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Pack Articles

Review: Triple Aught Design FAST Pack Litespeed Gen 2

Adam Teeter

Introduction

TAD Litespeed-9423.jpg

When one is talking about classic EDC packs, there are few out there more well known than the Triple Aught Design (TAD) Litespeed. It is known as a rugged and versatile pack well suited to many tasks like hiking, EDC and more tactical scenarios. Being highly hyped and US made, I was thrilled at the opportunity to trade for this one and put it through some paces. Let's take a look and see how it stacks up to my expectations and urban type usage.  

Manufacturer's Specifications

  • 1000 Denier* Invista™ Cordura® Fabric
  • Evazote® Closed Cell Cross-Linked Ethylene Copolymer Foam
  • DRI-LEX® Aerospacer Moisture Management Mesh
  • Hypalon Synthetic Rubber Reinforcements
  • HDPE Frame Sheet
  • Velcro® Front Panel for Morale Patches
  • Elastic Retainer Straps
  • Volume: 1350.00 cu in (22.00 liters)
  • Dimensions: 10.00" (25.40 cm) W x 20.00" (50.80 cm) H x 6.75" (17.15 cm) D
  • Weight: 60.80 oz (1.72 kg)

Philosophy of Use

I am a student in a large city in Germany. I walk about 2 miles every day to and from class with a 10lb-20lb load out of books, lunch, laptop, etc. I use my packs on the weekend for family time and to help haul all the materials that requires. I value an efficient pack layout that allows me to get what I need when I need it and a comfortable suspension. At 22L, I expected this pack to work well for single day usages, and perhaps a bit heavier loads when required. 

Of their design intentions, TAD says, 

Strategically engineered for premium comfort, utility, and modularity, our nimble 1350 cubic inch FAST Pack Litespeed is a new generation of everyday carry.  The Litespeed is built for minimalist daily carry but has been carefully engineered to adjust to end-user requirements and adapt to multiple mission profiles. Step into the new evolution of carry and harness the speed of light.

Description

Outside Front

TAD Litespeed-9426.jpg

The Litespeed has two faces, really. I chose to run the pack mostly as shown above, with the Transporter Tail removed and mounted inside the pack (more on this below). Here you can see all the glorious MOLLE webbing, the zippered admin pouch and the generous patch field. Note also the larger 2' webbing behind the MOLLE at some places with a wider 3" chanel spacing. These are useful for slipping something like tripod legs behind them. 

Here is the pack with the Transporter Tail mounted to the outside of the pack. It has an open top slip pocket on the rear. 

I have the transporter tail mounted so that the slip pocket is facing up. You can see by phone in there. 

Admin Pocket

The admin pocket is a fairly basic design with a few slots for pens and slip pockets for things like cables or small tools. It has no depth built into it to allow outward expansion. 

Transporter Tail

The Transporter Tail is completely removable and designed to allow the user to tailor it to there needs. It can be used like a standard beavertail to strap things like jackets to the face of the pack, used as an extra slip pocket as shown above, flipped down to hold something like a rifle butt or long tripod, or mounted inside the pack (see below). 

Sides and Top

Each side of the pack has the same MOLLE configuration, with 3 columns and one piece of 2" webbing as on the face of the pack. I keep a Teeter Pouch from OV Innovations fixed on the opposite side. 

The top of the pack has a well designed carry handle that is wrapped in hypalon and easy to grab when needed. The hydration port is also visible here. 

The paracord laced through there is designed to allow the strapping of a jacket on top of the pack when loosened. I have not had need to use it, but it would work well as designed if the pack was really loaded up. 

Suspension Side

The suspension side of the pack is covered in mesh over foam. It has three distinct pads for the shoulders and lumbar area.  The straps are fairly standard looking, and do include load lifters to help suck the pack into the users body. They have a mostly removable sternum strap made from 1" webbing. The HDPE frame sheet will flex quite  bit, but it seems adequately stiff, at the same time. 

Bottom

Here you can see the bottom of the pack with and without the compression straps. It is covered in MOLLE to allow more expansion of the pack. 

Inside 

This is fairly standard load out for me, minus my books. There is my Ape Case Cubeze 33, a pencil case, my Marmot Precip on the bottom and my laptop peaking out behind the Transporter Tail. 

