I’ve been in the hunt for a “tactical” pack ever since the mini-sim last year where Fireteam Bro decided to rock packs. I didn’t have one at the time, so I rocked my MAP off my MBSS, but I decided I needed a tactical pack that I could also use as an every-day carry (EDC) pack. Enter the Tasmanian Tiger Essential Pack, which I picked up at DS Tactical for the awesome price of $50.00 CAD.
In short, it’s an absolute steal at this price. Thoughts on the pack after the break.
It’s perhaps best to start by defining what the Essentials Pack is for: as you can tell by its name, is for carrying just that – the essentials. This certainly isn’t a heavy pack for anything more than a day trip. It’s meant more as an EDC pack for carrying the essentials to and from work, school, the gym, or anywhere else you may visit during your daily travels. For “tactical” purposes, the pack can certainly carry enough additional ammo, magazines, tools/accessories and food/hydration for a day long milsim, but this certainly isn’t the type of pack you’d take for anything much longer than that.
The layout of the pack is fairly basic, with two padded, comfortable shoulder straps with a cross-chest buckle for distributing the weight a little better to your chest. There are two adjustable compression straps on the back of the pack for tying down larger loads, which is a handy feature. Overall construction of the pack and its components is solid. This is a well-made piece of equipment that will stand up to some abuse.
There is some velcro on the back of the pack, enough for a name tape or other smaller rectangular patches. I would have preferred a larger patch of velcro for other patches, perhaps roughly in the size and location as the MAP pack, above the MOLLE webbing. The upper compression strap also tends to cover the velcro patch when it’s buckled together, which essentially renders it kind of useless, and makes you wonder why they included it at all. A minor gripe, but it should be noted if you’re looking to use the velcro at all.
(above: iPad 3 and book in the Essentials Pack. There was plenty of room left in the pack for a couple more books, but that’s about it.)
The above picture gives you a great example of just how much you can cram into the Essentials Pack. There’s plenty of room for an iPad and a couple of books, with plenty of room for a mid-sized waterbottle and perhaps a packed lunch. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m sure you can probably cram a 13″ laptop in there if you really tried, along with a notebook or two. This makes the Essentials Pack perfect for students.
The pack has the necessary accoutrements for carrying a hydration bladder, which makes it great for that extended jog or day hike. I personally don’t run hydration bladders very often as I find the maintenance/cleaning a little time consuming (I prefer waterbottles), but it’s nice to know that I could run one in this pack if I really wanted to. The pocket for the hydration bladder, meanwhile, is useful for storing things like notebooks and documents.
(above: I don’t have any OD pouches, alright?)
The main feature of the Essentials Pack that makes it “tactical” is the MOLLE webbing on the back and sides of the pack – five channels on the back and two on each side. This essentially makes the pack as expandable as you want it to be, but I find tossing just a couple of extra pouches on there more than does the job. This makes up for what I thought was the main weakness of the pack – aside from the hydration bladder pocket, there aren’t any separate storage compartments. It’s nice to have separate pockets for stuff – a pocket for headphones/keys/pens, for example, that you’d like to be able to retrieve quickly without digging around in your pack. Having the MOLLE on there eliminates this fault, although it does require you to have pouches of your own for attachment. Airsofters are lucky enough to likely have tons of these pouches lying around, but others will likely have to buy these pouches separately.
Carrying the pack is comfortable, with the padded back and the wide straps. The cross-chest strap is nice to have, particularly when carrying heavier loads.
All in all the Tasmanian Tiger Essentials Pack is an excellent bit of kit for anyone looking for someone to carry, well, the essentials. It makes a great milsim pack, a day hike pack, EDC pack for work/school/the gym… the list goes on. It is well made, and the ability to mount pretty much any MOLLE pouch on there makes it extremely versatile. And at just $50 CAD, how can you go wrong?
(PS: all pics in this review were taken with an iPhone 5’s camera, which I’m quite impressed with.)