Vanquest MOLLE Sticks: They Will Save Your Sanity

At a recent Gunsite event hosted by my friends at LaserMax, I met Alex. He’s a gear head from Vanquest. But he doesn’t have greasy fingernails or smell like brake fluid, because his gear specialty is packs, bags, totes, backpacks and cases of all sorts.

Anyway, Alex showed me a sooper-dooper nifty little invention that it sure to save your sanity: MOLLE Sticks.

Two five-inch MOLLE Sticks. Shown here not hooking anything up so you can actually see them.

Two five-inch MOLLE Sticks. Shown here not hooking anything up so you can actually see them.

If you own a bag with all sorts of canvas straps all over it, it’s most likely MOLLE compatible. I’m pretty sure MOLLE stands for Militaristic Odor-eaters for Linsday Lohan Lawn tractor Excursions.

Or maybe it’s MOdular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. You see, as cool as they are, our military Department of Namers-of-things always cheats on acronyms. There’s no “O” word in there, they just shamelessly borrow the one in “modular.”

Anyway, if you have a backpack, briefcase, camera bag, medical kit, bug out bag or MK-19 Automatic Grenade Launcher case with all these MOLLE straps, then maybe you’ve tried to hook some other pouch, canteen or perhaps a stuffed lemming to your bag. If you have, then you know it’s more annoying than all those home-made cartoons popping up all over Facebook.

Enter the sticks.

As opposed to a canvas strap that you have to wind through all those MOLLE loops, when there is no space whatsoever between the two surfaces, the MOLLE Sticks are made from slippery polymer. You simply push them through, in and out of the loops. When you hit the end, just push down the snap on the end to lock the stick in place.

Here I've used two MOLLE sticks to attach a Vanquest ISOPOD fold up pouch to my Vanquest Javelin VSlinger pack. Two other MOLLE sticks are shown beside.

Here I’ve used two MOLLE sticks to attach a Vanquest ISOPOD fold up pouch to my Vanquest Javelin VSlinger pack. Two other MOLLE sticks are shown beside.

It’s crazy easy to attach your MOLLE gear however you want – no matter how tight the loops are. And with these, the tighter the better, so your gear doesn’t jingle around.

The even better part is the instant removal. Whatever your reasons – simple pack reconfiguration, or maybe something really important like removing a modular medical kit – just unsnap the MOLLE Stick and it slides right out. The gear can be removed instantly.

Love, love, love these. You can get them from Vanquest here.

You don’t have to thank me, just consider this tip one of the many free benefits of Obamacare.

By the way, the pack and pouch shown here are two other nifty Vanquest products – the Vanquest Javelin VSlinger pack and the Vanquest ISOPOD fold up pouch. We’ll be reviewing those over at Bearing Arms.

Review: 5.11 Tactical COVRT 18 Backpack

5.11 Tactical COVRT 18 BackpackWe put the 5.11 Tactical COVRT 18 Backpack through the ringer. It’s one of three packs selected for our 2012 SHOT Show Challenge. We even ran the TSA gauntlet with it – sans detainment or other embarrassing incident. Our standard luggage was far less successful and every single piece got molested by the feds. Once at SHOT 2012, we stuffed it full of food, water, shooting stuff, and tech gear for Media Day at the Range. Then, for three more days, we crammed obscene amounts of SHOT Show marketing and press collateral into them. And a veritable boatload of cool giveaway goodies. Then we brought it all home. In other words, we subjected it to a regimen designed to create a high risk of pack destruction.

A look at the 5.11 COVRT 18

5.11 Tactical COVRT 18 Backback laptop sleeveThis is a full size combination cubicle-tactical bag – suitable for use in the field, on the road, or for your office junk. It’s got a really interesting combination of features that make it a great crossover pack for field gear AND electronics.  The COVRT is designed to “blend in.” Offered in 5 different color schemes, it looks right at home in any urban environment – by design. While loaded with plenty of tactical features like drag handle, concealed weapons compartments, QuickTact straps, and lots of external attachment points, the COVRT does not scream tactical. While it offers the features, it’s not nearly tactical looking enough for fully qualified mall ninjas. Only real covert operators and regular folks looking for a quality backpack need apply for this one.

