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Hazard 4 Pillbox: Keep the Electronics Safe

Designed for photography, optics, or other sensitive equipment the Pillbox by Hazard 4 offers a unique hard case for users to carry the consolidated items in a protective and ruggedized backpack. Combined with Hazard 4’s patented Hardpoint compatibility, MOLLE straps, and internal padded dividers the Pillbox provides outdoor enthusiasts, drone operators, and professional photographers with expanded adaptability.

External

Married between two molded thermoformed shells and 360-degree side padding, the exterior of the Pillbox has six Hardpoint connections along the outer exterior shell. These allow for Hardpoint hardware (sold separately) to be added and provide additional retention straps, both on the exterior and on the interior of the molded shell.

The sides are made from 1000D Cordura and feature MOLLE webbing and metal retention rings on either side that allow the user to hang additional accessories. The bottom of the Pillbox also has a nylon carrying handle. At the top of the Pillbox is a durable plastic carry handle, and two plastic slide-release buckles that anchor the shoulder straps. Under the slide-release buckles is a fleece and nylon padded pocket for a hydration bladder or laptop that is zipper secured.

On the back panel are multiple mesh and foam pads to provide comfort and rigidity to the overall frame, but also insulate/pad the zipper-secured hydration bladder pocket that can also double as an additional laptop pocket.

The shoulder straps are slightly tapered with MOLLE nylon webbing down the length of the strap. It also features an adjustable sternum strap, that is anchored to the sides of the Pillbox just below a removable waist strap featuring Hazard 4’s patented locking buckle.

Internal

Inside the outer protective shell is a gusseted administrative pouch secured via zipper, whereby the gusset is connected to the shell via hook-and-loop, and can be disconnected to allow full access to the inside of the protective shell. The admin pouch consists of a fleece-lined 16” laptop sleeve, document sleeve, three accessory pouches, two pen pouches, four SD card pouches, and an identification card holder. In addition, there is also a (female) hook-and-loop field with MOLLE-compatible laser-cut slots.

The main storage compartment is secured via zipper and is entirely fleece-lined for maximum protection of accessories and measures 19.7″ (L) x 12.2″ (W) x 3.7″ (D). In addition, the Pillbox also comes with seven padded internal dividers (three large, three medium, one small) that connect to the fleece via (male) hook-and-loop that afford the backpack to be customized based on the electronic or accessory being carried.

The Pillbox has a storage capacity of 29.5 liters of space and measures overall 19.7″ (L) x 12.2″ (W) x 3.7″ (D). Its overall materials vary depending on color. The Black and Coyote variants are 1000D Cordura. The Grayman (featured) is made from polyester.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostGood (4/5): With a listed MSRP of $199.99 on Hazard 4’s website, as of this writing it is being offered at $159.99 and can be found on the internet for as low as $139. This makes the Pillbox comparable to other professional-grade photography bags, but many do not feature the protective design that Hazzard 4 has incorporated in this product.
  • Comfort Good (4/5) When fully loaded with digital or field equipment, the Pillbox became very heavy. Yet, the contouring of the shoulder straps, and the inclusion of the removable/adjustable waist belt helped mitigate that weight on the body. But the waist belt itself is just a nylon strap without padding and when combined with a fully loaded Pillbox, it became uncomfortable during long-term wear (1 hour +). It should be noted Hazard 4 does offer a Deluxe Strap Pad (sold separately) that can be used on any of its 2” straps, and could be used to pad the waist straps if desired. The padded back panel helped ensure that more padding along the spine made for a comfortable carry.
  • Durability – Average (3/5): Although the Pillbox earns high marks for its padded foam shells and limited 1000D Cordura nylon, those features were offset by the zipper enclosure materials. The zippers (or the slider/pull) felt thin and frail, and had difficulty turning the corners of the pack by snagging the cover material. Something I have experienced in lower-quality packs. Hazard does advertise that they use YKK zippers, but its choice to go with such a thin enclosure material undercuts the overall durability rating of the backpack. Otherwise the use of bartac, and the double/ “X”-type stitching on stress points will help extend usage.
  • Functionality Excellent (5/5): There is a high degree of functionality built into the Pillbox for the professional photographer, drone operator/racer, motorcyclist, or competitive shooters. In comparison to other photography bags, the ability to customize the internal compartments of the Pillbox allowed for any number of electronic or sensitive items to be stored safely and securely. The admin pouch helped keep maps, manuals, and accessories together with whatever you carried. An extra bonus was all zippers feature TSA-compliant locking loops that allow the user to secure each compartment using the appropriate locks (not included).
  • Weight Good (4/5): The Pillbox weighs approximately 5.25 pounds (empty), and considering it features the same durability as some high-end protective luggage (which is much heavier), the Pillbox is extremely light. When compared to other professional packs (most of which do not feature the protective thermoformed shell design) it is within the median range of weight. Yet as you load the Pillbox, because it has almost 30 liters of storage space, the pack’s weight increased dramatically. The adjustable shoulder straps helped distribute that weight and kept it high on the shoulders, and the adjustable waist belt also aided in distributing that load to the hips as well.

