Looking at the chestrig market, we have seen a lot of concepts floating around. From fully modular chestrigs like the TT MAV, the classic „british style“ Arktis chestrigs with their iconic flapped double magazine pouches, to scalable specialist solutions. But if there is one chestrig type that I would deem the „most universal“ or even successful type of all of those it would be the „rack type“ chestrig. Racks basically work based on the simple truth that anyone who carries a rifle will carry rifle mags.
Therefore a rack style chestrig usually consists out of four to eight single or double stack integrated magcells. The rest of a racks surface is covered in PALS webbing.
Dispersing mags over the surface of a rig makes racks super modular, yet low profile. Its not surprising that the US Army has adopted a rifle rack with its Tactical Assault Panel as standard issue. During the mid-GWOT days basically every manufacturer had some type of rack available, though aside from fancy or martial name differences (anyone wants a „Gladiator“ chestrig?) they all had been pretty similiar as there isnt that much room for improvements. Therefore the amount of rack type chestrig offerings did somewhat decrease in the last years.
But its 2022 and a lot of stuff happened in that timeframe. Scalable designs with magazine inserts are the thing now. Tracer Tactical recognized this opportunity and applied all those concepts to a rack type chestrig. The product in question is called the SCOUT and it promises to combine scalable features with the general concept of a rack. During thel last five months we did check out how this new iteration of the rack holds up.
Full disclosure: We didnt pay for the STOUT SCOUT, Tracer Tactical did send us a sample and also is supporting us on Patreon. However, just us being good with a company doesnt mean we do biased reviews. Doing a biased review would clearly violate our ethic standards, but also hurt Tracer Tactical in the long run as only honest feedback can make a product evolve.
CONSTRUCTION & Design
When buying the SCOUT you have options. There is an X-Harness, an H-Harness and there are two different variants of the SCOUTs body. One being the classic tall SCOUT, which features a raised rear kangaroo pocket.
The Stout SCOUT is, just as the name implies, the same length, but not as high, modular space is the same in both versions. You also have the choice between 500DEN Cordura, 1000DEN Cordura and a 500D lasercut version. Its great that there are as many offerings. We decided to go with the 500DEN sewn version, which is the lightest of Tracers offerings.
All of those variants are simple affairs, they offer 14 PALS colums of real estate, said modular space is two rows high. On the 500DEN version there is no PALS webbing in the center, so 6 of those colums are missing, instead there is a huge loop Velcro area. We will explain the function of this area later on.
All webbing is properly bartacked, ive seen better bartacking to be honest, but ive seen worse. So the only thing you might experience are some cosmetic irregularities. Nothing to worry about beyond gear autism.
The SCOUT itself features, or better said, consists out of two large kangaroo pockets which are loop lined and accept „industry standard“ magazine inserts. Up to 14 Ar15 style magazines fit inside if you would decide to stack mags. I personally got with 7 mags and utilized the front portion of the rig for admin related stuff. And it is this exact area where we notice the first edge over conventional „rack“ type chestrigs. You can freely chose from any aftermarket admin insert you like to. From AXL half zippers over flat zipper inserts to Tracers very own „Crayon box“ insert. Putting pistol inserts in there is a possibility, to easily store multi tools, even radios could be stored using a bungee style inserts.
My first fear after first seeing the STOUT SCOUT online was that this velcro monster would literally explode due to sagging. While and after assembling it, I didnt gain any confidence. But when putting it on the first time I realized that Tracer actually arranged the harness attachment points in a very clever way to prevent sagging. Even on the prone and when crawling the rig did hold up. This is another indicator that living room reviews and unboxings can only tell half the story. In short: The pull applied by wearing the chestrig compresses it.
Depending on how you set up your SCOUT you realize one thing. Its expensive! 199$ for the chestrig body, 74$ for the X-harness, 14$ for the backstrap…add mag inserts and zipper inserts to that and you get towards triple the price of a modular MAV, but also towards three times its capabilities and you already have all your magazines squared away
What I really like about Tracers manufacturing quality is how few seams the construction actually utilizes, most is done using bartacking, the whole construction can basically be made out of two big pieces of Cordura cut into the right shape, which allows for little failure points. Generally you can apply the best seams, but a high amount of seams will result in the equipment failing way faster. A big, folded cloth of Cordura on the other hand has only got so many ways it can fail.
