Working as a forester and volunteering for search-and-rescue...
We have dedicated a lot of time in our Bag Drop column covering bags that get packed and then stashed away for emergency situations. This time, we want to talk about a bag that is worn literally every day. It belongs to one of our female freelance photographers, who wears it throughout the day instead of carrying a traditional purse. This Viktos Upscale 2 sling bag and its contents are meant to maximize on minimalism without sacrificing essential equipment for emergency response.
Make/Model: Viktos Upscale 2
The bag itself is a Viktos Upscale 2 – a compact sling bag with a low-key, utilitarian aesthetic on the outside and well-thought-out storage management on the inside. Measuring a demure 15 x 7 x 4 inches all around, the Upscale 2 is slightly larger than a traditional fanny pack but smaller (and sleeker) than many tactical or survival-oriented sling bags currently on the market. There are four pockets, including a dual-zip flat pocket on the body side of the bag, which comes with a universal Velcro holster for CCW.
The front of the bag has a half-moon pocket up top with extra internal padding meant for glasses or sunglasses. The rectangular compartment below it comes with staggered elastic loops of varying sizes to retain your various sundries. That pocket has a small zip-pocket on its face that’s ideally sized for small items like wallets, keys, folded cash, credit cards, etc.
The shoulder strap features an ambidextrous design with a single attachment point at the top, and one on either side at the bottom. The top end of the strap is attached by small side-release buckle, the bottom by a carabiner that can be swapped to the left or right corner depending on wearer preference.
The body-side of the bag does have PALS loops sewn onto it, should you want to run this pack attached to a plate carrier, but is mostly out-of-sight while the bag is worn. Said webbing could be used to attach a couple of small pouches to the outside of the bag if needed, though we felt like this would defeat the purpose of the bag’s minimalist design. Its small size and generally shoebox-y shape makes it easy to stow as a grab-and-go bag in all sorts of places. If loaded and left for emergency use, the Viktos Upscale 2 fits easy underneath the front seat of your car, in between the two front seats, hanging in a locker or by the door, or even in a pantry or cupboard.
Above: The front pocket contains a trauma kit, SureFire flashlight, and a large wallet.
It’s also worth mentioning that Premier Body Armor makes a Level III+ flexible armor insert specifically sized for this bag. While we suppose some armor protection is better than none, the 12.6-x-7-inch dimensions really rely on the enemy’s marksmanship to stop incoming rounds effectively. Slung across the front of the body, it would be slightly larger than the old-school steel “heart plates” used to augment older generations of soft body armor.
Our sample bag is MultiCam Black which is, depending on who you talk to, either the apex or ass-end of tactical fashion. If you don’t care to make such a fashion statement, there are several solid colors available as well.
Above: No, the tampons are not for gunshot wounds — they're carried for their intended function. A proper trauma kit is stashed in the pack for treating serious injuries.
This is an everyday bag worn in lieu of a proper purse. As such, it contains both some basic preps as well as some typical purse supplies. The CCW pouch holds a single-stack Staccato C pistol with Trijicon RMRcc optic, in an LAS Concealment holster. Originally meant as an AIWB holster, the belt clip and wing were removed and the holster body wrapped in hook tape, to hold it in place inside the bag.
Above: An LAS Concealment holster, retrofitted with Velcro hook material, contains this Staccato C single-stack 9mm pistol.
The sunglasses pouch on the top front of the bag contains some granola bars and tampons. No, the tampons are not for gunshot wounds. That’s what the TCCC supplies in the larger front pocket are for. The elastic loops inside this main compartment are perfectly-sized for retaining a 4-inch Emergency Trauma Dressing from North American Rescue, a pair of compact chest seals, a packet of Combat Gauze LE, a CAT tourniquet and nitrile gloves. The last remaining loop holds a Surefire E1B-MV flashlight. This palm sized backup light produced 400 lumens off a single CR123 and utilizes Surefire’s MaxVision beam – a flood-like reflector which produces a wide, uniform wall-of-light. These features make it ideal for up-close administrative tasks and small area searches.
Above: The effectiveness of the Kopis Designs L-Via knife carried in this pack was tested on a pig carcass in Ed Calderon's Weaponology class.
The front zipper section hides a Kopis Designs L-Via fixed blade. This knife, a collaboration between Kopis and OFFGRID contributor Ed Calderon, is a lightweight, handy defensive fixed blade. The unique sheath features a tooth-like hook that can snag the edge of a pouch or pocket to pop off instantly as the blade is drawn. Finally, an elastic-top mesh pocket on the inside of the front flap holds a large wallet perfectly.
There’s not much to this Bag Drop loadout — some med gear, some defensive tools, some snacks, and some personal goods. If more is needed, there are other larger bags strategically placed throughout the owner’s daily locales (car, home, office). But this Viktos Upscale 2 is truly a daily-driver. It's a general out-and-about bag that’s equally prepared for a drive-through coffee break or active shooter.