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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tru Spec Rack Vest

Tru Spec Rack Vest
Here’s my review of the Tru Spec MOLLE Rack Vest from Atlanco; a lightweight MOLLE platform designed as an alternative load bearing system for when a full vest or body armor is neither desired or required. As usual, my evaluation is through the eyes of an airsoft player, and any opinions is based on us in that arena, so may or may not be applicable to those using the product in active service with the armed forces or public safety. Hopefully however its information anyone can use.
For those not familiar, Tru Spec is the brand name for a line of tactical apparel and equipment produced by Atlanco, an Atlanta-based supplier of these products to the government since 1950. Since 1996 Atlanco has been manufacturing most of its products in their factory in Honduras, using what it describes as “USA mil-spec fabrics”, although this particular vest is labelled as made in Korea.
Documentation of the features of this vest at Atlanco’s website are pretty sparse, although it does say that it’s made of 1000 denier nylon and my unit carries the Cordura label. 1000 denier Cordura is definitely at the high end of the durability scale, and since it is used in double thickness for most of the vest we’re definitely talking about a serious piece of kit. My particular unit is in Multicam, and it’s also available in ACU, black, tan and woodland. The Multicam version comes with solid colored straps and MOLLE webbing, which seems to be somewhere between Ranger Green and Coyote in color.
The purpose of this vest is to provide the wearer with a large MOLLE compatible surface for the attachment of additional pouches and equipment. To this end it provides a main surface area that is approx. 29 ½” wide x 7 ½” heigh, with three MOLLE web straps along the entire length. There is also an additional chest panel, measuring 8” heigh, by 10” wide, that provides three more MOLLE straps.
The entire vest is mesh backed, which not only helps with airflow but also creates a series of large pockets for additional storage. Each of these pockets are secured at the top by a hook-and-loop fastened tab. The chest panel can be folded down into the center pocket to create an even lower profile vest - basically just a load bearing waist belt.
The whole rig is secured to the wearer by way of a series of 1 ½” straps; one around the waist, and two across the shoulders that cross behind the back and attach to the top of the side panels. Each strap attaches through a sturdy plastic buckle, and each includes a friction-type adjuster to size the straps for an appropriate fit.
The straps are plenty long, almost to a fault. At 6’ 3” I have a fairly large frame, but was still left with copious amount of strap left over. Each strap includes an elastic retention loop to help manage this excess, though in the end it just creates additional clutter to get caught in brush etc., so I’d recommend cutting off much of this excess once you’ve got it fit right.
The chest panel, when in use, attaches to the harness by way of two d-rings on the shoulder straps, which accommodate to fabric straps from the top of the panel, which loop through and secure back to the panel by way of two metal snap fasteners. It’s an effective solution, but the straps are just a little too long, and so the chest panel has a tendency to sag once any load is applied.
Overall, I’d say that the straps/harness is where this vest comes up short. While the MOLLE panels are strong and durable, the straps seem underweight and prone to loosening through regular movement and accessing any of the attached pouches. My experience was that with active wear the vest inevitably became loose and then twisted around the body. Since all of the strap adjustments are to the rear of the body, it can be a headache to re-secure the vest without taking it off.
To be fair, this vest is intended as a lightweight alternative to traditional body-armor based load bearing platforms, and naturally some compromises were made. Without pouches the vest itself only weighs just over 1 lb. and packs down small enough to fit in to a small backpack pouch. The vest scores well on price too. At a little over $35 (even in Multicam), it is a much cheaper alternative than many other vests or load bearing systems. So, as a back up rig, or for a high-mobility set up, this vest might be a good choice for you.
Please note this review was written for us by T. Lovering (one of our customers from the great state of Maine) it is his view of the product and we have requested he be as critical or as complimentary as the item really reflects. His compensation is more stuff it's a vicious cycle. Any one who want to participate email me at steve@vtarmynavy.com
Questions email info@vtarmynavy.com or call 800-448-7965

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