I’ll admit it. I have a bag problem. In my garage, there is an entire storage shelf where I keep my wide assortment of shoulder bags, rucks, backpacks, duffels… you name it. There are many categories and I have at least one entry from each. Although I have a wide variety of them, my favorite bags tend to be those with a high level of compartmentalization. Call it the former military in me, call it OCD, call it whatever you want but I enjoy having a well-organized bag.
So, when I found out about the Advanced Special Operations (ASO) bag from REFactor Tactical, I was very interested. The company, founded by a former Green Beret, has put a lot of attention into this bag and you can tell that it was designed for utility by people who have a lot of experience. That experience informed the design of the bag and some good forethought made it accessible to a very wide market. It comes in a variety of colors, including navy blue in case you want to be a little less conspicuous.
Advertised as a bag “specifically designed for the individual who needs the ability to travel with a tactical bag, without the tactical look” which is mostly accurate except for the color choices. I don’t think you’re fooling anyone if you carry a Multicam or Ranger Green bag but certainly, the black and blue offerings look ordinary. The ASO bag is constructed to last, using very sturdy stitching and durable materials. The bottom of the bag, as well as ¼ of the sides, are covered with a vinyl material which goes a long way toward keeping the contents of the bag dry, even if set in standing water.
The three exterior Velcro pockets are great for smaller items that need to be readily accessible. I tend to use those for snacks, simple first aid items and to stow the strap the bag comes with. Using those straps, this duffle can turn into a shoulder bag or a backpack in a matter of seconds. There is also a medium-sized zipper pocket on the right side of the bag which I use for a more extensive trauma kit, but could fit a few pistols, several magazines or boxes of ammunition, 3 boxes of power bars or whatever you prefer.
The large main compartment is large enough for me to fit my kit (plate carrier, helmet, battle belt) and a carbine. I have a folding stock on my rifle, but you could fit a full-sized AR15 if you detached the upper receiver. The lid to the main compartment has 3 mesh zipper pockets and the inside of the compartment has MOLLE lining in case you wanted to add pouches for even further compartmentalization.
Conclusion: The ASO bag is an excellent and sturdy addition to anyone’s range, bug-out or duty gear, especially if there is a desire or requirement for low-visibility.
Durability – 5/5
Design/Use of Space – 5/5
Color Choices – 4/5
Utility – 5/5
Author – Eddy South is a security consultant working in both the government and private sectors, where he works in full spectrum security operations in austere environments. Previously he served in the U.S. Army for 10 years as a Combat Engineer, Infantryman and finally Psychological Operations specialist for an SMU. He is an enthusiastic shooter, boater, snowboarder, gamer and traveler.