The following is an article pulled straight from the RECOIL 5.11 Loadout from SHOT Show 2016 and dropped into our blog… pretty much the same way you can pull the 5.11 COVRT Insert out of one bag and drop it into another one. Enjoy!
Thinking tactical and being ready to deal with austere conditions at a moment’s notice isn’t always conducive to looking tactical. The lives and jobs of many professionals 5.11 deals with is all about being the “grayman,” blending in, and not calling attention to yourself. There’s a reason why undercover police don’t wear uniforms, but their need to look discrete shouldn’t mean only being able to pick from non-tactical clothing and gear that will put them at a disadvantage. So how does one strike a balance?
There is a time and place for all cool guy gear (overt), but generally not when people want or need to maintain a low profile (covert). The criteria that dictate a low profile can vary from things as simple as not wanting to be easily placed as a cop when out for coffee, to the very real need of not attracting too much attention as military, contractors, and other officials travel in high-risk Middle Eastern countries for work. In either scenario above, just because one is trying not to be noticed or identified doesn’t mean that he or she can work without certain items to effectively respond to a variety of situations. Of course, each scenario is quite different from one another and ultimately will determine what items to carry.
What’s more important here is not what items to carry, but how to carry them. This is important because, no matter what items one carries, if they blow their cover due to the manner in which they carry them — or even worse, cannot access them easily in a high-stress or emergency situation, they’ve failed.
5.11 has spent considerable time addressing this issue, with packs and carry bags being a major area of focus. Whether out for coffee or traveling abroad, many have expressed the need for some form of regular/ non-tactical briefcase (i.e. man purse) or small backpack. There are practical and ordinary reasons here for either style of bag that is used to carry a work laptop, notebook, pens, etc., without being covered in webbing and Velcro. Don’t get us wrong, we love gear with external web platforms and places to affix a patch, but there’s a time and place for everything.
There is, however, a very legitimate reason for all that webbing and Velcro on the outside of tactical backpacks and other load-bearing equipment (plate carriers, go-bags, battle belts), which is to strategically mount and access your gear/tools!
So what would you say if we told you that you could carry what you normally carry on the aforementioned overt platforms in a more covert but still functional manner on the inside of any given bag? “No. Say it isn’t so? Tactical pouches on the inside?” Yes. Now what if we said you could do this on a MOLLE-type platform that had webbing running vertically on one side and horizontally on the other, and you could use it between multiple bags, organize pouches to your needs with it, and choose from two different sizes? “Now that there is just crazy talk,” you say? No, it’s not, and you can get it now. Let us back up here a bit, though, and look at the history of its development.
A few years ago, 5.11 came out with a bag called the Select Carry Sling Pack (SCSP). It was originally designed as a solution for GSG-9 (an elite German counter-terror unit), which was looking for something from which to covertly carry and rapidly deploy their MP5s from. Others also began using the SCSP because they realized it worked as an excellent covert carry go-bag. Why? Because it has what some like to call FTM Technology™ on the inside and is an isosceles triangle sling pack design that doesn’t look tactical.
As 5.11 continued having a dialog with those in the field about effective yet discrete bags, many expressed that they just wanted a low-profile bag with a ton of MOLLE on the inside. Hence, FTM Technology™ was born.
The entire inside of the SCSP is covered with webbing, allowing for multiple ways to build out one’s kit. Some have even expressed that they built it out with everything that was on their entry vest, then took it to the lab (range) and ran reload drills out of it. It continues to be well received by such end users, but due to the SCSP’s unique design, it didn’t meet all carry needs in terms of those ordinary items mentioned (laptop and such). Plus, the materials and color weren’t always appropriate for every occasion. Time to take things a step further.
The feedback 5.11 kept hearing from operatives in the field was that they wanted a bag with a versatile web platform on the inside, that didn’t look tactical, and that had to blend into multiple environments. The proverbial drawing board began getting filled with possible designs. The specific challenges users were having with gear lead to the idea that some form of insert with webbing or a pull-out organizer like camera bags would be the ideal solution. The end result of that discussion would come to be known as the COVRT™ Insert, which formed the COVRT™ line of products. The COVRT™ Small Insert in black model has a 15×10-inch panel with webbing on both sides, vertical rows on one side, horizontal on the other. There’s a semi-rigid plastic board like you would find in backpacks to help give it shape, inserted in one end of the panel and secured with a Velcro closure (imagine a big envelope). It also has a handle that can be moved around the panel so it can be quickly and easily grabbed and pulled from either a briefcase or backpack. Did anyone just catch that last part? It can be “easily grabbed or pulled from either a briefcase or backpack!” Holy shit! One solution, many bags!
We took some time to get feedback from one operator in the Middle East who has been using the COVRT system for his undercover work and here’s what he had to say about his experience. “I immediately set to building this with items from my Select Carry Sling Pack using various pouches and a couple of DIY solutions to hold my tourniquets. Then came time to see how it fit in all of my low-pro bags. Still to this day I swear I could hear the trumpets of angels playing with every bag I tried it in. Whether briefcase or backpack design, it worked in all of them!” he says.
“Since then, I have built out my COVRT™ Small Insert in lots of different ways and have used it all around the world. For a typical coffee house carry scenario, the usual loadout will be a couple of extra Glock 19 mags, my flashlight, knife (mostly for the window breaker and seatbelt cutter), Trauma Shears, Decompression Needle, SOF-T Wide Tourniquet, Compression Bandage, QuikClot™ Advance Clotting Sponge, SWAT-T Tourniquet (as additional tourniquet for use in conjunction with Clotting Sponge for abdominal compression), and a pair of Flexible Restraints. I keep the front slick and only attach a “police” placard to the strip of Velcro on the top webbing row (ID during active shooter and to help prevent blue on blue). Currently, I’m in the process of modifying a piece of Level IIIA Soft Armor to fit inside the panel in place of the rigid insert for a little ballistic protection as well.
“When it comes to international travel in the Middle East, obviously I have to drop the Glock mags (sigh) but still keep everything else and I throw my Leatherman in one of the pistol mag pouches. On the other side I lose the police placard and may or may not throw a U.S. IR FLAG in place. I’ll also add pouches that serve dual use. I use flashbang pouches to hold my SPOT GPS Personal Locator and Brunton Backup Charger for my phone. I use our 6.6 Padded Pouch for all my essential electronic wires and power converters, along with our VTAC Shotgun Ammo Pouch for my Olloclip photo lenses for iPhone. The self-closure top is great to hold in the lenses, but at the same time I can access it very quickly if there is something I want to get a shot of on the fly. I guess maybe that’s why it’s a good shotgun ammo pouch? Hmm.
“When it comes to the larger version, COVRT™ Large Insert (19x 12-inch), I have only recently started playing around with it to redo my 72-hour bag. I’m not at all concerned here with being “covert” by any means, I just like the idea of keeping things easily organized, secure, and accessible. This will be built on a sandstone color panel with same color pouches and pack. Yes, I’m one of those guys who feels the need to match my tactical color schemes. I use hair gel too.
“I texted a photo of my build-out to a buddy with the Department of Energy Special Reaction Force. He shared it with a SEAL he was on the road with at the time, and both approved. I know this for sure because the first thing he texted back was ‘(f*ck) yeah!’”