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ITS Tactical Discreet Messenger Bag

1/30/11 - The Discreet Messenger Bag from ITS Tactical is a messenger-style bug-out/bail-out bag with a compliment of practical features intended to meet the needs of the tactical and everyday user alike. The lack of external PALS webbing or velcro contributes to the discreet outward appearance of the DMB. It's custom made for ITS Tactical by Zulu Nylon Gear.

Overall design and features - The DMB is a medium sized, all purpose messenger-style tactical bag approximately 15" wide x 12" tall x 7" deep (external seam to seam dimensions including organizer pockets, but not the side bottle pockets). It has flap with external and internal pockets, a hidden velcro panel, one main compartment with a padded divider/compartment, a rear pistol compartment, two external zippered organizer pockets, two bottle pouches, and a secret compartment. A 2" wide adjustable webbing shoulder strap is permanently attached to the DMB, and a removable waist belt is included. The bottom of the bag has abrasion-resistant material with removable shock cord for attaching a rolled-up jacket. It's available in black, foliage green, coyote brown (shown here) and Crye MultiCam. All zippers have 550 paracord pulls.
Zulu Nylon Gear has been providing high quality custom tactical nylon to military, law enforcement, and civilian customers from all around the globe since 2007.
All Zulu Nylon Gear products are sewn in Chicago, Illinois.

External Features

Flap - The DMB has a large front/top flap that covers the top and front of the bag. On the outside of the flap are two pockets (more on that later). A 2" wide webbing top carry handle is sewn to the flap. A large 15" x 4" loop velcro field for patches is located on the front of the flap, with a removable cover that can be used to cover it if no patches are to be used for a more discreet look. The DMB comes with both ITS Tactical and Zulu Nylon Gear patches. I've also shown it below with some reflective patches that I use when I'm riding my motorcycle. It's still dark when I ride to work before 6am in the morning.

There are two female SR buckles sewn to the front of the flap. Adjustable 1" straps come from the bottom with the male buckles to secure the flap in the closed position. The straps are long, and can also be used to cinch up anything carried on the bottom of the bag. They route through a couple of loops on the bottom of the bag and also have triglides ot 'fix' the length. I pre-adjusted the loops to the length I wanted and tucked them back through the loops because the loose end would be very long if I didn't, and it wasn't necessary to cinch down the straps every time I closed the flap.

The bottom of the DMB is covered in textured, black rubberized SlipNOT material for abrasion resistance. Two drain hole grommets are located on the bottom of the bag. There are also six tab loops on the bottom through which elastic shock cord is woven. The shock cord can be used to store a rolled up jacket on the bottom of the bag, or secure other items. It's removable, and I normally store it inside the bag unless I have a need for it, as it's subject to wear and tear on the bottom of the bag.


DM Bag

Removable velcro cover

Nalgene for scale

Reflective patches installed

Straps - The 2"-wide webbing shoulder strap is sewn on, and wraps all the way under the DMB. The side-release buckle will be on the front when the bag is worn on the right side of the body, and at the back when worn on the left side. The initial length of the strap is adjustable by the length of the loose end, which loops through a triglide sewn to the bag. A second triglide keeps the loose end secure. Normal strap quick adjustment is accomplished via the sliding triglide.

A 1" wide adjustable waist strap is also included, which quick-attaches and detaches to the tab loops on the back of the bag near the top. Side-release buckles are provided at each end, and it's adjusted with a triglide.

 


Rear view

Waist strap

Side view

Top view

Bottom

 

Outside Compartments - The DMB bag has two water bottle pockets on the sides, a rear pistol compartment, and pockets on the flap.

Side Bottle pockets - There are two side pockets on the DMB. Each will fit a Nalgene bottle of USGI canteen. There's an adjustable/removable 12" long velcro strap to secure the contents. There's a velcro strip on the inside of the pocket which keeps the pocket folded flat against the side of the bag when not in use, for a low profile look. Putting a Nalgene bottle in the pocket does intrude on the interior space a bit, but not by much. When not in use, I usually stow the strap inside the pocket so that there's no exposed loop to snag on anything.

Pistol Compartment - At the rear of the DMB is a 14.5" x 11" slot pocket/compartment designed for the concealed carry of a pistol. It's closed by a 4" strip of 1" wide velcro, so the height of the pocket is actually 9" if you want the contents secured by the velcro. The compartment is lined with loop velcro on the inside of the pocket (not the bag body). The pocket itself has a 9" wide x 11" tall HDPE stiffening sheet sewn into it, to support the weight of items attached on the inside. The HDPE sheet is stiff enough to support the contents without the velcro strip opening. No accessories are included, but it's compatible with most velcro accessories. I've shown it below with a Glock 19 in the EMDOM TNT bag pistol holder. It's roomy enough to hold a full sized handgun and mags. Of course, it can also be used for flat items like documents .

