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TAD Gear Dispatch Bag

12/19/08 - The Dispatch Bag Sz2 from Triple Aught Design (TAD Gear) is an all-round, general purpose EDC (Every Day Carry) messenger style shoulder bag. Rather than a bag designed for fighting out of or organizing a full compliment of 'tactical' gear, the Dispatch bag is laid out like more of a mobile office for the laptop-armed traveller and everyday user. That being said, it's versatile enough to be used for a variety of non-administrative pursuits.

Overall design and features - The Dispatch bag is designed as a medium sized, all purpose messenger-style work bag approximately 17" wide x 11" tall x 5" deep (external dimensions) with an internal capacity of about 800 cu.in. MIL-SPEC materials are used throughout, including 1000D DuPont Cordura nylon with stain protector, 420D Oxford, mil-spec velcro, high tensile strength composite nylon thread and nylon webbing, YKK nylon coil zippers and ITW Nexus Ghillietex hardware. It has one main compartment with padded divider, two full size external zippered pockets, a side 'flashlight cave' pocket, and a front organizer. There is also a removable admin/laptop sleeve with its own organization. The main compartment is closed with a flap, which has TAD's TIBS webbing on it. Elsewhere, the Dispatch features both PALS and TIBS webbing for attachment of additional pouches. It's supplied with a single padded shoulder strap which is removable. It's available in black, OD green, foliage green, coyote/khaki and Crye MultiCam and weighs approximately 3 lbs.

External Features

Flap - The Dispatch has a large front/top flap that covers the top and most of the front. The flap has darts sewn into it so that it forms a 'box' shape over the top, fully enclosing it without gaps. It's lined with 420D Oxford nylon.
The 2" wide webbing top carry handle is sewn to the flap, biased toward the back of the bag. In front of that, is a row of TAD's TIBS webbing, which is 1" webbing over 2" webbing. It is 10 columns wide. It's molle compatible, but with only one row, it's more suitable for TAD's smaller TIBS pouches. At the top front of the flap is a 16" x 3" loop velcro field for patches etc. (the MultiCam flag shown is not included). Right below the velcro field is another row of TIBS webbing, also 10 columns wide. The flap secures to the front of the bag with two velcro strips on the back, plus side release buckles on the front. Flush-mount ITW Ghillietex female buckles are mounted to the flap while the male buckles are mounted on straps on the front of the bag body. D-rings are sewn to the ends of the cinch-down straps - I could probably do without them there as I don't have a use for them and would prefer to have less hanging off the bag.

Body - The body of the Dispatch bag is padded with closed-cell foam on the sides, bottom and rear panels. The front panel relies on the thickness of the flap and the front organizer to provide protection. The sides are covered in 5 rows and 3 columns of PALS webbing, two of them being the TIBS webbing. The back panel is covered in 5 rows and 12 columns of PALS. The two end columns are 1" wide instead of 1.5", but will still accept molle-compatible straps.

Shoulder strap - The Dispatch shoulder strap is quick-detachable via the ITW Ghillietex SR buckles at the ends (one male, one female) with the corresponding buckles sewn at the top of the sides of the body. The strap is made of 2" wide webbing and has a removable shoulder pad which is lined with heavy duty Drilex.

 


BHP for size reference

Front view

Back view

Bottom

Side

 

Outside Compartments - The Dispatch bag has three external zippered compartments and a front organizer.

Rear Compartment/Hideaway pocket - The body-side rear compartment measures about 15" wide and 10" tall. It is lined with a large 13" wide x 8" tall loop velcro field that is compatible with any velcro accessories like mag holders or a gun holster (not included). Otherwise, it's suitable for large, flat items. I initially thought that something like a handgun would be uncomfortable inside the rear compartment, pressing against my body, but discovered that it wasn't really the case. However, when the Dispatch is loaded up and the weight of the bag is pressing up against my body, I didn't find the compartment lightning quick or easy to access, as I wear the bag high, not slung low. The Dispatch is designed more as a messenger style work bag, not a CCW gun bag, so it's not really meant as a 'immediate access' compartment for something you need in an instant. But, if you want to carry a gun 'just in case', you'll have the means to do so and it'll be there if you need it.

Front Compartment - This is located in the front panel and is the same size as the rear compartment. It is not lined with velcro and is best used for flatter items.

Right Side Flashlight Cave - A bottom opening, zippered exclusive TAD Gear "flashlight cave" is located on the right panel of the Dispatch bag. This is the size of the full side panel. A D-ring is sewn inside at the top for attaching the optional Gear Keeper. The TAD Gear Keeper is a retracting 24" plastic-coated stainless steel braided cable with a split ring on the end and snap hook on the housing. A flashlight can be attached to the gear keeper so that it's tethered inside the cave. When it's needed, you just unzip the compartment and pull it out. Since it's on the right side, the Flashlight Cave is optimized for right-side wear of the Dispatch Bag.

Front Organizer - On the front panel, accessed by lifting the main flap, is the front organizer. It forms a slot pocket behind it 8" wide x 7" tall. There's a full sized zippered compartment for misc small items and two slot pockets in the front. They're suitable for business cards, folding knives, or a light (shown here). Three pen slots are provided. The pen slots fit regular size pens but may not fit fatter ones.

 


Rear compartment

G19 in compartment

Flashlight cave

Front organizer

Front zippered compartment

Binder in main compartment

 

Main Compartment- The Dispatch Bag's main compartment is pretty spacious, measuring approximately 16" x 11" x 4.5". As you can see above, it'll easily fit a 3.5" three-ring binder with lots of room to spare. Since the Dispatch is padded, but not rigid, it'll stuff out and accomodate more bulky items. There's a dedicated laptop compartment at the rear which is padded and has a velcro/webbing closure for retention. It'll fit most 15" laptops. The inside of the DIspatch is lined with 420D Oxford nylon.

The inside of the front panel is fully lined with loop velcro. This serves a number of purposes. It provides a litle bit of padding to the contents of the main compartment, and will accomodate any velcro-mounted pouches. But mainly, it's for attaching the removable Admin Sleeve.

Admin Sleeve - The Admin Sleeve is a neat feature of the Dispatch Bag. It's meant to be used when you just need to take your laptop with you and leave the bag behind. It's not padded, but provides a measure of protection for your 15" laptop, plus accomodations for basic admin tools. It has one main compartment with a zipper closure. It has a zippered pocket measuring 9" x 5" and a clear ID window on the front. There is a 6.5" x 6" slot pocket with 4 pen loops on the front and a smaller slot pocket beside them. I'd have liked a couple of oversize pen loops for fatter pens - these are sized for standard diameter ones.

