Following 9/11, body armor made a comeback. Even with the trade-off of added weight, many lives in the Global War on Terror were saved by body armor. I have tried out many types of load-bearing equipment (LBE), load-bearing vests (LBV), and plate carriers over the years. Yet, it’s refreshing to come across gear that has had a lot of thought put into it. I am always on the hunt for good gear and a fan of forward-thinking, innovative, and modular solutions. Spiritus Systems and its LV-119 plate carrier are exactly that.
Modularity Is in the Nature of Spiritus Systems
The company launched in 2013. As Spiritus Systems writes, it “started as an idea on the side of a mountain in the Hindu Kush: an idea that we could do this better, that we could care about it more, and that we could do it with integrity. This idea was cultivated in B Huts after missions and scribbled down into notebooks under headlamps across multiple combat deployments.”
I dig it. I like the idea of military dudes caring more and making better gear for other military dudes. While there are many other good brands out there, Spiritus Systems creates products I wish I had thought of.
It’s immediately apparent that all of the company’s products are modular in nature. Each part is available separately and fits into the larger, overall system. Many of the pieces overlap into other gear configurations, therefore achieving true adaptability.
Adaptability is essential since no one piece of kit will always be what every mission needs. Instead, kit must be flexible and tailored to what the user needs each time.
Spiritus Systems’ LV-119 Plate Carrier
While the company offers plate carrier and chest rig options for tactical LBE solutions, I’m going to focus here on the Spiritus Systems LV-119 Plate Carrier System.
The system is built around the front and rear plate bag. All of the LV-119 system’s items can be mixed and matched, swapped out, or optimized with more or fewer accessories.
All options for the LV-119 system start with the Front Overt Plate Bag. It can be run as a “slick” or “covert” option, or as “overt” with added mag pouches or other items to the front.
Moving on to the back, the LV-119 Rear Overt Plate Bag has a row of MOLLE webbing for adding certain items, as well as a zipper that runs vertically down both sides. This allows for adding accessories, pouches, and items to the back of the plate carrier. The Rear Overt Plate Bag allows for several levels of expandability and customization.
The LV-119 Rear Covert Plate Bag is a “slick” surface. Other than the Velcro field at the top, there is nothing else that can be added.
Each LV-119 plate bag size is made for a specific plate size and both the front and the rear plate bags are available in multiple sizes to accommodate different plates.
The Spiritus Systems plate bags are also available in a number of colors including Multicam, Multicam Black, Coyote Brown, Ranger Green, Black, and others.
Spiritus Systems Cummerbunds and Accessories
The Spiritus Systems LV-119 has four cummerbund options available. Each one has different functionality, form and fit, price, and ability to add certain accessories. The options include the First Spear tube for quick and easy donning and removal, Velcro and MOLLE straps, an elastic cummerbund that also adds extra mag or accessory pouches, or a minimalist, single-strap Velcro option.
The accessories are almost endless. Various placards and pouches are available for carrying rifle or subgun and even pistol mags. Also, pouches for extra cargo can be added to the front. You can also add pouches for gear, radios, and even side body armor plates to the side.
The configurations for the back panel also offer several options for including additions from extra storage to extra gear, first aid, and more.
Beyond this, with the MOLLE cummerbund options, any of your standard MOLLE pushes and attachments from other brands will work like always. There are even other brands out there that make mag pouches and other accessories that will fit on the front Spiritus Systems LV-119 plate bag.
There is very little downside to this gear. I’d only recommend a couple of things:
Firstly, the MOLLE Tubes Cummerbund fits just a bit too tight. Spiritus Systems offers two sizes in all cummerbund options. While I am well within the limits of the smaller size, it is a bit hard for me to fasten it. Also, this cummerbund is very rigid: there’s no give or stretch with the body. Even a small piece of elastic at some point within the piece would have allowed for a small amount of give.
Secondly, with both LV-119s that I own, to make their plate bags ride on my chest and torso — where they should be to cover the most vital areas — I have to adjust the shoulder straps to be a bit smaller. This also seems to contribute to the carrier being a bit tighter around my chest than I would prefer. Carriers should be snug: not too tight, not too loose.
To be fair, perhaps it might just be my anatomy: I am right under six feet tall, weigh about 200 pounds, and have a 32-inch waist. I feel that for the shape of my chest, the cut is slightly small. Going up to extra large and extra-large plate bags, however, would be a bit too much. I run 10″x12″ plates, which is the right size for me, and their large plate bags cut for that size.
I might just have to keep tinkering and making minor adjustments here and there. Not a deal-breaker.
Adaptability and Innovation Are Worth the Price
There are certainly cheaper options available for plate carriers and this kind of gear. However, what you get in return is the modular nature of Spiritus Systems, which is more than worth it, and the quality of its American-made gear.
To get the base set up, which includes an LV-119 Front Overt Plate Bag, an LV-119 Rear Overt Plate Bag, and the MOLLE Tubes Cummerbund, the price will be right at $300. The other accessories and pouches can quickly add up to over $400.
However, good equipment and gear are worth the price. In the military and law enforcement world, where this kind of gear is worn for missions on a regular basis, there should be no compromise. Likewise, for the average civilian, if ever a moment comes in which a kit like this is needed, you shouldn’t compromise. In both cases, the alternative is far more costly.
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