So, having got hold of a new one via Haley’s recent restock, I thought it was about time to write a new review. Not a rewrite or a redux, but from first principles. That said, I’ll assume the reader has a degree of familiarity with the product, as it’s no longer new.
In the time elapsed since my original D3CRM review, I’ve reviewed a lot of kit. An enriched experience changes how you think about things, so it’s always worth taking a second look at those special, paradigm shifting products further on in their life cycle – especially if they’ve aged as well as the Micro.
2. Doctrine Driven
Like all Haley products, while the Disruptive Environments Chest Rig Micro is adaptive and has a broad range of applications, it’s based around a robust set of guiding principles. The one I want to highlight here is its focus on fast mag draw and easy reindexing.
Unless you’re running the D3CRM sub-gun insert (which is elastic only), the interchangeable inserts – and indeed the platform itself – is based around the transformative Haley MP2 mag retainer.
Unlike the company’s other rigs (the excellent D3CRH [REVIEW] for example), the Micro’s use of inserts isn’t optional. It features a huge loop velcro lined pocket nearest the user, with which to subsume such a structure.
Granted, this level of modularity increases unit cost. But it also means it’s just one rig for SMG, 556 and 762 (the inserts available).
From a doctrinal point of view, when you’re buying into the D3CRM you’re simultaneously buying into Haley’s mag hygiene strategy; best explained in this video (cued at 3:28):
That’s why MP2s were invented; allowing decent mag retention in a way similar to kydex, plus fast mag draw and easy reindexing.
The spacing between mags helps, too, but is often overlooked. That said, this system does make the D3CRM a touch wider than some competitors – though in use it’s not noticeable.
I’ve said it before: the MP2 and its support of Haley’s mag hygiene doctrine could be the single biggest reason to select the D3CRM over all other competition.
Since my initial review, there have been some changes to the MP2 and how it’s secured in the Micro. Out go the original closed-base pockets, which had the occasional tendency for the MP2 to come loose from its elastic retainer.
Instead we have no pocket, just a beefed-up elastic retainer. This is a much better solution because the MP2 is held captive, with no risk of popping out.
Another plus to this rethink is how positively the mags are held at the mouth of the insert – less gape, but no less easy to seat.
The second change is that at some point, the MP2s appear to have been resized. This doesn’t convey as great a benefit to the Micro as it does to the D3CRX (REVIEW) or D3CRH, but it’s worth pointing out. Again, it means the MP2 is less likely to escape its bonds (in the case of the latter two rigs, a webbing daisy chain).
The old MP2s are depicted below. Note how they could slip out from their delimiter:
3. Form Factor Comparison
Just how micro is the Micro? One way to benchmark is in comparison with a full width chest rig.
This actually surprised me, as I’ve previously never worn the following two rigs back to back. Even though the D3CRM carries just one less 556 mag than the D3CRH, it takes up considerably less of the user’s body surface – both in width and height.
In all other things, these rigs are pretty much equal – including utility pouch volume and pistol mag carry.
The latter is handled by Haley’s MMPs – Multi Mission Pouches – and here I’ve just stuck in some hand sanitiser for the pics.
These pouches are arranged at the Micro’s flanks and while they look a bit busy, they mainly stay out of the way when not in use. With elasticated sides, they shrink flat; although there’s supposed to be a rare earth magnet inside them somewhere – to help retain ferrous items if the bungee cord is removed. Great tabs on the bungees, BTW – grippy, rubberised stuff.
It’s no different to the D3CRH in this and many other respects, and yet my point remains that the Micro is so much more compact. True, the Heavy has enhanced 762 capacity (four mags to the Micro’s two). But for 556?
That’s why I don’t currently own a Micro and a D3CRX.
4. Chest Rig and Placard: SwiftClip Attachment System
SwiftClip is Velocity Systems’ method of attaching a chest rig to a plate carrier, as a placard. It’s become the industry standard and is of course leveraged by all Haley rigs, including the D3CRM.
To expedite the process of moving from chest rig to placard, the D3CRM has removable side clips.
