Words and Pics: Rich Norman
If you know Spiritus Systems’ excellent LV-119 Covert plate bags – which I reviewed just over a year ago – you’ll know 90% of their Overt ones. However, it’s that crucial 10% which differentiates the two standards.
Please note: all these components are part of the same ecosystem and can be mixed and matched. With that in mind you don’t buy a complete PC, but choose from a menu.
For a detailed overview of the LV-119 Covert and to provide a solid substrate for this article about the Overt, it’s best to read the following articles as an accompaniment – although they are not essential to gain an understanding of the Overt:
The components I’ve selected to build an LV-119 Overt PC are as follows:
- Overt Plate Bag – Front (including ITW clips)
- Overt Plate Bag – Rear
- Elastic Cummerbund – Advanced 5″
- Shoulder Covers – Trifold
I’ve also added an LV Placard 556, to help illustrate the article – see my review of that item here. All components have been provided on loan by the good people at Tactical Kit – so thanks to them as always!
So what’s the difference between Covert and Overt?
Well, there’s a clue in the name. Whereas the Covert is a slick, no bells and whistles setup with minimal imprint when worn under clothing, the Overt isn’t; it’s got the bells and whistles, which I’ll go through in this article.
Needless to say, it’s not as lo pro as the Covert and is therefore more likely to imprint when worn under clothing. That said, it’s still sits in the high speed, low drag plate carrier category – the LV of LV-119 does mean Low Visibility, after all.
Overt Plate Bag – Front
On the face of the Overt Plate Bag – Front, we have:
- Bib with 3 rows by 4 columns of Velcro covered PALS
- PTT loops flanking bib on either side
- Hidden loops for the attachment of a placard, via ITW clips (included)
Note that you need to remove your plates to fit the ITW clips. Once installed they are partially concealed. This offers them some protection and baffles against the noise of impacts.
If you choose not to use the ITW clips, the setup is totally hidden.
Spiritus’ placard system is built to the universal standard – which is a good move, as it allows a plethora of choices.
Velcro is colour matched throughout the external faces of the Multicam plate bags and the cummerbund. So if you don’t run a placard, the loop field revealed doesn’t jar with the presentation of the remainder of the carrier.
It sounds obvious, but it’s worth pointing out that even in 2019 not all companies do this.
Aside from the PTT loops on the bib, it’s worth noting that comms can be routed through the plate bags and out of the shoulder straps – a feature not often seen in equivalent carriers, if seen at all. This helps tidy things away.
The inner face of the front plate bag – like that of the Covert – exhibits a wicking softshell document pocket. This provides a little standoff for comfort, as well as providing a place to stash maps.
The softshell fabric is repeated at the sides of each plate bag, to provide snug but expansive fit for SAPI pattern plates:
I’m using size medium plate bags with size medium SAPI cut training plates. The fit is tight, but not excessively so.
Velcro links front and rear plate bags at the shoulders and this is also where ride height is adjusted:
At the shoulders I’ve utilised Spiritus’ Trifold shoulder pads, which you can read more about in Part 1 of my Covert overview.
Overt Plate Bag – Rear
The face of the Overt Plate Bag – Rear exhibits:
- Features which enable the use of Spiritus’ Recovery Handle (enhanced drag handle) and/or Spiritus’ forthcoming zip-on back panels
- Colour matched Velcro field, which is presumably for use where no back panel is present
Note that the zips here are not of a pre-existing standard and will only accept Spiritus’ own back panels – yet to be released.
The reverse face of the rear plate bag – next to the user – is plain.
Note that plates are held in place at the base of both bags with Velcro flaps.
Elastic Cummerbund – Advanced 5″
The 5″ Advanced Cummerbund is of particular interest.
Like the Covert, the Overt’s cummerbund attachment point is inside the rear plate bag. It utilises a cut through – a concealed channel in the rear plate bag – so that the carrier’s lumbar region is completely slick. This means no hang ups.
Before fitting the cummerbund, it’s essential to study Spiritus’ guidance on the subject. While it’s a singular solution, it’s on the less intuitive side – hence there’s a guide.
The benefits of how the cummerbund attaches are many. Spiritus states that it enables a wide range of adjustment; and that it is also a more stable mechanism than that of Velcro-attached competitors. In addition, it means the cummerbund doesn’t sag.
While the benefits are valid I can’t say it’s not a pain to fit the cummerbund, unless – perhaps – you have really small hands. Obviously once it’s on, it’s on. But if you guess the sizing adjustment wrongly you have to undo and repeat a fiddly threading process.
Once in situ, the 5″ Advanced Cummerbund for me represents a significant upgrade on the 4″ item (the latter making certain compromises over form, in the service of remaining discrete).
In fact, it’s incredible just how much more stability and solidity the extra inch in height delivers – both with and without mags.
Nevertheless, built of exactly the same durable elastic material as the 4″, the 5″ cummerbund expands and contacts with the user as they crouch, crawl and ambulate – while remaining totally conformal. This is a cummerbund which moves with – not against you. It is one of the keys as to why this Overt setup carries so well. It’s more comfortable than a minimal PC has any right to be.
Moreover, it’s a real pity this cummerbund is not compatible with platforms outside Spiritus’ ecosystem – because there are even more benefits.
It’s a given that this type of segmented expansive storage is useful for many irregular items – not just for 556 mags, for which it’s optimised.
That said, Spiritus has designed the base of each pocket to eschew ‘the toothpaste effect’ of competitor products: namely the way in which items can inadvertently be squeezed out, because of upward pressure from a tapered elasticated base.
They’ve done this by separating the base from the body of the pouch.
Simple, but it works. Because the base doesn’t undergo the same forces when an item is inserted, it is not induced to push upwards.
Secondly, they’ve added tabs to the mouth of each pocket where a bungee can be added if ultimate retention is required.
That’s overkill for me, but those tabs are important in their own right – as an insertion aid. The are prominent enough to use with gloved hands – which is a real bonus.
In certain circumstances the user can insert a mag one handed – but I don’t want to commit to that as a solid positive, because it really does depend on a few things.
Another thing that’s aided is closing the placard on top of those neat doffing handles – designed to lay flat unless needed. I know people who’ve been forced to iron flat the cummerbund doffing handles on competitor cummerbunds.
Lastly, check out the the cummerbund’s construction. That’s triple – yes, triple – stitching.
In fact, check out the construction of any Spiritus item – anywhere. It’s some of the best in the entire nylon industry.
That’s why I’m confident that these items will take the hard use they are designed for. That’s like night and day compared to the sterile benchmarking I am capable of, as an interested enthusiast.
I did not expect to find anything particularly new and exciting with the items at my disposal. But, equally, hands on with new products made by such a talented design team often surprises me. That trend continues here for Spiritus.
And it’s not like it’s not a crowded market. There are any number of low profile plate carriers in the Overt’s class – often cheaper, too.
But what Spiritus has done here is different and it is compelling.
Just when you thought the paradigm couldn’t be expanded, the company has found additional utility at the margins and amplified it.
Want more Spiritus Systems reviews? You can find a whole list of them here. The list is updated as more reviews are published.