The MAPA camouflage and its history would make a good material for a book or at least a short story. After many years of twists and turns, it finally made its way to the end users. However, none of the branches of the Polish Army adopted it, but was welcomed by enthusiasts, airsoft players or survival fans thanks to the widespread introduction of uniforms in MAPA Tactical by PSO Maskpol S.A. Take a look at our review/description of equipment in the MAPA B camo, which has recently released to the customers.
Plate Carrier według Maskpolu, czyli TM-01
The TM-01 vest is a classic plate carrier made of Cordura 770, which was based on the NEVADA vest known from the offer of the Polish company called Currahee. On the insides, as in the original, we will find a spacer mesh and inserts underneath which provide greater than average wearing comfort and improved air circulation. The vest consists of two plate bags and a removable cummerbund which is attached to the vest with Velcro. / p>
The ROC 40 and ROC 80 quick-release buckles system has been widely used in the vest, allowing for the quick release of the cummerbund and shoulder straps of the vest. And here comes the first downside. The shoulder buckles have been installed in such a way that they make it difficult to accurately press the butt of the weapon against the shoulder. Plastic D-rings mounted on each arm just above the ROC buckles seem unnecessary. They also do not contribute to the solid stabilization of a weapon on the shoulder.
The ROC system itself, the purpose of which is to accelerate the release of the vest in an emergency, requires some practice in use properly. In our opinion, a better solution for releasing the vest on the shoulders would be to use the ROC connection in one place, as is the case in the AVS vest by Crye Precision. Such an option would undoubtedly be an added value to the modular design of the vest, allowing the user to optimally position and use the quick release system efficiently.
A positive feature of modularity is the ability to completely detach the cummerbund and possibly replace it with another, perhaps lighter, openwork structure in the future. This part is quite massive and is made ready has for inserting side ballistic plates into durable bags. They are made of the same material as the body of the vest and are closed with length-adjustable flaps that can be removed. It is good that we get the option to give up on the side ballistic plates if we want to slightly reduce the weight of the vest. After removing the flaps, the internal pockets can be closed with Velcro and can be successfully used for transporting small, flat items.
Shoulder pads look positive and are padded with a sponge and a mesh therefore they will not tire the shooter's arms. The length adjustment of the vest is also hidden under the shoulder straps. The shoulder pads are also equipped with Velcro loops for stabilization or fastening of wires, cables or tubes from a Camelbak or similar hydration system.
On the front of the vest, in the chest part, one will find a Velcro panel with a width of 3 by 4 MOLLE cells for patches and markings, and below a flap, on which magazine pouches are to be mounted. On both sides of the panel, unlike the original Currahee NEAVADA, the diagonal single MOLLE cells were abandoned and replaced with horizontal cells. In the TM-01 vest we will not find a hidden administrative pocket under the Velcro panel, as is the case in NEVADA. Coming back to the flap, this is an part that, in our opinion, could have been done better. Following global trends and fully filling the "hallmarks" of modularity, the flap should be detachable. This would make it possible to quickly replace it with other flaps with various pouches, or even completely remove it, if the vest was only to serve as ballistic protection and not a platform for carrying equipment.
A good solution seems to be the small handles sewn in the lower corners of the flap in the form of stripes made of leathercraft tape. They help to unfasten it, if one decides to do so. But it is worth remembering that the basic form of fastening are ROC buckles, so there is no need to lift the flap to put on the plate carrier. Contrary to NEVADA, the TM-01 vest flap is a simple piece of Cordura with MOLLE/PALS tapes. In the NEVADA vest, the user receives a factory-adapted flap to carry three STANAG/AK magazines. The solution in the Maskpol product seems a bit more universal, giving the user the ability to independently configure pouches and pockets on the flap.
There is also a Velcro panel on the back of the vest which is slightly larger than the front one, with dimensions of 4 x 6 MOLLE/PALS cells. Above the Velcro panel there is an evacuation handle, and below there is a flap which, when unfastened, shows the cummerbund length adjustment system. It is an interesting solution that allows one to quickly shorten or lengthen the above-mentioned element with Velcro, without the need to use more complicated adjustment systems known from other companies' products.
