Disclaimer: These items were provided free of charge by Platatac for testing and evaluation purposes. There has been no exchange of money, and the terms of the items being provided are that if I like a product, I review it, if I don’t like a product, it gets sent back. With this is mind I always remain as unbiased as possible, my thoughts are my own, and the sole purpose of this blog is to provide helpful information to someone who might actually need it to find the right solution for their problem.
The weight is over: pt.1
For several months now I’ve been playing with the latest offering in Platatac’s line of in-house creations and have been mulling over the best way to write about them on the blog. While there are a lot of pouches in the line they share a lot of the same features and so 10 individual articles would be a bit of a waste. The choice I’ve gone with is two separate blogs, part one covering the ammunition/munitions pouches, and part two covering the utility pouches.
It should come as no surprise to any of my readers that when I received an entire bag of Multicam laminate laser cut pouches I let out a little groan of disappointment, having always mistrusted laser cut components and recently having made the move away from owning any original Multicam gear. It wasn’t long however before my mind was changing a little, and now after a couple of months I’m eagerly awaiting the release of this range in black.
The premise of Platatac’s new helium whisper range is just that, the helium whisper. Anyone even remotely interested in modern tactical nylon should be more than familiar with the HW system, pioneered and popularised by the likes of Blue Force Gear and Velocity Systems. Constructed using original Blue Force Gear ultracomp materials, the laser cut portions of the Platatac pouches should carry the same reputation for strength and resilience.
The common features
As mentioned in the start of this article the Platatac HW range shares a few common features that set them apart from the Aussie’s other offerings. Most notably of course is the shared ultracomp HW backers found on each pouch. There are 101 articles out there about this system, so I’m just going to focus on the one thing that I really like about it.
I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I get really anal about flappy pouches and this is a common issue found in traditional MOLLE systems. The old weave and tuck with a fabric MOLLE arm while simple does leave something to be desired in terms of locking a pouch down for good. Whatever the reason for this shortcoming in traditional MOLLE, be it manufacturer error, bad design or purely just wider tolerances, the Platatac HW pouches do not suffer from it.
I see two key areas where the HW system really makes a difference in these pouches, and they are:
- The MOLLE arms are sewn directly into the top seam of the pouch, meaning that the chance of sagging under weight is reduced as far as possible.
- The MOLLE loops on the pouch are tight and won’t stretch, meaning they hold the body of the pouch tightly to the MOLLE arm and by extension, the platform it is mounted to.
These are also the two features that made me swear by the original Helium Whisper line put forward by Blue Force Gear, whose utility pouches were mainstays on my belt kit thanks to their ability to carry weight without flapping about like a loose cunt.
The second thing I like about all of the Platatac HW range is that they aren’t going for an adaptive, super non-permissive, high speed, dynamic system of all laser cut, super nuanced pouches that do 30 things okay but none of them well. They’ve kept it simple, with weight saving laser cut materials in the back, hardy traditional 500D nylon in the front and a clear set of intended uses that doesn’t require an instruction manual to tell you what you should be trying to force into which holes.
And all this while still remaining affordable as fuck.
HW Single/Triple/Quad shingle
With the universal positives aside it’s time to look at the Platatac HW ammo pouches as individuals, starting with the magazine shingles. You’ll notice only the quad is pictured, and this is due to the aforementioned simplicity of the HW line. The single/triple and quad are all available, and are simply bigger or smaller versions of each other.
Inside the multi-mag shingles the magazines are kept apart my a double thickness divider of 500D Cordura which extends from the mouth of the pouch down to about two thirds of its depth. The fact that they descend so far is important, as it means kydex and other inserts like the excellent Haley Strategic MP2’s fit in like a glove, without clashing with each other inside the pouch.
The front and exterior sides of the shingles are also made from the same 500D Cordura giving the exposed elements of the pouch a classical sense of strength and resilience to being banged about in the field. For me I’m firmly of the opinion that 100% laser cut laminate while great for those who don’t have to fund their own gear, is an unnecessary expense for those that do, that in some cases also makes the item less durable.
In the Platatac HW range it’s really nice to see a hybrid of weight saving laser cut MOLLE paired with robust pouch body materials. In the mag shingles this is evident in the attached laser cut MOLLE panel on the front of the pouch that allow the user to add extra storage should they need it, but wouldn’t affect the pouch’s primary purpose if it were ripped or torn.
The real beauty of the laser cut molle field however is that it is staggered. The ability to mount pouches in “half molle rows” is especially important for those of us with OCD about making sure things line up, and is not really achievable with traditional molle or PALS attachments.
Finally the pull tabs of the shingles are of a familiar and simple design, consisting of a bungee cord looped through an ultracomp pull tab. For me this raises one of the few concerns I have with the shingles as the loop is routed through the back of the pouch itself, putting a bungee cord potentially in the path of a magazine being re-indexed. In truth there are worse systems out there, but if it were me I would be doing away with the bungees and using wedge inserts just to be safe. With all that said in my testing I struggled to get a mag jammed up on re-entry, but then I wasn’t being shot at or crawling around as if my life depended on it.
