material, of course). I'll be getting some more swatches of different materials soon - stay tuned.

When it comes to buckles - black buckles will stand out quite a bit, even if the cordura is of a dark (under natueral light) shade. The National molding IR buckle looks to be lighter under IR illumination. You can see that the IR buckle and the Camelbak buckles are almost the same colour under white light, but there is a big difference under IR illumination. I'm also surprised that the enamel painted buckle appeared so dark, when under white light it's almost tan. (I got an email from Tireiron who did some experimentation with buckles too - here's what he wrote:
"I took some ‘naked’ fastex, some fastex painted with Krylon paint (8141 Khaki), and some fastex painted with Bowflage (Marshgrass 00477). With my PVS14D (with Ultra tube) using the IR function, and in a dark room, here are the results:
Naked fastex – showed dark black (just like on your website)
Krylon painted fastex – showed just a SHADE lighter than the naked, but not nearly enough to make any difference (just like on your web-site)
Bowflage – fastex ‘faded’ into the tan background!! There was NO ‘black’ at all! The bowflage effectively ‘covered’ the plastic to the point that the IR had NO effect." Thanks for the info, Tireiron! - looks like Bowflage may have something going for it - see pic below.

Note: all pictures were taken using my OD coloured poncho liner as a background, through PVS/7B NVGs, using the built-in IR illuminator only.

The point that I'd like to bring up is to make sure that you're aware of how you look under IR illumination (if you have a job in which that might be of concern). That OD vest may blend in well with your woodland cammies, but under IR and through NVG's, that vest could appear very bright against your BDU's or a dark background. It just may be enough to give your position away. Just check out that OD Israeli vest on the Brit DPM shirt.


US Woodland, 50/50 NYCO, wet/dry
Woodland MARPAT, wet/dry

Brit tropical DPM wet/dry

Various items

Buckles showing IR buckle

Black Point Blank elbow pads

Brit DPM shirt with Izzy Recon vest

Effectiveness of Bowflage paint


ITW Fastex/Nexus Buckles and Hardware

The following comparison photos show some new IR buckle technology by ITW Nexus. The pack is the ILBE Assault pack used by the USMC. The black buckle it currently utilizes might be cause for concern in a few different areas: 1) It represents a significant profile/contrast against the background, 2) The platform is weaker than the classic side release design, and substantially weaker than the new GhillieTEX ™ Side release buckle (which was not available at that time), 3) The Stealth platform will not mate with existing kits in the field. The tan buckle on the top right has the GhillieTEX technology which allows it to blend into the fabric, Invista Codura TM 725d, and ultimately the background. The Invista fabric 725 meets the same specification, Mil-C-43734 @ up to 20% weight savings. The ITW buckles are currently under consideration by the USMC on the ILBE. Read more about the Invista 725 material here.

7/14/04 - Shown below are a couple of ITW Fastex products that incorporate their GhillieTEX IR signal reduction technology. On the left is their Surface Mount SR 1" buckle (stock # 101-6100-5674) shown in the pictures of the pack just above. It is a means of attaching a female fastex buckle to a piece of material. 4 holes are made in the fabric, through which the 4 'prongs' go when the back plate is installed in the reverse side of the material. The buckle is then installed on the front. I replaced the black buckle on my Khaki MAXPEDITION M4 waistpack, and it looks darn good. The assembly on the right is a prototype sample of their 'Grimloc' Carabiner (stock # 110-410-5674). It was developed as a breakaway attachment to work with existing kits in the field. It can be used in place of a standard metal carabiner as a attach point for a lanyard, weapon, dummy cord etc. It will attach to any 1" wide piece of webbing. It is specifically designed to break away at 80lbs, as a safety precaution against snagging. Since it is made of plastic, it will not serve as a platform for ricochets or as a secondary projectile.

5/29/05 - The Gimloc has been updated with the addition of a guide on the body, a strengthening rib on the loop, and water drain holes so that water cannot collect inside the body and freeze up. Also shown are some other ghillietex buckles.

7/25/05 - Shown below are some more ITW Ghillietex plastic hardware, both in tan and foliage green. New is the Web Dominator Clip to help with strap management. It installs onto 1" webbing, and has an elastic shock cord keeper. The loose end of the strap is rolled up and the keeper stretched over it. It's simple and quick to use and keeps those loose straps tidy. It's also great for securing hydration tubes to sternum straps or vertical webbing on the shoulder strap of packs. It can be installed on the webbing both ways shown below - either over or under the strap. It depends which webbing you want the ridges to catch on - the base strap or the loose end. Under the strap is more secure.
Contact your regular ITW hardware dealers for availability.

