Blackhawk’s medium A.L.E.R.T. (Assault Load-Out Emergency Response Transport) bag is the kind of item you’d rightfully expect to see used by soldiers on deployment. That said, Blackhawk gear occupies a niche that often straddles the space between military and civilian.
I’ve used BLACKHAWK! cases and bags over the years and have found their products incredibly durable.
There’s a reason for this and we’ll need to digress for a moment to discuss the genesis of the company.
The firm was founded in 1993 by former Navy SEAL, Mike Noell.
Noell is no longer associated with the company, but his story is instructive.
It goes something like this: In 1990, he was short-roped down from a helicopter in Iraq and nearly lost his life when one of the shoulder straps on his backpack, which was brimming with sixty pounds of equipment, busted and the ensuing loss of balance yanked him backwards. The fall landed him within inches of a “Bouncing Betty”.
Fortunately, he didn’t get blown up and vowed that if he survived his tour, he’d build a better backpack. Survive he did and after leaving the service, he founded Blackhawk! in his garage. His mission was to design gear that could take a beating. Word got around to the SEALs and other operators and eventually, the general public. The company was acquired in 2010 by Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK), which provides specialized ammunition and equipment for the military, law enforcement, and outdoor recreational markets.
Even though the company is no longer owned by the founder, it’s DNA is clearly still part of the equation. I’ve used their Long Gun Sniper Drag Bag and abused it to no end. That’s why I thought the medium A.L.E.R.T. bag would be ideal for my needs as a globe trekking writer. It’s called medium because it’s smaller than their full sized model which would be overkill for most travelers not going for deployment somewhere. It’s ideal for everything from a long weekend travel to month-long trip to Borneo.
Because it’s essentially designed for soldiers it has a number of interior compartments that provide space to hold uniforms, a helmet, as well as items such as IBA (Interceptor body armor). At 30″L x 16″W x 14″D it’s got plenty of room (6720 cu. in.) without being overwhelmingly large.
A lot thought has been put into the the design such as zippered mesh dividers in all compartments. You can access a compartment from both outside or inside, which comes in very handy for stashing stuff at the drop of a hat. The very bottom of the frame is lined (something you don’t see on cheaper bags) and the top pockets are padded and fold flat when not in use.
It’s also got the obligatory rollers and handle for mobility which you’ll need. You can easily put up to 75 pounds of gear in here without worrying about bursting seams or load it more modestly and cinch the back down with external compression straps.
In short you can confidently toss this bag ashore on a reef in the Tuamotu atolls without fear that it will rip apart at the seams. It can take all the punishment you can dish out where it’s in the bush or on the tarmac. It’s got quality components and a masculine, no-nonsense look. Despite the military heritage, the bag which is black, doesn’t scream Government Issue. I love it.
Price is $162 on Amazon.