At the back of the Admin Sleeve is a strip of hook velcro which attaches it to the inside of the Dispatch Bag's front panel. When not in use, it lays flat and takes up practically no room.

 


Main compartment with laptop compartment


Velcro in main compartment

Removable admin sleeve


Admin sleeve installed

 

General Impression and Notes - As mentioned above, the TAD Gear Dispatch Bag is designed primarily as a very cool messenger-style work/EDC/laptop bag, or general purpose shoulder bag. It's not really designed as a range bag or fighting bag, nor as an oversized holster for concealed carry (although it'll accomodate a handgun and other 'tactical' gear. Since 'Sz2' is part of the name, I'm assuming that other sizes are planned for the Dispatch Bag. What they are, I don't know.

The Dispatch Bag is described as a 'messenger-style' bag. When I was a kid in England, I carried my books in a little leather shoulder bag with front flap which I called 'my satchel'. When first got the Dispatch Bag, it actually reminded me of it (only the Dispatch Bag is way cooler). The term 'messenger bag' is more commonly used than 'satchel' (in the States at least), and seems to be used nowadays to describe any mid-sized, rectangular-shaped shoulder-slung bag with flap closure. While the design has been around for quite a while, they've become fashion accessories and part of the urban style. Biker messenger bags have evolved from the simple shoulder bag to more optimized designs that stabilize them on a moving body, like waist or chest straps and seatbelt-type releases in front. I ride a motorcycle (and I used to ride bicycles everywhere), and one feature I deem necessary for a shoulder bag for use on a bike is a waist strap to keep the bag on you back, and to prevent it from rotating tothe front where it gets in the way. I asked Patrick at TAD about this, and they're giving it some thought and might offer a waist strap as an accessory. That being said, it's a relatively simple matter to rig one up given the PALS webbing on the rear panel.

I also asked Patrick about the PALS on the rear panel, as personally, I probably wouldn't mount anything there. He replied that it was to give the user the option. Better to have and not use than need and not have. They don't take up any room and he felt that it was a good use of the available space on the rear panel. Plus, PALS on the rear panel provides a mounting interface for future projects. Always thinking ahead...

As for the TIBS/PALS on the flap, I wouldn't mount anything but very small pouches on there, and probably on the upper row instead of the lower. When wearing the bag and accessing the main compartment, I'll tuck the bottom of the flap under my chin sometimes or flip it completely over so it's at the back of the bag, and having it 'slick', without the weight of pouches or items on there helps. At most, I'd stick a BC4/BC8 or iCOMM pouch there. The PALS webbing on the sides of the bag are a better place for pouches.

Now, the description on the website says that the Dispatch Bag fully integrates with TAD's Gear Bandoleer. The shoulder strap is removed, and the Dispatch Bag clicked to the Bandoleer, the Bandoleer essentially replacing the shoulder strap. I've illustrated this in the photo below. However, when I tried this configuration, the Dispatch Bag hung way too low for me, even with the Bandoleer straps shortened as much as they'd go. I'm 5' 7", so keep that in mind if you're vertically challenged like me. Using the Dispatch with the Bandoleer is for tall guys only. While it's an option for the user to try out, I prefer using just the shoulder strap as it's less bulky and easier to swing the bag aorund to the front to access the contents.


Gear bandoleer installed

EDC means different things to different people - depending on where you work and what your daily routine is. I don't carry much to work; just basic admin items (I still use a day planner), a couple of lights, notebooks, multitool, my breakfast and a bottle of water sometimes. The Dispatch has more than enough room to carry my daily items in the spacious main compartment. I either drive or ride my motorcycle to work. Since the Dispatch doesn't have a waist strap, I didn't use it when riding the motorcycle to work (I did try it around the block but it'd creep around to the front as I ride sportbikes and am leaning forward). However, depending on what kind of bike you drive or ride, and how upright your riding position is, it might work for you.

The layout of the Dispatch Bag is designed more as a mobile office than a range bag (I think of it as an uber-cool soft briefcase), and looks more professional than a backpack in an office environment (in the solid colours). Since the main compartment isn't divided except for the laptop pocket (which is great for manila folders, loose paper and magazines), it'll fit large bulky items like binders and books but will not organize smaller, heavy items. If you try to use it for heavier, small items like loaded rifle mags, they won't stay in place unless you have other bulky items to keep them there. Patrick mentioned that he's used it as a light gym bag, and it'll certainly carry a change of clothes and shoes.

Whatever you use it for, the Dispatch bag is well made with TAD Gear's typical attention to quality, detail and unique features.

 


Front view


Back


TAD Gear F.A.S.T Pack - P.S. (Patrol Size)

10/05/07 - The best way I can describe the F.A.S.T. Pack P.S. (Patrol Size) from Triple Aught Design (TAD Gear) is that it's like their previous F.A.S.T. Alpha packs, but re-engineered and given a healthy dose of steroids. Shown here is the 10th Anniversary Package, which includes the P.S. pack, padded waist belt, TAD Gear cable gear keeper and special embroidered patch. The P.S. is 1000 cu.in. larger than the Alpha model, shown below for size comparison (ignore the colours in the two photos below - the combination of artificial lights and natural light screwed up the white balance of the camera. The photos at the bottom of the review where I'm wearing the pack are an accurate representation of the colours). You can see that the P.S. is larger in all three dimensions than the Alpha. The P.S. pack is a limited run of 100 pieces in each colour (Black, Crye MultiCam or Foliage Green).


P.S. and Alpha

Overall design and features - The F.A.S.T. Pack P.S. (Patrol Size) is a 2800 cu.in. 3-day sized pack. MIL-SPEC materials are used throughout, including 1000D DuPont Cordura nylon with stain protector, high tensile strength composite nylon thread and nylon webbing, YKK nylon coil zippers and ITW Nexus Ghillietex hardware. Overall dimensions (stuffed, approx) are 21" in height, 15" in width and 9" deep at the bottom. The P.S. is slightly wedge shaped, narrowing to about 11" wide and 6" deep at the top. It weighs just shy of 5 lbs empty.

