“Joe check this pack out!” I had to reset my jaw after my mouthed dropped, when my buddy Chance unveiled what looked like the perfect pack, at Blade Show. I had been looking for a machete holding pack for a long time, and while that may not have been the original function, the overall practicality of the S.O. Tech Go Bag caught my interest at once.
I asked Chance where he found such a magnificent carrier of goodies, and he brought me over to a large booth owned by Blue Line gear, a company that specializes in interesting tactical gear. Ryan Johnson, the owner of Blue Line Gear, started his business in 1993. While I remember just casually selling the occasional pocket knife to a buddy during college, Ryan started his entire business by selling pepper spray out of his dorm room. The company gained momentum into what it is today, selling all sorts of gear to special operators, law enforcement, and outdoorsman. Blue Line has a very unique line up of gear on their page. In the first aid section, I could locate an SOF Tactical tourniquet, one of the top performing tourniquets on the market, right next to a bag of Quik Clot, a special substance that quickly clots blood fast. This is very handy if you collect blades of all sorts. Of course with sharp things and Woods Monkey, knives are important, and Blue Line gear showed they have an extensive amount of the new tactical stuff out there in Strider, Emerson, and custom makers as well. They also carry Maxibeam hand held search light (hand held spot light), that 6 million Candle Power hand light you see in movies so often. Ryan also has eagle’s nest hammocks, mountain house meals, life saver Jerry cans (special jerrycans that filter without chemicals) and an absolute plethora of other stuff. I’ll be keeping an eye on his site, as I feel that this may be one of those stores that is right up my alley for unique and cool gear, and I can get updates on new stuff without having to comb the internet.
The owner of Blue Line filled me in on this unique USA made pack. The company that makes the pack is S.O. Tech, a USA company. S.O. Tech of course stands for special operations technologies, and they have been contracted out by the government routinely for their superior unique bags. When I picked up the bag, I could tell they didn’t cut corners in the construction. Most S.O. Tech gear uses one or two plies of 500 or 1000 Denier Invista Cordura ® instead of lining with cheap pack cloth or substituting cheap rubber backed cloth. Invista’s Cordura is the strongest and most abrasion resistant Cordura cloth available to the textile market right now. I could tell right from the start it could take punishment. S.O. Tech has obscure special buckles that they have picked out, specialized from soldier feedback, and they use thick 92 and 138 weight bonded nylon thread as a standard on all of the packs that they supply. The only other companies I know of that use this heavy weight of thread make mountaineering harnesses. Your normal industry size is about 69 weight thread because it meets the minimum mil specifications. S.O. Tech’s 138 weight thread costs twice as much, and they had their machines custom bored to accept the wider width.
S.O. Tech also offers an over the sea version of some of their production models, and on their website they have a smaller version called the Paladin Go-Bag at around $60.00. The S.O. Tech USA made extended version is 3” longer than the normal go bag, allowing for the maximum space needed to store old reliables. This long main compartment is the sole reason for purchasing the ensemble, as I find myself commonly needing to pack elongated items. Axes need quite a bit of room when trying to store them in a pack, and if one doesn’t have an outside setup or doesn’t want the world to know that they are packing Axes, there aren’t that many options. It could fit the 20 inch handled condor cruiser axes easily. The S.O. Tech go bag can also be handy for take down bows, four piece fly fishing rods, cross bow users, and other outdoorsman who find themselves using elongated items when outdoors. Any antennae using radio operator may find joy in the amount of space that the pack can hold, storing their long range HAM radio antennas neatly in a pack.
As a wildlife researcher, I would have loved to have had this for my pack of choice while doing telemetry work in college. Radio telemetry is a technique used by biologists to monitor the movement patterns of different critters by sticking a radio transmitter in them and following them with a giant collapsible antenna. These antennae, as you can guess, must be taken apart so one can go deep into the field to track said critter down. The apparatus is kept in a myriad of places including the back of trucks, in a bucket, or just “out” until the researcher needs it, but with the S.O. Tech Go bag, everything including water and a camera could be kept in one neat place, allowing the owner to easily maneuver through the woods and thick stuff.
I sent Tim Stetzer, a Woods Monkey, author and designer of Blind Horse Knives’ Bushcrafter, the bag so someone with a little more firepower than I have could check it out. Tim was able to fit at least four 30 round AR mags in the side pouches leaving the front one open and free. Now I don’t know about you fellow zombie haters but four 30 round pouches just on the sides, not even using the main zippered sides, has a ton going for it. The beauty of this set up, Ryan Johnson of Blue Line explained, is that you can have any 17.5 inch device concealed easily in the back, out of the way and inconspicuous. In America, this low pack is great to keep attention at bay. Even in a natural disaster where looting could be a problem, it might be better to have a gun concealed as walking around with a compact semi auto rifle is frowned upon.
The Go Bag is not ridiculously stiff. Many other tactical pack makers apparently think the stiffer the nylon, the more rugged the pack. This tough pack is still pliable so it doesn’t stick up like a pitched circus tent with nothing in it. Sadly the way that the airlines have been lately (charging for the extra room in the emergency rows!), if I happen to shop at my destination, I better be able to carry it lest I be charged extra for my baggage. The S.O. Go bag fit nicely inside my check in bag, but on my way back from a trip to Oregon, I used it as a carry on bag, and fit into the overhead compartment like a dream. Clothes filled the pack, fitting nicely the whole way down. That began my idea of a new style bed roll, with an open cell foam pad, and 20 degree bag for a more compact fall and light winter roll out. I was interested to see how this sling style would take to a bed roll, as it was an old way of wandering for a while.
A 20 degree bag can often be the deal breaker from using a day pack to a 3 day pack or rucksack. With the use of a compression sack, I still had enough room for some insulating layers and other knick knacks. I like a compact pack, but with the additional MOLLE functions on the outside, the SO Tech bag can be truly customized. Oddly enough, this pack gets most used on a day to day basis, not just in the woods. It can hold a ton of photography gear and the items being photographed, and it can also hold a ton of water. I’ve used it on class trips and on special situations to transport important items such as saws, poles, and axes for bushcraft projects. With the nylon construction, I wasn’t worried about water either, and we even used it to transport some sodas and beer on one occasion. With 4 side compartments, two generous outer compartments, MOLLE straps going down the sides and on the shoulder strap itself, SO Tech has made a multi function bag that goes beyond that of the tactical minded. Outdoorsman, professional writers, photographers, biologists, radio operators, and hunters all could have a special use for this unique pack, and it is cool to see someone break the barriers of the normal tactical pack.