Israel a small nation at the end of the Mediterranean Ocean. This is a Jem among the middle eastern nations, vibrant, lush, and beautiful. For a period of time, The Israel Defence Force or IDF has been at the cornerstone of advanced military technology and urban warfare tactics. However, the standardized equipment in the IDF has been handed down from generation to generation. For a period of time troops lacked the versatility of more modern military equipment. The moto was “Take care of your gear and it will take care of you” – but what happens when your gear begins to fail? In the recent period, the military industry in Israel has been coming up to speed with infantry equipment and creating modern equipment for both the military and defence industry. This equipment hitting the market is not only saving lives but is bringing Israel ingenuity into the global market.
Tarantula Gear is a small company based in the north of the country close to Lake Tiberias. For over two years now Tarantula has been making equipment for the modern Israeli soldier. The MK1 is the latest on the evolutionary scale of plate carriers. Designed to use standard 10×12 plate’s or medium ballistic plates, it not only has the same MOLLE system most Western soldier systems use but it has a touch of Israeli ingenuity built in. So let’s explore this Holy land hardware and get into the review.
Starting from the front portion of the MK1. A slick cut with the top left and right corners are angled to allow easy shouldering of the rifle with the shoulder straps sitting in the centre of the upper traps. This makes shouldering a rifle comfortable and adds support to the butt of the rifle by resting in on the carrier’s angled edge. Dead centre to the top you have a built-in admin pouch with a good depth allowing you to store notepads, maps, and even a multi-tool easily and safely. I love this feature because it reduces the front profile with storage eliminating the need for an external pouch. Directly below the pocket, you have 2 by 4 MOLLE face with soft Velcro allowing you to utilize the front face for patches or pouches. to the left and right of the MOLLE face, you have two integral female buckles hidden away. This protects the two buckles from external strikes from damage. Both buckles connect the removable front face panel below. The front face panel 4 by 6 MOLLE panel its attached by both Velcro and secured by two male buckles at the top. Removing the panel will give you direct access to the Velcro face underneath. This can be removed and will still allow you to use the PC or even change the front panel face to alternative panels if desired. – I aim to get another two panels if I can acquire them. On the bottom you have a single Velcro pouch allow you to insert the front plate with ease.
Pictures below for reference
Sides, & Shoulders
Starting off on with the cummerbund being a two-piece set. Both pieces are identical and feature a mesh side to allow better airflow allowing the user the remain cooler with unrestricted airflow. It features 3 by 7 (S-M) or a 3 by 10 (M-L) MOLLE attachment points allowing you to attach pouches, side plate panels, chem-lights, or simply keeping it clean. The design is very basic and allows the user to utilize the space effectively, but lacks elasticity when laboured breathing occurs and can be very rigged when tightened up. The MK1 is compatible with standard cummerbund systems that use Velcro attachment points to the front and rear plate panel. The top shoulder pads are adjustable, simply by opening the protective cover. A buckle attaches the front panel to the rear with a simple Velcro adjustment system using the male buckle as a retention loop. The shoulder straps are easily adjusted and can be tightened up quite a bit. This was great for myself as I am not the largest of people allowing the plate carrier to hug my torso effectively without any play. They also feature Velcro loops on the external part of the pad allowing you to run a hydration hose through with ease. On the top of the cover, you have two MOLLE loops.
Pictures below for reference
The rear is what sets this Plate carrier design apart from others made in Canada or the US with the exception of two companies… On the top of the back panel, you have an extended drag handle. Unlike most conventional drag hands which are limited to a small area, this one opens up and adds roughly 2 feet enabling a fellow individual to drag the user out of harm’s way more efficient. On both the left and right of the panel you have zippers going from the top to bottom. These two zippers allow you to attach a small Modular Assault Pack to the rear of the plate carrier without having to weave the system on. This is a BIG plus it takes a few seconds to attach or remove the bag and leaves the rear of the plate carrier MOLLE free for the user to attach a small hydration carrier – as I did, radio antennas or simply keep the panel clear. underneath you have a Velcro rip panel to open up the rear end to adjust or attach the cummerbund system using the Velcro underneath. On the very bottom, you have a Velcro pouch easily accessible and allows you to slide a rear plate into the carrier.
