Gay for Backpacks: The Hazard 4 Rocket

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Hazard 4 Backpack: the Hazard 4 Rocket

I’m a traditional kinda guy. I started my military career in 1989 when ALICE packs and Y-harnesses were the norm. Through the years our LBE evolved so much that my old Y-harness seems as modern as chain mail armor, but packs pretty much stayed the same. They got lighter maybe, and they added pouches, Camelbak compartments, and MOLLE attachment points, but stuck to the basic “two shoulder straps and cargo area” design.

Then some smartass decided to make a pack with one cross-chest strap and call it a “messenger bag”. Those were messengers that were generally gentrified yuppies who’d never touched a firearm and would starve to death if they got lost in the woods for four hours. I saw a few of those single-strap purse-looking bags slung over the slender shoulders of people I suspect were biologically male (although their clothing made it hard to tell), and dismissed both the bags and people as trendy but irrelevant.

Hazard 4 Rocket
Sling shoulder travel bag, old-school metrotactical style. 

Then Hazard 4 made a cool single-strap “sling” bag. And I had to reassess my bias against sling bags.

Hazard 4 Rocket backpack

Hazard 4 makes several sling bags, but I tested out the Rocket, from their “Evac” line of bags. The Rocket is a slim patrol-type bag, intended for short trips rather than weeklong patrols. It has a fairly substantial main compartment, four smaller compartments, and MOLLE attachment points for extra pouches. The main pouch can be divided in two with an included divider, and the bag can mount a pistol holster and carry long guns.

Hazard 4 describes the bag this way:

Being jammed in confined spaces for hours is an unfortunate part of the business for many professionals we serve. Whether it’s a military unit in an a.p.c., a pilot in a cockpit, drivers in a HumVee, or a journalist in the back of a goat truck, they all have to bring their gear. And they all may need to ‘relocate’ in a hurry. This is the environment for which our Evac™line of sling packs has been geared. They are slim shaped to be easily manoeuvred in crowds, or stored in vehicles/lockers, and are quick to take on or off. They are also ambidextrous, and unlike others in this class, are actually comfortable on the shoulder; The bottom strap clips from either the right or left lower corner and the padded section realigns itself ergonomically in the correct body-hugging direction. The bag can be rotated to the chest for on-the-go access, and all pockets are designed to face the user in this mode on either the right or left side. One-strap-carry also makes shouldering a long-gun comfortable – unlike a backpack.

Having spent a lot of time in cramped tank turrets and Humvees, and a fair amount of time wandering around in helicopters, I think Hazard 4 may be on to something; the Rocket would have been easier to maneuver inside a vic or helo than my patrol packs. And I could have actually gotten into a vehicle or aircraft with the Rocket on my back, rotated it to my chest as I took a seat, then rotated it right back when I got out. Whatever I had on my back would have been easily accessible during the ride. This concept seems far superior to our usual method of stuffing patrol packs into some hard-to-reach space in our vehicle during missions.

I put the Rocket through a light workout at a 1MOA Precision Rifle course last year, plus tried it out in a few other situations (like jogging; it worked, but bounced around quite a bit). All in all, I was pretty impressed with it.

Hazard 4 Rocket backpack

Hazard 4 Rocket backpack

It has sufficient cargo space, ample attached pouches and pockets is ambidextrous, and has a waist strap and well-placed drag handles. Plus it seemed well built and sturdy. But I’m gay for backpacks and realized I might be a little biased by the bag’s coolness, so I showed it to some soldier friends for second opinions.

One was an infantry officer. He grunted positive noises, dragged his knuckles happily across the fabric, expressed a desire to break and/or have sex with the bag, then said he used a different sling bag in Afghanistan and wished he’d had the Hazard 4 Rocket instead. All good there.


But the other friend was a parachute rigger. He inspected the bag like an art expert examining a possibly forged Rembrandt. As he went over it he narrated his thoughts: “As a rigger, I look for likely points of failure. This bag is made of high-quality material, the buckles and stitching all look good. But…”, he said, as he got in close to the seam binding and handles, “this binding is cheap. And the handles don’t have reinforced attachment points. Under stress or after extended hard use, I’d expect the binding on the seams to separate or the handles to come off.”

