Updated: Jun 6, 2019
We brought in First Tactical a few months ago, and they've had some really interesting products that we have begun carrying in our stores. From polos & pants to gloves, knives, and bags, they're gunning for the tactical apparel market in its entirety. If you're not familiar with what they've designed, I'll be diving a little deeper into some of that here.
Main Compartment: 12” L x 19” H x 8” D / 30.5cm L x 48.3cm H x 20.3 cm D
Back Hook and Hang Pocket: 12” L x 19” H x 1” D / 30.5cm L x 48.3cm H x 2.5 cm D
Top Front Dump Pocket: 9.5” L x 4.5” H x 1” D / 24.1cm L x 11.4 cm H x 2.5cm D
CCW Pocket 9.5” L x 13.5” H x 0” D / 24.1cm L x 34.3cm H x 0cm D
Front Admin Pocket: 9.5” L x 13” H x 1.5” D / 24.1cm L x 33.0cm H x 3.8cm D
Front L Pockets (x2) 4.5” L x 13” H x 0.75” D / 11.4cm L x 33.0cm H x 1.9cm D
Approx. Capacity 2368 cubic inches / 38.8 liters
Weight 4.2 lbs / 1.9 kg
Pockets: 9 external, 22 internal
500D/1000D water resistant nylon
Let's get to the most obvious part of it right away. Laser-cut webbing wasn't invented a month ago, and it has had its issues depending who made it. Traditional MOLLE/PALS webbing with tacked loops are very strong and the design has proven itself to be extremely durable, reliable, and strong.
First-generation laser-cut webbing had sagging issues, as borne out by outer carriers produced by a major body armor company. While the fabric itself held the weight and didn't tear, officers were finding that over time, magazines and other heavy items would make pouches pull on the webbing and begin to sag. That extra wobble doesn't just look bad, it actively fights against you when you move, creating extra fatigue.
Newer laser-cut designs have a few distinct advantages compared to traditional webbing, and they have been reinforced to prevent the loop sagging of the first generation designs.
It Looks Good
Frankly, this will be the main reason most people buy laser-cut over traditional webbing. There is an undeniable fashion aspect to the tactical market, and the newest-latest-greatest thing will nearly always win out over something that was cool yesterday.
But don't discount this aspect of it so quickly. Newer laser-cut designs are helping to bridge the gap between utility needed on the street and the more formal appearance desired by command staff and citizens. While it's not entirely necessary in bag format, it's a great option for outer carriers--and you might as well match your equipment.
One of the things people wearing gear begin to realize is that while you need tools and gear to do your job, they can become cumbersome and problematic in tight spaces. Vehicles and buildings are awful to navigate when you're 12 inches deep in Cordura, body armor, magazines, and whatever other gear you have.
You can't sit comfortably, you can only grab so much of the steering wheel, and door jambs are doing their level best to stop you from entering the room. Not to mention, the outdoors are full of things trying to stick to you; particularly in Arizona.
While the tighter spacing in laser-cut versus MOLLE doesn't seem like much, consider the application of that space on every piece of gear you own in every single loop you're using. Ounces are pounds, and pounds are pain. That's also true in size and negative space. Additionally, the laser-cut style is one piece of Cordura fabric that lays flat on its own. Even if you're running gear with minimal pouches, MOLLE loops themselves can still catch on exposed nails, branches, etc.
The Lynx™ Laser-Cut platform First Tactical uses in their Tactix series bags is two layers of 500 denier Cordura fabric laminated together, which tests 20% stronger than other platforms.
Ounces are pounds, and pounds are pain. The Lynx™ Laser-cut platform on this bag is 20% lighter than comparable MOLLE. There's a reason everyone wants everything to be lighter weight. Muscle and respiratory fatigue is your number one enemy in the field. Traditional MOLLE webbing includes not just a piece of fabric and webbing on top of it, but every tack is extra thread sewn in that weighs something. Across all of your gear, all that thread adds up to unnecessary weight that you don't need to carry that adds nothing to your tactical advantage. Laser-cut also offers twice the mounting space to add pouches and gear. Think of it this way; on a MOLLE platform, your loop has an entry and an exit (top and bottom). With laser-cut, you can use any slit for either entry or exit of your strap. You've effectively doubled your usable space, and you can now adjust that pouch that is sitting slightly too high or too low into the desired position.
Bates Tora Bora boots strapped in the compression straps on the First Tactical Tactix One Day Plus bag
I've been using this particular bag for about two months now. For those of you that don't know me, I spent 8 years in the Marine Corps, and I now spend an enormous amount of time outdoors hiking, camping, backpacking, and doing photography. For me, a bag can't simply be fabric with a void to fill with extra clothing. I have a basic checklist by which I judge my equipment that I bring to the office, the range, or the wilderness.
