Active shooter bag. Man bag. Bailout bag. Man purse. Ready bag. War bag. No matter what you call them, you have seen them. If you like to be prepared, if you regularly seek out training and strive to be a warrior, you can benefit from learning what these bags have to offer you. With active shooter incidents becoming more prevalent and violent, numerous tactical equipment companies are now making one version or another. Let’s start by learning about the different roles these bags can fill. Active Shooter Bags
This is a smaller bag, generally used by law enforcement officers to supplement their patrol rifle equipment. The bag must be small enough so that it doesn’t interfere with the duty gear already being worn by an officer. This bag may contain two to three rifle magazines, one pistol magazine, first-aid / trauma supplies, extra batteries, a multi-tool, flexible restraints, a couple of energy bars and a small bottle of water or sports drink.
Officers should include a detachable, cloth badge or shoulder patch that can be slid underneath a locked door so he can identify himself to the occupants. The patch can also be used as a signal device to other officers through a window or around a corner. Think of an officer responding to any of the recent school, office or mall shootings where multiple follow-on resources will be responding. Used to sustain an officer for up to 12 hours, these bags also make great camera or concealed carry bags.
This is a mid-sized bag that can also be used by an officer to carry additional supplies for longer term incidents. This bag is best carried by off-duty cops who may not have the backup resources of a police department. This bag may contain up to several rifle magazines, a day’s supply of food and water, a lightweight jacket or shell, a map and compass, an extra cell phone battery, a flashlight, a dust mask and eye protection. The bag itself may contain room to carry a handgun.
Think of having to abandon your vehicle due to a natural disaster such as a tornado, flood, earthquake, etc., and having to walk up to several miles to safety. Used to sustain a person for up to 24 hours, these bags also make a great airline carry-on, range equipment bag or tacti-cool daddy diaper bag.
This is the largest of the man bags. This bag carries supplies to sustain a person for more than a day. Items in this bag are designed to hold a person over during a large-scale disaster or for having to move through multiple incidents. This bag may contain most of the above listed items plus, two to three MRE-type meals, more than one large water bottle, a water purifier, a fleece jacket or hard shell, a small bolt cutter or pry bar, hat and gloves. This is a larger, courier-style bag or even a small daypack.
Think of having to move on foot for more than several miles, moving overnight or having to lead a small number of people to safety. Used to sustain a person for more than 24 hours, these bags also make great computer / commuter bags or a daypack for taking the kids to the zoo.
With numerous bags to choose from, you may find that there is no single bag that fits all of your needs. The small, active shooter bag this author uses as a patrol officer barely gets a second look during barricaded subject and other high-risk calls when the patrol rifle gets deployed. A commuter bag or daypack can be carried almost anywhere, and nobody will be any wiser as to its actual contents. Carried in the trunk of your car or placed under a desk at work, it will not result in screams of panic from your unprepared co-workers.
The mid-sized, bailout or ready bags may be the best of all things, but they will also draw the most stares from your friends and neighbors as you carry one to your kids’ soccer game or walk at the mall. Purse shaped and sized, these bags may also be best left in the trunk until needed or only brought out on your trip to the range. No matter what type of bag you do choose, there is no substitute or shame in being prepared.
The 5.11 Tactical Patrol Ready Bag is a seriously tactical briefcase. The bag measures 19” x 8” x 12” and has a water bottle pocket, thermos / flashlight pockets, baton loops and an internal organizer panel in the lid. The Two-Day Tac Bag is designed to convert from a briefcase to a backpack and is perfectly sized for short trips and missions. The Range Ready Bag includes two lockable pockets and a removable spent brass holder that can clip to your belt. It also has five large exterior pockets, including two that are lockable and one that organizes up to eight magazines. The Mission Ready Bag has heavy-duty wheels and a collapsible handle that make this bag a practical choice when traveling. A laptop keeper lets you secure your laptop case to the bag.
The S.E.R.E (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) bag is a basic, squared bag with lots of PALS (Pouch Attachment Ladder System) webbing that can be customized to the user’s needs. This is the perfect size to hold key essentials. Exclusive to Quartermaster, the S.E.R.E. bag is 5.11 Tactical’s answer to the need for a small bag that you can “load and go.”
The Battle Bag is very low profile with a multi-use interior. It does double duty as a compact briefcase. This bag features a routing port for a hand mic or radio antenna. It also has a clear, vinyl pocket for a map.
The Alpine Explorer is a multi-use, sports day pack with separate storage for a hydration reservoir. This bag also features exterior water bottle pockets and cinch straps.
Extreme Gear Labs
The Alan Modular Fighting Bag is a large, purpose-built bag to carry both your essential items and snivel gear into the fight with style. It has lots of PALS webbing so you can attach what you need and Velcro in the interior for affixing custom pouches.
LaRue Tactical / HawkePaks
The Bug Out Bag is a basic, squared bag with PALS webbing inside and out. It can also be belt worn or used as a modular butt pack. The Rifle Bug Out Bag is a versatile bag with a great pocket layout and a good shoulder strap. This bag has a large water bottle pocket and other fixed pockets for rifle and handgun magazines.
The Toadstool is a multi-pocket, compact, rectangular bag with a padded main pocket. PALS webbing on the sides is a great place to attach rifle magazine pockets. The Versipak Fatboy is a comfortable bag with a variety of fixed pockets, including a pocket for a small handgun. This bag is available for either left or right carry.
The Commute Bag has a large interior pocket with room for many things. One advantage is that the bag does not scream “tactical.”
The 3-Day pack (old style) is a tough, multi-purpose bag. Everyone should own at least one. This bag features a padded back, hydration pocket and can be used for any mission. The Active Shooter Bag is very comfortable bag to carry with lots of PALS webbing and a padded interior. This bag can also be used to carry documents or used as a small briefcase.
What to Carry?
This list of equipment is by no means complete nor should it be taken to be “the definitive list.” It is, however, a list of items that are readily available to anyone. People should be free to customize their list to suit their needs and situations.
• 6 rifle mags
• 2 pistol mags
• 1 small water bottle
• 1-2 larger water bottles
• 550 cord
• Duct tape
• Door wedge
• Flex cuffs
• Dust mask
• Eye protection
• Signal mirror
• Lightweight pullover
• Fleece jacket or vest
• Hardshell jacket
• Poncho, tarp or space blanket
• Trauma gear
• Pressure dressings
• Energy bars
• Map / compass
• Water purifier
• Pry bar / bolt cutters
• Hand sanitizer
• Hand warmers
• Cash, small bills
• Rescue whistle
Richard Hecht has been a deputy sheriff in Washington State since 1991. He served as a member of his department’s SWAT team from 1994 to 2005 and has been a firearms instructor since 2004. Rich served four years with the 2/75 Ranger Battalion and participated in Operation Just Cause. He also owns Rich275 Designs, a tactical equipment design, evaluation and marketing company. He can be contacted at email@example.com.