1.0 What is The Thing 2?
Put simply, Spiritus Systems’ The Thing 2 converts a micro chest rig into something that can carry more.
It does this by extending the micro’s footprint (and therefore its capacity) with semi-rigid MOLLE flanks, which are 3 PALS columns wide. On the reverse are built in radio/magazine pouches.
It’s a cryptic name for something self-explanatory when you see it:
Nothing new in principle, right? Ferro Concepts did something similar with The Chesty Wide:
To be fair, it wasn’t a new idea when Ferro did it and it’s not a new idea now. Someone else invented the form factor, but Spiritus has innovated upon it – radically so.
The significant difference with The Thing 2 is that it leverages a modern thermoplastic composite to add load bearing rigidity which, to my knowledge, has never been seen before in a mass market chest rig.
So, not only are we looking at extended spatial capacity, but something that’s more comfortable and capable handling heavier loads.
2.0 Do I need one?
A major benefit of The Thing 2 is that it is relatively agnostic in terms of competitor product ecosystems – meaning that…
2.1 Nearly any placard will fit
Like the Micro Fight Chassis, the Thing 2 is built to the universal Swift Clip placard standard – pioneered by Mayflower and adopted by pretty much every major manufacturer…except Crye. I’d guess this is because they are so much bigger than everyone else and therefore don’t care (although the JPC 2.0 [REVIEW] and SPC [REVIEW] offer concessions to the Swift Clip system).
Although it’s true to say that the width of The Thing’s Velcro field is optimised for Spiritus’ own Micro Fight Chassis, you don’t necessarily need one. I’ve been testing The Thing 2 with Haley Strategic’s D3CRM (REVIEW) as well as the Chassis. The D3CRM a bit wide, but it still works effectively.
And think about this for one moment: if you buy an AXL Placard Conversion you can potentially use Crye front flaps on The Thing 2, with a bit of overhang.
2.2 Plastic? Surely that’s uncomfortable?
That’s exactly what I thought as I glowered at The Thing 2 through its merchandising, wondering what kind of rushed-out-on-the-back-of-the-tacticool-Tegris-boom I was dealing with.
The reality, however, is quite different – as we’ll see in more depth later. Suffice to say at this point that The Thing 2 not only features comfortable articulated buckles, but its flanking plastic structures (presumably composed of a generic version of Tegris) semi-permanently mould to the wearer’s torso.
It’s not a profound body cast mould, but the flanks don’t fight against the wearer either; and, they get gradually more comfortable the more you wear the platform, because of Tegris’ mimetic qualities.
3.0 The Thing 2 Vs. the TRH Benchmark: Crye AirLite Convertible Chest Rig
After the success of Spiritus’ Micro Fight Chest Rig, gear companies rushed to bring out their own versions. Crye, never a follower of fashion, sat it out and instead brought to market their 21st century take on a MOLLE Rhodesian – the AirLite Convertible Chest Rig – which features the most awesome harness ever invented. It’s become my benchmark in chest rigs.
Indeed, the first question I asked myself when The Thing 2 appeared was:
Will The Thing 2 usurp Crye’s AirLite Convertible Chest Rig – reigning champion of macro chest rigs?
I’m sure others are wondering the same.
In earlier drafts of this review, the AirLite was the elephant in the room, because I didn’t want to tackle the obvious comparison. I feel a debt of loyalty to the AirLite and have written about it positively and at length.
I also like Crye as a brand, so it’s a delicate matter.
When attempting to compare apples with apples, on paper the differential between the two solutions is really quite simple and gives a clue to the format that’s optimum for me.
|1. Chest Rig Body||What’s Best?|
|Crye Airlite Convertible Chest Rig||Second Best|
|Spiritus Systems The Thing 2||Best|
|Verdict 1.||The Thing 2 – Win|
|2. Harness and Back Strap||What’s Best?|
|Crye Airlite Convertible Chest Rig||Best|
|Spiritus Systems Fat Strap and Back Strap||Second Best|
|Verdict 2.||Crye Airlite Convertible Chest Rig – Win|
Yes – it’s a dead heat from a zoomed out perspective, without the user giving weight to their preferred features – or preferred product ecosystem.
To me, the magic of the AirLite chest rig has always been in its harness. The rig body is better than most, but it’s no Thing 2. It just isn’t as innovative.