Front Flap pockets - There are two external pockets on the flap. The large one is 15" wide x 11" tall with the zippered opening just above the velcro field. The small pocket is 8" wide x 5" tall (it's actually a trapezoid) with the zipper just below the velcro field. I find myself using the external pockets quite often as I don't have to unbuckle the flap and lift it up to access frequently used items like my phone, sunglasses, keys etc.

 

 


Nalgene in the side pocket

Rear compartment

Velcro lining

G19 in compartment

Front flap pockets

 

Internal Compartments

Flap map pocket - Inside the flap is a full-sized 14" x 11" map pocket with clear marine-grade vinyl. The zipper entrance is on the side.

Main Compartment- The main compartment of the DMB measures approximately 15" x 12" x 5", seam to seam. The inside front and sides are lined completely with loop velcro for attaching and organizing velcro-compatible accessories. It's also a convenient location to store the front flap velcro cover.


Map pocket inside flap

Internal compartment

Velcro lined main compartment

Velcro cover stored inside

Laptop compartment - The main compartment has a padded laptop compartment against the back panel. It should fit most 15" screen laptops, and is contoured so it'll accommodate the thickness of the laptop. It's lined with black velcro-compatible material, so if you choose to put velcro accessories in the laptop compartment, you can do so.


Front Organizer 'Drawbridge' pockets - There are two 7.5" wide x 9.5" tall x 2.5" deep organizer pockets on the front of the bag, under the main flap. They're called 'drawbridge' pockets as they open up like the drawbridge across a castle moat. 550 paracord with a cord lock is used to adjust how much the pocket opens. The zippers open completely across the top and down the sides so that the pocket panel can lay flat. The 550 cord is routed through loops and channels on the pocket flap, and loops on the main body. The channel on the flap is reinforced with HDPE which adds stiffness across the top of the flap, so it doesn't fold in half when open. That's a nice detail touch.

Both pockets have a large rear slot pocket against the bag body, and two expandable magazine pouches with elastic retention. These will hold two M4 mags or one AK mag each. They'll also hold flash-bangs, notebooks or anything else that will fit. I like these pockets a lot. The elastic can be used to hold flash lights, chemlights etc,

The left pocket flap interior is set up as an admin pouch, and has one large slot pocket. Two smaller slot pockets are sewn to it, with large elastic loops on the outside and two small elastic loops inside. I think that this pocket layout is one of the most practical I've seen in a bag.

The right pocket flap has a loop velcro field for velcro-compatible accessories. There's also a keychain lanyard D-ring on a length of webbing sewn above the main slot pocket on the body. It's also possible to mount a full sized handgun in this pocket.

Hidden pocket - The DMB also has a hidden/secret pocket for holding documents or other items that the owner doesn't want readily discovered. The location of the hidden pocket is only disclosed to those purchasing the bag, so I won't disclose it here either. The pocket entrance is well concealed and is unlikely to be found. Depending on the items hidden inside, and the tenacity of the person performing the search, it's still possible to feel the items and try to discover how they're contained, so be aware of that.

 


Organizer pockets

Organizer pocket arrangement



Adjustable opening angle

 

General Impression and Notes - As a designer, it's sometimes difficult to remain unbiased when evaluating someone else's designs. I designed the EMDOM TNT Bag for a similar role to that the ITS Discreet Messenger Bag, and decided against a messenger bag design because of the flap. I felt that the flap limits speed of access to the bag, and wanted to enable each compartment to be accessed without having to unbuckle a flap, lift it out of the way (and keep it out of the way) while items were retrieved or inserted. Another reason was that a messenger bag flap doesn't 'seal in' the contents as well as a zipper, as there's always going to be a potential opening at both ends at the top. Knowing this, however, the user can pack accordingly, and ensure that small, loose items are stowed in the zippered pockets.

However, I do realize that not everyone has the same taste in style, and that some prefer the look of the messenger bag style. Having the flap also conceals whatever pocket layout is underneath, and offers a measure of security for the covered pockets at the expense of some convenience of access. Depending on the situation however, that might not be an issue. Also, the messenger bag style is very common as most laptop cases are similarly styled, so it blends in discreetly in all public venues. So, I thought about what I'd do if I adapted the TNT bag to a messenger bag style, and I came to conclusion that it would have many of the same features as the DMB.