Body - The P.S. is a front/panel opening pack with a two-way YKK coil zipper running over the top and halfway down each side. On the front of the pack near the top is a large 12" x 3" loop velcro patch. Right below that are two rows X 8 columns of PALS webbing. The top row is TAD's two inch base (TIB) webbing under the 1" webbing for non-MOLLE accessories that use 2" webbing for an attach point. The front of the Transporter Tail has 5 rows X 6 columns of PALS, with the 2nd and 4th rows having the two inch base webbing underneath. The PALS fields on the sides are divided into upper and lower areas, and separated by the side pocket zipper. The top PALS area has three rows of PALS webbing. The top row has 3 columns and the bottom rows have 4 columns. The middle row has two inch base webbing underneath it. The lower PALS field (on the outside of the side pocket) has 3 rows X 6 columns of PALS, with the middle row having the two inch base webbing. There are 3 rows X 7 columns of PALS on the bottom of the pack for attaching additional MOLLE items.

On the top of the P.S. is an internally reinforced drag/carry handle. The four side compression straps either connect to each other across the front of the pack, or to the transporter tail, when it is up. They have dual-adjust SR buckles and the straps can be adjusted on both male and female ends. There are two additional compression straps on the bottom of the pack, both for lashing other gear or to compress the bottom of the pack. At the top of the pack are two compression straps that are attached to the shoulder straps. Snugging them up pulls the top front of the pack towards the back. The bottom of the pack has two grommets for drainage. All adjustable pack straps have velcro 'Neat Wings' to keep the straps rolled up and tidy. Very nice and convenient to have those.

Shoulder straps - At 4", the P.S. has the widest shoulder straps out of any pack I've seen. Do they need to be that wide I wondered? At first, I felt that they were too wide and could rub the sides of my neck. Upon asking Patrick Ma of TAD about it, he explained that the pack is meant to be worn lower on the back (with the hip belt properly placed on the hips), so the neck isn't as close to the attach points of the shoulder straps. Worn that way, there was adequate clearance on both sides. Another reason for the wider straps is that this is not a suspension pack, and a greater percentage of the weight of the pack is borne by the shoulders. Alpine Pack Grade closed-cell foam padding is used inside the shoulder pads and also on the back of the pack. 1" webbing on top of 2" webbing is sewn vertically to the shoulder pads, for attachment of small accessory pockets. The shoulder pads also have elastic hydration tube guides and D-rings. The 3/4" wide sternum strap is removable and is elastic backed. The shoulder straps are quick-releasable via the ITW Ghillietex SR buckles. The shoulder pads and back are fully lined with heavy duty Drilex. Drilex is much more abrasion resistant than Coolmax and will not wear nor pill as quickly.

Waist Belt - The contoured Waist/hip belt is removable and has two rows of PALS webbing around it. It can be used as a stand-alone pistol/load bearing belt. It's padded and fully lined with Drilex. Elastic loops on the 2" webbing strap help secure the loose ends. The belt is tightened by pulling the 2" webbing forward.

 


Front view

Side

Back view

Bottom

Waist Belt removed

 

Transporter Tail - The Transporter Tail on the P.S. is of the F.A.S.T. Pack Alpha Gen II design. It's purpose is for quick stowage of a jacket or for bulky/long items that may not fit inside the pack. It has a pocket, or "Rifle Stock Slot" incorporated into it, where a rifle stock can be placed when the Tail is deployed. See the Gen 2 review for an illustration for how this works. Although using the Tail to carry a longer rifle puts the barrel lower, you can't set the pack down upright nor easily access the contents of the main compartment when a rifle is strapped to the back.

Outside Pockets - Though not immediately obvious at first glance, the P.S. has six external zippered pockets.
Top Admin Pocket - This is a large zippered pocket approximately 11" wide x 12" tall. The zipper is right above the loop velcro field at the top front of the pack. Inside the pocket is an organizer with 4 pen slots, and 4 slot pockets for various small items like an iPod, multi tool, flashlight, phone etc.
Large Snack Pocket - This is located behind the Transporter Tail and measures 12" x 10". I'm able to fit four M4 30-round USGI magazines inside it, side by side.
Dual Side Accessory Pockets - On each side of the pack, with its opening a little more than halfway down, is a zippered accessory pocket. Each pocket measures about 9" wide x 9" tall and fits USGI 1-qt canteens (with the top sticking out). A medic shear retainer slot pocket is inside the right side pocket, and can be used for other small items. I discovered that these side pockets fit the butt stock of an M4 carbine perfectly. With a rifle carried this way, the side compression straps keep it secured, and the pack can be set down upright on its bottom. The rifle rides higher of course, but isn't in the way and the c.g. is closer to your back. The weight of the rifle is offset to the side, but can be compensated for if need be.
Dual Flashlight Caves - The P.S. has zippered flashlight caves instead of the velcro-closed pockets on the F.A.S.T. Alpha packs. The flashlight caves are behind the Dual Side Accessory pockets, and are the same size, only bottom opening. The P.S. comes with a TAD cable gear keeper which is a retractable stainless steel cable lanyard. It can be installed in the left or right flashlight cave D-ring (located at the top of the pocket). The flashlight caves can be opened, accessed and zipped closed while the pack is worn.

 


Transporter tail

Large Snack pocket with four M4 mags

Inside top Admin pocket

Flashlight cave

Medic shear retainer in side pocket

M4 butt in side pocket

 

Main Compartment and Hydration pocket - The P.S. has a cavernous main compartment, the size of the main dimensions of the pack. On the interior of the front flap is a large mesh zippered pocket, about 12" x 12" in size. There are two common loops at the top, on the back panel, for hanging an optional organizer. A key hanger is also found at the roof of the pack. A 420D liner separates the main compartment from the hydration pocket, which is accessed from the outside back of the pack. An L-zip runs from the right side of the pack to the top, which allows access to the full-sized hydration pocket and HDPE frame sheet pocket. Hangers at the top of the compartment are compatible with all hydration bladder systems. The hydration tube is routed through an opening in the 420D divider, and exits the top of the P.S. through a velcro-flapped port.

