By Bill J
Betteridge’s Law of Headlines stipulates that any time a news story’s headline ends with a question mark, the answer to the question is always “no.” But look at me, breakin’ the rules.
The answer to the question posed by this headline is undoubtedly “yes”. Triple Aught Design’s FAST Pack EDC is ridiculous.
Over the course of my time with this bag, I didn’t even come close to tapping its full potential. I’m still finding new features — right before press time for this review, I discovered the flashlight cave tucked away under the pack, which you can use to store a flashlight for quick access.
But seriously, how do you review a bag like this short of shipping out with it to Afghanistan, then getting captured by the Taliban, and then escaping and living in the hills for a month while you fight your way back to base. It’s like reviewing War and Peace — this pack is epic. Epic in features, and at $325, epic in price. It’s also epically hard to get hold of — Triple Aught rarely has these in stock; despite the steep price, they sell out very quickly.
I’ve been traveling, camping, and EDCing with this bag for the past few months, and I’m going to be really honest here as a reviewer: I’m like a car reviewer who was given an MRAP to review, and who spent all of his time with the vehicle going to the post office, picking up groceries, and driving up and down the well-maintained dirt road out to the deer camp. This pack was made for far rougher situations than I plan to ever encounter. I mean, I think it might even be overkill for Jack Bauer.
I say all of that to make the point that this is not a hard-use, “I really put this bag through the wringer” type of review. It’s more like, “here is what I know about this pack based on my use of it, and here is what I think is cool about it.” If I ever find myself in a situation where I’m using this bag to the max, I’m pretty sure I’ll break long before the bag does.
Features and functions
At 1800 cubic inches of space, the FAST Pack EDC is actually a fairly large bag. But it doesn’t look it, and when it’s not full it gives the impression of a mid-sized backpack.
The bag is made mostly of MIL-SPEC 1000 Denier Invista Cordura, with reinforcements at stress points. You can tell on picking it up that the bag is practically bulletproof.
The waist belt is easy to adjust, and it’s also removable. I’ve been using the bag mainly with the belt removed, and thankfully the straps that are associated with the belt all tuck securely into the pack. You can see from the pictures that many of the straps have these small, flexible loops on the end — this is so that you can roll up excess strap and tuck it away. A very nice touch.
There’s a detachable transporter tail that I took off and didn’t get the chance to use. It has its own internal pocket, and I can definitely see how it would be handy for securing oddly sized or shaped items. Apparently a lot of people are using the transporter tail to carry guns on the pack.
The bag sports top and bottom compression straps. When the top compression straps are left hanging, they can tend to flop around a bit — this is the only flappy strap issue that I had with the bag, and it’s super minor. The solution here is just to buckle the compression strap.
I really like how easily and cleanly the transporter tail and waist belt can be removed, turning the bag into a leaner day pack. I think most people who EDC this bag will end up using it in this config. But it’s great to have the option of transforming into a mountaineering and/or camping bag.
The entire outside of the bag is covered with webbing, so you can attach MOLLE-compatible gear to it and generally get as tacticooled out as you want with it. Speaking of tacticool, even in its most stripped-down state, the bag still screams “OPERATOR!”, which makes sense because that’s who it’s made for and TAD does count Special Forces among the bag’s user base. But you have to be comfortable rockin’ a bag that is overtly tactical-looking.
The two large side pockets are deceptively spacious — a large, insulated Kleen Kanteen wide-mouth thermos in one, and a Thermacell in the other. There’s enough room in those pockets that you could probably fit a whole other small organizer pouch in there if you were so inclined.
I ended up using the inside webbed pockets for fragile items, like an iPod or a Kindle. In the main compartment, depending on my load-out, I’d have anything from a MacBook Air and iPad in there to a Gransfors Bruks hatchet, some clothing, a compact inflatable mattress, and miscellaneous other camping gear.
Here are some more specs, taken from TAD’s website:
- External zippered Top Admin Pocket with organizer
- Dual zippered side accessory pockets
- External zippered Hydration Pocket with 2 styles of hangers: Compatible with Camelbak and all other major hydration bladder systems
- Elastic hydration tube guides on shoulder straps
- Aerated, closed cell foam padding for superior shock protection, comfort and ventilation
- Removable HDPE framesheet evenly distributes weight across the pack
- Velcro loop on back for mounting morale patches or to apply glint tape to help you determine friend from foe
If you get the impression from the specs and pictures that this bag is strappy, then you are correct. This is the strappiest bag I own by a mile. However, TAD is obviously aware of the strap situation; as I mentioned above, one of the best parts of the bag is the way that all of the straps are designed to be secured and stowed when not in use; furthermore, when the straps are in use, all of the excess strap can be tucked away.
A warning about air travel
The one downside to this bag, apart from the price, is I don’t think I can safely bring this bag through airport security, because there are so many compartments in it that even if I attempt a thorough cleanup, the odds are non-trivial that I’ll have some contraband zippered away in some place where only an x-ray machine can find it.
If you do plan to do air travel with this bag, then you need to have some kind of strict policy regarding placement of any prohibited items in it. If you consistently place potentially troublesome items in the same few pockets every time, then you’ll have some degree of confidence that you’ve completely sanitized the bag before you go through security.
As for me, I’m not going to bother, because I’ll be the guy who sends the entire airport into lockdown when they find a single round of CCI Blazer .22LR wedged underneath some strap.
It’s entirely possible that some other premium bag maker with a significant Special Forces clientele, like Eberlestock or Tactical Tailer, makes a similarly sized bag that matches the FAST Pack EDC as far as features, durability, and general EDC and bug-out suitability. I don’t know, because I’ve not tried all of the premium packs that there are in the world. (Give me a few years, though.) But right now, I find it hard to imagine that anyone makes a bag that is significantly better than TAD’s beast of a pack.
You could press this into service as an INCH (I’m Not Coming Home) bag if you plan on traveling light — I’d personally prefer something larger for that scenario. But as a get-home bag, or as a “bug-out bag” in the more original sense of the term (i.e. “I’m grabbing this and bailing on my campsite or home base… I only plan to live out of it for a few days, until I can find a better arrangement”), the FAST Pack EDC hits the sweet spot of size, durability, and features.
Like I said, epic. May you never have an adventure that breaks this bag.
Via: All Outdoor