We put the gear we sell through some testing and range time, first. This review dives into why and how we like the G.P.S. Tactical Range Backpack, and what it's best for. Today's review dives into the big features, the small detaisl, and how it handled our personal range load-out with some pistols, ammo, equipment, and magazines. We captured some pictures to show off the important stuff and we gave our personal take below.
G.P.S. Range Backpack at A Glance
The Short n' Sweet: This range backpack's a sort of hybrid bag designed for the pistol shooter who has a slight case of OCD (or maybe you just like being very organized). It carries a lot of ammo and weight like a duffel, has removable compartments for your pistols and gear, it's weatherproof, and it's comfortable to carry like a proper backpack.
The Big Features
- (3) padded internal pistol storage cases w/ magazine pouches
- (4) outside zippered pockets for ammo and accessories
- Padded waist strap / cummerbund for stability
- Pull-out rain cover for wet-weather range days
- Visual I.D. Storage for organizing your gear
- MOLLE webbing for extra PALS attachments
- 1000-Denier Nylon with DuPont Teflon coating
- Self-tracking YKK zippers that are lockable
Our Test Gear
For our review, we loaded the bag for a typical 3-hour range day: We threw in a heavy old 1911 G.I. with four extra 8-round magazines of .45 ACP. and we tucked away a Glock 23 inside one of the removable pistol totes with two extra magazines seated in the bottom front compartment, also loaded. We used the second pistol tote bag for ammo: Three boxes of .40 S&W and two boxes of .45 ACP. We topped the bag off with your basic PPE, including some over-the-ear shooting muffs with plugs inside, and a tac-light for S's and giggles. In all, we were carrying around 300 rounds of ammo.
Tucked Up: How Does it Carry?
All done up, the GPS Backpack handles a lot of weight quite well, and manages keep center of gravity close to your person. One unique little thing stuck out that we really liked:
Bonus Features (Y-Strap)
We like the adjustable Y-strap with a buckle that folds over the main compartments and secures to the bottom front compartment. The fasteners feel pretty hefty, too. We found this helps to keep the bag stable and prevents it from feeling sloppy or "frumpy". Cinching it up keeps the weight closer to your backside, making it easier to carry with less strain on your shoulders and low back. If you're carrying any awkward gear (like a roll-out shooting mat or metal targets) we wager the Y-strap could serve as a makeshift tie-down, too.
Shoulder Straps and Cummerbund
This is probably the thing we love most about the GPS Backpack: The shoulder straps are nice and padded, thick with great stitching. Adjustments are simple and they stay put. The center buckle that goes across the chest can be a tad annoying if you're not using it, but it does come in handy if you're fighting the shoulder straps with a lot of weight and want to keep the straps high up without sagging off your shoulders. The cummerbund does a great job distributing extra weight around your mid section. There isn't much padding at the front where the buckle meets each strap, but this didn't cause any discomfort for us.This isn't a hiking pack, after all.
The Main Features
Fit and carry aside, the GPS Backpack's features are thought out well, with an emphasis on organization (features below are shown with a tan bag for better clarity):
GPS incorporated what they call the "Visual I.D. System" into the backpack. The I.D. system uses specifically sized compartments labeled with small visual indicators for each piece of range gear. Shown above, left, is the pouch for your ballistic glasses. Shown above, right, are individual pouches for individual sets of ear plugs.
The Visual I.D. System legend:
The GPS Backpack includes these I.D. Compartments:
- Target Stapler
- Shooting Glasses
- Ear Plugs (2)
- Ear Muffs
- Lockable Zipper
- Rain Cover
Removable Pistol Totes (3)
The pistol totes are pretty slick, and three are included with the backpack. Each tote measures 11" x 8" x 3", providing plenty of room for any full-size handgun. We were able to fit two 1911s side-by-side, shoebox-style in one tote. Each tote includes a padded separator to keep your guns and magazines from scratching each other. If you're only bringing one or two pistols to the range, it's easy to just shove a bunch of ammo in that extra pouch. Or, leave it out to save some weight.
External Target Straps
This is a small detail, but we came to appreciate it. Folding up your paper targets can ruin them, especially if you're using reactive targets or splatter targets (the creases can cause colors to bleed-through). We were able to roll up our paper targets nice and tight and keep them in place with the two elastic loops on the left side of the bag. The Visual I.D. logo for the paper targets lets you know what they're for. Simple, but effective.
Wet-Weather Rain Cover
Another "small" detail that can make a big difference when you're spending time on those cloudy days putting rounds downrange. The backpack includes a waterproof rainfly that provides full coverage once unraveled. This thing is awesome. The material's thing but not flimsy, so it stores nicely and doesn't take up any space.
YKK Lockable Zippers
Obviously, a fabric bag provide the same security as a gun safe -- but the GPS Backpack does include locking loops on its YKK zippers for each main compartment. This provides at least some peace of mind while you're traveling in the car or walking downrange to change targets. It keeps prying eyes off your guns and gear. Tan is being shown for clarity, though the locking zippers are present on both colors.
Range Backpack Field Test
How well does the Range Backpack work at, well, the range? We put it to the test with its fancy cummerband and strap system and did a 2-mile hike out to some desolate public shooting ranges in Utah. The June heat was scorching enough, but the pack was airy, relatively lightweight when loaded up, and comfortable. The internal frame kept the bag composed on bumpy ground, prevented our gear and guns from slopping around, and it didn't become a hot, sweaty mess on the backside.
G.P.S. Tactical's Range Backpack gets a rave review, and it's easy to see why. It can comfortably carryfour or more handguns and all the magazines to match, it'll store plenty of ammo for a long day of shooting, it's incredibly organized (thanks to the Visual I.D. compartments), and it's easy to carry. It's durable as Hell thanks to that 1,000D construction and reinforced stitching on all the straps, and you don't have to worry about your gear getting soaked with the included rain fly.
No bag is perfect, of course. There are some very nit-picky things to consider: The straps for the shoulders might be a tad small if you're incredibly tall, though we're talking 6-feet-5-inches or more. This bag is rugged and can take a beating, so it's not a featherweight like that paper-thin bag you'd take on the Appalachian Trail. But again, we're not hiking, we're shooting.
Beyond these two nit-picks, there's nothing else we can find to complain about. The GPS Backpack is an excellent range bag, especially for the price.