ON-YOUR-BACK BUG-OUT

Gear-haulers from Ma­jor Sur­plus and Voodoo Tac­ti­cal

American Survival Guide - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Steven Paul Bar­low

I’m con­tin­u­ally on the look­out for the best ways to tote my equip­ment so I can have it with me when I need it. That goes when I’m on a wilder­ness hunt, back­coun­try hike or stow­ing emer­gency gear in a car or ca­noe for a “just-in­case” sce­nario. Day­packs, back­packs, mil­i­tary packs, range bags, shoul­der sacks, fanny packs, duf­fels—i’ve tried them all.

Along the way, I’ve used sev­eral prod­ucts from Ma­jor Sur­plus & Sur­vival and its tac­ti­cal spe­cialty sub­sidiary, Voodoo Tac­ti­cal. Some I’ve used ex­ten­sively.

Ma­jor Sur­plus & Sur­vival of­fers gen­uine mil­i­tary sur­plus gear and new, mil­i­tary-style gear at af­ford­able prices. Voodoo Tac­ti­cal pro­vides top-of-the-line tac­ti­cal gear de­signed for heavy-duty use. Much of that gear is in use by mil­i­tary and law en­force­ment units around the globe. (I once had to wait for a Tobago pack in Coy­ote Brown, be­cause the com­pany was fill­ing a large or­der for that item from a South Amer­i­can mil­i­tary unit.)

Here, I’ve picked a cross-sec­tion of my fa­vorites. Each ex­cels at a par­tic­u­lar bug-out mis­sion, but the over­all ob­jec­tive for ev­ery one of them is the same: to get your gear to where you’re go­ing.

VOODOO TAC­TI­CAL LARGE TOBAGO CARGO PACK

When I find a great prod­uct, I never want to risk go­ing with­out it. With that in mind, I have to con­fess that I now own three Large Tobago Cargo Packs.

The Tobago is sim­ply the best, most ver­sa­tile pack I’ve ever used. It has a large, 75-liter ca­pac­ity; plenty of com­part­ments and pock­ets within com­part­ments to keep gear or­ga­nized; and it is well-made, with thick ny­lon fab­ric and heavy-duty zippers.

The Tobago car­ries heavy loads eas­ily. It has con­toured, padded shoul­der straps that are kept in place with a ster­num strap. It has padded lum­bar sup­port and a padded hip belt that sup­ports a lot of the weight. To­gether, they keep the pack from shift­ing when cov­er­ing dif­fi­cult ter­rain.

There’s a rigid back sup­port in its own zip­pered compartment that also helps with car­ry­ing heavy loads com­fort­ably. That back sup­port is re­mov­able; with it re­moved, the pack can be stuffed more eas­ily into small spa­ces, such as into a kayak or car trunk. That zip­pered compartment is also a great place to tuck topo maps and note­books.

The pack has the nat­u­ral, low pro­file of a smaller ruck­sack, un­like top-heavy con­ven­tional back­packs. That al­lows you to travel through thick brush eas­ily, climb­ing over blow-downs with­out los­ing bal­ance or get­ting hung up on low-hang­ing branches.

The Tobago has two large main com­part­ments. The first and largest has tie-down straps to se­cure a wa­ter blad­der or other gear and two zip­pered mesh com­part­ments. There are ports both

left and right at the top of the pack to run wa­ter blad­der hoses. They are closed off with Velcro flaps when not in use.

The sec­ond large compartment has three di­vider pock­ets to keep gear or­ga­nized, as well as a ra­dio pouch and slots for pens or other small gear. I usu­ally stick a sharp­en­ing rod in one and a ferro rod in an­other.

There’s a smaller, zip­pered pocket on each side of the pack as well. These are great for a com­pass, flash­light, whis­tle, in­sect re­pel­lent, first aid kit, al­co­hol stove, fire-start­ing kit and other small items you want to keep handy. There’s also a long, zip­pered pocket on the back of the pack near the bot­tom. That’s where I usu­ally place a cou­ple of 50-foot lengths of para­cord and a bath­room kit— trowel, toi­let pa­per, hand san­i­tizer—for when I’m lit­er­ally “on the go.”

