First Spear Strandhögg V3: Newest Carrier, Same Solid Design

Introduced in 2022, the Strandhögg V3 is the latest iteration of First Spear’s legacy Strandhögg  plate carrier that has been a mainstay in its product line for years, and seen service in every theatre of armed forces deployment. Made from laser-cut, laminate nylon the V3 builds upon lessons-learned from previous designs and offers additional advantages to those already familiar to the Strandhögg design.

The V3 is made from a combination of loop-backed Cordura (which First Spear refers to as its 6/12 fabric) and laminate nylon. The upper half of the front cattier is laser-cut for MOLLE-compatible admin or accessory pouches. On top of this section are four, 1” bands of additional hook-and-loop (female) nylon for attaching identification or morale patches. Above this is a 6” wide, zipper-secured document pouch that is suitable for identification, notebooks, or similar flat items.

The bottom half of the front carrier also features the same MOLLE-compatible laser-cut spacing, and four bands of hook-and-loop (female) nylon for attaching placards or other cummerbund attachment systems. Both sides of the front bottom panel include First Spear’s 4” rapid release (male) tube buckle for connection to the side cummerbund.

The rear carrier includes a full-field of laser-cut MOLLE spacing, with a nylon drag handle that secures flat (via attaching with hook-and-loop) at the top of the exterior. The upper half includes four, 1” bands of hook-and-loop (female) fabric for attaching identification panels or accessories. The bottom half of the exterior is secured to the interior plate bag via hook-and-loop tabs, and allows direct access to the rear cummerbund attachment points when lifted.

The interior of both the front and rear carrier have a nylon mesh (with closed-cell foam padding), stitched to create two padded spacers along both sides for improved breathability. The upper 1/6th of the carrier interior has a field of hook-and-loop (female) fabric for improving comfort and preventing skin abrasion.

The shoulder straps are anchored to the front carrier with First Spear 2” tube-release buckles, that allow rapid doffing if an emergency arises. The rear of the shoulder straps is anchored to the rear carrier via swift-adjust aluminum buckles that allow the hook-and-loop bands on the shoulder straps to be adjusted and customize the ride height. A 1” thick, open-cell foam pad is on both sides and contoured for placement around the shoulders. The pads themselves include hook-and-loop on the bottom to mate with corresponding hook-and-loop on the exterior of the nylon shoulder strap. This all ensures the shoulder pads remain firmly locked into place.

The cummerbund for the V3 plate carrier is a wide band of 6/12 nylon, with six rows of MOLLE-compatible laser-cut slots, and internally pocketed for side armor plates. The cummerbund is anchored to the rear at the rear plate carrier, via accessing the cummerbund flap, with hook-and-loop. The front of the cummerbund is fastened to the front plate carrier via First Spear’s 4” rapid release (female) tube buckle.

The bottom of the front and rear plate carriers has a deep flap for securing plates inside via hook-and-loop, and both flaps include nylon pull loops to assist in removal. The plate bags themselves are sized to accommodate full-sized ESAPI-sized plates and smaller.

The Strandhögg V3 plate carrier is available in Multicam (featured), Black, Coyote Brown, Manatee Grey, and Ranger Green, and comes in Small to XLarge sizes.

