When I bought a 5.11 Tactical pouch for the first time years ago, I was impressed by the simple solution used in it, which made the assembly very easy. It consisted in both stiffening the mounting straps and freeing them so that they slide freely through the Common Loop in the upper part of the pouch. This greatly facilitated the assembly and, above all, the disassembly of the individual equipment parts, with practically one pull. The idea resembled a bit of a solution for mounting equipment elements in the old ALICE US Army system, i.e. with metal clips that had a loosely moving "pin" clasp, analogous to nylon straps here. At that time, no one even applied a similar solution and, to a large extent, it has remained so even today.
5.11 Tactical Flex-HT (right), old type pouch (left)
5.11 Tactical pouches mounting systems
Maverick Battle Belt with Flex-HT pouches
Recently, the 5.11 Tactical offer has been gradually adding new equipment elements with the Flex-HT assembly system, which is a derivative of the previously mentioned solution. MOLLE/PALS compatible stiffened mounting straps have been replaced with narrower 3/4'' (19.05 mm) wide Hypalon straps, which in combination with a ladder of 1/2'' (12.7mm) wide horizontal mounting straps gives the possibility of attaching equipment items on many different platforms (MOLLE/PALS, HEXGRID, belts for trousers, etc.). This makes the Flex-HT system a truly universal solution.
The mounting straps are quite conveniently intertwined and fastened with DuraFlex G.C. fasteners, and the pouches are even easier to pull off thanks to the nylon webbing handles at the top of the straps, just a strong pull is needed. It is true, however, that sometimes they lack sufficient stiffness to "push" them down, and in smaller pouches, fastening them using thicker fingers can be a bit difficult. But the are always pros and cons. The new Flex-HT straps are slimmer and offer less resistance.
In addition, sometimes the set includes a Flex Hook Adapter (which can be purchased separately) , i.e. an adapter panel with a hook and loop fastener, which allows the attachment of a given item of equipment on any surface with Velcro loops. The manufacturer also offers the Flex Loop Panel, i.e. a platform with Velcro loops fastener that can be attached to the equipment in a system compatible with the MOLLE, HEXGRID or similar. An interesting solution, especially in the context of e.g. a tear-off first aid kit, which any medical pouch can now become, or any other piece of equipment
On the left the older model Multicam Double AR Bungee/Cover and on the right the Multicam Flex Double AR Mag Pouch 2.0
The introduction of the Flex-HT system also probably has an unintended effect as it allowed to reduce the volume of some types of pouches. They are somewhat slimmer and therefore lighter.
Below, I have described selected equipment elements with the new Flex-HT assembly system using the example of a shooting belt that I have assembled. I experimentally added a small admin panel for shooting documents and a phone (using the Flex Loop Panel would be better). I will focus on the description of the characteristics of the equipment elements, which will present their functionality.
The belt was made for amateur dynamic shooting with a tactical flair. This is one of the many variants of the belt configuration. I encourage you to write comments.
The Flex Single and Double AR Mag Pouch 2.0
The Flex Single AR Mag 2.0 Pouch (and similarly the double version) is a modified version of the pouch introduced to the 5.11 Tactical offer about 2 years ago. They are constructed very similarly. The pouch is tight and securely holds a fully loaded magazine, without fear of losing it. Someone, however, had such concerns and in version 2.0 there was an option to put on a safety shock cord (Pouch Bungee Kit - it can be bought separately or simply made by oneself). The pressure is provided by a properly profiled polymer plate hidden in the front side, pressed from the outside with an elastic band over almost the entire height. Thanks to the plate, the inlet of the pouch also takes the shape of a funnel, which makes it much easier to put a magazine inside. This may be important when someone does not use a dump bag. From the inside, the front side is additionally lined with a durable nylon tape to strengthen the part of the pouch pressing the magazine.
Flex Single AR Mag Pouch (left), Flex Single AR Mag pouch 2.0
The front was changed, on which the welt surrounding the pouch in the previous version, thanks to the vertical stitching, formed two "slots" at the same time, allowing the attachment of the second pouch with MOLLE straps. In the new version, the puller remained on the sides, but the front was replaced by a sewn-on laminate panel with laser-cut MOLLE slots only in a single column. Therefore, the possibility of attaching the second row of the same pouches in parallel was eliminated, leaving space only for a single pistol pouch (or for a knife or a flashlight). While it might seem to someone that it didn't make sense to attach anything to an elastic band in the previous version, I successfully attached a dump bag in this way. Unfortunately, in version 2.0 this is not possible anymore. It's a pity. With the new Flex line, however, the manufacturer has introduced a new dump bag that should solve the problem.
The Flex Single and Double Pistol Mag Pouch 2.0
The pistol pouch is basically the above-described Flex AR Mag Pouch 2.0 with dimensions adapted to a pistol magazine. We have a clamp, we have the option of securing the magazine with a shock cord. With one difference. Here, it was decided to leave an elastic band across the entire width of the pouch. In this case, however, the function of installing additional pouches is, unfortunately, very limited.
The mounting straps used in this pouch, as well as in other small and short Flex-HT pouches, seem a bit too short, because despite the use of the Duraflex G.C. it is difficult to thread them through the last strap and fasten them.
