A quick search of our Facebook page or this blog would clearly indicate that we love bags. I have SBR bags, EDC bags, little bags, big bags, range bags, rifle bags and on and on. If you can put something inside, close it with strings, Velcro or a zipper, I likely have it or have tried it.
The one bag we have never talked about on here oddly enough is the bag I carry for work almost every day. As a blogger and IT guy for the last 15 years, my laptop goes with me everyplace.
In recent years, I have been able to downsize to a smaller bag for non-work EDC, using my Ipad mini and keyboard. However, most of the time I have no choice, but to bring my laptop bag, making finding the right bag for the job a bit of a challenge.
When the time came to get a new laptop bag, I looked at all of the classics Osprey, Timbuk2, or Filson and eventually made the decision to check out a company we had been hearing a lot of good things about.
Vanquest founded in 2011 by a superstar team in the tactical, EDC and organizational communities. With executives from powerhouses like Surefire, Maxpedition, and more, it is no surprise that in three short years, this company has already established itself as a quality gear manufacturer and built a loyal following.
Vanquest has the traditional sling style packs, tactical side carry bags, pouches MOLLE sticks and of course the Envoy laptop messenger bag. They have several other bags as well including the one we recently reviewed, the IBEX-30.
The Original Envoy developed an almost occult following due to its rugged design, large form factor, and versatile design.
The Envoy 2.0 took many of the features from the original but in a smaller form factor while achieving a stealthier tactical look. These changes have expanded the market for the bag, to the EDC community, students, professionals and travelers who are trying to keep a less military profile but appreciate the advantages of hook and loop as well as MOLLE.
The hardest part of writing this review will be that pictures and words will not do this bag justice. Frankly you need to put your hands on the bag to fully appreciate the craftsmanship that has gone into making this.
The outer shell is composed of 1,000-D Mil-grade Cordura® fabric with water-repellent Teflon® fabric protector by DuPont® making this a high quality flexible but rugged bag.
Durable abrasion resistant RC-Class YKK® zippers reversed for protection. This style makes for a cool look.
Mil-grade ITW® and UTX-DURAFLEX® hardware made from high tensile strength Acetal polymer. These are not like the cheap buckles found on many of the competitions bags.
Circular user-friendly zipper loops made of GLADDING’s 550 lb. tensile strength paracord (MADE-IN-USA). These make grabbing the zippers under high stress, in the dark or when fumbling on an airplane, super easy.
Neoprene rubber padded grab handles for extra comfort. This is one of those little one-line items Vanquest lists on its site that needs to be felt in person. What they call extra comfort, I call padded luxury. It’s like saying that an F150 has an improved suspension over the Model T. It’s the equivalent of a beer cozy for your bag handles.
High tensile strength nylon webbings and binding tapes. Finished with high tensile strength bonded nylon thread. The MOLLE/PALS compatible attachment system is also made from this material and is some of the best-stitched MOLLE attachment points I have seen on any piece of equipment.
High-visibility, lightweight & moisture resistant 210-D Ripstop nylon interior. This bright orange interior makes finding items in the bag easier, even in low light situations. It also works great for keeping condensation from Nalgene bottles, away from your sensitive electronics. The material inside, while lighter than the 1000-D Cordura, does not feel cheap or Chinese like some of the common tactical gear.
With all of the added features and functions this bag offers, reviewing it took a little longer than usual, the good part is you get a lot for your money with Vanquest. So needless to say it may be time to get a cup of coffee, this is going to be a lengthy review, but worth every moment of your time.
The front panel of the bag is 6 MOLLE panels wide and three tall. The first row is MOLLE compatible and covered in a row of Hook. The next two rows are Hook only with no MOLLE attachment points. This is perfect for patches, nameplates, and other Velcro accessories. If you have MOLLE pouches like med kits that are lightweight, they can be held on using a single row of MOLLE. The front flap is secured to the bag with two thick high-quality buckles as well as two wide straps of hook and loop. Even when not buckled the Hook and Loop works to hold the flap on up to a moderately heavy load.
