Many folks assume, when I tell them I was in the U.S. military, that I was in at the time when they still had a mounted unit– horses! Nope, I’m not quite that old just yet. Back when I was in the military, we had some boring OD green equipment. Everything was OD green in color– our uniforms, A.L.I.C.E. geat, well, just everything, except out boots, and they were all leather, which we had a shine on the toe that you could see your reflection in, plus something almost unheard of today. You could actually have your boot re-soled. In today’s society, we are a throw away people. When something wears out, we toss it in the trash.
I have a lot of tactical gear. If you ask ten different people what “tactical” means, you’ll get ten different answers. I have gear and uniforms in various types of camo colors and patterns. I still prefer the old A.L.I.C.E. web gear, where everything– canteens, knife, magazine pouches, and my butt pack (my favorite)– fits on my pistol belt. As little as these packs are, you can carry a lot of gear inside of them. They are water-resistant, too. Yes, I do have tactical assault vests and all manner of packs. I have several Bug Out Bags, too.
This leads us to the Bug Out Bag for urban use. In downtown Chicago, you would draw unwanted attention if you were wearing a military-type backpack that was camo in color and design. Instead, you want to remain a “gray man” and draw as little attention to yourself as possible, especially in an emergency situation. So, an overly large military-type backpack would look out of place, especially in a three-piece suit or for a lady wearing a dress. You want something that doesn’t scream “tactical” in any way, shape, or form.
The folks at SOG Knives  have only recently come out with a line of backpacks for various uses. Some are designed for outdoor activities in the boonies, some for everyday use, and some were especially designed for urban use. It isn’t unusual to see today’s executives with either a briefcase in hand or a small backpack that they are either carrying or wearing. The same goes for many in the medical profession. You want to be “ready” in the event you might have to bug out, but you don’t want to draw attention to yourself or your gear.
One of the small towns near me has a lot of people riding bicycles. Some do it for ecological reasons; it’s good for the environment. However, some do it for the fun of it, and many have lost their driver’s licenses, too. Still, there are a lot of people riding bikes in this one little town, and most riders will usually have on some kind of backpack to carry whatever it is they need to carry. One of my daughters is the security manager at one of the big box stores in the area, and whenever they see someone wearing a backpack, it draws their attention. It screams “shoplifter”, and in many cases that is what it is all about.
SOG Knives sent me their EVAC SLING 18  backpack for testing, and it is, as the name suggests, a sling pack. It isn’t your traditional backpack that you put on over both shoulders. Instead, it is a pack that slings over one shoulder, and it is fastened around your waist. It is a great idea for those who ride bikes all the time. It is also a great idea for today’s busy executive, instead of the old fashioned briefcase that ties up their hand(s) when moving about the downtown area where they work.
The EVAC pack has several various pockets, with the main compartment large enough to carry your laptop, survival gear, or even a concealed firearm, as well as clothing. There is also a top pocket that is molded (hard) for storing things that might easily break, like a spare pair of eye glasses or your cell phone.
The padded shoulder strap has a quick release buckle, and there is a stabilizer strap for carrying heavy loads. The material the pack is made out of is something called Kodra 500D Nylon, and it is pretty tough stuff, but it is also light-weight as well, and it has a coating to help resist rain or snow from getting your gear wet that you are carrying.
The EVAC pack also has lashing points, if you need to attach additional carry items that won’t store inside the pack. I also like the large zipper pulls that make pulling them open or closed easy, even with gloved hands.
The pass-through main compartment is easy to access from either side, which is important, especially if you have stored your handgun in the pack. There is no fumbling to get to it from either side of the pack.
While the pack doesn’t look all that big and is not capable of storing a lot of gear inside of it, it can hold a lot of stuff inside, if you pack it right. My days of riding bikes is over. However, my doctor rides his bike almost daily, weather permitting. Sometimes, even in inclement weather, he rides. I put my doctor to work, testing the pack for me while riding his bike. The pack worked great, too. It was out of the way, yet very secure.
Over the course of several days, I spent time walking my rural road with the pack, and I would stuff various gear into the pack to see just how well it could hold things. The pack stayed high and dry and secure on my back. This was my first experience actually using a sling pack. All of my other packs are regular backpacks or my military butt pack. I will say that I was more than a little impressed with this little pack. Needless to say, coming from SOG Knives, it is top-notch in all respects.
The outside, front compartment of the pack is handy for storing some energy bars or for packing your lunch in on the way to the office. There is a special compartment in the main area, where you can attach a Velcro holster for a handgun, too. I like the quick detach clips, in the event you need to take the pack off in a hurry. It only takes a second to get free of the pack.
I guess, in my opinion, the nicest feature of the pack is that it just looks like an ordinary sling pack, and no one would have a clue as to the gear your are packing inside. A weapon, extra food, radio, cell phone, or even a hydration bladder can fit inside for drinking water. These days one just never knows what emergency might pop up. Just the other day the President told Americans that they are on their own in an emergency, so having this pack at your job is a good idea just in case you have to hoof it home. The governments of Germany, Cezh Republica, and Hungary told their citizens to have food and water on hand for an emergency, but our President came right out and said we are on our own. Take note and prepare accordingly!
As I’ve said numerous times, quality never comes cheap. The SOG EVAC SLING 18 Pack retails for $149.99, and it is quality! It will give you many years of use, where a lesser pack won’t last very long at all and you’ll have to replace it in short order. The EVAC pack comes in all black or a neutral gray color. Neither will draw any unwanted attention when wearing them.
If a big regular backpack is too much pack for you and you want something that will still suit your needs, be it for just everyday use and wear, heading to your job, or for a “tactical” bag that isn’t tactical in appearance, you need to take a close look at this offering from SOG Knives, and if this particular bag doesn’t suit your needs, then check out some of the other new packs that SOG has to offer.
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio