When an extreme emergency or event occurs and the need arises to leave your location and travel to another, safer place, it is often referred to as a Bug Out. The bag or pack that you will take with you is referred to as a Bug Out Bag or BOB. Obviously, you will want to take as much with you as you reasonably can to assure your safe travel and survival. Enter the Elite Survival Systems Stealth Covert Operations Backpack. New for 2015, it has an inconspicuous sport-pack type style yet is well built for durability.
Imported from Vietnam, the Elite Survival Systems Stealth backpack is constructed of 500 Denier nylon with a chest strap that has a whistle built into it, a removable waist strap with zippered pockets on each side, and adequately padded backpack straps. It also has a rugged rubber handle at the top with which to lift it.
On each side, at the bottom, there is a mesh water bottle holder which perfectly fits a standard 16.9-ounce water bottle. This is important because there is no pocket for a hydration bladder. This is not a design flaw as you would not want a large water bladder in close proximity to your firearm.
As of now, the only color option available is black and gray, but according to Elite Survival Systems, there are plans to add additional color options by spring 2016.
The main design of the Elite Survival Systems pack is to discretely carry and store a short-barreled rifle or a taken-down rifle such as a Ruger 10/22 or a broken-down rifle of carbine length such as an AR-15 as well as a small padded pocket for a pistol. The primary firearm storage compartment is completely lined with Velcro loop so that you can customize the fit to your particular firearm.
The second and middle compartment is lined with both Velcro and PALS webbing for attaching magazine pouches or accessories. The third, outer compartment is smaller and has multiple pockets for pens, paperwork or for storing various pieces of survival gear.
Overall, the Elite Survival Systems pack is similar in size to a three day assault pack. Although it's primarily for discreet weapons carry and storage, it could also be used as a regular backpack for hiking etc. However, there are not a lot of attachment options on the outside of the pack, so you are basically limited to what can fit inside the backpack.
Total size of the Elite Survival Systems pack is listed as 25 inches x 12 inches x 9 inches which translates into a total capacity of 2700 cubic inches. The empty backpack weighs in at 4.375 pounds out of the box.
It has heavy-duty No. 10 covered zippers with quiet easy-pull tabs. The back panel is vented with a lumbar support built in. There are adjustable compression straps on each side. It comes with an adjustable, completely moveable, tie-down system and muzzle sleeve to secure your firearm. The Elite Survival Systems pack also has a quick access compartment for a handgun at the top of the backpack. It is well padded on the sides and bottom to protect your firearm.
The firearm storage compartment, if measured at an angle, is a tight 27 inches from corner to corner. However, any firearm would stress the material at both ends and could cause unnecessary wear as well as "printing" which might reveal that you are carrying something other than just a backpack. It is probably best to pack it with a gun with a total broken-down length that does not exceed the 25-inch length specified.
The sample that I received from Elite Survival Systems was black with grey trim. I decided to pack it as a three-day BOB.
In the main compartment of the Elite Survival Systems pack, I packed a broken down AR-15 rifle and a Glock 17 handgun. In the second compartment I packed three fully loaded 30-round magazines for the AR and four fully loaded 17-round magazines for the Glock.
I also added an Ontario RAT 3 knife, a civilian first aid kit for general scrapes and bruises and a military IFAK for gunshot or puncture trauma. I also packed a full cleaning kit with all the accessories for maintaining guns in the field.
In the mesh area of the second compartment, I packed a mini survival kit in a waterproof bag as well as two freeze-dried meals and three energy bars.
In the third and smaller compartment I packed:
- Heatsheats Emergency Bivy Sack ( For a sleeping bag)
- Heatsheats Emergency Blanket (For overhead shelter)
- Small, lightweight hammock
- Gear Repair Kit
- Petzel E-light
- Signal mirror
- Potable Aqua tablets
- Aquamira water filter straw good for filtering up to 50 Gallons
- 25 feet of Paracord
- Toilet paper
- Hand sanitizer
- 2 Sani-wipes
- Fire starting kit
- Diamond sharpener
- Arkansas fine stone
- Stainless steel cup
- 20 Dollar bill
- Rite-in-the-rain notepad
- Inka mini pen
- Two more energy bars
- Small pack of salted peanuts
- Small pack of M&Ms
- 12 pieces of hard candy (Lifesavers)
With everything packed, the total weight was around 35 pounds. For testing the pack, I hiked on various terrains including rugged, hilly countryside as well as on the road. I talked to the Fed-Ex delivery man and signed for a package while wearing the pack. While he may have wondered why I was hiking around with a backpack on, he did not seem at all alarmed by my appearance or the appearance of the Elite Survival Systems backpack.
The height of the loaded Elite Survival Systems pack when laying prone would make a great makeshift rifle rest, should the need arise.
Pros and Cons
Pros: The Elite Survival Systems Pack easily and comfortably carried the 35 pounds that was packed in it. The adjustments made the load ride quite well on the hips, just as a good pack should. The padding kept me from feeling the AR-15 against my back. The zippers are quiet, did not snag and the buckles are easy to fasten and unfasten. The rubber handle on top is very good for handling the pack when it is not being worn. It holds an adequate amount of gear for a three day jaunt.
It is very non-military and non-threatening in appearance. The material is heavy duty enough for the task but not so heavy as to add unnecessarily to the weight of the backpack. The water bottle holders are accessible while wearing the pack and are sized perfectly for a standard 16.9-ounce water bottle. The zippers on the main gun compartment have loops in them for a small lock for safety if there are little ones around, when in storage, or to keep inquisitive hands out of the most valuable space.
Cons: Obviously, the emphasis is on discreet weapons carry and storage but I wish it were a little bigger for more survival type gear especially in the third outer compartment. Also, the zippers only go down halfway on the third compartment. I would like to see them go all the way down for better access to the gear stored there.
The backpack straps hit me a little high where they attach to the pack, I would like to see adjustable backpack straps added to future versions of the pack. Also, I would like to see a rubberized bottom added to the pack for setting it down on wet ground as the padded bottom would probably absorb water and wick it up to where your weapon sets.
The Elite Survival Systems Stealth Pack is a well-designed, well-thought-out backpack that will get the job done. It is very low-key and durable. It performs as advertised and is especially well-suited for urban environments. With an suggested retail price of $224.95, there is no reason not to get one in which to carry your valuable rifle, pistol and survival gear. Highly recommended.