Hazard 4 Rocket backpack

 

That was surprising, so I pressed him for more detail. He said he’d only expect the handles to fail if the bag was really loaded down (like with ammo) and someone lifted it by the handle, and that the seams would separate after the bag was carried on patrols or thrown around armored vehicles for months. We talked about how I envisioned the bag being used: carrying a relatively light load (water, couple mags, MRE, blowout kit, etc.) on specific types of missions (convoys, armored vehicle/aircraft operations). He thought the Rocket would be fine for that.

Even with my rigger friend’s concerns, I’d still feel comfortable carrying this bag for the kinds of missions I described. I’d be mindful not to use the handles if the bag was loaded down, and I’d watch the seams for gaps, but I’d have no real worries. Having said that, I wouldn’t use this bag in the civilian world; it’s available only in black and coyote, and pretty much screams “I’m carrying a gun but I don’t want to look like I’m carrying a gun even though I kinda want to look tacticool so the public suspects I have a gun.”

So I’d use the bag for military, training or range purposes, but keep it away from regular life. Maybe you can use it in the field to carry your hammock.

Hazard 4 Rocket backpack
This bag is not exactly “low profile.”

Here are the bag’s specs:

_ relatively large volume will hold bulkier items with ease

_ thermo-molded back panel w/ logo & air-circulation array

_ full hydration bladder compatible (up to 100 Oz./ 3 L)

_ can fit 3 L hydration bladder up to 2.5 L capacity

_ one large pocket for access while on chest w/ organizer

_ one smaller stuff-pocket for gloves etc. w/ patch area

_ large grab-handles for carrying and pulling to chest/back

_ trap-door pass for hydration hose w/ large bite-valve cover

_ internal mesh zip/elastic pockets for organizing items

_ top-open panel zipper can be accessed while on chest

_ wind-flap zippers on all pockets to keep out the elements

_ padded shoulder strap with 3-D airmesh for comfort

_ large, locking side-push buckle is easily indexed on chest

_ stabilizer-strap links to either side and keeps bag from sliding

_ top/bottom compression-straps, also secure tubular items

Weapons Accommodations:

_ hydration-pocket velcro panel for an optional holster

_ MOLLE all-around for attaching holsters/mag pouches

_ large external pockets fit multiple rifle magazines

_ side flat-pockets for paddle holsters/ rifle magazines

 Weapons Fit:

_ up to H&K G36C or MP5 (w/ collapsing stocks)

_ most full-size auto-pistols

 What’s Included:

_ 1x 1” Stabilizer strap

_ 1x Padded Divider

I’m sold on the Rocket and Hazard 4 products in general. If anyone has used the Rocket operationally, please let us know in the comments.

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Chris Hernandez

Chris Hernandez may just be the crustiest member of the eeeee-LITE writin’ team here at Breach-Bang-Clear. He is a veteran of both the Marine Corps and the Army National Guard who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a veteran police officer of two decades who spent a long (and eye-opening) deployment as part of a UN police mission in Kosovo. He is the author of White Flags & Dropped Rifles – the Real Truth About Working With the French Army and The Military Within the Military as well as the modern military fiction novels Line in the Valley, Proof of Our Resolve and Safe From the War. When he isn’t groaning about a change in the weather and snacking on Osteo Bi-Flex he writes on his own blog.


Chris Hernandez has 113 posts and counting. See all posts by Chris Hernandez

10 thoughts on “Gay for Backpacks: The Hazard 4 Rocket

  • March 29, 2016 at 9:01 pm
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    I have a similar sling bag made by Maxpedition that I use for hunting day trips. The thing I really like about it is that I can shoulder my rifle without any obstruction from a strap. Also, just sliding the bag to the front presents the contents for easy access without taking the bag off.

    For certain applications bags like this are ideal.

    Reply
  • March 29, 2016 at 12:23 pm
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    As someone with a ton of bags and backpacks over the years (I might be gay for packs too), I can’t say I’d ever have any interest in a sling bag and especially not one that looks like this.

    Not only does this scream tacticool/I play too much Tom Clancy’s The Division, it’s the kind of bag that many police will find suspicious if they see you wearing it or spot it in your vehicle (sorry LEO’s, you know they type of cop I’m talking about exists, there’s at least one in each department).

