We treat gear like Mike Tyson treats ears. This has given us a deep appreciation for anything of extreme durability. Today we offer up something from RE Factor for your scrutiny.
Good quality American made gear often comes at a cost, usually a steep one. After running around the country for the last few months with the RE Factor ASO bag, we think there might be a few exceptions to that rule.
RE Factor had their idea of what a “tactical travel bag” should be, and set out to make the best duffle that they could. They wanted a mid-sized bag to accommodate the usual load out of equipment commonly carried by armed professionals and everyday shooters alike. The result is the chock-Full-of-features Advanced Special Operations bag.
“The Advanced Special Operations (ASO) Bag was specifically designed for the individual who needs the ability to travel with a tactical bag without the tactical look.” Essentially, the ASO bag was created to haul a ton of gear in a small package without standing out like a sore thumb. Sized for use as a carry-on for commercial flights, we found that the ASO fit into all the overhead compartments we tried, even when packed to the max.
The ASO bag has a total of five separate compartments, with plenty of sub-compartments and features. On either side of the bag, you find two pockets, one specially lined with RFID blocking material for your passport, wallet, and phone. The other side of the rectangular bag has a zip-flat flap supported by a 550 cord “drawbridge” of sorts. This system allows you to adjust how low the compartment opens when fully unzipped, for example, if you access it while standing.
The compartment is backed with velcro for storing patches or gear, sewn PALS style for attaching MOLLE pouches. This is a cool feature for those who use Blue Force Gear Dapper style velcro -attach pouches or issued magazine pouches to hold extra gear. The double pull tab zippered flap lowers to expose three rows heavy elastic webbing, which is great for smaller items like energy bars and tourniquets. At the top of the flap, there is another small zippered compartment, giving you an additional pocket the size of the flap itself.
Outside the bag, there are two slim, shallow-bottomed pockets. These are closed with velcro and make for great storage of smaller items you might not use frequently. They also function as a storage compartment for the hand-carry straps, when using the bag in “backpack mode”. Alternately you can detach the shoulder straps from the bag, and stow them in these side pockets. This gives the ASO bag the look of a classic athletic duffle.
The Main Compartment.
The ASO bag has a large, top-loading compartment that comprises most of the bag’s size. Accessed by two zipper pull tabs, the top flap opens to reveal a selection of features, namely seven different smaller mesh pockets. The top cover swings out to reveal three zippered pockets, which allow you to organize and identify your gear when stowed. Below them are two additional pockets with the same layout. We found these pockets great when using the bag as an actual travel bag, leaving different compartments for socks, skivvies and toiletry items. At the far ends of this main compartment are two more zippered mesh pockets, sized for larger items or folded up t-shirts. Lastly, there is additional webbing and Velcro opposite of the flap’s opening, allowing additional velcro or MOLLE pouches to be attached.
We used the bag for business travel and to haul range gear, and found it to be a great all-purpose bag. The rugged waterproof material on the bottom helps keep gear dry and reinforces a more “civi-style”, low-pro look that echoes through the design. The ASO is sewn here in the good ole’ US of A and is available in tactical colors such as Ninja Black, classic Tan, Ranger Green, High-speed Multicam, Foliage, MARPAT desert, Kryptek Highlander and old-school woodland.We have plenty of bags that scream “military” so we decided on a more overt red color for our review. Our logic was if we didn’t like it as a gear bag, it would get repurposed as a large medial aid bag. Based off how much we like the ASO, that’s not going to happen! If you are like us and want a less tactical look, go with your choice of Red, Navy Blue, Steel Blue or Coast Guard Orange. Regardless of which color you pick, all are sewn from long-lasting 1000D Cordura.
If you want a great all purpose travel/gear bag, take a hard look at the ASO bag. We think you will like it as much as we do, so check it out and let us know what you think. RE Factor keeps coming with rock-solid gear and innovative designs, and the ASO bag follows this trend.
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