REVIEW: CrossFire DG3 – Part I

This review is part of a multi arcticle series on the CrossFire DG3 Packs

When you are in the market to purchase a new patrol pack, you have a ton of manufacturers and options to chose from. Your first decision is which size of ruck you really want. There are tons of options in the 40 litre, 70litre and 100+ litre class of packs. You have to analyze your loadouts to really get the right size, because if your pack is to small you have a hard time fitting all your stuff inside. If your pack is to big, you will carry the weight of the additional fabric all the time.

The DG3 offers just the right amount of space for patrolling.

The next decision is even more, if not the most, important. Do I purchase an external frame pack or an internal frame pack? External frames have great attributes when it comes to load dispersion and external loads, but they suck at difficult terrain. Internal Frames offer you more mobility but are inferior in load bearing. I always try to head for an external frame. If you also do so ,you will recognize that there are not that many options on the market. Especially in Europe.

The shoulder straps feature an anatomical cut and feature a yoke style harness.

Last decision is about the closure system. Do I opt for a frontloader or a toploader. Frontloaders offer you great organizations when searching for items in the pack. Toploaders are better ehen you really want to overload your ruck.

The profile is a mix of alpine packs and patrol rucks.

Decisions, Decisions. Mostly you end up with many different rucks.

When I was looking for a patrol pack I was looking for something that could carry my third line, ammunition, water and my field kit. I opted for an external frame and a frontloader. Knowing that there isnt any system out there that could do it all.

When I stumbled upon the Australian manufacturer CrossFire I was proven wrong. The CrossFire DG3 offers you a pack that can be configured as either external or internal frame. So I didnt hesitate to order one. They arrived just one day before the SERE class we did for a German Customer.

The external frame keeps your back cool by maintaining airflow

As the DG3 is such a complex product we will separate this article into a little series. My initial impression, we talk about today, is from the three day class. I carried about 16kg of gear to stay comfortable and hydrated while teaching and yet be agile enough to keep pace with the attendees who just had their basic survival kit and no ruck.

I decided to test the external frame configuration. First reason was because the pack came assembled like this, second I wasnt expecting to harsh terrain and little running.

The pack stays stable even when running

So lets start off with size and pockets. The DG3 is a 55l front/toploader hybrid. It has a classic toploading lid, secured with two 25mm duraflex buckles. It doesnt have a snow skirt but you can cinch down the cordura lid a little. Given the fact that I always organize my gear in waterproof stuffsacks and ziplocks, the missing snow skirt isnt a major factor, as it even enables your buddy to quickly acess the gear you put on top. The pack also features a vertical zipper over the whole packbody, reinforced with three duraflex buckles as an additional closure. So even when you manage to bust the very robust zipper you will be able to close the pack somehow.

Short vid of the packs pocket arrangement.

The Lid has a total of four pouches, all closed with zippers. On top is an admin pouch to organize some stuff. Under the admin pouch you find a more spacious storage pouch which you can acess from inside and outsidthe lid, you can even divide it with a zippered mesh. Inside the aforementioned pouch you find a fleece lined „sunglasses“ pocket. So even the lid is well organized. The lid itself is sewn directly to the pack, which limits the overload capability a little. The lid also features A large field of velcro for your patches and a reversible reflector patch.

Note the beavertail and the side pockets.

There are two side pouches which fit a 1l Nalgene or a Klean Kanteen bottle each. I often experienced the bottles slipping out of those pouches when donning and doffing the pack, i will fix this issue with a piece of shock cord. Behind the bottle pouches there are pockets for long items like an axe, breaching tools or tripods you can even slip a rifle inside. The side pouches and the front of the pack feature MOLLE webbing all over it. The MOLLE Webbing is a 20mm webbing, a feature we observe more and more common as it really saves weight and still maintains the PALS specs. So if you like to attach pouches to your ruck youll be more than satisfied. Youll also find some PALS webbing on the bottom of the pack.

The center zip let’s you acess all your gear

The DG3 features a total of four sewn in stash pockets. They are sized to fit a folded shemagh or poncho.

You also get a total of five modular pouches with the pack. Two of them are long, flapped mesh pockets that are fixed to the sides with velcro and tuck tabs. You also get two hydration sleeves and a radio pouch that fixed are all attached the back via tuck tabs. On the bakside you find a zipper which works as a cable and hydration port. A nice touch ist hat you can also divide the zipper with some velcro tabs that are sewn to he outside.

It’s possible to go prone with this pack while keeping your head up.

You also get a beavertail with the pack, it takes a helmet with NVG. It also attaches via the tuck tab system. This works great for the bottom attachment, but under tension its hard to open the beavertail fast. I would like to see a G-Hook closure and some elastics in future incarnations.

The packs body is made of a 500DEN Ripstop Cordura. It feels and looks very rugged, yet light. The shoulder straps upper section is made of the same material. All parts that are in contact with the body are made of a moisture wicking microfibre like material, I didnt miss the fomfort of airmesh at all. The sternum strap is attached via a velcro „sandwich“ system, we really liked this as it is important to minimize hardware to keep a low profile. The shoulder straps also feature a quick release system.

View of the modular hip belt

Enough on pocket placement and PALS, lets talk about serious things like engineering and biomechanics. As always with an external frame pack you get superior air circualtion, you can adjust the distance of the pack from your back on the go. If you go a straight road or up a hill you can add some distance for more load dispersion. If you go through rough terrain you can cinch the pack close to your body, for added stability.

The quick release feature

The body of the pack is somewhere between an alpine pack and a mountain ruck. Its narrow like an alpine system to keep a low profile, but its short enough to carry it with patrol webbing. The DG3 is also just short enough to go prone with your helmet on. A really unique feature, that every military users will really appreciate. The hip belt is so complex that it is really worth a review itself. Its a modular design, allowing you a solid or divided lower back panel. You can also add padded outer wings. I decided for the unusual divided pad system as it increases airflow. The hip belt is attached with a swivel system. So it moves with your body and not with the pack, this really prevents the chaffing that fixed hip belts are known to create.

As mentioned before, running and rough terrain were my main concerns.  I really was surprised how wellt he external frame handles those tasks. When you cinch the pack you get the performance of an internal frame system even when running or jumping over obstacles.

I marched a total of 30km with the pack on. What you need to get used to ist hat you dont feel any loads on your back, but just on the hips. A feeling I only had with Mystery Ranch packs before. So is this pack the „MR Killer“ as some people say? Yes it is, but it takes much more thought in reagrds of pack size. Ist just between a three day pack and a patrol ruck. So for hot climate zones it will sustain you for several days.

Quick shot of the DG3 pack, shoes are by Levi’s 😉

Pretty much stuff, huh? There is more to come, as we have to do more field testing in all configurations and didnt spoke about the internal frames performance yet. Watch out for part II of this article in the next weeks.

Also don’t forget to follow us on Instagram there is a lot of stuff going on.

You may also like to visit Crossfire’s Website to actually see for what great price they offer their packs.

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