Another day another set of webbing to be dragged through the mud, jumped up and down on and generally treated like a Thai catalogue bride who's not putting out upon delivery.
This time our contender is from the very well known and established, Dixies Corner. Hardly a soul amongst us won’t have heard of DC either through reputation, the fact that someone else owns a bit of their kit or because it's where we've stood at those bloody sheds in Brecon catching a breather before heading for the next checkpoint! Not only are they renowned for their kit quality they're also very popular amongst those certain types of pervert soldiers that spend their holidays in the Brecons trying to tell their kids it's fun to climb big hills. It's hard trying to please Them but they obviously rate Dixies highly enough and what's good for the goose!
For this review we're looking at their Multicam styled Webbing and Spyder Yoke, both of which are sold separately but as they work together we'll review them together.
This is another of the stitched webbing variety. It looks very much to me like the days of button-pop webbing are long gone apart from the issue stuff. As mentioned before, stitched webbing has its own benefits and penalties. The biggest benefit is the minimal amount of hassle for the wearer. The biggest penalty is the massive amount of hassle for the wearer when it all falls apart! As we'll see later though Dixies have neatly circumvented that potential pitfall by offering their own solution.
This particular item will weigh in at £140 - £150 depending on what size you go for with three available. If you buy the Spider yoke then you're looking at another £65 for the pleasure. So all in call it £215 for the lot. Let’s hope it measures up then!
The set I've been sent has five utility pouches and two magazine pouches with a grenade pouch on the side of the end ammo pouch and all this is attached to a hippo pad. Point to note here is that Dixies don't measure by pouch number or belt length, they measure by hippo pad size. So if you do decide after reading this that you want a set then don't worry, their website gives a full breakdown of how to measure yourself up for their kit.
The design of the webbing itself is very unique amongst an increasingly similar if not copycat market. It has, without a shadow of a doubt, the most complex stitching arrangement I've seen on any webbing so far.
Unlike other webbing where you might find the pouches have been stitched fully onto the hippo pad Dixies webbing is actually designed to allow in-field repairs should any of the pouches become U/S. It's a crude system but it does work. Looking at the picture below you can see the inside of the pad with the stitching layout clear to see. I've marked up what the stitching represents on the other side and they're identical so you can spot where the rest of the same stitches are.
What we have here is the seams used to secure the pouches, the yoke strap points and most interestingly, the belt, in place. The belt itself isn't loose, it's also sewn onto the pad. This gives maximum stability and reduces the scope for shaking and loosening of the fit. It's simply one more part that won’t move when you don't want it to.
The design works so that on the left and right hand sides you have a twin ammo pouch which is completely sewn on to the pad on the right hand side and a utility pouch completely sewn on the left hand side. The remaining pouches between these are only sewn on at the top and bottom. This you would be right in thinking wouldn't make those other pouches very stable or secure. Well Dixies have realised after much trial and research that the biggest cause of chaffing and rubbing on webbing is actually caused by the corners of the pouches digging in to the body, especially magazine pouches with the hard corners of the mags themselves. So they've come up with a very ingenious solution, the 'separator' (that's my name for it, not Dixies, I got fed up calling it 'That bit in between'!).
The image below clearly shows the partition and how it helps to push the sides of the pouches away from the pad whilst still ensuring they're actually securely sewn on.
They basically act as an extension of the pouch itself. This allows airflow, prevents chafing and also gives a degree of repair capability in the field. Should one of these pouches become knacked it's only a case of cutting off the extension material, cutting off the top and bottom of the pouches which are sewn on to the pad and cutting the stitching on the belt which will then allow you to fit an issue pouch as you normally would. It sounds a lot but in reality it's no more than a five minute job. This is a cracking bit of redundancy because with stitched webbing you always run the risk of complete failure of the kit and you can't do anything in the way of field repairs. Dixies have the answer for that and it's one that works fairly effectively.
You can also see the stitching for the yoke strap points in the main image with a close up below. Whereas in some webbing you'll find the strap points are simply sewn onto the top of the pad and that's it here you can see clearly that it's got a good few inches of material securing it onto the pad thus allowing for maximum weight capacity. We all know how heavy our webbing can get especially if it's balls deep in link so it's reassuring to know that there is a hell of a lot of stitching that needs to rip before it'll break loose from your yoke.
So to avoid this turning into Sewing Corner we'll move on from that aspect of the kit. To summarise though, it's been put together solidly and with a good helping of ingenuity to ensure that not only is it comfortable to wear and weight bearing but that it's also possible to 'repair' it under field conditions.
Moving on to the pouches themselves the material used inside is solid and very rugged. The utility pouches are closed with the use of ITW Nexus side release buckles which as I've said before are a top quality company which specialise in hard wearing and resilient plastic closing solutions.
Dixies have however opted to mix things up a bit and don't rely on Nexus throughout with the yoke strap points being metal and the belt buckle being a metal roll pin solution which if I recall correctly is rust resistant.
Here Dixies realise that regardless how good a composite offering may be for securing pouches, when it comes to load bearing or where the security of the closure needs to be guaranteed, metal can't be beat.
All the pouches have a velcro close option for that quick fix too as well as there being a cover-over for the velcro on the utility pouches should you not want the noise and irritation of velcro when you use the clips. The only slight eyebrow raiser was the fact that there are no poppers on any of the ammo pouches (Which have only velcro to close the lid down). This struck me as an odd one as I know I'm always one to pop the lids shut if it's going to be transited, especially on Jackals where it'll get strapped to the front of the vehicle. Understandably in the field you need quick access so you're unlikely to pop shut the lids but it's always a good option to have I feel.
Graham, the man that runs Dixies also explained that when they designed this kit they wanted to make it webbing that you could run in. Well it certainly fits that bill. With a zealous passion for boot runs now we're all back from stuffing our face with turkey the kit was put through its paces in that department. All the pouches were weighted to see how it sat under a variety of speeds from march, gentle jog through to all out sprint. Comfortably, would be the result from that test. The fact that everything is attached to each other via secure stitching meant there was very little bounce or 'turbulence' from the webbing whilst running. There was minimal chaffing as well and because they base the size of the kit on the hippo pad and not the pouches it meant it wasn't sitting too far round the front of the hips which is always a good source of irritation.
The key to getting a good fit with webbing is all about strap adjustment and five minutes of titivating soon found the perfect 'ride height' for me on the gear and from then on I really would have forgot I was wearing it had it not weighed so damn much with all the crap I'd stuffed in it!
I was however using the Spyder yoke supplied by Dixies. Both are sold separately but are the obvious combination. Dixies webbing can be used in conjunction with an issue tissue yoke though but obviously comfort will be sacrificed!
One year update: This little number was a cracking bit of kit. Again, it went with me on all the ranges, all the training exercises, got flung around and strapped to the front of wagons, spent time in the mud and dirt in Kenya and the bogs of the Falklands, and didn't let me down. When it came time for me to hang up the beret and move on to different fields, I promptly put this up for sale and it was still in such good condition, even having taken a beating, that I managed to sell it for £120. What an absolute belter. Full faith in this and would recommend any of Dixie's Corner's bespoke kit.