I have always heard that in order to get a true feel and assessment of a restaurant that you should give it at least two dining experiences at the establishment. Why shouldn’t the same be true for gear?
I thought about the first experience I had with the Fieldline Tactical Alpha OPS Internal Frame Pack. Perhaps I just bought a bad one, though I dislike the thought of that. To me, when it comes to a quality item, every one of the lot should be the cat’s ass when you pull it off of a store’s shelf. But there were so many positive reviews that I read about this pack, so many super-duper videos about it on YouTube. Maybe it was the proverbial crap item of the lot. Maybe I had too much weight in it. Maybe it was made on a Monday or a Friday. Maybe this is what was foretold in the Mayan Calendar. Maybe it came into contact with Kryptonite. I finally talked myself into giving it yet another try.
I went to a different Walmart and purchased the pack. There weren’t any heavenly rays shining down on it, birds chirping, doves flying; just a very large person on a motorized scooter blocking the way. I waited. I guess the self-imposed parking meter finally ran out of time and they sluggishly drove off, opening the aisle. I was able to get the last pack of this type that was on the shelf. Woo Hoo! My lucky day? I was excited to find out. I bounced back and forth and did a little dance, practically twerking up to the product. No, I wasn’t excited at all. I had spent so much time waiting for the aisle to open up, needing to make a mad dash to the last of the pack of this type that I really needed to pee. Maybe that is why I didn’t do an on-the-rack assessment of the pack. I needed to buy it and get to a bathroom quickly. If others have seen the video assessments saying how awesome this pack is it may be gone by the time I made my way across the store and back (and with my luck they would be cleaning the bathroom).
Purchase made, bathroom used, and I was out the door. I got the pack home and it had that incredible new car smell that you just have to drink in. I decided that I would use this pack for the train up for the Chia Challenge I had created to test out the chia claims. I loaded the basic items into the pack, two Camelbaks (I do love this feature of the pack), utilized the MOLLE Weave bat belt waist strap (I love this feature as well), a few extras and brought the weight of the pack up to 32 lbs, half of what I had carried on my initial bug out. I even threw on a name tape and US Flag patch to fully utilize the Velcro patches and to give it that extra pimping out to make it just that much more awesome. Yeah, I was ready to rock it!
The next day I was ready. I set up the training course and returned to home base. I stared down the pack for a moment, you always need to smack talk your gear initially, and then kiss its ass when you need it to work; it’s man-law. I picked up the pack and again heard the familiar snapping of stitching. I set it back down and looked the harness system over (as it is what failed me last time). It was good to go. Probably just smack talking me back, like when I try to squeeze into my bad ass red jeans from the 80’s to feel young again. I picked it back up and hefted it over my back but when I went to buckle the waist strap I noted that the left strap had been assembled backward. Again I had to put the pack down. I unwove the left fastener and fed the webbing through as it should have been and the show was back on. “Bad omens” was all I could think as I threw the pack back onto my back.
I was able to hit the road this time. Everything seemed good to go. I started to lightly jog down the road, leaving a trail of fire behind me (it’s true, I saw it). I had gotten no more than a block/block and a half when the weight of the pack became uneven. Not uncommon. I took a quick break to situate the weight of the pack; tightened up my straps…wait…did the straps become loose? I wasn’t 100% sure if I had tightened them properly before I started so I shrugged it off. I started down the road again. Two more blocks of jogging answered the question of if the pack straps had loosened. Yes they did. I stopped and hefted the pack up and retightened them, and did so again and again along the route. This was a familiar game for me, I played it the last time I had used this brand of pack. It was irritating, angering, and uncalled for then and it sure wasn’t any different this time. The only difference was that I since I only had 32 lbs. in the pack I didn’t have to stop to retighten the straps, I could do it on the move.
At the end of the training I threw the pack down and gave it a stern talking to. I decided that the pack will sit in “time out” on the shelf of shame and never know the joy of working with me again. Made in China…. Lesson learned; never put a US flag on a product that was made in China.