So I thought to write this now, even though I would love to get some more time with the backpack at hand before writing a proper review of it. And the review will be somewhat complex anyway, because of reasons I will explain later.
But my rush to write this review about the hallowed Triple Aught Design FAST Pack EDC is due to the fact that TAD has mentioned in passing that they will cease to produce the EDC as it is! There will apparently be only a few restocks coming in and then you can try to find one only second hand.
So to help anyone who’s on the fence about getting one of these packs, I am giving my two cents here!
Triple Aught Design is a well known lifestyle outdoors brand hailing from the sunny California of the great US of A. I have tried to explained their ethos several times before and you can find the longer intro to them here my other reviews. There is a list of all my other TAD reviews in the bottom of this review, so be sure to check those articles out too!
To say something new, I have to commend TAD for their tenacity and hard work to bring new life and designs to their lineup. Last year they put a new product out every single Friday! That is something that is unheard of in the industry, as far as I can tell! Some items were collectors gems intended for the loyal TADJUNKIEs and some were big releases and instant hits, like their warmest Bastion hoodie.
FAST Packs and the Winds of Change
One of the biggest releases in 2017 for TAD was the newest addition to the FAST Pack family, the Scout. It’s the smallest of the line and at the same time it heralded in a new era for the FAST Pack lineup. Soon after the release of the Scout, TAD quite nonchalantly informed it’s fans that there will be further changes to the packs. And that one change will be to end the production of the current version the EDC. And so here we are.
So the Fast Pack line comprises of three packs at the moment. The smallest is the 15l holding Scout, the middle one is the 22l large Litespeed and the largest is the EDC, which holds around 32l. All of the packs are modular, so the volume they can carry can be upgraded easily with pouches etc.
Here is a short video from TAD that shows the current itinerations of the FAST Packs side by side.
The FAST packs are well known all around, not just amongst the TAD Junkies. Their military looks and build are the main qualities a lot of people love about them, myself included. But this is a trend that seems to be passing and TAD is embracing that change.
Last year TAD brought out a new line of packs, the Spectre Carry System, as they call it. The Spectre line packs are mainly meant for hiking and not so much for the urban environment, as the FAST Packs are. The sleek, inconspicuous outlines of the Spectre packs raised a lot of eye brows and objections from the fans of TAD, who were saying that this is not the way to go. But TAD seems adamant to continue to stray from the overt military tones and to take all of their designs more towards the covert “grey man” style. Including the FAST Packs.
A Little Bit of History
The FAST Pack EDC has seen several different versions in its life. The first “ALPHA” generation ones were made for TAD by Maxpedition and ALPHA gen two were made by Civilian Labs. These were made back in 2005 and 2006. The ALPHA gens are not really EDC’s, but the design and overall features of the pack were close to the later EDC’s and so they are, in essence, the forefathers of the EDC.
The first proper version of the EDC was made of 1000D DuPont Cordura and was offered in OD, Black, Multicam and surprisingly in USMC Coyote Brown. It is the only EDC version that was sold in this colour way.
The second version brought on hypalon to the mix. The EDC’s design was apparently pretty much the same, but some major changes were made. Hypalon was used to reinforce some key points in the pack, the transported tail was made removable and the number of external pouches increased.
The current version of the EDC is the most advanced and clearly different from the previous versions. My EDC is of the first whole Cordura batch of packs and so I am next going to go through all the details and features of my pack and highlight the different features that the current version has. And full disclosure: I have not owned or actually seen, nor used the current generation EDC pack. So all of the information below is from pictures, Triple Aught Design website and a few other places.
My EDC gen. 1 / Current gen. EDC
So to start off, lets list the materials and hardware in the pack. The main fabric used in the first gen EDC’s is 1000D DuPont Cordura, with milspec nylon thread and nylon webbing. The hardware is ITW Nexus GhillieTEX all around and the zippers are YKK coil zippers with paracord pulls. It also has a removable hard plastic frame sheet.
The current version uses both 1000D and 500D Invista Cordura fabric and hypalon reinforcements for key places. This make the pack a little lighter than the original. The hardware are from ITW GhillieTEX line too, but the YKK Zippers are reversed for better waterproofing, where as in the first gen pack every zipper was protected with a flap over it.
