Review - Micro Fight Hi-Top Zipper Insert
History of AXL Advanced
AXL Advanced based in Texas, focuses on the design, development and manufacturing of tactical kit specifically to upgrade and improve existing manufacturers gear such as First Spear, S&S Precision, Spiritus Systems, Crye Precision, Ferro Concepts etc. With a great catalogue of innovative add-ons and improvements, they provide some useful and innovative alternative solutions.
For more info - visit the AXL Advanced website.
Why the Micro Fight Hi-Top Zipper Insert by AXL Advanced?
On a voyage of discovery finding new companies across the globe that manufacture quality warfighter related equipment and tactical kit, I came across AXL Advanced and their product line was huge, spanning a great range of manufacturers; Ferro Concepts, Crye Precisions, Spiritus Systems and OpsCore. Always looking for ways to upgrade, slimline and better purpose my plate carriers and chest rigs, I came across the Micro Fight Hi-Top Zipper Insert which fitted a requirement that had been at the back of my mind. Namely that was to negate the noisy velcro sound in the middle of night when on patrol if needing to access my admin pouch on my Spiritus Systems chest rig. I'd seen similar products and always glazed over them, however the quality look of the product and of several others in their catalogue made me think seriously about spending some money on a small but likely useful piece of kit.
Herein lies the product description from the website;
AXL Advanced - Micro Fight Hi-Top Zipper Insert
The Bergspitze Custom Hi-Top Zipper Insert produced by AXL is designed to fit the Spiritus Systems Micro Fight Chassis (MK3 or later generations), providing a quick access pocket in either the front or rear pocket of the Chassis.
• Hi Top Zipper adds approximately 1" to the height of the Spiritus Micro Fight Chest Rig pockets
• Velcro Loop lining along the inner face (front and back) for full velcro purchase with Spiritus Systems inserts.
• Velcro Hook fields on the outer face (front and back) for a secure hold inside the Chassis/Kangaroo pocket. Designed specifically to work with Spiritus Systems MK3 and later gen Chassis.
• Double Zipper top for easy access from either side of the insert.
• Heavy-duty YKK Zippers for durability in field conditions.
• Short zipper pulls designed to avoid blocking access to mag pouch openings.
• Approximate Dimensions: 8.5 x 3.5 x 1 inches
The Zipper Insert was shipped inside a toughened transparent bag. The only feature on the exterior was the product label detailing the company logo, product QR code, product name and date of manufacture of the product. The team also threw in a free AXL Advanced sticker.
The Zipper Insert is a single piece item therefore it was the only component in the bag.
Zipper Insert exterior in detail
The Zipper Insert is manufactured using 500D Cordura in Ranger Green. Double stitching is used throughout the product on the interior. All of the materials used are genuine meaning that they're toughened and are quality.
The Zipper Insert itself measures;
Height 8.5 cm
Width 4 cm (when open)
Length 23 cm
The Zipper Insert weighs 51g
The Zipper Insert in Ranger Green is Berry Amendment Compliant (meaning that it was manufactured in America, by Americans, out of the high-quality American-made materials). Everything used on the product is designed, cut, sewn, packaged, and shipped in the USA. The Zipper Insert is manufactured using simplistically four panels of materials, front, rear and 2x side panels. The exterior features 21 x 5 cm velcro hook panels on the front and rear of the exterior enabling attachment to the chest rig pouches. The front features on the top right (as seen in Image one), the company logo.
The two zips used are the heavy-duty black YKK variants and are super slide-able, never catching on anything and quiet. Both zips feature twisted cord material that's large enough to be gripped even when wearing gloves and is identical to the cord that is used on the Spiritus Systems rig. Having two zips enable the Zipper Insert to be opened from the left or right hand side, whichever is preferred by the operator.
As seen in the images below when the zips are fully opened, this provides a 19 cm width gap providing access to the chest rig pouch it's affixed to.
The interior similar to the exterior features 21 x 5 cm velcro loop panels on the front and rear of the interior which could be used for attaching further mag inserts or smaller velcro backed organiser pouches / pockets. As seen in the images below when the zipper insert is turned inside out, double and single stitching is used throughout the product. Noticeably there is no excess material, the bare minimum is used ensuring that for example the zips when opening and closing do not catch on any material causing snagging. The stitching lines are all clean cut and of quality produce.