Also in the front flap are two zippered compartments. These are a good size and can fit a lot of stuff. I have noticed that it is best to keep these pockets for lighter items. Heavy items prohibit easy access to the bag. In mine, you will find I use mine as a lunchbox with all of the snacks I like to have at hand during the day without digging through an entire bag to find them.
On the top of the flap is the oh so very comfortable dual grab handles. The handles are formed using high tensile strength nylon webbing that creates MOLLE attachment points. These are discrete since they look like nothing more than material to secure the handle to the bag. Unfortunately if you were to use these handles it blocks the easy access zipper located between the handles.
The easy access zipper allows you to reach the main compartment as well as the forward compartments without opening the bag. This is perfect if you’re carrying a weapon or magazines in your bag or for access to chargers, power supply’s, pens, or any number of other items in the bag. If you have ever been jammed in a carpool or flown, you can start to see how convenient this feature is.
While you can get a 15 inch laptop out of this zipper, it is very difficult, the bag was simply not designed to do this. When testing with a smaller laptop it was easy to remove through the access point though.
Around back, closest to your body is a zippered pouch perfect to hold your EDC pistol, Spare magazines or important documents.
There is also an attachment for roller bags, so you can easily maneuver through the airport attached to your roller bag. This attachment also is zippered, containing a small pocket, perfect for emergency money, credit cards or identification.
There is an easily removable waist cinch to allow you to carry the bag very close to the body should you so choose. If you ride a bike or commute in heavy foot traffic, you know the need for this.
On each side of the bag, is three columns configured in three rows spaced apart by one blank row to form MOLLE/ PALS attachment points. This is the perfect place to put the ISOPOD-MEDIUM Fold-Up Pouch, ideal for carrying your Nalgene bottle outside the bag.
Ok, all of this has been before we have opened the bag, can you believe it?
The front area that secures the flap has
- 4 pen sized storage compartments
- Velcro flapped pocket that is gusseted
- Velcro unflapped pocket
- Zippered pocket
- Full width zippered pocket
Moving inside the main compartment you will find
- two pockets with Velcro closures
- A large main compartment with loop across the backside and bottom
- 15 Inch laptop pocket with elastic retainer
- two pockets without closures
The hook and loop fasteners inside the main compartment can be used for a wide range of options. The intended use for them is the addition of the DROP-IN Organizer. Which adds four modular compartments, two zippered compartments and a lot of hook and loop space.
Who Uses This?
The key to the gear at Vanquest is modularity, most bags you buy in the market have been designed for a purpose, and it is hard to stray from that intended design. With the MOLLE attachment points and hook and loop fasters, this bag is almost infinitely configurable, able to adapt to your specific needs.
As an EDC laptop bag using none of the available expansion slots, I find this bag can store what I need easily. In fact, it is so tough and compartmentalized that it is easy to find yourself over packing and carrying more weight than you need just because the space is there.
When I add in a double stack magazine carrier, backup pistol, Nalgene bottle and my med kit, the weight built up fast. Thank god they put the time and effort into making a comfortable grab handle and padded strap with the addition of a waist cinch.
For those of you who are going the low profile tactical route, you will not be disappointed either. With or without the additional DROP-IN Organizer you will find plenty of space for med kits, admin pockets, ammo storage, magazine storage and even room for an MP5 or Kriss SDP should you so require.
For those of us that blog this bag is the best of both worlds. I can keep my bag packed as usual for EDC IT needs, or throw the DROP-IN Organizer in for the range to test a pistol without needing to break out a specific range bag. Making it ideal for those of us that might head over to the range at lunch or after work.
Modular design and low price points have created what I think is the perceived to be the biggest con for this bag.
The 2.0 edition bag has received some consumer complaints when compared to the Gen 1. It is always interesting to me when a product is compared back to the previous version of itself vs. the competition. The Gen 1 Envoy appears to be the standard by which many tactical messenger bags are judged; that alone speaks volumes.
