In today’s world of continual connectivity, and in a profession where that connectivity all too often brings you negative information, being “off the grid” for a few days becomes a very attractive option for off-duty time. Hiking and camping are two of the best ways to get off grid and combining them, backpacking, is the ultimate escape for many. But if you’re going to go out into the wilderness and live out of your pack, you’d better make sure you have the right one. Enter the 5.11 Tactical RUSH100 pack.
Make no mistake, the RUSH100 isn’t an ultra-lightweight thru-hike backpack. It is far more rugged than any of those we’ve seen. It’s built for use in austere environments and to survive such without any loss in functionality. Perhaps more importantly, its overall capacity and design features make it ideal for longer in-field trips. To test the veracity of that outlook, our Editorial Director, Lt. Frank Borelli, tested it... in the field... off grid.
Taking full advantage of the RUSH100’s 60-liter capacity, he took everything with him that he felt was reasonable, and that he could carry during the foot travel in the mountains. His long-weekend trip was five days, four nights in the Shenandoah Mountains, along the Appalachian Trail and the temperature variances while he was out ran between 40F and 75F. Naturally he needed to carry a tent, a sleeping bag, a ground mat and more. The RUSH100 had sufficient capacity to carry those items plus five liters of water, his filtration kit, cook kit, a sufficient supply of food and his extra clothing/toiletry necessities.
The organizational capabilities of the pack made it easy to separate the various equipment items. In the outside pockets he kept his fire starting/folding stove in one pocket, wet weather gear in another pocket and some convenience items in yet another. In the side pockets he kept his water filtration kit on one side and his cook kettle/pot in the other. There’s a large bottom section that is separated from the rest of the interior by a nylon lining. It was just the right size to be used as a stuff-sack of sorts for his sleeping bag and two inflatable pillows. His tent and ground mat were easily, and conveniently, strapped onto the bottom via the sewn in attachments points.
The largest part of the internal section was filled with his food and spare clothing. As the days passed, his food supply shrank leaving more space inside the pack. As with all good backpacking trips, the weight of his pack shrank as the trip went on.
For all of the convenience and performance of the RUSH100, there were some things that he wanted to keep handy without having to take the pack off to access them. For those items, his small binoculars, a digital camera and some snack bars (along with an emergency poncho just in case), he used the 5.11 Tactical All Missions Rig with their 2 Banger Gear Set mounted. The combination allowed him to carry those items he wanted access to in the center of his chest. Thanks to the thin mounting materials and adjustability of fit for the All Missions Rig, he could wear it under the pack without any issues.
Although the test pieces we received were black, both are available in multiple colors. The pack can be had in black or tan (kangaroo) and the 2 Banger Gear set is available in black, tan (kangaroo) and gray (tungsten). If you shop wisely, getting them on sale is easily done. And they are far more cost effective than those ultra-lightweight packs specifically designed for backpacking. The design features as far as organization and pockets are similar but the 5.11 Tactical RUSH100 will take far more abuse than any of those ultra-lightweights we’ve come across, lasting longer and providing an even greater value per dollar in the long run.
Given the successful field testing of the equipment, it seems our larger challenge now may be keeping our Editorial Director “on the grid” so to speak. He seems eager to get back out in the field wearing the All Missions Rig and RUSH100 backpack again. For more information about the RUSH100 pack visit officer.com/21122631. More on the All Missions Rig can be found at officer.com/21070925.