HW Double M4 Pouch
Filling the slot for a double mag pouch in the HW line the Platatac double M4 is a traditional flap covered pocket that as the name suggests – is optimised to take 2 AR15 pattern magazines. Unlike some others out there it doesn’t “only just” manage this, and instead fits 2 comfortably and instead relies on an external bungee for retention.
Like the shingles detailed above the double M4 pouch toes the line between weight saving ultracomp and hardy cordura construction, this time extending the laminate backer over the top in the form of a lengthy closure flap. This flap isn’t like many others out there that only just make it over 2 magazines, and are clinging on by their fingertips when Magpuls and ranger plates are used, instead actually having the problem of maybe being a little too long. Needless to say too long is always better than too short, and AK users out there can rest assured you’ll have no problem securing 2 mags inside each pouch.
When it comes to running just a single magazine in the HW double M4 the usual downfalls of this type of pouch appear. An overextended flap, ruching in the body and a general ability for the single mag to move around a little. Thanks to the adjustable bungee retention and covering flap this isn’t an issue of concern over the magazine disappearing, but more the obvious sign that this pouch is designed to carry 2 mags, instead of being a pouch that “can” carry 2, but is actually much better off with 1.
Putting the functionality aside, the construction of the double M4 is clean and simple, with enough consideration for the important, without any unnecessary complication or expense. The ultracomp lid is a nice touch as this makes for an abrasion resistant surface, that also helps to keep water out and won’t become slippery when wet.
The lid itself is secured down by a simple yet generous length of velcro, with an ultracomp pull tab sewn into its end. One thing I would have liked to see is the paracord/bungee rib present in some pouches, which gives a more tactile point to grab at the end of the flap, but in using the HW double M4 I haven’t run into any issues being able to get it open (again, I wasn’t being shot at).
Finally in the base of the pouch we have a double layer of box folded and sewn cordura, perfectly placed to both keep the bottom of the pouch in shape, aiding re-indexing and providing protection both for your feedlips and against the bottom of the pouch wearing through. This is a small but nice touch which again leans towards these pouches being designed for hard use by regulars. Once again on the back we have the familiar HW attachment system.
HW SMoke Grenade Pouch
Last but by absolutely no means least is the Platatac HW smoke grenade pouch. This little guy is actually my favourite pouch out of the entire line, and is the one I’m chomping at the bit to see come out in black.
As far as its design goes it is just the little brother of the aforementioned HW double M4, scaled down to accept the generic “smoke grenade”. As different nations use different canisters it can be tricky to find one that fits all, but as far as the smaller British smoke grenades go, these will fit no problem whatsoever.
For those using a smaller grenade the smoke pouch has the same adjustable elastic cord around the sides of the pouch as the double M4 which helps with retention when the pouch is open, and keeps battle rattle to a minimum when closed. We once again see the ultracomp flap and familiar pull tab, and the by now only to be expected HW attachment system.
The real reason I’m totally in love with this pouch is that it finally represents a commercially available smoke grenade pouch that takes my Dynatec blank firing grenades. As mentioned in my review of my custom Cellar Gear Dynatec pouches these grenade bodies are awkward in that they’re bigger than most frag grenades, and smaller than most smokes. This makes finding suitable pouches a complete pain in the arse.
The Platatac HW smokes fit my weird criteria of being 3 Molle rows high, 2 columns wide and not extending outside of the vertical footprint of a skeletal 3 band cummerbund. In most cases smoke grenade pouches are either too wide or too tall, and so to finally have one in stock to recommend is a breath of fresh air, although for the time being if you want it in anything other than multicam you’ll be getting them done custom like me.
It should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone that I’ve come away from another review with a positive outcome, not only because if I didn’t like something I wouldn’t be writing about it but also because Platatac have shown once again that they know what they’re doing.
What I really like about the HW range is that it is at its core very simple. All the pouches in the line are up to modern standards, savings have been made with weight and overall bulk has been removed, but all this still comes in a simple, affordable and most importantly squaddie proof package. While I’m sure Platatac would like to think that SF guys the world over would benefit from using their pouches the real beauty I see in these is for the regular guys who just want to have better kit than the dogshit we get issued here in the UK.
In my experience, your average bloke has a setup that doesn’t change, to fit his role that isn’t super dynamic. A regular bod is going to be carrying roughly the same gear between exercises and deployments without the extra breaching, comms, medical and other specialist gear added on mission to mission. What I deem more valuable is finding a pouch that does the job you need it to perfectly, without trying to be 13 things at once and leaving itself being mediocre at the one thing you’ll ever actually do with it.
In this scenario I think you’ll be hard pressed to do much better than the Platatac HW range. It has all the strength and daintiness of Blue Force Gear pouches at the Platatac price point without any of the Warrior Ass Systems blatant homework copying and credit taking. Yes Australia is pretty far away, but if you want a “one and done” pouch, the postage is worth it.
Thanks for sitting through my inane blabbering about the Platatac HW pouch range, there will be a second (and mercifully shorter) part to this series coming up covering the equally interesting utility pouch suite that they offer. In the meantime if you would like to check out the range for yourself I’ll drop a link here.
I’d also just like to say another huge thanks to the boys down under who have been supporters of this blog for several years now. It’s really cool to have the ear of a legit military contracted manufacturer, and R&M happen to also be really cool guys. If you would like to read some more of my Platatac articles you can find the archives here.