I am not big into wearing “tactical” clothing or carrying around tactical accessories. Yes, I do wear a tactical Wilderness Instructor belt, but I also wear my shirt untucked and no one can notice. I don’t like signalling to others that I am anything but a normal guy, and I feel like law enforcement, fellow gun owners, and bad guys can all recognize the “shooter’s vests,” tactical backpacks, tactical pants, tactical hats, tactical shirts, etc etc etc.
However, as more and more mass shootings take place and the more I am with Sedagive?’s kids in public, the more I wanted to carry a trauma kit around. You never know when a kid is going to take a bad spill, or you’ll come across someone who’s suffered an injury (especially since I am commuting about 45 miles a day).
In the worst case scenario you might have to respond to a shooting in public.
I started looking for bags that were big enough to hold what I needed but not so big I wouldn’t carry it. I also needed something that was durable, and something that had a lot of sections and pockets.
In the end, I wound up getting a tactical bag. At least I got the least offensive color I could find.
First off, the UTG bag is about as big as I would go. For my use it’s a little too big, but the bag’s size has come in handy during a few non-emergency situations.
The bag comes in four colors: black, olive drab, dark earth (mine), and “army digital.”
The bag has a very thick, long shoulder strap that is very adjustable. Unlike some competitor bags, the UTG could be worn on the right or left side. I think it makes more sense for it to be worn on the left, but you can choose your own adventure. Wearing the bag on the left does not get in the way of my primary or secondary pistol draw (I carry two Glock 19 handguns appendix style). Grabbing magazines from the left is difficult, but pulling spares from my right side is easy.
The UTG bag comes with a shoulder pad that provides a little bit of protection in case the messenger bag gets loaded down. The pad has a grippy surface that — usually — encourages the pad to stay put while the sling moves around your body.
The back of the bag has several similar high-grip contact areas. These areas have far more padding than the shoulder strap.
According to the manufacturer’s specs, the bag weighs 1.9 pounds and measures 12.5 by 10.5 by 5.5 inches.
The main reason I bought this bag was so I could carry my trauma kit with me. I have a similarly-sized Timbuktu messenger bag which is completely innocuous, but it’s just one big pocket. The last thing I want to do in case of an emergency is dig around in my kit looking for the right tool. A lot of emergency situations happen at night, further compounding the “bag of holding” problem.
The UTG messenger bag has a TON of pockets. I’m not utilizing them to their utmost.
Starting from the back of the bag (the part closest to your body) is a very large pocket that runs the length of the bag. This could very easily be a concealed carry pocket. There is loop tape on the inside — the fluffy side of hook and loop / Velcro — and the pocket is lined in nylon. I don’t keep anything here, but it would be an ideal place for a single stack pistol or even an extra mag or two.
The main compartment contains most of my gauze pads. I also keep a small kit in here with two emergency blankets in case of shock, a bottle of medical adhesive, and several 500mg doses of acetaminophen. I have some HALO chest seals on order, and I’ll put at least one in this pouch as well.
There is a ton of left over space; I can put my who hand in here with plenty of room to spare.
Moving to the front zippered pocket on the inside of the bag: I keep several rolls of gauze in different width and length, as well as some medical tape.
I keep a notepad in the outside of that pocket; I use this for notes and making lists but would use this for documenting victim conditions / behavior and situation notes in the case of an emergency.
Facing the bag, the right side zipper pocket holds an opened roll of VetRap, which is used to hold gauze in place. I wound up moving my medical shears to this pocket and they are held upright thanks to the straps inside of the pocket.
I keep two glowsticks in another pocket that’s in between the VetRap pocket and the main compartment area.
There is a magazine pouch / water bottle / weird pocket on the other side of the bag. I store my Israeli bandage here, and used to store my medical shears here. On one hand it was nice to have the shears easily accessible; on the other I was worried about them falling out or getting confiscated by overzealous security. More on that in a moment.
Yes, there are more pockets.
The front flap has a broad area for morale and medical patches. I have my blood type and a medical cross patch on my bag.
The first flap pocket holds two Cav-Arms Slick tourniquets:
The next pouch holds several pair of nitrile gloves and a pair of Surefire Ear Pro earplugs in case things get loud.
I’ve used this bag almost every day for four months and it still looks brand new. I don’t beat the shit out of it but I don’t baby it, either. I normally toss it on the floor next to my work backpack when I get home so I can hug Sedagive?, hug the kids and pet the dogs. To be fair, I live in an urban / suburban environment so if you’re out humping around in the wilderness or actually in a hostile environment you may put more stress on the bag than I ever will.
The zippers are actually really good quality. Zipping action is smooth. The pulls are wide and heavy. I do wish the pulls had accommodations for a lock similar to my work backpack.
The UTG bag is a great value at less than $40 delivered via Amazon Prime. It’s no fault of the bag, but I feel like it is almost too big. There are a ton of pockets, and if you want to keep all of your contents separated I think this bag is a great choice.
Competing products from Condor, Maxpedition, etc are all much more expensive. Maxpedition probably wins on quality and durability, but you should be the judge if you need that level of ruggedness. For me, I took the extra $40 I would have spent on an equivalent Maxpedition bag and bought medical supplies with it.