Pockets and External Features
My EDC has a main compartment that opens half-way in clamshell fashion. On the top cover there is a cavernous zippered pocket with integrated organisation compartment for pens etc. Below that, behind the transporter tail, there is also a cavernous zippered pocket as wide as the bottom of the pack.
On either side of the pack there is one zippered pocket for small items. On the righthand side of the pack (when looking from the back) there is also an inverted hidden flashlight cave that has a D-ring inside for attaching a lanyard.
On the backside of the pack there is a zippered compartment for laptops or documents. This compartment can also be used for water bladders with the tube coming out of the dedicated velcro closed tab on top, under a webbing carry handle.
The current EDC has changed quite a bit from the features mentioned above. The main compartment has a full-zip clamshell style opening, rather than the half-zip I have. The pocket under the organisation pocket has been replaced by more MOLLE surface, and they have added a second hidden flashlight cave on the other side of the pack.
Maybe the most notable difference of the entire design is that the closure of the laptop compartment has been changed from a zipper to a roll-top design. They have also added some paracord to the carry handle which can be used to tie down jackets etc. And the velcro tab for the water bladder tube has been changed into a hypalon one.
Transporter Tail and Waist Belt
The transporter tail in the old version is sewn on the pack, so it is non-removable and non-adjustable vertically. Sewn on the reverse side of the transporter tail is a open topped pocket. When opened up and inverted it can be used to carry large odd shaped objects like long guns or camera tripods.
When the transporter tail is in its upright position it can be used to hold jackets and helmets between it and the pack. At the same time and on its own it compresses the back with the side straps. There are two sewn on compression straps on the bottom of the pack as well.
The back of the pack has an attachment point for a waist belt, and the first gen packs were supplied with one too! The waist belt is pulled through a hole in the bottom of the backside of the pack. Inside the hole there is a hook surface that attaches to the loop on the backside of the belt. There are hook and loop tabs on either side of the pack too, which are meant to be attached on plastic loops on the belt for further support.
In the current itineration the transporter tail is removable and adjustable vertically. The compression straps on the bottom are removable too. The attachment for the waist belt has changed a bit with the replacing of the hook and loop tabs with plastic loops on either side. And the current gen packs do not include a waist belt at all.
As a matter of fact, TAD apparently has promised that there will be a waist belt for the FAST packs for purchase separately. They apparently promised this a long time ago and there still is not a dedicated FAST waist belt for sale.
Inside the Pack and the Padding
In the first gen EDC’s the inside of the pack were quite bleak. Fully extended the whole pack (and so the whole main compartment too) is approximately 20″ high, 14″ wide and 6.75″ deep in the bottom. The old version is a shaped like a wedge, so the top part of the pack is slightly narrower in both width and deepness. Inside the pack there are two little plastic Tri-Glides for hanging attachments, like the TAD Control Panel, or the Admin Panel.
There is also a plastic hook for keys etc. and a small webbing loop and tab for hanging water bladders in the laptop compartment, that is separated form the main compartment by a light liner. On the lid side of the main compartment there is a large integrated mesh pouch that has a zip closure.
The shoulder straps are shaped to better distribute the carry load, unlike the straight shoulder straps you find in most packs. The straps are padded with a comfortable low profile, dense foam padding, that is found on the back padding and the belt too. The padding is fully lined with Drilex fabric. It is apparently usually used in footwear to wick moisture from the skin to the fabric and to outer layers, and so it works well for the belt as well.
The current generation of packs is a bit different in size. TAD website says it is 21″ high, 12″ wide and 8″ deep. They have given up the wedge shape too, so these dimensions are true to the whole pack. The inside attachment points are still there, but the tiny Tri-Glides have been replaced by 1″ Looploc anchor points.
They also added six more anchor points to the sides of the main compartment for attaching the detachable Transporter Tail to work as a space divider/ internal MOLLE surface. The water bladder hangers have been replaced by a single webbing hanger point. They have also added another mesh pocket under the upper one on the lid.
The padding has been improved a bit too. The Drilex mesh apparently pretty much the same, of course with more modern fabric and properties. The foam padding is Evazote Closed Cell Cross-Linked Ethylene Copolymer Foam.
