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Further, Faster, and Lighter: First Spear has Changed the Game of Load Carriage

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During my time at the Natick R&D Labs the mission was simple: make the warfighter more lethal and enhance capability. Often, it was up to the government to push industry to put forth new technology, systems, and platforms. Other times, industry would take it upon themselves to drop something groundbreaking in your lap. First Spear is the latter.

Officially formed in 2010, First Spear was a concept spawned by industry professionals Jonny Laplume, VP of Strategy and Development, and Scott Carver, President and CEO; two men well versed in Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) with strong ties to Military and Law Enforcement (LE) Special Operations personnel. The idea was simple: shift industry paradigms and upend the status quo. Take end-user feedback and problem statements, apply technology and create solutions. Among many of their solutions and patented innovations, two of them stand out: Tubes™ and 6/12™.

Tubes™ Rapid Release Technology, commonly referred to as “Tubes,” was developed to make traditional load carriage easier to use, specifically to take on or off. Ronnie Fowlkes, Vice President of Business Development, explained “Tubes, while simple in appearance, were the first system that allowed users to get in and out of their vest the same way in an emergency that they do every day. That not only alleviated the need for complicated and heavy cable systems, but also drastically shortened the learning curve. Additionally, because tubes are self-cleaning and ambidextrous, users can be confident their system is always ready to go in emergencies.” Load carriage while vital to the duties of any soldier, or recreational gun owner, can also be a liability. There are moments, tactical or emergency, when you need the system off very quickly. Tubes™ afford the user capability.

6/12™ Laser Cut Platform Technology, commonly referred to as 6/12™, was a simple, yet novel, approach to reducing weight on load carriage and changing the game of the MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) interface. As Fowlkes explained, “6/12 was the first laser cut vest platform, engineered using advanced materials and laminates to eliminate the need for multiple rows of webbing, reducing standoff, slop, and weight; while still protecting the inside of the vest from debris and offering the user maximum modularity.”

As a former end-user with the 75th Ranger Regiment, I can attest to the adage, ‘ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain.’ Any small difference you can make with respect to weight on the soldier is a huge benefit. You enable the war-fighter to move further, faster, and fight harder but reduce the overall weight without reducing protection. It's technologies such as 6/12™ that directly contribute to greater success overseas at the team level. Using 6/12™, and Tubes™, can reduce the overall weight of a load carriage platform by almost 25 percent. Additionally, other categories such as helmets are looking for ways to maintain, or even increase the threat protection, while lightening the system.


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Imitation is often the highest form of flattery, but not when you have industrial and design patents on your idea. Consequently, many other industry professionals have licensed these technologies from First Spear to include Safariland, SKD Tactical, Surefire, and Petzl. Chances are you have seen 6/12™ on a wide variety of products in the industry either on a backpack, or load carriage.

Both technologies are well featured in the Strandhogg, First Spear’s flagship load carriage system. The system utilizes both Tubes™ and 6/12™ and is currently fielded to a variety of domestic and international Special Operations Forces, as well as many LE units to include the US Marshalls. Most recently, the USMC made the decision to field First Spear load carriage using Tubes™ and 6/12™ across the entire branch.

If you are interested in seeing all the different units and departments who use First Spear technology, check out First Spear's Instagram page.

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