511 Tactical Side Trip Briefcase Review

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511 Tactical is one of those companies most people in the pack world know, and for good reason. To me they are the step up from the normal backpack or bag to something made with better materials and a pretty good warranty. I can say ahead of time that this brief from 511 is one of the best all around “tactical” style briefcases I have used. It is nothing super special but that is what I love about the bag. It has a pocket for everything, is well padded, a huge laptop compartment, and two water bottle pockets. I don’t know what else I could ask for in a tactical style briefcase.

DIMENSIONS

2” H x 16.5” L x 5.5” D - Main compartment
10” x 7.5” x 2” - Front pocket (2)
10” x 16.5” x 2” - Back pocket
9” x 5.5” x 2.5” -Left and Right side pockets
1967 cubic inch / 32 liter total capacity
Weight - 2.9 lbs
Fits up to a 15" laptop

FEATURES DETAILS

  • MOLLE/5.11 SlickStick® web interior

  • Covert TacTec System™ pocket

  • Two large front and one large rear pocket

  • Removable/adjustable padded shoulder strap

  • Roomy main compartment

  • Sturdy grab-and-go molded handles

  • Light colored interior for easy access to gear

  • Expandable side pockets

  • Swivel clips on shoulder pad for easy carry

  • Name tape holder at front

On the top of the Side trip there is a dual zipper that is very easy to pull open and give you access to the main compartment of the bag. On the inside of this pocket there is a soft Velcro lining to allow you to attach pouches or whatever else has Velcro. I like to keep this pocket clean just because I normally have my large EMT book or binders in here and they take up quite a bit of space. There is also a row of molle to allow attachment of mollee compatible pouches. This pocket is deceivingly large and can hold a full days worth of gear.

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On either side of the pack there is a full-sized water bottle pocket. This is an amazing feature for a bag like this as many don’t have it, and I like to not only carry a water bottle everywhere I go but I also like to try and carry a mug or yeti style cup for coffee as well. You can also use these pockets for any gear you want on the outside of the bag you want to be able to get to quickly like a pair of gloves or ballcap. The pockets zip up when not in use and zip down when you need to use them. On either side there is a slab of mesh to keep the bottle in. Some of the best water bottle pockets I have ever seen on a pack.

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On the front of Side Trip Brief there are two “admin” style pockets that hold all of your smaller EDC items, chargers, cords, tools, etc. On a brief this size I believe the two pockets offer plenty of storage and some great organization. The interior of the side-trip is also a high-vis grey to help you see the contents of your bag. On the right pocket I like to keep pens/pencils/highlighters, chargers, notepads, keys, wallet, and other smaller items. On the left is where I leave all my EDC tools, and some pouches with other same gear in them. These pockets even offer some padding on the outside as well which is really nice.

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On the backside of the Side trip there is a very large padded and suspended laptop pocket. This pocket will hold up to a 17 inch laptop. It is lined with the same soft velcro as the main compartment. My laptop is a 13inch Dell XPS for reference.

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The bottom of the bag has 4 rubber feet to help with stability and durability. Underneath the bottom flap (which took me forever to figure out) there is a velcro closure and inside 511 has added a rain cover. I think this is awell thought-out feature and something I wish 511 would add to their other packs. Sometimes I’ll have my laptop, tablet, camera and some other stuff I’d rather not have getting wet. I did have this bag in the passenger seat of my car, this seat is also where my lab Brecken sits and the Side trip loves dog hair.

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There is also a velcro closed pocket where you are able to keep a concealed carry if you wish. It is located behind the two admin pockets and is very hard to find unless you know it is there. There is plenty of room for a sidearm in this pocket with room to spare.

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Overall the 511 Tactical Side Trip briefcase is one of the most complete and well thoughtout briefcases I have used. I typically like to use backpacks for my EDC however, if a more professional appearance is what you are going for while having great features the side trip is for you. I think the $100 price point is completely justified by 511’s warranty and overall build quality. If you want to purchase the Side Trip just click here — 511 Tactical Side Trip Briefcase

Osprey Nebula 2019 Backpack Review

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Osprey is one of the brands that continues to make quality gear at a pretty competitive price point. They have well thought-out features and materials for anything from hiking in the Rockies to taking your EDC down to Starbucks for the day. I recently picked up the new Nebula from Osprey on a Labor day sale at $90 normally $120 from REI. I wasn’t necessarily looking for a new EDC bag but with starting EMT class a couple weeks ago I needed something big enough for my laptop, tablet, huge book and my other EDC items. The pack I was using the PDW SHADO 24 was great, but did not have enough room. The Nebula definitely gives me plenty of room to work with and comes with some great EDC/school bag features I was looking for. The Nebula comes in 5 colors, the one in this review is the Cypress Green.

