Nearly a decade of combat has given the military a keen appreciation for the importance of eye protection. Minor corneal abrasions can have an immediate, detrimental impact on combat effectiveness. Goggles, therefore are a critical PPE component.
Along with goggles, accessories such as night vision mounts, infrared glint tabs, luminescent “cat eyes” and other items turn the helmet into an equipment platform as much as a critical armor component.
When the US Army went from the PASGT to the ACH style helmets, goggle strap keepers, screwed into the helmet and routed through the helmet cover were part of the upgrade. The US Marine Corps continues to field the PASGT profile Light Weight Combat Helmet and while the suspension systems have been improved, many other aspects have not.
It’s not uncommon to see Marines secure goggles to their helmets, for example, through a variety of inspired and improvised means: safety pins, 550 cord, cable ties and outright cutting holes in the helmet covers to route goggle straps.
The Marine Corps’ move to a next generation helmet is inevitable, but that doesn’t help those stuck in the present. Down Range Gear has a solution that is ready here and now.
The Enhanced Strap Keepers were designed from the ground up to work with issued equipment. They are of specific, immediate benefit to US Marines utilizing the Light Weight Combat Helmet in conjunction with the standard issue, MARPAT reversible helmet cover. Taking advantage of gear currently in the system, the Strap Keepers can be positioned anywhere there is a foliage slot on the helmet cover and require no tools to install. The ends are simply pulled through the foliage slots in the helmet cover until a piece of perpendicular webbing prevents further movement, locking it into place. It is very secure.
The robust Strap Keepers are sewn to ride flat against the helmet to minimize snagging hazards and come in Coyote Brown, appropriate for both woodland and desert MARPAT digital camouflage patterns. The durable brass snaps, color coated to match the webbing secure the goggles and allow them to be easily attached or removed.
The loop (Velcro) material on the Strap Keepers’ exterior is what makes them “Enhanced” and gives them the ability support identifiers and markers such as infrared IFF “glint” squares or luminescent, glow in the dark “cat eyes.” The strap keepers not only retain goggles, but with the ability to support markers, make current helmet band “cat eyes” redundant.
The Enhanced Strap Keepers have one other, user friendly feature. An additional loop (Velcro) strip has been sewn into the interior of the Strap Keepers in order to allow markers and identifiers to be stored when not in use or when they are inappropriate. With this innovation, a wearer can use and store multiple markers and identifiers, such as both “cat eyes” and IR squares depending on circumstance. Keeping them safely tucked away, but always on the helmet ensures they will be there when the situation calls for it.