Review: Direct Action – Halifax Small Backpack

Review: Direct Action – Halifax Small Backpack

Thanks to @KodiakderBaer, I can present you this review on the Direct Action Halifax Small backpack! Enjoy!


The Direct Action Halifax Small backpack was first teased during IWA in 2018 alongside its bigger brother the Halifax Medium. With the latter taking 3 lengthy years from tease to release, we had to wait 2 more for the Halifax Small. 

With it finally being released in 2023 I decided to express my interest for the product towards Direct Action and here we are. 


The Direct Action Small Halifax backpack is in essence a smaller version of the Halifax Medium. Usagewise it seems to be aimed towards being a small daypack for short missions not exceeding 12 hours in duration. Like its bigger brother it features a full clamshell design with less use of PALS/MOLLE attachment points on the outside, giving it a little bit more of a civilian look. On the inside it is lined with velcro/velour as well as PALS/MOLLE on the back side. 

The pack sports a total of 4 front pockets: one on the bottom, an internal mesh pocket as well as two elastic side pockets. With the main compartment being on the smaller side, these additional pockets help to give the Halifax Small enough room to easily hold a day’s worth of gear.


  • HxDxW: 50cm x 20cm x 35cm
  • Weight: 1.2kg
  • Materials: 500D Cordura, YKK zippers, WoJinn hardware
  • Volume: 18 l
The Direct Action Halifax Small
The Direct Action Halifax Small Backpack

Direct Action Halifax Small Backpack

Main compartment and front pockets

Like its bigger brother, the Direct Action Halifax Small backpack is a full clamshell design which can be opened by a sturdy #10 YKK two-way zipper. The lower third of the zipper is protected by a flap, presumably to shield it from damage when placing the pack on a rough surface.

The main compartment is fully lined on the front and back with hook velcro of the softer velour type, except for the upper third of the front, where a zippered mesh compartment is located. Therefore the inside of the bag can be customized with a variety of hook velcro based pouches or other accessories. 

Zippered mesh compartment

At the top of the bag you can find two compartments that are accessible from the outside. The smaller of the two is fully lined with velcro, best suited for more delicate items like sunglasses. The other pocket on top is not lined at all and serves the role of a classic backpack lid compartment.

Looking at the backside of the main compartment, one can find PALS/MOLLE laser-cut into the velcro lining. As a result, MOLLE type pouches or panels, as well as velcro based inserts can be used on this surface.

Laser cut velcro lining

At the top of the Molle cuts, a zipper reveals a compartment underneath the backside lining, which provides room for a skeletonized frame sheet. Additionally a webbing loop with a small buckle, intended for securing a hydration bladder, is mounted inside this pocket. Unlike the Halifax medium, the above-mentioned compartment for the frame sheet might be a bit too tight for storing the framesheet and the bladder together.

Akin its bigger brother, 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.

Cable ports

On the front of the pack there are two additional compartments, which feature vertical zippers running across from near the bottom of the back to about two thirds of its height. Despite what one might initially think, these compartments are not connected. Due to their flat nature they are best suited for things like thin clothing or maps.

Outside of the Halifax Small Backpack

Some features on the outside of the Pack are directly taken from its bigger brother. For example the inverted main zippers, which are there to give as much protection as possible to the inside and the zippers themselves. The sides can also be compressed, using two compression straps on each side. They have covers on the buckles as well, to provide noise protection and velcro tabs take care of any excess webbing.

The sides of the pack are similarly structured compared to the Halifax Medium. Both sides feature laser cut PALS/MOLLE – three channels with five rows each. 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 compression to keep everything inside. These also feature sewn-in drainage holes to let any water or sand out.

Elastic side pockets

The front side is where the small Halifax backpack sets itself apart the most. There is no PALS/MOLLE on the front whatsoever. Instead there are the two aforementioned compartments with a daisy chain made from laser-cut laminate material running down the middle of the front for the entire length of the compartments between their zippers.

Loops to the front

On the bottom of the Halifax Small pack, one can find a single column of PALS/MOLLE slots consisting of 7 rows. You could affix some additional gear here with a piece of bungee cord or mount small MOLLE pouches (e.g.: Tourniquet pouches, small utility pouches). Additionally there is a zippered compartment for a rain cover (however, a cover is not in the scope of delivery).

The load distribution system

On the backside of the pack, one can see even more differences to the Halifax Medium pack, although Direct Action went a similar way with the Halifax Small, with regards to the load distribution. The backside features low profile padding similar to the attachable pads of its bigger brother. This padding is made from a mesh material wrapped in thin softshell material making it very pleasant to the touch. The pack is held in shape by a skeletonized frame sheet.

