REVIEW – Crossfire DG-6

PRODUCT:      DG-6 Pack

MANUFACTURER:      Crossfire Pty Ltd

DESCRIPTION:
An external frame, large patrol pack with external pockets and a veritable tonne of features.

This item is the Australian company Crossfire’s entry into the non-modular long range or general purpose tactical backpack market. Capacity is listed at 85L (um, 5187 cubic inches).

REVIEW NOTES:

OK, this was my very first kit review written for a couple of discussion forums.

At the time, I thought it appropriate to contribute something to the boards contents and bandwidth other than smart-alec comments.

I first bought this pack after some exhaustive research when I was in need of a decent sized pack to walk the Overland track for the first time in 2005.

I’ve edited this one a little bit to reflect further experience and changes in my opinion since the article was first written.

Since I’ve used the original photo’s, please forgive the quality of them. I’m glad to say, that my photography has gotten much better in the last six years.

 

LAYOUT:

dg6front-1

 

FRAME –

The DG-6 uses the third generation DEI molle frame. Apparently the composition of the plastic in the frame has been improved upon from previous generations first used by American forces in Afghanistan.

Now, I know some people who can personally attest to the shortcomings of the frame composition for actual hard use. Apparently, DEI has answered these complaints with a much more stable frame polymer better able to handle constant flexing and exposure to hot and cold conditions.

Personally, I have taken this pack into cold conditions when I walked the The Overland Track in Tasmania, it snowed on me. I froze. No complaints there. Since I live in sunny Queensland, my pack has seen some temperature extremes. No problems yet.

There is a gap between frame and harness like that found on the old ALICE pack. It’s very handy for shoving my poof mat (oops, un-PC name for sleeping mat)  into. There were plans afoot from Crossfire to utilise this space for stowing a water bladder of some description.

 

HARNESS –

Proprietary harness as designed by Crossfire. The shoulder straps are some of the most comfortable I have ever seen. Straps are comprised of a
3-D design, with an efficient sweat wicking mesh, and two layers of different density foam. External surfaces of the shoulder strap are lined with a rubbery non-slip layer to stabilise a rifle butt when firing. Think skateboard tape, but not quite as aggressive in its abrasiveness. Quick release buckles are fitted.

The standard sternum strap and hip belt are fitted. The hip belt can be folded away out of sight and avoids snagging for transport or if not compatible with webbing (load bearing equipment or fighting order). The harness is also adjustable for back height and top tension.

dg6harness

 

RUCKSACK –

The design of the rucksack itself is very reminiscent of the Wilderness Equipment SAS pack. Not overly surprising, since Ian Maley, who designed the original SAS pack (owner of Wilderness Equipment) is also the designer of the DG-6. Whilst it’s parentage is plainly obvious, there are a number of improvements evident with the DG-6. Unlike it’s older brother the SAS pack, the DG-6 has a series of loadbearing strips of webbing running across it.
These are all under the external fittings (like pockets) and essentially force the load to the frame to allow it to be “sprung”. Crossfire describes this as a “live load”.

Radio access is vastly improved. There are 2 water-proof zips to access any stowed radio. One zip is located on the top of the lid for PRC-77 type (ie. Top mounted control panels) and another zip on the side located near the frame for any side mounted control panels (such as the Australian Wagtail series. No idea what these radios are known as to the rest of the world, sorry folks). These waterproof zips are covered by fabric flaps to prevent any snagging and damage.

dg6topradioaccess

sideradioaccess

The lid has a claymore pouch mounted on it, and is able to be quickly detached for use as an E&E bag. Emergency shoulder straps are fitted for this purpose. Under the lid is a zip-access pocket for small sundry items. Since I no longer have a need to carry claymores anymore, this pocket is great for carrying my goretex raincoat.

In the main rucksack compartment is a sleeping bag tunnel, accessed via fastex clips from the bottom right hand (external) side of the pack. A really convenient feature is the internal mesh pockets to better organise kit and corruption. In mine, I stow my girly bag (toiletries), baby wipes, sewing kit and 90-mile-an-hour tape. These mesh pockets would also work very well for radio ancillary equipment.

dg6sleepingbagaccess

 

On the outside of the rucksack are 4 external pockets. Each pocket is secured by fastex clip, barrel-locked cordage and velcro. Very secure methods of closure, and can be customised to suit the load or paranoia level. It takes a load off one’s to mind to realise that the only items to be lost are due to your own negligence and lack of attention to detail when not securing kit properly, rather than equipment failure.

dg6pockets

 

Grommets are located on all bottom surfaces to drain any excess water you may have accumulated. The pack has a host of small features that gladdens the heart of this broken digger. Construction is top notch, stitching is absolutely bomb-proof. The cordura used is of high quality. I have had my DG-6 for near 6 years now, and I’m only just starting to see wear and tear. I used my pack twice a week for training walks, have taken on multi-day walks and weekend wanderings, so it’s not exactly a cupboard queen, nor do I baby my kit.