Pictures below for reference
On the internal face of the front and back you have a lightweight 3D mesh to increase airflow and reduce heat. The Mesh is black soft and spongy to the touch, if you reference the image you can see the Front back and shoulders a lined effectively with 3D mesh. This feature coupled with the Mesh cummerbund makes for a very breathable system.
Pictures below for reference
Commando Bag (add-on)
The Commando bag is a fantastic piece of kit and really stands out in its innovative design and thinking. This small pack is more modular than most and incorporates some very slick features. The first being the attachment points. The pack features a simple comfortable strap system if you decide to run the bag solo or over a Chest Rig. You can easily remove the shoulder straps by unclipping the top and bottom buckles. Once you’ve done this the pack can simple zip right onto the back of the MK1. I absolutely love this feature in contrast to having to weave the pack on and off of the carrier. This saves you time and valuable space on your back panel.
The Commando Bag is divided into three compartments. The Main compartment is large and features a small elastic internal pouch for a 3L hydration sack. adjacent to that you have a mesh pouch for storage and it extends the bottom of the pack. The main compartment features a large internal space and you can store up to 10-12Ls of equipment. Externally on the left and right side of the bag 5 by 3 section of MOLLE that will allow you to attach any additional pouches desired. On the top, you have both left and right access holes to the Main compartment allowing you to run the Hydration hose out of the pack with ease. With a Carry handle on the top and a single male buckle for the helmet retention strap system.
Going down from the large rear soft Velcro patch you have a small compartment for document storage or in my case the pouch I drop my IFAK kit into. The last pouch on the bottom is your accessories pouch and features an internal elastic cummerbund system so you can store and retain items and prevent them from floating around loosely. Externals on the accessory pouch you have a 4 by 8 MOLLE attachment point with the top line having soft Velcro for patches.
On the bottom of the Bag, you have an internal pouch that opens up and allows the elastic helmet retention system to come out. if you decide to take off your lid you can secure it effectively to the rear on the Commando bag easily with this system. it attaches to the top of the bag to the male buckle at the very top. Lastly, on the very bottom, you have two adjustable buckles withdraw straps to attach sleeping mats, sleeping bags, M72 laws or anything you can think of under the sun.
When the going gets tough the criticism on the gear gets tougher. Over the past decade, military equipment providers have been stepping up and meeting the demand with innovative and groundbreaking designs to lighten the load on the soldier. Tarantula gear’s MK1 is without a doubt is that product. The versatility of this plate carrier is on par with Crye, LBT, Agilite Tactical Tailor, and many more, at a fraction of the cost. The MK combo is featured in OD or Black at the moment. This carrier will do the job and do it well, however, there are some areas that can see a little bit of improvement upon, and these are small things you can do yourself in the field or at home – if you find the need to.
The first being the number of zippers with metal pull tabs. I found them to make a considerable amount of noise when moving. This in itself is something you can fix with paracord and a pair of wire cutters. Simply cut off the tabs and replace it with a paracord tab tire off the end and burn to seal them with a lighter. This will “shut-up” the clanking noise made by the zipper tabs. I would recommend this to anyone who is considering this system for stealthier operations as I’ve said before in my ” Camouflaging 101 post ” Noise travels further than you think”.
My second being the lack of elasticity on the cummerbund. This has been an ongoing issue with multiple platforms I’ve run in the past myself. many companies choose not to address this issue as it is viewed as a preference over a necessity. However, some have this issue by creating elastic cummerbunds or integrating this feature into new platforms. That being said I believe it should be considered in new designs as many may know restricted breathing can impair or even cause a serious issue in the field. Luckily the cummerbund on the MK1 is compatible with aftermarket cummerbunds which is great!
Overall this plate carrier is a solid piece of kit made in a tough part of the world. For an uncompromising individual quality, gear is the way to go, and Tarantula gear delivers with the MK1.
I am one of the proud owners and founders of IBEX tactical, it’s been a busy two months and this is one of many goals I’ve been working on. If you are like myself and seeking out this excellent piece of equipment you can purchase the MK1 Commando on its own or the MK1 Commando Full package.
– Schoolboy out