FEATURES

  • TSA friendly laptop pocket

  • Front panel stretch mesh pocket

  • Upper side compression straps with tuckaway garage

  • Lower compression straps

  • Front panel organization pocket with key clip

  • Heat embossed scratch-free slash pocket

  • Dual stretch mesh water bottle pockets

  • Blinker light attachment

  • Padded laptop sleeve and tablet sleeve

  • Magazine / document sleeve and internal organization

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The Nebula looks clean and does a great job and having a compartment for everything I use on a day to day basis. I have used bags before that could hold everything I needed but looked and felt way too bulky and cumbersome to take with me all day. The Nebula somehow keeps a decent profile even when I have it fully loaded out. In total it has a front admin pocket, a back laptop/tech compartment, a main compartment with an interior zippered pocket, two full size water bottle pockets, a quick grab top pocket, and a front stash mesh pocket that I have actually used much more than I thought I would.

On the very front of the pack there is a good sized stretch mesh pocket that can hold any items you want easy access to or you don’t want on the inside of the bag. On a normal day I’ll have my gloves, running shorts, and a foot roller ball just because of how many steps I’ve been getting in these days. It does a great job at keeping these items secure.

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On either side of the pack there is a full-size mesh water bottle pocket. I think for myself this is almost a must have on my true EDC bags. I always carry a water bottle on me and most times I will have a Yeti coffee cup on the other side. These pockets also work well for tripods or like items that you don’t have room for in the interior. A great feature to have.

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On the front/top of the Nebula there is a smaller quick access admin pocket. I love when bags have this style of pocket for my keys, wallet, phone, and smaller items I don’t want to put into the main admin pocket. It gives a much better option. This pocket has much more room than it appears and easily held all of my items. On the side of the pack there are also two compression straps that can be used if you have a lot of gear in the front pockets and need to compress it down. Osprey also added a pocket at the base of the straps to give the user the option to stuff the straps back in and keep them neatly out of sight. This is an amazing feature and normally how I keep the straps even when the pack is fairly loaded out.

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In front of the small pocket there is the main “admin” style pocket. This pocket has tons of room and organization for my other EDC tools. In this pocket I keep my Leather-man, leather-man Raptors, knife, flashlight, pens/etc, and then at the bottom of the pocket there is tons of room to throw some more gear. Since there is no more pockets or dividers at the bottom I like to keep the rest of my gear in smaller pouches to be able to find what I need easier. The interior of the Nebula is also a bright blue which is super nice to have on a bag like this. There is nothing worse than having a dark interior color and not being able to see inside of the pack. Plus it looks super cool.

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PERFECT SHOULDER STRAPS AND BACK PANEL

The next feature of the Nebula I think is the main reason why this bag will continue to be my EDC pack for a long time. The shoulder straps and the back panel combination of the Nebula is truly second to none. I have used bags that have super heavy duty nylon back panels and while they are durable, they are heavy and get very hot. On the other hand I have used bags typically from more hiking focused companies or even other Osprey bags that had a very high-tec suspension system that was not needed on a bag for this style. The Nebula perfectly blends the two sides with breath-ability, durability, and function. It has the air scape back panel that Osprey puts on most of their packs. This gives great breath-ability due to the small suspension of the pack from your back. The shoulder straps offer the same style of mesh as the back panel and together give one of the best carry experiences I have had with a bag of this style. There is an included sternum strap on the Nebula that is fully adjustable.

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The main compartment on the Nebula is very simple. I do like this on a bag with this many other pockets for smaller gear, I want the main pocket where I am carrying a huge book and folders to be as smooth as possible. there is one zippered pocket and a file pocket on the back side but they do a great job at staying low profile. In this zippered pocket I normally keep all my larger bulky chargers and cables. There is not much more to say about this pocket at all other than it does a great job and carrying everything I need and staying low profile when I don’t have much to carry.

