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TRU-SPEC® Pathfinder 2.5 Backpack: Ready to Explore the World

Designed to carry large quantities of equipment while maintaining equal weight distribution, the Pathfinder 2.5 by TRU-SPEC® is an evolution over its predecessor by offering improved compartmentalization of essential items and features for expanded capability.

Introduced in 2015, the Pathfinder 2.5 is made from 1050D nylon that offers mid- or high-end abrasion resistance. At approximately 19” (H) x 13” (W) x 7” (D) its overall carrying capacity is approximately 39 liters of cubic space.

Exterior

The adjustable, contoured, dual shoulder straps featurean over-the-shoulder design with sternum strap and padded air mesh for increased comfort when the pack is fully loaded. The air mesh padding is extended throughout the pack’s back panel and weapon concealment pouch as well. On either side is an 8” (H) x 6” (W) accessory pocket secured via drawstring zipper for immediate access to essential items.

On the exterior of the main compartment, is a 10” (H) x 12” (W) admin pocket that includes; a retention lanyard for keys, one 7” (H) x 10” (W) zippered pocket behind a 6” (H) x 10” (W) sleeve, a small hook-and-loop secured accessory pocket, two card sleeves, and two pen sleeves. Above the admin pocket is a 5” (H) x 7” (W) accessory pocket with mesh lining/pocket on the interior side of the access flap. On the external side of the access flap is a 3” (H) x 5” (W) hook-and-loop field for identification patches.

The kidney pad of the pack’s back panel doubles a weapon concealment pocket and is secured via a curved pull-string zipper. On the bottom of the pack are two drainage grommets and four MOLLE panels.

On the pack’s right side is a concealed laptop pouch designed to accommodate most 15” laptops that is protected by the air mesh padding on the back panel and interior compartment, then secured via pull-string zipper.

IMG_5616

Throughout the exterior of the Pathfinder 2.5 are multiple MOLLE straps for added compatibility

At the top of the pack is a padded drag handle that is reinforced via bartac stitching, and on either side are hook-and-loop access panels to the interior storage compartment for headphones or hydration tubes. Between the drag handle and shoulder straps is a 4” (H) x 6” (W) fleece-lined sunglasses pouch secured with another pull-string zipper.

Internal

The internal storage compartment to the Pathfinder 2.5 is reinforced on either side of the exterior with side cinch straps and slide-release buckles to ensure the stored items remain secure. The main storage space includes a rigid backboard for stability and support, a hydration sleeve with MOLLE straps on the exterior, and two mesh lining/pockets on the interior side of the access flap.

The Pathfinder 2.5 Backpack comes in Black (featured) and is made of 1050D nylon. While the website still lists Coyote and Multicam as alternatives, those options have been discontinued.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At the time of this writing, the cost of the Pathfinder 2.5 is $119.95 and comparatively priced within the market for similar-sized (approx. 39 cubic liters of storage space), dual-strap backpacks. This is due mainly to the amount of nylon used that ensures long-lasting abrasion resistance.
  • Comfort Excellent (5/5): With regards to comfort in packs, really it comes down to how the design in the shoulder straps mitigate the weight and strain of the pack on/against the body. In the case of the Pathfinder 2.5, the padded air mesh carrying straps have a unique over-the-shoulder design that ensures the weight of the pack remains close and high to the shoulders. Furthermore, the carrying straps have offset seams so to avoid pressing that up against the neck/spine. Add in the thickness of the overall shoulder strap pads and the padded panels on the back of the pack, the end result is an almost pillow-like feel that helps mitigate carrying a large amount of weight for extended time/distance. By design, there is no waist strap to help further balance the weight of the pack, so the entire load will be on the upper torso.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): The Pathfinder 2.5 comes in 1050D nylon that will be stiffer and have a tighter weave than lesser denier rated packs and play into the overall increased abrasion resistance. With reinforced stitching and bartac at all key stress points and MOLLE straps, it will have a significant amount of durability regardless of how the user employs it. Likely the hardware will wear out long before the pack does.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): A significant amount of functionality went into the design of the Pathfinder 2.5. The side accessory and eyeglass pockets give you immediate-ready access to essential items, while the MOLLE straps throughout give you added capability for expansion to other accessories with similar mounting devices. Even the side cinch straps have hook-and-loop retainers to keep the excess under control (though it would have been nice if such feature had been extended to the shoulder and sternum straps). The hidden compartment for a laptop is an added bonus for any field researcher or traveler. The firearm pocket is somewhat awkward to access unless you have the pack off, so there is no immediate-access while wearing it (somewhat defeating the purpose of it as a concealed carry pocket). One noted design aspect was when accessing the main compartment, and placed on the straps, the zipper to the main compartment is at the top—thus negating the risk of smaller items spilling out.
  • Weight Average (3/5): At approximately 3.35 pounds (empty) the Pathfinder 2.5 is comparable in weight to other packs of similar size, this is due to the amount of nylon and other materials that go into making it.

