The SOG STABO Harness


Above is a picture of an original STABO rig. This webbing was developed as a method for emergency extraction via ropes and helicopters when the LZ was too small or too hot to land the chopper. This was used by SOG recon men for their cross border missions.

Developed by a few Green Berets after a few SOG men were lost using the Mquire rig, which was just a loop for a seat at the bottom of the ropes. Using the STABO harness,the recon man had both hands free and could still fire his weapon or if he was wounded, he did not have to hang on to the rope to keep from falling.

The straps replaced the shoulder straps used on the M56 web gear and kept a belt. The man’s pouches and gear was then hung off the STABO rig. When ready to be used, the straps on the back folded down and under the legs o make a secure seat. A special yoke on the end of the ropes attached to the rings on top of the shoulder and when the chopper lifted, you were pulled away.


  1. If it’s anything like the similar rigs used to hold SCBA bottles on firefighters’ backs, (and then drag downed firefighters out of a building), I’ll bet the operators sung like choir boys if they caught a nut under one of those straps.

    Damn, it’s more than merely uncomfortable when that happens…

      • Reported by who, precisely?

        Guys I knew who used those things during peacetime training universally loathed them, and described a lot of agony when the ol’ testicle-pinch occurred. I know at least one guy who lost a nut after they had to do surgery to fix the damage done after crushing one for more than 30 minutes during a training op.

        I’m pretty sure it was these harnesses, but all they called them was “STABO” rigs, so maybe it wasn’t this exact harness, but something else they had in the ’70s. All of STABO gear I used in the 1980s had actual seats like a civilian climbing harness, without the potential for nut-crunchery.

          • Well. You probably couldn’t fit one of the SOG guys’ balls in that thing if you loosened it as far as it will go.

        • the STABO rig picture, they were made in vietnam by riggers,this wa snot some official issue item. I doubt anyone was using them in the 80s, and I am sure they were better than the swiss seat made from rope alternative

          • The guys who did our training on STABO had a display that showed a harness that looked just like this, and they all commented on how lucky we were not to be using them. War stories about the “old days” Looked like it set up the exact same way, and the comment they made was that the way the leg loops went, it cut off circulation. Newer harnesses had like separate leg loops akin the climbing harnesses that came around and were sewn in up front. Sitting in those was pretty comfortable, and I can’t even imagine what one like this would have been like, especially if you couldn’t get it cinched up tight.

            I’m trying to remember if the ones they had on the display board had labels and were “oofeeshul design”, or something knocked up in a rigger’s shop. I want to say they were labeled, but… It’s been a long damn time since I was young and dumb enough to volunteer for STABO games with the SF guys who needed training dummies.

          • I’ve got a few more moments now to add to my prior comment:

            SCBA rigs don’t start with the loops through the crotch. Where that happens is when you have a firefighter down inside a building or confined space, and you need to drag him out.

            You then unbuckle the waist strap (which is about as wide as a car seat belt strap), and run one side of the strap behind the guy’s hip, and the one from the other side of his waist down over the front of his crotch, and you re-buckle the automobile-style buckle. Then you grab the frame of the SCBA pack, and you drag him. Because of how the waist strap is now crossing his crotch on a bias, and how it tends to twist up, it is real common to get at least one nut caught under the strap, if not the entire package. We do exercises on how to rescue someone with our SCBA masks blinded – you have to know how to do this exercise (re-positioning the straps, etc) by feel alone.

            But things are getting better. Newer bunker gear has a semi-solution to this. If you ever get a chance to look at newer bunkers, you might notice a little flap on the back of the jacket, high between the shoulder blades, Under that flap there’s a loop of webbing you can pull out of the back of the jacket that is the midpoint on a webbing setup sewn into the jacket that runs under both armpits. With the jacket zippered up, it can’t come off, so there’s a more convenient way to drag someone now…


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here