RECON PLATE CARRIER & PATHFINDER CHEST RIG
To say I’m familiar with Warrior Assault Systems kit is a bit of an understatement. Over the years my personal collection has contained any number of their offerings including the 901 Chest Rig, RICAS Plate Carrier, and DCS Plate Carrier. My current load out consists of one of their PLB Belts and a X300 Bergen hauling the bulky stuff.
I keep going back to Warrior Assault Systems time and time again over the years they’ve never let me down and never resulted in me having to sell a kidney. So when the chance to review their latest Recon Plate Carrier and Pathfinder Chest Rig came up I was all over it!
Let me start by explaining why we’re looking at the Recon Plate Carrier and Pathfinder Chest Rig together. Sure, each one individually could be the subject to a review article in itself but that would be missing out on Warrior Assault Systems adoption of modular load bearing equipment. That’s right both the Recon and Pathfinder are designed to be used either in isolation or in tandem giving those of us who don’t want to buy a rig for every occasion a flexible and scale-able option.
To facilitate the Pathfinder Chest rig has a large Velcro panel, exposed by removing a Cordura cover piece, that attaches to the equivalent Velcro piece on the front of the Recon plate carrier. To assure this goes no-where it is supported by a pair of quick release clips allowing even the heaviest of set ups to be rooted firmly in place.
This modular system is compatible with other Warrior Assault System chest rigs such as the Falcon and the plain molle panels are also available separately allowing you to amass a collection of interchangeable task specific options. The attachment method being widely utilized by various other manufactures making other rigs fully compatible. I tested mine with an Extreme Gear Labs Rig and found it to fit perfectly, accommodating the also popular dangler pouch option with ease.
For those of you who were brought up on Lego and are particularly modularly inclined then Warrior Assault Systems can further fuel your needs with a compatible assaulter’s back panel too, turning a slick MOLLE plate carrier into a load bearing champion ready for direct action at the drop of a flash-bang.
Of course Warrior Assault Systems thought of those who don’t want to run the Pathfinder on the front and provided a traditional MOLLE panel for the front of the Recon Plate Carrier that will take an almost limitless combination of pouches that you may already have to hand.
Anyone who’s tried to put on a traditional Velcro fronted plate carrier when it’s fully loaded with magazines, radios and other tactical clutter we all carry will know that it’s not an easy affair and the idea of taking your plate carrier off isn’t always something that’s looked forward too. The Recon Place Carrier comes with a quick release aided system meaning that the user is no longer trying to peel a fully loaded Velcro front panel, but now instead can simply unclip a pair of fast release buckles and be free of the plate carrier. This little convenience cannot be over looked when you’re dealing will a ladened plate carrier you need to get on in a rush, or even more so when you return from your spectacular acts of bad-assery and want nothing more than to crawl in your dos bag!
FIT & FUNCTION
Putting the Recon Plate Carrier on you immediately notice the difference from its predecessor, there is a, quite frankly, surprising amount mobility offered (note: Medium SAPI Cut was reviewed). The shoulders, with a new light weight, low profile design, pose no restrictions on movement at all leaving the shoulders and upper arms free for weapon manipulation. Furthermore, this makes carrying a pack or Bergen a lot more secure as they sit properly on your shoulders rather than precariously balanced on top of layer after layer of kit.
The comfort and mobility are supported well by the new and improved shoulder pads, whilst this sounds like a small feature it where the majority of the weight is transferred to your body and if you’re intending to use this for any duration at all you need to be comfortable, and I’m pleased to say Warrior Assault Systems deliver. The pads offer just enough protection to stop any rubbing or pressure spots but aren’t so big that they impact upon movement. They also now include Velcro strapping to stop the shoulder pads slipping, which I had experienced on previous plate carriers whilst under load.
The Recon Plate Carrier comes with a very much en-vogue skeleton cummerbund. I’m a massive fan of these (over both traditional MOLLE and elastic cummerbunds) because you get double the MOLLE real estate in the same space due to the skeleton design allowing you to run MOLLE pouches on both the inside (against the body) and the outside of the cummerbund, a feature I’ve used to great advantage when carrying kit for 24 hour taskings without the need for a day sack.
Back to the Pathfinder Chest Rig, I found it to be a sound piece of kit with the four fixed M4 / STANAG mag pouches and the two removable slim line elastic M4 / STANAG mag pouches offered plenty of carry for a fighting loadout. With the two utility pouches holding an array of bangs and smokes conveniently to hand. For my style I remove the two elasticated mag pouches and replaced it with an admin panel to give me some more comms and general storage options, this was no issue as the centre of the Pathfinder offers enough MOLLE real estate to fine tune to your own carrying needs.
If you want to run the Pathfinder Chest Rig on its own it is provided with a low profile harness set, this does exactly what it needs to providing a lightweight option for those times when a plate carrier just isn’t an option.
MATERIAL & BUILT QUALITY
Ones of the main, if not THE main reason I keep going back to Warrior Assault Systems kit is quite simply for the price it is unbeatable in terms of build quality and durability. Many of the items I mentioned at the beginning of this write up have been used for well over 5 years and still earn their place in my loadout by doing exactly what they need to. This, I’m glad to say, is still the case with both the Recon and Pathfinder being constructed out of glorious Cordura, swathed in robust stitching and adorned by high quality nylon fixtures and buckles. The use of 3d meshing to aid comfort and heat dispersal is another theme that runs through the Warrior Assault Systems range and true to form is present on the Recon Plate Carrier, which, given the unseasonably warm weather, has been more than welcome!
To wrap this up both the Recon Plate Carrier and Pathfinder Chest Rig both do exactly what they are intended to do, and in many ways in a reliable and unassuming way. Perhaps there isn’t the bells and whistles that might be found on other (considerably more expensive) rigs, but do they suffer because of it? NO, not for a second. If, like me, you buy your kit based on what works and knowing it will work when you need it too then I would suggest you need to give Warrior Assault Systems some serious consideration!