The Flex Vertical GP Pouch
I have always treated cargo pouches as an ad hoc cargo space for carrying everything that just doesn't have an assigned place in the equipment. They usually take the form of an cuboid fastened at the top or up to 1/2, 1/3 of their height, so one always have to pay attention to fastening them completely, and I am writing about it for a reason. Over the years, I have lost some valuable items in this way.Cargo pouches seem similar to each other. The designers of 5.11 Tactical approached the subject a bit differently and made an interesting, quite universal cargo pouch in their own way. Of course, the offer also includes other, more classic pouches for general use, and you can take a look at them at the manufacturer's website .
The design of the Flex Vertical GP (General Purpose) pouch is based on the idea of a pouch for a water bottle and it was certainly also intended for this. The cross section is oval. When fully unfolded, it takes the loose size of a Nalgene 1L bottle. The sides and bottom are padded with a sponge to isolate and protect the contents, so it can also be appreciated by photographers working using longer lenses (my old Sigma 70-200mm APO DG HSM is easier to insert than to take out, so something smaller will fit nicely). Due to its form, the pouch can also be used to carry loose ammunition.
When compressed at the bottom (fastened with a zipper), the pouch reduces its height by about 6 cm and becomes a handy medium-sized cargo pouch. What I like about it is a rather unusual way of closing it. The pouch closes in one plane from the top, but in this part the profile of the pouch widens, creating specific “ears” pulled sideways with tapes. Thanks to this solution, the inlet slot, even when the zipper is open, will "close" by itself, reducing the chance of the contents falling out. Simple and effective. The zipper is smooth and can be operated with one hand.
Fans of "morale" patches can attach them on the front Velcro with dimensions of 5x7 cm. The pouch is made of Nylon 500D.
The Flex Flashlight Pouch
The pouch is structurally similar to the magazine pouches described above, with the difference being that it does not have a polymer pressure profile. The elastic band itself is responsible for the pressure, similarly sewn in half and with a Velcro sewn on for closing. Thanks to the pressure, the pouch will accept many types of flashlights, knives or multitools with a maximum height of 16 cm and even 19 cm with incomplete closing of the flap, minimizing the risk of losing the contents. When we put the flap inside the pouch compartment, the pouch will even accept a telescopic baton. Personally, I opted for the latter solution, because the pouch holds the contents tightly, and access without a flap is more convenient. If, however, the flap is left in its place, it has Hypalon lugs for easy grip when opening.
Flex Radio Pouch 2.0
The radio pouch is usually mounted on the left side of the vest so that there is access to the radio if necessary and it does not interfere with the operation of a weapon (right-handed variant). As I am not shooting at the shooting range in the vest, the radio for working communication was place on the belt. The previous pouches that I had were not comfortable to open and close, especially with one hand, so I rather tried not to take the radio out of them. The new Flex Radio Pouch 2.0 in the 5.11 Tactical offer is similar to other pouches I have previously owned, with one exception, which is a small game changer, namely the magnetic Fidlock buckle. In combination with a shock cord finished with a Hypalon handle, the Fidlock buckle creates the perfect closure for one-handed operation in a hard-to-reach place!
Inside, the pouch has been lined with non-slip lining to additionally stabilize the radio. On the sides, at half the height, stretch material is used, thanks to which the pouch has tolerances to adapt to the size of various devices.
The Flex Admin Pouch
A very neat, low-profile, lightweight administrative pouch/organizer. I have two. I attached one to the backpack with photographic equipment and the second one, for trial, to the shooting belt. For my phone and documents.
The panel opens up to 180 degrees wide, with an internal swing angle limiter in the form of two nylon cords. From the outside, the flap has a sewn-on Velcro panel laser-cut with vertical MOLLE slots. If anyone has an idea what these slots are intended for, write in the comments ...
The flap on the inside is lined with Velcro loops and has two shock cords to stabilize, for example, a phone. On the back side there are two smaller pouches in the size of a credit card or business cards. Next in the sequence there is one larger pouch with three loops made of elastic tape (e.g. for pens).
All the above pouches are connected by precise and very aesthetic sewing, with time even with a surprising number of reinforcements and, of course, the Flex-HT system. The dominant material is 500D Nylon and/or 500D Cordura Nylon. Each pouch also has drainage. All types of pouches are available in a wide range of colors: Ranger Green, Kangaroo (i.e. Coyote Brown), Multicam, Storm (gray) and Dark Navy (navy blue). Sometimes a color is missing, but usually it is only a matter of time.
For some time one could observe a certain stagnation in the area of equipment in the 5.11 Tactical offer. New designs of vests appeared every now and then, but there were not too many proposals of new equipment for them, while the existing designs had already become obsolete on the market. The designers from 5.11 Tactical have already made themselves known by the fact that they can surprise clients even in a simple product. The creation of the Flex-HT system and new pouches reflect the clear new direction of the development of the 5.11 Tactical equipment line, initiated by the implementation of the HEXGRID system in 2017 (take a look at the AMP12 backpack reviews with a HEXGRID panel). Moreover, it seems that the manufacturer is just gaining momentum in this area. So let's stay tuned for information on upcoming new products.