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The Scarab: A Pack For the Every Day Carry

As part of its Every Day Carry (EDC) line of products, the Scarab day pack by Grey Ghost Gear is intended to give users a light, all day bag that is ideal for a variety of short-term settings.

Exterior

Made overall from Rip-Stop Nylon for settings when traditional Cordura or other military-type fabrics are not preferred, the Scarab is 100% nylon and an overall dimension of 17.5” (H) x 11” (W) x 7” (D) with a slight domed, low-profile appearance when worn. This gives the Scarab an overall storage space of 1, 037 in³. The material also has the added benefit of being up to 30% lighter than traditional military nylons.

At the front, the Scarab has two overlapping single pockets that are YKK zipper-secured with nylon pull-tabs, capped in a polymer pressure point. This allows for a low-profile appearance with the flexibility and positive control of opening or closing.

From the left (being the top most pocket), the first front pocket has an interior space of approximately 12” (H) x 6” (W). Inside it includes a nylon band (reinforced by a rubberized plastic base) that has two segments for pocketknives or other clip-type accessories, and a polymer key hook. At the bottom is an angled 6” envelope pouch.

From the right (and under the first), the second front pocket has an interior space of 17.5” (H) x 11” (W). The interior includes a large 9” (H) x 9.5” (W) hook-and-loop (female) field for mounting an associated EDC gun holster (not included) and/or other accessories. Below that is a 9.5” wide envelop pouch for note pads, a pen sleeve, and accessory pouch.

The back of the Scarab features extensive 1” thick, open-cell foam padding along two sides to create a central ventilation passage down the middle. This helps in airflow and heat dissipation. The shoulder straps themselves also have open-cell foam padding with a cross-yolk band of material at the top for stability and doubles as a carrying handle, and adjustable sliding buckles at the bottom.

The Scarab also includes a detachable rain cover that is hidden in a zipper-secured pocket on the bottom. This rain cover has an elastic outer band to maintain a secure hold over the day pack.

Interior

The main storage area inside the Scarab is a full-sized space and accessed via dual zippers with nylon pull-tabs. The tabs themselves are capped in a polymer pressure point that is contoured to the fingertip for tactile sensation. The zipper line is also water resistant with a protective casing to prevent moisture saturation.

Inside the main storage space is a 15” mesh and padded pocket for a laptop, notebook, or other sensitive item. Opposite on the interior, at the top is a zipper-secured elastic mesh pocket that allows items inside to still be seen for easy recognition. Near the bottom are two 4” (W) envelope pockets (reinforced with adjustable nylon straps) for rifle magazines, water bottles, power banks or other electronics.