The DMB is very well made - quality of the stitching and workmanship is excellent. Something with this level of detail and features is defintely not cheap to produce in limited quantities; something I can attest to with my struggles to get the EMDOM TNT bag made under a target price point. My main use of the DMB was as my EDC bag (I normally use my TNT bag or Arc'Teryx Blade 21 pack), in which I carry my basic work stuff (breakfast, a canned drink or bottle, planner, documents, etc), along with some 'emergency' items like flashlights, tools etc. I ride a motorcycle to work about half the time, so I need to be a little more equipped than when driving a car. It's also one of the reasons a waist belt is important to me, as it prevents the bag from swinging around to the front. It's essential for me to keep the bag stable and planted on my back. Easy access to the contents is also a key factor for me, as taking a bag on and off while wearing a bulky armoured motorcycle jacket isn't desirable, especially when I'm carrying my helmet in one hand. I found myself using the exterior flap pockets my most of my frequently needed items (keys, badge, phone, sunglasses), as I didn't have to unbuckle and lift up the flap to access them. The larger of the two flap pockets was also big enough to carry quite a bit in addition to the main bag compartment and I had to stop myself from being lazy and overloading it.

Being a fabric bag, the DMB can hold quite a lot of stuff as you can 'stuff it out' until it bulges out. On cold mornings, I wear my Arc'teryx Atom LT jacket under my motorcycle jacket, but it gets warmer in the afternoons and I usually stow it inside my bag. There was more than enough room to stuff it in there; even the bulkier Atom AF on occasion.

I did question ITS about having the pistol compartment against the body, as I found rear-located pistol compartments more difficult to access when wearing the bag as the weight of the bag presses against the body. Not impossible; just a bit more difficult. ITS replied that if the user didn't want to mount a pistol in that compartment, the velcro-lined front drawbridge pocket can carry a handgun which can be accessed by positioning the zippers so that one opens to the front. That way, the handgun can be accessed without lifting up the flap. A small frame weapon would be able to fit in there horizontally. The one thing I'd caution about doing that is to ensure that the drawbridge 550 cord is routed or tucked in so as not to snag or interfere with the draw of the gun.

The size and interrnal layout of the two drawbridge pockets are probably the most practical I've come across on this type of bag. The two elasticized magazine pockets are a great size for a variety of items (wish I'd have put them in the TNT bag front pockets). The admin layout in the left pocket is also very practical, with its small slot pockets and elastic loops. I didn't use the velcro field in the right-side pocket, as the sewn-in layout accommodated all that I carried. The drawbridge pockets are deeper than they look, and like the main bag, can be stuffed out with a ton of items. While I wouldn't recommend it, It's entirely possible to load the DMB up so it looks like you've got a duffle bag under your arm rather than a messenger bag. But, it's nice to know that you can do it if you need to.

The one small thing I'd like to see on the DMB is to somehow make the main shoulder strap ambidextrous for right or left shoulder carry, so that the emergency release buckle can always be positioned at the front, and some sort of pull tab be incorporated into the triglide so it's easier to adjust the length of the strap when the bag is being worn. This desire comes only from my use with it on the motorcycle. As I mentioned before, I wear a bulky motorcycle jacket that has armour in the shoulders, back, elbows etc. I have to lengthen the strap to don the bag, then shorten it so that the bag rides up on my back vs. hanging down at my side.





I found the ITS Tactical Discreet Messenger Bag a very well made and thought out tactically oriented messenger-style bag. I'm certain that its practical features will be appreciated by those who are looking for a bag like this. When partially loaded, it retains its slim profile for every day use, but still retains the ability to swell when needed. It doesn't hurt that it's a great-looking piece of nylon. For the story of how the ITS Discreet Messenger Bag was conceived, visit this page at ITS.


EMDOM USA/MM Padded Multi-purpose Case (PMC)

8/4/11 - The Padded Multi-purpose Case (PMC) from EMDOM USA is a...padded, multi-purpose case. Originally designed as a protective case for carrying loaded rifle magazines, the addition of a few features makes it much more than that.

