ITS Tactical Discreet Messenger Bag Gen2 Review
In a previous article I wrote about The Get-Home Bag and why having one with you when you’re out and about is a very important part of being prepared.
Besides the 5.11 PUSH Pack (the one I recommended as a Get-Home Bag in that article), I now have another bag that I would highly recommend and is the focus of my review for you today.
The bag is called the ITS Tactical Discreet Messenger Bag (Gen 2) and it’s designed and sold by the guys over at ITS Tactical.com.
I met the owner of ITS (Bryan Black) last year in Vegas at the SHOT Show and he’s a stand-up guy. I’ve been following his blog and work for a while now and they have a great community and some fantastic resources over there so be sure to check them out (Note: I was not paid or given the bag or compensated in any way for this review).
ITS Discreet Messenger Bag Gen 2 Review
My first impression of the bag was the obvious quality. Entirely hand made in the USA from 1000D Cordura, this bag seems like it will take a beating (and then some) and still be around for years to come.
In keeping with its name (ie “Discreet”), from outward appearance it really doesn’t display any overly “tactical” features. There’s no MOLLE webbing, camouflage, paracord or Velcro and looks like your standard messenger or laptop bag. However, when we take a look under the hood, you’ll see that it has a bunch of great features for you tactical junkies out there looking for a great way to carry your gear discreetly.
The dimensions of the bag are 15″ long x 5.5″ deep x 12″ tall and it’s available in black, coyote brown and foliage (the coyote brown version is featured in this review).
Looking under the hood
Here are some of the main features of the bag:
On either side of the bag are bottle holders large enough to fit a standard Nalgene bottle. Also included with each pocket is a removable strap secured by Velcro that will help to retain your bottle if things start to bounce around.
External Velcro field w/ discreet cover
On the outside panel you can peel away a cover revealing a 4″ Velcro field for you to attach unit/team/group patches, reflecting patches etc.
Abrasion-resistant lined bottom
On the bottom of the pack you’ll find a rubbery material (called SlipNOT) that is highly abrasion resistant. Also, there’s a removable weave of elastic shock cord which is great for holding your jacket, gloves or other extra clothing.
Two interior “drawbridge” style pockets
Opening the bag’s flap reveals two paracord drawbridge pockets (7.5″ wide x 9.5″ tall) that contain two elastic-retention magazine pouches and a large rear pocket.
These are large enough to fit 4 AK mags or 8 AR/M4 standard mags or Magpul Pmags. They also can fit multiple handgun mags as well as a host of other gear.
On the inside of the outer flap you’ll find a 14″ x 12″ zippered marine-grade vinyl map pocket — perfect for getting home by foot if the occasion ever arose.
Multiple interior pockets
In the main section of the bag you’ll find three inner pockets: a central pocket for your larger gear, a padded laptop pocket that will fit most 15″ laptops, and a deep-looped velcro lined and HDPE-reinforced concealed pocket.
The small macbook fit without issue in the laptop pouch but my 15.5″ Toshiba only fit in the main area:
The concealed pocket is perfect for a velcro holster (also available through ITS) and pistol.
Top lid zipper access
One feature that I really like with this bag is that the concealed pocket is easily accessible through the top lid via a zippered access. It allows for quick (relative) and discreet drawing of a pistol.
Another feature which I really liked with 5.11′s Push Pack which this bag also has is a retaining strap that you can secure around your waist so the bag doesn’t bounce around if you’re on the run — perfect for catching a train or running from zombies.
Secret hidden pocket
What you’ll also find built into this bag is a secret compartment/pocket. They actually did a great job at making this compartment invisible to even prying eyes. Since it’s to our advantage that people don’t know where this is (sorry guys) you’ll have to purchase the bag to get that info.
Overall I really love this bag. There are however a few things which I would improve or change:
Although the bag has a fairly wide (2″) shoulder strap, if there’s a lot of gear in it with a fair amount of weight it can still get quite uncomfortable after lugging it around for some time. I think having a padded section of the strap would remedy this.
Webbing retention bands
On some of the webbing/straps (most notably the waist strap), once you adjust it down to your waist there will be a good amount of it that just hangs and flops around. This can get annoying so it helps to use something to secure it (like electrical tape as seen in the third picture of this article). It would be better to have something like a two-inch wide elastic webbing that is part of the strap that you can tuck this extra slack under/in.
Discreet MOLLE webbing
One final thing that I think would be pretty cool is instead of having only that 4″ Velcro field under the cover (see above) is to have some MOLLE webbing hidden under there as well (integrated with the Velcro). This would allow you to hang some of your MOLLE compatible accessories on the outside of the bag if you so wish.
I do get that this would nullify the whole “discreetness” thing, but if you’re taking that panel off anyways for team/unit patches you’re not necessarily looking for discreetness so why not have some MOLLE available as well?
I love that the bag is entirely hand made in the USA.
Over the past few years I’ve seen a resurgence in excellent workmanship and products coming from small US-based companies like ITS Tactical. Back in my grandfather’s day, being made in the USA carried with it pride and excellent quality. When the big corporations took over and it was all about volume I think we as a country lost something. It’s nice to see these up-and-coming US-based companies bringing quality back. This bag (and other products ITS offers) are no exception.
If you’re interested in purchasing a bag for yourself you can find it over at ITS Tactical.