U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Half the planet lives in poverty, strife, and suffer the worst governments you can possibly imagine. Then there are other places – These States United. It is my firm opinion that most Americans have never studied, much less encountered cultures outside their own. Few have traveled abroad. I’ve got news for you. Trips to some beachfront in Central America don’t count. What I’m referring to are truly differing cultures and the stories they inhabit. I believe an opportunity has been presented to us for tremendous growth if we’d simply pay attention.
Over the last several months an invisible thing has altered most of our lives. The panic, trauma, and fear responses from that have changed the playing field. Add a healthy dose of civil unrest stemming from the bad actors among various movements, and you’ve got a ton of people asking themselves the fundamental questions they should have been pondering forever. Am I safe? How can I better prepare? Where should I go and not go? All good questions that require thought and grounded answers.
For the first time in my entire life, I looked at my wife after we loaded the kids into the family truckster for the Sunday morning trip to church, and asked her if a G19 and spare mag were enough? Ordinarily, my wife would have scoffed and we’d been on our way. This time, her pause was sobering. She held the same concern I did. Are we packing with us what we need to get through a lousy scenario if it devolves? We both questioned our plan.
Enter the idea of a discreet backpack.
I’d been considering this for a long time. My brother-in-law is the Chief Deputy of his County. We’ve traveled together on vacation in the past. He’s used a backpack a few times to carry a hog leg and I hadn’t thought much of it. It did register to memory bank though, that when he was casually walking about with a backpack over his shoulder, he looked no different than any other tourist, adult, kid, commuter, etc. I couldn’t easily discern what was in his pack, but I did know his backpack looked at home and didn’t stand out. That made an impression on me and I’ve been considering the idea surrounding discreet methods of packing some gear ever since.
I wanted to avoid the “tactical garb” for this endeavor from day one. Nothing says “GUN” like an OD Green, Black, or Coyote Tan pack with a generous helping of molle straps. Am I right? I made a shortlist of packs that would accommodate my criteria. I wanted to be able to easily house an AR pistol with the magazine inserted in case I chose to include that in the bag. Thus, I knew I was looking for something with an interior cargo area of 22” x 12” minimum. These two criteria alone narrowed my list down pretty quickly after I scratched off units too small and those that weren’t discreet to the average Joe.
Granted there are plenty more, but I honed in on the following as possibilities:
- Elite Survival Systems Covert Operations Rifle Backpack
- Sentinel Concepts Revelation II by TUFF Products
- Grey Ghost Gear Apparition SBR Bag
- Sneaky Bags Spyder Small Covert Rifle Bag 27″
- Vertx Checkpoint
- Vertx Overland
As I looked through them all with prices ranging from mid $100s to mid $200s, I was less concerned with price and more concerned with two very important things: Could I house my gear properly and easily so I could get to it quickly and reliably, and would the layout of the bag lend itself to ease of carrying and deployment/draw? I poured over these units for hours, all of which were contenders, and eventually opted to try the Vertx Gamut Overland. Ask me what I knew about any of these packs before my research started and I’d be able to offer you very little. This forced me to read about features, watch YouTube videos from the manufacturers and designers, along with taking user experiences into consideration for much necessary context.
I chose the burnt sienna/gray unit. Don’t worry, I didn’t know what the heck burnt sienna was either. Just think of dirty orange/brown and dull gray and you’ll be close. Was this color my personal style or preference? Nope. Not even close. But here’s why I chose it. I tried to picture the most yuppy, mall-walking, hipster I could think of. You know, the guy sporting a lumberjack plaid shirt that has never seen a speck of sawdust, a pair of Timberlands that would fly off his feet before they’d experience a puddle, and an iPhone 15X sticking diagonally out the rear pocket of his skinny jeans – that guy. I wanted to visualize in my mind the pack that he’d be sporting around town. Why? Because that choice would appear “normal” to just about anyone around. A pack that fits with those optics could be found in the church pew, on the Rainbow Trail hiking through the Sangre de Christos, or on a park bench in the City Park. My pack contents could essentially be hidden in nearly plain sight. Goal accomplished.