Overall design and features - The PMC was originally designed as a padded case for carrying rifle magazines, at the request of a good friend on a SWAT Team (Mike P.). He was looking for something that could carry about a 10-12 carbine magazines (G36, M4 etc) that could be used to resupply team members by tossing it over to them, or protect mags when the case is dropped or sliding around in a vehicle. Originally, I thought that a small ammo can-shaped case would work, but decided against a top-opening case as I wanted the versatility of a full panel zip case. The design is essentially like the old cassette tape cases, only made strong enough to carry loaded magazines and protect them. A dozen fully loaded M4 magazines weigh 12 lbs, so this little case needs to be sturdy.

The PMC is a full panel opening case, with thin but dense padding on all sides. It has loop velcro inside, which allows velcro accessories to be used, as well as three stiffened dividers for keeping magazines in place in a partially empty case. It comes with a shoulder strap, and has a full wrap-under web handle. Tab loops and metal D-rings are included as attach points. A transparent pocket is included on the front for a card, or ID label for identifying the contents or owner. This is also the first EMDOM product made in the USA. It's available in MultiCam, Khaki, Black and Green.

External Features

Dimensions - The PMC measures 13.5" x 9" x 3" (external), and is sized to carry magazines no longer than 9" (a 7.62x39 AK magazine). The PMC has a two-way zipper that allows the front panel to be opened up completely. The zippers on the production pieces have 550 cord pulls. The PMC is padded all round, and the front and rear panels have quilting to ensure that the padding is always in place. A single 1" webbing handle is provided on top.


PMC with shoulder strap

Rear

Web handle

A 2"-wide webbing shoulder strap is provided, and can be removed. There are four metal D-rings for use as attach points. Four common loops are also sewn to the back panel so that the PMC can be docked to a pack using slotted buckles.

Internal Features - The inside of the PMC is fully lined with 420D nylon. Loop velcro lines each side, and there's a 4" wide field of loop velcro down the center of both the front and back panels. Three stiffened dividers come with the PMC, and attach to the sides for keeping magazines or other items in place.

 


Removable dividers


M4 mags

AK mags

 

The front and back panel velcro can be used for attaching any velcro-compatible accessories, such as those shown below. I've illustrated it with mag loops and pistol holder from the Emdom TNT bag and Mil-spec Monkey's velcro loop panel. The medical organizers and pack are from the CTOMS 2ndLine Pack System.

 


Using velcro accessories


Medical pouches

Using slotted buckles

Attached to a pack

 

I've been using mine mainly for loaded rifle magazines in my range bag. It's just more convenient and organized than putting mags in my EMDOM Ammo SAC, so I'm using the SAC for loose ammo now.

 

EMDOM USA/MM PMC Gen 2

1/19/13 - The Padded Multi-purpose Case (PMC) from EMDOM USA is finally back in stock in it's 2nd Generation form, after a long wait.

Changes - Other than those specified below, all other attributes are the same as the Gen 1 PMC.

  • Dimensions - The Gen 2 PMC measures 14" x 9" x 3" and is slightly larger than the Gen 1 in order to accommodate longer magazines like AK mags more comfortably.
  • The dividers now have velcro on each side.
  • The bottom and top are completely lined in loop velcro, instead of just a 4" center strip in the middle.
  • The quilting pattern has been simplified.
  • The transparent name/card holder has been located to the center of the top flap.
  • Constructed of 1000D cordura instead of 500D
  • HDPE sheet in the back panel for extra support and stiffness.

Gen 2 PMC with shoulder strap

Gen 2 on left, Gen 1 on right

Rear

Gen 2 (L), Gen 1 (R)

Gen 2 (L), Gen 1 (R)

Key Features of the Gen 2 PMC:

  • Designed originally for storage of carbine magazines, and to function as an ammo re-supply case. Also functions as a general purpose storage case for weapon accessories, scopes, electronics, or first aid /medical supplies.
    Protection: Built from 1000 D Mil-spec Cordura nylon, fully padded all around. The case is strong and sturdy enough to be tossed around.
  • Storage volume: 14” x 9” x 3”. Fits twelve to thirteen M4, ten AK, or eight G36 mags (clipped together).
  • Easy access: The PMC has a heavy duty YKK 2-way zipper opening. The front panel can be completely opened 180 degrees for full access; or be partially opened to access the mags one by one, from top to bottom. This is especially useful when the PMC is positioned vertically, such as during shoulder carry, or when the PMC is hung behind a car seat.
  • Internal organization: Three detachable stiffened dividers come with the PMC (my prototypes only had two, so that's why the photos show two. Production versions come with three). Each divider has loop velcro on both sides, and has hook Velcro at both ends that attach to the sides of the PMC which is lined with loop Velcro. The dividers can be positioned anywhere inside the PMC, providing neat organization for the mags / contents.
  • The PMC top and bottom is fully lined with loop velcro. The loop Velcro panel can be used for attaching any Velcro-compatible accessories.
  • Multiple carrying options: 1” wide full wrap-under handle on top. 2” wide detachable shoulder strap for shoulder carry, backpack carry, or hanging.
  • Extra attachment / tie-down points: There are four metal D-rings, and four 1” common loops around the PMC, so that the PMC can be docked to a pack / MOLLE surface / car seat by using slotted buckles, carabineers, ITW Grimloc buckles, paracord, or tie down straps.
  • Identification: A transparent pocket is sewn on the front for ID label / name card which help to identify the contents or owner.

