TACTICAL GEAR: I’m a Bag Whore – Part 3

tactical bags – great for carrying your shit and bastardising your favorite childhood tv show

TACTICAL GEAR: Bag Whores – Part 1
TACTICAL GEAR: Bag Whores – Part 2

I promised to wrap up my review of bags with another installment. Sorry it took me so long but I’ve been busy setting up and traveling on a long business trip in the USA.

There are several brands I did not mention so far; again just because they are not in part III, does not mean anything negative.

Keep in mind that I mostly review bags which I have owned and not just what I find on the Internet. I am also interested in keeping this series/thread open for some more reviews.

S.O.TECH and Paladin

I am a big fan of the company and I love their “dual-version” strategy: S.O.TECH gear is proudly made in-house in the USA, while Paladin makes licensed “off-shored” versions in Asia. Not only is the gear top-notch on both brands, but you have a choice if you want to go made-in-USA or airsoft-cheap.

S.O.TECH offers a wide range of tactical gear from an excellent TASER X26 holster to their ballistic vests, plate carriers, and load-bearing systems. The company is also famous for custom-designed gear and has several products one can’t buy without an official letter from the government.

It is one of a few tactical companies that offers “grey-man” versions of its tactical products — just the outside appearance is different, while the inside stays the same.

Go Bag

Right now I only own a Paladin Go Bag, but plan to buy several more of their bags:

The Go Bag was developed as a compact bug-out bag (“BOB”) but it also screams SATCOM-antenna bag to me. The idea is very similar to the EAGLE E&E bag, which are both very compact in size and fit in the smallest environment under your legs.

Due to the shape and size and several clever pockets, it can be configured for whatever reason you need it. Another reason it became my favorite bag. The Paladin version is available in one color and one size only, but you can order different colors and sizes with S.O.TECH. (I have not been able to get an S.O.TECH version shipped to Austria yet.)

Mission Go Bag

This is the perfect satchel bag, it holds all your gear but of course offers further customization with pouches, etc. I do not own one myself but several of my friends use them and are big fans. You also have the option to integrate it with an S.O.TECH Mission Pack System and create a modular solution with a quick, detachable E&E bag.

S.O.TECH and Paladin

T.A.D. Gear

It took me some time to finish this part because I just got a T.A.D. Fastpack EDC generation 4 bag from a friend a few weeks ago. I’ve always wanted a T.A.D. backpack and looked forward to using it on my two-week trip to the USA.

My initial impression: over-engineered up to the smallest detail and very sturdy. Second impression a day later: “How could I have lived without one for so long?”

Fastpack EDC

The bag gives you a lot of organizational features and holds the shape even empty. Unfortunately the EDC is a medium-size backpack with a small main compartment; which makes it hard to put in a jacket, iPad/notebook, folder, etc. at the same time. (I started to use the water-hydration pocket for my iPad, which would also fit the new, thin Apple Air just as well.)

On the other hand this backpack fits perfectly under the front-seat in an airline or between two passengers in the backseat of a SUV, or between your legs in a restaurant. Therefore it’s the perfect EDC backpack to have as such; (When I travel I always have my backpack with me regardless where I go — even for breakfast in the hotel.)

The quality of mine is top-notch as one would expect with such a price-tag for a product manufactured in the US. There are rumors that T.A.D. will start outsourcing the production of several items including this bag to Asia, however I vetted from founder Patrick Ma on a forum: That T.A.D. is neither stopping producing tactical gear nor shifting the production of everything to Asia.

N/A right now

TYR Tactical L.A.P. (standalone) and kit

Disclaimer: I am trying to represent TYR Tactical in a project and recently visited the HQ. But again, I write only about gear I really like…

Let me introduce a brand-new company and its newest backpack:

“The Lightweight Assault Pack features a raised mesh back liner with air circulation channels, padded shoulder straps, rugged, top and bottom reinforced, box-stitched drag handles, additional carry handle, two external antenna pockets, MOLLE straps on sides, two internal zipper pockets and internal open slot pocket.

The internal pocket accommodates ballistic plates. Also has clear vinyl ID pocket and two removable 5″ H x 8″ W zippered gear bags. Constructed with some of TYR’s Revolutionary PV ™ “Pluma Vires” material created to add strength and abrasion resistance, while reducing the overall weight significantly.”

