Carriage systems: spreading the load correctly as important as lightening

Crossfire Australia talk about the importance of correct carriage systems for the modern war fighter

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Q: Crossfire Australia has been around for over 40 years, with products used in all conditions from the top of Everest to the harshest desert terrain, would you tell us how the company evolved into the military?

A: As you mention we started in 1980, over 40 years ago! Crossfire (AUST) P/L is a family-owned business based in Braidwood, NSW. Our extended network allows us to call upon world-class expertise to help us field new projects and respond to user feedback to refine the current production.

It all started in the mountaineering, cross-country skiing and rafting trade a long time ago. We wanted to make sure that extreme sports athletes were coming back home safe. Our objective is to design and manufacture high standard gear. We believe that it is better and safer to spend a few extra dollars to deliver the best in performance and lifetime value. This also translated into the military; it’s important that all equipment is durable and meets exacting standards.

In 1988, we had the privilege to support the army members of the Australian Association Bicentennial Everest Expedition. This really started us into over 30 years of supplying militaries across the planet.

Crossfire has a unique capability that all design and manufacturing is completed in-house. We listen to the user requirement and tailor load carriage solutions within weeks to support the end user. We also have the adaptability and flexibility to make 5 or 50,000 packs (all to the Crossfire standard, we do not accept compromise.)

DG16 (pictured left) | DG3 (pictured right)

DG16 (pictured left) | DG3 (pictured right)

Q: Correct carriage is as important as lightening the load, to avoid unnecessary injuries, would you explain from your company’s experience how this happens and how you have rectified this problem?

A: Backpack palsy is an increasing problem among military soldiers. The average load they carry is over 100 pounds. Backpacks can get as heavy as 175 pounds. The weight compresses or stretches the nerves to the arm. Soldiers report numbness, weakness and paralysis. Pain is not a problem at first but can develop later.

Brachial plexus injuries, secondary to trauma from fractures, missile wounds and other wartime injuries have long been familiar to military physicians. Less well documented, however, are those injuries related to the use of army backpacks. A few studies have addressed injuries to the brachial plexus caused by back packs.

Crossfire has approached the force preservation problem from a number of angles. The centrepiece of the Crossfire Load Carriage system is our DG Frameset. Contrary to a common held defence logistics point of view we are not all the same size and one size doesn’t fit all.

The DG Frame system has three distinct easily adjusted shoulder harness and back length adjustments, that can be effected in minutes and allows flexibility with tasks: ie. gun belt and plate carrier (the frame is designed to accept a back plate into the aperture significantly reducing plate slap and pack standoff) compared to patrol order.

The key point of difference as previously mentioned is our live frame concept. Current military pack frames under load generally move in a vertical motion when the wearer is moving. The Crossfire frame system is tuned to facilitate 10% flexion and flex’s with the wearers gait ( not vertically) this helps minimise hip soreness and significantly adds to wearers fatigue management.

The other significant difference is our harness cut. We have designed a female and male harness which differ by angles, and a few other small differences, but both share the same key benefit. The absolute reduction in brachial plexus compression (no pins and needles in fingertips).

The Crossfire complete frame system will not take the difficultly out of individual cross country military movement/ rucking but it will significantly reduce fatigue and allow the wearer to arrive ready for the fight and allow greater force preservation.

DG16 (pictured left) | DG3 (pictured right)

Q: With the varied climates and terrains that the modern war fighter works in, how have you adapted products to cover the different problems faced in these environments?

A: The Crossfire system, as previously mentioned, is purpose built for military application and the multiple environments that our militaries find themselves globally. The DG Frame system is equally as functional in 50+ or –50 with no degradation in capability. We have actively tested all of our systems in theses environments.

We understand every ounce counts and adaptability is the cornerstone of every military task. We are constantly reviewing the market globally for lighter and more flexible options, whilst maintaining the robustness and reliability of our systems. Simplicity works, Crossfire’s principle focus is on function and robustness over bling and fads.

All buckles and key components of the Crossfire system can be operated with one hand requiring no fine motor skill to operate allowing the wearer to focus on task.

All Crossfire critical buckles are field replaceable and can be replaced in minutes. Our packs are made from 530D cordura which has proven itself globally to be ideal for abrasion resistance and overall robustness in the field. Crossfire has a lifetime guarantee on all workmanship and we absolutely stand behind everything that has the Crossfire brand.

We are constantly communicating with end users about how to support and evolve our range to support them in the field. None of our range is locked in re: design and will evolve to support the war fighter.

Early 2021 evolved versions of the trialled and proven DG3 ‘Corsair’ 55 litre Patrol pack with a few new options will be released. We will also be adding the DG3 ‘Starlight’ Trauma pack and DG3 Slick to our range early 2021.

Also in early 2021 we are very excited in partnership with Cold Skills Sweden and UK to be releasing our range of AW packs and shelter options. We are particularly excited about the AW Shelter range and believe this range will be a game changer.

Crossfire has a proud and proven history but the cornerstone of what we do remains “supporting those where compromise isn’t an option.”

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