Removable dividers(comes with 3, not 2)


13 M4 mags

10 AK mags

 

 


Hill People Gear Tarahumara Pack

10/28/11 - The Tarahumara Pack from Hill People Gear is a small day pack that's designed for use as a stand-alone pack, a compression panel, or as a back panel for HPG's Kit Bag. Its simple and streamlined design, combined with its modularity will appeal to those who appreciate function over fashion.

Hill People Gear is a small company founded by Evan and Scot Hill; both avid outdoorsman and long-time gear tinkerers. They've now channeled that creative energy into designing gear that appeal to the hunter, soldier, outdoors enthusiast, or anyone that is looking for simple, functional and reliable gear. Even hill people. The HPG logo isn't the most obvious (to me), and would be up to interpretation if not for the explanation on the HPG website. The Tarahumara Pack is made for HPG by First Spear.

Overall design and features - The Tarahumara pack started out as a hydration bag addition to the HPG Kit Bag. It evolved into the configuration shown here, which is more than just a hydration bag; it's a small pack that can be used a number of ways. The pack is named after the Tarahumara, a Native American people of northwestern Mexico, reknowned for their long-distance running ability.

The Tarahumara is a single-compartment pack that measures about 17" tall x 9" wide x 4" deep, with an approximate capacity of 750 cubic inches. It's made out of 500d Cordura and is initially offered in foliage green and ranger green (coyote shown here). It weighs 1.5 lb empty with the shoulder harness, and 1 lb without the shoulder harness.

The above dimensions are approximate, as the Tarahumara pack doesn't have a box shape. While the back panel is rectangular, the pack tapers from top to bottom when viewed from the side, with the maximum depth at 5" (seam to seam). It will deform/stretch to accommodate items deeper than the 5", of course. The cross section of the pack is an irregular hexagon, much like a 'shooter cut' plate. A hang/carry handle/loop is provided at the top of the pack.

On either side of the handle are two lengths of 1" webbing, to which the shoulder harness attaches to. The pack is modular, and can be used in different configurations. At each corner of top of the pack is a sewn-in metal slider. The sliders on this pre-production sample are larger than they're supposed to be - the production model has smaller metal sliders. These metal sliders are used to attach the pack to PALS webbing (more on this later).

There are five tab loops running down each side of the pack. Plastic common loops are sewn into the 2nd, 4th and bottom loops. The 2nd and 4th plastic loops are what the two removable horizontal compression straps attach to (the metal sliders on the compression straps shown here are larger than on the poduction model). The bottom one is the lower attach point for the shoulder harness.

Two horizontal compression straps keep the pack cinched up, help protect the zipper, and are removable. The straps have dual-adjust SR buckles. They can also be used to secure items to the outside of the pack, and are long enough to accommodate bulky items. There are two slot pockets on each side which will hold a USGI 1 qt canteen or 32 oz water bottle (Nalgene shown here). The slot pockets do have some dimension/volume to them so that items placed in them will not intrude into the internal volume of the pack as much. The compression straps go on the outside of the pockets to keep the bottles secure.


Front view


Rear

The cross section of the pack is obvious when you look at the bottom panel - it's deeper on the center than at the sides. There are four tab loops on the bottom with parachute cord threaded through them for compression or gear storage.

The rear panel of the pack has 1/4" thick closed cell foam padding, and is quilted horizontally. When I first saw photos of the pack, I thought that vertical quilting might work better, but when I actually tried the pack on, the horizontal quilting turned out to be the correct orientation. As Evan explained to me, the horizontal quilting helps the pack keep its shape when the compression straps are used, and prevent it from becoming a tube/barrel. It keeps it flat against the back while stil contouring to match the spine by folding at the seam lines. This works well for the Tarahumara because it's a shoulder-suspended pack without a waist belt. There is a slot pocket behind the rear panel and the main compartment that can fit a netbook.

