REVIEW: STRATAGEM Adaptive Chestrig

Its been a while since we talked about load carrying equipment, this may be partially owed to the fact that I was and Iam still happy with my Velocity Systems Pusher Chestrig and my various platecarrier loadouts. Never change a running system. But as the micro rig hype continues more and more I finally wanted something along those lines. Something that could hold MY essentials and not only three mags and a snickers. Luckily German manufacturer STRATAGEM approached us to test and evaluate their Adaptive Chestrig.

STRATAGEMs Adaptive Chestrig is a lightweight load bearing platform.

On the first sight, the STRATAGEM Adaptive Chestrig features a regular battle chestrig footprint. But thanks to the used laser cutting technology and the PALSTEX lamimate it weights less than some velcro sandwich micro rigs that are on the market.

If you don’t need ancillary pouches on the outside you can leave them.

Being ten collumns of lasercut PALS wide it offers more than enough space to turn it into a classic “three double/ two GP”, something along the lines of an classic ARKTIS chestrig.

Velcro and laminate feature PALS cutouts.

But the secret sauce is nothing more than a layer of loop velcro on the central six PALS collumns. You may be familiar with this concept , if you know products like the FERRO “Chesty Rig Wide”, which surely had a more than heavy influence on STRATAGEMs Adaptive Chestrig. What’s really different is the fact that STRATAGEM decided to continue the PALS cuts in the center line, where FERRO just used a big square of velcro. This makes the STRATAGEM product bluntly superior, as you can choose between a modern placard or simply adding individual pouches via PALS webbing.

The Adaptive Chestrig with some additional pouches.

Now lets talk about FERRO concepts one last time. Its really obvious that the STRATAGEM Adaptive Chestrig is an improved copy, of the Chesty Rig Wide, as even the label is placed on the same spot. In my opinion everything is fair in love and war, and I have seen many “pipehitters” rocking good china copies of various crye products. STRATAGEMs main change, the addition of centerline PALS lasercuts makes sense and makes the chestrig completely adaptive.

STRATAGEM managed to offer real estate without unnecessary weight.

Adding a placard is done with G-Hooks and velcro. Stratagem was so kind to send us their 3Mag placard which is their take on the age long quest for an elastic placard and STRATAGEM did good on their take. As the name implies, the placard takes three mags in which can be either STANAG, AUG, PMAG, AK Mag or similiar sized items. Each pouch is made of a tube of thick elastic and a protective layer of laser cut laminate on top, this layer not only eliminates the need to stitch the bottom of the elastic, which normally results in a slight push which isnt desired.

The 3mag placard.

The magazine is now held tight against the body as you may know from other products. But STRATAGEM understood something here that other manufacturers didn’t. They understood that an overtight pull on the elastic doesn’t result in a lower profile or in better retention, but instead results in problems with magazine reindexing and wear out of the elastic fabric. So the three mag placard doesnt lay flat when its empty, but instead leaves a little room for the fabric to recover and the mag to reindex. As long as your application isnt to conceal an empty magpouch, this revision of the elastic mag pouch concept works better than most other systems.

The placards elastic component isn’t as tight as other comparable products.

The magpouches also feature tabs with lasercut holes in the front and on the back. Those holes serve the sole purpose of adding the supplied shock cord loops and pull tabs for an even better retention. Readers that are used to our articles may be aware of the fact that Iam a big fan of dual retention, so this is one feature that I really like.

The optional pull tabs are well made.

Looking at the single collumn of PALS webbing on each elastic pouch, STRATAGEM didn’t just go for laser “slits” but for real cutouts. Those cutouts are not only more stable than simple slits, but make it also much easier to add small pouches, like a TQ- and a banger pouch on this example.

Adding the placard via hook velcro and G-Hooks.

The placard is backed with hook and doesn’t bend when loaded with all three mags. This is again owed to STRATAGEM knowing a thing, or two about nylon architecture. As the outer seams of the elastic aren’t sewed to the inside of the pouch, but to the outside, the placard ensemble doesnt build up contrary powers that normally would result in the placard bending.

STRATAGEM managed to eliminate the typical bending of comparable products.

Now after so much science, lets talk about the suspension system. Stratagem didn’t do any experiments here and got with the trusted H-Harness, that Velocity Systems didnt invent but perfected some years ago. This is also where FERRO drew its inspiration from, so lets avoid talking about copyright here. The shoulder straps are roughly 50mm wide and the adjustable ends are 25mm, ending in a fastex bukle on each side. Lose ends can also be tightened up with triglides.

Some of our readees may have seem this H-Harness before.

The hip strap consists of a 25mm strap ending – again, in a fastex buckle on each side. I’m not entirely sure if a total of four fastex buckles are a bit to much for such a lightweight system. So this is something STRATAGEM could think about to change in the future.

MOLLE? Placards? The Adaptive Chestrig lives up to its name.

The shoulder straps are fixed to the front with O-rings, which are sewn into the laminate. I know the intention behind the O-rings, but they tend to create some noise combined with the G-hooks and also limit the usable placards to those using G-hooks. Some cutouts could have saved -little, weight but would also allow the use of SwiftClips, which are still somewhat of the industry standard while also eliminating the need for the O-rings.

Adding the placard can be a bit noisy.

Looking at the two lasercut PALS collumns on the left and the right, STRATAGEM decided to use a “tank track” pattern, which some studies proved to be more stable than cutouts, or slits. I like this solution but would like to see some more cut out space, as every ounce counts, especially on such a system.

STRATAGEMs Adaptive Chestrig lives up to its name. It enables the enduser to go from a classic “All-PALS” chestrig to a modern, placard based system. It gives you all the options a micro rig could give you, but without weird velcro sandwich systems. Some may say “but the sides are more protruding than my loadout” and I actually have no answer to this problem as it doesn’t really exist in my eyes. Sure, there are things that STRATAGEM could have improved on. For example cutting away even more material, reducing the use of hardware or perhaps adding some elastic adjustment to the shoulder straps. But all in all, this is a working platform for everyone who needs to build a patrol chestrig or a minimalist system, or something in between.

Construction quality lives up to STRATAGEMs reputation.

Aside from the heavy influences from FERRO Concepts Chesty Rig, STRATAGEM showed again that they are capable of textile engineering on its finest.

The Adaptive Chestrig is available directly from STRATAGEM Int.

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