Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review: Zombie Outbreak - Grunt Plate Carrier

I was very pleased to see when I got my email newsletter from Global Gear that they were going to stock a fun new line, the Zombie Outbreak: Tactical Response Gear. I got in touch with them to see what they could tell me about the line, and they were kind enough to send me a few examples, which I'll be reviewing over the next few weeks.

Here is the first example, a Plate Carrier called the Zombie Outbreak Grunt in multicam.

I was really excited as I haven't looked at a quick-release/cutaway plate carrier before, and this one looked feature packed, which is something I always value.

This is a fun set, and I am really glad to have added it to my costuming collection, it will give me some great additional costuming for my MilSim and Stargate Lasertag LRP events.

Here are some of the things that I can tell you about the Zombie Outbreak Grunt plate carrier:

It comes with a front and back section, which includes flank flaps, in place of a cummerbund. Those flaps connect with hook-and-loop as well as having Fastex-style buckles (which are part of the Quick Release Cutaway system, and I'll get to that later). The shoulder connections are again hook-and-loop, with additional adjustable nylon webbing fastening to add to the security and load-bearing of the set.

The front and back are fully PALS/MOLLE webbing covered, but unfortunately the top four set of strips don't match up fully to the bottom four sets, either in rows, or the 1" gap between channels, making cross-linking of accessories a bit difficult, but not impossible.  You can see the drag handle at the top of the back, it is nicely reinforced and bar-tacked onto the shoulders of the back panel.

Some of the stitching was a little off, too, but again, you'd have to be looking pretty close for this to matter.

The first set of accessory pouches that come with the Grunt are a three- M16/M4 magazine style set of pouches, half-magazine sized sides, with elastic siding and a hook-and-loop closure on the lids. The backing features plastic reinforced PALS/MOLLE strips, to allow it to be connected immediately, without any accessories like the ITS Tactical MOLLE Stix.

The second accessory pouch included is an admin panel, which features two paperwork pockets, eyelets for threading dummy-cording, and a GPS/phone/flashlight pouch, with a hook-and-loop webbing strap. The admin panel also features a broad square loop field for affixing patches.  As with the first pouch, the backing features plastic reinforced PALS/MOLLE strips for attachment.

The third and final included accessory is a utility / flashbang pouch, which was originally mounted on the back panel, but I prefer to have my pouches around the front for ease of access. Elastic webbing pockets, on the back and front of the pouch give plenty of storage options, drainage grommets and webbing hinge-holders add to the functionality of this zipper closing pouch.

As with the first two pouches, this accessory features plastic reinforced PALS/MOLLE strips for attachment.

The inside of this pouch is also a little informative. You can see the pale green backing of the backside, which shows what appears to be the textured, heavy vinyl construction of both the pouches, and the entire plate carrier itself, rather than the woven 500-1000 denier nylon that companies like Cordura produce, and is the mainstay of tactical gear and apparel.

The plate carrier pouches inside the front and back panels were a nice touch. They included a sheet of closed-cell foam padding, as well as a sewn-in webbing strap to assist in removing the plate, and a hook-and-loop closing pouch style closure. You can see here that I've included my typical plate substitute polyethylene cutting board. You can also see the internal finishing, and again, the vinyl material the set is made of.

Here is the inside view of the front plate carrier pocket, obscured by the Quick-Release Cutaway cables (yes, in lurid Toxic Zombie Green, much like the scales of my KA-BAR Zombie Killer knives.) The strapping for the Cutaway system sort of closes off this access, which means to load it with plates, you'd need to activate this system first, then replace it.

Lets have a look at that Quick Release/Cutaway system now. For those of you who have worn body-armour of any description for a length of time, you will probably agree that getting it off in a hurry can be a real pain. More so when having to do it in an emergency. (boo hulu) Injury, accident and duress add to this, so having a system that does it swiftly is a real boon.

The system is that a pull on the webbing loop at the bottom of the front of the plate carrier pulls these plastic coated steel cables, releasing the cords thread through eyelets that hare holding the sides, and tops of the plate carrier together. Here you can see the wire nestled in its seating, and the cords looped around it.

Once the cable is pulled free, the buckles and webbing holding the plate carrier together can be bypassed, letting the user tear the hook-and-loop free, and clearing the way to treatment or escape.

Here is the same system at the shoulder, where the cords wrapped around the cable, and fed under webbing to keep them out of the way, when pulled free, allow the shoulder pieces to tear away.

This is a really ingenious system, and whilst it is a pain to put it all back together, I'd rather have those extra seconds of medical aid/egress or mobility in almost any situation, to have the time to spend putting it all back together when needed.

here's me giving it a test.....

So, to finish off, here are some pictures of me in it. As I've said, I was really pleased to receive these (and other items, to come) and they have certainly added new dimensions to my wardrobe and costuming options. It was great to get to see how a quick-release system works, and definitely has some nice features, but I was a little surprised by the construction, both in the materials and care put into finishing. However for a substantial fraction (along the lines of 1/3 - 1/4) of& the price of leading lines, this is a option that really looks the piece, without breaking the budget.

Don't get me wrong, this is an excellent costume piece, and would probably even suit paintball, airsoft and recreational hunters as well for those who are happy with form over function, but it isn't what I'd stake my life on. A real bargain for what it is, especially with all the included accessories, and it certainly "looks the part". I expect to see a bunch of these at IRL Shooter events coming up!

1 comment:

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