To sum up, the whole vest is made aesthetically, one won't find any needless threads here. The whole look is complemented by MOLLE straps, which were also made in the MAPA B camouflage that is, corresponding to the one that covers the entire vest. This is currently the norm among manufacturers of tactical equipment, but not the rule when it comes to Polish manufacturers. ROC buckles also work well, although their somewhat bad position has been mentioned above. The drop test of the vest weighted with the Templars Gear 1.5 kg training plates showed that each time the vest "disintegrates" properly, which in combat use, with a much higher load, may be of great importance. In our subjective opinion, despite some controversial solutions, the new Maskpol TM-01 plate carrier is an interesting alternative to similar products made by its competitors. Manufactured in Poland, covered with a native camouflage, the new Maskpol product will certainly distinguish the user from well-known and perhaps already slightly worn-out designs.
Elements of the MAPA Tactical equipment
Let's take a look at the additional equipment in MAPA B camo that Maskpol offers along with the TM-01 vest.
Tactical belt + underbelt MAPA TM-02 + TM-03
The set consists of two modules. The underbelt , i.e. a platform made of Velcro-coated polyester tape, which is interwoven through the belt loops of the trousers and to which the main part of the belt is attached. The main part of the belt consists of two layers of quite soft polyester tape. The outer layer has been laser cut according to the MOLLE/PALS standards to enable installation of pouches and pockets selected by the user almost along the entire length of the belt. Stable use of the belt is ensured by the Cobra Pro Style buckle produced by the renowned Austri company called Alpin. The D-ring part of the buckle is secured with a piece of Velcro-lined tape.
The belt is relatively light compared to some similar models on the market. It is also less stiff. You can have slight concerns as to the durability of the laser cuts through which the strips are interweave when mounting pouches, because one of the "eyelets" shows delamination of the material after short use. Nevertheless, the belt seems to be a well-thought-out design that fits well with the global design trends of this type of product.
Together with the belt and the vest, Maskopl provided our editorial office with a set of pouches and pockets in the MAPA B camo, all naturally mounted using the MOLLE system. Although we did not test them in the field, we managed to observe and determine a few things.
Let's start with the MAPA Tactical TM-08 rifle pouch . The product has a well-known form of a TACO pouch and it is made of Cordura 560 and shock cord lines with a stopper, which allows to adjust the magazine retention. However, there is no top protection for the magazine, which was used, for example, in pistol pouches. The interior of the pouch is lined with an integrated anti-slip insert, which is an additional protection against the magazine accidentaly falling out. On the outside, MOLLE laser cuts are used, as is the case with the TM-02 belt, which in theory allows them to be connected endlessly. The manufacturer describes the pouch as a universal pouch that can accommodate various types of boxed rifle magazines. It seems to be true, because after placing STANAG magazines in the pouches, there is still some space and only after pressing the shock cord well, we get the desired retention. The magazines for the AK also sit in tightly.
The pistol pouch TM-07 has a slightly simpler design than its larger "brother". Like other components of the MAPA Tactical gear, it was made of Cordura 560 and shock cord. The magazine in the pouch is secured with the aforementioned cord, but unlike rifle pouches, there is no anti-slip insert. The magazine retention is provided by the shock cord, a stopper and rubber bands sewn on the side of the pouch. It holds and stably transports standard double-stack Glock-type magazines. Retention is so good that the magazines can be carried without the upper protection. The situation is different with single-stack magazines, e.g. the Colt 1911 type, which should be secured from the top with the shock cord, because after placing them in the pouch, there is still a lot of slack inside. It is somewhat incomprehensible why olive-colored rubber bands were used in this product instead of those in the MAPA B camouflage, which are available and used in other products of the MAPA line.
The TM-10 stasis pouches were built on the basis of a wide rubber band in the MAPA B camouflage pattern. The pocket has a fairly simple form, and the stasis retention is based on the above-mentioned rubber element. The pouch is so spacy that it can be successfully used to carry two tourniquets (although it is probably not a very popular solution), long 40mm grenades or a silencer. The body of the pouch is made of Cordura 560 laminate.
