IMG_3591There are some pouches where you just look at them and think, “Quality materials, artisanal craftwork and attention to detail.”

There are other pouches where you look at them and think, “This is a really well designed, innovative product.”

Crye does the design and innovation part really, really well.

That being said, for most Crye products I’ve owned, I’ve had an alternative product which was better made; though not necessarily better designed.

And that’s really the key, providing the quality aspect is of an acceptable standard; which Crye’s most definitely is.

Crye’s Smart Pouch Suite is a range of pouches, each of which has multiple uses. Crye describes it thus:

Fewer pouches, more options. We’ve created a simple lightweight pouch system that handles the vast majority of all load carriage tasks.

I have a bit of a thing about specialism, so I normally avoid multi-role implementations. Multi-role is just another term for ‘compromise’, after all.

So what can this 5.56/7.62/MBITR pouch adapt to? There are some clues in the name, but here’s Crye’s list:

  • One or two 30-round 5.56 magazines
  • 25-round 7.62×51 (.308) magazine
  • MBITR radio
  • Pistol w/light
  • Smoke grenade
  • Thermobaric grenade
  • 16 oz. water bottle

The part which really interested me was about holding a 16oz. water bottle.

Of a Sunday skirmish, I really don’t need the weight, fuss and low speed, high drag of a bladder. Even a 1L one. A 500ml bottle of water will do – which is not much bigger than 16oz.

Similarly, in a more immersive environment where a bladder and, potentially, additional M4 mags would be a good idea, this Smart Pouch should also pay dividends. Out goes the 500ml bottle and in come two mags.

I picked up one of the pouches from Odin Tactical. Fast shipping and the pouch came sealed in the usual bag.

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The pouch’s format is like that of Crye’s dedicated mag pouches.

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Velcro flap, the length of which may be required if you run Ranger Plates or Magpuls, which can alternatively be tucked into the pouch for open access.

There’s also an elastic shock cord and a curiously wide mouth to the pouch per se. Something of a wizard’s sleeve, in fact.

On the back we’ve got MOLLE compatibility in the form of Hypalon straps, but also a hidden belt sleeve.

Note the paracord loop up top.

It’s all really, really well thought through.

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Before I bought this pouch, I tried a few of my M4 mag pouches from various brands, to make sure I couldn’t just task one with the mission of carrying a water bottle. Turns out I could do that, but the Smart Pouch’s gaping, wizard sleeve of a mouth makes replacing a bottle so much easier.

This is a disposable 500ml bottle. It fits well, but I’d prefer the pouch sides to be higher to enclose the bottle more. The flap is also a bit near its upper limit. Having said that, it still works.

Two Pmags with Ranger Plates. Again, not as much coverage from sides or flap as I’d like, but its no worse than dedicated pouches – so that’s a win.

For MBITR use, there’s a separate binding. With the pouch’s flap tucked in, the bungee connects from front velcro to rear paracord loop.

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I think fans of Crye would love this pouch. It’s very Crye; very designed.

For me, it doesn’t do one of the jobs I want it for as well as I’d like. But, crucially, it does do both jobs.

And that’s the nature of compromise. Specific pouches would probably do each job better – but then there’s the hassle of changing pouches over.

Mine is a very narrow scope of use, so let’s not forget all the other uses the pouch has.

More on SPS pouches, here.