The Tarahumara has a single main compartment; there are no other internal pockets are compartments. There's a hang loop inside the top for a hydration bladder - it'll easily fit a 3L bladder. The compartment is accessed through the single zippered opening in the center.

The various tab/common loops can be used for attaching the Tarahumara to a larger pack, interfacing with the HPG Runner's Kit Bag with adapter kit, or using it as a compression panel, also with an adapter kit. The Tarahumara is supplied with siamese slik clips that can be attached to the tab loops or compression straps, and in turn attached to the PALS webbing on a pack.

 


Bottom

Rear slot pocket

Main compartment

Slik Clips

 

Shoulder Harness - The Tarahumara Pack comes with HPG's Shoulder Harness. Rather than two separate shoulder straps, the HPG shoulder harness is one continuous piece. It's the foundation of every prototype pack that HPG has made thus far. It's made out of 500d Cordura, and accepts either dual 1" mounting (two sewn-in triglides for 1" webbing), or single 1.5" mounting (1.5" triglide sewn in the center). It attaches to the 1" webbing straps on the top of the Tarahumara pack.

When I first donned the pack, I felt that the harness fitted too close around my neck and dug into it. I emailed Evan about this, and he told me to just adjust the ride height of the pack. I adjusted the connecting straps to the pack rode higher on my back, pulling the shoulder harness backward away from my neck, and the issue was fixed instantly. This illustrates the importance of wearing a pack correctly - sometimes all it takes is a simple adjustment to make a world of difference in comfort.

The shoulder harness is lightly padded, and is wider than most shoulder straps (about 3.5" wide) to distribute the load over a wide area. This makes for a very comfortable setup. It really is one of the most comfortable shoulder strap systems I've worn. There is no quick release; the straps adjust with the ladder locks. The sternum strap is 1" wide and uses the same dual-adjust SR buckle as the compression straps. There are triglides above and below the sternum strap for various accessories.

 


Shoulder harness removed

Shoulder harness

 

Bottle Holster - This is HPG's Bottle Holster, sold separately. It's designed for the USGI 1-qt canteen. It will not fit the standard 1 qt Nalgene bottle. It mounts directly to PALS webbing with it's integrated mounting system. At the top of the holster are two tab loops with metal sliders. The sliders are inserted through the top of a row of PALS webbing, then the holster is flipped down and secured on each side with siamese slik clips. It's a surprisingly solid mounting scheme. While the HPG website states that it takes three channels of PALS, it can actually fit on three or four, as the tabs are spaced 3" apart. I've shown it below using four channels. The canteen can be removed and secured with one hand, as the thin padding helps give the holster shape. It can also be used as a wand pocket for mountaineering wands (not the Harry Potter kind) for packs that don't have one.


Bungy cord retainer

Rear view

With canteen

Attaching the top to PALS

Attached using slik clips

 

General Impression and Notes - This is the first product I've examined made by First Spear, and quality is very good. As mentioned above, this particular pack was a pre-production sample, and for some reason the oversized metal sliders on the top tabs and compression straps were used by mistake, so note that when you look at the photos.

The main compartment is roomy enough to carry food, snacks, a light jacket (if you don't want to strap it on the bottom), camera; but small enough that the smaller items don't get completely lost. Internal organization is less important than in a larger pack. I would, however, like to see a couple of common loops sewn inside the top of the main compartment like on Kifaru packs, for hanging a small chamber pocket for keys, phone etc. If an internal pocket is really needed, it's a simple matter to attach a pouch or pocket to the hydration hang loop inside and pull it out when needed. I've illustrated one of Kifaru's Pullouts for this purpose, attached with a slik clip.

The compression straps keep canteens in the side pockets quite secure, and as long as you're not going upside down, Nalgene bottles shouldn't slip out either. I was originally a bit concerned as there's no elastic tension to keep bottles there, but the compression straps, if snugged up, are fine. The shoulder harness (once I was told how to adjust the ride height), is probably the most comfortable setup I used on this size pack (and actually, larger ones as well). It follows the contours of my shoulders without any binding or pinching under the arms/armpits, with unimpeded mobility of the arms.




