Gear Box has reviewed dozens of products, including backpacks, over the years. None, perhaps, are quite as exciting as the 55l DG3 from Crossfire Australia.
A 30-year old outdoors products company, Crossfire Australia has leveraged all the lessons it has learned over that period into the DG3. From textile science to ergonomics, this load-bearing system has soldier feedback integrated into its design and materials, delivering what is arguably a superior solution to most of those currently available.
What makes the DG 3 unique is its flexibility, making it adjustable to any individual. From tapered shoulder-straps to a well thought-through arrangement of straps and webbing: and pockets and latches are further evidence of how the company has tapped in directly to combat experience. Recognising operator concerns, Crossfire Australia has developed a system that is durable, lightweight, can handle heavy loads and is framed for ruggedness, all while moving with the wearer. This pack system is loaded with true benefits, not full of non-essential features that tend to bring hyperboly into marketing materials for less capable systems.
Adjustments are rapid and intuitive, making it ideal for swapping between operators of different build or gender. There is an air pocket between the individual’s back and the DG 3 backpack, providing active ventilation and reminiscent of the ALICE harnesses. Gear Box first tested the unit at an exhibition, with the evaluator wearing it over a business suit for in excess of an hour. The result? A dry, unwrinkled suit, making the DG 3 worthy of James Bond.
The main structure has other silent zip pouches for easy access to frequently-used items, including maps and handheld devices: even a specific pouch for helmets and gloves. The absence of Velcro fastenings reduces the potential acoustic signature. The lightweight, sturdy construction makes gives the operator a sense of carrying only essential kit, not kit with an additional burdensome pack system.
“The high-impact polymer frame is the result of sourcing and capitalising on aerospace-level resin technology and investing in vastly expensive, high-pressure injection moulds. Then we used finite element analysis to tune the frame to flex at the same rate as the human back. Too little flex, like metal frames, forces the hips and shoulders to fight with every stride, which is very fatiguing. Over-flexing forces the shoulders to fight angular momentum as the load swings wide with each step. This wastes the wearer’s energy,” explains the company’s COO, Glenn Nelson.
The DG3 therefore twists and bends with the wearer’s movements for maximum support, manoeuvrability, comfort, and reduced fatigue. The window shape of the frame fits snugly over rear-mounted body armour plate. The harness system can be quickly set at different levels to accommodate different torso lengths and the frame allows the user to adjust the positioning of the main pouch, hip-support pads and shoulder harness with speed and ease. In addition, it hangs safely and neatly inside a vehicle until needed again.
Its clips and buckles are ergonomic and easy to use, adjust and reset. The whole shoulder harness yoke assembly is quickly extendable or retractable, with three height positions built into the webbing attachments. The straps are easy to keep tidy, avoiding pulls, snags and loose ends.
Conclusion: Clever design, excellent durability and value for money, the DG 3 is worth considering as essential, standard issue for today’s armed services.