I wanted to tell you all about a very special and awesome piece of kit I have, which I initially got specifically to use for my Stargate Lasertag LRP, but have come to enjoy more and more for a variety of purposes, both costume and preparedness related. This is the Platatac MAC Medium Armour Carrier set. I've pulled off some of the pouches I usually have loaded onto it, such as two of the SR-25 double magazine a FUP utility pouches and a yet-to be reviewed Modular Radio Pouch to give you a better look at it, but you can see I have left my Breacher-Bar, a hank of paracord, some zip-ties and a SR-25 Single Shingle pouch, holding my radio. The art-grenade was a piece my very talented friend Marty Whitmore painted up for me, and makes for an exciting addition to my chest. A couple of Cyalume sticks poking out the side for good measure. I after-marketed a name-tape attachment point at the front.
But lets talk some more about the MAC. The set consists of a front piece, a back and shoulders piece, a cummerbund and shoulder-pads. It's modular, like so many of the products from Platatac, and they offer a variety of options, go check them out.
The front piece has two distinct bands of MOLLE strips, the upper being a three by six flanked by hook-and-loop attachment points for the strapping of the front piece to the back. The lower band is found on top of a large flap, lifting up from the bottom, of hook-and-loop, which plays an important part in securing the cummerbund. It also features a "pocket" of hook-and-loop opening downwards, presumably for sandwiching pouches.
The back piece also has two distinct bands of MOLLE strips. The upper being the same three by six pattern as on the front, but is very securely sewn over a drag handle, which features a nametape sized strip of loop-side hook-and-loop. The lower band features a wider three by eight band of MOLLE loops, and the interesting feature here is that it is sewn over a pocket that runs the width of the back-piece, specifically for the cummerbund to run through. At the top of the back piece, running up both shoulders are bands of elastic, under which can be fed hydration system tubes, or cables for radio or other electronics to keep them out of the way and snag-free.
The cummerbund itself features bands of three by eight MOLLE loops on both sides, and is adjustable at the back by corset style lacing, and fixes to the front piece by means of two wide and tall sandwiching bands of hook-and-loop allowing either side to be opened up independently, giving the wearer left or right handed entry, as suits them. There are two sets of loops dangling from the bottom edges of both front and back, with hook-and-loop and press-stud closure at each. These are for tying into a belt system such as the Young Guns belt but could also support groin armour I suspect. I leave mine separate, giving me more modular wearing options. I have also at times used them to attach a rolled up waterproof poncho and bundled rope, but this got a bit ungainly when I added more pouches or a drop-leg rig.
The shoulder straps that come with the back piece feature two sets of D-rings for attachment as well as Fastex clips to attach the front to the back, as well as elastic sewn into the pads to manage the excess strapping. The shoulder straps included as part of the back piece are pretty good, and extend the wicking surface and closed cell padding up and onto the wearers shoulders, but under load, as any armour wearer can attest, extra padding never goes astray, and as part of the set, twin pads are a blessing. The extra padding shoulder pads mirror the twin D-ring setup as on the back-piece's shoulders, and feature hook-and-loop closure, with enough room to also allow a hydration tube and cords to feed through. The Fastex clips of the front-to-back attachment can be slid into the shoulder pad to again reduce their propensity to bits or dig, and give a more streamlined profile. They are easily slid back to allow fast access as required if the whole rig needs to be dropped rapidly for whatever reason.
Lets take a look inside the MAC to see where it really comes into its own. As I mentioned previously, the inner surfaces are all covered in a breathable wicking mesh, over closed cell, honeycombed foam to not only give padding, but allow some airflow, a real boon in the field, especially when loaded up. In the event the cummerbund isn't worn, wide-mouthed Fastex clips are available to attach the waist levels of both front and back (although my back piece seemed to be missing its corresponding ends). The magic of the MAC however is its armour carrying capacity. A large hook-and-loop closing pocket gives access to standard CBA plates, and can facilitate both hard and soft options. The press-stud seen is part of the front panel closure.
The back piece also carries armour, with similar features, as well as extra drainage grommets. The cummerbund feed through the back, as you will recall, and from this angle you can see the side-armour pockets that give lateral protection.
Obviously, I'm not eligible for actual ballistic protection, being neither military or LEO, but for the purposes of realism for my LRP and costuming, I have included Polyethylene cutting boards, shaped to the right size. These not only give me the rigidity and bulk of plates, but I figure that they would also afford me some stabbing, cutting and blunt force trauma protection. Perhaps not as cool looking as a set of Mad Max tire armour, but far more modular, lighter and functional.
I'm really fond of this piece of kit, and am really glad I laid out for it. It's been the central piece of my LRP kit for some time. I could have gone with just a cloth tactical vest or a set of cams, but I wanted something that would really work, and I've never regretted it. When fending off invading aliens, herding zombies or facing immanent perfect storms, I highly recommend a dependable chest rig like this. I hope our troops in the field find it saving their vitals and keeping them safe!