The Tactical Tailor “Urban Operator” pack is designed for every-day use as a daypack or a light patrol pack in an urban or cross-over environment. For those who want tactical functionality and toughness with a civilian appearance, this bag is ideal. The Urban Operator will keep you light, low-profile, and moving fast. With its padded laptop compartment, lack of conspicuous MOLLE loops and simplistic styling, the Urban Operator will likely be my go-to back for a good long time to come.
The nitty gritty details:
I confess, I am a pack junkie. I have backpacks in every size, shape, color, material and configuration. It seems like I can’t settle on just one all-purpose bag. I have daypacks, overnight packs, 3-day packs, hiking packs, patrol packs, range bags, duffle bags, map cases, and “three-way tactical deployment should bags” a.k.a Man-Purses. I have packs in desert tan, OD green, black and… okay, I only own things in those three colors.
obsession level of preparedness is okay. But I have realized the need to cut down on the inventory and focus my efforts. I realized that the one pack I was missing was the one I needed most.
I needed a pack that would work as well for civilian pursuits as for tactical exploits and could also work as a bug-out/get-home bag for everyday carry. Something no more noticeable than a Jansport “Right Pack”, but with all the features and tough functionality of a high-speed/low-drag assault pack.
–WARNING: Digression and Random Gear Facts Ahead:–
The Jansport Right Pack is the best-selling backpack in American history.
Up to this point I’ve been using the Spec-Ops Brand “T.H.E. Pack” which has performed famously. It is ultimately durable, reliable and holds plenty of gear and then some.
My only problem is its appearance and size.At 2500 cu in, it is just a little large for every-day use so I tend to cram it full of extra junk I don’t need, “just in case”. It’s a bit awkward and telling to be toting around a 40 lb ruck in Barnes and Noble. Do I really think I’m going to rappel out the window of a Starbucks, light a survival fire in the parking lot and then pull out a hatchet or e-tool and engage in the first battles of the Zombie Apocalypse? It COULD happen. But it’s not likely. And it’s not worth my time or effort to look that moronic.
Another problem with the “T.H.E. Pack” (and most other heavy hitters in the genre) is that it’s covered with MOLLE loops which scream, “This guy is SOOOO tactical! He probably even has a gun. Shoot him first!” If you’re a bad guy with one opportunity to assert your dominance as you hold-up the local C-store, who are you going to take out first? The everyday joe in the hoodie and local sports team cap, or the guy in the 5.11 pants with the giant MOLLE pack? Make yourself a hard target and keep quiet.
Part of the survival mindset is adaptability and blending in.
For military and law-enforcement types, our short hair, good posture, slight swagger, cargo pants and Oakley sunglasses, already screams “military/cop guy”. (I’m really working on “unlearning” some of this and being less ‘screamin’ eagle’ when I change over to civilian hours.) I don’t need my backpack to offer positive ID. And I want to be able to carry a laptop in my bag.
All of this has left me wondering, what if the Jansport and the SpecOps had a baby?
It appears they did.
Enter the Tactical Tailor “Urban Operator” bag. It’s roughly based on their “Modular Operator” bag, but it eliminates the full MOLLE coverage and adds a covert padded laptop compartment.As designed, there were only two areas where the Urban Operator didn’t meet my needs. Off the shelf, it still has Velcro patches for attaching a name tape and an IR flag patch. As with the MOLLE loops, this screams “military/cop”. Nobody else has big Velcro patches on their gear.
Secondly, I wanted to be able to use the bag for short outdoor adventures, too. With a carrying capacity of 1836 cu in (30 L) it is just a bit on the small side for an overnighter. I wanted to be able to hang my Snugpak sleeping bag or Big Agnes tent on the bottom. MOLLE loops on the bottom won’t show or announce my professional affiliations, but they can provide the option of carrying more gear when I need it.
The pack is available in Black, Coyote Brown, Foliage Green, MultiCam® and Ranger Green. I chose black for a non-military look.
I contacted Tactical Tailor online through their facebook page to see if they could do some customizing. They indicated they were game. So I visited their retail outlet near Fort Lewis in person. I told them what I wanted and they priced me out fairly.
For $10 they removed the Velcro patches and add 2 rows of MOLLE loops to the bottom. They did the work overnight for me, too. I bought the pack at around 1600 one day and picked it up with the custom work done at 1000 the next morning. There was still a faint silver chalk/grease pen outline from when they set it up for stitching on the Velcro. I rubbed it off in 20 seconds with my thumb and a bit of spit, leaving no trace anything had been there.
The pack is made from 1000 denier Cordura nylon. Basically that’s as tough as it gets and is the standard for all modern military gear. The nylon has a very basic water resistant backing, but it’s not fully rubberized. It will keep your gear dry in a bit of spit or a short shower, but I’d recommend dry-sacks. Besides, they keep your gear better organized, anyway.
The straps are not quite as thick/heavy as the Spec-Ops brand, but they seem to be of the same material. Maybe one gauge down in size?(Sorry, I’m not a tailor or textile expert. )Overall construction is sturdier than anything you’ll find on civilian gear and is comparable to most of your tactical gear. There’s a certain intangible element to TT’s stuff; you can tell it’s handmade and not mass-produced on an assembly line (Kifaru stuff is the same way). But I wouldn’t call it a lack of precision or care. If anything, it appears more care has gone into their gear. It may just not be as “steriley perfect” as Arc’Teryx or Osprey. On the other hand, it’s all made right here in Tacoma, WA, providing jobs to Americans.
Not a single person asked me about my military service. Previously I got all sorts of interaction from the routine “Thank you for your service” to seat mates wanting to know all about where I’d been, where I was going and what my job in the military was. Not a single interaction this time.
The only change was the backpack. Well, that and the fact that I consciously stopped adding “Sir” and “Ma’am” to every sentence. (I’ll keep it in uniform or on official business and for general politeness as in “Excuse me, Ma’am”, but out of uniform, along with everything else about me, it seems stilted when it’s attached to EVERY SINGLE phrase I say.)
Here’s what I was able to fit in the bag comfortably:
-Snugpak Jungle bag
-SeaLine drysack w/socks, skivvies and T-shirt
-Pro-Force drysack w/TSA-safe mini survival kit
-AMK Ultralight & Watertight 1st Aid Kit
-TSA-safe Hygiene Kit
My 14” ASUS laptop and a file folder with my military orders and itinerary fit comfortably in the padded compartment. The laptop charger and my cell-phone charger fit in the main compartment. I still had room to add my North Face Canyonlands hoodie and a paperback book.
I attached my Arc’Teryx Theta AR shell to the outside with the shock-cord. I also added a mini-carabiner to further secure it.
The pack fit easily under the seat in front of me on the plane and was light on my shoulders walking through terminals and around my business destination.
One other modification I made to the pack was the addition of a sternum strap. It doesn’t come with one, so I just used the one from my T.H.E. Pack. You can also buy them online from Blackhawk and Outdoor Research.
The Tactical Tailor “Urban Operator” pack is designed for every-day use as a daypack or a light patrol pack in an urban or cross-over environment. For those who want tactical functionality and toughness with a civilian appearance, this bag is ideal.
It holds slightly less than most 3-day assault packs, but this also makes it more likely you’ll carry it everywhere you go. The only things I left out from my previous iteration of an EDC/B.O.B/GHB were the tarp-tent, stove/cook-set, water filtration pump and puffer jacket. And do you really want to lug all that junk around town, anyway? The Urban Operator will keep you light, low-profile, and moving fast.
With its padded laptop compartment, lack of conspicuous MOLLE loops and simplistic styling, the Urban Operator will likely be my go-to back for a good long time to come.