Haley Strategic is known for thoughtfully-designed products, with a focus on functionality, modularity, and efficiency. They've played in the tactical nylon world for a while now, with packs and bags such as their Flatpack system as well as chest rigs with their D3CR line, with small to large modular load carrying options. They've finally set their sights on plate carriers, with the new Haley Strategic Thorax plate carrier system. It's a modular, lightweight system that can be configured for the mission at hand. It's well-rounded, neither a low-vis completely slick carrier nor a full-up, heavy rig — but as a Goldilocks solution, it can be stripped down or bulked up as you wish. With plenty of Velcro, Molle, cable management, and integrated anchor and mounting points, it’s compatible with all of the company’s chest rigs on the front as well as Flatpacks on the rear, to carry as much or as little gear as desired.
We got an early production sample and bring you a first look at it here.
At the core of the Haley Strategic Thorax system are the front and rear bags. They're made of 500 denier Cordura and sized for SAPI plates, so commercial plates may or may not fit well depending on their exact dimensions and thickness. An expanding gusset accommodates plates from 0.75 to 1.125 inches in thickness. We tested plates from Midwest Armor, Velocity Systems, and Tencate — all worked great. The front bag has a velcro/Molle field at the top, which easily accepts EUD platforms, and the usual velcro at the bottom. Stretchy tweave covers straps and buckles to clip in any of Haley Strategic's chest rigs and placards.
The rear bag has a full Molle field and large lower velcro flap, and is compatible with the company's Flatpack bags. There are also loops and anchor points on front and rear to integrate comms equipment, PTT devices, antennas, cables, and other accessories.
Both bags have long flaps to retain plates securely and tabs for ease of use. On the inner side of the bags, there's a padded chin protector and thermoform pads for cooling and comfort. In keeping with the lightweight and efficient theme, the padding only goes down the center.
We installed the optional shoulder pads over the adjustable shoulder straps; they have more stretchy tweave, 0.25-inch thick hydrophobic foam, and an anchoring system so they won't move around on you. You can also install piggyback straps for your pack if you're rolling out heavy.
There are three main options for cinching up the Haley Strategic Thorax: traditional Velcro cummerbunds, low-profile “chicken straps,” and side entry panels for quick and easy donning and doffing.
The cummerbunds are covered in Molle, with a pocket and gusset design for side armor, cables, and so forth. They're made of 500/1000 denier Squadron and 500 denier Cordura, with dual layer woven elastic for additional mobility while maintaining a snug fit. Cummerbunds are available in small, medium, and large sizes. There will also be accessories for armor and radios.
The “chicken straps” are for those who want a very low-profile alternative to secure the plate carrier. They're 2-inches tall with Molle and are made of 500/1000 denier Squadron. The straps are also stiffened, to strike a balance between comfort and rigidity. Chicken straps come in medium and large sizes, with optional pouches to attach armor or a radio.
The side entry panel system makes it easy to get in and out of the Haley Strategic Thorax plate carrier, without having to lift up your placard in the front or thread yourself into the plate carrier like an Olympic high diver. It works with the cummerbunds — get one size down than you'd usually get and attach it to the rear bag. There are vertical flaps on the side entry panels, which as shown here are attached to the D3CRM Micro. Lift up the vertical flap, slap the cummerbund on the velcro field, then fold the flap back down. No muss, no fuss, and you retain as much Molle and comfort as you'd otherwise have.
Our example is configured with the D3CRM Micro chest rig, which clips into buckles on the front plate bag underneath the tweave covers and secures to the front velcro field. Of course, you can use the Micro standalone with its own harness, in either X or H-shaped designs. The D3CRM Micro is a small, handy, and flexible design, with a front zippered pouch with elastic loops and velcro inside as well as a velcro-lined area in the rear to accept various magazine pouch inserts. Haley Strategic offers a triple insert for 5.56mm magazines, a double insert for 7.62mm magazines, and a quad insert for pistol-caliber sticks. Shown here is the 5.56mm triple insert, which holds mags securely even without a retention strap. There are also two side-mounted pouches for pistol mags or other accessories. Haley Strategic also offers a variety of other pouches and sleeves, as well as Multi-Mission Hangers for additional storage below the front plate bag.
If you don't want to use one of Haley's D3CR rigs, you can attach a Molle placard or a triple magazine pouch placard to the front. The mag pouch is very low-profile and also features elastic sleeves for tourniquets, det cord, or other gear.
The Haley Strategic Thorax plate carrier system is well constructed, thoughtfully designed, and holds true to the philosophy of providing functionality as efficiently as possible. And its modularity lets you kit up light or heavy, depending on your needs.
The Haley Strategic Thorax system is available in various Multicam, camouflage, and solid colorways. It's not yet on the Haley Strategic website but will be available soon. UPDATE: here’s the link — https://haleystrategic.com/thorax. Pricing for the Thorax plate carrier system from Haley Strategic will start at $369.