Overall Rating – Good (20/25)

Product Link: https://www.hazard4.com/pillbox.html

IMG_2889I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

TRU-SPEC® Pathfinder 2.5 Backpack: Ready to Explore the World

Designed to carry large quantities of equipment while maintaining equal weight distribution, the Pathfinder 2.5 by TRU-SPEC® is an evolution over its predecessor by offering improved compartmentalization of essential items and features for expanded capability.

Introduced in 2015, the Pathfinder 2.5 is made from 1050D nylon that offers mid- or high-end abrasion resistance. At approximately 19” (H) x 13” (W) x 7” (D) its overall carrying capacity is approximately 39 liters of cubic space.

Exterior

The adjustable, contoured, dual shoulder straps featurean over-the-shoulder design with sternum strap and padded air mesh for increased comfort when the pack is fully loaded. The air mesh padding is extended throughout the pack’s back panel and weapon concealment pouch as well. On either side is an 8” (H) x 6” (W) accessory pocket secured via drawstring zipper for immediate access to essential items.

On the exterior of the main compartment, is a 10” (H) x 12” (W) admin pocket that includes; a retention lanyard for keys, one 7” (H) x 10” (W) zippered pocket behind a 6” (H) x 10” (W) sleeve, a small hook-and-loop secured accessory pocket, two card sleeves, and two pen sleeves. Above the admin pocket is a 5” (H) x 7” (W) accessory pocket with mesh lining/pocket on the interior side of the access flap. On the external side of the access flap is a 3” (H) x 5” (W) hook-and-loop field for identification patches.

The kidney pad of the pack’s back panel doubles a weapon concealment pocket and is secured via a curved pull-string zipper. On the bottom of the pack are two drainage grommets and four MOLLE panels.

On the pack’s right side is a concealed laptop pouch designed to accommodate most 15” laptops that is protected by the air mesh padding on the back panel and interior compartment, then secured via pull-string zipper.

IMG_5616

Throughout the exterior of the Pathfinder 2.5 are multiple MOLLE straps for added compatibility

At the top of the pack is a padded drag handle that is reinforced via bartac stitching, and on either side are hook-and-loop access panels to the interior storage compartment for headphones or hydration tubes. Between the drag handle and shoulder straps is a 4” (H) x 6” (W) fleece-lined sunglasses pouch secured with another pull-string zipper.

Internal

The internal storage compartment to the Pathfinder 2.5 is reinforced on either side of the exterior with side cinch straps and slide-release buckles to ensure the stored items remain secure. The main storage space includes a rigid backboard for stability and support, a hydration sleeve with MOLLE straps on the exterior, and two mesh lining/pockets on the interior side of the access flap.

The Pathfinder 2.5 Backpack comes in Black (featured) and is made of 1050D nylon. While the website still lists Coyote and Multicam as alternatives, those options have been discontinued.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At the time of this writing, the cost of the Pathfinder 2.5 is $119.95 and comparatively priced within the market for similar-sized (approx. 39 cubic liters of storage space), dual-strap backpacks. This is due mainly to the amount of nylon used that ensures long-lasting abrasion resistance.
  • Comfort Excellent (5/5): With regards to comfort in packs, really it comes down to how the design in the shoulder straps mitigate the weight and strain of the pack on/against the body. In the case of the Pathfinder 2.5, the padded air mesh carrying straps have a unique over-the-shoulder design that ensures the weight of the pack remains close and high to the shoulders. Furthermore, the carrying straps have offset seams so to avoid pressing that up against the neck/spine. Add in the thickness of the overall shoulder strap pads and the padded panels on the back of the pack, the end result is an almost pillow-like feel that helps mitigate carrying a large amount of weight for extended time/distance. By design, there is no waist strap to help further balance the weight of the pack, so the entire load will be on the upper torso.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): The Pathfinder 2.5 comes in 1050D nylon that will be stiffer and have a tighter weave than lesser denier rated packs and play into the overall increased abrasion resistance. With reinforced stitching and bartac at all key stress points and MOLLE straps, it will have a significant amount of durability regardless of how the user employs it. Likely the hardware will wear out long before the pack does.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): A significant amount of functionality went into the design of the Pathfinder 2.5. The side accessory and eyeglass pockets give you immediate-ready access to essential items, while the MOLLE straps throughout give you added capability for expansion to other accessories with similar mounting devices. Even the side cinch straps have hook-and-loop retainers to keep the excess under control (though it would have been nice if such feature had been extended to the shoulder and sternum straps). The hidden compartment for a laptop is an added bonus for any field researcher or traveler. The firearm pocket is somewhat awkward to access unless you have the pack off, so there is no immediate-access while wearing it (somewhat defeating the purpose of it as a concealed carry pocket). One noted design aspect was when accessing the main compartment, and placed on the straps, the zipper to the main compartment is at the top—thus negating the risk of smaller items spilling out.
  • Weight Average (3/5): At approximately 3.35 pounds (empty) the Pathfinder 2.5 is comparable in weight to other packs of similar size, this is due to the amount of nylon and other materials that go into making it.