The rear panel of the pack with the Transporter Tail mounted. There are attachment points for more accessories on the top and bottle, as well as at the middle of each side. 

Here is the back panel with the Transporter Tail removed. 

In the zippered pockets on the front panel I typically have a small Bible and a Maxpedition EDC Organizer.  

Design Commentary

Pros

The pack carries very well. I am spoiled to have spent a lot of time under the Futura Harness from Mystery Ranch, and while it is not as good as that, it is decent up to 20lbs or so. The pack is long enough to place the lower portion in my lumbar area, so that goes a long ways to make the pack carry comfortably too.  

The pack does well achieving it's aim to be very modular. With all the MOLLE webbing and a large array of accessories from TAD, this thing has potential to be outfitted in many ways. 

All the straps are removable. This helps considerably to clean the pack up.  

This is a solid pack built in the USA. Durability is not really a question. 

The interior pockets are decent and include pleats to allow them to expand. 

The nearly complete panel zip allows for decent access to the main compartment of the pack. 

The semi rigid frame sheet seems adequate for EDC and other light uses. 

TAD was thoughtful enough to reign in all those straps by providing ITW webbing keepers. 

When stripped down (or with the transporter tail moved to the side) the pack is relatively simple and easy to use and access. 

Cons

The admin Pocket does not have it’s own depth and is very basic in features. More often than not, it competes for space with the top inside mesh pocket.

The slanted bottom makes standing the pack up on it's own difficult. More than once it slid off a window sill with my laptop inside. Maybe I should have learned the first time, but the pack should be about to stand up on it's own. 

There is just no great way to carry a laptop without it going to the bottom of the pack. For a pack billed as EDC friendly, I feel this is a great oversight. Beyond that, the static straps mounting the Transporter Tail inside the pack require the user to loosen and tighten them each time the laptop is accessed. I was able to add a sort of sling to keep the laptop off the bottom of the pack, but for a pack billed as EDC friendly, I should not have to do that. 

The pack does not have a complete panel zip, causing difficult access to bottom at times. The point at which the front panel fold is also right through the middle of the lower mesh pocket, causing a conflict with the goods stowed there. 

Someone once called the Litespeed a, "strapy mess." This is true. With the Transporter Tail mounted on the outside of the pack, it is just hard to use. There are too many straps and buckles in the way of accessing the main compartment. 

If I recall correctly, this was a 2014 or 2015 release from TAD and as a hardware nerd, I can tell. The sternum strap hardware is very bulky and the classic metal triglide and rec-ring compression strap strap attachment methods are quite dated. There are much better pieces available today to allow for the same functionality. 

Several of the webbing ends were lightly melted and started to fray again. This may seem like a nit-pick, but at $245, I should not have to take a lighter to my pack. 

While the construction of the pack was mostly good, I did find one issue. In the admin compartment there is a seam that was misplace preventing the use of one of the three pen slots in the pack. There is a photo below to illustrate - look at the pen slot the light is in: 

That is all the lower it will go, due to the seem running up the middle of the slot. When I wrote TAD to ask about this, the reply I received was, "It's hard to tell if this is a defect or something that the previous owner tried to do." LAME. To their credit, this did offer to let me send the pack to CA, USA for evaluation and possible repair, but that is not really an option for me from Germany. In the end though, their trying to pass off the responsibility for the misplaced stitch left a bad taste for me. 

Conclusion

The pack seems to have a crisis of identity. It seems like it is ultimately a modular pack. But, this is a pack that has TOO much versatility at the cost of weight and "strapiness." It can do a lot of general things, but I do not see where this pack stands out given the flooded market of EDC, tactical and hiking packs. If you want a laptop pack, look elsewhere. If you want a hiking pack, this is not it. If you want a trim and efficient 22L EDC pack, this will disappoint. If you want a tactical pack that handles weight well, try something else. 

It's not all doom and gloom though. The pack carries well and is solidly built, despite the flaw in my unit. It is just much more of a generalist than I tend to prefer. It would suit someone without need of laptop carry, and would be pretty good as a travel pack for the overhead bin on a plane. 

You can check of the TAD Litespeed and purchase it directly here. 

Carry on everyone and God bless! 

- AT