At each end of the Zipper Insert the front and rear panels are folded and stitched together using a small panel connecting front to rear. Again, stitching is clean cut and cleverly tidied away to ensure it will not cause snagging.
The Zipper Insert is designed to be fitted to a number of chest rigs enabling the creation of a 'zip sealed pouch' instead of a foldover velcro flap or a pouch without a top to it. The first two images show the Spiritus Systems Mk3 chest rig when empty and when 3x magazines are inserted into the rear pouch. When the Zipper Insert is fitted to the front pouch as seen in images three and four, it raises the profile of the pouch by approximately 4 cm and as can be seen, covers the visibility of the magazines. The only issue this raising of the profile may cause is that magazines may be slightly more difficult to remove or re-seat, however I have not yet had any issues with it. The remaining fifth and sixth images show the Zipper Insert being accessed from the top. The zip opening is certainly wide enough to be able to access anything inside the pouch.
The images below illustrate the Zipper Insert fitted and used on the Spiritus Systems Mk3 rig.
In relation to testing, the Zipper Insert has been used in the field a couple of times and on the range several times also. I've made sure to try to use the admin pouch for storing equipment that I need, forcing me to use it and open / close it during the course of wearing the rig. As mentioned above, I have not noticed or suffered from any issues regarding removing or re-seating magazines in the rear pouch when used. The raised profile at the front does not cause any obstruction or issues either. It has been incredibly helpful for increasing storage capacity in the front pouch as there is more vertical space available whilst also negating the noisy velcro open / close of the front pouch.
Maintenance of the Zipper Insert is as expected, minimal. As always recommended, after a day out on the range, on deployment or after use, consider taking the time to clean and protect your kit. By doing so you'll increase the life of the kit and enable you to spot tears, marks etc and fix them / patch them etc before they get to be too big of a problem.
Use stiff or soft brush to remove excess dirt from the interior and exterior of the Zipper Insert.
Warm water (without soap) can also be used in conjunction with tougher to remove debris.
Allow the Zipper Insert to dry naturally inside or outside.
Periodically check the zips and velcro for wear and tear and if required, replace to increase the lifespan of the Zipper Insert.
Thoughts and opinion
The Micro Fight Hi-Top Zipper Insert by AXL Advanced serves a great purpose, to add a secured method of accessing a chest rig pouch without using the noisy velcro folder flap alternative. It's a simple and relatively cheap addition that is likely going to be useful to a variety of users out there.
Using atypical 500D Cordura material, YKK zippers and high quality inspection and control of the Zipper Insert means that what lands on your doorstep is meticulously manufactured, tried and tested and genuinely very useful. Long gone are the days of using the Spiritus Systems provided velcro foldover flap to access the front pouch used for admin, a not so quiet method of entry, which has been relegated to the box of ancillaries. Instead the quiet super easy glide zippers mean that accessing the pouch in the dead of night or when working closely to others in the field is easy and virtually silent. In addition to this quietness, it adds protection to items in the pouch from the elements (as does the velcro foldover flap), however as the Zipper Insert is completely velcro'd to the interior of the pouch it also prevents dust, debris and water etc entering it. The third benefit is that it adds an extra 4cm height to the pouch meaning slightly larger items can be stored in the pouch whilst remaining securely fastened away.
The Zipper Insert is an alternative to the velcro foldover flap with multiple benefits and at a price that won't break the bank it's worth considering if you want to build upon, upgrade and evolve your chest rig. The added bonus of being designed for the Spiritus Systems Mk3+ means it's not a one trick pony and can fit a number of Spiritus Systems products now and likely in the future. It's an innovative product and AXL Advanced have a large range of products suiting a variety of operators requirements across a large range of manufacturers including Ferro Concepts, Crye Precision, Spiritus Systems and OpsCore. They are certainly a company that I'm keeping an eye on for their next set of releasable products.
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I am not paid for my blogs by the manufacturers or companies that I purchase my items from. I am not offered freebies to promote a product. These blogs are purely written from my own experience in truth to help advise and inform others who may wish to purchase the items or understand more about them. If I am sent a freebie to review this will be stated at the beginning to make you aware.