Kit Up! had a lot of help gearing up for our embed back in May, and one of our good friends for many years -- and one of the world's top hard armor innovators -- provided us with some of the loadout that helped make our trip safe and mobile.
Allan Bain, the Managing Director of Evolution Armor Systems, Inc., is known in the industry as the inventor of scaled body armor-- what eventually became known as "Dragonskin." He continues to evolve the design into lighter, more durable armor systems for a variety of applications.
But Allan also had an idea for a backpack design that met the needs of troops in places like Afghanistan well before the Army or Marine Corps put their engines in gear to outfit Joes and Grunts with a pack that spanned the capability gap of the MOLLE-Ruck or the ILBE and the assault pack.
Allan donated one of his SF 3-Day Field Packs to Kit Up! for our trip to The Stan. I'll admit I was a bit skeptical of the design, since I come from a mountaineering background and hold panel constructed access in low regard (I prefer top-loading). But I dug the MultiCam scheme and figured I'd go light on "Bag #2" and give Bain's pack a whirl.
Boy was I glad...
The SF 3 worked awesome. It held enough gear and duds to last for five days at a combat outpost -- which roughly equates to three days for a Joe or Grunt since they'll be hauling ammo and food. The heavy duty zippers that open the single main compartment held up to over packing abuse and the outer pockets contorted into funky shapes without so much as a squeal from the stitching. For tactical folks, the pack sports openings in the top for radios and hydration tubes and a slip in inner panel for a hard armor plate or soft panel.
The entire pack is stiched with MOLLE webbing, so you can customize with random pockets and pouches to your heart's content. It has a heavy-duty waist belt and sternum strap so even the heaviest loads can be hefted and allows for tons of adjustment so you can schlep it over body armor (which I did many times).
My only critique is the use of the 1,000 denier Cordura material for the buckle straps and these weird zipper pouches running down each side. The Cordura material was difficult to cinch (as opposed to nylon webbing) and the pouches were useless when the pack was jammed with gear. I'm sure some operator out there somewhere has a specific use for those side pockets, but I could never use them, and zippers = weight in my book.
But I must say, the SF 3-Day Field Pack will be the go-to load carrier for any Kit Up adventures that require gear haulage and it got tons of kudos from the Joes we covered in the zone.