By Greg Chabot
Photos by Sasha Steadman
I’m a minimalist when it comes to gear. I don’t like to lug around a bunch of gear I don’t need, preferring to configure my gear for what I’m doing that particular day. I took that same approach in OIF 2, configuring my gear as mission dictated. I had a system where I could switch out pouches, etc. in five minutes or less.
As a civilian, I take a similar approach configuring gear for use on the range or in the woods. Most of my gear is from the ‘08– ‘10 time frame. And with the current domestic and foreign situations that are ongoing, I re-evaluated my set-up and found some things lacking for my personal needs. Having a strict budget, I spent quite a bit of time researching modularity and overall value. I have the buy once, cry once mentality and like to make informed purchases. After researching I decided to purchase a set-up from Agilite, a company out of Israel.
Agilite products have been designed and tested on the battlefield by members of the IDF. I respect that troops going downrange trust a product that holds up to the rigors of combat and will pay out of their own pockets for such gear. That is a plus in my opinion and yes, it is not uncommon for soldiers to buy their own kit as issued gear isn’t always up to par.
I went ahead and purchased a K19 Plate Carrier 3.0 along with their Six Pack hanger pouch, Pincer Placard and AMAP III assault pack. I wanted to keep it simple and not have to worry about compatibility with pouches, etc.
The K19 is fully adjustable with a one-size-fits-all cummerbund. The plate bag is multi-sized which eliminates confusing sizing for potential end users. The plate bag can be adjusted for all plate types and sizes. The K19 employs Agilite’s Egress Quick-release system and Fast-Adjust Cummerbund that can be adjusted on the fly. If end users do not like the quick-release buckles on the shoulders, users can delete them and use the provided slide buckles. The rear of the plate bags is padded with low-profile fusion foam as are the shoulder straps.
When I first received the products, I brought them to my SME (Subject Matter Expert). Jamie McKinnon, owner of MCB Designs and the Ossipee Tailor Shop, for his opinion of the overall quality. Jamie builds custom outdoor gear for clients as well as tailoring and repairing clothing. The 1000D Cordura is stitched with 69-gauge thread with bar tacks, the same as government-issued gear. YKK Zipper pulls are used which are industry standard. The Molle panels are laser-cut and sized evenly, as were all pieces of the carrier. Jamie felt in his professional opinion that the K19 and accessories are put together correctly and on par with other brands on the market. He did point out the one potential failure point on plate carriers is where the Cordura and mesh are sewn together. He did state that by using quality materials and proper stitching it shouldn’t be anything to worry about even with hard use.
I went home and set up the K19. I liked how the quick release sat far enough back to not interfere with weapon manipulation. I made the decision to not delete them for slide buckles. I can’t praise the design of the plate bag enough. I use UHMWPE (Poly) plates that are very thick. The plate bag had enough room to fit them with ease. I was able to adjust the plate bag so my plates would not bounce around while moving around. The pincer placard is simple to attach, and it stays put. The AMAP III is well thought out and very easy to convert for direct attachment to the K19.
After initial adjusting it was time to hit the woods. It is important for end users to do this. Your kit might look cool and feel comfortable initially. Walking around/training in kit will allow it to move around and you can adjust for comfort, tighten up straps, etc. A smart person has their kit ready before they need it. I made multiple adjustments to my kit in Iraq before I got it exactly where I wanted it. I implore readers to do this, never mind the people who call you a LARPer, etc. You will shoot differently in armor; a dangerous situation isn’t the time to adjust kit or find out you can’t accurately shoot.
A 1/4 mile into my hike, I had to adjust the shoulder straps and cummerbund. After a few miles I needed to make more adjustments. This was before any range work was done, you owe it to yourself to fit your kit properly and comfortably. The design of the K19 allows your body to breathe and keep cool and dry, which prevents chafing and fatigue for the user. After multiple hikes/patrols it was time for some range work.
At the range, the quick release didn’t interfere with shouldering my rifle. The carrier stayed tight, and I experienced no chafing while running and gunning. When cold weather rolled in, I only needed to adjust the cummerbund to accommodate winter clothing. The pincer placard held my magazines snug but not overly tight which made for fast mag changes while shooting drills. One thing I liked was how quiet this kit is once I got it where I wanted it. It was nice to not have mags and other gear rattling around while in the woods.
Overall, I am completely satisfied with my purchase. Everything was well designed and put together. It was easy to adjust on the fly and most important of all, comfortable in all weather conditions. Agilite does contract out to produce their products outside of Israel. After talking with my SME, I have full confidence in their products. Agilite products are being used downrange in conflict zones around the world by soldiers of various nations. Pricewise, the K19 is a bargain in my opinion, the MSRP of my set-up would have only bought me a plate carrier without placards or assault pack from other companies. It is your choice what you choose to buy. If you are on a budget, check out Agilite. I think you will like what you see, and the quality is on par with higher-end companies without breaking the bank account.
Big thanks to Jamie McKinnon, can’t thank you enough for your time and expertise.