with The Monkey
SKD-TAC PIG plate carrier offers comfort and protection
The shoulder straps on the PIG is one of the easiest to adjust on a carrier; even while worn this is accomplished with simple SRB buckles and webbing
SKD has been working on their PIG plate carrier for quite some time, so it is great to see all the work and wait paid off. The project started as mostly modifying the Eagle plate carrier with improvements and when it ended up not quite good enough, SKD wasn’t satisfied with ‘half-assed’ and thus the PIG carrier became its own monster. As a pre-warning, most of the issues I had were due to my small size since the PIG PC only comes in one size. Those of a more “normal” stature or larger will likely have even better accommodation.
Upon first donning, the overall comfort is noticeably nice, likely due to the incorporated padding. Both the front and back panels have full sized foam inserts in their own Velcro sealed compartments. The inserts can even be replaced with soft armor for more options, just keep in mind it is a specialty shape in similar form to hard armor (typically soft armor like the BALC cut wraps around the sides). Depending on your hard armor thickness, one may even be able to fudge having in both soft armor and the foam padding. In addition to the pad inserts are two big vertical padding strips integrated into the back panel interior side, these work out great to give that little bit of standoff to promote more airflow and comfort. This padding seems to continue up forming into the shoulder pads which is great so one doesn’t have to buy extra shoulder pads just to have reasonable shoulder comfort.
Another big plus is the design intent to have the carrier ride up high which is certainly my preference. Not only does a high ride cover more vital areas, it also gives more clearance for a battle belt... (in my best ‘Most Interesting Man on Earth’ voice: “I don’t always like getting shot, but when I do, I’d rather take it in the gut than the chest any day”). There are dedicated hard armor compartments and each has a simple Velcro flap bottom that allows the user to securely adjust plate ride height. The interior sides of these compartments have hook and loop that make first time setup a little difficult, however makes for a great tight fit to many armor sizes.
The shoulder straps on the PIG is one of the easiest to adjust on a carrier; even while worn this is accomplished with simple SRB buckles and webbing which are accessible up front. So they don’t dangle, the straps attach with Velcro and are generally out of the way even with upper frontal pouches attached. As a great attention to detail, loop Velcro is on the sides even further down than the upper ID zone so when I crank the PIG down to my small size, I still have room to secure the straps. On that note, to get tight enough I actually had to make use of the placement adjustable shoulder strap SRB buckles. Using G-hooks, there are webbing slots all the way down the shoulder straps to allow further strap length adjustment. I about maxed out the tightness on mine where the shoulder straps ends come in contact with the front panel a little bit causing some scrunching, fortunately no noticeable comfort drawback.
Each shoulder strap has two, two-inch wide elastic loops great for routing hydration tubes or communication wires. I like how they aren’t too tight making them easy to utilize without having to adjust connections. These G-hook connection points offer great mounting points for other accessories such as slings mounts available now and perhaps even packs in the future.
Easy On, Easy Off
Getting the PIG on and off is easier than most carriers due to the accessible shoulder SRBs and split front panel. Due to this, the user can just release one shoulder buckle and one cummerbund side to easily get out, not taking too much longer than a quick release system. For the side straps an elastic-based and PALS cummerbund are available. The elastic one being simple and lightweight for those who want simplicity and the PALS cummerbund for those who want more mounting options. Since my monkey ass is so small, I was only able to get the elastic cummerbund to fit as tight as desired due to cheating the back connection tight with overlap. The PALS cummerbund is somewhat big and uses shock-cord to connect so I wasn’t able to get it tight enough. As a work around one can use shock-cord to tie the PALS of the sides to the PALS of the back panel. This can take some trial and error on what cord thickness to use and how many times to wrap to get the balance of a good fit with some elastic give for breathing. The PALS cummerbund on its own doesn’t have any stiffener which makes it flexible and generally lightweight, however will sag a little if heavy equipment is mounted. Not to be forgotten, pocket add-ons are available for 6”x 6” side plates as well as 6”x 8” & 7” x 8” models for both elastic and PALS cummerbunds. Using a nice combo of elastic, stiffened back, and adjustable webbing loops, the pockets allow one to mount a side plate, or both a side plate and a soft armor backer behind it without a bunch of flopping around.
Both the front and back main panels have large loop Velcro areas on the upper portion great for patches, name-tapes, or big ID panels. The loop Velcro is sewn right onto the PALS so you don’t have to worry about being cheated out of mounting real estate. The back has one of the best drag handle designs I’ve seen to far. Large and filled with rubber tubing it makes for an easy and effective grab point which is important in the heat of battle. On other designs if there is anything preventing an immediate grab, such as can’t find it or connected to something else, the grabber will just grab something else.
Some Noise Issues
Revisiting the front panel, there are Velcro sealed admin panels built into the two flaps. They tend to get flattened pretty tight so I haven’t’ used them much, however can be useful for temporary item storage like a rifle magazine, pens, pistol, etc... Sure small papers can also be stored, but good luck retrieving with gloves on. Without hard armor, these admin pockets likely are handier. As a small downside, the main panels can get a little floppy with a heavy load such as triple magazine pouches on them. In this situation, general movement will give off a constant noise from the Velcro breaking and resealing over and over. Snaps are available to make sure flaps don’t fly all the way open, but since not tight they aren’t the best solution especially since the snaps are also somewhat difficult to attach while the vest is being worn. My recommendation would be to go to a flap tuck method as seen on the IOTV and BAE RBAV. Note the flap noise issue is very minimal on light or more typical loadouts.
Overall, I think the PIG PC is a great full-featured plate carrier. It cuts down on the extra bulk full coverage vests have while still having flexibility to add on extra armor when desired. The high ride and overall shape offer solid mobility and range of motion. Using a combination of lightweight materials and padding makes the comfort level highly appreciated when wearing all day. For only coming in one size, the PIG PC does an excellent job being adjustable to many body and armor sizes.
Highly Monkey recommended after surviving two weeks of training with Tactical Response.