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

First Impressions

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:

Bottle holders

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.

Map pocket

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.


Retaining strap

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.

Recommendations

Overall I really love this bag. There are however a few things which I would improve or change:

Comfort

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?

Final Thoughts

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.

Copyright © 2014 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

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32 Comments»

Comment by sandie
2012-12-09 09:19:34

This bag looks great, one problem is, if I left that in my Cherakee, it would be taken for a camera bag or gun bag and someone would be on it in no time flat. One good thing that normally no one wants is a plastic bucket of cat litter with a lid…. It is hard to tote, but you could put the bag inside. Or put the contents inside the bucket, and fill the bag as you need. Just an idea.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-12-09 17:02:53

Thanks for the idea Sandie.

 
 
Comment by Kate
2012-12-09 09:19:48

I really like the idea of this bag and would like to add one “dream” component. Not long ago I was heading to the mountains of Colorado and was carrying a shoulder sling bag like this design. I had it over stuffed with a computer and water bottle and overall I bet it weighed more than 25 lbs. This really throws your back out after awhile. I stopped into a little weird closeout store and found this nylaprene backpack…it had all sorts of secret pockets you could access from the sides of the back pack and also three slot compartments from the top which could hold any size laptop. I am thinking with the ideas presented here, you could really blend these two designs and include all the benefits of this bag but in a lightweight backpack form. I am a single mom of 2 kids and in no way can I carry a shoulder bag successfully. I know that what is coming is going to be more of a mess and come surprisingly quicker than we could ever dream. I work for the airlines and it is quite likely I could be elsewhere and need to get us home. If you come out with a nice back pack model, I will be the first one to give it serious consideration….the company that made the nylaprene laptop backpack is BUILT if you want to see what I am talking about. Thanks for all the motivational thoughts you present. It keeps me on my mental toes.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-12-09 17:02:25

That’s a great idea Kate. I think that would be a fantastic option to have some hidden straps or some way of configuring the shoulder strap to carry it like a backpack.

 
 
Comment by Don
2012-12-09 10:57:03

A suggestion from a photographer, about carrying expensive equipment that needs to be concealed as a theft deterrent – get a padded diaper bag. No one wants to steal dirty diapers. Some have bottle holders for baby bottles. Hint: replace your nagalene bottles with lexan baby bottles, sans nipples (unless you’re kinky). The bags are usually dividied into sections and some have elastic attachments on the flap, usuful for small items (like penlights, swiss army knives, etc.). You can get messenger bag styles and backpacks.

 
Comment by Dennis Lundberg
2012-12-09 12:42:07

Been teaching survival preparedness for 23 years…and I do appreciate the information that your site generates for those looking for help in the days that lie ahead. But after 23 years of trial and error I have found that bags no matter how great they look or function, they are still a target in shtf times…If you are trying to get home from your job or have miles to go to get there, and your a MAN OR A WOMAN you dont want to be seen with a bag especially if you have waited for the dust to clear before you head home. I have found that I can wear a very good tactical bag under a COAT, A SWEATER, or even a normal SHIRT without it being exposed to a grab and run, or to those who would be looking for tactical bags to steal. They are light weight, have a pocket for everything including a water bottle and food. The pockets are up front and easy to get at. They can sit behind the seat of a truck for years, or in a trunk without taking up alot of space. They are cheap, functional, washable, durable, hands free, and without a doubt the best bang for your dollar that I have found. So for those of you who are looking for something that is very effective as an in your (CAR OR TRUCK OR VAN stow away until I need it tactical bag) & you can find them at SALVATION ARMY STORES, garage sales, or even bought new for less than 30.00 dollars. Forget the bags, and look into your husbands old fishing gear for one of the best (tactical bags) you could find. TRY LOADING UP AN OLD FLY FISHING VEST with your get me home gear, you’ll be glad you did.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-12-09 17:00:28

Great tip Dennis, I like that idea (in fact, I think I’ll add one to my kit for my car).

The issue I have though is my laptop isn’t going to fit in a fly-fishing vest. I need something for day-to-day work/travel that can carry my “normal” gear as well. Heading to the office with a fly-fishing vest may not be the solution for me.