A Word on First Spear’s 6/12 Fabric

First Spear initially debuted its proprietary 6/12 fabric circa 2012 to reduce weight and overall material bulk commonly associated to multiple layers of gear. The premise of the fabric was an exterior layer of laminate Cordura, heat pressed/sealed against an inner layer of hook-and-loop fabric that enables corresponding accessories and pouches to attach directly to the back of the fabric rather than weaving thick bands of nylon MOLLE straps, MALICE clips, or other traditional retention methods. First Spear maintains its 6/12 system can translate up to as much as 40% reduction in weight (depending on the product as compared to a traditional version) while the laminate nylon still provides the same level of durability (roughly 1000D) associated to that level of material.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • Cost – Fair (2/5): With an MSRP of $655.99 (regardless of size or color), the Strandhögg V3 brings together a significant volume of First Spear’s unique 6/12 Cordura and laminate nylon in a moderate-type, dedicated plate carrier. Included is First Spear’s proprietary rapid-release tube buckles, a wider cummerbund, and extensive padding for added comfort. In comparison, similar market alternatives currently would be the Thorax (customized to match) ($489.00) by Haley Strategic, the ARC Carrier V2 ($565.00) by Shaw Concepts, or the Cage Plate Carrier ($431.50) from Crye Precision illustrate the Strandhögg V3 is like other First Spear products, in that it is priced fairly given the materials and relative recent release of the carrier in contrast to the current market. Many of First Spear’s products are also oriented to DoD and Agency contracts, thus their prices are less for the civilians.
  • Comfort – Good (4/5): From a comfort aspect, the elements of the Strandhögg V3 plate carrier resulted in a good, full range-of-motion to the carrier’s design with plenty of room for arm movement, stability, and thick padding in the shoulders and behind the plate bags. The shoulder pads themselves did a good job of dispersing the full weight of carrier, plates and accessories across the torso. With hook-and-loop fabric anchoring the shoulder pads to the straps, both sides remained firmly in place despite any stressor drill, and didn’t move or drift. The cummerbund rear attachment tabs included elastic nylon segments that contoured/flexed to various torso positions, and enabled a good degree of comfort and range of motion to the end-user around the waist and hips. The nylon mesh and foam padding interior of the carrier’s front/rear plate bags gave good comfort and breathability throughout long durations of wear, without excessive sweating unless the ambient temperature was also higher and sweating was as expected. The established air channel created between the two foam pads did help to move air away from the chest and ventilated some of that hot air away from behind the plate bags.
  • Durability – Excellent (5/5): The noted durability of the V3 was excellent throughout the carrier, with extensive bartack and X-pattern reinforcement stitching noted at all key stress points (joists, corners, edges, etc.), MOLLE sections/corners, and throughout the carrier’s individual 6/12 components (shoulder straps, cummerbund, etc.). No over-threading was noted and all edges or corners presented a clean and professional production. The hook-and-loop panels/fabric noted in the shoulder straps and on the back carrier were similarly reinforced, with stitch lines straight and in most cases double line for added durability. Continual donning/doffing of the tube-buckle cummerbund did not yield any excessive wear or weakness in the buckle to maintain a solid lock, while also had the added benefit of minimizing wear of the cummerbund giving it a good, pro-longed usage over time. The hook-and-loop (female) panels (front/back) did not excessively wear over usage with a placard or other patches and presented a good fabric for extended use.
  • Functionality – Good (4/5): Functionally, the V3 represented First Spear’s evolutionary growth in previous Strandhögg design, adding features (like an admin pouch and rear hook-and-loop panel) that were noted as lacking in earlier versions, thus the V3 would be a good plate carrier for long-term professional/recreational use, on range or in the field. The V3 provided a good range of motion in the arms and torso—that combined with the adaptability of the tube buckles at the cummerbund and shoulder straps made donning/doffing of the carrier very quick and easy. Despite its thick padding, the shoulder straps did not inhibit shouldering of the rifle and still was able to pocket a stock correctly. Extensive laser-cut MOLLE slots provided vast real estate for any number of First Spear 6/12 or 6/9 pouches or accessories needed (all sold separately). The laser-cut MOLLE slots are correctly spaced to also allot for attachment of non-First Spear products and associated accessories, hydration packs, or backpacks with similar mounting styles to expand on the carrier’s functionality. The interior space of the carrier’s front/rear plate bag was designed and sized around SAPI/ESAPI dimensions (10”x13”) so civilian plates, such as RMA’s 1155s, (typically slightly smaller) did not fill the bag completely. Normally this is still fine, but there was no height/ride adjustment strap on the interior of the front/rear carrier so smaller plates settled down to the bottom of the bag while the carrier was worn—leaving a small amount of excess space at the top where the plate height should start. A recommendation to First Spear would be to consider adding a simple height adjustment strap inside the Strandhögg front/rear carriers to account for the variances in plate dimensions while still providing correct coverage. The wide cummerbund that was included with the V3 was an appropriate (or average) style for inserting side plate armor, and came slotted ready for use with minimal excess movement from the elastic panels.
    • Many of the Strandhögg V3 features identify it as a dedicated plate carrier design whereby, once configured, cannot be easily intergraded/interchanged with other support items (such as placards, cummerbunds, back panels, etc. that First Spear has not developed). It also lacked the more structural supportive features for carrying heavier weight, such as found in Crye Precision’s AVS with its supportive torso harness. Within the V3 design it was noted there are limitations that are purposeful to keep the end-user within the First Spear line of proprietary products to get the full use out of the carrier. As a for instance; the V3 does not come with a nylon loop on the front carrier (such as found on the JPC or other current carriers) for attaching slide-release buckles commonly used in attaching an assortment of aftermarket placards. Moreover, the front carrier’s hook-and-loop (female) field where said placard would mount to, is smaller (4” x 9”) than almost all other brands (typically 6” x 10”). But the First Spear front placard itself fits within this minimized space of contact, while using its own side tube buckles to directly attach into the cummerbund. So non-First Spear aftermarket placards did not fit as accordingly, and would need additional aftermarket support (such as by AXL Advanced’s Adaptive Vest Placard) to get non-First Spear placards to have a complete and flush contact on the V3 front carrier. Similarly, the rear of the carrier is completely flat and devoid of side zippers needed for attaching many aftermarket assault packs or back panel support placards that utilize the common Crye #10-type zipper sizing. So the consumer would need to purchase a zipper kit (that First Spear does not offer) similar to the MOLLE Zipper Kit by Ferro, or find a support pack, hydration bag, or back panel that either has the traditional shoulder straps or dual MOLLE attachment straps (such as the Flatpack+ by Haley Strategic) if they want to integrate them to the V3’s rear plate carrier. The end result was that while the V3 was very well put together and utilizes the advantages of First Spear’s unique 6/12 fabric to minimize weight and bulk; to really get that full level of functionality out of the plate carrier, the end-user must choose to either stay within the ascribed First Spear product line, or forgo the advantages of the 6/12 design and seek third-party products that will basically attach to the V3 in the same traditional MOLLE-attachment method (and its associated bulk/weight) the 6/12 fabric system was meant to mitigate.
  • Weight – Good (4/5): As a base carrier with its full-size 6/12 cummerbund, the Strandhögg V3 (size Large) weighed in at 2.11 pounds (w/o a front placard, plates, or other accessories). This weight reflected the bulk of overall laminate Cordura used throughout the entire product, as well as minor elements such as the foam padding and hook-and-loop backed fabric. In contrast; the Thorax (customized to match) (2.91 pounds) by Haley Strategic, the ARC Carrier V2 (2.25 pounds) by Shaw Concepts, or the Cage Plate Carrier (4.2 pounds) from Crye Precision put the V3 at the lower end of weight in regards to the listed market alternatives that use similar designs and laminate nylon. Additionally, modular plate carriers like the JPC 2.0 (1.8 pounds) by Crye can minimize materials and retain some broader function, whereas other carriers like the PLATE-6 (1.7 pounds) by Blue Force Gear focus strictly on laminate nylon-based designs illustrate the lighter range of carrier design—yet those sacrifice on some aspect of padding and/or structure.

Overall Rating – Above Average (19/25)

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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.

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