The range of Maskpol small pouches is completed by the MAPA Tactical TM-09 radio pouch. It has a fairly simple design based on Cordura 560 material, two rows of narrow rubber bands in the MAPA B camouflage and a shock cord line. The pouch, although described by the manufacturer as universal, is best used with small radios, such as the Navcomm NC-900, Baofeng UV82 or Kenwood TK-3710D. The pouch is definitely too small to carry Harris AN/PRC-152A or Thales AN/PRC-148 MBITR devices. The dimensions of the pocket are 120 x 80 x 30 mm. The radio is stabilized with the shock cord and a stopper. The well-thought-out design of the pocket allows easy access to switches and radio sockets.
The MAPA Tactical equipment line could not, of course, lack permanent elements of modern equipment, such as a first aid kit, a dump bag or a cargo pocket. MAPA Tactical TM-06 is a tear-off first aid kit in a classic form known from the projects of such companies as ATS. The product consists of a Velcro platform mounted to the equipment using the MOLLE system, to which the main part of the first aid kit is attached. On the front of the first aid kit there is a clear sign of a red cross, which can be masked with a Velcro tape fragment added to the kit. The inside of the first aid kit consists of two rows of four loops of rubber band placed on each side. Under the loops, there are flat pockets for carrying, for example, a thermal blanket or prassura bandages. The first aid kit is torn off by undoing a fastex buckle and pulling the main part of the first aid kit by the handle on the top. The handle is also secured with Velcro to prevent accidental entanglement in the equipment. The dimensions of the first aid kit are 190 x 160 x 70 mm. There is a drainage hole at the bottom to drain the water in case the first aid kit is submerged.
The Cargo MAPA Tactical TM-05 is a general purpose pouch with dimensions of 190 x 150 x 60 mm. From the outside, the manufacturer used three columns of laser cuts to mount additional pouches or small equipment such as plastic handcuffs or chemical lights. Inside the pocket one will find two smaller pockets that allow to stably carry items the size of a Glock 17 magazine or the Leatherman Surge multitool. On the opposite ends of the zipper, the manufacturer has used additional small pieces of material that greatly facilitate closing the pockets. There is a drainage hole at the bottom to drain the water in case of immersion.
The TM-04 dump bag seems to be a well-thought-out product of the MAPA Tactical line. It is essentially made of Cordura 560 and its dimensions when unfolded are 250 x 220 x 60 mm. On the outside, you will find a Velcro panel that allows to secure the bag after being rolled up, and a shock cord with a stopper, which allows narrowing the inlet opening to secure its contents. The bag can be additionally secured from the top with a flap, which also serves to secure the bag in folded form, but there is not much to do with it, if the user wants to have unlimited access to the bag. There is nowhere to attach it or to roll it up so that it would not be difficult to dump or retrieve items from the inside. However, there are some solutions good - the bottom of the bag is made of a spacer mesh and two flexible internal pockets. The first solution allows the water to drain out of the bag in a natural way if it gets wet and to remove small dirt from the inside. The mentioned internal pockets located just below the protective flap allow to carry two STANAG magazines or similar, although it must be noted that placing them in the pockets (in our case we tested the Magpul PMAGs) may be a bit difficult. The mystery remains as to why the manufacturer used a fabric similar to stretch, but which stretches very little, instead of a rubber band as it did in the case of similar pockets in a Cargo pouch. Overall, despite a few small details, the TM-04 dump bag seems to be one of the brightest points of Maskpol's equipment.
Finally, we left the description of an accessory that is hard to find in the assortment of many manufacturers, which is the MAPA Tactical TM-11 protective mat, i.e. a sitting mat. This simple solution is known from the designs used abroad. The mat is entirely made of two pieces of Cordura 560 with dimensions of 390 x 390 mm, between which a sponge with a thickness of about 4 mm is placed. The whole thing can be naturally folded is a way a bit similar to a classic dump bag. By placing the mat at the back of the belt and unfolding it at the right time, we gain a layer of insulation, which is very necessary, especially in unfavorable weather conditions. The mat can also be attached to a backpack and used during camping.
The MAPA Tactical line of equipment and accessories is a wide range of generally well-thought-out components that can facilitate the work of uniformed services or make practicing a chosen hobby more enjoyable. There are elements that, in our opinion, need to be perfected, but they do not detract from the overall positive impression that the entire system has made on us. For some of the recipients, the fact of manufacturing and designing system components in Poland may be important. Undoubtedly, we are glad that after years of perturbation, the MAPA camouflage does not only in the form of images in a computer, but as a full-fledged product for ready for testing and use in the realities of a battlefield.