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Gear Geek Post 1: Briefcase

Earlier this week, I talked about MilitaryLuggage.Com and the fact that they had sent me gear to test and use.  I wasn't joking about being like a kid at Christmas, as I might have a slight tendency to be a Geardo.  The one thing I will admit that age has brought me on that is a far better appreciation of gear to haul the gear.  So, I am going to be reviewing the gear they sent, starting with an introductory post on each piece, so you can see it in pristine condition. 

On my embeds to Iraq, I used a certain name brand tactical briefcase to haul my computer, camera, and related gear.  It was rugged, though much to the surprise of the manufacturer and myself a bell clerk in Kuwait took out the handle of my first one.  The largest advantage to it, though, was the waterproof/dustproof compartment for the computer.  As for the rest, it worked though I wasn't happy with a number of elements to the design. 

The first thing I went for in my box of delights from MilitaryLuggage.Com was the tactical briefcase they sent.  It is from Code Alpha, a brand with an excellent reputation. 

First off, I like the basic design a lot.  One of my complaints about the previous briefcase was that it had a narrow top and flared bottom -- which means that things have a tendency to settle to the bottom and get lost in the folds.  This means that finding anything other than huge items usually means digging. 

The design of this case allows uniform expansion and does not flare.  The bottom is well reinforced, and pull straps on the side allow it to be expanded or snugged at need.  The shoulder strap is detachable, making the system much more flexible. The handle seems fairly rugged and is a standard design. 

The back view shows good construction with yet more web and attachment points.  The case is well designed in allowing you to attach what you want or need, or to attach the case to something else.  The lack of attachment points and web is what I consider a major drawback to the case I was using.  When moving between AOs or those times in travel that I was having to carry everything, I would very much have liked to have had a good option to attach the case to my ruck.  This briefcase gives multiple options for that, a huge plus in my book.

The top swings over to reveal front and back compartments.  The back includes a padded carrier that will fit most (current) standard laptops.  While it is not waterproof/dustproof, the zipper to the compartment is tight and the top cover goes across the zippers to both compartments, providing further protection.  I also suspect some smart soul makes a waterproof/dustproof carrier that would fit the briefcase...

The padded carrier comes out, and while I am not prepared to speculate on how rugged it is, it increases the flexibility of the case.  If you are not carrying a computer, you can free up a lot of room in the case for other uses.  It also means you can substitute the comptuer carrier/cover of your choice. 

It is very well padded, and the closure is very secure for now. 

The front compartment looks like a fairly standard organizer. 

Nice layout, but still looks fairly standard. 

However, if you undo the side straps, you can open the compartment fully, which can come in handy in a variety of situations.  It significantly increases the flexibility of the briefcase, and is a big improvement over what I was using. 

Further proof that someone put some good skull sweat into the design is that the front compartments are in fact pouches.  You can take them off, put on different pouches -- in short, you have the flexibility to make it the bag you want or need rather than what some designer thinks you need.  In fact, I'm now looking for a pouch roughly 11 inches long by 7 inches tall and 3 inches deep to replace two of the pouches that came with the bag.  This would let me carry my camera body and my standard lens on the outside of the bag, protected, but easy to reach and bring into play. For the work I do, that is a huge advantage.

I've made this bag my new standard briefcase and am starting to use it.  I will have more to say about it as time goes on.  Meantime, my thanks to MilitaryLuggage.Com for the chance to try it out.