Off-body carry certainly isn’t the best way to carry a firearm, but sometimes it’s either the only way to do so, or an intelligent choice given the trade-offs. Situations meeting one of these requirements for off-body carry can come up fairly often for many of us. Of course there is now a plethora of concealed-carry bags, packs, and what-have-you on the market, many well-constructed and ergonomically designed, and most with Velcro-panel concealed carry compartments. The problem is that most of them also look tactical. They are black or OD or tan, with MOLLE webbing and a general military look about them. They may be “discrete”, but they aren’t invisible. And invisible is what you want if you’re off-duty or under cover, and many other times as well.
I’ve heard the argument that most people don’t really recognize the tactical look as screaming “gun” – that most of the general public just thinks that these packs look rugged or cool or sporty, and it’s really only cops that recognize them for what they are. Well, 1) it is most certainly not true that it’s just cops who can spot one of these tactical-looking CCW packs – lots of people can, 2) I don’t necessarily want other cops knowing that I’m carrying anyway, and 3) the bad guys certainly understand what they are. No – if I have to carry off-body, I want a pack that doesn’t look even a teensy-weensy bit tactical; I want to blend into the background, not stick out in any way whatsoever.
Good-quality, well-thought-out CCW packs that are completely invisible are actually pretty rare. The Smokescreen™ Concealment Monopack from Elite Survival Systems, however, is one. When it arrived I was struck by detail of thought that went into the design. It is a single-strap sling-type bag of medium size and 420 denier nylon. The main compartment measures 18x12x4, and the front (admin) compartment 14x9x2. A really clever TwinWing™ design allow the pack to be set up for right- or left-shoulder carry with the click of a Fastex-type buckle – this is a real plus since different people carry on different shoulders, and even one person may want to switch shoulders sometimes. The wings on the strap that contact your hip have a Toughtek™ (tacky rubber-like cloth) on the outside of them, which really does help the pack stay stable and in position. There are segmented foam panels on the back of the pack for cushioning, five horizontal Velcro straps on the shoulder strap for attaching modular pouches or running ear bud wires through them, and a mesh phone or music player pouch at the mid-point of the strap. The shoulder strap is quickly detachable via a buckle (in case you have to dump it in a hurry) and even the top carry strap is rubberized and extremely comfortable. The overall feeling when you mount this (loaded) pack is that it is comfortable and secure. Some sling packs feel like a burlap bag on a string – not this one! It really is impressive in its comfort.
The main compartment has a small mesh zip pocket inside and can hold a computer jackets, and other large items. The foam back segments, along with a reinforcing material in the entire back panel, make carrying these larger and heavier items quite comfortable. The front admin compartment has a zip pocket, a slip pocket, and pen holders. Basic, but not complicated – which I like. It is also large enough to carry most of the smaller items that most of us do. This front compartment also has a padded front flap, which seems odd at first. But it’s utility is apparent once you look at the concealed carry compartment. Rounding out the pack is a mesh front pocket and small zip pocket on the wings.