Monday, December 24, 2012

Review: Mystery Ranch - Cinch Strap

This is an awesome piece of kit that I saw from footage of the 2012 SHOT show, and when I saw that the guys at HorNest also stocked MysteryRanch gear, I was really excited. Mystery Ranch makes hardy, heavy-duty packs, accessories and other needful gear, that is specifically NOT "ultra-light". They cater for Military, Backpack hunting, Fire/Rescue and Adventure users.

They have some really innovative kit, and their pack designs really set them aside from many others, and from all accounts, you get what you pay for.
The item that caught my eye most was a piece of load-relief called the Mystery Cinch. This 60g (2oz)
strap and buckle system is designed to offer relief to one of the worst aspects of wearing a backpack, the dreaded arm-pit pinch.

This occurs when a pack's straps slip over the side of your chest, and snag the sides of your pectorals, digging and chafing, biting into the underarms. Over long exposure, this can cut, blister, bleed and could lead to chronic long term injury to serious load-luggers. 

The situation is made worse for those wearing a chest-rig, plate carriers or the like. Shoulder pads of carriers and vests alike tend to slip backpack shoulder-straps off their intended wearing locations, get them hung-up and generally leads to the arm-pit digging... The Mystery Cinch acts to alleviate this problem, and it does so in a really interesting way. You can see here where the cinch has pulled the improvised  straps of my Platatac Bullock Echo daypack out of my armpits and onto my shoulderpads, where they could do their job.

Here's where the magic is. The ends of each Cinch is a tab of rigid plastic, with a press-stud fixed to the middle, and it fits into the channel of your chest-rig's PALLS/MOLLE, between two rows, and the straps loop-end affixes around it, locking it in place. This gives a really secure attachment, using your harnesses own integral construction to give a rock-solid means of mounting this accessory.

Pack-based sternum straps don't offer nearly the same kind of functionality.

The strap closes with a powder-coated metal buckle and tongue, much like a seatbelt, with a press-stud security clip, to ensure you don't get a premature release (and no one wants that). This is really useful, because the buckle itself is a very-quick release, almost a hair-trigger, even. This is actually an advantage, because it means that if your pack is set up right with plenty of strap length, a quick pull of the release tab will let you shed the pack in a moment, no more wrestling strap over shoulder pads and harness when unpleasant things are happening to you and yours.
Here you can see the Cinch set up on my FirstSpear OAGRE tactical-vest running it under the bottom of my ZuluNylonGear CAOS admin pouch showing how the webbing of the MysteryCinch folds around to capture the strap of my pack and keep the top side of the straps vertical and out of my underarms, and the bottom side snug to my waist. The cinch straps don't take up very much room, and apart from placement right at the edge of the pectorals, but could be adjusted to suit your build and rig.

The key is that it needs to be placed to keep your straps out of your armpits and have the buckle accessible to make use of its quick-release functionality. 

Some of the other features of the MyseryCinch are the little details they have included to round off the product. The tongue-end of the buckle includes a hook-and-loop webkeeper which rolls up and secures the excess webbing included for one-size-fits-most loads and users.  All the stitching and hardware are top-notch and thoroughly dependable feeling.

When not hooked up to a pack, the Cinch can just be clipped up, and stows out of the way across your chest, not all that different to the clasps of the OAGRE or Platatac MAC front-opening panel, or on a plate carrier, just out of the way.

This is a rock-solid accessory, with some real advantages for wearers of PALS/MOLLE equipped chests who have to lug packs about. Adventure, Fire & Rescue and Military folks would be really assisted by this really simple addition to their load-out. 

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