Keeping the more military focused nature of the Halifax small in mind, one can assume that the low profile padding is meant to enable the wearer to use it comfortably either over combat gear (e.g.: assault vest, plate carrier) or just as is on their back.

While the low profile padding only provides basic ventilation, it is outstandingly comfortable to wear even with just a thin T-shirt. One could even go as far as to call the padding skin friendly. With that being said, it should be clear that you cannot expect airflow similar to  mesh padding and the like.

Shoulder straps

Like with the bigger pack, the shoulder straps are permanently fixed on top, giving no option to adjust to the user’s height. They also don’t offer additional webbing on the shoulder straps to bring the pack closer to the body. The length of the shoulder straps can be adjusted via buckles like with most packs and quick release buckles by Woojin provide the option to lose the pack in a seconds notice. The upper half of the shoulder straps feature mesh inserts for reinforcement and comfort. They are also equipped with three rows of laser cut PALS/MOLLE each as well as the obligatory sternum strap.

The waist belt on this pack is a simple one inch webbing strap that is attached to the pack with Woojin hardware right next to the shoulder strap attachment points. 

Quality of Manufacture

When it comes to quality, one can only cite the article on the Halifax Medium, as 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 and Woojin.

Closer look at the manufacture

The overall level of manufacture is very good and you can find reinforcements on stress areas, as well as clean stitching. This leads to the usual Direct Action-esque high quality feel, when having the backpack in your hands.

The Halifax Small in use

With the Halifax Small, the military focused design is not as apparent as with its bigger brother. There aren’t any features missing that would hinder its use as a civilian pack and at the same time it still manages to appear as a convincing piece of tactical gear. This leads to the pack being a very versatile piece of gear, capable of being your hiking or EDC companion as well as a small expansion to your carrying capacity in a tactical context.

Out and about

With the waist belt being even more minimalistic, I opted to remove it entirely as I personally don’t see the utility of this belt with a backpack of this size.The lack of a more sophisticated load distribution is not as much of an issue with this pack as the pack is significantly smaller and therefore lighter than the Halifax Medium, even when fully packed. While the Frame sheet, padding and shoulder strap adjustability are sufficient for a pack this size, they are subtle enough to not hinder its ability to be worn over body armor

The pack is very pleasant to carry during everyday routine, as the low profile padding does provide a good amount of comfort even over just a thin summer shirt. Due to its low profile nature and the consequential lack of good ventilation it is not an ideal system for hot summer days, despite the high level of comfort.

Following the design language of the Halifax Medium the pack is built tall and wide instead of deep. With backpacks of this capacity, size is normally not an issue, but due to the reduced depth it is perfect for maneuvering in tight places. 

Focussing on the urban aspect of the Halifax Small, I would answer the question about the validity as an EDC choice with a clear Yes. While the pack still lacks the admin panels, keyfobs or elastic loops one would expect on an EDC pack, the additional external pockets manage to keep your gear organized. Additionally the modularity of the Halifax Medium carries over with the  extensive PALS/MOLLE area on the inner backside and the velcro lining on the inner front and back. Therefore you can customize the inside of the pack to your personal preferences and the tasks you intend to tackle with it.

Carrying your EDC gear in little pouches that you can just throw into your preferred backpack, like me,  just aids this cause.

The built in padding leads to the Halifax Small being comfortable even over long distances and extensive hikes. While there still are better ventilated packs in my collection, the comfort is on par with more dedicated hiking and outdoor backpacks, it even outclasses some. The excellent durability coming from the military heritage, carries over to this pack as well.


The Direct Action Halifax Small is an excellent addition to the company’s new backpack lineup. It sets itself apart from the earlier Direct Action backpacks by following the same design principles as the Halifax medium. 

One can clearly see that the pack is a serious piece of tactical gear and not just another lifestyle product. Like the name implies it is a smaller version of the Halifax Medium, but with some useful additions, like the built in padding or the additional external pockets.    

The Direct Action Halifax Small Backpack

With the Halifax Small being the excellent backpack that it is, it becomes evident that Direct Action is serious about lifting it’s backpack lineup to the same level of quality and excellency that the rest of their professional gear already is on.

In conclusion, the Halifax Small is a backpack viable for tackling various scenarios besides the military tasks it was primarily designed for. The points it differs from the Halifax medium, present minute markdowns in modularity, while elevating the pack’s viability for non tactical scenarios. 

With that being said, I want to thank Direct Action for making this review possible and providing the backpack for this review!

Thank you for reading, and as always:

Take care!

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