The weight difference between the two is negligible. Comfort is about the same – it’s not like either is well ventilated or wicking.
Nevertheless, The Thing 2’s unique flank construction and rigidity where load bearing is concerned suggests a clear winner (although the AirLite’s stow-flat elastic internal pouches deserve a mention in dispatches).
3.1 Mix and match optimisation: The Thing 2 with Crye AirLite Convertible Chest Rig Harness
Now, there is an argument for a mix and match approach by using the AirLite harness on The Thing 2, but most modern chest rig harnesses and back straps should fit – so you can use what you already have.
The catastrophic cost of buying the AirLite just for its harness aside, having tested out the combination there is synergy which makes this combination optimum for me – to a point.
Because you can really load up The Thing 2, the AirLite harness’ elastic is less likely to take the strain and bounce back when carrying particularly heavy loads. This means the elastic can remain hyper extended – robbing the wearer of that limpet-like AirLite harness feel.
For smaller loads of the kind I tend to carry, the combination is unbeatable – but is it worth the cost to only use half of the Crye rig’s functionality (albeit the best part)? Some will say yes, many others no.
If, like me, you have the Crye already and you want to upgrade the rig body, it’s an easy decision. Buy The Thing 2.
Now, let’s tour The Thing 2’s feature set so readers can see what I’m so excited about with this design.
On the face of it, aside from the awesome carbon fibre weave aesthetic of The Thing 2’s flanks, it looks a bit Heath Robinson. This is deceptive, however and I’m convinced a lot of thought (not to mention trial and error) went into its development.
The Tegris – or Tegris-like material – that The Thing 2’s flanks are composed of is something of a wonder fabric, according to the branded product’s website:
Milliken Tegris® Thermoplastic Composite fabric is designed for heavy-duty, often dangerous work. This breakthrough material provides excellent protection against fragment, projectile or blast threats, while offering a lighter total weight than traditional thermoplastics and composites.
Pressed into panels or compression molded into shapes, Tegris® can provide the desired structure and performance to withstand rocks, baggage handlers, shrapnel and other things life may throw at you.Tegris Composites
Spiritus themselves are not making all of these claims, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
4.1.1 Rigidity and performance under asymmetric load
To test out the platform’s rigidity, I didn’t cheat by using Spiritus’ recommended bottle pouch. The synergy between it and The Thing 2 may have loaded the dice by way of a favourable outcome
Instead, I used Crye’s 152/Bottle Pouch (REVIEW), which under most circumstances I 100% trust to flop about like a spawning salmon. Contained within, a long, solid weight representing a 2l Nalgene full of water.
Bear in mind that this was simply a “What if?” scenario: I can’t imagine many people cutting about with a massive Nalgene bottle strapped to a chest rig, if it’s merely optional. It just isn’t that practical when it could go on a belt, even if The Thing 2 is eminently capable and looks great with one attached in Spiritus’ promo pics.
I suspect there are already a few being quietly relegated to the belt line, as the grim reality of going prone hits home…
Personally I prefer a bottle to a bladder, because it’s easier to fill from streams and I can better keep track of what I’m drinking; just not attached to a chest rig.
Anyway, the point was to explore the limits of The Thing’s load bearing capabilities, particularly how it handles asymmetry.
During testing the weighted pouch remained unnervingly steady against The Thing 2’s Tegris, when compared to the pliable laminate flanks of the benchmark Crye AirLite Convertible Chest Rig.
However, chest rigs per se just aren’t very good at handling extreme asymmetric loads – it’s a feature, not a bug. This is perhaps because there aren’t enough points of contact to distribute weight across the wearer’s torso. Compare a chest rig’s contact points to those of a dedicated heavy load bearing structure – such as the Crye AVS with AVS Harness (REVIEW) – and it’s easy to see the difference.
Under test conditions, it’s fair to say The Thing 2 handled bilateral imbalance marginally better than its nearest competitor. However, that was because I used Spiritus’ Fat Strap harness and Back Strap with The Thing 2 (and the AirLite harness with the Crye AirLite Convertible Chest Rig. Remember that under particularly difficult loads, the latter’s elastic stretches and can’t snap back, which means it’s more prone to imbalance with significant asymmetric loads).
