Bags for any occasion

me at cache

On the image above, left, that’s me using the US Army three-day assault pack. It is the best darn bag available anywhere. These bags are available right now for CHEAP. That’s what today’s bit is about. I am a bit passionate and opinionated about packs and bags- they must be excellent, or don’t bother.

Why am I talking about this today.

It seems that the three-day assault bag is coming onto the surplus market for a very reasonable fee. If you’re in the market for a backpack, don’t wait. Surplus has a way about drying up.

Alright, so quite some time ago I published an article, inspired by John Birmingham‘s apocalyptic Zero Day Code universe. Seeing as how we were discussing the contents of an ideal zombie bag over on JB’s, I expanded on the concept here on my blog.

I kind of glossed over the bag part, though, except to say that it should be sturdy. Well, today I am going to expand on the bag.

A good carry-on or zombie bag should be tough, light, and versatile. And oh yes, as cheap as possible. Well, I have good news for those who are interested; it seems that right now Uncle Sam is dumping probably the best bags and equipment in the world at pennies to a dollar. Why? It seems the US Army is switching from the old ACU digital pattern to the new OCP pattern. The ACU equipment is being dumped onto the surplus market. In my opinion there is no better, tougher stuff in the world.

But yeah, the ACU camo pattern is kind of stupid. That’s why the Army is switching over to OCP/Multicam. It just works better.

That being said, who cares about a stupid ugly camo pattern when you can have arguably the world’s best carry-on for 23 USD or thereabouts? Now, I’m not sure as to availability in the Australian, European or British markets, but if you guys can buy these bags there, do so with absolute confidence. They are that good. OK, a few pictures by means of illustration.


First off, this bag is relatively compact, at about 19.7 in / 50cm high. I’ve used these as carry-ons on flights and I’ve never had a problem making it fit. This might not be true for puddle-jumpers, for those you might have to check the bag. The pack pictured above is my overnight bag, I keep it loaded in case I go out on the road and have to stay at someone’s house. So not exactly a zombie bag, although it does share some characteristics with such an animal. It weighs 15.6 lbs / 7.0kg fully loaded.

The next photos are detail shots made to show the versatility of this humble piece of surplus.


First, let me make clear that this pack is MOLLE compatible, meaning it uses a very durable woven strap attachment for placing pouches of all shapes and sizes wherever you want. For example, above you see the right side of my carry-on. On the lower left on the image is a sustainment pouch from a large ruck, above it is an M4 magazine pouch. Also, you can see a small olive drab pouch, this is an old ALICE pouch. ALICE stuff works with MOLLE, so no issues.

I use the mag pouch for travel documents (I’m always juggling those stupid things around). This keeps everything in one place. The sustainment pouch was originally meant for MREs, but you can use it for literally anything; I prefer it to hold travel comfort items like a small pillow or a keffiyah, gloves, etc. Whatever needs to be on the outside of a bag so you don’t have to dig. And the little, old-school OD green pouch? A compass, of course. I always have one of those. Always.

Here’s another view, the other side of the bag.


Note the old-fashioned canteen at the top. Lots of people like camel-baks, and so do I, but the canteen is king when traveling. Empty it out before going through security, fill it back up on the other side of the gate. Water only. (Laughs) I knew a guy once who put milk in a canteen and forget to clean it out. Not pretty. The little British pouch on the bottom is for a US Army style poncho, I never go anywhere without one of those along with some 550 cord. Combine the two and you have instant shelter, no matter where life may find you.

So there you go, that was my take on which bag is best for plain travel / adventures / zombie hordes.

Hands down the US Army three-day assault pack.

In country mine held spare medical supplies, an MRE, some belted 7.62, extra grenades (frag and smoke, sometimes thermite), 40mm grenades, a spare battery for my radio, flares, extra socks, a camel-bak, you name it. I never once had any issue with the bag under extremely hard use and bad circumstances. As a bonus, it even kept stuff fairly dry and mostly dust free.

Did I mention that the little pack is made of rubberized Cordura? It doesn’t get tougher. Seriously. And the zippers, lashing straps and snaps are first-rate, top shelf. I’d hate to think what Uncle Sam paid for these originally, but I’ll bet it was multiples of what you can pick them up for now; 23 bucks well-used (and needing a little TLC) to 75 USD brand new, unused.

If you want a bag, and you don’t mind that it is ugly, these can’t be beat.

Buy with confidence.



One thought on “Bags for any occasion

  1. Hmmm food for thought – my young bloke could use a smaller pack for school (Army) cadets, and my old Aust. issue pack is kind of large for him. I shall have to have a look hereabouts. I have kitted him out with a variety of other Auscam hand me downs though!


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