Frame Sheet - The HDPE pocket is against the wearer's back, so that a full hydration bladder bulges into the main compartment, not the wearer. The HDPE framesheet is removable. It should be noted that a framesheet provides shape, stability and support for the pack, and is not meant to be a substitute for a suspension system, so most of the weight of the pack is borne on the shoulders. That being said, I found that snugging up the waist belt around my hips (not my waist) did help offload some of the weight off my shoulders with a medium load of about 35 lbs. More than that, and the more of the weight was on my shoulders.
I also noticed that the HDPE sheet 'creaked' inside its pocket when I loaded the pack up and started moving. I discovered that the rubbing of the framesheet material against the liner fabric produced the creaking sound. I used some 200 grit sandpaper to lightly rough up both sides of the surface of the HDPE framesheet (just enough to get rid of the completely smooth surface) and the creak went away.

 


Main compartment

Hydration pocket

Frame sheet pocket

HDPE framesheet

 

The P.S. has more than a third more volume than the F.A.S.T. pack Alpha model, and it's more obvious when you compare them in person than in photos. Still, the P.S. has a relatively streamlined profile due to its wedge shape. Instead of riding high on the back like the Alpha, the P.S. is designed to ride a bit lower on the back, for a lower center of gravity.
Rather than a specialized lightweight civilian backpacking hiking pack, I see its role more suited to a hard-use assault-type or general use 3-day patrol pack like the large Eagle AIII or large Becker Patrol Packs which are of similar volume and without internal suspension systems (other than framesheets). Such packs are designed for use where the benefit of a suspension system may not be realized due to conflicts with equipment that often preclude the use of a hip belt (web gear, load bearing belt, body armor etc). Since much of the weight might fall on the shoulders, the extra width of the P.S's shoulder straps/pads to distribute the weight over a larger area is appreciated.
Examining the bomb-proof construction of the P.S., I think that there's little doubt that it can be loaded up beyond the comfort limit of a non-suspension pack. Like the F.A.S.T. Pack Alpha before it, the P.S. has some pretty unique and useful features with a lot of thought behind each of them.

The P.S. is shown below with the 10th Anniversary patch, and a couple of TAD accessory pouches; the BC8 battery case on the right side of the pack, the BC4 case on the left shoulder, and the iCOMM pouch (described below) on the left side of the pack.

 




With iComm pouch on side



With BC8 case on side

 

TAD Gear iCOMM Pouch - The iCOMM pouch is a 4.5" tall X 2.75" wide x 0.75" deep pouch for small electronics, like the iPhone, iPod, compact digital cameras and such. It also fits the BC8 Batuca battery cases as well. The box design lid totally encloses the contents, while the angled top flap allows wires to exit the pouch. It's constructed of 500D cordura and completely lined with smooth Oxford nylon fabric. The back panel is stiffened with HDPE. It can be mounted horizontally with the two velcro flaps, or vertically using the two stiffened tabs to TIB webbing. It'll also hang off a single row of MOLLE webbing. It fits my compact Sony digital camera like a glove.

 



iComm Pouch with compact digital camera



TAD Gear OP1 Pouch

10/25/07 - The OP1 Pouch from TAD Gear is a low profile organizer that can be mounted to the outside of a pack, molle rig, or as a stand-alone item shoved inside a pack. It's designed to hold and organize small items for secure and easy access in a relatively flat package. The OP1 pouch/shingle measures approximately 6.75" tall X 7.25" wide X 1" deep. Since it's fabric, it'll expand in the middle to accommodate thicker items than its 1" depth. The OP1 is constructed of 500D Cordura and lined with smooth 420D oxford nylon and available in Crye MultiCam (shown here), OD green, foliage green, black, khaki and coyote brown.

The OP1 has a flap on the front which covers three slot pockets. The ones on the side are 5" tall X 3" wide, and the middle one is 1" wide (for a pen). The slot pockets will fit phones, iPods, a compass etc. Behind the front slot pockets is a velcro-closed flat pocket 4" tall X 6.5" wide, which will store Power bars, snacks, etc.

On the back are two 2TAC molle-compatible straps (utilizes 3 rows and 4 columns of PALS) which are also compatible with TAD's 2TIBS webbing system (1" webbing on top of 2" webbing). No Malice clips are needed. The 2TAC straps secure at the ends with velcro and are very secure. There are also two D-rings at the top rear of the pouch, for dummy cording it, or attaching a length of webbing or 550 cord to use as a shoulder strap.

 


S&W M&P for scale

Front and back

Front slot pockets

Front flat pocket

 

To give you an idea of the size of the interior, two USGI 30-round magazines will fit inside, with room to spare on the sides. The dual zipper extends around the pouch on three sides, allowing it to be opened out flat. Against the back panel is a full-sized slot pocket, with heavy-duty elastic webbing keepers sewn on its front. The front panel has a zippered pocket (so the contents don't fall out if the panel is zipped completely open when the pouch is mounted vertically), and the same elastic webbing sewn to it. The elastic webbing keepers consist of 1" elastic sewn over 2" elastic, sewn down with various spaces to hold a variety of different items. As shown in the pics, they'll hold pistol mags, flashlights, pens, folding knives, mini-pry bars, tools etc.

When mounted to a pack or chest rig, it's necessary only to open up the zippers part way to access the contents as the pouch is flexible enough to open up. I didn't have any problems retrieving items from the pockets or elastic slots. Thrown inside a pocket of a pack, the OP1is just as convenient for keeping track of those small items if your pack doesn't have much compartmentalization.

 


2 USGI 30 rnd mags

Inside

Loaded up

Open part way

Mounted to P.S. pack

TAD Gear Round Pocket

1/28/09 - The TAD Gear Round Pocket is a fully padded round/cylindrical pouch designed to hold multiple items and will fit virtually all 32oz water bottles. It'll also accomodate many large camera zoom lenses, night vision, or just about anything else which will fit inside.

Description - The Round Pocket measures approximately 9.5" tall X 4.5" wide X 4" deep. It's constructed of 1000D cordura, and is lined with 420D pack cloth. It's fully padded with closed cell foam all around to protect and insulate its contents. It's available in Crye MultiCam (shown here), OD green, foliage green, black and coyote/khaki.

The Round pocket has a cross section of a traditional mailbox (rotated vertically) - round on the outside with a flat back. The lid fully encloses the opening and is secured with a flush mount ITW female buckle, with the male on a piece of webbing. The pocket will accomodate items slightly longer than its height, as the lid will deform and also still covers the opening even when not all the way down. There is a small, velcro-closed mesh compartment inside the lid for small items like water purification tabs etc.
There are three rows of PALS webbing, each with 8 columns. The center row is TAD's TIBS webbing (1" over 2" webbing). The Round pocket can be attached to most MOLLE compatible platform via the two tabs in the back. There are also two D-rings at the top of the tabs, to which a 1" webbing shoulder strap is clipped for shoulder carry. A grommet is provided at the bottom of the pocket for drainage.