This probably seems like a no-brainer, but really consider your equipment's properties when choosing it. Buy once, cry once.
Cordura material is always a great option for durable construction, but it does come at a weight cost. Fortunately, there are different options inside this fabric called Denier. You could think of it simply as the durability and weight level of the fabric. 1000 Denier will be more durable and heavier than 500 Denier.
In my experience, I have found 500 Denier Cordura fabric to be a pretty good compromise between weight and durability. While there are bags that have extraordinarily durable high-denier Cordura fabrics, an empty 30-liter bag can weigh 9 pounds or more before you put anything in it. That's ridiculous for something you might expect to carry over long distances if you're hiking, doing reconnaissance work, foot patrol, or search and rescue.
Lower-denier fabric is highly prone to fraying when rubbed against a surface with a higher friction coefficient like bark, rock, or something similar. This creates weak points or even holes over time, and can happen even when exposed to rubbing from low-friction surfaces. Hot points in your gear can generate these holes where the fabric is exposed to motion or rubbing on any surface. You might find fraying or weakening in areas where you are stretching, rotating, rubbing, or otherwise stressing it. Keeping an eye on these areas and adjusting your load can significantly improve the life of your gear if you make a point of taking care of it. Alternatively, you can always cover these areas with duct tape or fabric patches to enhance the durability in a pinch.
500 Denier has time and time again shown me that it is capable of withstanding hard use over a long period of time, and is far more durable than lightweight materials available in civilian-oriented packs.
Over the time that I have been using this bag, I have found it to be above-par on durability. It is made of materials that I carry an expectation of durability for, but I've noticed a few other things that I really appreciate.
Cory Nykoluk of First Tactical has a long history in product design, particularly in the tactical market. He looked at parts that commonly fail on other bags and thought about how to improve them while keeping the price down. For example, the plastic clips on the bag are by themselves durable (made with Duraflex™ hardware), and that's great. But we've all had times when the clips have broken, snapped, or the seams holding them onto the pack have ripped, frayed, or shredded, resulting in carrying a pack with one functional load-bearing shoulder strap. While there are only so many options when it comes to buying the clips themselves, he made them swappable.
Imagine your right shoulder strap clip breaks. You can simply remove one of the side compression straps and swap it into place on the shoulder strap. This can be accomplished a number of ways, since there is more than one way to re-attach another clip to the strap. Simply do it in whatever way suits you. It requires no sewing or tools, and can be done at home or in the field.
First Tactical claims that this bag weighs 4.2 pounds empty, but our scale pulled only 4.0 pounds on the bare bag alone. Either way, that's pretty light considering the amount of features and pockets they've packed into this bag along with its nearly 40 liter capacity.
When I'm lugging around photography equipment, camping, hiking, and firearms gear, this pack's weight is extremely important to me. I have a lens that by itself weighs 3 pounds. When you add in a 3 pound camera body, a 3 liter Camelbak bladder, an SBR, a Glock 17, food, sleeping system (varies depending on environment), extra magazines, extra batteries, and all the usual pieces of gear I need to hike out somewhere, the load begins to weigh quite a bit. Starting with a light, but durable pack really makes a big difference.
A recent trend that manufacturers are starting to catch on to is modularity. Not every piece of equipment or feature is needed all the time, every time. With this in mind, First Tactical equipped their packs to serve a number of purposes. You can streamline your pack and keep it slick, or you can add a oversize padded waist strap with laser-cut webbing (this is an amazing feature), external and internal pouches, or even a long gun scabbard that simply slides right into the pack itself.
These are available in a few different sizes. While I don't personally use it since I prefer to always have my AR at the ready, this is perfect for snipers, shotguns, less-lethals, and other long guns to carry through the field or to the range. It also has internal velcro and MOLLE straps to secure smaller items internally should you need it, as well as a muzzle pocket that is position-adjustable via the MOLLE straps for shorter barrels.
Additionally, you can use the case or the slot itself in the bag for things like tripods, hiking sticks, tent poles, metal detector, skis (maybe even a snowboard), or anything else your imagination and hands can get in there. The scabbard is available in 36, 42, and 50 inch sleeve lengths. It attaches internally using a hook and hang system, so it's easy to insert and remove, but won't fall out while it's on your back.
Inside, you'll find a velcro-lined main compartment for adding in pouches, Haley Strategic rigs, or anything else that you can Velcro in. This is similar to the system you'll find in Arc'teryx or Mystery Ranch bags, and the micro loop material will accept any hook side you have. There are two net pouches included in the bag that are attached to the top of the inside of the flap in the main compartment from the factory.
I've left them there and stored my rain jacket and sun shirt in those two spots, which has served me well. First Tactical makes additional pouches that are available to use as inserts as well, some with hi-viz internals to maximize visibility inside the darkness of the pack.