This bag fits volume-wise exactly in-between a DBT SOF Assault Pack and the T.A.D. Fastpack EDC. For example it uses the same internal Velcro-stabilized pockets I started to love with DBT/BattleLab. That raises a question: is TYR copying features? Now, the original DBT founder Jason Beck started TYR Tactical as a new venture together with Armor Works. (This is where all the ballistic inserts/plates are coming from.)

What I love about Jason and his designs (based on input from Marines, SWAT officers, and others) is the continuous improvements in designs, in addition to having it manufactured right here in the USA. Also, several well-known companies use Jason’s experience for out-sourcing design problems or the production of their branded products. (I am not revealing those names but you would be surprised! A well known gun company has covers and bags made exclusively by TYR Tactical.)

Jason Beck was so kind as to hook me up with a full L.A.P. kit for review and as I finished this article it traveled in the over-head bin of a crowded United Airlines flight to Washington D.C. The bag looks quite small, but is capable of taking the average 3-day load-out with ease. I have stuffed it with clothing (two jackets, t-shirts, etc.), an Apple BT keyboard, and several smaller items.

The bag can also be expanded as a kit with a “Covert Beaver Tail” (which can be converted into a simple plate carrier) adding a large MOLLE front and of course external MOLLE pouches like the “E&E Pouch.”

TYR Tactical Pricing and info Pricing and info

Killspencer Weekender

There’s a new breed of companies that combine “tacticool” with “hipsteresque.” Killspencer is one of them, GORUCK another one. Several of us at DVM travel all over the world and while I feel comfortable in my VertX/EOTAC/UnderArmour outfit at an US airport checking the latest news on an iPad, I cannot say the same sitting at some train station in Budapest or Kiev.

Therefore the Killspencer Weekender is my preferred choice for short trips or as a secondary luggage for long flights. The black one is made out of new waxed canvas, while the other colors are made out of used canvas giving you that retro look you might want or hate.

The Weekender can be stuffed with clothing for several days including one pair of shoes and has two outside sleeves for newspapers, etc. There is also an internal padded sleeve that will hold an Apple 15″ Macbook.

I use mesh-bags for keeping together a set of two days worth of clothing and it fits easily into the bag plus two more jackets. In addition I can put into some toiletry items, chew-tobacco, cigar-case, iPad accessories, etc.

Killspencer gear is made per customer-order only, and it took mine approximately eight weeks to arrive. Not bad considering it was shipped from L.A. to Vienna. Compared to luxury brands the price is more than reasonable and I went window-shopping for similar-size/style bags comparing it price-wise: just add a bit more and it beats your average fashion-mall brands way by quality.

(A similar Fossil bag is made out of thinner material, does not survive rain, and costs just a bit less.) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED though you might not like the other bags/pouches they offer as well.

Killspencer Pricing and info

CamelBak BFM 500

I owned a first-generation BFM myself and I do not see the need to fully describe this monster of a backpack. It’s properly one of the most readily spotted tactical backpacks at US airports. A good friend of mine from Switzerland just brought the latest version to an US trip and it really holds *everything* including jackets, a Toughbook, and more.

It offers a huge main compartment and several side-pockets. Unfortunately you can fill this bag up to a level your average GF/wife can’t even lift it up into the car.

I highly recommend this bag if you are constraint on budget but do not want to spend your money on BlackHawk! or 5.11 gear.

CamelBak BFM 500 Pricing and info >>>

I did not cover the brands GORUCK, Mystery Ranch, and T.A.G. Also Tactical Tailor is not forgotten as well! (Now, T.A.G. is out as I refuse to review or buy any more products.) The other brands I need to check-out first or find someone with experience. As noted before I do not review stuff I’ve only seen on the Internet.

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~Lorenz “Lo” Szabo
Contributing Correspondent

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…

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24 thoughts on “TACTICAL GEAR: I’m a Bag Whore – Part 3”

  1. Great article as always Lo, some brands I didn’t know about there – I like the Killspencer, looks like a good tactical bag but is still fashionable – like something James Bond would use

    I just got a Zulu Nylon Gear Emissary that I have been testing out here in Iraq, it is working out to be a kick-ass bag

    ~James G

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  2. Cool article Lo, really like that Killspencer brand – just having a look at their website now. They’re a bit out of my price bracket but they have a nice low-key quality that I like. Thanks for introducing them!

    ~Alex S

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  3. countycomm.com has some great bags, I have two of the
    sat” bags and they have held up very well. The price is right also.

