Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Unboxing Review: 5.11 Tactical RUSH 12

 I was looking for a daypack that I could use; piggybacked on my larger packs, day-to-day around town, or as carry-on when traveling on the very cheapest of european airlines. The 5.11 Tactical brand has a growing following online so when the chance to test one of the packs came my way I jumped at it. I've chosen the Rush 12 which is 5.11's 22l day pack. This model is very popular with the EDC crowd, lots of pockets and attachment points for all your Every Day Carry needs, tactical and indeed practical.

Let's get this puppy out the box!

Made in China was once a synonym for crappy, not any more, this pack is well stitched together and the materials used are as good or better than the camping store brands. The body is in a grade 5.11 call 1050D cordura. Which seems pretty tough and has been given a waterproof coating. We'll test that in part 2.

There is another name for the EDC crowd - knick-knack collectors - so its popularity is no surprise with it's grand total of 16 pockets, compartments and slots. If you look on the EDC forums or British Blades you'll see people showing their minimalist day packs - Kifaru's E&E for example - which have been fitted with side pods, organisers and all kinds of pouches. Great fun to choose and collect, but buying a pack that you then spec-out with pouches to carry the EDCer or Mall Ninja's; three torches, compasses, survival capsules, assorted electronica, multi tool[s], multiple knives and, that most essential of items, a tin foil hat, will quickly double both the sticker price and weight. Another downside is that the uncompressed load will be increased; all those pouches shaking and wobbling about as you walk decreases stability which is uncomfortable then fatiguing. The other [main] downside is that if your choice had been from the Kifaru or Maxpedition ranges; you'd now have spent the price of one of their bigger packs which would have been able to take a wider variety of weights, and be a far nicer carry than a minimalist pack with loads of extras grafted on to it.

My criteria for a pack in this size is different to the bigger packs: its not for hunting and fishing trips, its more of a mobile desk or portable office organiser. It needs to; hold a laptop securely, some paper files, have slots for pens and pencils, assorted measuring tools, a place to keep laptop and phone chargers where the prongs of the plugs don't scratch other things in the pack, I also need it to carry a packed lunch and some water. If it can stow all that and carry a sweater or rain jacket its meeting my needs size wise, and if I don't have to spend an age rummaging for every little thing, all the better.

A very nice touch is the integral fleece-lined pocket for your glasses - its the sort of thing you'll use every day and its in the right place - accessed from the unopened pack. With other packs I've always had to add one as an accessory.

The Rush 12 has a dedicated pocket for either a bladder or laptop which is positioned just right to keep the weight as near to your spine as possible.

These tabs conceal ports, for both normal people and southpaws, for the tube from a water bladder, a nice touch with the spare port the perfect pathway for a lead to or from a solar charger.

A little extra thought for the lifting loop's design is a nice touch too.

A good sternum strap helps a lot with stability, I find this one rides a bit too high for me and will be modded with a couple of snap rings.

The two compression straps aren't doing a whole lot of compressing but seem up to the job of protecting the zip. I really like the strap-tidies, 5.11's are similar to ones Mystery Ranch sell as an extra, and way, way better than ITW Nexus Web Dominators which always seem to go missing.

The full opening panel is a worthwhile touch if the bag is to do duty as a mobile office.

These little panels work like Kiraru' Amor-grip an idea so good I can't see why more pack makers haven't copied it.

Here's where the magic happens:
By putting the laptop/tablet pocket as close to your spine as possible 5.11 have given the pack the best chance possible of it being a pleasant carry, an interesting knock-on effect is that the shoulder straps are mounted behind the weight which seems to have a cantilever effect holding the pack to your back and allowing far less vertical movement. Makes a big difference.

The Verdict:
If there's a spectrum of packs, from Walmart/Lidl at the cheap and nasty end to Kifaru at the heirloom quality and spendy end. 5.11 are over the centreline for quality and quite a way under it for price.
For those of you who suck a lemon at the thought of spending $300-$600 [+ import taxes] on a daysack made in a western oligarchy by people paid a living wage, 5.11's chinese made offerings, at around the $100 mark are worth a look.
A well thought out design, well made, out of suitable materials. Comes with many of the tweaks other brands sell as extras. At around $100 excellent value for money. Definitely a keeper.

The lovely people at Ready To Go Survival have the full range, either empty or pre-loaded with some very well thought out bug-out and medical kits. Good guys to deal with.

More Soon
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