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Shopping online for gear is often more convenient than driving to a brick and mortar store, but trying to weed through the thousands of options listed online is a daunting task, especially when many product pages seem to be awash with vague 5-star reviews. To make this selection process a little less overwhelming, we test gear and report our findings with total honesty. If our time with an item reveals its flaws, we'll tell you all about them, and if it's good to go we'll say so. What you won't get here on OFFGRIDweb is a bland marketing-friendly review that deems every item to be good enough.
The latest product on our review itinerary is a compact EDC-friendly backpack from 5.11 Tactical. Over the last few weeks, we have traveled with and tested the Rapid Origin Pack extensively. Read on for a summary of our findings.
Despite its small 25L capacity, this pack offers a good combination of roomy storage and organization. It's ideal for use as part of your EDC loadout, as an extended weekend getaway bag, or as an airline carry-on. The pack features a lightweight, minimalistic design with a large main pocket, small outer pocket, and hidden hydration/CCW pocket. Available in four different colorways (pictured in Coal), the Rapid Origin Pack is constructed from 600D polyester making it a durable backpack with a good degree of wear resistance.
The main pocket is roomy enough to hold a few days worth of clothes, while also keeping your small items organized. Two small mesh, zippered pockets are found on the inside front of the main compartment to keep your smaller items together in one place. Finally, a padded laptop sleeve and water bottle pocket retain these important items. However, the fact that the water bottle pocket is inside the pack is an interesting choice, as it requires the wearer to zip open the main compartment and push aside gear to access a bottle. It also makes re-inserting the bottle a challenge, especially if the pack is fully-loaded.
One of the best features of this pack is the full-opening drop front. This gives you full view of everything in the main compartment, as well as access to the smaller zippered pockets without having to dig down to the bottom to find anything. If you don't want to open that pocket all the way, a set of compression/retention straps on the sides keep everything secure even if the pack isn't fully loaded.
On the outside of the main pocket is a small, quick-access admin pocket. Inside you'll find several small sleeves and pen holders as well as a key retainer hook handy for keeping your EDC loadout organized. This pocket is a good size without being overly large and cavernous. Stitched onto this quick access pocket is a hook-and-loop field in the shape of the 5.11 Tactical logo, enabling the wearer to add morale patches and other personal touches. There's another strip of hook-and-loop at the bottom of the PALS webbing on the front of the pack, which can be used for name tape or small patches.
The top of the main compartment features a snug fleece-lined pocket for sunglasses, goggles, or anything else you don't want crushed or scratched up. The back pad hides a hydration pouch with hook-and-loop hanger strap.
5.11 Tactical also says you can store your CCW in this pocket, however we found it to be a bit uncomfortable since it adds a noticeable bulge along the back while carrying. In all honesty, this pocket could be removed all together. We've found that when we need a small pack with a hydration pouch, it's better to use a dedicated hydration pack, as opposed to converting an EDC pack for that use.
Even when fully loaded, the pack fits and carries very comfortably. The wide, padded shoulder straps distribute weight evenly and the supportive back pad prevents any of the cargo in the main compartment from putting excessive pressure on one spot. Both sets of pads are covered with a thick mesh layer, which keeps the skin these pads ride on dry and cool. One interesting note about the shoulder pads is the addition of a buckle at the base of the pads. We couldn't find an exact reason for this, as the top ends of the straps are permanently affixed. What we've used this for is to disconnect the pads and tuck them inside for travel when using the pack as a carry-on or truck bag.
If you desire more storage options, the Rapid Origin has you covered there too. The front and sides of the pack are covered in PALS webbing. This allows you to attach countless pouches, pockets, and other attachments to customize this pack to your needs. That said, we didn't find ourselves wanting additional capacity. We used this pack on several day and weekend trips and found it to be the right size, shape, and weight for its purpose. At 25L, it is small enough to take almost anywhere but with the large main compartment and several smaller organization pockets, it holds more than it seems at first glance.
The 5.11 Rapid Origin pack is a solid choice for a compact, short trip pack. During our testing we compared it to the 5.11 Rush 72 that we've had for years. Unsurprisingly, the Rush 72 is a lot bigger with a lot more pockets, making it good for longer trips with more necessities. Even with the few small tweaks we would like to see made, this Rapid Origin pack is priced right and comes with features that we appreciate. For more information on this and the rest of the products that 5.11 offers, visit 511tactical.com.