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  4. countycomm.com has some great bags, I have two of the
    sat” bags and they have held up very well. The price is right also.  

    Interesting comment following a review of the S.O. Tech product that they seem to have copied. This site has pointed out some “import” companies that absorb quality ideas from truly innovative US makers and knock them off overseas. It is our job as consumers to reward innovation with our dollars, within reason. In the long-run we all win, and end up with better gear.

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  5. Great article, I just got a Kifaru scout which I guess would be my first “Tactical Pack”. I have gotten by all these years with a Lowe Alpine top loader. The Killspencer pack is pretty badass and has a badass name as well. I will be useing the scout for my go to the woods bag, so I will will report back with some findings.

    SAR

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  6. Interesting comment following a review of the S.O. Tech product that they seem to have copied. This site has pointed out some “import” companies that absorb quality ideas from truly innovative US makers and knock them off overseas. It is our job as consumers to reward innovation with our dollars, within reason. In the long-run we all win, and end up with better gear.  

    I believe that the Maratac gear is made in the US, I can not find a “made in China” tag on any of mine. I also believe that the “Go Bag” is a derivative of the sat antenna bag. I too am a bag whore and a gear whore, I started with some Elevated Urban Operations gear, moved onto some Idema Combat Systems stuff along with the old Assault Systems.
    There is really not much innovation in bags. The “go” bag is just a variation of a rice tube (with pockets) to a degree.

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  7. True, though I’m sure we all can agree that this design became popular due to it’s film cameo in Multicam, and it was that fame that drove these other companies to copy it.

    There is really not much innovation in bags. The “go” bag is just a variation of a rice tube (with pockets) to a degree. 

    Also agree, and my earlier post may have been a bit slanted towards a company I know well and regard highly. I’ve always imagined how fun it would be to put all the owners of the nylon companies in the same room and start an argument over who invented the “rigger’s belt”.

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  8. I’ve always imagined how fun it would be to put all the owners of the nylon companies in the same room and start an argument over who invented the “rigger’s belt”.  

    I have a riggers belt made in 1982 from EUO, that is the earliest commercial one I have seen, I would love to see a history of “The nylon gear”
    I spoke with the president of SO Tech at Trexpo last year, I asked if the movie helped sales a lot, he told me that it hurt sales in the Mil market as “operators” did not want the Hollywood gear, go figure.

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    1. Just to set the record straight, a fellow named Nate from a US Spec Ops organization brought a tubular bag to me made by the Gap store. His team decided it was ideal but a little small. Gap had discontinued the design, and the unit wanted a larger version in special colors.

      So we designed and manufactured it as an E&E bag that fit perfectly between the seats in their vehicles and birds during the early stages of the war. We have done numerous variations of it since then including antenae carriers.

      I don’t know the other company or where they have it made, but I wish I could find labor that cheap. Nate is the guy who deserves the credit, or better yet some fellow from the Gap.

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  9. Frustrating! We should delete the whole 3-part series and replace it with CountyComm has everything, why bother reading DVM.

    Actually I once had a CountyComm/Maratac(?) bag shipped from them to a friend in AZ. Funny thing was it had fucking none of the features described as being an original product. Go, figure out!

    Also, it might have been that CountyComm eventually invented cool stuff in maybe 1987 but today they only copy anymore.

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  10. What did TAG do that rubbed you the wrong way?

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    1. First, I always liked Chris Osman. Second, for some time I believed that TAG made the best gear out there. I still use the pouches and bags.

      1) Pricing was confusing. International LE/Mil customers would only get Internet pricing which was reduced up to 50% on some holidays. Total chaos!

      2) International shipping _never_ worked. TAG later out-sourced it to a Canadian company. Let’s say after that it _STOPPED_ working. After that day I stopped assuming Canadians would know more about Europe.

      3) US customers and some distributors started to complain about the company as well. I do not want to quote those afterwards-we-all-know-better stories but several people stopped selling TAG or working with the company.

      PLEASE DO NOT REPLY. Contact me at http://bit.ly/AboutLoSzabo (email address provided). Thank you!

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  11. Like your reviews but your definition of the new combination of tacticool with hipsteresque made me spit out my coffee laughing. Last months I was on the market for a small pack and I was looking at the Goruck stuff, they seem well made but the prices are outrageous considering that they have few features. It seems that when you turn a tacticool pack into a civilian version you colour it black, drop features due to minimalistic design and increase the price. In the end I ordered a Kifaru E&E which ended up on the same price level with accessories but you got some functional attachments (btw their G1 stuff is still on sale at half price, worth a look).

