Technically, all backpacks could be considered tactical. After all, tactical means "of or relating to a maneuver or plan of action designed as an expedient toward gaining a desired end or temporary advantage." Having an efficient storage solution that can easily be carried on one's person is a pretty distinct advantage over say, a plastic grocery bag or just your pant pockets. Heck, even a bindle (picture the classic cartoon hobo with a sack tied to a stick) is a human invention that could be considered a distinct advantage for carrying your stuff. What I'm getting at, is when a product is marketed as "tactical" I try to focus on what it does that provides a distinct advantage over the other products in it's category.
There are plenty of "tactical" backpacks out there, and typically the quality and capacity improves the higher the price point. If you are looking for a dependable bug-out bag or EDC bag that will outlast the zombie apocalypse (heavy sarcasm) then you may be in the $200+ range. There are some of us who are just looking for a fairly inexpensive bag that has expanded useful features, as well as looks cool. After all, the first rule of Tactical is if you aren't looking cool, you are doing it wrong. Or so I've been told! In shopping for an inexpensive tactical backpack that would serve well during day outings or travel, I found the Allen Company Recon Tactical Backpack. For only $25 it seemed like a decent pack that was casual but looked the part. Black: check. MOLLE webbing: check. Hook & Loop panel for the sweet PVC morale patches from Patriot Patch Co.
It has 3 zippered compartments ranging in size. The largest main compartment has a partition sleeve that holds either a laptop or tablet device, textbook or magazines (the reading kind) or even a hydration bladder, with a covered port in the top where the bladder's drinking tube can come through and then be secured to the strap. Outside of the aforementioned sleeve theres room for loosely putting anything else, a small jacket or several ham sandwiches. There was clearly room to accommodate more pouches, pockets or an interior MOLLE system but Allen left is pretty minimalistic and bare here, which I guess is why it's under thirty bucks.
The second compartment has more to offer as far as utility, and short leashed keyring, admin/paper pocket, and some smaller stitched pockets for pens or smaller items. The third forward most zippered pocket located directly behind the front MOLLE webbing is completely bare, just big enough for a small book or two magazines (the shooting kind). Once again, pretty bare minimum and really not useful as a range bag, bugout bag, or survival bag.
The exterior has MOLLE webbing on the front, sides, and sling of the pack so you can expand the pack with your own tactical accessories. A dump pouch or admin pouch would go along with the whole traveling student role. You could be "that guy" and put pistol mag pouches on the sling and sides, but it wouldn't earn you many credibility points at the gun show. There is a synch-able net pouch for a water bottle on the wearer's right side, and a slim, narrow zippered pocket on the left that will hold a couple energy bars.
The comfort of the Recon Tactical Backpack is what's the real hero of its price point, as the back panel and the single sling are padded as well as slightly aerated for reducing sweat spots after wearing it all day. It is a single sling design like a messenger bag / backpack hybrid, so if you weigh it down with heavy contents (ie: dozens of manufacturer catalogs from SHOT Show) you will definitely feel it in your left shoulder after awhile. The downside to hybrid single strap bags like this is the inability to switch shoulders to reduce that fatigue if your pack is too heavy. There is a smaller strap with plastic M-buckle on the right side which snaps into the main shoulder strap to keep the bag from shifting around, and that helps stabilize the load.
In all honesty, I bought this bag from a local gun shop the week before SHOT Show 2015 because I didn't have the time or budget for a more expensive and comprehensive backpack, and I thought a more minimal pack would be useful with all the other camera and recording equipment slung over my shoulder. I quickly found out how overloading the pack with heavy magazines and catalogs lead to pain at the end of a whole day spent on the showroom floor, and I really wished I had anted up for a more conventional double shoulder strap bag with better use of its interior space. If it had better use of internal space with more pockets or pouches on the inside, you wouldn't need to snap on more MOLLE pouches on the outside. Admitting all that, I would still vouch for the Recon Tactical Backpack for a student or just someone on the go looking to travel light but still have some "tactical" features. If you are looking for a full capacity backpack with more features and double straps like a 5.11 pack but more affordable, don't hesitate to check out Allen Company's other tactical backpacks
Firearms Insider Reviews – 8 Key Points
Claim to Fame: The Recon Tactical Pack is ready for the field, the range, or duty use. The single should sling is nicely padded for comfort, while the interior pockets and exterior MOLLE loops allow for easy organization and the ability to add MOLLE compatible accessories.
Target Market: Day-trippers, Casual Hikers, Students
FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):
- 600D cosntruction
- Single, padded shoulder strap
- Exterior MOLLE web system
- Interior organization compartments
- Water bottle pocket, plus hydration bladder sleeve
- Air mesh padded back
- Hook and loop patch for adding name tape or logo patches
- Padded compartment for laptop
- Dimensions: 17.5" x 11" x 7.5"
What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?: Black only
What others are saying?:
"The Recon Tactical Pack is ready for the field, the range, or duty use. The single shoulder sling is nicely padded for comfort, while the interior pockets and exterior MOLLE loops allow for easy organization and the ability to add MOLLE compatible accessories." Geekdotcom.com
I need it now! Availability: Amazon
- Minimal price, minimal footprint
- Hydration bladder compartment and hole
- MOLLE webbing for expandable capacity
- Stitching holds up for light - medium use
- Strap and back panel are padded and comfortable
- Price Point is low for minimal features
- Lack of internal pouches / pockets
- Design limits carry to left shoulder only
- Did not include hydration bladder
Score: 5.5 Mediocre
For FFL services I choose Promised Land Firearms in Toulon, IL.
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