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The back pocket on the Nebula is the tech compartment. This is where the padded and fully suspended laptop sleeve and tablet pocket are. I have a Dell XPS 13 and the laptop sleeve completely swallows the laptop. I also have a Samsung Tab S4 and it fits in the smaller mesh padded pocket perfectly. When I am using a bag for school or shift I almost always am carrying my laptop and tablet. These two sleeves are crucial as I really would like to keep my tech as protected as possible. The Nebula does a great job at doing this. The pocket also zips all the way down to give quicker TSA passing, however everytime I have traveled with a bag that does this I am have never experienced a better security time…

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OVERALL

So far the Nebula from Osprey has been an absolute pleasure to use and has made carrying almost 25 lbs of gear during class days and shift great. It has amazing features and attention to detail. Every pocket on the Nebula is there for a reason and gives tons of options for the user. I love the blue high-vis interior and the stretch mesh pockets on the front of the pack. The laptop compartment gives much needed peace of mind when hauling the pack all day. The back panel and carry of the Nebula is amazing and works perfectly. If I had to change something on the pack I would consider adding a bit more padding to the bottom pocket. Sometimes when I set the bag down with my EMT book and folders I wish there was a bit more solid padding to help, however this is probably the only thing I could find to nitpick about.

PURCHASE THE OSPREY NEBULA HERE

High Above Lookout Waist Pack Review

I was recently sent over an amazing looking “fanny” pack from a company called High Above. I had been looking for a hip pack that was not only my type of style, but well made. The High Above Lookout Hip Pack checked both of these boxes and more. The Lookout comes in at $100 for a pre-built and $110 for a custom one. High Above has some great options for customization on their bags and an easy way to make it 100% yours.

ITEM DETAILS

  • Dimensions: 9" x 3" x 5.25'" (LxWxH)

  • Waterproof and incredibly durable Xpac shell material from Dimension Polyant

  • Heavy duty nylon webbing

  • Three interior pockets

  • Additional weather resistant external zippered pocket

  • YKK Uretek #8 zippers for unrivaled weatherproofing and durability

  • Extra-Long para-cord zipper pulls for ease of entry

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AAA MATERIALS AND QUALITY

I had been looking for a quality “fanny” pack for a good bit. One that could carry everything I needed for a days outing, last me a lifetime, and look good doing it. The Lookout is that fanny pack. The Black multicam rip stop and the water proof YKK #8 zippers, and spacer mesh on the back all come together to make a comfortable, durable, and useful fanny pack. I took this pack on a few mountain bike rides, and some day trips and it preformed equally great in both fields. The Lookout gets a 10/10 in my book.

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On the very front of the pack you have the High Above logo and a clean display of their ripstop multicam. Above that there is a front storage pocket sealed with the waterproof zipper. When I was on the trail this pocket held my phone, headphones, and wallet. Anything that I could need somewhat quick. The zippers are an absolute pleasure to use on this pack, and give a good sense of security when closed.

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HIGH-VIS INTERIOR

One great feature about the Lookout is that High Above has used a different color interior to help you see the contents of the pack. They also use a different color for the dividers which not only gives a super cool look but adds to the visibility.

Inside the “main” compartment of the Lookout I held anything larger or that I didn’t need in the front pocket. While biking I had a smaller med kit, keys, tire repair, and some of my brothers kit as well. When I am hiking or using this as an EDC pack it just depends on what I am doing. There is plenty of room for a small day load out and plenty of dividers to help you keep it organized.

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As I mentioned earlier, the back of the Lookout is lined with a spacer mesh that does a great job at keeping you cool and comfortable. When its 95 degrees in Colorado and I am biking I expect to sweat a decent amount but the pack preformed well.

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On either side of the bag on the “wings” there are two rows of webbing that allow you to attach whatever you want or an optional water bottle holder from High Above, a nice detail.

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OVERALL

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  • GREAT MATERIALS

  • CUSTOM OPTIONS

  • MADE IN THE US

  • WATERPROOF ZIPPERS

  • HIGH-VIS INTERIOR

  • LIGHTWEIGHT

  • GREAT STORAGE FOR SIZE

  • DIVIDERS INSIDE


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  • NOT THE CHEAPEST AT $100

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The Lookout from High Above is one of the most well-built, and functional bags I have used in a long time… and I am tempted to say it is the best fanny/waist pack at this size I have ever used. Almost everywhere I go I get compliments on the style of the bag, it is an absolute pleasure to use. Right now High Above only makes waist style bags and a smaller mesh duffel, however I am hoping someday they move into the backpack game because I know they would crush it if they could make something as good as this fanny pack in backpack form.

If you are looking for a kick ass fanny pack that strays from the normal path and has tons of custom options, and great materials, look no further than the Lookout from High Above.

PURCHASE THE LOOKOUT HERE —— HIGH ABOVE LOOKOUT