I use this bag mainly as a day bag for work. It fits my laptop, charger, mouse, binder, planner, lunch, change of clothes, water bottle, and anything else that I may decide to stuff in on my way out the door. It is bigger than I need about 90% of the time, but I'm glad to have it for that 10% of the time. It is also the perfect size for airline carry on since fully loaded it snugly fits under the seat.
Most of the upsides to this bag are obvious so I won't dwell on them much other than to say this bag deserves a solid 4 stars and isn't too horribly far off from that 5th star.
So the downsides:
- The bag has a horrible base. This alone would keep me from giving a fifth star since it is a persistently obnoxious issue that comes up about as often as you use the thing. Any time you set the bag down on its bottom, it rolls to its back. It is all but impossible to get this pack to stay upright without leaning it against something. Attaching (a) bottle carrier(s) to the back in a low position can give it better stability, but this adds a lot of bulk to an already bulky bag, makes it a no go in tight areas, and shouldn't be necessary anyway.
- The rear pouch has too much slack for the most part and tends to flop around. I stitched some Velcro in place, and it made a world of difference.
- The opening for the eyeglass pouch is too small for my taste. Getting glasses in and out is a bit tight, especially with wrap around safety glasses.
- The eyeglass pouch and the path a hydration pouch tube take interfere with each other. If the eyeglass pouch is full, the tube has to bend around it. If the tube is in place first, it is difficult to put anything in the eyeglass pouch. I've worked around this by cutting ports on the left and right side. To prevent tube kinking, I feed the tube through one side port and out the drag handle flap on the opposite side. The tube has to be on the long side for this to work however.
- The 5.11 logo replaces a portion of the PALS webbing at the bottom. Given that those missing loops are probably some of the most used for add on pouches, this is a pretty bad example of function following form. Hiking in high heels if you will. To fix this, I added a full row of webbing below it (which is useful anyway if adding stuff like bottle carriers as the lower placement will give the pack a better base). I have been too lazy (so far) to rip off the patch and fix the missing webbing, but I'd rather it not be there.
- There is no weapon pouch or any decent options for adding or converting one into the bag. For a bag like this, I was shocked at how hard it has been to find a solution for using this as a range bag to hold a handgun in a convenient place.