What do you like for chest rigs, and why?
Looking for manufacturers, thumbs up and down, what you like don't like...what you recommend
pics a plus!
Personally I don't like chest rigs but I wear IBA and don't like the added torso weight so I went drop leg for my Mags.
i like the Eagle universal rig as available from SKD with the end pockets removed. i put a Holster on one side and an M18 smoke puch on the other .
6 AR mags
2 handgun mags
SOG power plier
not a bad loadout for a compact rig that only runs $75
in a hotter zone i run an IBA with tactical tailer single mag shingles and TT pistol mag pouches.
I would think that hanging all of that from your chest, while convenient when standing, would be awful in prone.
better than it being down around your stomach though...
Copied the following for several replies that I made on another website in reference to the Tactical Tailor MAV:
If you think that the MAV doen't have enough real estate for your needs you may want to take a look at the STRIKE Recon Commando Chest rig, or the Eagle Rhodisian chest rig....The problem that I find with RACK style chest rigs, is they are front heavy and can become uncomfortable over time if you are not carrying a back pack to balance the weight. The weight of the load on a chest right (especially a 1 piece chest rig with a bib) is up front and centered, thus causing more back pain to some users.
With the 2 piece MAV you will sacrifice a little real estate, but the weight is distributed on your sides more and the load is much more comfortable to carry over longer distance and over longer periods of time.
Of all the high dollar rigs that I have owned the Tactical Tailor 2 piece MAV with X-Harness has been the most comfortable by a long shot, it fits better under a pack (Kifaru Pointman, Zulu, Eagle RAID and A-III packs) than any other rig that I have owned or tried.
I take several tactical training classes a year, and usually host 2 classes a year. I use the MAV and the STRIKE chest rigs for these Tactical Carbine courses, and I use them at work as well. The MAV tends to see more use than the STRIKE these days.
My responses are in bold
I had narrowed it down to the Hellcat but it sounds like you're saying the MAV has more along the sides helping to reduce sag. Did I get that correct?
That is correcty. I really like the "idea" of the internal mag pouches, but in reality they have not worked out for me. Getting the mag out of the internal pouch under stress in not efficient, the internal mags effect the way in which the rig rides and feels agains your body. I have owned (4) Hellcats....The MK1, MK2, and MK3, and a Callahan. I keep going back to the internal mag pouches because I think it's an awesome design, but keep selling my Hellcats because the internal mag pouches don't work for me.
I really like the integral mag pouches though and the MAV doesn't have those AFAIK. This is hard without being able to actually try them on. The Boar (www.esstac.com) has integral pouches and is still a contender too.
I got to check out an EssTac BOAR a few months back. The think that I don't like about this design is the front of the chest rig looks like a 1 piece MAV with velcro on the back (part facing your body). The internal mag pouch pannel has a large piece of velcro on it. The internal mag pouch pannel is held to the front of the chest rig by velcro. I have learned numerous times that velcro should never be used as a way of bearing any sort of weight.
The 2 piece MAV with X-Harness may not be the coolest, or the latest / greatest thing on the market, but I have learned after MANY vests, chest rigs, load bearing vests, etc. that it is one of the most practical and comfortable rigs on the market. You can have the coolest looking chest rig / assault vest / load bearing vest on the market, but if it's uncomfortable to wear and doesn't put gear where it's easy to access the end user won't wear it for prolonged periods of time. If you won't wear it, you won't train in it, and if you won't train in it, what is the real use in having it?
As stated above I have owned 4 different Hellcats (all 3 versions). In theory you would think that the Hellcat would provide a slimmer, more streamlined profile. But in reality the thing that I never liked about the Hellcat is that it's like wearing a piece of plywood due to the internal mag pouches.
The MAV with a double M4 mag pouch is actually slimmer than the pic of the Hellcat that you posted below. The reason the MAV has a lower profile is because there is less layers of material. With the Hellcat pic below, you have the back layer of material, the magazine, the front layer of material, a MALICE clip, then the back side of the mag pouch, the magazine, then the front side of the magazine pouch. With the MAV you have the layer of material that makes up the MAV, the back side of the mag pouch, 2 magazines, and the front of the mag pouch. But we are cutting hairs here, the profile difference between the two chest rigs is not going to be something that the "end user" will notice a difference in.
What I have found with the Hellcats is that the internal mag pouches makes the rig a little stiffer (like wearing a piece of plywood). I have a 30" waist and the MAV fits closer to my body and is very low profile. You sound like you are a slim guy and may have some of the same issues with the Hellcat as I had.