Other small details include a small patch of reflective tape (with a cover for when it’s not needed) to allow the poor bugger behind you to follow behind at night and other low viz movement occasions. Small things, but in our industry, it is the small details that count and make life easier.

dg6reflective

 

PERSONAL ASSESSMENT:
I’ve gone through a few packs (and heaps of cash) over the years to find the “ultimate pack” suitable for my needs. I can quite honestly say that while the DG-6 isn’t perfect, it comes damn close. I still find the sensation of strapping this thing a novelty. With a properly packed DG-6, one can feel the weight of the load, but the usual discomfort from a fully loaded pack is lacking. This has been observed by all my mates who tried the pack on. This is surprising, since the pack is currently set up for my lanky frame, whilst some of my mates are short and squat.

 

CONS –

Unfortunately, non-modular design. One can’t customise the pack layout to suit individual needs. I personally don’t find this much of a problem.

 

The hip belt, due to it being a compromise design to allow it to be tucked away for wear with belt webbing, isn’t as efficient at load bearing as it could be. But since this was originally designed as a really general purpose pack to suit a wide variety of user tastes and equipment, this is expected. There is no such as a free-lunch. The old saying jack of all trades, master of none is applicable in this case.

The pack is made in Vietnam. I really would prefer a pack that is both designed and built here in Australia, but such is life and the realities of the global economy we live in nowadays.

 

PROS –

After having carried the Australian issued internal frame combat pack (absolute unmitigated offal), a custom large frame ALICE, and civilian standard internal hiking packs for many years, I have found this pack one of the most  comfortable for a military pack. The comfort level has only been surpassed by  the DG-3 and Mystery Ranch line in recent times. The entire  rucksack/harness/frame combination is a sprung load, offering so much comfort.  The whole load actually flexes with the body, reducing fatigue and lessening  the impact upon the body. I have personally found whilst carrying fairly decent  loads (about 25kgs/55 lbs for a walk in cold weather environments) that I could  feel old injuries, but no new ones had developed. So, in essence, struggling up  heart-breaking yarma’s still blow’s goats, but it’s definitely less of a chore  than with other designs.

I bought this pack because when I first got out of the service, I liked an external frame backpack with external  pockets because I’m lazy and set in my ways. I like such essential items as water, first aid kits and what have you easily accessible. I’m not a big fan of the internal frame civvy walking pack. The colours are too bright, and I can’t stand some of the features. This means I often get into some [heated] discussion with yoghurt sprout eating motherf#ckers (oops, sorry: long-haired civvy bushwalking crowd) about the gear I “should” be carrying and what “actually” works. Of course, many of these w@nkers have never slept in a cold wet ditch like a mongrel dog. So much for tolerance and respecting others from those squeezers. Perhaps they should respect my diversity some time?? But I digress, and will now step off my soapbox.

Although nowadays I have joined the modern world, and gone over to an internal framed pack – once I’d found one that matches features with my experience and fetishes. Like many things in this modern world, I’ve left the ranks of the Luddites and embraced the new developments that time and technology can provide.

Maneuevering this pack through dense vegetation and terrain is a lot easier compared with many competitors due to the ergonomic design. The pack sits well within the width of the shoulders, not detracting too much from ducking and weaving through thick scrub. Situational awareness is improved with the head being free to swivel and scan high without impediment. Small things, but very good attention to detail from the designers.

 

SUMMARY:

So, final recommendation? I highly rate the DG-6. It definitely gets two thumbs up. Matter of fact, since I keep getting people ask me about it when I’m off stomping around on my training walks, I was of a good mind to start charging Crossfire for an agent’s commission, since I keep singing the praises of their gear.

Ironic nowadays, since I am acting as an agent for Crossfire.

 

The only thing nowadays, is that the DG-6 has been surpassed by such packs as the DG-3 and the Mystery Ranch line, which is discussed elsewhere.

 

I can say though, that there is word around the campfire that the DG-6 is to be given a new lease on life with a version fitted with the Mystery Ranch NICE frame and some more end-user input on the design (including some small input from yours truly). I’m really looking forward to seeing the new and improved DG-6 when it’s released into the market. When I get my slimy tentacles on it, you’ll be the first to see a review.


Posted in Crossfire, Long Range, Military, Packs & Webbing by with 9 comments.

Comments

  • Midway says:

    I started with the issue pack, then put an ALICE frame on it & thought that was tops, then bought an Auscam DG-6 which I’ve had for a few years. It’s superb. It’s won many admiring glances & comments, including from people who have single letter surnames & were based in WA.