The Scarab is available in Black Diamond/Grey Heather (featured), Multicam (featured), Black Diamond/Black Heather, Black Diamond/Black, and Coyote Brown.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • Cost – Good (4/5): At a cost between $108.99-$131.99 (color dependent) the Scarab is about the size of an assault pack, with all the low-profile appearance of a non-descript EDC backpack. Made from a lighter Rip-Stop nylon, the Scarab allows the user to store enough for a light day out on the town, out on the range, or the trails while still having the essentials at hand. Close market alternatives would be Triple Aught Design’s Axiom 24 ($365), GoRuck’s 20L RUCKER ($129), 5.11’s COVERT Backpack ($89.49), or Helikon-Tex’s EDC Bag ($59). Fact is the more exotic materials, that maintain a low outward tactical appearance, cost more and while some inexpensive EDC packs maintain that role—their outward design still screams “tactical”. As such, while the Scarab is toward the upper tier of cost, for what you get in design and material places it at a good price point.
  • Comfort – Good (4/5): From a comfort aspect, the Scarab had sufficient padding along the back and shoulder straps that ensured that the wearer did not feel pressure from the contents, nor pinch in the arms/shoulders. Both sides of the back panel had a thick, deep padding that allowed the airflow channel down the center to mitigate some of the heat built up/trapped under the pack while walking. The shoulder straps themselves are wide enough apart that it allowed for good comfort across the chest. The only drawback noted here was a lack of a sternum strap to help maintain the chest straps in a secure fashion, nor elastic cuffs on the draw strap to control excess material. All YKK zippers functioned smoothly and did not bind nor pinch taking turns. For a day’s wear, the Scarab performed well and did not fatigue the wearer nor prove cumbersome.
  • Durability – Excellent (5/5): The Scarab was made from the same nylon Rip-Stop material as many tactical and weather-resistant clothing. The purpose was to prevent gouges, tears, or cuts—and when/if that material was then the compromised threading would only be limited to that small segment and not further fray. Throughout evaluation keys, gear, cameras, guns, water bottles and other items were all carried or moved over the material. At no point did any material fray nor become compromised. Some over-threading was noted, but easily removed. Throughout the bag, double-line and bartack stitching was noted along all zippers, shoulder straps, and other key stressor points that helped ensure longevity while being carried, transported, or thrown around.
  • Functionality – Average (3/5): Functionally, the Scarab was intended to serve as a small 24-hour pack, one with the EDC in mind. The overlapping front pockets did do well to carry the smaller essentials, including a G19 with two spare magazines that did not excessively print. One thing to note is that only the right-side pocket has the hook-and-loop field essential for mounting a holster/magazines, thus when the pack is slung to the front for immediate access, it limits the user to only a left-handed draw. In order to get a right-handed draw, you have you fully remove the pack and spin it around to access the correct pocket. Grey Ghost Gear may want to consider adding hook-and-loop fields to both front pockets to allow for the use of ambidextrous draw. Otherwise, the Scarab had good internal pockets for light use, and perhaps could have benefited if the zipper line for the main storage compartment had extend fully to the bottom of the bag to allow it to lay open. Users may want to note that while the rain cover is stored in the bottom of the bag, it does occupy a small amount of space in the bottom of the interior and may not allow the pack to relax sufficiently to stand up when placed on the floor or under a desk. The rain cover can be easily removed and alleviate this issue.
  • Weight – Excellent (5/5): Weighing in at just 32 ounces, the Scarab owed a large portion of its relative light weight to its Rip-Stop material and minimal hardware that is considerably lighter than traditional nylons. That material and open-cell padding ensured that the Scarab was durable, functional, and comfortable throughout the day and regardless of the items carried. In contrast, the Axiom (37.6 ounces), 20L RUCKER (43.2 ounces), COVERT Backpack (48 ounces), or Helikon-Tex’s EDC Bag (38.44 ounces) all illustrate that the Scarab is among the lightest of these day packs in similar size, and gave it an excellent scoring.

Overall Rating – Good (21/25)

Product Link: https://greyghostgear.com/products/scarabdaypack

I 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.

Tuff Products Competition Belt: Get Those Alphas!

Initially introduced in 2016, the Surefit Competition Belt is Tuff Products effort to provide competitive shooters a secure means to carry their equiptment. With a dual inner/outer belt system, the Surefit belt will hold up a lot more than just holsters.

With an inner belt layer made with flexible 1000D nylon and lined on the outside with large sections of hook-and-loop, the inner belt features a six-panel extension that can be cut to ensure complete fit to the user’s waistline.

Likewise, the outer belt is also constructed with 1000D nylon and has an accent layer that can be customized per the user’s interest. The accent layer comes in: Multicam (featured in this review), Coyote, Gray, Purple, Teal, Red, Blue, Black. The outer belt also is lined on the inside with corresponding sections of hook-and-loop, and features a six-panel extension that can also be cut to ensure proper fit. Unlike the inner belt however, the outer belt features a 1.5″ rigid polymer core that gives the overall Surefit belt its rigidity to maintain form no matter how many holsters you put on it.