I snagged the pack at Brownells. I love those guys. Yeah, they’re neighbors to my shop and I know a third of the staff, so I’m biased. But that doesn’t change my choice of packs. I prefer to buy from people I know and like. I opened up the box, pulled out the pack, soaked up the “new backpack smell” we all covet, and took to figuring out just how to populate it. For the first time in my life, I truly wanted to go minimal. If I crammed this full of stuff it’d be so laden with weight, it’d be a chore to lug around. Two things happen when you adopt a chore. 1, you’re less likely to use it because it becomes a burden. 2, people notice you walking around with a pack stuffed to the gills. I wanted to avoid both. So, I put a very small medical pack in the bottom, a bleed control bag, and a folded BRN-180S AR pistol (with mag inserted) in the main compartment. I put two 30rd mags in one side pocket and an LED flashlight in the other. The top zippered compartment saw a G19 and two spare mags. That was it. Nothing else. It doesn’t appear “full” to the passerby or plump by any means. It comes in a tad over 12lbs, so we’re still in the sweet spot for my core criteria.
The pack is made well. I haven’t had a problem with zippers or fasteners. Of course, it offers a belly strap for long hikes along with pockets along the side for a water bottle. It has a hook and loop fastener-ready backing area as well. You could conceivably mount holsters or other gear in that area and orient it for ease of draw, capture, etc. I was able, after very little practice, to yank a G19 or the AR Pistol out of it very quickly and easily. It was a tad foreign at first, but I got the hang of it quickly.
All the standard things you’d want to see in a pack were present. Tough fasteners with zippers that took some abuse were present. There was a built-in ‘handle’ so to speak that was reinforced which makes latching onto this, even if stuffed to the gills, possible and easy. An interior area offered molle straps so you could mount any manner of things all while concealing them away from prying eyes. Unique to that same molle interior were a pair of ‘quick’ zippers as well as the design – rather than a pocket that outboard area was really a molle section covered by a flap. Those two zippers allowed you to yank that flap open in a hurry to gain access to your molle area.
The main interior area has some serious hook and loop fasteners. I set mine up to accommodate a BRN-180S pistol. With a Trijicon MRO optic and a full 30rd mag, I was concerned I couldn’t squeeze things in, or worse yet, that I couldn’t get that handy dandy unit out in a hurry. But my fears were laid to rest. I was able to use the black stiffened interior “backer” Vertx included. It took a little work to get it just right, so expect to give a little bit of effort to set this up. The really neat thing about this is how the interior is able to accept all manners of hook and loop fastened items. You could build this out with holsters, knife scabbards, individual pouches, or all the above. There is some serious flexibility with a system like this, but the key for me was the idea that each configuration you chose could be set up for quick and easy access to the core reason you employed this pack.
The other thing I opted to try was mounting the pack to the backside of the front passenger seat of my truck. I simply hung the pack over the seat, pulled up the draws, and strapped it on nice and tight. Wow… I love this thing. I find myself with my right hand grasping the headrest of that seat as I drive down the road occasionally anyway. Being able to yank a zipper open and pull a folding AR pistol out in seconds? Yes, please. I liked that idea so much, I’m snagging one in another yuppy color configuration for the wife and her vehicle.
The rest of the country seems to be yearning for better methods of safety and preparedness and as you walk about and travel you are vulnerable. You’ve always been. You’re just thinking about this differently now. I applaud you for this. Take the next step and think through what you need and apply it. The Vertx Gamut Overland discreet backpack was a wise choice for me. It is well constructed, ergonomic, and doesn’t look like tactical jazz. I love this thing in conception and practice; it checked all my boxes. You should seriously consider the Vertx Gamut Overland. I want you all safe and sound, so take responsibility for your safety and that of your loved ones. Get a discreet pack and place the items you need in it. There is no reason to not do this.
About Michael Ware:
Michael is a Christian husband and father to two children. He owns and operates Controlled Chaos Arms, a premier custom weapons shop in the Midwest. He serves as Chairman of the board of Directors at the Iowa Firearms Coalition. The pursuit of truth drives him in research and his writing.
Michael enjoys shooting, hunting, and fishing throughout the Midwest and Rockies. An avid outdoorsman and tireless supporter of all Second Amendment virtues, he can be found in his gun shop, in a tree stand with his kids, or on Capitol Hill lobbying in support of Freedom and Liberty at any given time.
- Michael Ware Linkedin
- Controlled Chaos Arms Website
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