The purpose of my Get-Home Bag is to get me safely home within a 24-hour time frame and my work & daily travels never put me out further than this — even if I had to go by foot. If a sudden SHTF scenario were to happen, I’m not convinced I would become an instant target for the “zombies” within this 24-hour window just because I have a bag. There will be plenty of others with bags around me as well (purses, backpacks, briefcases and so on) and by the time people figure out life is going to get tough and some may be considering taking advantage of others, I’ll hopefully be already home.

You mentioned, “But after 23 years of trial and error I have found that bags no matter how great they look or function, they are still a target in shtf times”. Is there a specific experience you’ve had or read about that brought about this opinion? (I’m not trying to be argumentative here, I’m just really curious why you feel this is the case so if I’m wrong I can correct it)

thanks!

- Erich

 
 
Comment by Jerry
2012-12-09 12:50:30

Way too expensive.

 
Comment by MIKE
2012-12-09 13:37:18

350 for a small bag like this ? Where is the intelligence ?

Nice bag but not that nice.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-12-09 16:32:00

Hey Mike,

Appreciate the comments and the visit.

Yeah it isn’t cheap but neither is the quality. It’s tough nowadays to make gear with excellent materials, stitching and workmanship and have it made here in the States without paying a premium price — I really avoid buying from China if I have a choice.

And yes, there ARE plenty of cheaper bags out there, many of which I’ve purchased over the years and many of those have fallen apart or have otherwise worn out. I have no issues where you buy your gear, if it works for you then by all means. But as far as it not being “intelligent” by purchasing one of these I think that’s a matter of opinion and in my opinion you get what you pay for.

 
 
Comment by A.N.
2012-12-09 13:40:30

Way too expensive is an understatement.

 
Comment by Christine
2012-12-09 14:29:43

After 27 years as a medic, I have no back,hips,or knees left. Carrying all my weight on one shoulder or another is not an option, neither is a backpack. I found a molle vest at a garage sale that carries tons of items, with potential for tons more. It has a detatchable sidearm holster, and carries a 3ltr hydration pack inside the back. It cost me $20.00. Even new on Amazon, it is only $89.00. The weight is evenly distributed and very easy to wear. I have 2 empty compost bags (clean, of course!) in the back of my car. One holds my vest, the other holds winter clothes, jackets, socks, and blankets. They are stapled shut, and the blanket bag is on top of the vest bag. No way possible to know that there are supplies there. The bags double duty as rain gear. LOVE the fishing vest idea. Backpacks and side-carry bags are so over-rated!

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-12-09 16:19:46

Christine,

Some good points you make. Keep in mind that this and other bags like it are for every-day discreet use. Carrying a molle vest while excellent as an option to keep in your car may not be the best for walking around the city.

 
 
Comment by harold
2012-12-09 15:55:46

I don’t get the advantage of carrying AR or AK type magazines, how discreet are you going to be with this bag and a military weapon?

Well, I guess people won’t notice the bag…

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-12-09 16:17:02

Hey Harold,

Since this bag is marketed to military operators (as well as civilians), having this functionality is useful (but as you say, once the rifle is out there is no longer any need for discreetness).

However, keep in mind there are many short-barreled or collapsible entry weapons (including the M4s with 7″ barrels) that when broken down it would easily fit in this bag. Having a place to store both rifle and magazine is especially useful for contractors/military personnel that require discreetness but still need to carry “insurance”.

 
 
Comment by Pineslayer
2012-12-09 21:07:13

Very nice bag, but at $349, ouch. I buy American made products whenever possible, but ouch.

 
Comment by charles
2012-12-09 23:05:33

Just went to the TSI page and they’re asking $350 per bag. That’s not practical, is there something more economical?

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-12-10 00:28:11

Hi Charles,

Another bag that I love as a Get-Home Bag (which is a lot cheaper) is the 5.11 PUSH Pack This has been my primary bag.