There are MOLLE gear at­tach­ment points all over the pack that al­low you to cus­tom­ize the pack how­ever you want. I’ve used them at times to at­tach an ad­di­tional util­ity pouch, ma­chete, shot­gun scab­bard and, on the shoul­der straps, a pis­tol hol­ster and fixed-blade knife.

There are com­pres­sion straps on the top and bot­tom on each side of the pack. As a re­sult, you don’t have to switch packs when trav­el­ing light. You can cinch down the straps to keep gear from rat­tling around when car­ry­ing lighter loads. I’ve used those com­pres­sion straps for se­cur­ing other gear on the out­side of the pack, such as a sleep­ing pad, back­pack­ing tent, cam­era tri­pod and pro­tec­tive fish­ing rod tube. I al­ways keep a pair of ny­lon straps in the pack in case I want to lash some­thing to the bot­tom of the pack, such as a sleep­ing bag or bulky hunt­ing jacket.

For overnight or gone for good, the Tobago Cargo Pack is the one I’d choose. When you con­sider its $99.95 price tag, this Voodoo Tac­ti­cal pack is one of the best val­ues on the mar­ket.

THE TOBAGO IS SIM­PLY THE BEST, MOST VER­SA­TILE PACK I’VE EVER USED. IT HAS A LARGE, 75-LITER CA­PAC­ITY; PLENTY OF COM­PART­MENTS AND POCK­ETS WITHIN COM­PART­MENTS TO KEEP GEAR OR­GA­NIZED; AND IT IS WELLMADE, WITH THICK NY­LON FAB­RIC AND HEAVY-DUTY ZIPPERS.

PRAETORIAN RI­FLE PACK LITE

When you have to travel fast and light with min­i­mal gear, a smaller pack is some­times best. Maybe you have a place to stash heav­ier gear, or maybe you’ve es­tab­lished a tem­po­rary base camp—a place to hun­ker down.

I’ve used two smaller Voodoo Tac­ti­cal packs for sev­eral years. The first is the Mini Tobago, an ex­cel­lent pack for hunt­ing, day hikes or when bug­ging out with just the ba­sics. The sec­ond is the Dis­creet Raven Pack, a heavy-duty day­pack with a more-sub­dued, less-mil­i­tary look to it for trav­el­ing, es­pe­cially in ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments, when I don’t want to draw at­ten­tion.

But this time around, I de­cided to put an­other Voodoo Tac­ti­cal pack to the test. The Praetorian Ri­fle Pack Lite has some un­usual ca­pa­bil­i­ties for a day­pack and lots of “cool” fac­tor.

The en­tire back panel of the pack is ac­tu­ally a large, padded flap se­cured by a zip­per and six ad­justable, quick-re­lease buck­les. Open the flap, and a compartment is re­vealed that al­lows for car­ry­ing any long gun from 29 to 58 inches long.

A fold-down pouch with ad­justable straps

cra­dles the butt of a ri­fle or shot­gun, while ad­di­tional straps se­cure the re­ceiver and bar­rel for muz­zle-up carry. Close the back panel, and you’re ready to go with the ri­fle pro­tected—less­en­ing the chance of a scope from be­ing knocked out of zero. A ny­lon sleeve is pro­vided to cover the bar­rel and fur­ther pro­tect a long gun from the weather. Also in­cluded is an­other ad­justable car­rier that gives you the op­tion of trans­port­ing a long gun muz­zle down.

An­other padded compartment, ac­ces­si­ble with full-length zippers on each side, is per­fect for stow­ing a lap­top com­puter. In that compartment, there’s also a re­mov­able pis­tol hol­ster that se­cures via Velcro in var­i­ous po­si­tions within that compartment.

While this compartment in­creases the Praetorian’s over­all ca­pac­ity to 30 liters, I would prob­a­bly add a util­ity pouch for small sur­vival gear (knife, com­pass, fire kit) while us­ing the padded compartment for a wa­ter blad­der. Ex­ten­sive ex­ter­nal MOLLE web­bing pro­vides nu­mer­ous at­tach­ment points for add-ons, giv­ing this pack great ver­sa­til­ity. And when you’re not us­ing the pack to trans­port a ri­fle, you can add pouches to the MOLLE web­bing in­side that flapped gun compartment.

