Review: Direct Action – Halifax Backpack
The Direct Action Halifax is one of the backpacks long anticipated by the tactical and outdoor community. Being teased already during IWA in 2018, it still took some time for Direct Action to finally get the pack released on the market. Needless to say, everyone was pleased to finally get a look at it. Matej of Perunika and I decided to take a closer look at the Halifax as well. But not only at the pack itself, but also the MKII Utility Panel, which will be the topic of another review.
With that being said, let’s just jump right into the overview and specs, before going into more detail.
The Direct Action Halifax backpack is a 40l patrol pack, which aims to be capable for various mission roles (patrol, medical, breacher, radio). Featuring a full clamshell design with plenty of velcro/velour lining and PALS/MOLLE attachment points, this pack is primarily designed for the military sector, while at the same time having some relevance for the civilian market as well.
Featuring two top pockets, an internal mesh pocket as well as two elastic side pockets, the Halifax gives ample room to distribute gear. While featuring no extensive internal organisation for EDC items, the pack leaves plenty of room for individual modifications.
- HxDxW: 63cm x 20cm x 31cm
- Weight: 2kg
- Materials: 500D Cordura, YKK zippers, WoJinn hardware
- Volume: 40l
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Direct Action Halifax Backpack
Main compartment and topside pockets
The Direct Action Halifax backpack is a full clamshell design which can be opened by a sturdy #10 YKK two-way zipper. This zipper is protected by a flap on the lower quarter of the pack.
Looking at the main compartment one can see it is fully lined on all sides with hook velcro, which is the softer velour type, and therefore can be modified with a variety of hook velcro based accessories. The top of the front flap features a zippered mesh compartment.
You can also find a bigger, fully lined compartment on top, perfectly suited for items that need a little bit of protection. The other pocket on top is velcro lined on only one side and can be modified as well with admin type hook inserts.
The backside of the main compartment features laser-cut PALS/MOLLE, and is also velcro lined. As a result one can not only use velcro based inserts here, but also any MOLLE type pouches, panels and the like.
A zippered compartment to the backside provides room for the frame sheet, but also features an opening near the webbing loop. This loop opens/closes with a small buckle and provides a secure hold for any hydration bladders. It is up to the user, where he/she stores the bladder, the above mentioned compartment for the frame sheet might be a bit too tight for it.
Openings on the left and right provide tunnels to the outside, in order to put any cables or the tubes of your hydration bladders through. These openings are neatly hidden and reinforced with heavier stitching.
There is also an Aquaguard zipper by YKK on the backside of the pack, which opens to the main compartment. This comes in handy when in use as a radio pack, or if you have to carry longer items. While the Aquaguard zipper is a nice touch and surely provides protection to sensitive electronic equipment carried inside, it has a minor flaw: it does not close completely on the edges.
Outside of the Direct Action Halifax Backpack
Coming to the outside. The main zippers are all inverted to give as much protection to the inside and the zippers themselves. The sides can be compressed, using two compression straps on each side. Covers on the buckles provide noise protection and velcro tabs take care of any excess webbing.
Both sides feature laser cut PALS/MOLLE – three channels with seven rows. On the bottom you will also find elastic side pockets, for bottles, cans, windshirts or any other item you need quick access to. The elastic closes the pockets completely, thus providing either full protection, or the necessary adhesion to keep everything inside. These also feature grommets to let any water, or sand out.
You will also find two larger carry handles on the sides, close to the backside.
The frontside has not only laser-cut PALS/MOLLE (4 channels, 12 rows), but also zippers. Dimensioned like the zippers on the Spitfire plate carrier, these allow the mounting of several back panels, which are offered by Direct Action. On these pictures you will see the MKII Utility Panel, which I will look into in a separate review.
The wide variety of panels by Direct Action provide plenty and very specific options to modify not only their plate carriers, but also the Halifax backpack.
On the bottom of the Halifax pack, one can also find four anchor points. These act primarily as attachment points, when using the backpack for parachute jumps. Additionally there is a zippered compartment for a rain cover with a loop on the inside (a cover is not in the scope of delivery).
The load distribution system
Taking a closer look on the backside of the pack, one can immediately see that Direct Action went a different way with the Halifax, when it comes to the load distribution. Aimed to be a combat/patrol pack, the backside does not feature any mesh padding. The pack is put in shape by a frame sheet, which also protects the back from any pointy objects on the inside.
But it is clear that this pack is designed to be worn over assault vests or plate carriers and therefore features a completely different build up.
However, this does not mean you can make it more comfortable to wear. Within the scope of delivery are several velcro based pads that can be put on the backside as well as the waist belt. Surprisingly enough these provide quite the comfort as well as basic ventilation. Of course you cannot expect the airflow from mesh padding and the like.
