Review: A radio-strap skeptic takes the H6 firefighter radio strap for a spin
This lightweight, flexible and durable strap keeps the radio and accessories where you want them – and stands up to decon
Sponsored by Homeland-Six
By Dalan Zartman for FireRescue1 BrandFocus
I have spent the better part of my 20-plus years as a career firefighter trying to figure out how I want to carry my radio. This has been a revolving door of trial-and-error straps, clips, pockets and so on. At the end of the search, I will say I never really identified a method or a product that I was completely sold on – until now.
I have spent the last month evaluating the H6 radio strap and holster, and initially I wanted to find reasons not to like it. The radio strap concept was my least desirable way to carry my radio because of the following reasons:
- Leather radio straps have some weight and girth, and I could always feel them on my shoulder. It wasn’t ever uncomfortable, but it always annoyed me.
- Storing the strap with my bunker gear required a hook to hang them on because it wouldn’t compress enough to just fit in my turnout boot.
- Making adjustments on the connection for the lapel mic or the type of radio I was using wasn’t versatile enough. When I was transitioning from turnout gear to tech rescue set-up with a harness or even EMS response, it always left me stuck with whatever configuration I had already set up. There was nothing easy enough or quick enough on the leathers for me to want to make adjustments, so I just lived with it.
These are all minor things, but they were enough for me to not want to consistently use a leather strap.
3 ways the H6 strap excels
The H6 radio strap immediately eliminated some of my initial gripes about radio straps. First, it is incredibly lightweight, flexible and comfortable. It is very thin but designed with durable fabric, stitching and connection points. I could wear it on my shoulder and almost be unaware of its presence.
Secondly, it was easy to stow because of the flexible fabric. At the end of the shift, I could fold it up to the size of the small holster and slip it right into my boot.
Lastly, it has a wide array of connections on it, and the strap is sized such that I could rig it quickly in almost any configuration I want.
Over the course of the next month, I continued to identify additional benefits of the H6 strap. The radio holster universally accepts just about any radio without having to modify anything, and the information screens and knobs/buttons on the radio are accessible but still relatively protected from unintentional contact.
A strap that stands up to repeated decontamination
My department has a very aggressive protocol regarding decontamination in this era of pandemics. We are conducting full-scale decon applications every shift, and I quickly recognized that the entire strap can tolerate just about any decon process without drying out, cracking, absorbing, etc. I can throw it into the extractor if I want, and I don’t have to worry about reconditioning it.
Secure and customizable
The H6 also maintains a secure position while being worn. I did high-angle evolutions with it just to test its versatility. Typically, I place my 800 radio into my radio holster that is rigged into my rope harness and bring the lapel mic around my neck and clip it onto the opposing shoulder. The H6 could be worn comfortably under or over my harness with easy location of the lapel mic wherever I wanted, and the holster was easily secured into a hip position with the retainer strap that comes with the strap. The radio didn’t move all over the place, the lapel mic was easily accessible for communications and no part of the setup interfered with my rigging points or my operations while on rope.
The final, really appealing detail that I liked is the presence of additional connections on the holster. After spending eight years in the Marine Corps, I can identify a tactical design concept when I see one. The H6 design team has roots in military gear. Thus, the entire strap has a “tacti-cool” feel to it that feels like a little range kit with MOLLE attachments all over it. I ended up clipping my window punch/knife combo for quick extrication access to the attachments on the back of the holster and never went digging through my pocket again.
The H6 can be ordered with custom embroidery and a variety of color panels, including reflective material. For a veteran of the fire service who was a never a fan of radio straps, I have joined team H6.
For more information, visit Homeland Six.
About the author
Dalan Zartman is a technical-rescue curriculum subject-matter expert for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security. He is a certified rescue instructor, rescue technician level II, fire instructor II, firefighter and EMT. Zartman is founder and president of Rescue Methods.