There are some minor things I would like to mention, because often the devil is in the details. Firstly the older generation packs have these hook and loop “Neat Wings” sewn in the end of the straps. The Wings are used to tie the excess strap and prevent it from flapping around. A common concept amongst pack-people. The current generation EDC’s have these replaced with ITW Web Dominators, which another fantastic way to secure the straps to their places.
The first generation EDC’s have a lot of PALS webbing also on the shoulder straps. The 1,5″ webbing has the more common 1″ webbing sewn on top of it to attach pouches like the TAD Sheats or iComm on them. But on both sides there are these little loops elastic webbing under the PALS for securing your water bladder tube. The current EDC’s do not have so much PALS webbing on them, but the elastic loops are there and are better accessible than compared to the first gen counterparts.
The one thing that the pack community longed for in the EDC packs for a long time were properly functional load lifters, or so I have understood. The first generation EDC’s do have these straps that lock the shoulder straps to the top of the pack with SR Ladderloc buckles. This allows you to further compress the pack from the top and also secure the zipper further.
But the two straps do not really work as load lifters. This has been remedied in the current generation packs. The shoulder straps start from a bit lower on the back than than in the first gen packs and there are straps to really lift the load for better weight distribution and comfort.
A lot of the above information I read from the revered Military Morons blog, that reviewed the first gen EDC a long time ago. Go read their exemplary article here. Also a lot of the information is from the best Facebook group in the world: The TADJunkies. So a huge thanks to all of the guys there!
I have had this pack now for half a year or so. I bought a previous gen Litespeed at the same time and both of these packs have seen quite a lot of use since. At first I had complex feelings about them. I kind of felt that I did not want to get my hopes too high in case I ended up hating either one of them. But don’t worry, because that did not happen at all!
I have used the EDC on many different occasions and I thought to myself: what would be the best way to describe my experience with it. And so I came up with this new division: Passive Carry vs. Active Carry. Passive Carry is more like the day-to-day kind of stuff what you do with your EDC pack, where as other activities require you to be in more motion with the pack, so those things I dubbed Active Carry. I do not know if it will work at all, but I will give it a go and I hope you will like it.
Too Big for My EDC
So the as I said above the passive carry means essentially Everyday Carry type of situations. Because you usually just have a pack with you for what ever you do, draping on your shoulders, carrying everything you need for the day. So the EDC should be perfect for this kind of things, right? I mean the name of the pack has it literally spelled there!
But alas, for me it is not. My daily carry usually consists of couple of books, calendar, a pouch filled with EDC tools and bits, maybe a small IFAK too. To me the EDC feels just a bit too much for that. Even if I have my gym clothes with me, or my climbing gear, it still is half empty with everything inside!
The main compartment is enormous and even with attachments it still does not have as much organisation as I would like it to have. The outer pockets are great for storing smaller items and I love the idea of the hidden flashlight cave, but I have not had any real use for it yet.
And then there is the looks of the pack. The disproportionate amount of MOLLE is one thing on its own, but with the OD colour it really seems to scream MILITARY! And do not get me wrong, I love the OD colour and the general look of the pack too. When I use it I do not let this bother me at all. But for EDC use… mmmh, it is just a bit too overt to my taste and line of work. The OD colour is actually somewhat rare and you do not get that anymore in any of the TAD packs, so this is another collectors gem in my possession!
But in contrast I have found that the EDC is a really handy three day pack for me! The large size of the main compartment allows me to pack all the necessary things I need for a weekend trip in the city. For some it might seem a bit small, but I like to travel light and try to take nothing but multi-use clothes that mix-n-matched together make up several different outfits.
With some internal organisers I can keep all my socks, t-shirts and underwear in order and it keeps most of the pack clear for larger items. The wedge shape of the EDC is great especially when carrying shoes! I usually have the soles propped up flat against either side of the pack, and so there is like upright space for shirts, rolled up jackets and pants.
The most I have had in there were a spare pair of shoes, a sports jacket, a woollen jumper, two collared shirts, three days change of underwear, socks and t-shirts. AND on top of that, stored on the external pockets I had my Dopp kit, phone charger, calendar and other EDC items. AND on top of that I a few books in the lap top compartment to boot.
It really is a giant, even though it does not seem so at first. Even with all that stuff it really carries very comfortably too, so overpacking is not a problem at all. Too big for my EDC, but brilliant in keeping you sorted out for several days.
