Debuted at SHOT Show 2020, the Shoot, Move, Communicate (SMC) Plate Carrier and its associated back panels are the brain trust of developers at Grey Ghost Gear (GGG). Under development for several years, the SMC and its interchangeable back panels enable team members to rapidly customize rear panel loadouts to fit any mission. To see the full details of our review to the base layer SMC, go here.
Made from the new line of laminate nylon material, the SMC and its back panels have an abrasion rating greater than that of traditional 1000D nylon at a fraction of the weight. In addition, the laminate nylon has the added ability to resist moisture saturation and thus shed any excess weight that may be encountered from sweat or rain. Each back panel is attached to the rear panel of the SMC with thick YZZ zippers and (optional) MALICE clips.
SMC 1 to 3 Assault Pack
Intended to give the shooter a lightweight assault pack, the 1 to 3 can be configured to allot for three different types of storage.
When attached to the SMC, the pack’s front allows for a small accessory or device storage in the space on the front of the pack. It’s 6.5” YKK zipper is weatherized to prevent moisture penetration of the greater 10” (H) x 7” (L) pocket. Inside the pocket is a key loop made of webbing nylon. A curved 2” (H) x 6.5” (L) hook-and-loop (female) field is above the zipper to allow for identification patches.
Under the compression straps (the upper two being slide release buckles, and the lower two being cinch buckles) is a second YKK zipper line that runs the around the midsection of the pack. This allows for access to a 24-hour nylon pocket for larger daily items.
Inside the 24-hour pocket is an additional envelope sleeve with elastic side adjustors to accommodate irregular sized objects (such as a radio pack) or a hydration bladder. At the top of the interior 24-hour pocket is a hook-and-loop section to secure hydration bladders and pass-through-access port for hydration tubes or communication cables.
Expanding the pack to a third size, a YKK zipper line runs the circumference of the pack’s exterior that allows for the expansion of four-way elastic material to increase the storage capacity to a 3-Day pack.
The interior of the 3-Day pack is accessible by a roll-over, dry bag opening secured with slide release buckles. The interior of the 3-Day pack is completely lined with hook-and-loop (female) material to attach associated pouches or other items.
The back panel of the 1 to 3 Assault Pack further expands on its application by having a top-access, thru pocket the full length of the pack for breaching tools or bolt cutters.
A semi-rigid polymer panel is stitched into the back panel to prevent hard edges in the pack from giving the wearer any discomfort. The 1 to 3 Assault Pack also has the added advantage of having removable shoulder and waist straps so that it can be worn independently of the SMC Plate Carrier.
SMC Assaulter Panel
Designed for when sh*t gets serious, the Assaulter Panel helps the wearer bring the hate for use by fellow team members when needed.
When attached to the SMC, across the top the Assaulter Panel are three magazine pouches with adjustable hook-and-loop closure flaps. Each pouch can accommodate two rifle magazines each of 5.56 or 7.62 ammunition, or cylindrical items like smoke or flashbang grenades.
The bottom, larger-sized pocket is YKK zipper secured with dual shuttles and sized to accommodate items up to the size of a claymore anti-personnel mine. On the exterior is a small 2” (H) x 5” (L) hook-and-loop (female) field for identification patches.
At the top of the back panel is a top-access, thru pocket the full length of the pack for breaching tools, bolt cutters, or a hydration bladder. The back panel also includes four nylon webbing MOLLE tabs to add stability and strength when connected to the SMC and avoid overstressing the associated YKK zippers.
Also included in the SMC Back Panel lineup is the SMC MOLLE Panel that provides a “clean slate” for the user to customize, however was not part of this evaluation.
The SMC Back Panels are available in Multicam (featured), Black, and Coyote Brown.
Product Evaluation Scores:
- Cost – Good (4/5): Obviously the cost per SMC Back Panel differs based on quantity of material involved and complexity. For the 1 to 3 Assault Pack you have a dynamic piece of gear that allows the wearer to carry either immediate-need essentials, items needed over a 24-hour period, or expand to a fully independent 3-Day pack for $185. Meanwhile the Assaulter Panel comes in at $120 that allows the user to bring considerable storage into the fight for team members. Considering that market alternatives for plate carrier assault packs or magazine carriers include T3 Gear’s Hans Backpack ($282), the Helium Whisper Backpanel Assault System ($187) by Velocity Systems, or the Flatpack Plus by Haley Strategic ($159) that show the SMC’s 1 to 3 Backpack is priced to be in a good position among those using new fabrics and design, or more traditional.
- Comfort – Good (4/5): Obviously these SMC Back Panels are worn on the exterior of the rear plate carrier so for a comfort aspect, during evaluations we were really looking at if the panels were either unbalanced or shifted to the point of becoming cumbersome. A number of physical stressors were completed in an effort to shift the various back panels around while worn and loaded. The key was that the SMC Plate Carrier itself be properly fitted, as the back panels merely became an extension of it. With no excess movement in the plate carrier, and the back panels properly attached, there was zero shifting and the weight distribution remains centered and high up on the back so as to prevent excess pulling on the shoulders. The only notable point against the SMC Back Plates from a comfort aspect was the shoulder straps of the assault pack, which have zero padding (something intentionally done so as to be easily stowed when attached to the SMC and not in use). However, given that this is part of the purpose of the design it is merely something the consumer should be aware of if wearing it as a stand-alone 3-Day pack as the straps may begin to dig or pinch.