Observations and notes - Some of the things I'm able to fit in the Round Pocket are a nalgene bottle, Jetboil, and a thermos flask. I was surprised that the thermos fit, as it was a bit taller than the pocket, with the cup screwed on. The padding works in two ways; to protect fragile items from impacts, or to provide temperature insulation (at least for a while). A cold nalgene bottle taken from the fridge will remain cold longer in the Round pocket than not, same thing with warm liquids.

It's not too big to mount on the Dispatch bag, and not overly unwieldy if you want to save space inside the bag and want the pouch mounted on the outside. Mounted to the side of the Dispatch bag facing the front, it's easy to get to. Mounted to the side of a backpack, it's less obtrusive, but accessing it requires the pack be removed or at least swung around to the front on one shoulder.

I'm actually using the Round Pocket right now as a stand-alone item, with the shoulder strap, for a very non-tactical purpose right now: carrying baby stuff in it when we go out. My wife likes it as it has shape to it and it doesn't collapse. It'll keep a milk bottle warm for a while, plus hold a supply of our son's snacks, food, wipes and drool cloth etc for a single outing. And a binkie in the mesh compartment at the top. Probably not what TAD had in mind when they designed it, but it works well for this very important purpose. Plus it looks way cooler than the water bottle carrier I used to have as a kid.

 


Lid open

Inside

Shoulder strap attached

It'll fit these

Mounted to Dispatch Bag

TAD Gear RECON Pouch

3/14/09 - The TAD Gear RECON Pouch is a smallish sized pouch designed to carry and protect accessories such as GPS, electronic devices, mid-sized digital cameras, compact optics etc. It can be mounted to a belt, MOLLE rig or carried around on a shoulder strap (not included).

Description - The RECON Pouch measures approximately 5.25" tall X 3.5" wide X 2" deep. It's constructed of 1000D cordura, and is lined with 420D pack cloth. It's fully padded with closed cell 1/8" thick foam on the front and back panels to protect its contents. It's available in Crye MultiCam (shown here), OD green, foliage green, black and coyote/khaki.

On the outside is a 5" x 3" x 1.5" expandable pocket for small note pads, 2 BATUCA battery cases, or similarly sized items. On the inside of the main compartment is a slot pocket/interior divider for small tools or media cards etc. The main compartment has a dual zipper opening using covert YKK #8 coil zippers.

The back features TAD's Dual Mounting Strap System which mounts to most belts, MOLLE webbing, pack straps etc. There are two vertical straps, secured at the bottom with velcro. There are also two horizontal straps with overlapping velcro closure. These are not used when mounting the pouch to MOLLE webbing. At the top of the vertical straps are two D-rings, for attaching a shoulder strap (like on the TAD Gear Round Pocket above).


With M4 mag for scale

Rear

Front pleated pocket

Side view

Opening

Aimpoint Comp M4 in pouch

Observations and notes - The one thing I'd like to see improved on the RECON pouch is that I'd prefer that the vertical straps weave in and out of MOLLE webbing from the top. As they are, the top horizontal strap prevents weaving of the vertical straps, so only the bottom horizontal strap is used to weave it in and out of MOLLE webbing so the pouch is elevated. This is not optimal so I decided to hand sew a horizontal piece of webbing in between the horizontal velcro straps so I could weave the vertical straps through MOLLE webbing (photo below). The additional piece of webbing allows the pouch to mount to PALS normally and results in a much more stable pouch.

The RECON pouch has more than enough room for my compact digital camera. I can fit the camera and a mini-tripod inside it. I also found that it fit an Aimpoint Comp M4 and tall LaRue Tactical mount perfectly if you have a need to store it there. I sometimes remove my LaRue 'po boy' magnifier from a rifle and switch it to another one, and the pouch is a good place to put it if needed. The RECON pouch is the perfect size for Aimpoints and EOTech red dot sights or magnifiers, keeping them well protected. The outside pleated pocket is a logical place for optic batteries in a BATUCA case. All in all, it's a well made, practical little pouch.


TAD Gear F.A.S.T Pack EDC

11/9/07 - The new F.A.S.T. Pack EDC from Triple Aught Design (TAD Gear) is the latest (as of this writing) evolution of their F.A.S.T. Alpha pack series. It's styled very much like the FAST Pack P.S. shown above, but with 1000 cu.in. less capacity. Green, black, Brookwood USMC coyote brown, khaki, and Crye MultiCam. The Brookwood USMC Coyote Brown is shown here. I found it to be a very attractive shade, with all colour-matched webbing and hardware.


FAST EDC

Coyote Brown EDC against Desert MARPAT

Overall design and features - If you've read the F.A.S.T. Pack P.S. (Patrol Size) write up above and get the impression you're reading it again in this EDC write up, it's because they share so many features in both design and manufacture. I'll keep shared features the same and mention the differences. Anyways, the EDC is a 1800 cu.in. day-sized pack, also small enough for EDC (Every Day Carry). Packed right, it'll also serve as an overnighter. The general specs are the same as the P.S. - MIL-SPEC materials are used throughout, including 1000D DuPont Cordura nylon with stain protector, high tensile strength composite nylon thread and nylon webbing, YKK nylon coil zippers and ITW Nexus Ghillietex hardware. Overall dimensions (stuffed, approx) are 20" in height, 14" in width (at the back, bottom) and 6.75" deep at the bottom. The EDC is slightly wedge shaped, narrowing to about 10" wide and 4.5" deep at the top. It weighs 4.5 lbs empty with the waist belt.

Body - The EDC is a front/panel opening pack with a two-way YKK coil zipper running over the top and halfway down each side. On the front of the pack near the top is a large 10" x 3" loop velcro patch. Right below that are two rows X 8 columns of PALS webbing. The top row is TAD's two inch base (TIB) webbing under the 1" webbing for non-MOLLE accessories that use 2" webbing for an attach point, like Tekloks. The front of the Transporter Tail has 5 rows X 6 columns of PALS, with the 2nd and 4th rows having the two inch base webbing underneath. The transporter tail is narrower than the P.S., and only the top 3 rows have a usable 6 columns. The lower two have 4 columns that are usable. The PALS fields on the sides are divided into upper and lower areas, and separated by the side pocket zipper. The top PALS area has three rows of PALS webbing. The top row has 2 columns and the bottom rows have 3 columns. The middle row has two inch base webbing underneath it. The lower PALS field (on the outside of the side pocket) has 3 rows X 4 columns of PALS, with the middle row having the two inch base webbing. There are 3 rows X 7 columns of PALS on the bottom of the pack for attaching additional MOLLE items.