Overall Rating – Above Average (19/25)

Product Link: https://www.truspec.com/backpacks/double-strap/pathfinder-25-backpack

IMG_2889I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Streamlight TLR-7: Compact Lumens!

Introduced in early 2018, the TLR-7 was the next evolution in the weapon mounted lights offered by Streamlight. Designed to fit with compatible conceal carry-sized handguns, the TLR-7 offers professional, competitive, and individual shooters with a steady source of light in an otherwise dark environment.

Compact in design, the TLR-7 was an improvement over the previous TRL-4 models in both appearance, size, and light output (measured as lumens). Its 6000 Series aircraft-grade aluminum housing ensures the light’s robust ability to withstand heavy usage. The switch housing is covered in a rubberized polymer to prevent impact shock. The TLR-7 features ambi-switch controls that allow the operator to select between momentary, ON/OFF, and strobe light control (if activated). The custom light optic produces 500 lumens (or 4,300 candela) in a narrow beam with peripheral illumination that reaches 131 meters before dispersal. In front of the optic, the TLR-7 glass is a Borofloat high temperature glass designed to have a high degree of heat and impact/abrasion resistance.

The TLR-7 is powered by a single CR123 lithium battery that provides the light an average 1.5 hours of continual runtime. The battery compartment is sealed via rubberized gasket to avoid penetration of moisture. A special design feature of the TLR-7 includes a “Safe ON/OFF” design built into the facecap of the lens that prevents accidental activation.

A series of different mounting keys are provided with the TRL-7 that provides platform compatibility across a wide variety of handgun platforms.

The TLR-7 has an overall measurement of 2.15” (L) x 1.18” (W) x 1.27” (H) and an operating range between -40 degrees Fahrenheit, to 120 degrees. It is sealed against moisture thanks to a rubber gasket and enclosed housing to provide waterproofing. It should be noted that the TLR-8 is the laser variant of the TLR-7, with the fame light functionality and “Safe ON/OFF” feature, but in the TLR-8 the laser is an optional red or green.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At an MSRP of $225.75 the price online can vary depending on retailer and availability of sales/coupons. At the time of this writing it is available for as little as $101.91 on third-party sites, but take care. Overseas counterfeits of weapon lights proliferate sites like Ebay and Amazon. For the MSRP, the TLR-7 is well below the cost of a Surefire X300 (the closest comparable competitor) and almost half the size.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): Very light. In comparison to other weapon lights that lead the industry, the TLR-7 is almost half the weight and was hardly noticeable on the end of the pistol. There is some debate in the Interwebs about the comfort of the ambi-switch, but it comes down to how you choose to index your support thumb. Those who index high, do not like how far they have to come down and in to toggle the pressure switch. For them, butterfly toggle switches like those on the TLR-1 or X300 are more comfortable because they come down slightly to already be on the switch in the up position. For others who index mid-low along the slide, they will only have to move their thumb less than an inch to be within reach of the TLR-7’s switch. I am the latter and did not denote any discomfort or difficulty in engaging the switch while firing or at the ready.
  • Durability – Excellent (5/5): Amazingly durable. The course of fire selected for testing the TLR-7 involved 10 magazines, each with 10 rounds, at a 15-meter target. Between magazine changes the light was struck a number of times on the housing and lens cap with the ejecting magazine before a new one was loaded. The process repeated itself until all rounds were fired. At no point did the TLR-7 light flicker or fail in the firing process, nor drift from center mass. The testing did result in some minor (cosmetic) surface scratches, but nothing that would impact the functionality of the light.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): Aside from the traditional ON/OFF and momentary light functions, the TLR-7 has an optional strobe feature that comes from the factory disabled. It was a little tricky to get the rapid nine clicks of the control switch fast enough, then hold the 10th to engage the strobe feature. But once engaged, the strobe easily functioned on the second press of the switch as designed. Disengaging the strobe feature was again little tricky, but after a few tries was successful. The TLR-7 also has a “Safe ON/OFF” feature that has a tangible/audible click at the detent that indicates it is “Safe”. In essence you are unscrewing the battery connection to the point (or detent) that the connection to the battery is seperated. It was a nice feature in application that clearly limited the risk of negligent light discharge when the weapon light is not in use.
  • Weight Good (4/5): Weighing a mere 2.4 ounces (with provided battery) the TLR-7 weighs about one ounce more than the Surefire XC1, but provided 200 more lumens. In comparison, the TLR-7 weighs half of a TLR-1 but also provided 200 more lumens. Thus, when considering the current market of available weaponlights, the TLR-7 was under the average weight of other legacy devices, but comparable to newer models. The weight did not pull the muzzle of the handgun down nor have a notable impact to target acquisition while firing.

Overall Rating – Good (20/25)

Product Link: https://www.streamlight.com/en/products/detail/index/tlr-7

IMG_2889I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

 

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