I have spent the last several months getting to know the new, MKIII version of the SwampFox Chest Rig from UW Gear. When they first announced the MKIII version, UW Gear told me that this chest rig is more durable, lighter weight, more comfortable, and easier to produce than the MKII version. Those types of claims require some investigation, especially when they are messing with my favorite chest rig!
The Swamp Fox MKIII is a chest rig that is available in specific versions for AR-15s, AK-74s, and AK-47s. The majority of the rig is constructed from 1000D Cordura nylon and is available in a wide array of colors and camo patterns.
It still retains much of what made the Minuteman MKII great:
- The unique and functional pull tab flap closures are still intact though now they have a more compact, rounded shape.
- The sewn in drainage gaps at the base of the magazine pouches are still there.
- The webbing reinforcement of the magazine pouches is still there though now it has been beefed up.
- The “H” harness is still well shaped and is now even more comfortable.
- The rig can still be adjusted to ride very high without fear of buckles interfering with the buttstock of your carbine.
Some of the differences are noted about but other notables include:
- All edges are now closed with binding tape rather than folded and sewn. This is probably the most significant change and the one that has streamlined the production process more than any other.
- There are 2 columns and 3 rows of PALS webbing on the sides of the rig rather than the 3 columns that the standard MKII had.
- The magazine pouch flaps are now reinforced with 1.5” webbing rather than an extra layer of Cordura.
- The harness is constructed from a mix of 1000D Cordura and webbing with bounded edges. It is now slightly more flexible.
Observations from Use
As I said above, I was told this new rig would be more durable, lighter weight, more comfortable, and easier to produce than the MKII version. I’ll try to address each one of these claims from my perspective based on my use of the new MKIII version.
It is a little hard to quantify this based on my use. I still haven’t even come remotely close to wearing out my Swamp Fox MKII. On paper, I believe it because of the addition of the webbing reinforcement inside the magazine pouch flaps and the bound edges. Both of these items add reinforcement at common failure points.
The rig still shows UW Gear’s typical overbuild quality. All webbing is box stitched where it joins the body of the rig. The PALS webbing is attached with large bar tacks. Just about every component of these rigs is made with multiple layers of something be it Cordura nylon, webbing, or binding tape.
The scale doesn’t lie! The MKIII weighs about 16.45 ounces, which is 2.1 ounces less than the MKII version. Much of weight was saved in the new construction method for the pouches and the harness and basically comes from replacing extraneous fabric with strategically located webbing.
This is probably the claim that I was most curious about. The biggest reason that I like the MKII style chest rigs from UW Gear was because of the way they constructed the harness. They used multiple layers of Cordura and webbing to create a harness that was somewhat rigid but better able to flex and twist without the bunching and gaps you see in a padding harness. It was thin and supported weight very well.
The new harness is a bit less rigid. It is still thin. In fact, it is thinner. It still bears weight well, moves well with the wearer, and the bound edges are actually a bit more comfortable against your skin.
UW Gear also adds some detail here in how they shape the harness. The shoulder straps are set at an angle greater than 90 degrees to the horizontal strap that holds the H harness together. This allows it to sit more comfortably across your back and shoulders. This detail is still present in the MKIII version.
I guess I have to admit that it is more comfortable though I do miss a bit of the rigidity of the original harness.
Easier to Produce
This one is easy to prove. UW Gear is a small shop with a unique, well-made product. They operate with a permanent backlog but thanks to the streamlined production of the MKIII, they have reduced their lead times.
You can still expect to wait 3-5 months but that is an overall reduction from where they were and that lead-time is shrinking continually.
The Swamp Fox MKIII is an improved version of an already great chest rig. If nothing else, it is a huge win for the user that UW Gear was able to increase durability and reduce weight. The streamlined construction will also allow them to keep costs in check.
This is a worthy successor.
Check out all of the new MKIII versions of your favorite gear at UW Gear.
Disclosure: This product was provided to me by UW Gear, free of charge, for review.