The Surefit comes with one spare belt keeper and one “Team Tuff” belt keeper with a PVC logo. The company also offers a set of “bruise bumpers” as separate accessories, which are simply pads that attach to the Surefit’s hook-and-loop and protect the hip from the weight and/or holsters.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • Cost – Average (3/5): At $49.99 the Surefit belt is a two-layer system that is comparable in design and construction to other similar competition belt systems currently on the market. The cost however, places it in the upper tier of these systems. If one makes the effort however, you can find the belt offered through Amazon and other online dealers for approximatly $32-$34.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): As a whole, the two-part system makes wearing pistol, mags, and a medical pouch very comfortable. The rigid polymer core of the outer belt carries a large percentage of the overall load, while the hook-and-loop sections help ensure no excessive movement of attached items.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): In comparison to competitors, the Surefit has important elements in durability that others do not. Right out of the box there were no loose/excessive threads, and the amount of material along the outer belt edge was noticeably larger in surface area than other competition belts. This translates to longer use in the repetitive action of peeling the outer belt off of the inner, and less chance of separation between the belts and hook-and-loop sections. The 1000D nylon in the belt’s design will also ensure long-term abrasion resistance.
  • Functionality Average (3/5): Overall the functionality of the Surefit belt is pretty straightforward. It should be noted here that while trimming the six-panel extension sections to cut inside the six squares and not along the gray stitching. Then use a heat gun or lighter to melt any excess cut nylon.
  • Weight Good (4/5): At approximately 8.8 ounces, the overall Surefit belt is amazingly light considering the amount of materials. The use of the polymer core to the outer belt and the overall 1000D are the dominant elements to the overall weight of the two-belt system.

Overall Rating – Above Average (18/25)

Product Link: http://tuffproducts.com/9017-tuff-surefit-competition-belt-set/

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.

TR2 Respirator: Breathing Easier on the X

One overlooked aspect of tactical training or operations on the objective is the respiratory health of those in harms way. Yet with the dust, carbonized metal and lead, smoke and more—those individuals can inhale a lot of harmful particulates (even in well ventilated training houses). Over time this can translate to harmful health risks. The TR2 by O2 Tactical is one of only a few to consider these risks and works to minimize its exposure to those who work in harm’s way.

Introduced in 2020, the TR2 is the second generation of tactical respirators by O2 Tactical and is made from a combination of formed soft-touch, medical grade silicone, shaped ABS plastic, and a central raspatory filter.

The harnessing system consists of a continuous two-part head band that has a lower elastic nylon material for support and comfort, and the upper rubberized head band for retention. As the lower is expanded, the upper is cinched and vice versa. Overall length for the head band is adjusted via slide buckles on the upper band near the front face mask.

The front face of the TR2 features a base, contoured layer of medical grade silicone that is designed to fit around the mouth and nose during dynamic movement, while still maintaining a low enough profile to accommodate eyewear. There is even sufficient material to accommodate a proper seal with facial hair.

As part of the front face is a clip-on attachment that houses the principal air filter. The main intent for this filter is to prevent the inhalation of aerosolized lead from discharged ammunition. The filter itself is made from a material that is effective up to 98.8% at 0.3 microns. This means it will stop any airborne particulates found in the lead from gunfire discharge or suppressor use, asbestos, lubricant mist, dust, dirt, carbon from wildfires, and some airborne pathogens. In late 2020, O2 Tactical submitted for certification of its TR2 filter as N95 rated. Editor’s Note: It is important to note to the reader, the TR2 filter is not currently rated to filter out the COVID-19 virus, which is 0.125 microns but still offers comparable protections as N95 or other face masks.

Below the filter clip-on is a removable tube that allows the TR2 to be compatible with various Invisio® headsets for microphone integration and team communications using the associated O2 Tactical accessory (sold separately).

