Die deutsche Version dieses Reviews befindet sich im Tacticalforum.
This year at the IWA Outdoor fair 2014, Helikon introduced its Direct Action line which was developed in cooperation with elite soldiers from units like SEAL tem 3 or the Polish Grom. Generally I do not give much thought about such cooperations since they seem more like PR to me, but the combination of Grom and the SEALs sounds interesting either way.
The difference to previous products by Helikon is the use of high quality materials and an outstanding manufacture, which aims to compete with high profile companies of the industry. With this review I want to take a critical look at the D.A. Messenger Bag and if Helikon is able to meet its own high demands.
Size: 35 x 26 x 13 cm
Materials: 500D Cordura, Duraflex buckles, YKK zipper
This is supposed to be made by Helikon? To be honest, these were my initial thoughts when I saw the first pictures in different social media. And I felt like a broken record as I repeated this thoughts at IWA.
Helikon progressed extensively in regard to quality and workmanship with this new product line. The first thing that one recognizes is the large scale MOLLE compatibility due to laser cut slits in the Cordura fabric. This can be found at the front flap and all the outer pouches. The advantages are obvious. On the one hand you have enormous savings in material because you can get rid of all the webbing. This allows also a noticeable weight reduction. On the other hand any camouflage pattern which is being used for the product won’t be interrupted by webbing and is therefore able to perform in its full capacity.
At the same time I am sceptical on how this system is going to perform in regard to dirt. This way there is a lot of room behind the laser cut MOLLE fabric and the back, where dust, sand etc can amass. Time will tell and I will keep you posted on that issue.
As mentioned before the workmanship is outstanding. There are no loose threads, the stitching is clean and the materials speak for themselves.
At the top you can find a dragging handle with one D-ring on each side. Everything is stitched nice and tough. At the front of the main flap one can find a panel which goes inside the whole flap. The opening is right above the MOLLE slits. Here is enough room for papers and other flat objects.
The flap itself can be closed with velcro and two Duraflex buckles. The velcro is very adhesive and hard to open. You can count on surprised looks when opening the bag because of the opening noise. To circumvent this, Helikon adds a strip of loop velcro to cover parts of the hook velcro. This way everyone can customize the amount of velcro used by the flap.
The back of the flap features a see through panel for maps or similar stuff you want to have in view.
At the front of the bag there are two outer pouches, covered with laser cut MOLLE slits and the loop velcro which is used for closing the bag.
The pouches are configured differently:
Looking from above the left pouch is a complete clamshell design which has a mesh pocket and a loop velcro panel which can be used to attach different accessories with velcro backing. Helikon also used a drawbridge pocket design which is known from different admin pouches. This way you can open the pouch completely without spilling the content. With the Cordlock you can decide how far the pouch opens. The pouch can be opened via a two way YKK zipper and features zipper pulls with tubing on the cords. These are some nice little details someone decided to integrate.
The right pouch can be opend up to 2/3, features a mesh pocket and an admin panel with 3 penslots, 1 Cellphone/GPS Slot and a pocket behind the admint panel with one keyring.
On the sides there are two different smaller pouches.
On the one side you can find a simple pouch for drinking bottles which can be secured with a strap that is secured via velcro and which can also be removed completely. This pouch also features a drainhole and has enough room for a canteen bottle. But the available room is influenced by the main compartment. If this is fully packed, the pouch on the side can only be used partially.
On the other side there is a small MOLLE covered pouch which features one mesh pocket and a panel with a key ring.
The main compartment is completely lined with loop velcro and therefore enables the use of various accessory pouches. There is a dedicated notebook panel which is padded and holds room for 13” notebooks. A big folder has enough room in the main compartment and the flap can still be closed without problems.
The back of the D.A. Messenger Bag features another flat zippered panel, which holds room for papers. You can also find two D-rings which are the attachment points for a simple waist strap to stabilise the bag.
The sling of the bag is mounted with two huge Duraflex buckles. There is a dedicated pad for the shoulders which is being made out of a non slip material. Thank god the sling can pass unhindered through the pad otherwise it would be hard to position the bag comfortable.
I had to get used to the fact that I do not need to reposition the padding each time I grab the bag to get inside. The anti slip material is so good that I could get the bag from the bag to the front without any problems.
The same rubber material can also be found on the bottom of the bag where it also functions as an additional lining against humidity. Another feature at the bottom is a crossweaved shockcord for the transportation of jackets, blankets etc.
The bag triggers mixed feelings in me. Basically the high quality production and all of the details speak for themselves. At the same time I cannot shake the feeling that the bag is overbuilt and that Helikon wanted to integrate as much as possible into this bag.
After 4 years of loyal service the D.A. Messenger Bag replaced my former bag. In my last one I had not that many possibilities for organization and the ones I had were hardly used. All of my smaller items were secured in dedicated organizer pouches which I can/could remove quickly to take them with me or put them in another bag. In this regard I find most of the pen slots and mesh pockets unnecessary.
Also I find that the two pouches in the front are too close together and it becomes a pain in the ass fumbling with the cords to open the pouches all the way. Without the long zippulls one would be lost.
Also the flap is supposed to close the main compartment completely. Nevertheless you have to arrange the sides by hand because of the tight specs of the flap.
After all the Cordura fabric tends to attract dirt. Some spots can already be seen without hard use of the bag and I am curious how the laser cut slits of the MOLLE design will do in this regard.
Enough with my critical observations. I do not want to sound too negative and give a wrong impression. My thoughts first and foremost reflect my personal ways of using such gear and are to be read as such.
The bag is worth its money – it is manufactured very well, is thought through and is a massive piece of gear. It is comfortable to carry and an interesting alternative for every day use. We will see if it is a serious competition for my old TT Snatch Bag. Either way I am curious and looking forward to the backpacks of the Direct Action line.
Thank you for reading – I hope I could show you something new.
You can find an update and additional thoughts about this messenger bag here.
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