On the top of the EDC is a newly designed reinforced drag/carry handle. The four side compression straps either connect to each other across the front of the pack, or to the transporter tail, when it is up. They have dual-adjust SR buckles and the straps can be adjusted on both male and female ends. There are two additional compression straps on the bottom of the pack, both for lashing other gear or to compress the bottom of the pack. At the top of the pack are two compression straps that are attached to the shoulder straps. Snugging them up pulls the top front of the pack towards the back. The bottom of the pack has two grommets for drainage. All adjustable pack straps have velcro 'Neat Wings' to keep the straps rolled up and tidy.

Shoulder straps - The EDC has Contour-FleX shoulder straps which use low profile, dense foam padding and strategically designed ergonomic contours for maximum load distribution without bulk. These modern mountaineering inspired shoulder straps replace other much bulkier style shoulder straps with better performance and comfort. I like the way they're contoured, but they have to be positioned at the correct height on the shoulders for the contours to match your body properly. Definitely an improvement over the previous versions and where the refinement of design shows.
Alpine Pack Grade closed-cell foam padding is used inside the shoulder pads and also on the back of the pack. 1" webbing on top of 1.5" webbing is sewn vertically at 2" intervals to the shoulder pads, for attachment of small accessory pockets. The shoulder pads also have elastic hydration tube guides and D-rings. The 3/4" wide sternum strap is removable and is elastic backed. The shoulder straps are quick-releasable via the ITW Ghillietex SR buckles at the bottom. The shoulder pads and back are fully lined with heavy duty Drilex.

Waist Belt - The contoured Waist/hip belt is removable (see P.S. Pack review for photos of the removed belt) and has two rows of PALS webbing around it. It can be used as a stand-alone pistol/load bearing belt. It's padded and fully lined with Drilex. Elastic loops on the 2" webbing strap help secure the loose ends. The belt is tightened by pulling the 2" webbing forward.

 


Front view

Side

Back view

Bottom

Waist Belt

 

Transporter Tail - The Transporter Tail on the P.S. is of the F.A.S.T. Pack Alpha Gen II design. Its purpose is for quick stowage of a jacket or for bulky/long items that may not fit inside the pack. It has a pocket, or "Rifle Stock Slot" incorporated into it, where a rifle stock can be placed when the Tail is deployed. See the Gen 2 review for an illustration for how this works. Although using the Tail to carry a longer rifle puts the barrel lower, you can't set the pack down upright nor easily access the contents of the main compartment when a rifle is strapped to the back.

Outside Pockets - The EDC has five external zippered pockets.
Top Admin Pocket - This is a large zippered pocket approximately 10" wide x 12" tall. It's bigger than you'd think - in the photo below, I've illustrated the extent of the admin pocket by the red shaded are. The zipper is right above the loop velcro field at the top front of the pack. Inside the pocket is an organizer with 4 pen slots, and 4 slot pockets for various small items like an iPod, multi tool, flashlight, phone etc. This is the pocket where I keep the most frequently-accessed items, as no buckles need to be unsnapped to access it.
Large Snack Pocket - This is located behind the Transporter Tail and measures 11.5" wide x 8.5" tall. I'm able to fit four M4 30-round USGI magazines inside it, side by side. I've shown it below with four Magpul PMAGs, which are a snugger fit than USGI mags. I should just start using 30 round mags as a unit of measure - "four mag units wide"...etc
Dual Side Accessory Pockets - On each side of the pack, with its opening a little more than halfway down, is a zippered accessory pocket. Each pocket measures about 8" wide x 8" tall. I'm able to fit "two mag units" in each one. Unlike the larger P.S., these side pockets won't fit the butt stock of an M4 carbine, so you can't carry it the way I illustrated for the P.S. I asked TAD the question - "why didn't you make the side pockets bigger so you could stick a nalgene bottle in them or something?" They answered that the side pockets are flat by design, so as to provide a more stable platform for MOLLE-attached pockets. If desired, the user can attach a nalgene pouch to the outside.
Right Side Flashlight Caves - The EDC has a single zippered flashlight cave on the right side. The flashlight cave is behind the Side Accessory pocket, and is the same size, only bottom opening. I was able to fit "two mag units" inside it. A D-ring inside at the top can be used for attaching a retractable stainless steel cable lanyard (available separately).The flashlight cave can be opened, accessed and zipped closed while the pack is worn.

 


Front top Admin pocket area

Organizer inside front top pocket

Bottom "snack" pocket and transporter tail

Side pocket with two mags

Flashlight cave with two mags

 

Main Compartment and Hydration pocket - The EDC's main compartment is the size of the main dimensions of the pack. On the interior of the front flap is a large mesh zippered pocket, about 11" wide x 12" tall in size. There are two small triglides at the top, on the back panel, for hanging an optional TAD Gear F.A.S.T. Admin panel. A key hanger is also found at the roof of the pack. A 420D liner separates the main compartment from the hydration pocket, which is accessed from the outside back of the pack. An L-zip runs from the right side of the pack to the top, which allows access to the full-sized hydration pocket and HDPE frame sheet pocket. Hangers at the top of the compartment are compatible with all hydration bladder systems. The hydration tube is routed through an opening in the 420D divider, and exits the top of the P.S. through a velcro-flapped port.

Frame Sheet - The HDPE pocket is against the wearer's back, so that a full hydration bladder bulges into the main compartment, not the wearer. The HDPE framesheet is removable. It should be noted that a framesheet provides shape, stability and support for the pack, and is not meant to be a substitute for a suspension system, so most of the weight of the pack is borne on the shoulders especially for heavier loads.



Hydration compartment

Frame sheet pocket

Frame sheet

Main compartment

 

Like the previous F.A.S.T. packs, the EDC has a relatively streamlined profile due to its wedge shape. Like the P.S., the EDC is designed to ride a bit lower on the back, for a lower center of gravity. The contours of the shoulder straps are conducive to this as well. It carries better than its predecessors, because of the added framesheet and refined shoulder straps. I'd estimate a maximum comfortable/practical weight of about 30 lbs for this pack. Structurally, it can certainly handle more (I put about 50 lbs in it just for kicks), but I'd go with a pack with a suspension if heavy loads are the intended use.

