Friday, January 25, 2013

Review: Strike Industries - Simple Plate Carrier

This is a really interesting piece of multifunction kit. Strike Industries, in conjunction with J Tech Gear have come up with a multifunction plate carrier, that doubles as a carry case for a laptop. They did my Sling Catch, and Picatinny vertical sling mount
so I've been keeping an eye on their new developments, and was only too pleased to see this cool piece become available, and to receive one! 

This might seem like an unusual combination, but considering the kinds of products on the market now in the US to attempt to protect kids from the alarmingly frequent mass-shootings at schools, the idea of having every-day items with the potential for containing armour is not new. In Australia, we are lucky to have pretty low rates of weapon related violence, but, being prepared for disaster, even the personal and human initiated kind, is what this blog is about. This is the Simple Plate Carrier, and it is anything but merely "simple"...

I've talked about what I use as a plate-substitute before, when reviewing my Platatac MAC rig, and whilst not ballistic protection,  I have again 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 have a 34cm x 24cm (13 1/2" x 9 1/2") board in the front internal pocket here, which closely mirrors the SI Plate that Strike industries offers

The back compartment houses both my 15" MacBook Pro, a spare battery, and my iPad.

The rugged cordura-type nylon material of the case is very well stitched, with reinforced seams and bartacking on all the attachment and stress points, without being heavy, stiff or bulky. The wide webbing of the strapping is fixed at the upper edge with vertical fastex type buckles, and at the bottom edge with horizontal buckles of the same type and more importantly, size. Lastly, and this was a big point of interest for me, the back of the carrier features a sewn in handle, laying flush with the back, to turn the whole thing into a modern buckler if needed ....

I found that the laptop charger didn't fit very neatly in the case (it formed a bulge where the plug sat) but because the front of the carrier has three rows of PALS/MOLLE, including two side-by-side and covered in loop-pile, for patches, ID tabs and the like, I was able to affix one of the black Platatac FUP pouches I have, and give myself some extra storage capacity, with out bulking the carrier up too much, or making it too obviously a piece of MIL-SPEC type kit. There is a second panel on the lid flap for a flag-size patch. Depending on how big and full your carrier gets, there may be a third loop-filed exposed, for even more patch-goodness, here's my AFT's Jungle Recon extolling the love of his job...

And here is how the shield handle works, from behind. The main strap is wide enough to give a good bunched grip, knuckles flat against the back of the pad. Because of my very long forearms, by elbow poked out a little of the back when I stand "en guard", so I gave an alternative hold a shot, with my hanad gripping one shoulder strap, arm looped through the hand-hold and the other strap over my elbow.

Both seemed to feel pretty good, and with advantages and disadvantages according to the style of defense used.

When carrying the unit around, I tended to sling the the shoulder strap such that the entire carrier sat under my arm, rather than behind me.

This meant that I could bring the other strap up and over my opposing shoulder, to drop the carrier into the classic "front pack" configuration.

"Nice Target" you might say, about the patch, well, as Batman and the Punisher have said in their respective comics, "I cant armor my face" (although, these days this isn't as true. )

So here I am striking a pose, Simple Plate Carrier as a shield, with my trusty S&W Tactical Pen as my on-hand "please don't make my use this" incentive.

You can see that my elbow hangs out, but when taking a better "buckler and dagger stance" this would be less of an issue. with a combination of the polyethylene cutting board, the laptop and the material of the carrier itself, this was a substantial and solid barrier to put between my vitals and someone without my best interests at heart. All in a package I can happily carry about day to day.

One of the great things about this carrier's design is that the shoulder straps, being all of the same design, can be swapped from position to position. Instead of a "backpacks/frontpack" style carry, simply by changing the straps from top-to-bottom, to top-to-top and bottom-to-bottom, giving you an "around the neck, around the waist" configuration.

All the straps feature a slide adjustment and an elasticised loop to secure loose ends.

This is the classical "Plate Carrier look" and it's a little more conspicuous, but certainly more secure. Wearing the carrier in "frontpack" style, when leaning forwards, it was occasionally tricky keeping the carrier in place, unless I had another pack on my back pinning the straps in place. Good for backpacking and travel in unusual and possibly insecure places, but not full-time.

For the best performance and security, over-the-neck is the way to go.

I've been looking for a means to carry a laptop about. My CSI folder is awesome, and it carries my iPad about in safety, either inside, or slipped beside it in my Bullock Echo daypack, but the Simple Plate Carrier offers the modularity of a inconspicuous armor carrier for a little urban insurance, as well as a means to carry a laptop, and an iPad around safely and securely.

I felt there wasn't much padding for the bottom edge and sides of the laptop compartment, but that was easily solved after-market with a sheet of closed cell-foam. I really liked the lines, and as always, the multifunctionality of the carrier really appealed to me.

Just be sure to remember that neither the iPad or MacBook's are bulletproof .... not to mention cutting boards .... be safe, be equipped and know the limitations of your gear...

1 comment:

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