Internal laptop sleeve

The COVRT 18 fits a 15″ MacBook Pro perfectly in the vertical position. Just for reference, this computer is just about 14.3 inches wide and 9.82 inches deep. Oh, and this sleeve is padded. The internal laptop sleeve also offers a strap that will hold smaller notebooks, netbooks, iPads and the like in place. it wouldn’t fit around the MacBook Pro, nor was it needed for larger devices like full size notebooks.

Dedicated sunglasses / goggles pocket

5.11 COVRT 18 sunglasses pouchThis is located at the very top of the pack behind the grab handle and is lined with soft fluffy material that won’t scratch your ESS Crossbow Eyeshields. The pocket is sized for just the eyewear and won’t fit extra large cases. The whole point however, is that you don’t need to lug your eyewear case around. This is a feature that sounds unimportant, but turns out to be really handy.

BBS weapons pocket

5.11 COVRT 18 BBS holsterThis pack uses the 5.11 Tactical Back-up Belt System. That allows you to carry a gun holster, magazine pouches, and other gear compatible with the system in a hidden pouch. The BBS pouch is accessible through zippers on both sides of the COVRT 18 so it’s handy for both righties and lefties. This weapon storage method appears to be more useful for transport and deep concealment – it won’t help you win any speed draw contests.  We tried it with a Glock 32 and a couple of spare magazines and there was plenty of room and the gun was held securely. 5.11 offers a variety of pouches compatible with the BBS System – holster, magazine carrier, handcuff pouch, collapsible baton pouch and a mace / pepper spray or flashlight pouch.

Quick access flex-cuff channel

Sorry but as this is a PG rated publication, we can’t comment on our use of flex cuffs while in Vegas. But if you’re a law enforcement, military or private security type, it’s a nice added touch to have quick access without rummaging through the pack.

Pockets, pockets, pockets…

5.11 COVRT 18 backback rearThe COVRT 18 offers enough pockets to keep us organization freaks busy for months. Main compartment; laptop sleeve; two mesh zipper pouches in the main compartment; hydration bladder compartment; four additional zipper-enclosed exterior pockets; and more. We’re pretty sure that the COVRT 18 can handle more gear than the Bat Utility Belt. As we recall, even Batmans belt did not have specialized storage for beverage containers (or smoke grenades) in exterior mesh pockets, Tide-To-Go pens, or business cards. Not that Batman ever needed business cards – those sexy tights were always a dead giveaway.

Straps

One of the standout features of the 5.11 COVRT 18 is comfort. Not only are the main straps wide and well padded, they make use of cinch straps to secure the main compartment load. An adjustable sternum strap helps keep the shoulder straps right where you want them. The integrated grab handle has both tactical and non-tactical uses. Mounted between the shoulder straps just before they connect to the pack body, the grab handle is thick and well padded. And sturdy. After three days of SHOT Show, the My Gun Culture staff had to resort to dragging me off the show floor in a comatose state. Oh, it’s also handy for quick moves and carries without fully mounting the pack over one or both shoulders. Nice feature – not just because it’s there, but because its well designed.

The final word

This is one of the most functional and diverse packs we’ve every used. Equally great for toting office gear around airports and shooting gear around the range. Love it.

How Much SHOT Show Bling Does the 5.11 COVRT 18 Hold?

How much SHOT Show bling can the 5.11 COVRT 18 Backpack hold without exploding?

