Everyday carry is an ever-evolving process. Ask ten gun people and they’ll each tell you something different (though you’ll probably want to ignore the guy who tells you to triple carry 1911s at the hip along with two Spydercos). As our lives become increasingly busy and our commutes more frequent, off-body carry has naturally become a popular option. A reliable EDC bag, preferably one that is low profile, can centralize all of your essential items while freeing up your waistband space and pockets for maximum comfort.
Enter Vertx, a pioneer in functional, minimalist tactical bag and clothing products. Gone are the days of making yourself a walking target for gun theft with your overt camo backpack with exposed MOLLE and Punisher skull logos. Vertx makes packs, bags, pants, and shirts that look like what a normal human being with a 9 to 5 job would wear and use. As a long-time user of their products, I was more than happy to try out their Gamut 2.0 backpack. Long story short? It’s a beautifully constructed pack with practical and well-thought-out features, albeit with some minor annoyances.
Only What You Need… or Pack the Kitchen Sink
My first foray into the Vertx bag space was with their EDC Ready Pack 2.0. I loved this bag, it allowed me to carry all of my day-to-day items without a hitch and without drawing any attention. However, I knew I wanted to upgrade to something slightly larger in size, but did not want to start carrying an oversized hiking backpack. That’s where the Gamut 2.0 fits my needs perfectly.
There are more features and carrying options on this thing than you’ll know what to do with. The Gamut 2.0’s main compartment comes with two large mesh storage pockets with YKK nylon coil zippers, a 3-D molded foam back panel divider for a laptop and folder insert, and is enclosed by a zipper that allows the entire compartment to open 180 degrees for easy loading. On any typical day, I am able to easily pack my laptop, a charger, headphones, a folder, various miscellaneous small items, and still have space for spare clothes in this one slot.
However, I will warn ahead of time, if the two inner pockets are full they can limit capacity in the primary compartment’s overall volume. To that effect, I do wish that Vertx had reused the EDC Ready Pack’s use of more external zippered pockets to make room for internal space.
In the front lies flaps that can be zipped down to access MOLLE webbing and velcro panels. This is great for mounting small pouches such as an IFAK for medical contents or other accessories. A common method is to store a jacket or even a helmet here by unzipping the flaps completely and using the G hooks to expand the flaps and retain the items inside.
On the sides of the backpack are small stretch pockets that can be adjusted for tightness using their nylon cord. Behind it are zippered side compartments that house additional zippered pockets (zipperception!) for additional small-item storage. Unfortunately, much like the internal pockets in the main compartment, these side pockets “pack out” so easily that even adding small items can make the stretch pouches unusable. For example, if I wanted to store my chapstick, hand sanitizer, and phone charger in the side zippered compartments, this would leave no room for the external pocket to hold a 500 ml water bottle. More often than not, you’ll be forced to pick one pocket over the other on either side.
At the very top is a small admin pocket, which is fantastic for quickly accessing your sunglasses or whatever else you can manage to fit. It’s deceptively roomy but not so deep that you’ll lose yourself finding your items. This is probably my most used pocket of the entire backpack.
Right above this is an incredibly useful grip that is built into the backpack itself, which allows you to utilize the entire Gamut’s frame when carrying at its heaviest capacity. Contrasting this is an external looped carrying handle. Among many Vertx bag owners, this feature is almost universally regarded as barely usable and absolutely one of the weakest aspects of the entire package. There is no rigidity to the handle as it constantly flexes and sits far too off the main body of the Gamut, making one-handed carrying from here very uncomfortable. You are almost better off removing this feature instead of creating a potential snagging point.
Storage is useful, but what about the Gamut enhances your defensive capabilities? That’s where the clever, intuitive design comes into play. I spoke before about the main compartment with its wide 180-degree zipper opening. This is also the perfect carrying spot for your short barrel rifle, AR pistol, or pistol caliber carbine. Using its Velcro pull tab at the very top, the user is able to quickly pull open the main compartment and access their firearm.
Located directly on the backside of the pack is a specific compartment for a concealed carry firearm or any other emergency use tool (or what I like to call, the “fun compartment”). The panel contains an industrial strength Velcro backer that is purpose-built to retain Vertx’s Tactigami Velcro pouches for magazines as well as for holsters. It easily opened with an oversized zipper grip.
Personally, I found using Vertx’s Multi-Purpose Holster Tactigami to be an unreliable and borderline unsafe option for carrying a loaded firearm as the construction is simply not strong enough to secure a firearm under continual movement. I would highly recommend using a kydex holster from a reputable brand and using a Velcro adapter to mount onto the panel. The Tactigami’s use only really works with a spare magazine and even then, I’ve found my spare magazine to fall out of place fairly often.
As the late great Billy Mays (RIP) once said, “But wait, there’s more!” Directly behind the velcro panel is a special insert for ballistic armor plates, adding immense value to the Gamut. As an EDC backpack, I highly recommend using lightweight, soft armor panels rated for common pistol caliber rounds such as 9mm, 45 ACP, and the like. The go-to option here is Premier Body Armor for their armor panels that are specifically cut for Vertx bag models. Further complimenting this is an external back panel that contains an arm strap, essentially allowing the user to become Captain America with this Vibranium shield (nerdy I know, but you get the idea).
Verdict on the Vertx
Vertx has a winner on their hands with the Gamut 2.0 backpack, finding a strong balance between normal everyday use and practical field applications. The overall construction is high quality, durable, accessible, and fashionable even. The fact it comes available in a variety of gorgeous color options that don’t scream “Tacticool Sheepdog III%er” is the cherry on top. While minor inconveniences in regards to the pocket dimensions and carrying handle are present, I still highly recommend this for anyone looking for a semi-minimalist EDC Pack option.