- Durability – Average (3/5): GGG has recently expanded on its new laminate nylon line of products with the SMC and its associated accessories. This material represents some of the more leading edge of textiles in the tactical market because of its high abrasion resistance and fraction of weight in comparison to traditional nylons. As such for the back panels, most of the materials used stem from this new laminate nylon, with the assault pack also using four-way elastic sections for expansion and rubberized nylon for the stuff sack opening. And while there is the presence of bartack and X-pattern stitching in high stress areas as one would expect (the YKK zipper line for SMC attachment and assault pack straps), it did not appear to be consistent throughout—something that influenced the evaluated score.
- For instance, the Assaulter Panel was simplistic in design and did have the all the necessary stitching reinforcement to the pouches and closure flaps that ensured a secure fit. We gave the panel an independent score of “4” as the flaps and YKK zipper had good reinforcement and could fit securely.
- Oppositely, the zipper line to the assault pack’s 3-Day configuration had a good amount of material left exposed after opening, and if snagged does risk the material. Likewise, the four-way elastic nylon sections did not appear to have anything more than the typical stitch line to reinforce the fabric’s connection to the laminate nylon, despite the variances in materials (and their associated strengths). We gave the assault pack an overall independent score of “2” for durability because some lacking finishing touches may influence the product’s durability over time and use. (Editor’s Note: It should be noted that in discussion with GGG, the vendor stated the amount of overtravel for the zipper was in the initial run of the assault pack, and that those currently being sold no longer have that amount of excess zipper material)
- Functionality – Average (3/5): The SMC and its associated back panels are something new from GGG—an effort to build multiple plate carriers into one by making the back panels easily interchangeable for a variety of mission sets. And the varied back panels accomplish that in spades. The rear carrier/back panel YKK zippers slide easily and each is designed to make a single person on a team a greater resource for all by allowing greater carrying capacity or ammo provisions. But again, looking at the two (the Assaulter Panel and the 1 to 3 Assault Pack) there was a difference both in complexity and finished product that ultimately split the score in this category.
- The Assaulter Panel was simpler in approach and utility, thus felt a more finished product. The ammo closure flaps with their hook-and-loop retained a solid hold on fully loaded rifle magazines, and the ammo pockets themselves had a semi-rigid opening to aid in magazine insertion/draw. It should be noted that if storing two magazines in each pocket (for the evaluation PMags were used) there was slightly more clearance to insert mags ammo-down. Inserting them ammo-up caused some spacing conflicts when baseplates against one another and trying to get them inserted into the pockets. Otherwise the Assaulter Panel would give team members ready-access to any components stored. We gave the panel an independent score of “4” as its design placed magazines and other accessories within immediate reach of other team members as needed for assault or sustained operations.
- The 1 to 3 Assault Pack was more complex and felt to be missing some of the more finished details. For instance, on the assault pack, the four side compression straps have no retention cuffs (yet the optional shoulder and waist strap do) despite an extensive length. And the enclosure zipper for the 3-Day Pack had an extensive overtravel to the point it had a good amount that snagged on protrusions. (Editor’s Note: See comments above in Durability) This could be remedied with a button snap on the end to attach it to the pack, or to simply end the zipper where it disconnects from the pack. Either way it was a good amount of excess. Lastly, the enclosure for the dry bag didn’t have any means of securing the opening, and when filled, would just sit there (which is good for adding immediate SSE, but not really good for securing items over longer distance or movements). A band of hook-and-loop on the inside of the nylon enclosure, or an alternate set of slide release buckles on the side to fold over the dry bag opening, could help resolve that. While these are all inherently minor issues in the 1 to 3 Assaulter Pack’s hardware, and do not detract from its overall design, it was what split the overall score between that and the Assault Panel to an average. We gave the assault pack an overall independent score of “2” for function because some lacking finishing touches may influence the product’s performance over time and use.
- Weight – Excellent (5/5): The overall empty weight for the Assault Panel (15.1 ounces), and the 1 to 3 Assault Pack (1.11 pounds) demonstrate the lightweight characteristics of GGG’s new laminate nylon products. By themselves these panels add little weight to the overall SMC, but there is a fixed volume of weight one can put inside them. The user should bear in mind that the more they add, the more weight will be borne. In comparison, T3 Gear’s Hans Backpack (2.3 pounds), or the Flatpack Plus by Haley Strategic (1.3 pounds) both demonstrate that regardless of design, the laminate nylon of GGG’s products still places the back panels as among some of the lightest on the current market that dominantly uses heavier traditional nylon blends.
Overall Rating – Above Average (19/25)
Product Link: https://greyghostgear.com
I 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.
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