Words and pics: Rich Norman
I’ve been really impressed with the micro chest rig form factor. So, when Tactical-Kit asked me if I’d be interested in looking over some new Ferro Concepts products – one of which being their new micro chest rig – I said yes immediately.
Never frugal in the loan kit they send out for review, I ended up with a box full of the following items:
The Mini is a micro chest rig. Ferro doesn’t say on its website what the rig’s body and shoulder straps are composed of. But, if you’re familiar with Blue Force Gear’sULTRAcomp or First Spear’s 6/12 laser cut laminates, the main fabric is very similar.
Aside from its high quality polymer hardware, the rest of the Mini is composed of Velcro and webbing. The pic below illustrates a confluence of those fabrics (and some excellent stitching and bar-tacking – a recurring theme in Ferro’s build quality).
The Mini is distinct from other micros – and chest rigs in general – in that the shoulder straps attach to the rig’s body with Velcro.
Don’t be alarmed. When a Ferro Adapt panel is added over the top of the straps’ attachment points, they are enveloped in a velcro sandwich – as I’ll get to later.
The face of the rig’s body is covered with colour-matched loop Velcro. Pairs of female Fastex clips are located at the sides.
The rear face of the rig’s body is slick. This is a useful feature, because it won’t interfere with your clothing or cause chafing.
Also at the sides and the bottom (as seen here) of the rig’s body, laser cut slots are exhibited. It seems to me that you can orientate the rig’s body depending on whether you want the slots on the top edge or the bottom edge.
Again, observe the high quality stitching. The whole platform – and indeed all other items in this review – are of artisanal quality.
The slots themselves are interesting in that rather than terminating in radiused corners, they are chevron shaped. This makes them particularly easy to thread with MOLLE items.
The back strap is composed of supple webbing and features just one point of adjustment. I was really pleased with this feature. A point of adjustment at either end of the back strap is not necessary, so this simplifies things nicely.
Firstly, the Mini’s shoulder straps form an H-Harness, not an X-harness. This is good news for me, as I’m currently more of a fan of the former than the latter.
The rear of the harness features a colour-matched Velcro field.
I’ve used similarly cut harnesses made of high tech laminate, but this is by far the most comfortable I’ve tried. In fact I would go so far as to say it’s the most comfortable H-harness I’ve ever tried.
Some companies like to sex things up with non-slip backings or deep padding, but these straps are minimal and perfect for this rig. Thin in cross-section and malleable, they conform well. Wide in breadth, they spread the load brilliantly.
This harness moves with you, not against you.
The H-harness features vertical laser cut slots for hydration and comms routing and terminates with small vertical slots and an interesting Velcro variant.
So that’s the product per se. I’ll look at how it can be used later in the review.
The Wide rig is identical to the Mini, with a few exceptions.
Mini vs. Wide Rig Body
As it’s name suggests, the Wide iteration has a wider rig body. As opposed to the Mini rig body, the Wide is flanked on both sides by two laser cut PALS columns – again, of the chevron variety.
While the Mini rig is my favourite of the two, the Wide shares many features and adds additional utility – allowing MOLLE items to be secured either side of the Velcro field. However, because its body is wider, the Wide does not sit quite as well as the Mini – but that’s the opportunity cost of a micro chest rig versus a standard one. On the other hand, you do get integral MOLLE compatibility; meaning less of the load needs to be handed off to your belt order.
Multicam Back Strap vs Ranger Green
A small point, but the Multicam Back strap is composed of jacquard webbing which is less supple than the Ranger Green equivalent. However, it’s likely this has been selected because it is highly colour-fast compared with standard Multicam webbing.
Of the accessories bundled with this package by Tactical-Kit, the Adapt MOLLE Front Flap is my favourite.
The face of the item is laser cut with the same chevron PALS slots as featured elsewhere. There are six columns, which is equivalent to three M4 mags; the classic Micro rig complement.
The reverse is covered in hook Velcro.
Tabs are exhibited at the lower corners. This is so the panel can be more easily peeled away from the loop Velcro on the rig body, when it’s time to change things up.
The top corners exhibit high quality metal G-hooks. These will be used, along with the panel’s hook Velcro, to secure the item to the rig. The hooks also provide redundant retention for the H-harness.
