There's a time and place for large-capacity military-style packs...
Although it's not always common, there are documented instances when the sequel to something good outshines the original, becoming something truly great. The first 1984 Terminator film was hugely successful, but most critics agree that the follow-up Terminator 2: Judgment Day blew it out of the water.
Outside the world of Hollywood, continuous improvement is present in a number of industries. For example, the famous light bulb design used by Thomas Edison incorporated a bamboo filament—how many of those do you still see today? This early design was soon replaced by a more durable coiled wire, which has been all but eliminated today in favor of more efficient LEDs.
The point is this: it's unwise to create something groundbreaking, then simply leave it to stagnate. Instead, sequels, updates, and revisions can be used to capitalize on the original's strong points, and eliminate weaknesses. That's exactly what Triple Aught Design (TAD) claims to have done with their completely redesigned 2015 FAST Pack EDC. This “evolution” (as TAD calls it) retains the appearance of the original EDC pack we reviewed, but has been re-engineered from the ground up.
So, out with the old, and in with the new—let's see if this new TAD backpack is a superior sequel or a total flop.
Before we look at the new FAST Pack EDC on its own, we wanted to compare it to the old version we reviewed last month. As we said in the conclusion of that review, we were disappointed to find out that shortly after we received the pack, it was phased out and replaced by the new “2015” EDC pack. Fortunately, Triple Aught Design decided to send us the new version, so we can see what's new and find out if it has really improved.
You may recall our criticisms of the old design, which we'll post below:
All four of those issues were somewhat off-putting, and despite the old EDC being a good backpack, made us question whether we could recommend it. Well, we're glad to see that 3 of the 4 issues have been fixed for 2015. In fact, you could argue that all four issues have been resolved with the new design.
Firstly, the price. It's actually slightly higher for 2015, at $340 (a $15 increase from the old version). However, interior volume increased fom 1800ci to 2000ci, and the additional features make us feel like the new pack is a better value. Ruling: a wash.
Next, the shoulder straps. They're so different, you might not even think they came from the same company. Gone is the annoyance of unpadded straps digging into your shoulders, since the new design is fully padded, constructed of more durable material, and FAR more comfortable. Ruling: improved.
Third, the lack of additional compartments on the old EDC pack bothered us, as it left us with nowhere to organize small items. This has seen improvement for 2015, with a second zippered pouch inside the main compartment, and the addition of a weather-resistant roll-top pocket that can house a 15″ laptop or other moisture-sensitive items. Ruling: improved.
Finally, the half clamshell main compartment has been replaced with a full clamshell. This allows easy loading and unloading of large items, and better organization with the pack flat on its back. We wanted to see this feature, and TAD made it happen. Ruling: improved.
One more change worth mentioning is the elimination of two features: the hydration pouch, and the waist belt. Although there's a port for hydration tube access, there's no more dedicated zippered pouch for a hydration bladder. If you have one, you'll need to store it in the pack's main compartment. The waist belt is also no longer included for 2015, but the pack features mounting points for the belt if you buy one separately.
Despite its visual resemblance to the old design, the 2015 FAST Pack EDC is quite different when you inspect the details. Several of the specs are either improved or completely new:
The roll-top pocket is one of our favorite features of the 2015 FAST Pack EDC, as it acts like a dry bag to protect sensitive items like electronics from water and dust. Click through the three images below for an illustration of how this weather-proof container works.
It's apparent that Triple Aught Design is listening to their customers' feedback, and that's a very good thing. The old version of the FAST Pack EDC had some glaring issues (most importantly, the shoulder strap design), but almost every one of these issues has been fixed for the 2015 evolution. The pack has changed so much, that we'd say it's worthy of its own name, rather than awkwardly explaining that this is the 2015 version. We'd recommend calling it the FAST Pack EDC Mark II, or perhaps the FAST Pack EDC 2.0—it'd be much less confusing that way.
Aside from naming conventions, we noticed that fixing the old issues has introduced some new ones. So, here's our updated list of pros and cons:
All things considered, has the 2015 FAST Pack EDC improved upon its predecessor, or has it proved to be yet another failed sequel? We'd say the former—this new version is vastly superior to the old EDC pack, and would make a great choice for a bug-out bag. The revised straps alone make up for the $15 price increase, and all the other added features are just icing on the cake.
Now, if TAD could just give us back the hydration pouch and waist belt they removed, this backpack would be truly hard to top. Thankfully, their policy of continuous improvement means they may do just that next time around.
To learn more about the FAST Pack EDC, visit Triple Aught Design's web site.