Also, the reverse of the Micro is covered in hidden hook velcro.
This feature further allows appropriate drop pouches to be carried. I recommend Ferro Concepts’ The Mini Dangler (REVIEW).
The clips at the top of the Micro are set at a decent height for placard use, but this is also something of the product’s secret sauce for chest rig use. The spacing makes the harness really comfortable – more so than Haley’s wider rigs (and you don’t need to be Drax the Destroyer to benefit).
Note that on the reverse of the newer Micro, the hook velcro coverage is more extensive. This, I presume, is for enhanced plate carrier purchase and improved drop pouch integration.
5. Inside the Utility Pouch
Up front, adorned by exterior loop velcro, is the voluminous, twin zip, clam shell-opening utility pouch.
It is not, however, a full clam-shell opener. The zips begin about an inch up from the pouch base. This creates an effective levy to contain loose items. That’s perfect, because it means stuff is less likely to fall out should the user miscalculate the extent of opening; yet it still gives excellent access to contents.
It’s quite amazing how much you can get into it, as hinted earlier while comparing the D3CRH and Micro form factors.
Interior organisation inside is spot on – flush unless utilised and composed of 3.5″ wide elastic retainers. It’s mirrored by loop velcro for the addition of more organisation if/when required.
The utility pouch drains at its base (as does the mag compartment to the rear).
6. X-harness and Back Strap
Doffing and donning an X-harness is a ballache and I can’t use one without wearing a high collar, as it rubs my neck raw. That said, an X is limpet-like when worn high and tight.
While the Micro’s X-harness is well executed, the user’s attitude to it will be coloured not by Haley’s implementation, but by whether or not they prefer an H-harness.
To describe Haley’s X-harness, it’s wide, unpadded and distributes weight evenly. It’s adjusted for fit via tri-glides. Cable/hydro organisation is handled with webbing.
While the shoulder strap extends down behind the female clip for comfort, it’s not held captive; so can fold back on itself during the process of donning. It’s annoying if you don’t notice in order to adjust, as it can create a hot spot – which you will notice.
The straps are canalised at their crossing point, although I wear the Micro too high for this to work with my physiology. If you are able to use this feature, it does make the rig a little easier to don.
The back strap is a less polarising affair – a simple strap, adjustable for length at both ends.
I hope to underline this point, because the organisation on the straps is awesome – for someone who likes stuff neatly squared away, that is.
OneWrap is stitched into the strap ends and previously I’ve only seen similar with LBT chest rigs. It’s certainly not a cost saving feature, so hats off to HSP for this inclusion.
7. My Set Up
There’s a run down on the Spiritus item here.
When I require additional mag capacity, I like to add a Crye Precision Side-Pull Mag Pouch (REVIEW).
Eventually I’ll add kydex into this one (see my hack here) to assist mag organisation. The right hand side-pull mag isn’t the easiest to draw or reindex. So, I tend to pocket one of the other mags after use, and resupply its vacant pouch with the side-pull mag.
I’ve managed to complete a whole review on the Haley Micro without directly comparing it to its nearest rival – the Spiritus Systems Micro Fight Chest Rig (REVIEW). That’s no easy feat but it was intentional, because I’ve already dealt with it in my original D3CRM review. Have a read if that’s more the angle you need.
Such a comparison leads me back to where I started with this review: product design as the embodiment of doctrine. Where the D3CRM is all about the fast mag draw lyfe combined with ease of reindexing, the Spiritus is not; similarly where the D3CRM is pretty much fixed format, the Spiritus is not.
With perfect objectively this doesn’t make one rig better than the other, but we’re imperfect and subjective beings. With that said, I have difficulty choosing between the two. They represent the current zenith of two distinct load bearing ideologies.
The challenge for the prospective buyer is, therefore, choosing which doctrine they prefer and selecting the rig which best represents that.
The D3CRM has a massive ace in its sleeve: the MP2. This injection moulded, leaf spring retainer is at the core of the Micro’s success. It is a phenomenal feature, to date unmatched in the chest rig world. I say again that it could be the only reason you need to select the Micro as your next chest rig.