There are times when I think I’m caught in the middle of the movie “Back To The Future.” I’ll be bouncing along in my mid-fifties mindset when out of nowhere a new word or term will be added to the vocabulary. One of the terms recently added is “Active Shooter”, and Maxpedition has come up with a great solution for just such a scenario.
Unless you’re keeping up with the chatter on certain internet forums, you may not have an idea of its meaning. If you are totally clueless, don’t feel too bad. I keep an old Webster’s Dictionary on my desk and the word “internet” isn’t even in it, much less, “Active Shooter.” An “Active Shooter” is nothing more than a nutcase with a gun and he is using it. In the recent past we have seen the newscasts showing some nut taking out a gun in a public place, such as a school, and going wild. Since “nutcase” doesn’t sound too official over the law enforcement radio waves we now have the new term, “Active Shooter.”
There is another new trend in this modern day and age. Toss out a new tactical scenario and before you can turn around, additional gear will be produced to help handle the situation. Maxpedition has been a major leader in the industry of nylon bags and packs for the past several years. They reach this pinnacle by constantly bringing out top end gear tailored to the current needs of its end users. In this case we are going to review the latest bag design tailored for the situation of an “Active Shooter.” The concept is to have one location where an user could store the needed supplies to respond to an immediate tactical situation. We are not talking about everything you could possibly use but the bare essentials. To make this explanation short, you want to grab your gun, your bag and go! Why in the world would Woods Monkey want to discuss a product that was designed totally around a tactical need? It’s simple enough, your average person may never have to respond to a shooter, but all too often we find equipment made for police or military purposes can translate into some outstanding “woods bumming” gear. Most of you will agree with me that the Army’s BDU’s make some great outdoor clothing and those high powered LED lights sure do come in handy in the outback.
The Maxpedition “Active Shooter” Bag comes in two flavors. One has two AR style magazine pouches and two handgun magazine pouches sewn into the front face. The other is without these pouches and comes with PALS webbing along it’s face so you can attach whatever additional pouches you desire. Other than this detail, the two seem identical. The main portion of the bag is divided up into two separate pouches. The larger is 9” x 3” x 9” while the front compartment is 8” x 1.5” x 9”. Both of these compartments are lined with Velcro (again so you can add extra pouches inside) and have dual zippers. Along both ends of the main compartment you have extra PALS webbing.
The bag is a messenger style with a single over-the-shoulder strap. As is usual with Maxpedition bags, the shoulder strap is adjustable for even the largest outdoorsman and has a removable shoulder pad. Unlike most bags of this style, they have added a removable waist belt. The quality of Maxpedition gear has never been an issue in my eyes. They use 1000 Denier Nylon fabric along with oversized buckles and zippers. The stitching has always held up to the hardest use I could inflict on bags and packs.
Of course an empty bag is basically useless until you put your gear in it. I decided to play with loading and setting the bag up for several different uses and to see how well the design would fit the need. Having a bit of a paranoia gene embedded in my DNA, I first wanted to see if it would hold the gear I thought would be needed should a “tactical” situation arise. With four magazines pouches along the front of the test sample they just seemed to be the place to start. The two AR style pouches will each hold a single 30 round magazine. I tried both standard military and PMAG magazines in these pouches and didn’t have any trouble fitting them in. The flap closures on the pouches are more than long enough to provide good coverage and a secure hold with the Velcro. I can also say the same about the two handgun pouches. They are sized to where either single or double stack handgun magazines will fit. The main compartment had no problem holding an Adventure Medical Field Trauma Kit and a Nalgene 32 ounce water bottle. The secondary pocket would hold my cell phone, flashlight, spare batteries and area map and not even be a quarter full. There was room for extra magazines if needed. One thought was to put two Nalgene bottles in the main compartment and move the Trauma Kit to the secondary compartment. If you ever want to see the need for a water supply, put yourself under stress and see how dry your throat can become. Even with this load I felt as if I had extra room for items to be added.
Not wanting to scare the deer on my land too much, I decided to try out the “Active Shooter” Bag in a more PC manner. I enjoy short hikes around the house and the over the shoulder design appeals to me. It is a quick method of grabbing and carrying a bag for those short trips. Again, one of the first items loaded was a water bottle but this time I mated it with a matching stainless steel cup. My dog hasn’t learned how to drink out of the bottle and the cup is a must have item for her. Since more accidents happen while your playing close to home, the Trauma Kit would also come along. Woods Monkey has done a review on these kits and with the addition of the QuikClot they are one of the best on the market. I did take out the two handgun magazines and put a multi-tool and flashlight in their place. One of the AR magazines was replaced with a compass and a Garmin GPS. I replaced the other 30 round magazine with a 20 round one since I do carry a rifle on my hikes. After making a filler out of Kydex for the lower portion of the pouch, the 20 round unit fit well without sliding too deep in the pouch for easy access. A emergency “space blanket” and fire kit were added along with a some surveyor’s tape in the secondary pocket. A fixed blade field knife rounded out the load. Even with this gear I found out later that I could add a pair of compact binoculars and still have a little space left.
In either loading, “Tactical or Practical”, the shoulder strap carried the load well. The under side of the strap pad also helps to keep the strap from sliding off. The paracord zipper pulls made it an easy task to access the pouches when needed. I normally would not use a waist belt but, in the few times where I was climbing some steep inclines, the belt did help keep the bag in place. It was useful enough that I would keep it attached to the bag. One of the features I like about this type of bag is that it is easy to remove and set aside when you want to take a quick break.
Now for the downside of the “Active Shooter” Bag. It can make you spend some money. After just a day or two of using the bag I went back to Maxpedition’s web site and looked over the ways I could improve it’s usefulness. One of their water bottle pouches could be attached to the side of the main compartment and that would free up a lot of space in the main compartment. You could also use the Velcro lining to attach any of their smaller pouches inside to arrange your gear. The “Active Shooter” Bag proved to be rather handy in any environment and makes a fantastic canvas if you want to work your art of improving it with additional pouches.