The Praetorian Ri­fle Pack Lite has padded shoul­der straps and a waist belt. Mesh pad­ding where the pack con­tacts your back is de­signed to keep you cool and com­fort­able.

MOJO LOAD-OUT BAG WITH BACK­PACK STRAPS

The large Mojo Load-out Bag is a great grab-and-go bag that you can throw in the trunk of your car when bug­ging out by ve­hi­cle. It has an enor­mous, 173-liter ca­pac­ity, with one large main compartment and an as­sort­ment of 11 ex­ter­nal pock­ets for keep­ing gear or­ga­nized.

The main compartment is ac­cessed through the two top zippers that run the length of the bag with joined zip­per pulls, pro­vid­ing a wide-mouth open­ing that makes it easy to add or re­move gear.

I wish I had had one of these bags when I was a po­lice of­fi­cer, be­cause it would have made an ex­cel­lent pa­trol bag, to be kept in a ve­hi­cle to carry the many ex­tras (backup flash­lights, rain­coats, ex­tra hand­cuffs, rub­ber gloves, binoc­u­lar, tools and many other pieces of gear) that are some­times needed in law en­force­ment.

As a bug-out bag, this Mojo Load-out Bag ex­cels. There are com­part­ments for ev­ery­thing, en­abling you to keep your gear sep­a­rated and un­dam­aged when trans­port­ing your gear over rough roads. Two

com­pres­sion straps on each end of the bag also help keep your gear sta­bi­lized.

You prob­a­bly won’t need more ca­pac­ity than this bag of­fers, but you can add MOLLE pouches and other gear to the out­side web­bing along one en­tire side of the bag. The bag also fea­tures D-rings around the top for adding straps or lash­ing gear.

The bag fea­tures a wrap­around carry han­dle in the cen­ter and an ad­justable, re­mov­able padded shoul­der strap. And, in the event your ve­hi­cle breaks down and you find your­self afoot, there’s a shoul­der strap har­ness stowed in a spe­cial compartment on the out­side bot­tom of the bag that al­lows you to carry the Mojo as a huge back­pack.

MIL-SPEC PLUS 70-LITER BACK­PACK

If a more-tra­di­tional back­pack suits you bet­ter, Ma­jor Sur­plus and Sur­vival of­fers its Mil­spec Plus 70-Liter Back­pack. It’s a top-load­ing pack con­structed of light­weight rip­stop ny­lon and of­fers enough ca­pac­ity for multi-day ex­cur­sions. This one has been fly­ing un­der the

radar be­cause it has the qual­ity and fea­tures that out­class many of the more-ex­pen­sive “name brand” packs.

The top flap in­cludes a zip­pered elec­tron­ics pocket with two in­ter­nal zip­per pock­ets and ear­phone port. There’s also a cov­ered wa­ter blad­der port lead­ing from the main compartment. Un­der the top flap, the top col­lar of the pack has a draw­string clo­sure with a cord lock. That col­lar has an ex­ten­sion sleeve that pulls up to make use of the pack’s full ca­pac­ity. There’s zip­pered ac­cess to the main compartment from the side as well.

Along each side of the pack is a zip­pered pocket at the top and an open-topped wa­ter bot­tle pocket at the bot­tom. There’s a zip­pered sleep­ing bag stor­age compartment at the bot­tom of the pack. In­side, the sleep­ing bag compartment is sep­a­rated from the large main compartment by a ny­lon flap at­tached with two ad­justable straps. Un­fas­ten­ing the straps al­lows you to open the in­side of the pack to cre­ate one cav­ernous space.

A re­mov­able rain cover is in­cluded—an ex­tra ex­pense with most other packs—and it is con­tained in a ded­i­cated pocket in the top flap. Straps are in­cluded, both top and bot­tom, for lash­ing a sleep­ing bag, sleep­ing pad, jack­ets, tent or other bulky items. Two gear loops are also pro­vided on the out­side bot­tom for ice axes or other tools. Straps on the back of the pack pro­vide a place to lash col­lapsi­ble trekking poles too.

