The Warrior Dash: a three mile run for the phony tough and the crazy brave. “The Dash” is nothing short of wild with countless mud pits, hillsides, and obstacles for participants to negotiate. Like an invading army, The Dash moves across the nation establishing courses for anyone who is strong enough to give it a try. I had first heard of this “race” from my girlfriend who said that it might be a fun experience for a couple to do together. It took my mind a second to process the fact that she actually wanted to run a hellacious race rife with steep inclines, chest high water, and unforgiving mud, but then I realized that this would be a perfect opportunity to test my tactical gear from Condor, Propper, MAGPUL, and Nike. So I agreed and we signed up for the Northwest Warrior Dash in North Plains, OR.
Initially it was hard to choose what load out I would wear since I have several kits designed for different applications. For Airsoft games I usually wear an OD Condor Tactical Hydration Vest which is perfectly suited for my role as a SAW gunner. The Tac Hydration Vest features seven pouches which are ideal for a gunners’ necessities: ammo, tools, and PowerBars. It also features a large hydration pack to keep me cool between breaks. But the Condor Tac Hydration Vest had already gone through its trial by fire, several times, so I figured that it was time to try out my latest kit configuration.
I assembled my most recent kit to accommodate my DPMS LR-308 AP4, the base was a Multicam Condor H-Harness attached to a Condor Battle Belt/Riggers Belt combination. This worked for for the time being, but I realized after I purchased a SIG SAUER P556 SBR that I needed to do something different. I could either buy a new kit for a 5.56mm platform, or make due with what I had and turn my H-Harness in to a highly modular system.
I figured it’d be more cost effective to buy two Condor Modular Chest Panels and have one hold all of my .308 magazines and the other hold all the 5.56 mags. I found that these Chest Panels are the perfect size to fit between the H-Harness system and Battle Belt. My first panel would have four Condor Double M14 Open Top Magazine Pouches double stacked on top of each other to hold eight .308 MAGPUL PMAG’s. The second panel would have a Condor M4 Triple Stacker Magazine Pouch for six 5.56 PMAG’s. After I had assembled and rearranged everything I found that the Modular H-Harness was everything I needed: lightweight, compact, modular, tight, and functional to my needs. Swapping platforms with the H-Harness couldn’t be easier; exchange Chest Panel A by unhooking and reattaching Chest Panel B.
I decided that I would run the Warrior Dash with the Chest Panel holding the 5.56 PMAG’s only because the mags are windowed and could clearly show that there were no rounds in them. Other items I had attached to the H-Harness included:
- ACM SIG P220/226 Serpa Holster
- Condor Multicam Dump Pouch
- Condor Multicam Gadget Pouch
- Condor Multicam Hydration Carrier
- Condor OD Riggers Belt
- Condor Multicam Rip Away EMT Pouch
- Condor Multicam Single Pistol Magazine Pouch x 3
(On a side note, I was so excited about how comfortable the kit was that I wore it to work the day before the race)
The Warrior Dash began with a ominous bellow complimented with fireballs and cheers. The pace was slow at first since the group was instantly backed up by the narrow paths and sharp branches. Runners were then confronted by several muddy slopes which caused trouble for anyone in street shoes. This allowed me to barrel past most of the pack since the toes of my Nike SFB Mids gripped through the mud perfectly. I was also pleased to feel that all my gear stayed in place when I caught speed on the downward slope (I did tape down the extra strap slack).
Once I got down the hill I saw that the first obstacle was a chest high bog with series of floating logs. I dove in and the bone cold water instantly seized up my chest which made breathing rather difficult. In an attempt to distract myself from the shock I began to pay attention to the way the Condor Chest Rig and H-Harness stayed secured to my body when completely submerged in muck. I was also surprised that the Condor gear didn’t pinch or cause any discomfort when I negotiated the logs. However, the bog was a test for the Condor magazine pouches on my chest; I was worried that my MAGPUL PMAG’s would be ripped out of their pouches by the logs rolling back on them, fortunately the elastic bands on the Condor Triple Stacker Pouch held them perfectly in place the whole time. The same was true for the Condor Single Pistol Pouches which remained closed by their velcro bands. This left me reassured that this kit would stay together for the remainder of the race.
Once I crawled out of the bog I immediately noticed that Condor Outdoor had put eyelets in the base of their pouches which dumped a significant amount of water weight. This was nice since I had another slope ahead of me with stacked hay bails followed by another steep decline. The obstacle wasn’t to difficult since I wasn’t weighed down with water, but the backside of this hill was far more slippery then the previous hills. This had me concerned that I would take a spill if I gained to much speed, but I trusted that the reverse tread on the heels the Nike SFB Mid’s would have enough grip to leave me in control, and I was not let down. The SFB’s kept a solid footing at high downhill speeds which helped cut my overall time significantly.
It was safe to say that I was thoroughly covered in grime after the Bog, an A-Frame obstacle, and another mud pit. I found myself at a steady pace in a grassy field when a van parked along the route began to blare out some “Born in the USA” by
Bruce Springsteen. The previous heats of the Warrior Dash had already turned the sidelines in to a half comatose party which motivated me to finish even faster.
The next three obstacles were all made of net, and the last one required racers to circumvent a horizontal netting which was approximately 20ft long and about 5ft off the ground. Since I was one of the few participants in pants (Propper Light Weight Tactical Trousers) I was able to easily crawl across the coarse rope on my hands and knees while most runners had to bear crawl to avoid lacerating their knees. My Propper Tactical Pants proved to be extremely versatile against the variety of abuse the Warrior Dash had in store. Not once did I feel like they bound themselves together or became weighed down with water and mud. The reinforced knees held up very well and did not rip or tear against any surface I happened to crawl, slide, or roll across; which included three sets of junked cars, a blacked out muddy tunnel, and several ad hoc dirt slides.
The final portion of the race included more hills, a fire pit, and a challenging uphill speed step through dozens of tires. I knew the tires were the beginning of the end so I tried to get past them as quickly and effectively as possible. I found that the Nike SFB Mids were able to grip the tire walls easily which allowed me to run across them rather than stepping in and out.
I finally got to the last mud pit which started off with a 6ft drop on to packed mud and then extended out another 90ft in to liquid brown dirt topped with barbed wire. Without hesitation I dove head first in to the packed dirt where I landed on my PMAG’s. The impact knocked most of the wind out of me and snapped the ACM SIG SAUER P226 Replica Serpa Holster from the Blackhawk! S.T.R.I.K.E. adapter, but I continued on through the mud and finished with a time of 33 minutes.
With the exception that my holster snapped off, which was understandable since I landed on it with a 220lb body, everything worked and functioned at or above my expectations. All of the gear cleaned up nicely including my Propper Tactical Pants which did not require more than one soak and wash to get the mud out.
In the end all of the Condor Tactical gear held up superbly, the Propper pants did not stain or tear, and the SFB Mids are still as comfortable as ever. I don’t think I could have been happier with the way my gear held up to the abuse I put it through. So if you’re in the market for affordable tactical gear that can put up with a fair amount of abuse then be sure to give any of these brands a try, you won’t be disappointed.