Disclaimer: This item was provided free of charge by C2R FAST for testing and evaluation purposes. There has been no exchange of money, and the terms of the item 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.

It’s been nearly 6 months since I received the C2R FAST Chameleon and since then it has been launched to the public, and developed a little more as an ecosystem beyond what we see here. It’s been a busy start to the year for me personally which has delayed anything being written for the site, but this has worked in the Chameleon’s favour as it has allowed me to not only get to grips with what I have here, but also see what is to come.

What is the Chameleon, and who is it for?

First and foremost, this has been developed with specialist end users in mind. A lightweight, slick rig that can change colour in the space of 5 minutes is not the sort of thing you’d expect to see wrapped around some bloke in a harbour area, halfway through a blank exercise with 3 day old grass stuffed into his helmet, but instead is intended to be worn by someone who may need to change the appearance of his gear at the drop of the hat before heading somewhere far more interesting.

The key feature of the Chameleon is its central frame, constructed of squadron laminate and Tegris thermoplastic. This central frame holds the armour plates internally, and externally provides the host for every other attachment to the system including hardpoints for placards, velcro for callsign/ID patches, zips for panels and more. This frame can be worn standalone without skins for an ultra lightweight plate carrier which, in a pinch, seems like it wouldn’t be the worst thing to swim.

Around this frame the user can then wrap a skin in the pattern of their choice that provides airmesh padding to the back of the plate and extra loops for attaching communications equipment, thus giving reason to the name Chameleon.

The first thing that came to mind for me was that swapping the skins would have to be a simple process in order to make the system viable, as in reality an end user with an SF budget or wage packet is likely going to be able to afford several vests at once just to save themselves the ballache of a drawn out procedure for swapping skins. Luckily for the Chameleon the method of changing skins is quick, simple and while maybe not something that should be tried in an FRV, is definitely doable in the battle prep stage.

The front platebag skin is swapped by pulling the skin out from under the Tegris flaps around both velcro fields, then bringing it up and off of the shoulder straps (which must be undone in order to swap the skins). The rear skin is a little different and may not be the same on production models, but is simply swapped by unhooking the skin from the Tegris around the zips, and releasing the cross tabs of velcro which go through the zip supports. Once done, simply pull the skin up and off the shoulder straps to remove.

This process requires the vest to be disassembled in order for the skins to be swapped over which some may see as problematic, but it’s a case of undoing 4 bits of velcro in 2 sets of 2, which are both simple enough to put back in the right place. In practice, it takes 5 minutes at most and when using the rig you don’t exactly want the outer skin of it to come away easily.

With the standout features of the Chameleon out of the way, how does it stand up as a plate carrier in it’s own right?

The basic format of the Chameleon is, to be perfectly honest, pretty much the same as every other slick plate carrier out there, but with the added bonus of some serious airflow thanks to the thick airmesh padding. Slim shoulder straps, swift clip placard compatibility, a “2 band” cummerbund, an emergency doffing method (at the shoulders) and zip panel adapters, this rig will do pretty much whatever your FCPC/LV119/LSPC will do, but with the ability to change it’s profile quickly.

An interesting feature however is the cummerbund, which is made from a single layer of laminate with a stiffening bar inside the top row of MOLLE, which helps it to keep its shape when loaded up. The attachment method for the cummerbund is lower at the back than at the front, which means that the rear plate bag can be positioned correctly on the user’s back, without the cummerbund cutting into the armpits. In true C2R style, the cummerbund also has a portion of elastic connecting the MOLLE element to the rear attachment velcro, which allows the vest to move with the user. On the front attachments there are laminate pull tabs to help doff the cummerbund, that lie completely flat when not un use.

Wearing the Chameleon is a similar feeling to wearing any other SAPI cut plate carrier, but that’s not necessarily a detriment. True to the mantra of not fixing things that aren’t broken, the tried and tested platebag layout is comfortable, manoeuvrable and is only improved with the addition of excellent padding/ventilation and the aforementioned cummerbund.

One thing I can’t comment on is the shoulder pads. I pretty much immediately ditched the original pads that came with the rig as for me they were a little too substantial for my needs and swapped them for some Spiritus Systems shoulder sleeves instead. Since doing this I do know that the design for the shoulder pads have changed to be less intrusive, and I do want to grab myself a set to try out.

As far as setup goes, the Chameleon can be scaled up to fit the same sort of loadouts you’d expect from any other rig in it’s class, with the only necessity being the use of a swift clip placard on the front. You should have noticed that the skins are MOLLE free, and this is because they aren’t supposed to be load bearing. This means that the load needs to be supported by the central frame, which is achieved by the placard hardpoints being brought through the skin itself. I know that there are future plans for different attachment methods, but more on that later.

My setup consists of a modified Spiritus Systems LVP (changed to G hooks and given adjustable ride height by C2R), two grenade pouches, a small utility and a radio when needed. In this setup with lightweight training plates the rig is comfortable, and the lack of super padded shoulder sleeves is negligible.

With the walkthrough the Chameleon complete, time to discuss who is using the platform and in what capacity.

Obviously I don’t know exactly who is using what and where, but it was recently made public thanks to the Daily Mail that UKSF have taken at least one Chameleon to the sharp end of the stick, and in visits to the factory I have been shown around another that has been out on T&E.

Given C2R’s pedigree it should come as a shock to absolutely no one that the Chameleon has made it into the hands of the Blades and as a result of this I’ve been able to see the skin changing properties first hand, with the T&E vest having been used in a “tan dominant” pattern for a particular deployment, and a “green dominant” pattern when back in the UK. This ability to quickly swap patterns around has allowed the user to blend in with partner/indigenous forces easily while utilising the same base rig.

What will be the applications for the future?

Having seen the T&E rig in all its glory I am aware of a few additions to the Chameleon that should be surfacing soon which address some predictable issues (where do you mount an EUD?), and some that when you see them will make the skin swapping ability seem all the more valuable to a very broad base of users. It’s more than just about changing the colour. In short, watch this space. The Chameleon is the base for an entire ecosystem that has not been done before.

My closing thoughts

As stated in the disclaimer at the beginning of this article if I’m writing about something, then I like it, and this is no different.

The Chameleon isn’t a plate carrier that I want to force down the throats of anyone who comes within 15 feet of me, shouting and screaming about fantastic engineering made in Britain by two men hopped up on Bean and Country coffee. It’s too refined for that, and I think will be valued more by those who want all the features of the mainstream slick rigs with the added interest of being just different enough to stand out.

Professional users will know if they need the skin swapping ability, and I’d imagine they’ve been aware of the Chameleon longer than I have, but for recreational users it is really something of a game changer as you no longer have to try and justify owning three different rigs to the missus, and can swap and change to match event locations or uniform rules with ease.

It’s not often that something truly different hits the market, but the Chameleon is just that, different. It doesn’t fix anything that wasn’t broken, and it gives you extra functionality with little to no compromise.

Thanks for sitting through my wild ramblings on the C2R FAST Chameleon. I’d also like to say another thankyou to the dynamic duo running the outfit for inviting me round to have a look at their toys, and for sending me one of my own. I’ll leave a link to their site here, and you can find the Chameleon under any of the operating areas.

Any questions, comebacks or insults can all be sent to my Instagram account @thegeardocrow. Cheers cunts.

One thought on “REVIEW // C2R FAST CHAMELEON

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