Having your gear and knowing where it is are two different things entirely. You could have the best gear in the world money could buy, but if it takes you forever to rummage through your pack to find it, the usefulness of the gear (and your pack) falls by the wayside.
Now if you could bring your desk with you and maintain a high level of organization, that would help, right? That is exactly the thought behind the design of this bag, the Officer, the latest pack design by Hazard4; this is a place for all the important equipment you would need in the field, including a fold-down map display that can double as a writing desk.
The Officer Front/Back Slim Organizer Pack is so named because of its nimble ability to switch from a rear pack to a front one quickly and easily. This is especially useful if getting into a car or bus that makes wearing a backpack awkward and confining. At 18-inches tall, 11 wide and 8.3 deep, the pack is incredibly thin but the 1,643 cubic-inch capacity allows for a lot of gear to be stored inside.
The main cargo area encompasses the entire length and width of the pack, accessible from the double zippers that open it up nearly flat. Inside are two cut-away pockets best used when the pack doubles as luggage (thanks to the side-mounted handle). The main cargo area is suitable for a laptop, and the pack has enough built-in padding to keep it safe. On the inside of the main flap is a zippered mesh pocket perfect for documents, and at the bottom of the pack is an offset pair of drain holes connected to an enclosed bladder that helps water drain out but not flood in.
The exterior cargo area, when completely unzipped, creates a makeshift desk with support straps to keep it level on uneven surfaces. The plastic cover of the desktop can accommodate a map or important papers and is secured via hook and loop (a zipper or continuous hook and loop would have been nice here to offer some degree of waterproofing); however, at only eight inches deep, a standard A4 paper won’t fit neatly without having to fold it slightly. There are two hook and loop pouches, a zippered area, eight pockets, and two pen holders to keep smaller things well organized and from spilling down to the bottom of the pack.
The outside of the pack’s main flap has a patch of loops for the addition of hook and loop insignias or patches, and a 10-inch-wide zippered area that opens up to reveal an area equal to the height of the flap. There are four rows of one-inch webbing, with one of those rows being three-inch webbing.
The left side of the pack has, in addition to more webbing than anyone might ever need (24 one-inch and two three-inch), it sports an eight-inch deep pocket with a Y-shaped securing strap. Two grommeted drain holes are at the base of this pocket. On the other side, a similar pocket resides, but it is only six inches deep and lacks any drain holes.
Ubiquitous to Hazard4’s packs are pockets to house hydration bladders, and the Officer doesn’t disappoint with one large enough to hold a three-liter bladder. On top are two holes, one zippered and one hook and loop, both to accommodate the hose (or a radio antenna). Access through the padded back reveals a quilted compartment with a convenient nylon loop from which to hang the water bladder.
The main straps are contoured to better fit the body and are made of a padded mesh for breathability, as is the waist support straps. The large grab handle on the top as well as a smaller one on the right side are for easy carrying (the pack is short enough that a regular sized man can carry it with a straight arm and without any part of it dragging on the ground). A major plus, especially for those that like everything to be tidy, are the hook and loop straps for each of the adjustment strap ends so that once the pack is properly sized for you, you can roll up each strap and lock it down. As well, the compression straps (two on each side) keep everything inside the pack tight and can be configured to carry gear as well.
Overall, this is a great pack, well thought out and constructed to accommodate a wide range of tasks from a mobile office to airplane carry-on luggage.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the March 2015 print issue of American Survival Guide.