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Iceland is a peaceful country. It has no military and a coast guard of three vessels that perform search and rescue in the frigid North Atlantic. Outside of rotations of NATO forces, such as Danish patrol boats and American aircraft, it’s one of the most peaceful nations on earth. But the island is full of other, natural conflicts: Active volcanoes and towering waterfalls litter the landscape as glaciers creep towards the ocean. This harsh environment was the perfect testing ground for the 5.11 Covrt Zone Assault Pack 6 (or Z.A.P 6).
The Covrt series is designed to be taken along on trips where you want to blend in. The color schemes are subdued and the logos are minimal. It would take a keen, close up eye to tag a Covrt series bag as “military.” A full-size iteration is excellent as a general purpose backpack, and mine served me well for years before it was stolen on the mean streets of Washington, where I learned not even a city full of feds can protect a car from a smash-and-grab in broad daylight. But for those moments when you need something more high-speed, the Z.A.P 6 hits the sweet spot.
After hauling it around the hills of Iceland for a week, I can honestly attest to the comfort of the pack. When loaded heavy, an optional second strap keeps the bag from riding low. This strap can be removed when not in use, which you will want to do, to prevent it from slapping the back of your leg.
The bag also features a hydration pack, a tablet holder, a comms port for the secret squirrels among us, and the ability to hold a ballistic plate for when you end up in a really gnarly spot. The bag has a couple of areas where it could be improved, too, like the small beverage holders on the sides and the lack of padding on the base. But the pack isn’t really meant to carry full-size bottles on the sides — and if you want padding, get a camera bag. There’s always a trade-off with a pack this light.
During my trip to Tunisia last January, I took a generic tactical messenger bag made of inferior materials. It quickly developed tears along the seams. The Covrt Z.A.P 6 is made of much hardier stuff. After slinging it left and right, dragging it on the ground, and dropping it off a sheer rock face or two, it doesn’t seem to show any wear and tear.
You get what you pay for when it comes to backpacks, and this one is worth the $99 dollar price point.