First Tactical Specialist Backpack
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- Last updated: 03/05/2018
At last count, I had eleven ‘shooting bags’, all of which had been purchased for use on both visits to the range and rough shooting outings and all of which just were not up to the job. They are either too small, too big, or just don’t have the right configuration of compartments and features. So, when I came across the website of a company called Military 1st I was pleasantly surprised to see not only very detailed and extensive descriptions of each and every item, but also video demonstrations of the First Tactical range of bags and packs, to help customers make the right choice. The videos clearly show the features of each product and allow you to get a good feel for what they offer.
Having watched several of the videos, I opted for the First Tactical Specialist Half-Day Back pack. With a 25-litre capacity, the pack is a mid-sized unit and with a total of eight pockets it has a great number of storage options; it is also available in a choice of colours. When the pack arrived, it was immediately obvious that the build quality is excellent. All of the stitching is very well-done and the buckles and straps are all heavy duty. The main compartment is 11-inches by 17-inches by 6.5-inches and is very spacious with an internal zipped mesh pocket and two drop sleeve pockets, which are secured with Velcro straps. These allow items to be well secured, so that they cannot become loose and fall around within the pack. On the front of the pack are other compartments for smaller items, including a dedicated and padded compartment for glasses and an admin compartment with multiple sleeves for holding smaller items and a zipped outer pocket. On the outside of the pack there are numerous attachment points for extra items.
The larger compartments are secured with a two-way zip closure, while the smaller ones have one zip. All of the zips are top quality YKK items and have decent zip pulls, which can be used with even thick gloves. There are also quick release compression straps on either side of the pack and they can be repositioned easily to customise the fit of the pack to your chosen load configuration.
Once the pack if full and zipped up they are easily pulled tight, securing the contents very well.
One of the best features of this back-pack is how it deals with longer items. With other bags, items like shooting sticks have to be either strapped to the outside or carried sticking out of the top of the pack like an aerial. This pack includes what they call a ‘Hang Thru System’, which is basically a compartment that is zipped top and bottom; so, with both zips open, items can be hung all the way through the pack. Items can be carried with as much projecting above and below the bag as you want and secured using the metal attachments points within the compartment.
With a compatible rifle case, even guns could be secured and carried this way. To prevent the bottom zip coming open when this compartment is being used as a standard storage space, without the need for the Hang- Thru facility, the zip pull is secured in place with a small elasticated loop; pure genius! The ‘Hang- Thru’ is a very useful feature.
The shoulder Straps are very well padded and include quick release buckles and an elasticated chest strap. The chest strap is well positioned and aids a comfortable carry, even with a fully loaded pack. The great thing about the shoulder straps is that they are well shaped and sit very well on those of us that have a ‘large build’. Most back packs seem to be built in such a way that they do not accommodate the heavier built user but this pack is the exception. It sits great, even around a 50-inch chest and the straps remain in place on the shoulders without slipping. The shoulder straps and the back of the pack are very well padded, making the pack extremely comfortable to wear, no matter how much kit you stuff into it. Between the tops of the two shoulder straps sits one of two heavy duty carry handles, with another positioned on the top of the main body of the pack. They are very strong and more than capable of taking the full weight of the loaded pack.
The pack has proven to be very hardwearing and weather resistant, with no signs of wear after daily use over an extended period of testing. All of the zips open and close really well with no material getting trapped, due to the tight and clean manufacturing tolerances in the pack. There is no loose stitching and even on the corners of the pack there are no signs of rubbing or wear.
In use, the back-pack proved extremely versatile and surprisingly spacious for its size. Everything required for a day’s shooting fits easily and the layout of the compartments makes everything easily accessible. On the underside of the pack is a pocket intended for storage of an optional rain cover but it proved a very useful place to store waterproof clothing. Secured with Velcro, it makes it possible to get to the waterproofs instantly and without having to open the other compartments.
With the ‘Hang-Thru’ provision and the suitability for users with the larger build, this pack has proven to be ideal for its intended purpose and it provides all of the carrying capacity needed. I’m sure it will withstand many years of use and abuse and it is not as expensive as many other packs available.
Overall, this pack is highly recommended, and the military 1st website is definitely worth a visit, to help you choose the right back-pack to suit your needs.