6/8/07 - I took some photos of the ITW Military Products plastic hardware with part numbers as an ID reference.

SR buckles

Specialty buckles

Ladder locs

Loops, triglides


10/25/09 - ITW Military Products has two new buckles - the Waveloc male side release buckle, which prevents/reduces webbing slippage, and the other is a Quick Attach Surface Mount female buckle. I'm particularly excited about the Quick Attach Surface mount, as this opens up a whole lot of new possibilities.

Waveloc Anti-Slip - The part number for this buckle is GTASB_WAVELOC_810-1075. 'GTASB' stands for 'GhillieTex Anti-Slip Buckle'. This is a 1" side-release buckle that has waves (serrations) molded into the bars that bite into the webbing under tension. The waves are rounded instead of sharp or pointed, so they won't damage the webbing, but are still able to provide a lot of purchase. The anti-slip buckle is intended for applications like pack shoulder straps or compression straps, where movement can cause webbing to slip through standard SR buckles incrementally. One caveat - the Anti-Slip buckle only allows a single thickness of webbing to thread through. Folded over bar tacked ends will not pass through, and will have to be sewn after threading the webbing through the buckle, thus 'capturing' the buckle permanently. A center split bar version is in the works, which will allow installation on bar tacked webbing.

Quick Attach Surface Mount - This is something that should have come out a long time ago, and I feel is one of the most important products to come out of ITW yet. The GT_QASM_810_1076 (GhillieTex Quick Attach Surface Mount) female buckle is a 1" female buckle to has two split bars - one on each end - that allows it to be attached to 1" PALS webbing, or any 1" webbing that's sewn down at some point.

The split bars are slipped onto the 1" webbing, with the buckle straddling either a single loop, or a bartack. This provides a horizontal female buckle anywhere on PALS webbing without sewing. This is huge. Think of the applications - you don't have to sew on female SR buckles for horizontal compression straps. You just attach one of these on the pack, and click the compression strap into it. You can use it to attach cummerbunds to vests in the rear, and place the QASM buckle where you need it to tighten or loosen the cummerbund. I've already used it to replace some split-bar buckles which I was using on PALS webbing. If there was an award for 'Buckle of the year', the QASM would get my nomination.

Both the Anti-slip buckle and Quick-Attach Surface Mount are cross-compatible with other 1" Ghillietex (and standard) SR buckles, adding versatility and capability to the NEXUS product line.

Waveloc Anti-slip male and QA surface mount female

Bottom view

Bottom of anti-slip showing Waveloc

Surface mount attached to PALS

ITW Nexus Ghillietex Ziplines

6/1/12 - One of the newest and coolest offerings from ITW Military Products is the GhillieTex Zipline, a one-piece injection molded zipper puller design which provides an alternative to paracord or metal zipper pulls. Intended for both apparel and equipment applications, the Zipline is easily installed and removed, and does not absorb fluids.

While metal zipper pulls have their uses, I prefer cord pulls where applicable, as they're quieter and sometimes easier to grab a hold off. I either knot a length of 550 cord or use ITW's Zipcords that snap onto the ends of the cord. Well, ITW is going to make those plastic cord ends obsolete with their new Zipline zipper pulls. The Ziplines are molded out of proprietary visco-elastic material, and are installed using half hitch or girth hitch knots. The Ziplines consist of a loop, a neck, and the pull end. Compared to standard knotted paracord or other fabric type pullers, the Ziplines provide a streamlined, clean and neat pull that does not absorb water or body fluids and can be easily installed in many configurations. They're available in straight or loop tab designs for both apparel and equipment applications. The GT ZipLine performance features are derived from their proprietary visco-elastic material & molding process, with the thick strand variants capable of 80lb tensile loads, and can be made in several different end configurations and strand thicknesses. They can also be designed with built-in locking features on multiple types of pullers/sliders.

The Ziplines are available in three models:

Alpha 864-0200 - The Alpha is the longest of the three, and measures approximately 2.31" long, and is 0.585" wide. It has a loop at each end, with the larger loop being the pull end. The larger loop is ergonomically shaped to ensure a secure grip. It is available from EMDOM USA.

Bravo - The Bravo is the smallest of the three models, with a length of 1.9", and a shaped end with small hole about .35" in width. It's got a smaller loop for use on smaller zippers. The pull end has a wavy shape (when seen from the side) to provide purchase on it.