The Mil-spec Plus 70-Liter Back­pack fea­tures an alu­minum frame and back stays for car­ry­ing heavy loads. Dual-den­sity, foam-padded shoul­der straps and waist belt pro­vide sup­port. The en­tire shoul­der har­ness and the padded back panel are ad­justable to the size of your torso, help­ing keep the pack com­fort­able over the miles.

STUFF ’EM AS YOU LIKE

Ma­jor Sur­plus & Sur­vival and Voodoo Tac­ti­cal have the packs and bags you need to keep your emer­gency preps and sur­vival gear ready to go. What you de­cide to put in those bug-out bags is up to you. (Be­fore I get started on that, let’s leave it for now—it's a topic de­serv­ing of its own ar­ti­cle).

Above: The Large Tobago Cargo Pack has been the au­thor’s fa­vorite over the years. It of­fers great ca­pac­ity, ver­sa­til­ity, rugged con­struc­tion and carry com­fort and is avail­able in sev­eral color and camo pat­terns. These three are the au­thor’s own packs.

Far right: The Voodoo packs are Molle-com­pat­i­ble. Ad­di­tional util­ity pouches, car­tridge car­ri­ers, mag­a­zine pouches and first aid bags are avail­able to ac­ces­sorize them as you like. Pic­tured here with the Tobago pack is a Voodoo Tac­ti­cal shot­gun scab­bard that can be at­tached to the pack via its MOLLE at­tach­ments or car­ried sep­a­rately with its own shoul­der strap.

Be­low: The large Tobago pack fea­tures a re­mov­able rigid back sup­port in its own zip­pered compartment. With it in­stalled, heavy loads can be car­ried more com­fort­ably. With­out it, the pack can be more eas­ily stuffed into small ar­eas, such as in a ca­noe or kayak.

Near right: The large Tobago pack is fit­ted with con­toured, padded shoul­der straps, a ster­num strap to keep the pack in place and, to help carry the load, a padded hip belt.

Above: The large Mojo Load-out Bag is a great grab-and-go bag you can throw in the trunk of your car when bug­ging out by ve­hi­cle. It has a large ca­pac­ity and an as­sort­ment of pock­ets for keep­ing gear or­ga­nized. (Photo: Voodoo Tac­ti­cal)Near left: The Praetorian Ri­fle Pack Lite is about the size of a typ­i­cal day­pack, but with its padded lap­top compartment and ri­fle car­rier sys­tem, it has far greater ver­sa­til­ity. (Photo: Voodoo Tac­ti­cal) Far left: The Praetorian’s shoul­der straps and waist belt are well padded for all-day com­fort. (Photo: Voodoo Tac­ti­cal)

Bot­tom left: The Praetorian Ri­fle Pack Lite, while not of­fer­ing the ca­pac­ity of larger packs, does pro­vide a handy way to carry a long gun while still pro­tect­ing it from bumps and bruises.

Top right: The Mojo Load-out Bag can be car­ried with the carry han­dles wrapped to­gether or with the pro­vided shoul­der strap. A back­pack strap har­ness is also in­cluded.Mid­dle right: The large Mojo Load-out Bag comes with a quick-at­tach back­pack strap har­ness that stores in its own compartment on the bot­tom of the bag—very handy if you sud­denly find your­self afoot.

Near left: The Mil-spec Plus 70-Liter Back­pack comes with a re­mov­able rain cover to keep your pack and gear pro­tected from the weather. (Photo: Voodoo Tac­ti­cal) Far left: Nu­mer­ous con­ve­nient ex­ter­nal pock­ets on the Mil-spec Plus 70-Liter Back­pack en­able you to keep fre­quently used gear close at hand. Be­low, left: The Mil-spec Plus 70-Liter Back­pack is of­fered in blue (shown), green and red. (Photo: Voodoo Tac­ti­cal)Be­low, right: The Mil-spec Plus 70-Liter Back­pack has the look of a bag in­tended more for civil­ian back­pack­ers than mil­i­tary op­er­a­tors, but it is a large, very ca­pa­ble pack suit­able for multi-day jour­neys. (Photo: Voodoo Tac­ti­cal)

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