Nowadays, it is a necessity for a platecarrier to feature a static or elastic cummerbund. Back in the days this wasn’t the case. Most platecarriers that you bought or got issued, when the platecarrier concept started, where held together by two Fastex buckles and a pair of straps made of 40mm or 50mm webbing. Many won’t remember, but cummerbunds entered the game much later, mostly in form of an upgrade kit that had to be purchased separately.
I have both, fond and unpleasant memories of this time. On one hand a cummerbund helps stabilizing your loadout and tightens it around the waist while also adding additional load bearing capacities. On the other hand, the old “strap-assembled” platecarriers where a simple affair and saved both, weight and fabric and kept your sides clear while offering a higher amount of breathability and quick don-doff capabilities.
US based tactical Nylon manufacturer Velocity Systems offers the CW belt for some time now. It essentially enables you to intentionally “downgrade” your platecarrier for certain applications. As many of you know, I’m still using my old, venerable Mayflower RC APC for many tactical classes and as a platform to test new pouches and other TacNylon products.
As I usually don’t need any pouches on my cummerbund during tactical training, I asked myself an honest question regarding the fact if I’m actually in need of a full-grown cummerbund. The answer to this question was actually “no”, in regards to my “everyday” training APC setup. So, I changed to the CW belt, a piece of kit that was intriguing to me for some time now.
The CW belt consists of basically two parts. The first part being the “front” part of the CW belt, consisting of two female, 40mm ITW nexus buckles held together by a Velcro hook backed 40mm webbing strap.
The “back” part of the CW belt also consists of a 40mm webbing strap which has a maximum length of 106cm and is hook backed at the center. Two male 40mm ITW Nexus buckles allow for adjustment and the ability to mate the front and the back part of the CW belt. Excess webbing can be aligned with the two elastic webbing tabs supplied with the CW belt.
Installing the CW belt to a legacy APC or any comparable platecarrier is a simple affair. Just open the back velcro flap to remove the cummerbund and velcro-down the “back piece“ of the CW belt. Repeat the same process with the front of the platecarrier by velcroing in the “front piece” under the platecarriers front flap.
Make sure you properly align the front and back elements. The front flap of the platecarrier can now stay closed -until you eventually want to switch back to a modern cummerbund for some reason, as opening the carrier is now achieved by simply unbuckling either one or both 40mm ITW Nexus buckles.
Performance & Observations
During the current pandemic I hadn’t had any real chances to check out the performance of the CW belt in detail, as I just attended parts of a CQB training with it and also did some running and calisthenics wearing it.
But what you basically achieve is a better range of motion and breathability, while cutting weight and making donning and doffing of your platecarrier much easier. This pretty much integrates very well with my training/ special response concept I had in mind when setting up my APC.
As long as your loadout stays “light and clean” the two webbing straps of the CW Belt do a great job in keeping your platecarrier from wobbling around. The only thing you have to do after donning the carrier is to slightly retighten the straps, which is achieved by a simple “pull” motion.
Personally I don’t regret the step of taking my platecarrier “back to the future” by utilizing Velocity Systems CW belt. Additionally, switching back to my traditional cummerbund is done in under a minute thanks to the easy Velcro attachment system. Its also somewhat funny to observe how everyone, including myself, was chasing cummerbund upgrade kits for their old-gen platecarriers in the past while now having the desire to downgrade their platecarrier system.
Thinking about and trying the CW belt was also a great mind exercise as I had to really rethink, If my current loadout really needs a full grown cummerbund. Even if I needed a cummerbund I could still use my LVPC or my SCARAB platecarrier, which both feature cummerbunds.
The last thing that needs to be said, is that the Velocity Systems CW belt works on basically every platecarrier that features a velcro flap on the front and a velcro flap, or field on the back. It is not compatible with shock cord based systems like the Crye JPC or other solutions like the Velocity Systems SCARAB.
The Velocity Systems CW-Belt is basically a mission specific downgrade. A great option for those who are actually rethinking their loadout and want to forego load bearing capacity for even less weight and more range of motion.