Charlie - The Charlie is about 2.1" long and the shape of the end is customizable. The end can be molded with OEM custom logo options, with a minimum order quantity of about 100,000 pieces. In the examples here, the end is molded into a shield shape with 'ITW' on one side, and 'GTX' on the other.

Zipline Features:

. GhillieTEX IR Signal Reduction Technology
. Lightweight robust programmable design
. Waterproof non-absorbing material
. Wear/Tear/Fray/Abrasion resistant
. Oil/weather/chemical/bacteria/blood resistant (fluids)
. UV stable
. Alpha design accepts travel locks
. High thermal stability: -40f to 140f
. Trademark registered and patent protected

Avail colors: Tan 499, Coyote 498 (Coyote Brown), Black

Zipline product performance advantages:

Cost & Manufacturing (labour) savings:
- No paracord/elastic/braided cord required
- No zipper pull cord end required
- No hot knife cutting
- No Knot tying
- Piece part weight savings vs current puller methods

Installation - Ziplines can be installed directly to zippers (without existing pulls), or onto metal pulls (depending on the design). I've illustrated the Bravo and Charlie Ziplines being installed on a jacket zipper pull. The thin loop is threaded through a hole in the zip or zipper pull, then through another hole, and the pull end threaded through the end of the loop. The pull end is pulled tight, and the Zipline is ready for use.


Charlie and Alpha

Bravo and Charlie

When installed to zippers that have had the metal pulls removed, the Ziplines will extend to the side, rather than in line with the zipper. They're more easily found by feel than cords, as they're semi-rigid and stick out in a more consistent direction. Corded zipper pulls may lay flat, or in any random direction; affected by gravity, whereas the Ziplines will stick out. I've installed the Bravo Ziplines on some of my jackets and the Alphas on my bags, and found them preferable to cord zipper pulls. They also take less time to install, and I don't have to cut 550 cord to length, melt the ends, and tie them or install a Zipcord (which sometimes come off). I think they're really neat - I'm going to replace my 550 cord pulls with Ziplines wherever I can, or whenever I run out of Ziplines - whichever comes first.

Bravo on pouch

Alpha on jacket

Alpha on TNT bag

Charlie compared to cord pull

Down Range Gear QASM Vertical Connector

7/9/11 - Chris from Down Range Gear has come up with a really neat idea for the ITW NEXUS Quick Attach Surface Mount (QASM) Buckle - a simple yet effective way to mount it vertically to PALS webbing.

As I wrote in the above writeup of the QASM, I think that it's one of the most useful pieces of plastic hardware to come out of ITW yet. The GT_QASM_810_1076 (GhillieTex Quick Attach Surface Mount) female buckle is a 1" female buckle to has two split bars - one on each end - that allows it to be attached to 1" PALS webbing, or any 1" webbing that's sewn down at some point. The split bars are slipped onto the 1" webbing, with the buckle straddling either a single loop, or a bartack. This provides a horizontal female buckle anywhere on PALS webbing without sewing.

Taking the QASM one step further, Chris came up with a way to mount them vertically instead of horizontally. Before, if you wanted to mount a female buckle vertically on PALS webbing, the only option was to use the original Surface Mount buckle, but it was semi-permanent. Chris's idea utilizes a short length of 1" webbing with loops sewn at both ends, that connects the two split bars on the QASM. The webbing is installed on either end of the buckle, the webbing slipped behind a loop of PALS webbing, and the webbing loop slotted onto the other end of the buckle. It's quick and painless, and now provides a vertical female SR buckle anywhere you'd need one. There's a bit of up-down play, since the PALS webbing is 1" wide and the distance between the slotted bars is longer than that, but it's inconsequential once you attach something to it.

The QASM Vertical Connector can be mounted anywhere there's PALS. Some chest rigs (like the Mayflower) have male SR buckles, with removable shoulder straps, and can be connected directly to armoured carriers that have a female SR buckle sewn onto the front or attached in some way. The QASM is a great way to adapt any PALS platform to use one of these chest rigs. Other uses include attaching a hydration carrier to the back of a plate carrier.

Check out Down Range Gear's website for more of the ingenious and practical solutions the Chris comes up with to address common gear issues. The QASM Vertical Connector is available from OPTactical.

QASM Vertical Connector assembly

Mounted to PALS



©opyright by MilitaryMorons.com. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction, Duplication, Distribution Strictly Prohibited.

Unless mentioned otherwise, content and images are the property of militarymorons.com and are not in the public domain.
They are not to be used without permission. Please Contact me for permission to use any images or content herein.