  • 5.11 Tactical media kit – Rubberized USB drive for impact resistance in tough literary assault conditions
  • EyeShield Fact Sheet from Field Optics
  • Invitation to a special pre-screening of the Movie Act of Valor (coming out in theaters February 23rd) And yes, the movie is pretty awesome. Lot’s of hardware.
  • SilencerCo T shirt, size 2XL. Vegas food is a little on the rich side you know.
  • Colt’s Manufacturing USB drive media kit
  • (3) cardboard tubes containing 19 personalized and signed posters of trade show models for the nephews. It’s for them. Really.
  • Surefire E2 Defender light
  • Packet of HOT Hands hand warmers
  • (2) SWR T shirts, size large
  • Blade-Tech 2012 printed catalog. We’re in it, with a quote about the durability of the Looper Brand / Blade-Tech kydex reinforced belt
  • Backup printed SHOT Show pull-out floor map. You never know when your smartphone, SHOT Show navigation app, or the show floor wireless could go down – leaving you lost and stranded on the trade show floor for days.
  • (3) 5.11 Tactical hats
  • MacBook Pro – 15 inch
  • Macbook Pro power adapter kit
  • Passport
  • (4) Bass Pro gift cards
  • Nail clippers
  • (2) pads of SilencerCo Loud Mouth tear off targets
  • Advil bottle. Should have brought seven or eight of these.
  • Jar of Top of the Food Chain dry rub
  • (3) screening passes to see Act of Valor
  • SilencerCo 2012 printed catalog
  • Pocket lens cleaner kit from Field Optics
  • Box containing (3) EyeShields
  • Large stack of My Gun Culture business cards
  • Wallet stuffed with receipts. This boondoggle is tax deductible after all.
  • Fancy ink pen. Didn’t use it. Not even once.
  • Tide to Go Pen – used to remove coffee stains from a white shirt prior to a 9am meeting with Smith & Wesson.
  • CZ-USA Press Kit on CD-ROM
  • Standard iPhone USB cable and wall charging adapter
  • USB cable for the Mophie Juice Pack battery case (iPhone)
  • (2) pairs iPhone earbuds. We always carry a backup. Remember, 2 is 1, and 1 is none.
  • LuckyGunner.com gift cards
  • Stack of My Gun Culture publication profile brochures to help convince folks to subject themselves to invasive and silly My Gun Culture interviews
  • Extremely cool Act of Valor T shirt
  • (2) spare 123A batteries for the Surefire
  • Gargoyles Eyewear Striker ballistic defense glasses to protect against overly aggressive free bling seekers
  • $5.42 in loose pocket change

Not too shabby. And we didn’t even use the QuickTact accessory straps or side access Backup Belt System compartment.

There was more than one occasion where we wished we had used the flex cuff attachment points

5.11 SHOT Show Challenge Day 0: Playing with Fire

IMG_1810 (1)

It’s travel day and we had some mild concern about running the TSA gauntlet with all this tactical looking gear. Feeling emboldened by the sheer awesomeness of the SHOT Show, we decided to push our luck We’re heading to Vegas after all.

Glam Gun Girl shirt, 5.11 Rush MOAB Go bag, and plenty of attitude.

Fortunately no arrests or molestations occurred during this photo shoot.

Can 5.11 Tactical Gear Survive SHOT Show 2012?

We’re going to find out.

We’ve got three editors going to SHOT.

We’ve got three different 5.11 backpacks:

  • RUSH MOAB 10 Go Bag – The MOAB just looks tactical. An ambidextrous single strap design, it features a 1.5 liter hydration pocket, nifty hooks inside for your keychain, and a comms pouch and routing system which will allow us to stay in constant communication with our readers.
  • COVRT 18 Backpack – This is the mac daddy of our test trio. Holds a full scale laptop, full size hydration pack, a spacious main compartment, and lots of pockets for show goodies. Oh, it also features two beverage pockets in case Taser International has free beer in the booth again this year…
  • COVRT Z.A.P. (Zone Assault Pack) – The perfect bag for quick tactical adventures. Includes a 5.11 COVRT holster system, space for a hydration pack, and its comms systems compatible. What else does one need for a brutal day on the show floor?

TSA has 58, 401 agents looking for people traveling with tactical looking stuff.

We’ve got a “can do” attitude and plan on running the TSA gauntlet for you, our readers, even if we have to get molested in the process.

SHOT has 4,132,934 metric tons of trade show giveaways.

We intend to collect them all. And stuff them into these packs. If the gear can handle that challenge, we’re confident that it can handle a global economic meltdown or Zombie apocalypse, whichever comes first.

Stay tuned, we’ll be posting detailed reviews on each bag soon. And their ability to pass through TSA airport checkpoints unscathed.

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