I spent New Year’s Day getting caught up. Don’t want to start the new year already behind schedule, right? My wife wanted my to get our living room/home gym organized so that’s what I did. In the course of that, I needed to find a better place for my Covrt 18 backpack. Lately I’ve been using it as a piece of exercise gear so it was sitting on a stack of weight plates next to the lifting rack. I’ve wanted to write a review for awhile but never got around to it. Anyway, I realized I’ve owned my Covrt 18 for over 2-1/2 years so I guess that’s long enough to have an informed opinion on it. OK, time to write a review…
My 5.11 Covrt 18 Military/Tactical Backpack Review
The Covrt 18 was the second backpack I bought when I first got into prepping, and as I said I’ve had it for a little over 1-1/2 years. According to 5.11, the Covert 18 is:
Designed to appear subtle and inconspicuous, the COVRT18™ is a full-sized covert backpack that provides superior tactical utility and a low-vis appearance. Ideal for CCW use, the backpack features a TacTec System™ compatible hidden pistol pocket, Roll-Down Assault Compartment (R.A.C.™) for MOLLE or web pouches, and a main compartment with a built-in padded laptop sleeve and roomy primary and secondary storage zones. Built from rugged 500D and 420D water resistant nylon, the COVRT18 is made to last, and with a fleece lined sunglasses pocket, QuickTact shoulder straps, adjustable yoke shoulders, compression straps, a flip-down ID panel, and a reinforced grab handle, it’s made for everyday use. There’s a quick access flex cuff channel, too.
I bought it mainly for the CCW compartment and the low visibility (non-tactical) appearance. I decided soon after that putting a gun in a bag that’s easily separated is a really bad idea. Also, I really prefer camo to covert. Camo is not a negative in my area. The Covert 18 quickly got demoted to utility bag status. As such, it gets used and abused a lot. More than any of my other bags in fact… Over 2-1/2 years of abuse, the Covrt 18 has held up remarkably well.
Use and durability
The first use I put it to was my truck bag. In this role, it was always loaded with two heavy water bottles (one in each side pocket), seasonal clothing, and seasonal gear. That means dense stuff (pistol, ammo and magazines, etc.) in summer and bulky stuff (jacket, serape, tarp) in winter. Mostly carried by the carry handle instead of putting it on my back. Usually tossed on the floor or in the back of my truck.
I’ve also used it as a travel bag. In that roll, it was loaded up with my laptop and related gear, 2 meter HT and charger, books, notepad, and pens/pencils. In other words, somewhat heavy stuff with sharp corners and pointy ends. It held up well.
Lately I’ve been using it for rucking. I have 20 lbs of weight wrapped in a blanket and stuffed in the main compartment. I’m 25 lbs overweight, so it simulates carrying a 45 lb pack. Cheaper than a GuRuck bag and more versatile IMO.
Comfort and wearability
The Covrt 18 has nice vented padding on the side that rides against your back, so ventilation is good. The shoulder straps are well padded and comfortable. There is no waist belt, so all the weight is going to be on your shoulders. So far (up to 25 lb load) it’s been OK. I loaded it to 33 lbs (including weight of the pack) once as a test and don’t think I’d go over that. With no weight transfer to the hips, that’s right at the comfort limit.
This pack has a yoke-style shoulder strap system. It’s very comfortable once the pack is on, but the carry handle holds the shoulder straps close together at the top which makes it kind of a pain to get your arms through. Also, the carry handle attachment doesn’t look very strong. I don’t use it when the pack has a heavy load.
Details and specs
The Covrt 18 has a lot of organization. So much that it might even be a little over done. There’s a space for a hydration bladder in front of the main compartment. If you don’t carry a bladder, it’s perfect for stowing maps or a thin, flat notebook. The main compartment itself is roomy, and can hold about as much as you’d want with a 20 lb payload limit. There is a laptop sleeve at the front that can hold up to a 15″ laptop. If you’re using this as a bugout bag, the laptop sleeve is also the perfect size for stowing an all weather space blanket.
Back to the outside of the pack, there’s a fleece lined sun glass pocket on top of the main compartment. It’s actually big enough to hold a lot more than just a pair of sunglasses. Besides my sunglasses, I also keep a pair of readers, a head lamp, and a couple pairs of foam earplugs in a 35mm film can. There’s still room to spare.
Directly behind the main compartment is the EDC/holster pocket. It’s accessible through zippers on both sides and has a velcro panel for attaching a holster. I don’t use my pack for CCW, so it’s another good place to stash a map or other documents. If you do use this for CCW, the pocket is large enough to hold a full size pistol like a 1911 or Glock 17.
Behind the CCW stash point are two smaller compartments: a small stash pocket on top and an organization panel on the bottom. I keep my cell phone and charger in the stash pocket. In the large organization panel, I keep some pens, a notebook, and a shemagh.
Covrt 18 – bottom line
The Covrt 18 has turned out to be a really useful pack for me even though i’m not using it for its original purpose. It works great as a utility pack, range bag, and a rucking bag. It would also work great as an EDC pack. For a bugout bag I’m not so sure… in warm weather, yes. There’s not really enough room inside for a sleep system though, and no easy way to lash one to the bottom of the bag. If you might have to bugout in cold weather, this probably isn’t your pack.
For what it does well, it does very well. Mine has held up to over 2-1/2 years of hard use with no damage and very little wear. I can find nothing bad to say about the quality of this back and would recommend it.