Reconsidering The Cummerbund For Plate Carriers

Down Range Gear

Since first published to Down Range Gear’s Tumblr, there has been a steady flow of requests to retrofit Crye Precision’s Skeletal cummerbund with First Spear’s Tubes hardware. Users want the best of both worlds. 

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These jobs are challenging and expensive, but fun, breaking the monotony of production routine. Customers who buy Crye Precision and First Spear and take them into the field are users we want to support. 

Because the question is asked often, the way this works is that the customer must first acquire both the Skeletal cummerbund and the Tubes hardware, then ship them to Down Range Gear for the retrofit. If you are price sensitive, this game is not for you.

As a small, custom oriented shop, Down Range Gear constantly iterates and can implement design changes as quickly as the need is identified. The original Tubes/Skeletal cummerbund retrofit was serviceably constructed with webbing, but as new, non-woven materials became available, an improved, single piece end cap was fabricated, allowing for a clean, simplified solution.

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It would seem a lot of users want the stripped down minimalism of the Crye Precision cummerbund with the ease of use the First Spear hardware affords. Providing the bridge between the two puts Down Range Gear in good company while customers‘ trust speaks for itself.

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Now, let’s drill deeper with the question that isn’t being asked.

How often do we challenge the notion that we even need to pair a cummerbund with a plate carrier in the first place? Yes, a plate carrier requires a way to join the front and back, securing the sides. If you have to carry supplemental armor or need room to support additional equipment, you already have your answer: you need it. But what about the users who run plate carriers with no side armor and no pouches off the plates?

Nearly all plate carriers ship with cummerbunds, and that’s how they’re fielded by default. How many challenge the assumption that they need one and, for that matter, what would it be like to run an armor carrier without?

We tend to stick with what we know. Whether or not it’s actually better is an individual decision the user has to make. Weigh your need, decide accordingly. But there are other ways to secure the sides of a plate carrier. The first step to making an informed decision is to ask the question.

The following is directed at the user who does not use the additional real estate MOLLE surfaced cummerbunds afford and who does not require additional soft armor or side plate protection. In other words, it’s not for everybody, but could be very useful for some. 

So if not a cummerbund, then what?

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Down Range Gear turned from conventional, webbing based straps to the Dynamic Strap System, a high performance alternative relying on a shock cord core sheathed in tubular nylon webbing. It’s flexible, non-abrasive, enables good range of motion and, once elastic tension is set, eliminates the need for repeat adjustment.

The Lateral Strap variant of the Dynamic Strap System was originally designed as a plate carrier side closure. A recent opportunity with a Crye Precision JPC allowed us to revisit that application, pairing it with one of the most respected brands in the industry, and contrasting with the excellent Skeletal cummerbund.

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The Dynamic Strap System will retrofit onto nearly any 1” attachment point, including MOLLE webbing and loops sewn to the sides of armor carriers. As such, it requires no permanent alteration. For many customers, this aspect is important. All the hardware is standard ITW Nexus split bar variants. That means they are designed to slot easily onto existing 1” webbing attachment points with no special tools or damage to the base system. If you went out of pocket on your gear, this matters to you.

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The Crye Precision JPC was a particularly good candidate for this treatment. Readily available attachment points made DSS Lateral Strap installation easy; onto existing MOLLE webbing at the back and with buckles slotted onto webbing loops at the front edge of the plate carrier, like they were made for each other. 

The DSS Lateral Straps keep everything tight without a hard limit or constriction on range of motion. It’s great for mobility. Kitting up is simplified because once elastic tension is set to what is effective and comfortable, it’s locked in and left alone, no cinch down required.

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This solution was not for everybody. Both the cummerbund and strap system have trade offs but it never hurts to take a critical look at how your gear is configured, to reconsider and revise accordingly. No one else can make that decision for you but we can offer one more option worthy of consideration.

We’re only scratching the surface with this concept and customers should expect this application to be taken further in the near future.

 

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