    The Killspencer stuff seems to be the same hipster stuff, sorry. When they offer you “historical” canvas made out of true Vietnam era carps then you know to whom they want to sell. At their price range I rather buy a nice leather bag from a reputable bag maker. They will still be fashionable when these hiptac brands have all but disappeared.

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  12. Actually “hipsteresque” was James’ idea and I still have to laugh about it as well… (My term was too 80s!)

    Killspencer also offers new, black canvas. No need to go with the “historical” canvas! Again, I’d prefer hooking up my non-tactical friends with Killspencer than seeing them waste money with fashion brands that do not deliver at the end of the day…

    Check out part II: I reviewed the Kifaru X-Ray and I had an E&E myself.

    Like your reviews but your definition of the new combination of tacticool with hipsteresque made me spit out my coffee laughing. Last months I was on the market for a small pack and I was looking at the Goruck stuff, they seem well made but the prices are outrageous considering that they have few features. It seems that when you turn a tacticool pack into a civilian version you colour it black, drop features due to minimalistic design and increase the price. In the end I ordered a Kifaru E&E which ended up on the same price level with accessories but you got some functional attachments (btw their G1 stuff is still on sale at half price, worth a look).The Killspencer stuff seems to be the same hipster stuff, sorry. When they offer you “historical” canvas made out of true Vietnam era carps then you know to whom they want to sell. At their price range I rather buy a nice leather bag from a reputable bag maker. They will still be fashionable when these hiptac brands have all but disappeared.  

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  13. With all tactical toys (not just bag, I think it is worse with knives) all makers seem to have some serious military background, minimum requirement to start a company is previous special forces membership by the founder or his cousin twice removed. I take their advertising with a couple of pinches of salt.

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  14. Szabo, these “Bag Whore” articles are the very best writing about bags ever compiled. Excellent work, pimp!

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  15. Guys they are just bags … excellent article but no need to argue about tham. If you want to go “real grey”, get a samsonite or a tumi. If the “other” guy knows what to look for, anything made out of cordura will “make you” on the spot … or the softshell and 5.11esque will!!!

    As for the original rigger’s belt: it was made by a real rigger and it’s price was a six-pack!

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  16. As for the original rigger’s belt: it was made by a real rigger and it’s price was a six-pack!

    Thats what I paid for my first one, and he even let me drink one of the Coors I bought him!

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  17. Hey Lorenz,
    Thanks for the post! I’m working toward making the best bags possible using the best and most interesting materials I can find. The next set of goals include moving into a new design studio and factory space where we can take the quality, attention to detail, production control to the next level. I hope to move in December 1st. Soon after I’ll be happy to work with anyone who wants or needs custom bags, made out of any materials we have, and if there are any problems that need to be solved, I’m going to be ready to solve them. New site to be launched November 15th! Thanks for the support and comments! -Spencer 818.590.5835

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  18. I own a maxpedition EDC bag as my CCW man purse/first aid bag, spends most of its life in my truck.a Gregory Pack for all that a backpack can do. however, have any of you bad ass’ any experience with the “cheaper than dirt/sportsmans guide” made in china type of 3 day assault packs, immitation messenger bags etc.? I am not a low speed high drag guy, and do not expect to test my gear overseas anytime soon, mostly in the truck/at the range and the occasional shooting class-range day.will the china gear hold up to a pussy like me? at 40 USD for a “level 111 assault bag” I can afford a shitload of 5.56 as well.

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  19. After looking through different ” tactical gear ” site on the web, I have come to the conclusion that it would be very simple to create/market equipment supposedly used by operators. All you would have to do is buy fabric in either black or Multi-cam, pick up several daypacks or ” assault ” packs on eBay, and then add as many pockets, pouches, buckles, and straps as you can. Seems to me that it would be easier to ask OSMs and HSLD guys what works and, much better, what didn’t. But then, I’m not in the gear business. By the way, I’m still a big fan of OD canvas. It’s what we had in boot camp, and it works. I buy what I can afford.

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  20. Hi, so do you have any reviews for Goruck? I think it started being very popular because of the Goruck Chalenge but the luck of internal frame, hipbelt and chest strap make me thinking about it. Whats your opinion about that?

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