    CONS
    – As you mention, lack of modularity; the DG-6 MOLLE straps aren’t much use for attaching anything practical, but that might just be my inexperience. The DG-3 seems better in that regard, but my sweaty back much prefers the DG-6 external frame.
    – As with any pack, the bottom is always in contact with the issue webbing & so you can’t really use the pack’s hip belt as intended & you end up with too much weight on the shoulders. Again, this might be my ignorance of proper set-up, so any advice would be very welcome.
    – The lid doesn’t seem to be detachable on my pack.

    QUESTION
    What’s that you got tucked into the frame at the bottom of the pack?

    Keep up the good work. Cheers.

    • 22F says:

      Any hip-loading pack is going to have problems interfacing with issue belt webbing.
      What I used to do when serving, was jack up the belt a lot higher, turning it into a split front chest rig. It’s then still issue items only 😉

      Check the old AIF photo’s from New Guinea and the Pacific Campaigns for how high they boys would wear their ’37 Pattern Bren gun pouches.

      What’s stowed in my frame you ask? Why, one of these:
      http://packsandbeyond.com/2011/08/review-prolite-4-sleeping-mat/

  • LJ says:

    What’s your opinion on the DG-6 over the Mystery Ranch Wolf Alpha with NICE frame. I’m going on a pretty physically intense 3 week course in WA later in the year and will be carry up to 50KG at times. I can still get a DG-6 even though their no longer made. The DG-6 has the hard frame which when carrying stores or other heavy objects on top of your pack, the frame bumps stop it sitting on the back of your neck, however the Wolf Alpha is incredibly comfortable with heavy weight in the pack. What are your thoughts and experiences? Cheers

    • 22F says:

      Both are capable packs, but after having worn both, I’m in favour of the Wolf Alpha mate.

      Whilst effective, the plastic MOLLE frame on the old DG-6 was a compromise solution.

      The NICE frame in my opinion is a better option for load transferrance and comfort. If you ever have to wear armour, then the NICE with removable BVS pads is the way to go.

      If you’re restricted to belt webbing, then the shorter MOLLE frame might be a better option.

      I also find the detachable day-pack lid much more user friendly on the Wolf Alpha than the DG-6. Although this is fixed on the newer model DG-6 which I have a prototype to play with. I’m still trying to find out if I’m allowed to post pics of this prototype to impress the masses.

      Hope this helps mate.

      • DJ says:

        Very similar plans as LJ above. Was wondering on how those photos are coming along of the new prototype or any chance you can privately email them?
        Have you tried the Wolf Alpha with the Nice Wolf Pup attachment over belt webbing by any chance? I know the Wolf Alpha would work well with the correct set up of your webbing but again looking for that extra bit of room.

        • 22F says:

          I’ll have to check with Crossfire about releasing photo’s of the prototype DG-6 I have in my possession mate.

          Haven’t checked the Wolf Pup combo with belt webbing myself. I would imagine that using the ‘normal’ NICE frame with belt webbing would be do-able, but could be problematic.

          The new AUSNICE frame, with it’s stowable hip belt is now license made by Crossfire. It solves a lot of the interface problems with belt webbing and hip belts.

          • DJ says:

            Hey Bud,
            Any update on the proto type DG-6 yet? Think im pretty much locking in a Wolf Alpha. Looking forward to mystery ranch dominating the market!

  • 22F says:

    At this point in time, I can’t release any pictures of the DG-6.
    Due to the desire to submit for the ADF SCE tender, it’s currently under a Commercial-in-confidence rating.

    I can discuss it in general terms, but can’t release any pics.
    Sorry ’bout that.

    I can tell you though, it will be one of the most advanced general purpose combat packs ever offered to the ADF.

  • Jacko says:

    I actually found on of these frames at a disposal store in auscam and after a bit of haggling bought it and a dirty great alice pack the commercial auscam variety with six external pockets and side zipping pouches in order to give me more load carrying space than my WE SAS MK6 which is getting a little long in the tooth. The result was a disaster! I took it for one stomp over the hill behind Gallipoli barracks and I was bent double at the waist because the load was unbalanced due to the thoughtless design of the pack and the clash of two vastly different technologies. Such large packs would be better suited to a sord frame if you could modify it with a hip belt and a better harness. I also found the frame very bulky on my skinny frame. So in my limited foray into these frames it was decidedly uncomfortable to the point where I sold the whole lot the very next day and went back to my MK6.
    I’m using a us army issue cfp90 with some modifications these days and find it infinitely better with better technology though I’d have preferred an X frame rather than the two aluminum staves that run down either side.

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