An important feature in an EDC pack to me is convenience/access to the contents as I'd usually access the contents more frequently than if I were on a hike. The TAD F.A.S.T. Pack EDC might seem to have more straps and buckles than necessary on an EDC pack, and some may not need the extra support or compression that they provide the pack. If that's the case, you don't have to use them. The top straps can be left unbuckled, as can the side compression straps, using the 'Neat Wings' to take up the loose end of the strap. The EDC will then be like other packs without compression straps and the insides can be accessed two seconds quicker. While all of us like convenience; it literally takes less than a second to unsnap an SR buckle - is it really an issue on a general use pack?

As for the transporter tail, I'm more likely to use it for a jacket or sweater than carrying a weapon for EDC. That being said, it's not a feature that I normally need during the course of the day. But, I'd rather it be there than not, for the rarer occasion I need it. I did, however, discover a trick to stow it out of the way, leaving the front snack pocket open for immediate access. I just rolled up the transporter tail, first 'clicking' together the opposite SR buckles on it. I then put each end of the roll through the dual webbing loops at the bottom of the pack, which keep the tail rolled up. I then tucked it under the bottom compression straps. With the transporter tail stowed, you can still use the side compression straps. They just connect in the center to each other instead of to the tail. Or you could just roll them up and not use them. In the photo below, I've rolled up the lower side compression straps and used the upper ones only.

Every Day Carry means different things to different people, depending on what your daily routine is. You might be a student using the EDC as a book bag, a bike messenger, a soldier using it as an assault pack, or someone carrying a change of clothes to the gym after work. Whether any pack suits someone's needs is up to that user to decide - which is why I present as much information and photos as I can, to help the potential user make an informed decision. The bottom line on the TAD F.A.S.T. Pack EDC is that like its bigger brother, the P.S., it's a well-made and designed pack with a lot of thought behind it.

 


Front view


Side


Back view

TAD Gear F.A.S.T. Pack Litespeed

11/29/09 - The new F.A.S.T. Pack Litespeed from Triple Aught Design (TAD Gear) is the smallest and lightest pack in their F.A.S.T. Alpha pack series. Designed with similar styling and features as its bigger brothers, the PS and EDC, the Litespeed isn't just a scaled-down version of its predecessors, but incorporates new improvements in the details that add to its usability as an alternative to the average daily-use pack. Its narrow profile allows for free range of movement for arm swing and maximum agility.

Overall design and features - The Litespeed is a 1300 cu.in. pack, 500 cu.in. smaller than the EDC model reviewed previously. 'EDC' means different things to different people, and for me at least, the smaller Litespeed is more of an EDC pack than the EDC model (which for me was more like a day pack).
MIL-SPEC materials are used throughout, including 1000D DuPont Cordura nylon with stain protector, high tensile strength composite nylon thread and nylon webbing, reverse YKK nylon coil zippers and ITW Nexus Ghillietex hardware. Overall dimensions (stuffed, approx) are 21" in height, 11" in width and 6" deep. Unlike the EDC and PS packs, which were slightly wedge shaped, the Litespeed is the same depth from top to bottom. It weighs 3.52 lbs empty. The Litespeed is available in Foliage Green (shown here), Coyote Khaki and Black.

Body - The Litespeed is a front/panel opening pack with a two-way reverse (the coil is not exposed) YKK coil zipper running over the top and down each side. The zippers run almost all the way to the bottom, stopping about 3" from the bottom. On the front of the pack near the top is a 8.5" x 3" loop velcro patch.
The front of the Litespeed is covered in PALS/TIB (Two Inch Base) webbing that is MOLLE compatible - 6 rows and 6 columns of PALS webbing. The TIB webbing under the 1" webbing is for use with non-MOLLE accessories that use 2" webbing for an attach point, like some of TAD's pouches and Tekloks.
-
The front of the Transporter Tail has 5 rows X 4 columns of PALS, with the 2nd and 4th rows having the two inch base webbing underneath. As expected, the Litespeed's transporter tail is narrower than the one on the EDC.
-
There are 5 rows x 3 columns of PALS webbing on the sides, with the third row having the two inch base webbing under it. There are 3 rows X 6 columns of PALS on the bottom of the pack for attaching additional MOLLE items, and they also serve as guide loops for the bottom compression straps.
-
On the top of the Litespeed is a new Hypalon drag/carry handle. The hypalon material is stiffer and more comfortable than the previous webbing used, making it easier to grab. Under the carry handle is a Hypalon-reinforced exit opening/flap for a hydration tube.
-
The four side compression straps either connect to the transporter tail when it is up, or to each other across the front of the pack when the transporter tail isn't being used (or removed). They have dual-adjust SR buckles and the straps can be adjusted on both male and female ends. A big change from the previous F.A.S.T. packs is that the side compression straps are now parallel to the PALS webbing, instead of running across them at an angle. The straps can now be routed between, over or under attached pouches without intefering with the PALS webbing compatibility.
-
There are two additional compression straps on the bottom of the pack, both for lashing other gear or to compress the bottom of the pack. At the top of the pack are two compression straps that are attached to the shoulder straps. Snugging them up pulls the top front of the pack towards the back. I'm not sure exactly why they're sewn down to the shoulder straps where they are instead of up a little further. My preference would have been to tack them at the top of the shoulder straps.
The bottom of the pack has two grommets for drainage. All adjustable pack straps have velcro 'Neat Wings' to keep the straps rolled up and tidy. The 'Neat Wings' are removable so that the strap ends can pass through buckles.
- The back of the pack has three padded areas, using aerated, closed-cell foam padding material for comfort, shock protection, and venting. The padding is coivered with ruggedized mesh, with the space in-between covered in Drilex. The lumbar pad features and anti-slip Hypalon patch which prevents the pack from shifting when the waist belt is snugged.

Shoulder straps - Like the EDC, the Litespeed has TAD's Contour-FleX shoulder straps which use low profile, dense foam padding and strategically designed ergonomic contours for maximum load distribution without bulk. These modern mountaineering inspired shoulder straps replace other much bulkier style shoulder straps with better performance and comfort. I like the way they're contoured, but they have to be positioned at the correct height on the shoulders for the contours to match your body properly.
- 1" webbing on top of 1.5" webbing is sewn vertically at 2" intervals to the shoulder pads, for attachment of small accessory pockets. The shoulder pads also have elastic hydration tube guides and D-rings. The 3/4" wide sternum strap is removable and is elastic backed. The shoulder straps are quick-releasable via the ITW Ghillietex SR buckles at the bottom. The shoulder pads and back are fully lined with heavy duty Drilex.