Overall Rating – Above Average (19/25)

Product Link: https://www.truspec.com/backpacks/double-strap/pathfinder-25-backpack

IMG_2889I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Otte Gear Low Viz Overt Plate Carrier: Keep Attention Elsewhere

Introduced in 2021, Low Viz/Overt (LVZ/OVT) Plate Carrier by Otte Gear is intended as a cost efficient, entry-level plate carrier for every-day civilians. The LVZ/OVT carrier provides a lightweight and comfortable option for those looking to maintain the protective function of personal protective body armor, with a minimal outward profile.

The front and rear carriers are made from 500D Cordura and sized to fully enclose SAPI/ESAPI armored plates (not included) up to 10” x 12.25” x 1”.

The LVZ/OVT front carrier exterior includes a hook-and-loop (female) field for attaching identification panels or morale patches. Additionally, the front carrier is slotted for attaching slide release buckles if other aftermarket placards are desired.

On the rear carrier of the LVZ/OVT is a similar hook-and-loop (female) field for panels or patches, with a minimal design to maintain a low profile.

The interior lining of the LVZ/OVT features a 3D nylon spacer mesh lining that assists in dispersing heat from the body and minimizing moisture.

The fully adjustable Hypalon shoulder harnesses secure across the shoulders via hook-and-loop, and include removable shoulder pads with retention bands for securing hydration lines or communication cables.

The LVZ/OVT also features a removable elastic nylon cummerbund that connects to the front and back carriers by wide hook-and-loop panels. The front of the cummerbund bands feature Hypalon pull tabs, while each band includes elastic slots for four magazines or other items (for a total of eight slots).

Included with the LVZ/OVT is a removable magazine insert that collapses when not in use, and can be attached under the front cummerbund to maintain a low outward profile.

