The tactical gear bag, no Starbucks trip is complete without one
Unfortunately I collect too many things but fortunately my small flat forces me to swap things instead of dumping them in the basement after a several months.
This advantage allows me to always upgrade while patiently annoying good friends into forcing them to buy my used gear for a bargain… Welcome to my life!
There are several types of tactical-gear collectors (similar to the blade/cutler world) and I have lots of fun writing about them – they are fictional versions of people I know for real and you know for sure as well, so if you happen to identify someone it’s just pure coincidence:
- Mr. One-Piece-only:
He got one outdoor backpack, one city backpack, one heavy-used range-bag, one well-stocked BOB in his car, a few magazine pouches, and that’s it. He refuses to get any new bag because his old stuff still works.
Also most of his gear is in ranger-green, because he is truly old-school. Usually his wife/girlfriend patches things up. He favors Arc’teryx or Kifaru because they will last forever, Patagonia or Timberland for outdoor stuff, and some BlackHawk Industries pouches because that’s what his team got issued.
- Mr. Gear-Head:
He is the Mr. Potato-Head of the tactical gear industry. Running around with four kinds of paracord lanyards and all kind of attachments, he has modified all of his bags: either by patching them up with more Velcro or by adding/removing webbing.
You tell him a random Maxpedition product-number and he will respond why he made modifications to the upcoming, super-secret successor of this model. Of course he rotates his favorite EDC bag having all color/camo versions ever made.
He loves Maxpedition and Tactical Tailor, because he made some collaboration projects with them. Of course he is the gear-head everybody instantly recognizes at Urban Shield or in a Larry Vickers class.
- Mr. Gives-a-shit:
Yup, he got that super-expensive BattleLab jumpable backpack with laptop-insert and he also has a custom-modded AR15 in his office in Phoenix, AZ. He will never discuss gear (what for anyway?) as he just grabs the shit he needs from his friends within the industry.
He actually has no need for such gear unless he needs to store his Toughbook for a one-day trip flying business-class with United Airlines. He also happens to EDC a Panerai and a Strider he designed for the boys, but again he gives a shit as they are only tools to him. Favorite Brand? Right now it’s DBT/BattleLab, but why do you ask, stupid?
- Mr. Has-it-all:
You stand in his office wondering why he has this old EAGLE vest stored with the other vests in the third bin from the left. He smiles and takes out some prototypes Mr. John Carver made for him and some Delta guys many years ago.
In his car you see a selection from a Wal-Mart plastic bag over various Protech duffle-bags to the latest CamelBak backpack. And yes, he uses the Wal-Mart bag to transport a custom Vickers 1911 to a friend’s house in Mesa… His brands are EAGLE Industries and Protech pouches – the classics he uses since 20 years and already recommended to his friends at Fresno SWAT many, many years ago.
- Mr. Has-the-latest-only:
One black TAD Gear backpack is enough tacticool gear and somehow he flipped a gen3 for some profit on a forum while organizing a gen4 through a friend in San Francisco. He loves to discuss gear but actually has no real need for it – unless he goes to a shooting range once a year.
Most pouches are empty as he only transports his Apple notebook in there. When you tell him about some of your used offerings in excellent condition and fair price he refuses, because he is looking for exactly the other model you don’t have in another color you’d never get anyway. Only TAD Gear for him, after he sold his CamelBak backpack because everybody has those now…
- Mr. Bought-it-on-a-forum:
He always finds some 90%-condition-like-new bags on various forums, but he is still looking for the perfect bag. He has three different variations of a BOB, but none of them fits his needs – either the OD color-shade is wrong, the Velcro is too small or not cross-quad-stitched, the AR-15 magazine-pocket does not fit his Garmin GPS, the shoulder-belt is too small, or some others important features are missing.
He got them all for a steal, though, and he’d love to flip one of them by offering it at 125% of the “suggested” eBay price only to you. He also favors brands nobody has ever heard off, but tells you long stories how many emails it took him to have that owner from that small shop place the Velcro patch one inch to the left – extra for him which makes this a custom model nobody else can get.
Now the forum patch looks awesome on the BOB, but the bag is still not 100% perfect! His favorite brands are Extreme Gear Labs, Jones Tactical, and maybe Triple Threat Tactical.
Me? Somewhere in between with a sheepish grin. I do not concentrate on one brand, as I love to test them all. Also I know various distributors here and there, which allows me to check out different brands and models.
I own pieces from nearly all the brands I’ve described before: Arc’teryx, DBT/BattleLab, EAGLE, Kifaru, Maxpedition, Tactical Tailor, TAD Gear, etc. I also jump between the extremes: from a discrete Grayman Arc’teryx Blade backpack to a screaming CRYE-pattern DBT/BattleLab messenger-bag used for the gym.
Be it a two-day business trip in Bosnia, a few weeks in Arizona, or simply staying home: I always love to experiment and adopt my gear. Some things stay always the same, like my two Maxpedition OCTA waist-bags for either running (black) or outdoor (desert tan).
In the second part of this series I will do something unusual: I will not describe why the EAGLE 3-day backpack beats a similar model from Kifaru, but I will concentrate on each company and what they are best known for.
It does not make any sense to describe certain models as preferences vary too much. Also one cannot compare a BOB with a duffle-bag or backpack. Basically I want to give you a guide what to buy where, when looking for the best – regardless if high-end or low-cost!
What type of Bag Whore are you?
~Lorenz “Lo” Szabo
Lorenz “Lo” Szabo is an Austrian citizen and tactical gear-head, helping US companies locate customers in Europe and parts of Middle East. His areas of expertise are body-armor, less-lethal, and low-light. He also consults end-users on special equipment and training. He loves coffee, cigars, and all kind of bling made from Titanium. He has a dislike for people using political correctness as a defense for their own stupidity. As he has written this all himself, it might not be true at all…