With all that said, as with most platforms, a symmetrically loaded Thing 2 is the optimum. Nevertheless, the role of Tegris in all this is impressive.
I mentioned that the weighted pouch remained unnervingly steady against The Thing 2’s Tegris. This extends to pretty much any pouch.
When using a short mag pouch such as FirstSpear’s MultiMag (REVIEW), it’s highly likely it’ll bounce around as the user moves. This is particularly prominent if contact between the pouch backer and platform is reduced, as in the pic below where I’ve moved down the MultiMag pouch for easier access.
With the Thing 2, the pouch is rock solid which – if you’re a bit OCD like me – is a result. I can’t use the MultiMag on the Crye AirLite rig (in any position) as it moves too much.
4.1.2 Articulated buckle assemblies
Aside from the QD buckles themselves, each of the four articulation points is handled by Tegris and an eyelet. From what we’ve learned so far about Tegris, I’ve little doubt it’ll take whatever load and torsion is thrown at it, which leaves a question mark over the eyelets.
Having bought The Thing 2 with real money, I’m not in a position to test it to destruction, but I do trust what Spiritus has done and that their solution is sound.
Confidence in kit is why we don’t buy clone stuff, right?
The buckles articulate as the wearer ambulates and this is one of the reasons The Thing 2 is so comfortable. Admittedly, with just a sheer layer (tested wearing a Uniqlo Airism tee which I would never wear alone in actual use) there are hot spots with a couple of the rivets – but no more so than with the pesky base stirrup of the AirLite rig’s internal radio pockets and other hot spots endemic to laminate construction.
In my preview of The Thing 2, I said that I could imagine the plastic digging in or the articulation pinching as it adapts to movement. The reality? The Thing 2 is extremely comfortable and, in fact, the Tegris-like plastic is its special sauce.
4.1.3 Form fitting
One thing I really did not expect is that the rig’s Tegris forms to the user’s flanks over time. It’s a semi-permanent change – it’s possible to flatten it out again – but if you leave it, The Thing 2 becomes more and more customised over time in terms of fit.
4.1.4 How it threads
It’s a little harder to thread on pouches with Tegris as the platform, but not to the extent that it’ll spoil your day. The difficulty is down to the rigidity. Swings and roundabouts.
For the purposes of threading, the large apertures make perfect sense as well as lightening the Tegris itself. They also offer ventilation if the Thing 2 is used without flanking pouches, or not all the Tegris is obscured.
Here I’ve threaded Spiritus’ Small GP Pouch (REVIEW) which is an excellent adjunct to The Thing 2 if a flanking utility is required.
It’s also possible to make use of other items, such as Blue Force Gear’s Tourniquet NOW Strap.
4.2 Internal Radio/Magazine Pouches
I didn’t buy The Thing 2 for this feature as I never use internal pouches, finding them incredibly uncomfortable unless wearing a serious insulating layer. They are The Thing 2’s equivalent to Spiritus’ Expander Wings (REVIEW), which I’m also ambivalent about.
Moreover, I’m conscious that removing an item from an internal pouch slackens the Fat Strap (harness) and Back Strap (waist), with potential for the rig to become loose. A radio doesn’t present this problem, being static, but I don’t carry any gear which remains in the rig at all times when worn.
However, when combined with the Crye AirLite Convertible Chest Rig harness, the problem of episodic slack is lessened to a certain extent – because the harness’ elastic keeps the rig under constant tension even when a mag, for example, is removed. This is, of course, providing that the elastic isn’t hyper-extended by the incredible load The Thing 2 can carry.
Getting stuff back into the internal pouch? Well that does take practice, but I do find it easier with The Thing 2 due to its rigid Tegris.
With all that being said, I’ve seen people use med kit pull outs with similar internal pouches. If they contain soft items like bandages I think that’s a great solution to the internal carriage comfort problem and a most efficient use of space.
Check out this excellent idea by GF03, implemented by the talented Cellar Gear for the Crye AirLite Convertible Chest Rig – a pull out IFAK:
I should also add that I do understand why users go with internal pouches for ungainly items. Not only does it save on external PALS columns, but it prevents such objects from bouncing around and destabilising the platform. However, I refer the reader back to the rigidity section of this review, because The Thing 2 is capable enough with incongruous items mounted solidly to its Tegris – which is more comfortable than the internal method.