 
 
Comment by Dennis Lundberg
2012-12-10 01:40:28

Eric Even though I/we have many backpacks and bug out bags filled with GEAR and other essentials. WE discovered that having a BAG or BACKPACK aroused interest (when we did scenario excursions.) When we encountered other individuals on our trip home they would casually ask where we were going or why we were outfitted. We soon realized that even a bag slung around our shoulders would heighten interest in what we were doing…after alot of trial and error, I took an old fly fishing vest and loaded ALL of the gear from my backpack into it…I then placed a water bottle in the back water proof pocket (NICE PLACE FOR A LAPTOP) and a couple of can of tuna and a few packages of raman noodles ect. We then drove 12 miles from our home and at the farthest point that we would normally be if anything bad could or would happen. I put a light wind breaker jacket over the fly fishing vest and started the 12 mile trek back to our home…Nobody even suspected what I was doing even though I passed alot of folks and even had one guy give me a ride for 3 miles…He never knew what I had or what I was doing. The fishing vest has great support over the shoulders and leaves my hands totally free…the weight is evenly supported and the windbreaker gives me more layered cold weather support. The windbreaker fit nicely in the fishing vest and was not left behind in the car accidentally. The vest has three plastic rings that I could hang items like a whistle or leatherman etc that I felt I might need quickly without having to open a bag or take off a backpack. My 45 was also concealed in the vest and no one suppected that I had it.

I guess I could go on about the fishing vest but I know your time is valuable and I don’t want to sound like a know it all…I am a student of PREPAREDNESS and will always be. I find myself exploring many sites on the net to see what others have found and what will and will not work…some sites are full of BS and well, lets just say they have not been “downrange” if you catch my drift. I do appreciate sites like yours because of the interest you take in what you are doing and the time you take to listen. Maybe someday we will talk about toilet paper and what we have done to SOLVE that eternal question.

Take care, keep a good horse saddled and remember always
the definition of HORSE SENSE…that which the DEAR LORD gave to horses that keeps them from BETTING on people.

From the unpublished book: HORSESENSE, NONSENSE, and COMMONSENSE one man’s journey into family preparedness.

iamdlogan

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-12-10 10:20:35

Dennis,

Thanks for the explanation and suggestions. I agree with you and think the vest is a perfect choice — for a rural area. However for day to day use in urban/city areas (where I am much of the time) I still don’t think you’ll see anyone walking around with a fishing vest. That will stand out and attract a lot more attention on the streets than this (or another messenger-type) bag would.

I should have clarified it a bit more in the post but my idea of a get-home bag is not something I just leave in my car. It’s something I try to carry with me at all times if possible. That way if something were to happen where I can’t reach my car/vehicle I still have the bag with me. The vest (in the city at least) will not allow me to do this.

 
 
Comment by Ginny
2012-12-10 10:03:18

I agree, Erich, poor choice – way too expensive! Prepping stretches the budget as it is, and that kind of investment is just too steep.
We just purchased this bag: http://www.lapolicegear.com/jumbo-bailout-bag.html and while it is less discrete, it can handle a lot. I love purchasing american made, but not when it is more than four times the price of something that I find to be a reasonable substitute.
LOVE the idea of a vest, though I’m a small person, so I don’t have as much “space” to carry. Sounds like it might be practical to have a bag and have the vest stuffed into it, and then when something happens, you can unload the back, load the vest, and discard the bag to reduce visibility.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-12-10 10:22:53

Thanks for the comments Ginny.

 
 
Comment by Dennis Lundberg
2012-12-10 10:56:13

Erick, you must have missed the “I wore a light weight dark blue windbreaker OVER the fishing vest…as I said NO ONE even knew that I had it on. Not to be combative, this is just another point of view…the folks that we have taught just dont have the $ that some folks have…We have tried to do the best we can on very limited budgets for all of those who work with us. We take their budget and get the biggest bang for the buck that we can for them. This idea is Just one of the ones we came up with for those who cannot afford great gear and need to spend more dollars on what goes into it. A great bag with many pockets and a great look just comes up a little short if you can only afford a match book of matches and a pack of gum, after you buy it.
Anyway, thanks for the chat…keep up the good work!
iamdlogan

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-12-10 13:20:20

Dennis,

Thanks for the clarification my friend. I did miss the windbreaker part. Still, for me, going to the corporate job I’ll eventually need to take off the windbreaker and having a fishing vest simply won’t work (or if it’s summer here in New England with 100% humidity). Otherwise, I really love the idea and I think many will benefit from it.

