It doesn’t take long for a good idea to connect and stick. Most customers looked at the Down Range Gear Enhanced Strap Replacement and saw the void it filled right away. Regular, static, flat webbing does the job but leaves room for improvement.
Designed as a drop in solution (with exceptions,) The Enhanced Strap Replacement can retrofit items such as chest rigs, vests and plate carriers (with additional applications limited only by imagination.) Replacing conventional webbing with straps with elastic properties increases comfort and function.
To date, two product niches have been identified resulting in a set of side straps (sold in pairs) and a waist strap.
The basis for the system is a length of tubular nylon webbing with a shock cord core. This mates with a ladderlock allowing a front pull to adjust a length of webbing. This simultaneously improves comfort and ease of adjustment.
The level of comfort afforded by the Enhanced Strap Replacement is attained by the elastic quality of the shock cord which will give when you push against it. Tubular nylon webbing is soft and less abrasive. It’s not going to chafe or rub you the same way flat webbing does.
Ease of adjustment is built into the design. The straps are set for an ergonomic, front pull through a ladderlock. Elbows bend forward, not backwards. To adjust length, pull to the front, cynching it down. That said, the idea isn’t to cynch it down every time the rig is donned. All that is required is an initial fit for sizing, then the straps can be locked down allowing elastic tension to take up the slack.
The elastic in conjuction with manually adjustable webbing provides a wide variation in sizing. The real limitation in the system is not in how far out it will expand but in the minimum it can be reduced. The strap can only be shortened so far because the tubular nylon and shock cord will not feed through the ladderlock.
The hardware standard for buckles is ITW Nexus GhillieTex, though these also can be substituted on request.
When ordering, a customer should be mindful of the correct buckle orientation and of compatibility issues with plastic hardware from different manufacturers.
Although designed as a drop in solution, depending on the make and model of chest rig (there are so many out there) minor alterations may be required to mount the straps. These include lack of places from which to attach the straps, buckle orientation and buckle compatibility issues.
The stitching is particularly robust in the two critical areas where it matters most: tacking down the shock cord and joining the tubular nylon with the flat webbing. Sewing through elastic can be a little tricky at times so the shock cord is sewn into the tubular nylon at two points on either end and with up to 5 lines, which is probably overkill, but we don’t expect to have any of these come back due to a seam failure. Where the tubular nylon meets the flat webbing, both ends have been curled under and sewn with multiple passes in two different points to preclude failure.
Sold in pairs, these are designed to retrofit straps on items such as plate carriers or the harnesses on chest rigs. They have an overall maximum stretch adjustment range of 24″ and can be cynched down to a minimum of 9″. The ladderlock at the rear portion of the straps are slotted to attach easily into PALS (MOLLE) webbing or into existing attachment loops in a chest rig harness. If these solutions do not exist, the item they are to be installed on may have to be modified to accept them. The front of the straps have latch (male end) side release buckle components, though this can be changed on request. The shock cord sheathed in tubular nylon is built into the front end of the straps so that the flat webbing can be fed through the ladderlock for a front pull adjust at the rear.
Sold individually, the waist strap is a direct, drop in replacement for chest rigs designed with removable waist straps. Prospective customers should note that the chest rig must have a side release buckle on both sides in order to be compatible. The waist strap has an overall maximum stretch of 36″ and pares to 12″ cinched all the way down. The waist strap locates the shock cord/ tubular nylon portion in the center and supports strap adjustement off of either side with ladderlocks that allow webbing to be pulled in a forward motion to shorten. The webbing ends in latch (male) side release buckle halves unless a customer specifies otherwise.
It is very likely that similar systems using this concept will be coming on line as customer demand drives manufacturer awareness and some of the amazing talent in the industry take the concept and improve upon it. That’s innovation. I wouldn’t be surprised to see manufacturers building these into their rigs.
Most readers will probably note the change in nomenclature from Dynamic Strap System to Enhanced Strap Replacement. That’s what we’re calling these now.