Sunday, July 3, 2011

REVIEW: Valken Tango Vest

       I'm posting this the night before day 7 only because day 7 turns out to be super busy for me, but hey, it's after midnight, so technically I'm keeping on schedule right?
       We have here today, Valken's molle vest offerings for the discerning gentleman whose most interested in paintball's tactical gear. The Tango Vest is a pretty cool model for sure, and like the Fate pants, I mean that in more than one way. There's a lot of features I didn't imagine the vest would have and I'm very excited to tell you all about them, however, there are a few things that I wish were just a little bit better, or perhaps different than what they are. The vest looks really good, feels really good, and the vast majority of the vest's surface area is made of a nice breathable mesh which after sporting the Milsig RRV vest for so long makes me say it feels really nice when a gust of wind hits it. It has a zip up front which makes getting in and out of the vest exceptionally easy, the zipper could be a bit nicer though. What they have for zipping you in is adequate but a beefier zipper would have been a plus for when you're hands are gloved, a larger YKK sort of zipper for instance. There are two pull tabs on either side of vest to adjust it to conform to the users torso and there's the same mesh along the sides here as on the rest of the vest. Personally, I think the vest would have benefited more from no mesh here because if you tighten the pull tabs it bunches up and turns into insulation. Also, the pull tabs hold the front and back of the vest together making the extra material here seem superfluous. Overall, myself and team mate who owns the vest can't complain about the fit and feel, it is really comfy.
       Construction wise, the vest is comparable to the Echo Vest, there's lots of stitching, not all of it is double stitching but it feels super tough without compromising flexibility. The materials used for the the vest are also the same and you get the same quality you'd expect from a Valken product. Design wise, the vest has a kind of skeleton to it which is made of tough ripstop material. I thought it was going to be all mesh so when I saw this added framing of material I got pretty stoked to poke around the vest some more, but I digress. This material provides a frame for the mesh to be attached to, and on top of both the ripstop material and the mesh sits the nylon webbing for attaching things all over the vest. How molle webbing sewn on to mesh stands up to punishment remains to be seen but if it hold up like that on the Milsig Hydration Vest (to be reviewed later), then users will have nothing to worry about. The webbing isn't super tight, but it's not super loose either so adding attachments isn't much of a chore on this vest like it can be on some. We haven't had time to see if there is much movement on this vest from the attachments on the molle webbing but from our demo tests (for fraying and breaking stitches), none was particularly noticeable.
       But no review can be nothing but 100% praise right? There are a few shortfalls with the Tango vest, the most notable for me being one particular feature of the attachments rather than the vest itself. I've tested a few of them, some pod pouches, the tank pouch, the multi pouch in some a picture from the Echo review but Valken has commit the same 'crime' a lot of paintball companies love to: they think they've gone and improved the molle system by adding velcro to straps you weave on to the vest. BT did it, so did Action Gear Canada, and I don't know why they tamper with the system! Granted, it has no negative effect on most pouches except adding fuzzy material to clean behind the pouches when you get shot. Where velcro on the pouches REALLY SUCKS is when you add a tank pouch. Paintball companies want to make it so the pouches take up as little real estate on your molle vest as possible, and as a result, there isn't enough of a “foot” on the tank pouches to hold a remote tank on your back securely. What ends up happening is the user has a tank on their back that wants to move from side to side, making just a little contact with the velcro as it travels back and forth, then loses that contact, making a ripping noise as it does every time you take a step. Some of the stealth factor is lost as a result. Valken's is the same sadly (it holds a 70cu 4500psi tank with very little room to spare by the way). Their pod pouches are great, and if they made a tank pouch that was about 4 molle strips wide like the 2+3 attachments for pods then they'd be set, no velcro ripping of the tanks, they could even add two elastic pouches to the equation and make a 1+2 pack and it would be amazing. Until then, there will be just one pouch I can't recommend from Valken, as well as other paintball companies (save for Milsig) and that's the remote pouches. Tim Minchin said it best when talking about alternative medicine in his 9 minute beat poem: “do you know what they call alternative medicine that's passed clinical trials? MEDICINE!” Not to rip on Valken, but a lot of other companies too: “do you know what they call 'improved' mil-spec molle gear that has been adopted by the military? MIL-SPEC!” If it ain't broke, don't fix it guys!
      P.S. I didn't write any of these reviews in chronological order, I have 3 more articles coming in the next 2 days, but this was the last I finished writing, whew*
      P.P.S As always, Valken's Page (link) has more pictures of said products

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