The 5.11 brand was born out of the outdoor industry – it all started when climber Royal Robbins felt his pants were not up to scratch. The name 5.11 is derived from the toughest climb possible in the Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Decimal System which was developed by Robbins.
The hard wearing pants became quite popular with the FBI at their training centre, and it was due to this that the company branched into a separate ‘tactical’ brand, producing more and more non-apparel lines.
The Rapid Quad Zip pack has been designed with multi-point access in mind. This pack takes ease of access to the next level with the quad zip design. If you are ever thinking to yourself “gosh getting into this pack shouldn’t be so hard” well then this pack was designed for you.
[table id=13 /]
Quality & Comfort
As with all 5.11 products the quality is more of a rugged durable type rather than highly refined detailed piece of art. It is designed to be a workhorse, a daily pack facing heavy use and this is where the Quad Zip performs best. Every tack is sewn well, with no loose threads and no misaligned stitching. The Quad Zip is a very simple design which means more emphasis can be placed on the overall quality.
The shoulder straps are quite comfortable. They feel wider and thinner than the 5.11 Rush 24 (review can be found here); personally I find this type of shoulder strap much more comfortable to wear for a longer duration. The potential downside would be a larger footprint and therefore a larger area to heat up against the body. I never had a problem with this personally but I could see how this may be annoying for some. I have started using sternum straps more and more recently, which i attribute directly to the Quad Zip and how seamless the sternum strap feels. It doesn’t feel like a totally separate afterthought but rather more an integrated piece of the carry system.
The back panel is soft and comfortable, no real issues with this at all. Wearing this pack in 20 degree Celsius (68F) weather didn’t feel uncomfortable or stuffy. Wearing a pack in heat is never really enjoyable but my attention wasn’t directed to the back panel nor did I notice any excessive sweating.
Loading the pack up with about 15kg was actually quite easy due to the cavernous main pocket, shouldering this weight was also no problem. The Quad Zip felt quite comfortable matching the contour of my back nicely while reducing stress points. My daily pack weight would be around 7kg at a maximum if I included my laptop, carrying this load was comfortable and easy.
Starting from the very front of the pack the admin sits a lot higher than the Rush series – almost in the centre of the pack. It’s quite a shallow pocket so don’t expect to keep your A4 binder in the admin section, this is purely for pens, cables and all those smaller essential items for daily admin tasks.
The top of the Quad Zip has a a small ‘dump’ pocket for sunglasses or pens, cables, iPhone or (if you are from 1980) a cassette player and headphones. That is it for the external pockets – the rest of the organisation is seen within the main pocket.
Inside the main compartment are three mesh pockets, two pockets that are sewn to the front panel from the inside and a larger water bottle pocket on the left side (if the pack is on your back). The top mesh pocket can be accessed from top or bottom, which is in keeping with the overall Quad Zip’s design goals, that is ultimate access at all times.
The dual zip access is quite unique, but does make sense if you are fully opening your pack and want the option of multiple access points. It’s hard to really put a finger on the specific purpose, but once you have used the pocket a few times it does make life easier from time to time.
The internal bottle pocket is big enough to fit a standard Nalgene or an Ecovessel, 1.5L disposable water bottle or wine bottle. There is however only one pocket so if you were to use this for water carriage you may want to consider balancing the weight with something else on the other side of the pack.
There is also a laptop sleeve with a velcro strap, the sleeve is nice as it does not allow your electronics to touch the ground when placing the pack upright. The sleeve is also padded for that extra peace of mind.
In addition to the main pocket is a hydration pocket on the back of the pack. The hydration pocket/ballistics plate carrier is not a full compartment but more of a open top pocket with a velcro fastener to keep the pocket closed.
You do need to flip the shoulder straps out of the way to gain access, so I wouldn’t really be treating this pocket as a place to concealed carry if quick drawing like a cowboy is your thing. At the top of the pocket is a strap to securely hang your hydration bladder. Due to the fact the top 1/3rd of the pocket is mostly open allows you to route the bladder hose any direction you like. I have carried loose documents in this pocket without a problem.
The Quad Zip design (obviously) this is quite unique and provides quite good access to all areas within the main pocket. The fact this pack has very little in the way of fancy features is somewhat refreshing. It’s hard to lose things in your pack if you only have 1 main pocket. The shape of the pack allows you to stuff quite a lot into it. Large bulky items especially are easy to carry. If you find you are constantly trying to pull a bulky jacket from the bottom of your pack then this will be an awesome feature.
The Hydration area is a simple design but it works perfectly. It also allows high levels of flexibility for hose placement.
This is also a very affordable pack and the amount of quality you are getting is quite impressive. There’s no reason everyone shouldn’t have one.
I felt the internal organisation was quite lacking, especially given it really only has 1 main pocket. It would have been really nice to have velcro or molle attachment points inside the pack, just for added customizability.
I found the zips would get a little stiff at times. Maybe mine needed a clean and some lubricant added.
The design is very plain. This point could easily be placed in the what’s perfect bits depending on your intended usage. If you are travelling and do not want to draw attention to yourself it’s great, but as a daily pack for office use it’s a bit plain jane. I don’t mean to say it’s not a great pack, I just think 5.11 spent more time designing a functional pack rather than putting a bit of effort into designing a more aesthetic pack. It seems seriously odd that there is not a black option.
The Wrap Up
All in all this is a great pack, something I wouldn’t hesitate in grabbing and loading up for a short camping trip, or day trip through the city. It’s not the pack I grab when travelling on aircraft, as I found all the straps and external MOLLE to be a bit annoying catching on things. It completely excels at its designed tasks, and still does pretty well at tasks its not designed for (air travel included). 5.11 are known for affordable quality and durability and have knocked this out of the park. Due to the fairly square shape of the Quad Zip, once filled you can think of it as a tactical stuff sack with a bit of organisation thrown in and you will start to see how versatile this pack could be.