You find a piece of equipment that is perfect, or almost.
It’s that 99% solution, just one minor detail off.
You thought it was perfect until regular use manifested an issue.
You had the perfect piece of gear until something better came along.
This customer really liked his Crye Precision JPC but wanted to replace the front Velcro closure with First Spear’s Tubes hardware. A lot of people will identify.
Armor carrier cummerbunds are usually secured with a flap via hook and loop. When laden, this can be an irritation, particularly when compared to the ease with which First Spear’s proprietary Tubes allows; the assembly slides together or apart in a single motion.
At present, First Spear Tubes hardware cannot be had as an independent component. The customer had to purchase a complete assembly just to obtain the parts. The expense is tremendous. Combine that with Crye Precision’s JPC and we’re describing some expensive gear.
Modified in the right hands, you get something that is better than the sum of the parts. The opposite is also a real possibility.
Doing custom work and modifying gear is about more than just following the customer’s request to the letter. As a designer with an end user perspective, we’ll often see things that the customer hadn’t considered. Even with something this straight forward (retrofit First Spear Tubes onto Crye Precision JPC,) there are second and third order effects that will have an impact on the user experience.
A specific case in point is the gap created by Tubes hardware. Tubes is an innovation that solves a problem but it’s not perfect. A break in the MOLLE field is a necessary concession to gain the easy on/off capability. The real issue is that gap up front, in your workspace; premium real estate. So the challenge becomes, given that a gap is inevitable, how to attach the Tubes pieces in such a way as to minimize lost space.
Removing the hook and loop from the JPC’s cummerbund was relatively easy. Detaching Tubes from their respective cummerbund was not, and if you have plans for it later, removal is akin to minor surgery.
It would be nice if the Crye Precision JPC AirLite MOLLE webbing could attach to Tubes directly but it’s not designed to work that way. Instead, a vertical piece of webbing had to support the two 1-1/2” loops that attach directly to Tubes and join the AirLite cummerbund. The final column on the end was stitched to make the most of available space. That probably sounds easier than it turned out to be. The end result was worth it because a pouch can be supported right up to the edge, mitigating that gap to the extent possible.
There’s a certain amount of trust that comes when a customer wants to have high end gear modified. The gear itself is already expensive and because of careful planning and meticulous execution, the work does not come cheap. Again, in the right hands, you get something better than you went in with but the opposite is a disconcerting possibility. This is why reputation matters. We’re really grateful to have the opportunity to go hands on with gear that we covet and admire as much as our customers. The work is challenging and rewarding.