Mini-MM

I've only used the Tarahumara as a stand-alone pack, but I did rig it up on another pack to check it out. It'd make a great 'auxiliary pack' to attach to a larger pack. It's light enough to be used as an external pocket, yet is much more functional and comfortable than just an external add-on pocket. Since the Tarahumara pack evolved from a hydration bag, it's simple by design; with its single main compartment and lack of small organizer pockets. Depending on what you carry with you on a daily basis, this may or may not make it suitable for EDC (Every Day Carry); if you're expecting to use it like a computer or messenger bag with lots of different compartments for your electronic paraphernalia. But when used for its intended purpose, AWAY from the office, it performs very well.


Grey Ghost LW Assault Pack

2/17/12 - The Light Weight Assault Pack from Grey Ghost Gear is a small day pack that's designed for use as a stand-alone pack, a compression panel, or as a back panel for HPG's Kit Bag. Its simple and streamlined design, combined with its modularity will appeal to those who appreciate function over fashion.

Originally starting out as Grey Ghost Outlet to liquidate overstocks in tactical gear, Grey Ghost Gear (GGG) recently started offering products under their own label. When the Lightweight Assault Pack (LAP) first hit the market last year, they were snapped up quickly. Grey Ghost has expanded the line to include Crye MultiCam in Litelok fabric, and the Hyde Definition Pencott camouflage colourways GreenZone, Sandstorm, and Badlands.

Overall design and features - GGG makes two versions of the LAP - a stand-alone version and a removable version. The removable version can be used as a stand-alone pack, but is also designed to be attached directly to modular vests or larger packs. It includes the hardware to do so. The LWAP was built specially to meet Special Operations weight requirements, hence the use of 330 or 500 denier Cordura. THe LAP weighs about 30% less than comparable packs. The removable version features the use of LiteLok, which is a 100% nylon that weighs 30% less than traditional 500D nylon, but exhibits excellent breaking strength and abrasion resistance. Both versions of the LAP feature a large main compartment as well as a front side entry front compartment, modular webbing for attaching additional pouches and padded shoulder straps that stow away when not in use.

Here's a list of features of the Lightweight Assault Pack:

  • Total capacity: 1178 cu in.
  • Front side entry compartment - the front compartment covers the entire front of the pack, and has a zipper on the left side. The commpartment has a tapered shape, and measures approximately 14" tall x 8" wide x 3" deep (at the bottom). It tapers to about 2" deep at the top.
  • External webbing - on the front of the pack are 3 rows x 4 columns of PALS webbing for attaching additional pockets or accessories. On each side are 3 rows x 4 columns of PALS as well.
  • Velcro patch - a 3" x 5" loop velcro patch is located at the top front of the pack.
  • Carry/grab handle - this is a simple grab handle made out of 1.5" wide webbing.
  • Stowable padded shoulder straps - the shoulder straps are contoured and lightly padded, with a removable sternum strap attached. The sternum strap can be adjusted up or down. Each shoulder pad has a D-ring, and an elastic loop for hydration tube of comm cable routing. The shoulder straps have quick release SR buckles. The straps can be disconnected and stowed inside the hydration pocket. There are openings on the sides at the bottom for the lower straps to be inserted.
  • Covered top port for routing of comm gear - Under the grab handle is a velcro-closed flap which covers a slit through which a hydration tube or comm cables can be routed. This is for a second hydration bladder or antenna port for an ASIPS or PRC-117G radio.

 


Sandstorm LAP

Badlands LAP

Front pocket

Blaze orange liner

Expanding liner

Internal pockets

Hydration pocket

 

  • Large main compartment with heavy duty pull zippers - the main compartment is surprisingly spacious and measures about 16" tall x 10" wide x 5" deep at the bottom, and 6" deep at the top. So, its taper is in the opposite direction of the front compartment, which gets deeper at the bottom. The compartment is lined with blaze orange nylon to help make things easier to find.
  • Internal pockets in main compartment - on each side of the main compartment are 6" tall open pockets with elasticized tops. These are handy for water bottles etc. They have volume; they're not flat pockets.
  • Hydration pocket for 2L or 3L hydration bladders - The rear hydration pocket is separated from the main compartment by blaze orange nylon. It's pleated in the middle so that a full hydration bladder expands into the main compartment, rather than creating a football-shaped bulge at the back of the pack. This allows the pack to sit flatter against the user's back. There's a triglide at the top which serves to hang the reservoir from. The back panel of the pack is lightly padded.

