High Ground Gear has created what appears to be a great solution for those needing to carry a radio into the field with their JTAC 3-Day Pack.
Colors available: Multicam/Ranger Green/Black/Coyote
Sizes available: Size refers to the belt: S/M 26-32 waist, L/XL 32-40 waist
Material: 500D, carbon fiber frame
Suspension system/carrying ability: Made specifically for the PRC-117 line of radios.
MSRP: $399.95 USD
Unique features: PRC117 internal harness, zippered routings on shoulder straps, top access panel to radio keypad, patent-pending quick-release waistbelt.
Application: Three-day assault pack meant for signallers.
Pros: Offers a stable platform for carrying larger-sized radios. The zippered routing is a neat feature, as wires can and will become a tangled mess no matter what you try on a regular pack. The carbon fiber frame offers lightweight stiffness to the back. The quick-ditch belt is an interesting feature in that you don’t have to reset your pack every time you drop it. You can quickly clip it right back to the belt. Not a game-changing feature, but still interesting.
Cons: While the carbon frame is listed as a pro, we figure it can also be considered a con. Carbon fiber isn’t the most reliable material when it comes to impacts and life expectancy as a whole. Plus it’s not cheap compared to a regular aluminum or plastic frame.
Bottom line: If you’ve ever carried a 117 (522 for us Canadians), you know that a regular pack will do the job but will leave much to be desired. Cable routing and placement of the radio itself into the bag are usually the big problems (at least from what I’ve experienced). In the Canadian Forces, we are issued possibly one of the worst small packs ever. The radio drops into a pouch, much like on the old ALICE packs, with a strap holding it in place. Problem is, it’s a pain to work with, be it changing batteries or simply changing frequencies.
The way HGG made the internal harness for the JTAC pack allows the user to remove the bottom cover of the radio and swap batteries without having to take the whole radio out of the bag. Also, the antenna and keypad ports mean a buddy can help you punch a frequency into the radio, swap antennas, etc., without taking your pack off—a big plus when on patrol.
What we like the most, as we said earlier, is the zippered shoulder strap that lets you run cables, hydration tubes, and whatnot through it, leaving no exposed cables that would hinder weapon handling.
As stated in the cons, we have doubts about the carbon fiber frame when it comes to repeated impacts and the general beating it would undoubtedly see with infantry use.
All in all, we feel this has the potential to be a solid pack with lots of great features that could make life easier for signallers out there. If it is anything like the other HGG products, this one will not disappoint!
(All images courtesy of High Ground Gear)