The LVZ/OVT comes in Ranger Green (featured), Coyote, Grey, Multicam, and Multicam Black.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • Cost – Average (3/5): With an MSRP of $159.00, the LVZ/OVT plate carrier is made dominantly from 500D Cordura and laminate nylon throughout most of the carrier. This material gave the carrier uniformed strength throughout its design. The LVZ/OVT carrier is the newest iteration of Otte Gear’s minimalist equipment intent to support civilians that is purpose driven without lending excess to bulk or weight. In contrast, market alternatives for similar carriers include the Tomahawk Low Vis Plate Carrier ($166.99) from T3 Gear, the Slickster ($160) by Ferro Concepts, and the Low Vis MBAV ($172.75) from Tactical Tailor. All of these alternatives illustrate that the LVZ/OVT is appropriately (or average) priced within the market for its materials and design.
  • Comfort – Good (4/5): There was little left for excess materials or padding on the LVZ/OVT carrier, which was very slim and lightweight. This gave the plate carrier a very high degree of flexibility during dynamic movements or twisting of the upper torso. It’s comfort also changed to some degree by including a placard (not included) and magazines giving the carrier more rigidity, but no more so than other fully loaded carriers. But as a minimalist platform, the LVZ/OVT carrier was very comfortable. The full-length hook-and-loop field on the adjustable shoulder straps and elastic cummerbund allowed the wearer to find the perfect height and compression level around the torso. The Hypalon tabs on the front cummerbund and shoulder straps were readily tactile and made it easy to grip and separate the materials for adjustment. The hook-and-loop fields that also secured the cummerbund to the front and rear carrier was very strong and kept it secure throughout evaluation. Another positive aspect for the LVZ/OVT carrier was despite it being a low-profile carrier it still had some minimal level of padding in the shoulder straps that helped support the weight of a fully loaded carrier on the shoulders.
  • Durability – Excellent (5/5): The LVZ/OVT carrier was made dominantly from 500D Cordura and laminate nylon, which had an amazingly high degree of abrasion resistance and also minimized the overall materials needed while keeping flexibility. At no point in testing did the carrier separate, plates slide, or adjustment areas in the shoulder or cummerbund not retain its position. There was extensive bartack and double-line stitching throughout the LVZ/OVT carrier that reinforced all key stress points, in particular at multiple points between the carrier and shoulder harness. The elastic bands in the cummerbund did not fray nor warp, and retained their overall tension levels. The hook-and-loop material to the retention bands on the shoulder harness were of more than sufficient length to keep hydration tubes secure.
  • Functionality – Good (4/5): From a minimalist standpoint, the LVZ/OVT carrier was very sound for mounting the included three-pouch insert or aftermarket placards (hardware and pouch not included) on to. The design featured no excessive hardware or materials, and the profile of the 500D Cordura ensured a flat profile with the widest compatibility of the hook-and-loop to any magazine or accessory pouch without excess stitching. With the Hypalon shoulder straps and joist to the front/rear carriers, it allowed for an even and flat shoulder position behind the rifle when placing a buttstock into the shoulder pocket. When added with a covering shirt or jacket, the LVZ/OVT carrier easily maintained its low visibility profile (with the optional magazine insert providing the largest printing under a shirt or jacket).
  • Weight – Good (4/5): Coming in at a very light 18.4 ounces (without plates), the LVZ/OVT carrier owes much of its lightweight design in large part to its materials and minimalist approach. This helped to mitigate the overall wear and strain on the user due to excess materials and bulk, and negated the fabric from becoming bogged down with sweat, water, or resins. In comparison, other plate carriers like Tomahawk Low Vis Plate Carrier (32 ounces) from T3 Gear, the Slickster (14.10 ounces) by Ferro Concepts, and the Low Vis MBAV (24 ounces) from Tactical Tailor illustrate that the LVZ/OVT carrier is one of the lighter low-visibility carriers available. Overall this would put the LVZ/OVT carrier within a good weight range for the market and what it offers in function and material.

Overall Rating – Good (20/25)

Product Link: https://ottegear.com/collections/equipment/products/lvz-ovt-plate-carrier

I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via High Ground Media, LLC, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Spartan Armor Omega: Forged for Protection

In production since 2014, Spartan™ Omega™ AR500 is one of several flagship protective armor plates offered by Spartan Armor Systems. It represents years of development by the manufacturer to bring some of the most lightweight and protective systems on the market.

Spartan™ Omega™ AR500 is a single cut, multi-curve, multi-hit, stand-alone body armor system developed in-house by Spartan Armor employees with over 20 years of combined industry experience. It is made from lab-certified AR500 steel, and consumers have their choice of plates formed on a continual die (i.e. flat), or with Spartan Armor’s patented Advanced Triple Curve (ATC) process. In the ATC process, plates are manipulated using a custom machining tool that avoids “creasing” the steel to form a more anatomical curve. This attention to detail and manufacturing gives Spartan Armor an added advantage over its competitors by extending the life and durability of their products.

Spartan™ Omega™ AR500 is available in three sizes; 8”x10”, 10”x12”, and 11”x14”. This armor meets National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Level III specifications, meaning it is rated up to 7.62mm NATO and other rifle calibers as per NIJ 0101.06 standards. It includes either an ergonomic “shooters cut” or “swimmers cut” in the corners designed for improved range of motion (based on the user’s intended use) and to accommodate a variety of gear. For maximum protection, Spartan Armor Systems developed a proprietary Polyurea Coating called “Encapsaloc” to improve moisture resistance, prevent secondary injury from spalling, and reinforce against abrasion/impact damage.