The other problem that I've had with the Hellcats is that of the 5 rigs that I've owned (5 hellcats if you include the Hellcat on the front of the Callahan) is on 3 different Hellcats, I have had the snaps on the internal mag pouches break. Each time SO Tech has fixed the snaps, but I don't think that the internal mag pouches were made to be used on a regular basis.
Another thing you may want to consider is cost. You can get the MAV body, X-Harness and Hydration pouch for under $100. The Hellcat is over $100 and the padded shoulder / hydration pouch is another $100.
It is quicker to get a magazine out of a standard double M4 mag pouch (ie. STRIKE, Paraclete, SOE, etc) than it is to access a magazine from the internal mag pouches of the Hellcat. Ammo is one of those items that I want to have access immedately...because if I need a fresh magazine, I will probably be needing it RIGHT NOW.
I have 4 friends that have made the switch from a Weesatch or Hellcat over to the MAV with X-Harness in the last 2 months.
Just some food for though, use what will work best for your needs.
A lot of this pertains to plate carriers and armor, but has info on chest rigs as well:
Just some feed back from an end user.
I don't know what is up with all the gear manufacturers making gear for the "Super Sized Warrior" (ie. 52" belts, gear that you have to be 6' and 300+ lbs to fit into, etc).
I find that many plate carriers, chest rigs, etc. on the market are too big and too bulky. I like rigs that are "low profile" and don't hinder my performance. I hate bulky stuff that makes me feel like I'm 13 months pregnant. A balance between: enough real estate, comfort (in the shoulders especailly), plates riding high enough, low profile design, easy to don and dof, adjustable by me while I'm wearing the rig, and small enough to fit physically warriors are what is important to me in any plate carrier design. That being said I'm 5'06" - 155 lbs. And I know more than a few guys that are in my same line of work, that keep themselves physically fit, and have a hard time finding gear that fits.
SO Tech Callahan: Great design, poor execution. To fit a greater margin of people the Hellcat portion of the rig should be cut down by 1 PALS channel (thus making it about 2" smaller). Attaching a Hellcat to a Plate Carrier makes it a little more cumbersome than it needs to be, the Hellcat portion should be part of the rig, which would make it a MUCH better design. SO Tech also needs to do away with the map pocket on the Hellcat portion of the Callahan, because once the Hellcat is attached to the Plate carrier, all the weight on the Hellcat has a tendency to pull the map pocket (ie. all the weight is being held by the Velcro of the map pocket). Pros: good design, padded shoulders, extra real estate. Cons: a little too big, "convertable" designs (ie. a rig that can be a seperate plate carrier and chest rig, and then come together to make another piece of gear) never work as they should, the convertable design makes the rig bulkier than it needs to be.
T.A.G. Plate Carrier: I recently received one and it is the heat. The TAG plate carrier is rigid enough that it can be worn without hard armor plates. The advantage to the TAG plate carrier is that is has a lot of real estate, the only down side is I have a 30" waist and you'd have to be around a 34" for it to fit properly. I finally find the "PERFECT" plate carrier and it's too big, and they won't custom make me one.....just my luck.
A couple advantages to the TAG plate carrier is that you can run it without plates (just like the STRIKE rig), and it's simular to the STRIKE Recon Commando Chest Harness with back plate carrier, but is engineered much better, has more real estate and puts the plates up higher. It does not sag without the plates and the shoulder pads are much better than the STRIKE. I tried to get TAG to custom make one for me, but I was unable to make that happen. The TAG plate carrier could also fit well over soft body armor and make for a very low profile package, but you also have the ability to run hard armor plates if you choose. This rig is both too wide and too long, if it were made smaller it would provide the extra real estate needed, but be small enough for more physically fit guys. Pros: Extra real estate, plates in the proper place to protect vital organs, 4 buckles on the lower portion of the rig make it much more stable, awesome shoulder pads, very high quality. Cons: Too long and too wide.
