Update: Frame and suspension has arrived!
Just wanted to give you my initial impressions. The stock pictures don't do it justice. This is a beautiful, well made rig. My overall impression upon initial inspection is very good. Technically, as well as visually, the stitching and construction is superb. It reminds me of the best the semi-custom production from Eagle, LBT, and Paraclete, before the pressures of war production gave way to mediocre, mass-produced gear. In other words, as a parachute rigger and long-time stitch bitch, it is the shit.
Some more initial impressions. The frame is light weight but stout. Compared to a DEI 1606, it just feels sturdier, denser, more robust. You get the impression that this just isn't another molded polymer frame; something has been mixed together here, and it's very good. I love the rectangular layout, vs the DEI hour glass design. It puts all the attachment points for suspension and bag on the perimeter where they need to be. As we previously discussed, we can now use the multiple slot points to hang a bag equipped with tabs, versus the ALICE sleeve. I am going to design a bag around this frame, but if you want to run an ALICE sleeve, it will work, but you will probably have to run the top load straps at their most inboard setting (out of three) which is probably no big deal (unless you are some big-necked MMA dude).
The harness is a thing of beauty. The one thing that came to mind, when I first looked at it, was this was made by someone who has humped a ruck. The design is simply a thing of beauty. It is wide across the shoulders and down the pec, but then is tailored to stay out of your pits (that numb arm thing). You can feel the various densities of the layers that work together to give you comfort and support.
It is surprisingly adjustable as well. The shoulder harness can be set at three different heights. I have it on the shortest setting, which positions it nicely for a short back ruck, sitting on a belt kit. Compared to a typical ALICE/DEI frame, I'd say it feels about an inch or so higher on the back. For reference I have a 17" lumbar measurement, from neck "hump", to base of spine/top of belt.
The hip belt is another work of art. It is thickly padded, but doesn't act like it. A very good balance between comfort and support. It seems to "mold" into you, for lack of better term, instead of just compressing the padding. It too has three settings for height. I have it in the middle setting, which actually lines it up with the frame bottom, and clears the belt kit nicely.
Some odds n ends. Although it will adjust out for a long back ruck with full hipbelt, I think it's strong suit will be as a short back, with lumbar pad, and belt kit. It looks to me to be optimized for this role. Although actual field testing will tell, it looks to be the perfect "jungle" ops ruck in this config. This is not to say you can't adjust for wear with a full hip belt and chest rig/BA, which I also plan on doing, but rather is optimized for someone who spends at least half the year in hot, muggy climates. Which is right up my alley.
The suspension make use of tabs throughout. Even the sternum strap uses them to attach to the shoulder harness. So a torn strap is easily replaceable, or, you could change out for an extended strap for use with BA, like the Jarhead rucks. This is not to say the stock strap won't extend far enough for BA; it probably will, just that you can add another one if needed.
The top load stab straps are fully adjustable, top to bottom. This is an oft-neglected adjustment which can really make a huge difference in comfort. Not only is it adjustable in three positions, as it relates to your neck and shoulders, but also where the "tangent" point is, as the lower strap meets the shoulder pad.
There are no bottom load stab straps, yet. I plan on making some that will run from the lumbar pad to the belt kit itself. I am hoping this mod will allow you to adjust the weight of the ruck somewhat- like an internal. More on that later.
There is also another panel, behind the mesh lumbar panel, which I believe is for use with BA. If not please correct me. I plan on removing it, to let the mesh panel give me the full effect.
All in all, I am very please with my purchase. The quality is just superb, on par with anything made in the states. The payment and shipping was hassle free. Mastercard was automatically converted to their currency without a hitch. I ordered 19 July and it arrived, in NC, 27 July. So just over a week from half-way around the globe.
More to come.