I totally get the price issue and I understand not everyone is going to get or even want this bag. It’s an option, like many other options out there. I just wanted to show a possible option and review a nice bag while doing it.

Again, I REALLY DO appreciate your comments (as well as all the others) and feedback. It’s this type of exchange that allows us all to learn.

thanks again,

- Erich

 
 
Comment by Kassi
2012-12-11 08:37:09

I was thinking instead of the electrical tape for the waistband, there is a velcro type tape made for staking plants in the garden that is not nearly as bulky as regular velcro and sticks to itself when wrapped around.

 
Comment by Polygonal/
2012-12-11 21:10:20

Yes it is pricey. But botique quality costs money. A Tumi bag from Japan of this type will run you just over 500.00. It’s one of the few that come close in quality. I have both. And I really like ITS for the concealed carry options. And Zulu Nylon can make you anything your mind can dream up for this bag. Most of you would not bat an eye of dropping 900.00 on a Kimber… but 300.00 for a 100% handmade US product sends you running for the trees :) just think about. And another plus is a few years of extreme use your bag has a seam rip out. It will be fixed post haste no questions asked. Get one of these ” Tacticool Import Companies” to do this? it won’t happen. Buy less ans buy USA! I have really tried to do this when possible. take care all, P.

 
Comment by Clifford
2012-12-13 12:12:22

I drop 900 on Kimber but it shoot and kill somebody. A bag just lay there like a sak of taters and dont do nuthin. Whut gude is thet….?

 
Comment by iris
2012-12-18 17:50:15

Just a suggestion…make a t tent with a sleeping bag base that can be tied to tree branches but line the sleeping bag with your assorted bag ingredients so that it could be carried onto one’s back with the bag, gun, map, zippered in so that it is reachable. Only because I am 67 and old. Old people lack the arm muscle power due to lack of potassium, thus, the back.

 
Comment by iris
2012-12-18 20:47:14

I think a fly vest is an excellent idea. Every time I hike in a bush, I always add acouple of fish hooks to my lapels. If I was to carry a gun or knife, which I don’t, but if I did, it would be on my belt. An emergency bag, like this, would do, if left in a closet at home or an office (minus the gun). Everyone should have an emergency bag of some sort. This bag allows you to use a back pack plus a shoulder bag. Even if someone was to rob you of it, at least you had something to barter away to get from point a to point b. The most important item I would carry would be water & toilet paper, a container & lid and several packages of bean sprouts which grows within 48 – 72 hours and a small flashlite. When I hike, I travel lite, most of it is water and what a weight!

 
Comment by bob
2013-01-14 11:23:25

I had a bag not exactly like this but while shopping in the 70s I ran in to a over bag bag called a weekender it was two thick strapd and two bag size main parts on each side one side had one 16″ x 12″ x 3″ and two smaller 8″ x 12″ x 3″ the other side was two of the big bags and a 12″ x 6″ x 2″ all had zipper and flap over straps it was desigmed with 8 snap in buckles with belt sinch on each side and made to go over a breif case for executives to carry a week end or over nights cloths and shoes I found it handy to keep loaded with easy pack thin close that wash in a sink with wisk or woollight as a great ad on for impromto trips thought it might make a good adition on you bag set up

 
Comment by Mike P
2013-03-05 13:20:33

I have this very same bag in coyote color as well and love it. I know a lot of people will be turned off by cost alone but it’s important to take everything into consideration. How important is quality? Are products made in America important to you?

I couldn’t always afford this bag but I saved up and got it when I could. It’s an extremely tough bag with a lot of features and I’m sure I’ll have it for a long time.

There are certainly some people who will never be convinced that spending “this kind of money” is a good idea on a bag when you have so many other options but if you think like I do and are concerned with both quality and supporting those who do good work, save up and get this bag.

Oh and if you can’t afford new, I have seen some for sale on a few forums online. I’m not one to always buy new but I wasn’t able to find this used anywhere when I was ready.

Thanks for the great review!

 
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