The TR2 is only available in Black (featured), and is a one-size-fits-most.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • Cost – Good (4/5): At a list price of $225 the TR2 is the latest rendition of tactical respirators from O2 Tactical, and involves an air filtration system that provides freedom of airflow and respiratory safety to those training or operating in enclosed areas. While the focus of the TR2 is for those in a tactical setting, the product also has potential applicability for civilians amid the ongoing COVID era. The only market alternative to the TR2 would be the Special Operations Tactical Respirator – SOTR ($300) by OpsCore/Gentex. Thus from a price point; and for its more minimalist design, the TR2 is at a good value for its functionality.
  • Comfort – Average (3/5): It took a little time to find the appropriate balance between expanding/cinching the TR2’s harness system that allowed for a good seal, and was still comfortable. The sliding buckles did provide a solid adjustment to the overall length of the harness without any slippage. The TR2 silicone had a comfortable contour around the mouth and nose, although felt unstable as the lower portion of the TR2’s design rests on the Mentolabial Crease (that spot between your lower lip and the chin) rather than extending down to enclose the entire chin. The result was a secure seal only as long as the wearer was not extending the jaw (such as to opening the mouth to talk or shout), but when maximum range of motion was applied, the mask would lose some of its seal and stability. It is recommended to O2 Tactical to address this in subsequent future designs so that the chin is enclosed and the overall mask maintains its seal for all range of motion. Airflow through the filter was easy and uninterrupted, even when conducting dynamic movements (sprints).
  • Durability – Good (4/5): From a durability aspect, the main material in the TR2 was the medical grade silicone, which was both flexible and resistant to abrasion. This is the same material that is in military NBC masks and known for its resistance to oil, solvents, corrosion, and puncture. And similarly, the silicone material in the TR2 heavily attracted lint and other particulates, but that didn’t affect fit or seal. Separately, O2 Tactical detailed that the TR2’s filter was only good for an estimated 40hr of wear time. This was dependent on the atmosphere involved with dust and larger particulates obviously clogging the filter material quicker. A recent study of the TR2 also revealed that the respirator did survive drop testing of 120 times from a height of 1m without any damage to the unit, and the multi-fabric head harness had a lateral sheer strength between 20 and 30 pounds depending on the material tested. All of this far exceeds what the casual user would experience in training or in the field.
  • Functionality – Average (3/5): Functionally, the TR2 provided an overall good flow of oxygen to the user, despite the intake passing through a filter and in an enclosed seal. Some minimal beading of moisture on the interior of the unit, and around the filer, was noted after an hour of continual and dynamic wear, but was to be expected and common with this type of device. Removal of the clip-on attachment at the face of the respirator, and replacing the filter was easy to do. However, re-attaching the filter/clip while wearing the mask was somewhat challenging as it relied on alignment of the retention clips that cannot be observed nor felt while wearing the mask. This resulted in several instances where it did not fully seat. This problem was easily resolved by simply removing the mask to remove/replace/reattach the components prior to time on the range or in operation (something that each filter’s 40 hour lifespan could easily handle). The minimalist profile of the mask did allow for comfortable wear of eyewear without fogging as well as shouldering a rifle, all while maintaining a proper seal. The one aspect of function that was concerning was the rigid plastic tab supporting the area of material over the bridge of the nose. This rigid piece did not contour/flex to the nose very well, and could potentially jab the wearer in the soft tissue of the face or around the eye if a frontal impact was experienced. It is recommended to O2 Tactical that if the overall area of silicone material were expanded, as discussed in the Comfort section above, this area of the nose could be thickened and not rely on a rigid plastic spur for structure. Other areas of recommended improvement would be alternative harness/mounting designs to allot for quick attach/detach and/or direct attachment to hook-and-loop panels of a helmet. As is, in its current design the TR2 can only be worn under a helmet or headwear, and can only be removed by first removing the headgear.
  • Weight – Good (4/5): With an overall weight of 5.1 ounces (the filter alone accounting for 0.5 ounces) the TR2 was very lightweight and did not detract from the front of the face, nor pull excessively on the neck or muscles over time. Indeed, properly fitted the TR2 hung effortlessly. In contrast, the SOTR (16 ounces) is more than double the weight, but is due to the fact it is more encompassing of the face with a much larger air filer. Thus for its minimalist design and overall function, the TR2 has a good level of light overall weight for the consumer and within the market.

Overall Rating – Above Average (18/25)

Product Link: https://www.o2tactical.com/products/tr2-tactical-respirator-ii

I 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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