This job was familiar territory, an area in which Down Range Gear is associated: modify an off the shelf chest rig, adding Direct-To-Armor capability, retain standalone functionality and improve upon the basic components.
The chest rig was an Eagle Universal/ SKD Version. The customer wanted it modified to interface with a Mayflower Research and Consulting armor carrier. There is a large user base looking for ways to attach chest rigs to armor carriers not designed to go together. There’s more to it than adding straps and buckles in the right places. Additionally, the customer wanted to be able to continue using the chest rig as a standalone item with the original harness. These features aren’t mutually exclusive but imposing multiple requirements on a design that hasn’t been optimized for them inevitably leads to trade-offs.
In it’s original configuration, the chest rig had two 1.5” buckles along the top of the panel. These needed to be switched out for 1” buckles and moved closer to center to align with compatible buckles on the Mayflower armor carrier. The customer was also concerned about how the narrower set of the new buckles would work when worn with the harness. A narrower attachment point means that the shoulder straps of the harness angle in differently. Multiple steps were necessary to satisfy all the requirements and make everything work together.
The original chest rig waist strap was a simple webbing and buckle combination run off the bottom corners of the panel. This is less than optimal in the Direct-To-Armor role because it leaves the top corners unsupported. The base chest rig is essentially a rectangle. Optimally, the sides need to pull evenly across the entire edge to properly balance the load. To address this concern, the edges of the panel were retrofitted with a 2” webbing tapered extension culminating in a 1” latch (male end) side release buckle. This entailed opening up the edges of the chest rig, dropping the new extension into the seam and sewing it up again. Care was taken to reinforce this critical stress point.
The Enhanced Strap Replacement, Waist Strap is a signature Down Range Gear design. It is a drop in replacement for conventional waist strap assemblies. The tubular webbing sheathed, shock cord core allows it to flex and maintains constant elastic tension. The webbing straps on either side are fed through ladderlocks, which are configured for an ergonomic, front pull to adjust. It’s a comfortable, user friendly, hard use upgrade that exceeds conventional strap systems.