After years of lugging around a full-sized range bag at matches I started looking for a lighter, more compact alternative. The resulting purchase was a CED/DAA Range Pack and it’s performance has exceeded my expectations.
When I practice I take a range bag and an ammo box. This allows me to have items like a paster gun, stapler, extra staples, multiple types of ammo, and various other items that I don’t take to matches.
But on match days I expect to do a lot of walking so small and light is the name of the game. One of our team uses a Maxpedition Falcon II and likes it very much. I considered one of those. It is very well-made, light, and has lots of storage locations. It also has a hydration system built in. I nearly purchased one but I saw someone with a CED/DAA Range Pack Pro at a match in Spring 2014 and was really intrigued.
The Range Pack Pro is significantly larger than the Falcon II but it also includes a stool, hydration system, and an umbrella. While I didn’t need all these extra items, I did note that the pack itself had some unique properties. When the smaller version was released I decided it was time to switch.
One common feature of these packs that sets them apart from other range bags or even other packs is that they are made with a rigid construction. They have rubber feet on the bottom and due to the design they stand on their own when placed on a bench, table, chair or range cart. At first this may not sound important but when you consider that most range bags (even those with lots of internal and external pockets) wind up just jumbling your gear all together, it starts to become clear why this design is so good.
The RangePack has four external side pockets, the two lower ones I use for 1) IFAK and 2) hand wipes and extra hand cloths, both sets of items I don’t need often. The upper pockets are a little smaller but are easier to get to and open quickly I keep my video camera and ear plugs in one and my timer and Nitrile gloves in the other. The pack has a front-opening lower compartment that can hold probably 1k 9mm rounds in boxes (I would not want to try and carry that!) and is very rigid on all sides, top, and bottom. I normally carry match ammo, my spare pistol, an Adventure Medical Kits Trauma Pak, squib rods, and a small box with a few hex wrenches, oil bottle, and a lighter (melting fiber rod ends). A few other items could be placed in there if needed. There are also a couple of thin pockets on the outside rear of the pack that I use for the rulebooks, pens, and miscellaneous match paperwork.
This brings us to the key element: the main top compartment. Inside you will find elastic pockets on all four sides. There are 7 small mag puches across the front and two large ones on the left side. The right side pocket is large enough for my Ear Pro and the rear is the full width of the bag. I use it for hat cam, MagLula and whatever other small items I might need. This leaves a significant but not too big area in the center which on match day holds my primary pistol in its soft case, a water bottle, mag brush, and anything else that I want to keep with me. Compared to what all I could/would carry in my other range bags this is not a lot of stuff, which is exactly the idea. When I finish shooting a stage I immediately come back to the pack, open the top and reload mags. I place ones I’m not using back in the interior pouches. The amount of space I need on a flat surface is much less than with other bags or packs and because the main compartment is elevated I don’t need to reach down into the bag to get things.
While the functionality of the pack as a storage device is excellent, it is even better to carry. The shoulder straps are as heavy-duty and well-designed as any high-end load-bearing system I’ve ever seen or used and has an elasticized sternum strap the pulls it all together. There’s also a waist belt but I find it is unnecessary for me. The padding in the back is also beautifully designed with a lot of cushion yet plenty of airflow channels and wicking material to keep the pack cool on hot days.
The pack also includes a rain cover with elastic trim that can be used even while carrying the pack. This is stowed in a small zippered pocket under the carry handle. Along with several exterior metal hard points the pack includes a belt keeper device that lets you carry your belt system on the outside of the pack. This solves a significant problem for those of us that use those big, heavy two-part belts with holster and pouches installed: how to carry the darned thing? This device attached to the rear of the pack solves that problem completely.
The only negative I can see with the CED/DAA RangePack is the weight, and this is really a minor issue. It’s a little heavier than a simple non-rigid daypack or range bag. A related issue is that because of its construction you can actually carry all your ammo inside, unlike some other systems which require an ammo box or some other system to carry ammo. This feature can contribute to the impression that the bag is heavier than it really is. Even so I am able to walk around at matches carrying several hundred rounds of ammo and absolutely everything I need for the day comfortably on my back and still have both hands free. I think this is a big leap forward in range bag evolution.
I almost forgot: it fits perfectly in a jog stroller, er, I mean “3-gun range cart”. 😉