The name of AR500 steel refers to its “abrasion resistance” and its 500 Brinell Hardness rating.  The Brinell rating is used to rate the hardness of steel and various other materials. The higher the Brinell rating, the harder the steel. Higher Brinell ratings also translate to faster velocities and heavier caliber rounds defeated, without penetrating the plate or going beyond the maximum acceptable indentation or deformation. For AR500 steel, the National Institute of Justice has set a deformation maximum of 44 millimeters.

While the Omega includes the industry standard of a 5-year warranty and a 20-year shelf life, this is standard across a majority of body armor manufactures. Engineers from Spartan Armor maintain that, shy of droppage or extreme environmental conditions, the hardened steel has an infinite shelf life.

Specifications:

  • 10×12 Spartan™ Omega™ AR500 Body Armor
    • Shooters Cut:
      • Base Coat 8lbs 10oz.
      • Full Coat 9lbs 11oz.
    • Swimmers Cut:
      • Base Coat 7lbs 7oz.
      • Full Coat 8lbs 1oz

Video of Spartan Armor Systems Special Threat Testing for Omega: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05n4EC6wA-o

Link to NIJ Body Armor Compliant Manufacturers: https://nij.ojp.gov/body-armor-compliance-testing

  • See “Find Compliant Armor” and select Ballistic Resistance, Standard-06.

Featured in this review for the Omega, was the Leonidas plate carrier by Spartan Armor, but it did not play a factor in the evaluation of the ballistic plates themselves.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostGood (4/5): At $151.75 for a set (two plates), $75 for a single plate, $62 for a raw steel plate, or $419 as part of a full body armor package with Spartan Armor’s Leonidas plate carrier, the Omega has a large degree of application and very good affordability. Spartan Armor’s direct competitor for steel protective plates is AR500’s version ($119 per plate) of the same design and same protective level. A simple search on the internet reveals cheaper ballistic plate alternatives, but these are often ballistic plates that are “pending” NIJ certification, or are stated as “meeting NIJ standards” but have never been certified. When your life is on the line, having questionable protective armor is not a place in your kit you want to skimp on. Spartan Armor is proud that all its ballistic armor has been certified by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the gold standard for protective armor, and met or exceeded its standards.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): The weight of the Omega’s steel plates was notable, especially after wearing it in a plate carrier for longer than an hour. The weight pulled on the carrier and on the shoulder straps, so ensure your carrier has sufficient padding in that area as well as a decent cummerbund. Despite that, the ATC curvature of the Omega was very comfortable and contoured to the chest and back, giving the plates a higher than average score. During stressor drills (sprints/lunges) the Omega’s cut and ATC did not impede flexibility.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): Given that the root material for the Omega is still AR500 steel, the durability of the plates went without question. And while that means your carrier and hardware will likely wear out long before the plate or its anti-fragmentation coating, wearers should take care not to drop their plate carriers. The Encapsaloc will help ensure some mitigation from impact as well as any potential fragmentation or corrosion, but still care should be taken as it’s entirely possible the plates can still damage other items due to sheer mass.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): As previously noted, the Omega is one of many ballistic products by Spartan Armor Systems that has been submitted to the NIJ, tested, and certified as a Level III, multi-hit ballistic plate. Thus, it will provide protection against some pistol and rifle calibers, at a distance of 50 feet or more (see chart), but not others. There was little in our evaluation process that could deduce anything more that hasn’t already been done to it in a formal laboratory, and under the strictest scientific methods of measurement. The Omega’s rating is readily found on the NIJ database (link above – model AR550) While the Omega steel plates have the industry standard of a “5-year lifespan, 20-year shelf life” this merely covers the wearer in the event of droppage or damage. In reality, the lifespan of the AR500 plates to maintain their protective rating is indefinite provided they remain undamaged.
  • Weight Average (3/5): The one (and only) downside to AR500-based ballistic plates is their weight. The Omega weighed in at approximately 10 pounds per plate, and its weight varies depending on the desired cut and coating. At 20 pounds for the set, the weight of the Omega plates bared on the carrier/body after a time (1hr+). This weight is consistent to other ballistic plate models of similar design and appeared in research to be the average weight for most ballistic plates of similar material.

Overall Rating – Above Average (19/25)

Product Link: https://www.spartanarmorsystems.com/steel-core-body-armor/spartan-omega-ar500-body-armor-level-iii/

IMG_2889I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

 

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