Let's face it: ever since the first soldier grabbed a sack, threw it over his shoulder, and carried it out the door on his way to battle, we've been looking for a better way to carry our supplies. Along the way the backpack has gone through lots of evolutions. Every generation gets something that the generation before could only wish for. This evolution is still on-going today and one of the latest variants is the PRIME Pack from 5.11 Tactical.
Short of being a combat pack for contemporary soldiers, but not designed to be, the PRIME pack pretty well meets the needs of many other warriors of the day. Whether you are a police officer seeking a great active-shooter response bag, a prepper looking for a good basic bug out bag, or a weekend hiker who likes to be prepared for the unexpected overnight in the wilds, the PRIME will well suit your needs.
As I studied the development of the pack prior to doing the field testing I realized two things that I felt had the greatest impact on its design. First, 5.11 Tactical's design engineers, like other in the industry today, have realized the need for a modular or a modular-capable pack "system." Second, 5.11 Tactical consulted some of the finest minds available for inputs on what active-shooter response requires. Active shooter response is still a hot topic for law enforcement and has evolved to include attacks on multiple fronts committed by terrorists or terrorist cells. This response protocol and training is referred to as "MACTAC" - Multi-Assault Counter-Terrorism Action Capabilities. 5.11 Tactical specifically sought out inputs from MACTAC instructors as they developed the PRIME.
When I looked at the published data prior to beginning the field test, it became clear that the PRIME was designed to b used in urban settings. In the list of features below note the padded sleeve pockets both for a laptop computer AND a tablet computer.
- Main compartment: 11.5”W x 7.5”D x 20.5”H (1768cu in)
- Overall exterior dimensions: 11.5”W x 9”D x 20.5”H (1968cu in)
- Padded laptop sleeve
- Padded tablet sleeve
- Hydration compartment
- Compression straps
- Tear-out medical pouches
- Interior web platform
- Side pockets for storage
- Grab and go handle
In looking at the construction of the pack, both interior and exterior, it is obvious that 5.11 Tactical's intent was to make a basic pack that allowed as much versatility as possible for the end user to customize it as necessary. MOLLE webbing is available on both sides of the pack, the face of the pack and INSIDE the pack; something not often seen. Hook-and-loop strips are also included on the outside of the pack which has become commonplace as people use such to slap on name tapes, blood type identifiers, etc.
The main and secondary compartments are full clamshell opening with 5.11 Tactical branded pull tabs on the zippers rather than the more common paracord. Inside the main compartment there is room and placement MOLLE for two Mule Ammo carriers, also from 5.11 Tactical. If there is one lesson every MACTAC or active shooter instructor agrees on it's that once the fight is engaged it cannot be broken off until the threat as been neutralized. You never know how much ammo that will require, so more is better!
The padded shoulder straps are adjustable and, by all reports, wear comfortably even with the pack fully loaded. Now, into some of the more subjective reports...
I handed my test & evaluation pack off to my daughter-in-law for field testing. While that may seem odd, let me clue you in: my daughter-in-law was, during the time of testing, a United States Marine fresh back from deployment. She used the PRIME pack primarily as a travel bag and reported favorably on it. The major strengths that she reported were its size/capacity and its ability to be modified in a modular fashion. The "outer flap," as we've come to call it, that folds open so you can stuff anything that will fit into the space prior to buckling it back up, comes in quite handy for carrying any "must get to fast and convenient" items.