Waist Belt - The Litespeed comes with a removable 1.5" waistbelt. The Litespeed is also compatible with PS v2 and EDC v4 padded/contoured waist belts, and has the additional straps to attach to them (which can be rolled up and stowed). The velcro interface for the padded belts is found behind the lumbar pad. For a pack this small, however, a padded waist belt isn't necessary, unless it's used to carry more pouches on the PALS webbing on the belt.

 




Back view

Lumbar pad, waist belt attach point

Shoulder straps

 

Transporter Tail - The Transporter Tail on the Litespeed is a slightly downsized version of the F.A.S.T. Pack Alpha Gen II design. It's now removable from the pack when unnecessary, making for a cleaner and simpler pack. Its purpose is for quick stowage of a jacket or for bulky/long items that may not fit inside the pack. It has a pocket, or "Rifle Stock Slot" incorporated into it, where a rifle stock can be placed when the Tail is deployed. See the Gen 2 review for an illustration for how this works. Although using the Tail to carry a longer rifle puts the barrel lower, you can't set the pack down upright nor easily access the contents of the main compartment when a rifle is strapped to the back. I found the Transporter Tail on the Litespeed perfect for carrying a helmet.

Top Admin Pocket - The Litespeed has one external zippered pocket; the top Admin pocket. It's about 8.5" wide and 7" deep. The zipper is right above the loop velcro field at the top front of the pack. Inside the pocket is an organizer with 3 pen slots, and 5 other slot pockets for various small items like an iPod, multi tool, flashlight, phone etc. This is the pocket where I keep the most frequently-accessed items like my keys and phone, as no buckles need to be unsnapped to access it.

 


Transporter tail

M4 in Rifle Stock Slot

Top admin pocket

Inside admin pocket

 

Main Compartment and Hydration pocket - The Litespeed's main compartment is the size of the main dimensions of the pack. Access to the main compartment is improved by the zippers opening almost all the way down. The front flap can open almost completely for full access. Note that it is not necessary to unclick all the top and side compression straps to get access to the inside of the pack. Access to at least the top half of the pack can be had by unclicking one of the top compression strap buckles, and loosening one of the top side compression straps.
- On the interior of the front flap are two mesh zippered pockets. The top one is about 9" wide x 9" tall. The bottom one is 10" wide x 9" tall. Both have zipper openings and are pleated for expansion.

There are two small triglides at the top, on the back panel, for hanging an optional TAD Gear F.A.S.T. Admin panel (not included). A key hanger is also found at the roof of the pack. The hydration pocket has an elasticized top and hangers at the top of the compartment are compatible with all hydration bladder systems. The hydration tube is routed through the Hypalon opening at the top of the pack.



Main compartment

Hydration Pocket

 

Observations and notes - One of the things I like about the Litespeed is its narrow, long profile. The taller profile allows it to ride better on the back with the waist strap at the correct height, unlike some packs which have been made shorter to reduce volume. When I first received it, it seemed like a very 'busy' pack (like the previous TAD packs), with webbing and all kinds of straps all over. However, the straps can all be easily managed with the 'Neat Wings' and the configuration of the pack can be changed if a 'cleaner' exterior is desired.

One of the first things I saw that I wanted to change was the location of the sternum strap. As installed, it's too low for my liking, and I was actually at the end of the adjustment, even though I don't have a barrel chest. Compare the relative height of the sternum strap on the Litespeed in the photos below to the one on the F.A.S.T. Pack EDC in the writeup above. I prefer the strap to ride higher up, above my chest instead of below it, so my rib cage is allowed to expand without any pressure. Luckily, the sternum strap can be moved, and I relocated it right above the D-rings. It also gave me more adjustment. In the original location, the 1" webbing on the shoulder strap where the sternum strap is attached has some slack sewn into it to accommodate the triglide. Where I moved it to, there isn't any slack, but it still works. See relocated sternum strap in the photo below:

The shoulder straps are well designed and comfortable for light to medium loads (for this pack size). The Litespeed depends on the foam padding on the back to provide some shape. It is not as rigid as it would be with a frame sheet, and the channels between the three padded areas act as natural fold lines, so the back of the pack is quite flexible (which is fine for a pack this size). This is also one of the reasons why the supplied 1.5" waist strap is sufficient, and a wider padded belt is unnecessary. Without a frame sheet, a waist strap is just used for stability rather than distribution of load. For EDC, I actually use the Litespeed with the waist strap removed, and stowed inside the pack, as I found it stable enough without it for general use. If I'm going to be jogging around with it or hiking downhill, then the waist belt will go back on.

Access to the main compartment is better than on the previous EDC and PS, as the main zippers now open almost all the way to the bottom. The front panel can be opened out for access to the contents and the two large mesh pockets on the inside of the front panel. Note that the front panel itself isn't rigid, so the weight of items placed in the top admin pocket or internal mesh pocket will make the panel flop over when opened. The main compartment is actually quite spacious, and can 'stuff out' with larger objects than dictated by seam dimensions. The transporter tail, however, is really the key to an instant increase in load capacity. Best used for larger, bulkier items than multiple smaller ones, the transporter tail was perfect for carrying a helmet on the outside when I needed to. For EDC, I removed the transporter tail and stowed it inside the pack along with the waist belt. They take up hardly any space and are available if needed.

Besides the transporter tail, the side, top and bottom compressions straps are available if additional items need to be strapped to the pack. Convenience would be sacrificed, as at least one of the compression straps will have to be loosened for full access to the main compartment, and the load would have to be re-attached. As I mentioned above, if full access isn't needed, quite a bit of the main compartment is accessible by unbuckling one of the top compression straps and loosening one of the top side ones, as in the photo below:

While the Litespeed doesn't have as many external pockets or compartments as the larger F.A.S.T. packs, it has a good amount of organization for its size. The narrow profile also allows external pouches to be added to the sides without making the pack too bulky and wide. For those who liked the features on TAD's larger F.A.S.T. packs and wanted a smaller version, this is it.

 


Front view



Helmet in tail


Transporter tail removed

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