Mon. Sep 21st, 2020

Spotter Up

In Depth Tactical Solutions

– a kitchen sink and a bag of chips

5 min read

Elite Survival Systems – ESS, might be the most diverse and yet subtle manufacturer of tactical nylon gear you may, or may not be familiar with.  Until our team at Spotter Up started working with ESS, I have not, and was amazed and not only the variety of mission, EDC, and adventure-style gear that have, but based on previous hands-on exposure by our team, the toughness with which these items are built.   ESS is a US-based hometown company, located in Missouri.  They take pride in the Made in the U.S.A. line, but pick up any of their products, and the feel is the same.  Tough, heavy-duty, with exaggerated features to please a wide range of end-users.  The Mission Pack is no exception.

The Mission pack is a 2625 cubic inches of carry capacity, which due to the design, gives a new meaning to “3 day pack”.  The first feel of it is heavy-duty, but light.  One would expect the pack with this much capacity and features to be heavier, but it’s surprisingly agile.  Laser MOLLE covers the exterior, creating a smooth and low-key appearance.  Just as surprising, is the front pocket feature.  It appears as a beaver tail at first glance, but is actually a through pocket, accessible from either side.  While it will not fit your helmet, it’s perfect for climbing rope, rain external elements garment, or something you need to get to in a hurry.

The laser MOLLE is also a nice touch.  It keeps the “tactical” on the down low if using the pack for travel while allowing the flexibility to attach cordage or other pouches.  The external pocket also comes with two zippered pockets of its own, on the outside of the lid.  I found these to be very slick, with easy to use, ESS-branded zippers, and ability to keep smaller items like maps, mission briefs or small electronics.  The zippers are smooth, and offer secured and tabbed zipper pulls, which is a nice and functional touch.

It’s also a great feature that the inside of the pack is lighter coyote.  It makes the items easier to locate, particularly in a black pack, and offers a very aesthetically pleasing use.  The interior of all pockets is smooth nylon, with the main pockets offering a very straight forward design, with several organizers, loops, and zippered mesh pockets.  I definitely appreciate the minimalist design in that regard, without having to pack around the features offered by the pack.  The loops are handy for smaller items for which you may need a more mission-oriented access.  Carabiners, door wedges, dummy-corded med kits and so on.  The end-user who prefers more finite features, may want to plan ahead with their own interior organization.  The two main pockets are stacked back-to-back, and offer a lot of space.

There is enough space to pack 3 days and then some.  You can practically fit an entire duty bag and a lunch into the pack.  The main compartment has a hydration bladder holder, which can easily accommodate  3 liter bladder, and probably an additional one stacked.  The pocket has an open top, and I would like to see a buckle which either secures the pocket itself, or a D ring-type loop which would secure the bladder from moving around.  A very nice and often neglected feature, is a rain cover.  The one on ESS Mission pack is easy to access, secured to the pocket by a small tag line, and is housed in a pocket which can accommodate other mission-essentials in addition to the cover. Additionally, there is a drag handle inside the compartment.

Because the main pockets are stacked and due to the volume of the pack, it is very easy to overpack.  I think it would be as suitable for an extended mission, as for a week-long travel.  As such, a fully loaded Mission Pack can be quite bulky.  This is aided significantly by the padded back and well-designed shoulder straps.  The padded interior is also a must if you plan on carrying a laptop, which the main compartment will fit nicely.  The back is and attractively lined on the inside, and has two padded, mesh lined sides on the outside.  Again, this reduces the overall weight, while allowing for some moisture management and functionality.

While some market this as rifle rest selling point, to ESS this is just another well-designed and well-placed feature, adoptable by the end-user.  The shoulder pads are perfectly padded, and are very comfortable.  The load lifters, easily adjusted with the pack on the user, feel like they mold the pack to the user, and are very functional.  The hydration port is centrally located between the shoulder pads at the top, and slightly down on the pack.   It has a rubber grommet which secures the hose well, but depending on the type of bladder used, some effort may be required to run the hose. Cinch webbing and sternum strap function smoothly, and were not overlooked.

The pack offers a hip belt/pad and a carry handle.  The handle is made of 550 cord, which not only adds to the unique appearance, but also to the functionality.  Most people I know typically pack some cord anyway, and I’m sure many will find availability of extra cordage useful.  The hip pad works well, although it’s design is somewhat non-traditional.  It’s a velcro-secured 2 piece, which I didn’t think would bear weight as well as a true pad.  Nonetheless it does the job fine, securing the weight and keeping the pack secured when on the move.  More features here.  The pad has a small zippered pocket on each side.  This works well for gloves, lights or snacks.  Did I mention this pack has a lot of features?


At $179.95 on, the Mission Pack is made in three of the best camo colors ever created: black, olive drab and coyote.  I rate the value, adaptability and durability of the pack at 5 stars, with 4 stars going to design functionality only due to the bladder pocket description noted above.  My description for the ESS Mission pack would be classy and capable.


Material Disclosure

I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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