The shoulder straps are permanently fixed on top, giving no option to adjust to the user’s height. They also don’t offer straps to bring the pack closer to the body. Length can be adjusted like with every pack and quick release buckles by ITW Nexus provide the option to lose the pack in a seconds notice. The upper half of the shoulder straps feature inserts for reinforcement, as they are also equipped with five rows of laser cut PALS/MOLLE each as well as the obligatory sternum strap.
The waist belt runs through a channel on the bottom of the pack. A bottom opening makes it easier to attach or detach. However, it is not an easy task to get it off the pack and one needs to fiddle a bit with the buckles (rotating helps) in order to detach it. The belt itself also features laser cut PALS/MOLLE and can even be used as a war or range belt if needed.
Quality of Manufacture
When it comes to quality, Direct Action really aims for a high standard with this pack The materials are carefully selected and you can expect durable Cordura fabric and sturdy hardware by YKK , Woojin as well as ITW Nexus.
The overall level of manufacture is very good and you can find reinforcements on stress areas, clean stitching as well as a high quality feel, when having the backpack in your hands.
The Direct Action Halifax in use
Even though the Direct Action Halifax backpack might be in use by all kinds of different people, one has to keep in mind that this pack was primarily designed for military use. As a result, you will find several distinct features, while missing others at the same time. However there are some surprisingly good working compromises building a bridge between the civilian and military world.
While the waist belt might look very minimalistic at first glance, I was pleasantly surprised on how good it actually helps in distributing the weight. This plus the added option of it being usable as a “war” or “range” belt make it an excellent feature.
Said ability to distribute the weight is needed for sure. The lack of a more sophisticated load distribution results quickly in a tired back and shoulders, when loaded fully. After all, the back only features a frame sheet and the shoulder straps can only be adjusted in length. Here comes to light the military design, which intends the pack to be worn over body armor.
However, this does not mean that the pack is uncomfortable to carry in the everyday routine. Because for these situations the removable padding works surprisingly well as a means for comfort. Granted, this is not an ideal system for hot summer days, which ask for a good ventilation, but it is still an excellent feature, which also works charms on the belt.
A little detail (at least with my pack) – as soon as the Direct Action Halifax is fully loaded, the buckles on the shoulder straps start to squeak when marching.
The narrow design comes in handy with a backpack this size. The Direct Action Halifax is built tall and wide. But the depth is much more narrow, making it perfect for maneuverability in tight spaces – you literally don’t have to worry about tight spots in nature, or ploughing through shelves in a shop during an urban errant.
Especially the urban aspect of the Direct Action Halifax is something to focus on – especially in the sense of EDC. Is the pack a valid choice for EDC? Yes and No – let me explain.
The overall layout of the pack is very basic when it comes to pockets. Again, the military design took over, having in mind that you either carry large mission critical items or neatly packed velcro accessories, which you attach to the inside. You won’t find any admin panels, keyfobs or elastic loops for the usual EDC purposes. At the same time, the backside and load distribution are spartanic as already mentioned.
So why the “yes”? Because the pack is designed to be extremely modular. You will find velcro lining (yes, literally lining and not only specific patches) all over the inside of the pack. One will also notice the extensive PALS/MOLLE area on the inner backside. This means that you can modify the pack however you want or need it using a variety of velcro or MOLLE based accessories.
Or you do it like me, and carry everything in little pouches and just throw it in there – makes it also easier to change your EDC to different packs and bags in no time.
The Direct Action Halifax backpack carries decently over longer distances, I have to admit though that I have packs that are more comfortable. This is a result of the military aspect of the pack. The upside to this is durability. You won’t have to fear for any mesh padding to rip, tear or break down.
When it comes to the use of the waist belt as a war or range belt, I can give no insights, since I am not active in this sense. However, I can attest to its good fit and decent PALS/MOLLE.
Was the Direct Action Halifax backpack worth the wait? One can answer this with an honest yes. While the first backpacks of DA were more lifestyle products than mission critical items, the Halifax backpack marks the way of the company in its emancipation on the tactical market. Direct Action produces professional gear for quite some time now, being used by various elite units.
Their backpack line up was a different story until now – being mostly targeted at the civilian sector which wanted a grasp of the tactical world, it never equaled the professional gear of the company.
Coming to an end it can be stated that the Direct Action Halifax backpack is not only a viable pack for the military sector. It provides plenty of room for individual modification, making it a good companion for the outdoors and even the urban environment.
With that being said, I want to thank Perunika for making this review possible! Perunika also provided me with a promo code for you guys:
Use “pinesurvey10” to get 10% discount when ordering from Perunika!
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