When Vanquest moved from the Gen 1 to the Gen 2, there were some major changes that have not been viewed as forward movement by a vocal few. The one consistent complaint I see is the removal of the Nalgene pockets on the outside edges. You may remember that the lack of the Nalgene bottle pocket was a complaint of ours in our Adapt Pack review.
Normally I would side with this rather disproportionately vocal group. However after looking through the Vanquest website, I get why they made this choice and agree with the decision.
The Gen 2 bag is sleeker and less military looking than the Gen 1. By removing the pockets, they made the bag not as wide. By leaving the MOLLE attachments on the side they can sell the ISOPOD-SMALL Fold-Up Pouch. Yes, it is 19.99 more, which is why I still list it as a con. However considering the amount of other bags I can put the ISOPOD-SMALL Fold-Up Pouch on as well and the ability to put it right on my belt, the modularity wins over a traditional fixed pouch. Removing the pouch also reduced the weight of the bag significantly as it was made of the heavier 1000D Codura vs the lighter ISOPOD-SMALL.
There are only a few places that we can see that improvements could be made. I would have liked to see more hook and loop inside the actual bag. While the internal space on the rear or laptop side has hook and loop the wall along the front of the bag does not have this. You can upgrade to the DROP-IN Organizer, but that adds 1.7 lbs.
Inside the back zippered compartment would be ideal for extra mags or a backup gun but without the hook and loop it misses the mark. The main compartment is where Vanquest established a place for these types of items. As that is what is likely to be seen when the bag is opened, the rear compartment offers some additional OPSEC. Again the DROP-IN Organizer would allow you to better hide a weapon in the main compartment but adds extra weight.
The engineering of this bag is well thought out. You can see the attention to detail on the layout and stitching as well as in picking quality materials. Access to the various pockets as well as a mixture of hook and loop, buckles and zippers allow for a wide range of security combined with fast access.
The modular system creates the ability to grow and adapt according the mission of the day. I enjoy the fact that the base bag is as compact as it is with a small less tactical footprint.
There are enough pockets and varied sizes of pocket to make this bag useful almost to the detriment. When I first got the bag and moved out of my Osprey, I found myself adding weapons, ammo, and magazines that eventually made the Vanquest bag too heavy to carry. Surprisingly though, even with the weight the bag itself was still comfortable, it was just too much weight for me to physically carry without struggling.
The bag is competitively priced and in many cases less expensive than other bags marketed in the tactical/EDC community. When you add in the quality of the Made in the USA materials, it is one of the best-priced bags in its market.
One issue some users have is the change to a Velcro based shoulder strap, vs. the traditional buckle or ring and clasp. IMHO this as a plus due to the way I carry my bag. The new method creates a more secure feel, and we have found the bag does not swing on the clasp and ring like many other bags do when moving quickly. We also like the slight angle Vanquest uses on the shoulder strap, it helps the bag fit tighter and naturally conform to the shape of the body against both your side or back.
The versatility of the strap combined with the waist cinch makes this bag great for a number of different carry styles that fit most urban dwellers and allow for a transition to woods and survival with ease.
This bag is my new EDC laptop bag and will likely see many adventures including Shot Show this year. While it can replace a range bag for some users and is marketed in that manner, which is a bit like pulling a trailer with a Porsche, it can be done but it’s a waste. On the flip side for the EDC minded or tactically geared person looking to find a way to make space for a backup gun or have a bag to take all day including the range then this is the only bag for you.
From the few people I know that do not know me as a gun guy, I have gotten a bunch of questions about who makes this bag and how I like it. Even outside the “tactical” community there is a growing following which will only help in making this bag a low profile OPSEC carry solution.
This bag makes it possible to have a laptop, iPad, chargers, backup battery packs, magazines, backup gun, pens, cords, snacks, purification tablets, trauma kit, and so much more jammed into one comfortable easy to carry solution.
In all it is a bag we would highly recommend to our readers.
You can find yours at Vanquest