Amiable Tactical Pack
The EDC is not the first pack you would picture yourself taking for a more active outing outside the urban environment. But I have experimented with it a several times and I have come to the conclusion that it actually does work very well for high intensity activities too.
I had my EDC with me on a three day milsim event last year to really put it through its paces and test its capabilities as a patrol/assault pack. The fact that the pack covers most of your back is of course a little inconvenient when you are sweating and carrying a lot of gear. But at the same time it shielded me from rain and kept me adequately warm in the brisk mornings.
The EDC easily carried all that I needed for a day out on patrol: water, ammunition, even food and the JetBoil. The transport tail was really handy in storing my rain jacket or my helmet when not in use. And the pack did not constrict my movement in anyway, and I actually found a rather funny way to integrate it to my other kit.
I took off the waist belt from the pack, added two extra SR buckles to the hook and loop tabs on the sides. I then secured my Haley Strategic D3CR from its bottom buckles to the EDC, rather than using the waist strap from the chest rig. I tied both the D3CR and the EDC to my back nice and tight!
This had both good and not so great effects. It did allow me to move freely and not to worry about my pack wobbling about. But taking the EDC off was a pain of course and it meant that my chest rig was half-assedly attached to me. This is something that I will not probably do this way in the future anymore, but it was a fun experiment.
Outdoors – A Second Nature
I have hiked with the EDC too, both long and shorter hikes. And it works pretty much the same as I mentioned above with the more tactical use. It is comfortable to carry and while it might be a bit hot at times, it does retain some body heat to you too at the same time. The waist belt is great and helps you to distribute the weight from the shoulders to your waist.
But if you have a long back, as I do, you need to fiddle with the straps a bit. Military Morons review states, that the EDC is meant to be carried lower on your back than similar packs usually. Which makes sense if you have tried using the belt, that otherwise seems to come quite high up on your waist.
The transport tail works great for holding your extra layers. And if you want to carry a camera tripod or even hiking sticks, the possibility to flip the tail upside down for carrying all the odd shaped items is great. The EDC really fits the outdoors like a glove. I am looking forward for trying the pack for hunting especially, because of the possibility to carry your weapon at your back is a great relieve during those long days on the field.
I usually use two different extra accessories with the EDC: the Control Panel and my Black Hawk Large Utility pouch. The utility pouch I usually have mounted on the transporter tail, but I have tried carrying it on the bottom of the pack too, which was a great spot for it too.
The pouch gives you nice extra organisation and a larger quick access compartment. I have used the utility pouch to hold a rain cover, an IFAK for hikes and also my calendar and EDC items for those urban trips. I really want to find and invest on proper TAD pouches in OD, but these are quite rare and expensive. But one day.
The Control Panel is a noteworthy item too, because it is an earlier model of the design too. The current version of the Control Panel is straight cut, it has two mesh pockets on the other side and MOLLE on the other, and it has 1″ webbing loops with gliders for attachment.
The older version is cut to fit the narrower top – wider bottom shape of the first gen EDC. The mesh pockets and the MOLLE sides have stayed pretty much the same, but the attachment points are smaller and made of hook and loop. I also have the old Organisation Panel, but I do not use that too much with the EDC.
Would I Change Into The Current Gen?
Writing this article and comparing the list of features on the current generation EDC’s and my pack, there are a few things I would like to add to the older model. For example the actually working load lifters would be a great addition to the pack.
But other than that I do like the first generation better to the current. The roll top design in the current version is not something that I think would work for me, and I like the odd wedge shape of my EDC. Also the little details that seem unnecessary and overkill, especially when compared to the modern light and sophisticated packs, are part of the reason why I like the older EDC so much.
So in conclusion, I would stick with this old geezer. But if you are thinking of getting an EDC for yourself, I would say go for it. Considering the changes Triple Aught Design is doing to their old trusted product lines, you really cannot be sure how much or little the design of the EDC will change, or if it will indeed be offered at all in the future.
Large size and the wedge shape
Rareish OD colour
Durability and tough construction
A bit short backed
Non-Working load lifters
I received this product via my own funds. 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.
This post originally appeared on the blog Noble & Blue and is reposted here with permission by the original author.