Thursday, May 3, 2012

BAD Gear: 5.11 Tactical PUSH Pack as Camera Bag

So, personally I think travelling with a tactical bag screams POPO or ARMY to everybody around you. Not the best thing to do in less than ideal nation states. Unless I am on ops and trg I don't generally use my tactical backpacks... OK, maybe camping, or at certain airports where I know that I will get preferential treatment. But other than that, tactical backpacks are a way to get noticed, no matter how discreet you want to be. Also given the fact that I'm asian, I don't want to be grouped or associated with honger airsofters. Enter the Caveat Emptor.

I have been diggin this 5.11 Tactical PUSH pack for 5 or 6 years now. Sure its brown, sure it has some velcro on it, sure it has some MOLLE, but hell, it is my most used pack. That is because I use it as my camera bag. Although it was purpose-built to be some sort of tactical messenger murse with the ability to conceal a gun, the same benefits cross over as a camera bag. I've seen people pay over 100 bucks for a Lowe pro camera bag. Sure, if you have 15k worth of camera equipment. I don't. I have maybe 2k, maybe 3k of camera equipment at any given time. I picked up this pack from DS Tactical for about $50 cdn leveraging my pro-discount. I like this pack because it strays so far from the ubiquitous notion of the conventional camera bag.

You've all seen it when you're travelling, the douchebag tourists with the big honking camera pack that screams, rape and pillage me for my $15k camera equipment that I set to AUTO. It's black, it's bulky, it's F*CKING ugly. That's why I promote the use of something like what I have. I did look at the Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack for my needs, but it was too big for what I intended it to be. I'm not a pro photog, I'm just a Bad Ass Dad with a bottom shelf model camera that uses and abuses things.

The 5.11 official description is this:
  • 1050D Nylon 
  • Large main compartment 
  • Two side expanding pockets 
  • Zippered Back-up-Belt™ System Pocket 
  • Adjustable shoulder strap with removable pad 
  • Aero-foam padding on back 
  • Nametape and flag holders
PUSH, short for Practical Utility Shoulder Hold, is built from rugged 1050D nylon and features a large main compartment with two side-expanding pockets. The side pockets are sized to hold one-liter water bottles. A zippered pocket behind the main compartment has loop-sided Velcro to hold Back-Up-Belt™ System pouches or any other hook sided pouch. An adjustable shoulder strap with removable pad is designed to slip comfortable over your shoulder and is easily adjusted to suit your body type.

The bag also features aero-foam padding on the reverse of the PUSH to ensure comfortable carry. Keep this bag on the front seat of your squad with all of your emergency gear so that you can exit the vehicle during a critical incident with everything you need.
5.11 Tactical Series is continually innovating and improving its products with input from field officers from around the world. The PUSH Pack is another example of our efforts to adjust to your needs by bringing you a new idea gear bags.
 Ok, I'm not using it that way, but it seems OK enough and secure enough to handle my Nikon SLR. I consider the construction to be very durable with 1000+ denier nylon. In the textile world it equates to heavy duty abrasion resistant material.  Its the same density as what armour carrier vests use. It has a main adjustment point for the shoulder strap that enables the pack to sit comfortably anywhere you'd like. I like to hang it off my ass sometimes. It makes me feel like Jack Bauer.

Because it features two side pockets able to hold at least 1 liter bottles, I am able to put a 70-300mm telephoto lens, and in the other, I just put the charger, extra batteries, and a cleaning kit. The main compartment holds the armoured camera body along with a general purpose lens like a 18-200mm. Sometimes I'll just put a 50mm in there. The interior is really smoothly lined, so I'm not worried about scratching. The bottom of the bag also has grommets to allow for spillage to drain.

This bag has pockets and compartments up the ying yang, so I store whatever I think is generally useful on outings. The pocket closest to me, usually holds my passport wallet and travelling documents. While the ancillary pockets hold various bits and pieces like extra SD cards, mem card reader, instruction manual on the camera, optics cheat sheets, bipod etc. Even then, I can still stuff it full of power bars and other such goodies.

A really neat feature is found on the back end or the side that touches you. It has a Velcro cuff that can be used to loop around your belt. This would give added stability while on the move, so it doesn't flop around.

For a multi-day trip where I only anticipate the use of 2 or 3 lenses, and need to be highly mobile and still be slim profile, I really dig this and would recommend it for anybody looking for a "tactical camera bag".


  1. Your blog post is truly the real deal. Having a bag like this is pretty handy. Though, it may not be the ideal 72-hour bag, it’s perfect to bring along on climbs for its lightweight efficiency.

  2. Thanks for writing this. I've just ordered one.

  3. Its a very nice post about the Tactical Push Pack . Push pack are superb bags they are tough , easy to carry and can be used for multiple purpose to carry different items.

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  4. Can't wait to get one of these - going on my xmas list....

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Full Disclosure: Unless noted, Bad Ass Dad has not been compensated in any means to review this gear. It is all his own, procured through pro-channels, retail, or issuance.