Hype and practical realism rarely see eye to eye. A building buzz in the shooting and tactical communities – not to mention the MMA world – surrounding Vertx’s new EDC Gamut and Gamut Plus backpacks got my attention. Generally speaking, we’re pretty impressed with the Vertx approach to apparel, so when we saw their new line of backpacks and bags at SHOT Show last January, we were eager to test drive them. I’ve carried a lot of packs a lot of miles, so hype – even from a liked source like Vertx, doesn’t cut it for me.
When it comes time to carrying your gear, having the right bag to put it in can make a world of difference. I used to be a wilderness guide in the mountains of Colorado. I’ve been a bicycle courier in Downtown Dallas, and I’ve hunted and hiked in a wide variety of terrain. I’ve carted a laptop and all the other normal items in cars and airplanes all over the country. Many different backpacks accompanied me. Some were large, full of everything I needed to survive for weeks at a time. Some were small daypacks or laptop bags.
Since there’s no design that’s perfect for every situation, I weight my judgment heavily based on the life expectancy I see in a pack. I want to know how well made it is, how comfortable it is and how practically useful it is to me.
What I like to see is years and years of use ending in an honorable death. I had a very basic backpack from when I was a kid. I don’t remember the brand, but it just kept on kicking. A couple of years ago, I loaned that pack to my niece for a hike in the Colorado mountains. One of her boot soles came off less than half way through the eight mile hike. Her dad and my brother/partner here at SHWAT™ found the solution in my backpack. Or rather, my tried and true pack was confiscated and became an organ donor for my niece’s boots. Jonathan cut the leather bottom of the pack off, along with some straps, to fashion a make-shift sole and hold the boot together. That’s what brothers are good for… Yes, it did work. Quite well actually. That pack lasted around 25 years. And that is now my standard for durability.
In the quest for lightweight, some manufacturers sacrifice durability. To a degree, that is a fair trade off. I still have a mountaineering pack that is heavy by today’s standards. Truth is, I am glad for the newer, lighter packs, even if they don’t quite make the 25 year service life. When it comes to something I am going to carry around on a daily basis, lighter is definitely better.
The Vertx EDC Gamut pack is not a super light pack, but it is built to survive being put through the whole scope of life and not let you down. The pack measures 9 x14 x 24 and has a max capacity of 35 liters. A sizable pack, you can load it up as a go-bag or with all the camera gear you have to carry when you’re a SHWAT™ founder on a hunt. In case 35 liters isn’t enough room for some of your largest gear, the outer compartment can be unzipped and the attached g-hooks used to create additional room, though what you put in it will be exposed to the elements. It remains comfortable for me loaded with everything I’ve put in it so far. Depending on your shoulder strength and your intended use, you may want to consider putting a more substantial waist belt on it for carrying heavy loads over an extended period of time.
On the outside, the bag is true to Vertx apparel form: It’s discrete . Nothing about it screams “Look at me! I’m Mr. BA Tactical” These packs are stylishly low key in Urban Dallas, at the gym or at a three gun match.
On the inside, the practical utility of the Gamut Plus and it’s little brother the Gamut are on full display. While on the outside the pack is stealthy, inside, this is a “tacticaly” designed bag. There is no shortage of both zippered and open pockets built in, and it’s ready for a hydration pouch and communications gear. The usual molle webbing and padded storage for a laptop up to 17 inches is there. The placement and sizing of the compartments and pockets is excellent. My gear is always easily accessible and organized. There are a variety of internal zippered, mesh compartments along with pockets to keep smaller items like pens, knives, pistol mags (single stack mags fit best), and an assortment of similar sized gear. As we have come to expect from Vertx, there are lots of possibilities to stow your gear without excessive storage options for the sake of impressing you with the number of pockets that can be plastered on the surfaces.
What is truly unique about the Vertx line of packs and bags is the use of their patented “Tactigami” pouches and holsters. As of this writing, I don’t have any of these on hand since they were backordered. That said, the concept looks very promising. The idea is to have a universal holster and both pistol and rifle mag pouches that can be adjusted to your guns and magazines so it fits more like a custom holster and the mag pouches can be sized for your particular magazines. It’s a bit hard to describe in writing but when mine come in, I’ll make a video to show the specifics. These Tactigami pouches can be stowed in the pack in an almost infinite variety of ways since they attach via built in hook and loop material. They even have molle strips that attach the same way. I am intrigued by this system and hope they arrive soon.
So what about life expectancy? Expectancy really is the word here, since the packs are new to the market. Made from heavy duty woven Cordura and quality zippers, the only thing that gives me hesitation regarding the life expectancy is this: I found the stitching on a very small patch of soft material at the bottom of the shoulder straps coming loose on the first tug. Truth is, I haven’t even figured out why that little piece of material is even part of the pack, so that might yet prove irrelevant.
In the end, comfort, convenience, quality, and style are the names of the game. Vertx has demonstrated their continued commitment to these values with the EDC Gamut and Gamut Plus packs. To get the Gamut Plus you’ll spend about $220. Will this pack last 25 years? I don’t know, but it has the makings of it. I’m betting it will last long enough the price tag will be forgotten before this pack kicks the bucket. We’ll keep you updated on the Vertx Gamut Plus as time goes on via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.