Tools #1

I’m expanding the scope here just a little bit beyond education.

Anyone who knows me has realized a few things:

  1. I am exacting
  2. I hate compromise
  3. I research compulsively
  4. I have no predilection towards established standards

Add all this up, and I end up using tools and gear that seem strange to a lot of people. I get questions about the “stuff” I’m using on a regular basis. So, I thought that from time to time I’d share on here what sort of gear I’m using.

Let’s start with my bag:

USMC_Recon-APThis is a USMC ILBE Recon pack. Mine is surplussed, but these are still in active service. A couple of things about it before I get into why I chose it. It’s a relatively large day bag- and it’d look too large on many people, but I’m 6’1″ and have a long torso. It fits me fine. It has a internal sheet-frame, which makes it rigid, and the straps are properly built to allow you to carry weight comfortably. It has interior pockets for organization, and a removable divider between the main compartment and the lower compartment. MOLLE all over, though I keep it clean on the outside. The bag was designed by Arc’teryx, and produced under contract by Propper. It’s listed as being a APB03 bag, but there are at least two variants of this specific model (with the variations being primarily in the waistband), and at least two other lines of bags bearing that designation.

I’ve modified it very little- when it came, it was still full of Afghanistan. My shop vac took care of that. I had to re-install the frame panel, and re-adjust some straps that were uneven. No biggies there. The zipper pulls were terrible- made from lame cord and beat down. I’ve swapped them to Sterling Rope Co 2.75mm GloCord with CountyComm Cord ends, both in orange. I re-did internal pulls only with the GloCord, and cut those shorter to ease snagging.

Ideally, I would have liked to go with something smaller and lighter for an EDC bag, but since I work out of my bag, I have to be able to carry a surprising load of gear. Beyond that, I know that I tend to buy things and then keep them for a long time. The last backpack I bought was purchased nearly a decade ago, and I have some around that are substantially older than that- so it made sense to buy something rugged enough to last forever. In addition, though I lusted after a Goruck GR1 (which fits my requirements…), I couldn’t stomach the price. Yes, it’s very well made, and yes, it’s made in the US, but $300 was more than I could manage for a bag like this. My bag, by the way, is made in the US too (as it must be by law).

This is not a conventional bag, as my needs were not entirely conventional. If I had allowed myself to stay within the conventional thinking, I would have found some other, lesser, bag to use. And every day, when I would have pulled that lesser bag on and been annoyed by it’s lack of support or terrible zippers or poor durability, I would have been angry.

In teaching terms, by ignoring the conventions and focussing on what my goal in outcome was, I was able to find a solution to the problem that did not require compromise.