The flap/harness assembly is attached to the rig’s body – with the harness’ Velcro tabs sandwiched between the MOLLE Flap and the rig’s body.
Here I’ve used the Mini rig body to integrate the MOLLE Front Flap, but it fits the Wide rig body in the same way – as well as Ferro’s Slickster PC.
And that’s the beauty of this system. You can move the accessories seamlessly from one Ferro platform to another.
The rig is now ready to accept the usual MOLLE items.
The Kangaroo Front Flap is a pouch within which an item like the Kwik Triple Shingle can be integrated.
The face of this pouch is covered in laser cut PALS slots of the chevron variety. There are a total of six PALS columns. Like the Adapt MOLLE Front Flap reviewed above, the Kangaroo pouch features tabs in the lower corners and G-hooks in the upper.
Similarly, the item is backed with hook Velcro.
The lower corners are open, for drainage.
The interior of the pouch is lined with hook and loop.
The Kwik Triple Shingle (above) is a familiar item to me. A few years ago I had what I’d guess was V1.0 of the product. The concept was then, as now, sound. However, the current iteration of the Shingle – which is featured here – is superior to the old one.
This is largely due to Ferro dispensing with generic kydex inserts and instead using HSP MP2 Inserts (review here). I’ve been using these in other products for a few years and they are outstanding.
As can be seen above, the face of the Shingle is covered in colour-matched loop Velcro.
The rear is covered in hook Velcro.
The MP2 inserts are really cleverly retained, using diagonal laser cut slots.
I used a plastic bag to ease the Shingle into the Kangaroo pouch. It allowed me to bypass the Velcro until I was happy with the fit. The bag was then removed.
The Kangaroo pouch attached to the rig in the same way as the Adapt MOLLE Front Flap – G-hooks and Velcro:
I mentioned that I prefer HSP MP2 inserts to kydex. In addition, the design of the Shingle is such that it’s really difficult to hang-up mags when re-indexing. The mouth of the Shingle is wide open and there’s really nothing to impede getting those mags back in.
Oh – and BTW – you can always integrate other applicable Ferro items, like The Dangler (reviewed here).
Some may question whether the Chesty series is robust enough, using just G-hooks and Velcro. It very much does seem to be and let’s face it: Ferro would not allow a product to bear its name without rigorous T&E having taken place. However, I am limited in what I can put products through when they are on loan.
Using the Kangaroo pouch and Shingle combination, the rig’s body does peel away slightly from the left and right vertical edges of the pouch. This effect will vary, depending on the width and shape of your chest and how tight you run the harness. The Shingle is fairly rigid and I wear the harness tightly. This pulls the rig’s body into a curve to conform with my chest, whereas the Shingle stays fairly stiff and straight. It’s similar to what happens with the front flap/kangaroo pocket on a JPC, when a rigid mag carrier is inserted – if you’re familiar with that sort of carrier.
At the very worst, it simply exposes more Velcro hook on which to snag clothing or gear.
On the other hand, the MOLLE Front Flap does not peel away at the edges when mags are carried in three separate pouches (G-Code Softshell Mag Carriers for instance). In this instance, both the Flap and rig body curve to my chest as one. This is another reason why I prefer the MOLLE Front Flap.
Notwithstanding, both the Mini and the Wide rigs are very comfortable when riding high and they stay put. As mentioned earlier, the harness is hands down the best I’ve used.
Perhaps a better question than one about the robustness of G-hooks and Velcro is: how much do you like Velcro? This platform has it in spades.
A lot of companies are moving towards Velcro and away from MOLLE. There are many and varied reasons for this. Ferro has very much been at the vanguard of the paradigm shift.
It’s not that Velcro isn’t universal – loop always accepts hook. However, with this shift we’re seeing the tactical nylon market offer more and more semi-proprietary Lego systems; the building blocks of which don’t always correspond to the platforms of other manufacturers (like MOLLE does).
Who knows? Maybe a new universal ecosystem will emerge, to replace MOLLE.
Interestingly, I noticed that some parts of this Ferro bundle are made in Canada, while others are made in the USA. Ferro lists the specifics on their website.
The main thing is that both design and quality are sublime.