Paraclete RAV and Diamond Back Tactical Predator: The only reason I mention these two armor carriers is because the current trend in plate carriers / armor carriers is the "cumberbun" design. Here are my experiences with a couple cumberbun designs: I have owned a Paraclete RAV, and currently use a Diamond Back Tactical Predator (RAV clone) vest for work. As a general rule I dislike cumberbun designs. A cumberbun design is a double edge sword, it affords you more real estate, but the cumberbun can sometimes sag (with heavier loads), they can be a pain to adjust, and they are a pain to get into. Military guys and SWAT cops have the time to get into a vest, where if you need your gear most situations dictate that you will need your gear NOW. It is not uncommon for it to take me 2 to 5 minutes to get into my Predator (most of this time is fighting with the cumberbun).
Eagle Plate Carrier: The Small / Medium only has 6 rows of PALs top to bottom, and only has 10 useable channels left to right on the bottom 3 rows (area where you place mag pouches, misc pouches, etc) (as a reference the TAG carrier has 14 channels left to right and 8 rows top to bottom)......The Eagle Plate Carrier doesn't offer the real estate that I need for the mission essencial gear that I carry....But this is a "double edged sword". Trying to carry the essencials, but keeping it in a low profile package, that is easy to get into and out of. Pros: Good fit, quality craftsmanship and materials, low profile. Cons: Not enough real estate, shoulders could be padded a little better, needs more adjustment in the shoulders so it can ride a little higher.
High Speed Gear Inc. Weesatch Plate Carrier: I ordered a HSGI Weesatch that I was going to use as a plate carrier, and ended up sending it back to the company I purchased it from. The reason that I've never purchased any chest rigs from HSGI is because Gene makes great gear, but the designs on his chest rigs are not low profile.
The Weesatch looked low profile but the internal mag pouches are made for 2 mags plus some extra room, so if you didn't have magpuls on the mags the front of the rig would sag a little bit.
Consider my body shape and size and having the following gear stacked layer after layer on top of it: Level IV stand alone ballistic plate + (2) AR mags thick + pouches on top of that.....The pouches were almost a foot away from my body....Due to having 2 mags in each pouch, it doesn’t let the sides of the rig follow the countour of your body, so it's like wearing a piece of plywood....STRAIGHT AND FLAT.....
I personally don't like to put 2 AR mags in an internal pouch anyway, I attmepted to put 1 mag per pouch to make the rig more bendable and more low profile.....well it just made the portion of the vest in front of the internal mags sag even more....
The other problem that I had is that the shoulder straps are made with a sliky nylon, so when you load up loaded mags, water, med kit, pistol mags, and the other odds and ends that the average guy carries on the front the chest rig would constantly ride forward and wouldn't stop until the back pannel touched my neck. I would sinch the rig down as tight as I could and had Level IV plates in both the front and back and the problem continued. I really liked the Weesatch because it carried my ballistic plates, and has A LOT more real estate than your almost any other plate carrier on the market. But it was designed to be worn over the USGI Interceptor body armor. I think if the shoulder pads were padded like the shoulder pads on the STRIKE Recon commando chest harness or the Eagle MLCS chest rig AND the internal mag pouches were made for (1) M4 mag (instead of 2 plus) the chest rig wouldn't ride forward and would take care of the profile issue. Pros:.......Ummmm...... Cons: If you are going to make "internal mag pouches" make them just big enough to fit ONE magazine snugly so the gear attached to the front side of the internal mag pouch doesn't sag, EXTREEMLY bulky, padded shoulders was an after thought, rig doesn't balance AT ALL, too big, etc, etc, etc.
I really like my TT MAV 2 piece. It's very comfortable. I have also used (and still own) a Hellcat, which is very comfortable, but not as easy to get on and off, and a CQB (Specter Gear) MkI. Out of all the above I like the MAV 2 the best.
LOW2000 if I am going to be in the prone for any length of time I unsnap the front of the MAV, or undue the waist strap on the Hellcat or CQB and flip it up in front of me.
Thumbs up to another great post from you... I appreciate the time you put into such detailed and informative responses.
After taking several classes with a Hellcat Mk. 1, my own experiences with it are similar to Jeffs. While the built in mag pouches are great in theory, as I use them more, I find I like them less and less. I think I may give one of the MAV's a try.
Thank again for taking the time for such a great post!
HSGI DACH. Up to 12 AR mags with 2 pistol mag pouches on the side.
I use a similar setup from Blackhawk which holds 2 30rd mags in each pouch (total of 8) and two 9x19 double-stack mags in each of the two pistol side puches (total of 4). Driving is a big issue for me, this set-up with a high-ride pistol holster is very vehicle-compatible. A grab-bag small backpack in the passenger-side footwell is all that is needed if I need to leave the comfort of A/C.