Fieldline Tactical Alpha OPS Daypack
Daniel Xu 05.22.14
As a general rule of thumb, I tend to beat up everything I own. This comes with little to no intention from me, but I have accepted it as a fact of life that I tend to break things. As such I expect everything I own to be able to take a bit of a licking and not shred like so much wet tissue. When my old daypack broke into about three equal-sized pieces of fabric and nylon, I took it upon myself to find a new one.
I eventually came across the Fieldline Tactical Alpha OPS Daypack, which despite its “spec ops” name, looked like a decent enough pack for light hiking/camping/bug out purposes. After asking around, it turns out that the Fieldline is relatively popular because of two reasons: its almost ludicrous amount of MOLLE mounting capability and its drop-dead low price. I’ve seen the Alpha OPS go for as low as 20 bucks online.
Since Fieldline was gracious enough to send me a sample for review, I’ll give you my opinion on whether this pack will survive my destructive habits. But first, some specs:
- Dimensions: 17.25 in x 12.5 in x 6.5 in (3.8 cm x 31.75 cm x 16.5 cm)
- Two-liter hydration compatible pouch with left and right velcro closures (hydration reservoir not included)
- Extra-large main compartment with zippered mesh pockets
- Top front accessory pocket with zipper closure
- Roomy secondary compartment with gear organizer
- Front panel with multiple MOLLE attachment points
- Velcro name-tape and patch holders
- Heavy duty padded handle
- Fleece-lined sunglasses and digital media pouch with headphone port
- Yoked shoulder strap system with adjustable sternum slider
- Side compression straps to balance packed gear
- Dual grommeted bottom drain holes
- Additional left and right side MOLLE attachment points
- Internal frame
- Retail price of $45 (can be found for much less)
The Alpha OPS Daypack comes in three standard colors: coyote tan, black, and woodland camo. The construction quality is a bit mixed across the board and you’ll find that some areas of the pack—such as the excellently-padded shoulder straps—are made better than other parts. The first and probably most noticeable flaw in the pack is how thin the nylon on the bottom is. This is especially glaring since that part has to support the weight of whatever you have stashed inside the pack, and it will be constantly rubbing against hard surfaces. There is also no padding, so you would do well to throw in a towel if you want to carry a laptop or something fragile.
The buckles, zippers, and mesh on the interior pockets could also be of better quality, but I won’t be thumbing my nose at a product that costs a fraction of what its competitors do—and for that price reduction, you do not lose much. The stitching on the bag seems to be reliable and there is ample storage space. I’m a guy who really appreciates all the extra compartments and how easy they are to access on the Alpha OPS.
Some of you may notice the similarity of the Alpha Ops to 5.11’s Tactical RUSH 12. You’d be right, and both packs are practically swimming in MOLLE webbing. Almost every flat surface on the pack that can pragmatically support a MOLLE row does. If you wanted to, you could slap on any number of gear and/or additional pouches. I certainly did in my glee over the vast number of attachment points I could choose from, but it quickly dawned on me that having 10 knives, two pouches, a canteen, and additional miscellaneous items not only made me look stupid, but also made the pack quite heavy.
This thing is comfortable. It’s not exactly a heated neck pillow, but it also won’t make your back and shoulders feel like you got massaged by a pile of rocks. For short treks of up to 10 miles and about about 20 pounds of gear and water, this pack may as well be weightless. I especially like the generously padded hip belt and more subtle lumbar/shoulder pads. The best part is that both sides of the hip belt also come with MOLLE attachment points, meaning you basically have the backpack equivalent of Batman’s utility belt.
It’s a lot less cool without batarangs, of course.
As I have outlined in the construction section above, I initially had some doubts about the pack’s ability to take a serious beating. After using the pack for the past two months, nothing appears to have fallen out, broken off, or split. That does not necessarily guarantee that the pack will last forever, but I can say that I at least have some confidence that it won’t fall to pieces at a moment’s notice.
The only part of the Alpha OPS that worries me is the thin nylon bottom. All the other flaws in the pack vary from being minor issues to no issue at all. The nylon, however, is just about all that stands from the Alpha OPS being a viable daypack to having your gear strewn all over the ground and left with a gaping hole in your bag.
So far, that has not happened to me. If I recall correctly, the Alpha OPS boasts a 600-denier nylon construction, which in itself is a bit low compared to its rivals. Message to Fieldline: build the nylon a little thicker and they will come and I will recommend that the pack is rated for hard-use. As it is, there will always be that nagging thought in the back of my head.
As a daypack though—which I just remembered what the Alpha OPS
is meant to be used as—the pack works wonderfully. Throw it in your car and forget about it until the next time you need it. For limited excursions, it will meet all your needs and for a very competitive price.
As you can see, my current configuration for the pack may not be very practical. Or fashionable, for that matter. Or safe.
On a more serious note, there is very little for me to say on the Alpha OPS in this category. Everything in the Alpha OPS serves a purpose and can be used, which you can’t say for certain other daypacks. Do you need to carry around things? If you do, the pack will serve you well.
In a quality-to-price ratio, the Alpha OPS would probably beat out most competitors. That said, however, don’t expect the world out of this bag. The pack’s straps have a habit of becoming loose and the overall construction is less than favorable. It is sturdy enough to handle my predisposition to breaking things? It hasn’t failed yet, but I am still not comfortable enough with the bag to say I can rely on it. Do I recommend buying it? Certainly. It is grossly inexpensive and just about everyone can get some use out of it.