So lets talk about the large, plain Velcro area in front of the STOUT SCOUT. It is intended to give the system a certain degree of scalability. A squad leader or rifleman could add tracers DUFF utility pouch here. This pouch generally gets attached like many detachable plate carrier front flaps get. Its a large zippered admin pouch that can also be worn as a dangler style pouch or hip bag. Alternatively there is a PALS flap and the theory is that you can multiple of those and essentially build pre-made setups like for example a 40mm flap.
Does this make sense? Absolutely! The front portion of a chestrig is often subject to change due to the many roles a squad has. If you reflect it, what do you change out more? Ancilliary equipment or the caliber of your rifle? Most often we dont carry a DMR one week and an assault rifle the next, on the other hand admin equipment, grenades and comparable stuff are subject to change pretty often. Still I would like a offering by tracer that includes PALS Velcro, actually the lasercut versions of the SCOUT do that, I hope the concentional sewn versions will offer that capability too, as there is already so much velcro going on on the rig.
The padded harness attaches via 25mm Fastex buckles in an industry standard fashion that places the female parts on the harness. Aside from that the rear features a field of hook velcro to attach the SCOUT to a platecarrier, although Iam not into doing so using rigs of that size. A small, but handy bonus are the rear stash pockets made out of a mesh fabric, cheat sheets and even spare bats may find a good home here.
PERFORMANCE & OBSERVATIONS
So, ist the STOUT SCOUT any good? Yes. It is propably the most versatile load bearing solution you can get right now. Is it the most lightweight and streamlined? No. You can get solutions that are built way smaller or even scale down way smaller. But lets be honest, most of us are not „operating“, working or larping at a pace that creates the need for an ultra streamlined solution, the weight savinfs in fabric just wont matter.
Our loadout is subject to change and there is nothing you cant do with the STOUT SCOUT chestrig. Most of us dont have an issued load bearing suite consisting of multiple chestrigs. So the Tracers high capacity has the potential of doing it all. That being saif, you will receive -11 FOG vibes when wearing it at the flat range, Iam aware of that.
The comfort created by the X-Harness is great, it has a very thin, but efficient padding. Iam actually pretty fortunate that Tracer decided to go with padding when looking at the sheer amount of weight the STOUT SCOUT can potentially carry. The myth of padding not being comfy under rucks is something that simply isnt true as long as we arent talking about 2010ish BLACKHAWK(!) padding. I hiked more than 100km using the Tracer Chestrig and a large pack, and the chestrig never annoyed me.
The magazines are easisly acessible and Tracer did an all in all good job with the inserts, depending on wher you place the mags, front or rear kangaroo pockets, reindexing can be a bit of a hassle in rare circumstances. I think that I had to fumble with overcompressed elastic inserts once every 15 reindexed mags, so yes issued can occure, but not on a relevant level. Also Tracer offers Cordura inserts and the SCOUT is completely compatibe with kydex inserts.
Im not into making up issues here, the Tracer STOUT SCOUT is one of the best rigs ive ever owned, but there are some things i would like to see and that are already discussed with Tracer. One of those is the addition of bartacking on the sides of the Kangaroo pouches, while the SCOUT never did fall apart, even after treating it with salt water, I hate to rely on Velcro.
I crawled with it, did run with it, placed lots of weight on the front and nothing happened, still there is that bad stomach feeling. Luckily Tracer already worked on this and added bartacked dividers to the new generation STOUT SCOUTS.
What I also would like to see are comms related details, making the left and right flank rear kangaroo pocket of the SCOUT a bit deeper would make an even better radio storage, it would also make it accept some of the larger pouches out there. Additionally I would like to see the bottom of the rig being covered with some flat elastic bands like the old Mayflower Chestrigs had, as routing mutiple comms cables can get a bit of an adventure otherwise.
So my final conclusion on the STOUT SCOUT is pretty simple. If I could get only one chestrig it would be most likely the STOUT SCOUT.
There is nothing you cant potentially do with it. Its a thick and heavy chestrig for sure, but thats the nature of the combat load. Its pretty amazing that almost two years ago we wrote about our concerns (we werent bashing them) on micro chestrigs and their capability and suddently more and more manufacturers are releasing versatile platforms again.
We dont want to take the laurels for that, others pointed towards concerns regarding load bearing capability before us, but its something I like about the industry, listening to the people.