First Tactical – Guardian Patrol Bag

Brian get’s his hands on a full-featured patrol bag from First Tactical.

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As a real estate photographer by trade based in the SF Bay Area of California I
need to have a bag that can not only carry my kit but be able to grab and go at a
moment’s notice, be discreet in what I am carrying depending on location, and
protect the small investment I have in my gear. So, the journey for the right work
bag began.

First Tactical Guardian Patrol Bag - in action shot

When I first started, my now career, in photography my main source
of carry was a Peak Design Every Day Messenger Bag, which at that time carried
everything I needed very comfortable and well organized. As my new career took
off my kit evolved and soon the Every Day Messenger just did not have enough
internal storage capacity to carry all my gear. The next setup I used was a Pelican
1650 hard shell case with Pelican’s “Pluck Foam” used to customize the internal
organization. The 1650 carried all my gear well protected and perfectly to the
point I had my set up routine down in less than 10 minutes and I was ready to
shoot some pics. But after time the pluck foam started to come apart as I
removed and installed my gear, the size of the Pelican 1650 became too bulky,
and too often I was asked to leave the case outside when photographing a home
that may have been professionally staged or cleaned prior to my visit. Now to find
a bag that had enough internal storage space for my gear and could carry as well
if not better, than my previous set ups.

First Tactical Guardian Patrol Bag - Close up front shot

I remembered picking up a First Tactical Guardian Patrol Bag during one of their
sales and thought why not give it a try. A bag that I could customize the internal
configuration via numerous camera inserts on the market, easy to transport,
doesn’t scream “I’m a camera bag”, and most of all durable. Made of 600D
Polyester, YKK zippers, and reinforced areas where needed, this bag should last
most if not all of my career as a photographer. Measuring the internal specs of
the main compartment (18” L x 13” H x 8.5” D), I knew I could configure the inside
the way I wanted.

First Tactical Guardian Patrol Bag inside organisation

My next step was to find an organiser that could fit inside the Guardian Patrol Bag and not leave a lot of open space for the organiser to move around in the bag during transportation. I found an insert from Meking Studio to be the best fit at (16” L x 9” H x 9” D). My goal for the internal organisation was to be able to have my camera ready to go with a battery grip and lens attached.

First Tactical Guardian Patrol Bag - EDC Layout

This way I can just grab my camera, attach it to my tripod, attach my wireless remote flash trigger transmitter, and start taking photos. The left-over space between the camera insert and right internal sidewall of the bag fits two of my speed lights perfectly. Other items I carry like business cards, extra batteries, additional lenses, SD cards, etc. all fit nicely with ease of access via the bag’s internal mesh pockets attached to the lid, both external side pockets, and front small admin style pocket.

First Tactical Guardian Patrol Bag - Interior organisation shot

Being a Real Estate Photographer working in California where a gig can take me from a 10-minute drive from my office to hours away, either way time is money, and with
the First Tactical Guardian Patrol Bag configured to my work needs I’ve cut my
set up time in half, which is important since often I have either a home owner or an
agent waiting on me. Fully loaded I’m carrying around 25lbs worth of gear and
with the nicely padded shoulder pad and reinforced carry handles, the bag loaded
carries very well. Two drawstring water bottle holders in the front of the bag can
carry water bottle up to approximately 40oz depending on the diameter of the bottle.

First Tactical Guardian Patrol Bag water bottle shot

I carry a Mizu 27oz insulated water bottle from Prometheus Design Werx on one
side, the other side I use as a dump style pouch for my truck keys, shoe covers, and
a lens cap. The large rear zippered pouch can fit up to a 13” (maybe a 15”) laptop,
I use this pocket for paper materials or note pads. With the ease of this set up, I
purposely configured the bag the way I did for other uses.

first tactical guardian patrol bag review laptop shot

Other purposes I have personally used this bag for are as a range bag and as a travel/weekender bag. The First Tactical Guardian Patrol Bag definitely has a decent amount useful applications!

The only few minor changes I would make to this bag to suit my
personal needs would be if First Tactical made a padded configurable insert so I
did not have to source my own and a Velcro strap to secure the carry handles
together. Even with these small recommended changes the Guardian Patrol Bag is
a very well-built bag, well priced for the style of bag compared to its competition,
and I would highly recommend trying one out!

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