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.
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.
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:
- Cost – Good (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
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.
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