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Review: First Tactical Summit Side Satchel

Pack Articles

Review: First Tactical Summit Side Satchel

Adam Teeter

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Introduction

Traveling light is a mindset. You must take only what you absolutely need and nothing more. You must leave certain items at home. The First Tactical Summit Side Satchel is designed for folks with such an outlook on life.  This is a small messenger bag designed to carry your essential items for the day and nothing more. 

Manufacturer's Specifications

  • Main compartment 12.5” L x 10” H x 4.5” D / 31.75cm L x 25.4cm H x 11.4cm D
  • Approx. Capacity 495 cubic inches / 8 liters
  • Weight 1.75 lbs / 0.8 kg
  • Pockets: 5 internal, 10 internal
  • 1000D nylon
  • 10mm closed cell foam
  • YKK® zippers
  • Duraflex® hardware

Philosophy of Use

This is a small bag designed to carry small loads. I bought it intending to carry an iPad, my Bible and perhaps a full size notebook. I also wanted to be able to carry my Glock 23 and a small kit of standard EDC items.

Description

Outside Front

 Here you can see what the bag looks like from the front.

It has 2 externally accessible pockets. The top pocket is built into the flap and is fleece lined. The second pocket on the front is a slash pocket that covers most of the flap. This is billowed slightly.

Also on the front of the bag is a small loop field for patches that overlays a 3x3 PALS grid.

From this shot you can also see that the female buckles designed to hold the flap down are wrapped in elastic webbing. The female buckles can be pulled out of the elastic coverage if so desired. 

Outside Rear

This shot allows you to see what is going on at the rear of the bag.

The carry handle sits atop the bag.

The main feature at the rear of the bag is the CCW pocket. Many CCW pockets are simply a large slash pocket lined with loop material to allow the attachment of a hook backed holster.  The Summit Side Satchel has a similar slash pocket that has a zipper closure that covers the entirety of the bags footprint from the rear. The zippers are designed in such a way that it can be opened from either side by pulling a single pull. However, First Tactical has opted to improve upon this design by adding an additional divider within the slash pocket.  The divider is padded to help conceal the pattern of your sidearm, has been lined with loop material on the interior side for holster mounting and has a simple hook and loop closure at the top that secures it to the main side of the bag (that's a Glock 42 mounted in there).  The exterior side of the divider bears no additional features that would distinguish it from a normal slash pocket.

There are two tabs near the bottom rear corners of the bag. These would allow the attachment of a stabilizer strap to the bag.

The strap pad is also visible in this shot. It has two portions that are rubberized and tacky to provide traction on the users shoulder. The pad is thick and lined with mesh to provide ventilation and comfort during extended use. 

Side View

Each side has a basic 3x3 PALS grid for attachment of additional pouches.

Behind the PALS grid is a basic, open top slash pocket. 

The attachment points for the shoulder strap are here. They are angled back at a natural angle for the shoulder strap. 

Under the Flap

Under the flap the user is able to see a number of features. In addition to the straps and buckles that secures the flap, the user has the option to secure the flap via hook and loop. First Tactical has included a clever way to stow a coverage for the hook side of the closure should the user opt to use the straps and buckles only.

There is a large ID patch on the underside of the flap to allow the user to mark the bag. 

Also visible in this shot are two open top slash pockets that sit atop the admin pockets (described below).

Admin Area

Moving to the body side of the bag, First Tactical has included what I will refer to as the “Admin Pockets.” There are a total of two separate admin pockets that are under the open top slash pockets seen above. These pockets have a two sided zipper to allow access to the interior. Each pocket has a selection of slots and pockets within for common admin items. One has a clasp to hook a lanyard or key ring to, and the other contains a small loop with a removable key fob attached. The two admin pockets are completely separated from each other. 

Interior Main

The interior main pocket of the bag has a total of 5 smaller pockets within it. At the rear of the bag is a padded laptop/tablet sleeve that can be secured with a simple strap over the top. On the other side of this pocket are two smaller padded pockets.  These three pockets are flat pockets with no depth built into them. On top of these there is a 4” tall swath of loop material and a 2” wide piece of webbing with 1.5” wide columns sewn into it to allow mounting of either hook backed or PALS pouches. Opposite these three pockets are two basic open top pockets with some depth built into them. These lay flat when empty. 

Design Commentary

Pros

This bag has many features that are quite well done.

First and foremost, this bag is well made from quality components. It should stand the test of time.

The exterior front flap pockets are both very useful. Most messenger bags fail to include a sun glass pocket, and the large zipper close slash pocket is great for dropping quick access items such as keys into.

The use of the elastic webbing to secure the female closure buckles makes them much easier to articulate one handed.

The addition of the padded divider to the CCW pocket makes it easy to conceal a side arm and allows the user to use the exterior portion of that pocket for other small items, while keeping the firearm from view. The way the zipper pulls are situated on this pocket allow opening from either side under any circumstance. All CCW pockets should be this fool-proof. 

The carry handle is well designed. It is sufficiently stiff to allow easy grabbing, while the design is low profile enough to avoid common snags.

The optional use of hook and loop to secure the bags flap is the best design I have seen. The built in hook covers are quite clever and very well executed. 

Cons

There are however a few concerns with the bags design.

The strap is too short. I am 5’10” and 200lbs and have the strap maxed out in length. Several additional inches in length would be necessary for larger users.

The admin pockets are not overly well designed. The two sided zipper design fails to allow the user complete access to the pockets and inhibits the ease with which the user can stow or remove items from them. The key fob is a nice touch, but the loop it mounts to is so far recessed that it is difficult to attach or remove the fob from (notice that you cannot see the mounting loop in the photo above).

The way the laptop/tablet sleeve is situated on the same wall of the bags as the CCW pocket is troublesome. Because neither the CCW pocket nor the laptop sleeve have any depth built into them, when they are loaded, they push into the usable space of the other. It seems the user can opt to use only one of these features at a time. That is, the user must use either the CCW pocket, or the laptop sleeve, not both at the same time. 

Conclusion

The Summit Side Satchel is a well built and well sized bag for those days you need to travel light. It's size will aide the user in keeping a light load and it bears many well thought out design features. Aside from the issues I described above, I'd happily recommend it for those who need a bag such as this.

Carry on and may God bless you all, 

- AT

For more info on this bag, please visit the First Tactical website

Disclaimer: I contacted First Tactical asking for a discount on this bag in exchange for a review. They were gracious enough to oblige my request.