 


Drinking tube exit from hydration pocket

Main compartment port

Port covered

Badlands

Sandstorm

 

The list of features of the Lightweight Removable Assault Pack is identical to the LAP, with the exception of the attachment hardware and currently available colours:

  • Total capacity 1178 cu in.
  • Designed to attach directly to a modular vest or larger pack
  • Front side entry pocket
  • External webbing
  • Velcro patch
  • Carry/grab handle
  • Stowable padded shoulder straps
  • Covered top port for routing of comm gear
  • Large main compartment with heavy duty pull zippers
  • Internal pockets in main compartment
  • Hydration pocket for 2L or 3L hydration bladders
  • Available in MultiCam LiteLok and Coyote Brown.

The main difference between the LAP and LRAP is the ability to quick-attach/detach from a modular vest or larger pack. By 'modular', this means molle-compatible. The LRAP has two ITW Surface Mount SR buckles installed on each side of the grab handle, which are the upper mounting attachments. At the bottom sides of the pack, the middle row of PALS webbing has been extended to provide a strap, with a male SR buckle installed. This is the lower attachment point.

For the top attachment, adapters are supplied with the LRAP that attach to the molle webbing on the back of a pack or armoured rig. These have a male SR buckle and a short malice clip. They utilize one column and two rows of molle webbing. For the bottom attachment, an ITW QASM (quick attach surface mount) buckle is installed on the pack or side panel of a vest as shown below. The LRAP can now be attached or detached directly to the platform via the SR buckles. It's a very stable setup. An addtional set of adaptors and buckles are provided as spares so that the LRAP can be mounted on an alternate vest or pack. It's illustrated here attached to the Diamondback Tactical Predator armoured vest.

The new Crye MultiCam LiteLok material is interesting. It's a 100% nylon fabric that weighs 30% less than traditional 500D nylon, and has a double layer, ripstop weave design. It's very light weight and tough-feeling.

 


MultiCam LRAP


Shoulder straps stowed

Adapters

Installed on armoured vest

Bottom connection

QASM attached to vest

LRAP attached to vest

 

The new Crye MultiCam LiteLok material is interesting. It's a 100% nylon fabric that weighs 30% less than traditional 500D nylon, and has a double layer, ripstop weave design. It's very light weight and tough-feeling.

There are a couple of minor differences between the LAP and LRAP samples I have. The lining inside the LRAP is a light tan instead of blaze orange. I'm not sure why there's a difference but I like the blaze orange for the high contrast. The main zipper on the MultiCam LRAP has welts that cover up the zipper when closed. On the LAP, the zipper is exposed. Because the LiteLok material is so thin, the zipper pull has a tendency to grab the welts so that they're under the pull, not over it (see photo below), but the zipper hasn't jammed yet, as the material does not get caught in the teeth. If I were to change the design, I'd probably have one larger welt covering the zipper instead of small ones on either side.

Another small difference is the PALS webbing on the LRAP is 3/4" wide instead of 1". It works just fine with pouches.

 


LRAP stand-alone


Attached to Predator vest

 

General Impression and Notes - My first reaction when handling the packs right out of the package for the first time was 'Hmm...they're very light and pretty small'. This was deceiving as they were shipped flat, of course. Upon stuffing them, they expanded into larger packs than they first appeared to be.

The main compartment opening is angled towards the top front of the pack (looking from the side), so that when you open up the pack, it's easier to access the contents. The pleated divider between the main compartment and hydration pocket is great - as is the use of the blaze orange in the LAP. While the bladder in the hydration pocket does encroach on the space in the main compartment, it's more comfortable on the back as the pack conforms better than it would normally.

The front pocket is also surprisingly spacious, such that I'd love to see a couple of dividers or slot pockets inside for organization of smaller items. But, at the very reasonable price for these packs, it's a nitpick. When mounted to a armoured vest, it should be noted that the stability of the LRAP is only as good as the platform it's attached to. It's common sense, but adding load to the rear of a rig can of course pull it down at the back, so care should be taken to balance the load. Also note that when direct-attaching the LRAP to a rig, you'll need a buddy to detach and attach the pack for you or access the contents, unless you take your armour off. The direct-attach role is intended to be used in a team environment, much like rear plate-mounted vest pouches. If frequent access is not required, the LRAP can be configured as an E&E or sustainment pack, that can be quickly detached should the armoured vest be ditched. The stowed shoulder straps would then be unstowed for stand-alone use of the pack.

I've been using the LAP and LRAP for my daily commute to and from work on my motorcycle, as well as for general use on the weekends, and they're very handily-sized packs for that kind of use. They don't have a lot of bits and pieces sticking out or hanging from them, so they're relatively streamlined. They're really versatile, and make great day packs, assault packs, hydration packs, airplane carry-on packs or EDC packs.

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