Pack Add-ons

Today’s tactical packs are leaps and bounds beyond what was available even a few short years ago. Gone are the days of an ALICE Pack with extra pouches secured with zip-ties or parachute cord. Nowadays, modern packs are specifically designed to readily accept a wide range of aftermarket accessories and customizations.

Of course, these endless variations causes a question to be raised: “What do I really need?” Almost every tactical gear company offers a nearly endless line of MOLLE compatible accessories. Most are high quality and worthy of your attention. Others are not worth the effort and money. If you are in the market for a new pack, consider what activities you will be using the pack for most and what items you will carry on a regular basis when you’re thinking about add-ons. Here are some of the more popular choices:

Medical Kit

When selecting a medical kit, it is important to determine what specific medical supplies you may need, what you are trained to use, and whether you will be carrying just personal or squad supplies. These kits are available in a wide range of sizes, and knowing this information will assist in making the right selection. It is best to look for kits that secure tightly to prevent losing supplies. It is recommended this kit be placed in an easy to access location (preferably where it can be reached with either hand) and marked with the universal “Red Cross” symbol to allow for fast identification.

Magazine Pouch/Ammo Storage

You can never have too much ammunition, especially when the time comes to use what you have in quick succession. This is what a makes the ability to carry ammunition one of the most sought after additions to any pack. Most pouches provide a means of carrying additional loaded magazines, and can generally fit either rifles or pistol magazines. Other designs focus on securing individual loads, such as shotgun slugs or hand grenades. The most popular designs will utilize wide, open-top designs secured by bungee type straps (rather than full closure flaps and hard inserts) to prevent collapse when empty.

Radio/Phone Pouch

Communication is vital to any mission, and it pays to have a radio or smartphone close at hand. Therefore you want to make sure your pack has a dedicated place where you can carry and secure your primary means of communications. However, you need to be careful to select the proper sized pouch. If the pouch is too loose, your radio or holster will slip out when you least expect it. If it is too tight, you will find it difficult to access or reholster.

Hydration Options

Fortunately many packs come equipped with drinking tubes and bladder pouches built in. If your pack is not equipped with this option, you can still add a pouch for water bottles or even attach a full hydration system via an exterior mounting device. It is important to make sure that bladders will not bleed condensation into other compartments, and that exterior-mounted systems will not block access to other important items.

Long Gun Storage

One of the most useful accessories available is the long gun scabbard. Many users do not think of this option, being so accustomed to carrying their long gun in their hands, slung over the shoulder, or even in a tactical sling. While each of these options have their advantages (especially when you may need to utilize it at a moment’s notice), there is something to be said for having your rifle or shotgun packed away and secured. Not only is it easier to manage the obstacles of a trail, it greatly reduces fatigue on long hikes or difficult terrain. Most scabbards are not model specific and designed to fit a long gun “style” instead – in other words precision, AR, or shotgun. However, it is important to check the fit of your specific firearm as aftermarket add-ons such as lights or optics can interfere with fit, mounting, and ability to access the long gun quickly.

Handgun Holster

Depending on the pack’s specific design, there are several options for storing a weapon. For backup or concealed carry, consider holsters that mount inside primary compartments of the pack. When picking a specific location to store it in the pack, consider areas with Velcro or magnetic closures for quicker access. For primary firearms, look for holsters that attach to shoulder or waist straps.

Go Bag

There are times when the full-size pack will be too large for the mission you have at hand, but the equipment you need is still too much to be carried in pockets or on your belt. This is when you will appreciate having a small go bag available. In most cases, this smaller go bag will mount to the exterior of a larger main pack in the front or bottom. Although placement is primarily a matter of personal preference, it is important to make sure it does not interfere with your ability to move freely and that the overall set up is well balanced.

Carabiner Attachment Points

No matter what accessories your pouch may have, there always seems to be one more item you need to carry. When this happens, a simple carabiner is often the answer (if your pack is equipped with points to which they can be attached). Most tactical packs include both MOLLE straps and D-rings, both of which are suitable for attaching additional items.

Velcro Panels

These panels were originally intended for displaying name tapes, unit patches, and similar forms of identification. This is valuable when you need to provide other groups your information quickly. When selecting a pack, look for Velcro panels that are large enough to accommodate a wide variety of patches.

What kinds of accessories have you added to your pack to help carry more items?

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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