    On top of that this bag is begging to get stolen no matter what you have in it. Not only will LEO’s and civilians think you have a gun in it, criminals will too and that will put it high on their priority list to walk off with.

    At the price point I find for this thing online, I’d rather have another Oakley Mechanism or 2x of the Condor bag I keep my car’s medical kit in.

    Reply
    • March 29, 2016 at 9:34 pm
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      Totally agree, which is why I said I wouldn’t use it for civilian use other than taking to the range. I wish they made one that didn’t look so tacticool.

      Reply
      • March 30, 2016 at 2:41 am
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        The tacticool thing is my main problem with it honestly. I carry a backpack 99% of the time I’m outside the house and it doesn’t draw attention the way this thing does.

        Request: Since you guys do badass reviews of gear that you use for quite awhile and actually torture test the shit out of, as opposed to having it for two weeks and writing a review, can you do a review for 1) A large(ish) backpack for medical… say for car carry and 2) other car options such as a Smittybilt GEAR system?

        I already have my opinions and have things for both but I’d LOVE for some serious professionals to take a look at both and offer the pros and cons!

        Reply
        • March 30, 2016 at 8:14 pm
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          I’d be happy to request a Smittybilt system for review. What medical backpack did you have in mind?

          Reply
          • March 31, 2016 at 12:37 am
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            Thanks Chris!

            The backpack I currently have as my car medical kit is a Condor Mission Pack. While it’s not a “medical pack” per se it seems to do the job but I feel like it might not hold up well over time and that there might be better packs for this purpose out there.

            I like it because it has a lot of mesh pockets in each compartment, which helps keep things organized and the molle on the back of the bag is good for holding a bunch of CATs in their holsters. It doesn’t need to be super sturdy because it basically just sits in the trunk. (Pictures available if needed.)

            No need to go hunting for that Israeli bandage or that bottle of aspirin under a bunch of other stuff with the pockets holding everything in place. I’m curious what else is out there, so I offer the Condor as a starting point.

            I’m also using the GEAR seat cover on my WRX, it came off my Jeep Wrangler, but it seems to fit pretty well on a variety of bucket style seats. My issue with it is that while I have had no problems with the I read the reviews in certain places and people say it’s crap with stitching that pulls out etc. so I’m curious if those people are just beating the hell out of the system, if they got a lemon or if I just got lucky?

            For these reasons it seems to me like a good candidate for a serious torture test.

            Personally I love it because it uses previously unusable vertical space to hold a TON of stuff but the seat behind me is still usable. (Pictures also available if need be as well as a list of the 20+lbs worth of stuff I have on it.)

            Thanks again!

            Reply
  • March 29, 2016 at 7:23 am
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    Looks pretty good, I might have to go ahead and get one. I use a medium Alice for most purposes, have an old Hugo Boss leather purse(yes, purse) as my AK TAC bag. Its black, leather, water tight, has multiple interior pockets and starts lots of conversations at the range. It was a yard sale find for $5 and I have been using for 22 years, so it is about time to retire it. This Rocket looks like a good candidate.

    Reply
  • March 28, 2016 at 3:36 pm
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    I’m a helo guy and I had one loaded down with ammo, some survival stuff, first-aid, and water for my “go-bag”. No issues, love the bags low profile and I was able to keep it well within reach if i happened to crash and had to bug out… It’s now a range bag and still everything is still in one piece.

    Reply
  • March 28, 2016 at 1:08 pm
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    I love my rocket! I put a tear away medic pouch on either side above the side pockets, and a tourniquet pouch on the sling where it can ride in the middle of my chest. Works great. And the main compartment carries my Kel Tec Sub 2000 like it was made for it. This is my favorite bag by far. All of the Hazard 4 stuff is top quality.

    Reply
  • March 28, 2016 at 10:06 am
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    I use their Photo-Recon bag with my SLR. Its similar to the Rocket and has worked well so far. Its been to Alaska and several other areas though nothing overly rugged. It needed a few minor adjustments with regards to strap management and external pocketing as the Photo-Recon only has two smaller ones. I’ve added a couple Maxpedition Velcro organizers and I’m still hunting for the right combination of external pockets.

    Reply

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