I’m a gear junkie, and as such, I’m always excited to try new pieces. 5.11 Tactical came up with the Covert Boxpack, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. The company has never before produced a roll top pack, and I think this one came out great. They advertise the Boxpack as being “engineered for speed, agility, and dependability in any environment” – agreed. I used this pack for a couple of weeks as my EDC(Everyday Carry), a couple of weeks as my range bag, and out in the field several times in between. So how’d it go? Read on.
The 5.11 Boxpack has an internal capacity of 1,872 cubic inches which puts it in the 24 hour class. Your color choices are Black, Tundra(tan), Storm(light grey) and the limited Edition Multicam Black™, which I was lucky enough to test. I have to tell you, the Multicam Black™ is just simple and sexy – you gotta see it. Come to think of it, you WILL see it! Fabric is a 1680D Ballistic Polyester, with a water resistant finish. As with any high-end pack, the Covert Boxpack is set up with invisible YKK zippers and Duraflex® buckles. This bag is definitely designed for specific purposes. As I mentioned earlier, the top closure is a roll top design. If you ask around, roll top bags are hit and miss, but I think this one is definitely more the former than latter. The idea behind a roll top is that the main storage area is only as large as it needs to be, depending on what you’ve packed. In essence, the pack scales, so if your load out changes mid trip, you just cinch the top down further, and you’re not left with a bunch of empty bag flapping around as you navigate. To me, the word ‘versatility’ comes to mind, and I think that was one of the driving principles behind the design of the Boxpack in the first place. You’ve got nice, really comfortable shoulder straps, with sternum strap, and a very conservative amount of laser cut P.A.L.S. webbing which adds utility while maximizing the covert nature of things. There’s even a hip strap, but I’m not a big fan of these on smaller bags, so I didn’t use it – read the Notable Features section below for my thoughts on this. Last but certainly not least, the back of the pack is (thickly) padded and fit into my back very well.
Let’s talk about pockets, and storage compartments. The 5.11 Covert Boxpack is *not* for packing toiletries, a bottle cap collection, or your fishing tackle. But why would you want a tactical bag for that anyway? The Boxpack *is* all about simplicity, and so compartmentalization is thoughtfully kept to what I would call a “logical minimum”, which I really liked. This bag has a total of six (external) storage compartments, all but one of which are accessible by zipper. The one pocket without zipper closure, is instead bound by Velcro, which was made specifically for your concealed carry needs – more on that later. The main section which is most of the entire bag, is accessible by way of the roll top, as well as a larger zipper entrance in the back. This is highly convenient if you’ve got a lap top in the very back, and need only to slip it out without unrolling the top, and disturbing the rest of the load out.
Each side of the Boxpack has a fairly large compartment, each with an internal elastic strip sewn toward the front, which happens to be the perfect size for a double stacked pistol magazine. There’s plenty more room in each of these pockets though, and if I had to describe the size to you for the purpose of mental scale, I’d say you could probably fit a full sized brick into either of them. On the bottom of the pack, lies another compartment which is padded, and held my earmuffs and eye protection with much room to spare.
Moving up the center of the bag, you’ll find a pocket designed specifically for your concealed carry firearm(CCW). This section is fully lined with the soft side of Velcro material, which is nice, because it not only protects your pistol, but allows for a Velcro holster to be used. I don’t have a Velcro holster, but I’m definitely getting one like this after using this bag. The CCW compartment is easily big enough for my Glock 19(gen 4 MOS), but I’m certain something larger, like a 1911 would fit quite nicely as well. I like the Velcro on this pocket instead of a zipper because you can have your firearm out immediately. You’ll also notice that the CCW pouch is fully padded on the outside, so there is no printing at all.
Above the CCW pocket, is a small horizontal zipper. Inside is a soft lined compartment meant for storing eye glasses, or anything else which needs to be protected. This compartment also pulls out, and can hang over the back side of the pack to display a unit badge, or other type of identification which might be pertinent to your operation(s).
Lastly, inside the main compartment, there are two separate sections, one which to me, became a place for my laptop. It’s a fair amount larger than my 13″ laptop, so I would imagine a full sized 15″ laptop would fit just fine, but I didn’t have one handy to test with. Inside the laptop compartment, is another division which serves as an admin sleeve, sporting a few cavities for pens, a flashlight, etc.
One thing which is very consistent with this bag, is its deceiving size. Literally every compartment looks small on the outside, and is huge on the inside, which is a good thing. I like the roll top because you can pack light, and the bag presents small and orderly. On the other hand, there’s plenty of room for a full 24 hour load out. Regardless of what I put inside this pack, it was pretty comfortable, and I never felt the need to use the waist straps, because the bag just really doesn’t flop around very much. My favorite feature is a contest between the roll top, and the CCW pouch. 5.11 just did such a good job of implementing these features together. I also like that you’re able to access the main compartment through a rear zipper as well, which is a serious convenience thing.
The 5.11 Covert Boxpack is a purpose built pack. It worked out pretty well as an EDC, but I think where it really shined the most was as a 24 hour pack, on hikes. It loads extremely well, and is very comfortable on my back, not flopping around a bunch. It’s like a smaller, more practical A.L.I.C.E. pack, and immediately reminded me of my Marine Corps days. The A.L.I.C.E. pack had a large main section(cinch top), and three large external pockets. The CCW pocket really seals the deal if you have a carry permit as well. There’s only one thing I would change about the design, and that would be to either re-design the horizontally zippered pull-out pouch, or nix it all together. The opening was a bit too small for my hand, and once I get my hand into it, this pouch, like all the other compartments on this bag, just seemed to go on forever. I sort of felt like I was digging around blindly for what I was looking for.
While I took it to the shooting range multiple times, 5.11 does make bags specifically for this purpose such as this one. It was still nice to show it off – I’m telling you… the Multicam Black™. In the end, if you’re looking for a super low-profile bag, and one which stays that way no matter how full you stuff it, you’re going to need to check out the 5.11 Covert Boxpack.