When not in use I’ve a mind that The Thing 2’s internal pouches lend a degree of comfort, but since they’re not removable I can’t say for sure.
Construction here is 1000D fused laminate – which is incredibly tough stuff – plus, more eyelets. It is possible to stitch Tegris, which is undoubtedly cheaper than riveting. My assumption then is that Spiritus has really put some thought into the design – especially since some of the eyelets are flanged to distribute load.
Ironically, since bungees and cord locs weren’t included in my Thing 2 package (from the first batch before Xmas 2020, direct from Spiritus) I can’t go into great detail about them (nor would I). Suffice to say they follow the same principle as those of Spriritus’ Expander Wings and other products, so are more than adequate at retention.
Lastly, the internal pouch’s mag capacity is two 556 Pmags.
4.3 Placard Attachment
Another assumption I made before trying out The Thing 2 was that any placard placed on its 9.0″ x 5.0″central loop velcro field would begin to peel at the edges as soon as the assembly was donned. While using Spiritus’ own Micro Fight Chassis (also 9″ wide), it actually doesn’t – but I suppose it will depend on the wearer’s chest shape and width.
A placard like HSP’s D3CRM is wider than the Micro Fight Chassis (at 9.5″, vs. 9.0″), so overhangs the edges of The Thing 2’s velcro field. With that said I haven’t detected any degree of side peeling that would prevent users adopting this configuration. Equally, items mounted under the placard will create some standoff.
I won’t bore readers with a step by step on how to attach a placard to The Thing 2, but what is interesting is Spiritus’ heavily bar tacked method of arresting the chosen placard’s male QD clips – part of a ribbon-laminate daisy chain..
This, again, is similar to structures exhibited by Spiritus’ Extender Wings, for the same purpose.
Additional structures of the same design are available for organisation, such as cable routing.
Again note the heavy bar tacking for strength and the rolled edge of the 1000D laminate at the rig’s apex. A single piece is folded to form The Thing’s substantive body, underpinning the Velcro field.
This is clever design work. The seamlessness both is strong and allows the male QD clip/organisation daisy chain to be solidly attached. I love this kind of detail.
4.5 Sub-load carriage
The Thing 2 features a dedicated, 8″ wide, sub-load slot on its reverse, although the user can just as easily lift the placard and affix a sub-load PC style (especially if the chosen sub-load requires a wider attachment point).
As acknowledged above, the only issue with a sub-load mounted PC placard style is that it does create a degree of standoff. This is presumably why Spiritus introduced the slot.
In the pic above I’m using the sub-load slot with AXL’s SLAP (REVIEW) and Crye’s Horizontal M4 Mag Pouch (REVIEW).
Tegris and its indistinguishable copycat generics are all the rage right now and with good reason. It’s no flash in the pan sequel to Hypalon.
We cannot mention Tegris without mentioning AXL – widely acknowledged to be architecting some of the most innovative, enabling products on the market today. However, many baulked initially at Crye and Ferro’s application of Tegris in substantive PC components. Crye’s Structural Cummerbund (REVIEW) and Ferro’s 3” ADAPT Cummerbund (REVIEW) are largely composed of Tegris and both are perfectly comfortable, whilst also enhancing the load bearing capabilities of some rather low profile PCs.
Spiritus has developed this idea and applied it to chest rigs with a modular, scalable product – The Thing 2.
It’s a no brainer for micro chest rig users and with Tactical Kit carrying stock at time of publication I have advised all who’ve asked me privately about The Thing 2 to act now.
I’ve heard some bizarre stories about prospective buyers waiting for the Multicam or M81 version, but here Spriritus has done the smart thing (no pun intended) and will only offer coyote and black; because these go with everything and in any case, you can barely see The Thing under a placard and pouch array.
If you’re already in thrall to the Spiritus Systems Micro Fight Chest Rig ecosystem, I’d strongly advise investing in the company’s newest expansion to that line. One of the ecosystem’s unique features is its modularity and The Thing 2 is a useful addition for rapid upscaling. Until now, the only other remotely similar offering from the company was its Expander Wings (REVIEW).
On the other hand, if you’re not a Spiritus fan, The Thing 2 may have you rethink the chest rig ecosystem you’re invested in.
Check out my other Spiritus Systems reviews