BE-X Lightweight Combat Vest

I’ve been a fan of the BE-X line of tactical gear and clothing pretty much since it was first launched just under 2 years ago.  What I like about the BE-X approach is the thoughtfulness of their approach, the intelligence of their designs and the end-user practicality that goes in to each of their products.  They are both innovative and pragmatic at the same time – and they don’t produce something if it isn’t different and better than the other alternatives on the market.  And the fact that they can do all this and still deliver goods that are of very good quality at very reasonable prices makes them a real winner in my book. 

They might not have originally intended their gear to be used for real heavy-duty, frontline military use, but I understand that there are a good number of PSDs using their gear down-range in hot sandy places at the moment, and I also understand that the airborne forces of a certain northern European country cleaned them out of their stock of 3-colour desert camo smocks before deploying to Afghanistan.  So that speaks quite highly of the quality and value-for-money of their gear I reckon.

Overview

As for myself, I’ve recently been testing some of their newer load- and hydration-carrying options – I’ve also been using the Version 2 model of their original smock and combat suit.  First up, let’s take a closer look at their Lightweight Combat Vest.  The BE-X LCV (or just “Lightweight” as they call it) reminds me of the lightweight COP and Patrol vests that companies like Special Air Sea Services used to make for duty in Northern Ireland.  You could also compare it to the Range Vests from some US manufacturers that have become popular in recent years – except that the LCV is not modular, everything you need for most duties is already built-in.  That helps to keep everything simpler, lighter, more streamlined and less expensive.

D60C8978 D60C8987 

So, let’s do a quick run-down of the key highlights and features –

Highlights:

  • lightweight vest made from ripstop NyCo (65%  cotton / 35% nylon)
  • fits adults from 165 – 190 cm in height and 65kg – 110kg in weight
  • side expansion straps with Fastex buckles can be quickly adjusted for fitting over body armour / protective vests
  • the vest is ideal for use in warm and hot environments becuase of its light, breathable material
  • becuase of its low profile and flexible material, the vest is ideal for use in vehicles

D60C8983 

Features:

  • 4 double-magazine pouches that each hold 2 M4/STANAG magazines
  • 2 zipper-closed pockets for small items, documents, maps and notebooks
  • 2 pouches with Fastex buckles for torches/flashlights, flares, chem-lights/glow-sticks
  • 2 bellows chest pockets with vertical zippers for larger items, such as mobile phone, GPS, first-aid kit, etc.
  • 2 horizontally-placed pouches on back for pistol magazines, multi-tool, etc.
  • 1 radio pouch with shock-cord and fastex buckle on back – accepts most sizes of personal role radios
  • 1 large pouch on back for hydration bladder
  • multiple retaining loops for radio cables and/or hydration system tubes
  • Velcro for patches and badges 

Colours / Camouflages:

  • Olive Green
  • Woodland
  • 3-Colour Day Desert
  • Desert DPM
  • “Rooivalk” (semi-arid camouflage)
  • “Rooikat” (tiger stripe jungle camouflage)

 

Evaluation

 As you can see from the highlights and features, the vest covers all the right bases and it is a very practical and handy load-carrying system.  In addition to that, it is also very lightweight and comfortable to wear – and fully-loaded, it is also very well balanced (in the photos, the hydration bladder was full but the front pouches were empty). 

 The quality of the materials used, the construction of the vest and the fit and finish of all the seams and attachment points is also top notch.  It may not be NATO Mil-Spec, but its more than acceptable – and certainly better than most of the commercially available gear made in the Far East.  Even the colours of the Woodland camouflage pattern of the featured vest was absolutely right on.

In use, the vest rides very nicely on the body and doesn’t shift or bounce around during dynamic tactical fire-and-maneuver action.  Besides that, its so comfortable that you hardly notice you have it on – until you reach for a mag, a grenade, the radio handset or the hydro tube; and its right where you want it to be.

D60C8984 

All in all, I really like the BE-X Lightweight Combat Vest – its got a great (perhaps even ideal) set of features, its very comfortable and ergonomic to wear, its very well made, and its great value for money.

But on the minus side; the ammo pouches really only hold two M4 mags if they are of the smooth-sided original-style variety – if you have ribbed mags you’ll only be able to carry one per pouch, and the same applies to rifles such as the AUG, G36 or HK33 / 93.  I’m also concerned that, since the mag pouches are made from just a single layer of material, the magazines will wear through the material too quickly – it would be much better if the pouches were reinforced with an extra layer of material, or lined with mid-weight nylon or something.

D60C9006 

But for relatively light duty (such as PSD work), or for airsoft skirmishing, the vest would be ideal – and certainly very practical – so, this vest is definitely recommendable.

Price:  49.90 EURO (approx. 70 USD, or 43 GBP)

Where to buy:  To find your nearest dealer/retailer, check out the list here.

The full range of BE-X gear can be seen at www.begadi.com.

Text by Lawrence Holsworth, photos by Benji Hanson.



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