Review: Platatac Special Projects Tac Dax MkII and Crye Airflex Combat Kneepads

Overview

Right, so it’s a totally dreary day outside and this weekend I finally had the chance to run some of the new gear I acquired over the last month. Time to add some new content! Due to some opportunities I could not let go I had quite an expensive month but luckily these expenses paid off. In this post I will go into detail on two of those pieces of new kit: My new Platatac Special Projects Tac Dax Mk II trousers and accompanying Crye Precision Airflex Combat Kneepads.

To most people who have some general knowledge of the world of producers of tactical kit, these names will not sound unfamiliar. For those who don’t know them, let me give you a short introduction. Platatac is an Australian producer of high quality kit. The trousers mentioned above were designed in cooperation with Australian Special Forces who wanted something tailored to their needs. The end result is fairly similar to some pieces of apparel by Crye Precision, hence the cross-compatibility of their kneepads, for which I am well and truly grateful. However, some small but important differences should and will be mentioned.

Construction

Platatac and Crye Precision are both known for their use of quality materials and thorough construction and they don’t let their reputation down here either. Crye’s kneepads are thoroughly constructed out of neoprene material with a not-quite-hard bumper somewhat reminiscent of motorcyclists’ apparel protective pads in that they are moldable when softly pressed but provide thorough protection when kinetic energy is higher. These two parts are joined by a very durable row of heavy double stitching so I’m not afraid these will fail in a short time.

So let’s talk about the trousers. First, it’s awesome that the Crye pads fit perfectly in the pockets Platatac has sewn into the trousers. As with the pads, the stitching quality of the trousers is superb. Everything looks nicely finished and is heavily constructed to reduce wear and tear. Platatac has opted to replace every – and I do mean every – button with Velcro. This means no more fiddling around with one hand to open and close a pocket. But it also means that this Velcro has to be of the highest quality because nothing is more annoying than Velcro that fails to stick. Time will tell if this is the case but I’m fairly confident that it will stand up to the challenge.

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Features

Feature-wise these trousers are some of the most complete I have ever worn. A grand total of ten pockets will ensure you never run out of space for… stuff. Four-way stretch fabric on the lower back, around the knees and in the crotch ensures mobility. Pull-tabs on the waist will take care of any sizing issues that might pop up. These trousers can be tailored to any size around their generic sizing, allowing for a couple of inches of leeway. Padding in the waist makes sure that any pouches or holsters on your trouser belt won’t annoy you, even after a day’s walk. As mentioned before, the replacement of buttons with Velcro is a godsend – no more hassle to quickly pull out a map and/or GPS with one hand and stowing them away again. The Velcro tab that replaces the waist button provides further customization to size. The leg endings can be tapered with Velcro as well, providing the optimum fit around either large mountain boots or more lightweight fast assault footwear.

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All of these features make these trousers incredibly comfortable and good-looking, and extremely versatile in operations – also thanks to the built in kneepads. In comparison to the trousers themselves they are fairly straightforward feature wise, but I would like to note two things: it is great that the newer generation flexes around the knee. This makes sure that the knee is always optimally protected, which one really needs to do as they are much more vulnerable than sometimes assumed. One unmentioned feature of the trousers also helps with this: the Velcro in the back of the knee makes sure that the kneepads stay firmly in place.

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This is also the one small gripe I have with this combination of gear: when fixed too tightly to the knee, the kneepads tend to unfasten and pop out of its pocket during high intensity maneuvers. But this tends to happen only when fastened too tightly and uncomfortably and only on your shooting knee. As a right-handed shooter, that is my right knee.

Fit

As mentioned in earlier content, I’m 1,78m tall at around 72kgs and size small/regular fits me perfectly. They ride a little lower on the waist than your usual BDU trouser but they are built for this. The upper legs might be a bit generous for scrawnier guys but my upper legs are quite large so I am fairly happy with this. The legs are much more tapered than most other combat trousers I have worn but still provide enough space for various types of footwear. This also reduces bulk and signature, which is good. Overall I’d say the fit is athletic but generous enough. The customizability of the sizing helps adapt it to various body types.

Details

I have mentioned a lot of them already, such as the Velcro and adjustable pull-tabs. One thing I haven’t discussed is the large number of small inlets for karabiners and the like on the belt loops. You can see these on a lot of modern outdoor trousers as well and they are really handy. I use them to hook on a karabiner on which I can clip my gloves when not in use, but I’m sure they are very handy for other stuff as well.

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Usage

I haven’t thoroughly tested these, but from the limited time I have run them in the field so far, these are incredibly good trousers for the money I paid. These might actually be my best buy for 2015, an honor that went to the Arc’teryx LEAF Atom LT hoodie last year.

I’m really looking forward to the first time I’ll be able to use them on a multiday event, as that will be their first true test. But I’m sure they wont disappoint.

Pros

Crye-like in everything but price

Crye kneepad compatible

Stretch in crotch and more pockets than Crye equivalent

Construction is superb

Padding in waist belt

Customizable in size due to Velcro pull-tabs on waist and leg endings

Cons

Fixture of kneepads in pockets could be better, but really only a problem when the kneepads are fixed uncomfortably tightly to the knee.

Overall

These are some excellent trousers and I genuinely have the feeling I won’t need another upgrade any time soon. I was lucky to score a good deal on them but even without they are incredibly good trousers for the money. Regretfully I believe that Platatac no longer produces this particular model but if you’re in the market for a pair of trousers with all the functionality of modern day combat trousers and you’re lucky enough to come across one, please consider them.

Same goes for the kneepads – it’s actually one of the few Crye products I don’t find ridiculously overpriced. If your trousers accept them, please buy them. Your knees will thank you in a few years.

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Further Reading

http://www.platatac.com/platatac-tac-dax-special-projects-mkii-multicam.html

https://www.cryeprecision.com/ProductDetail/padkc301000_airflex-combat-knee-pads

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