Prometheus Design Werx – Tactical Gear Evolution

Whether you know it or not, Patrick York Ma completely changed the face of the tactical clothing and equipment industry. At the time, Triple Aught Design Gear (TAD Gear), based in the San Francisco Bay Area, was a burgeoning clothing and pack maker, designing hyper-functional gear for outdoor enthusiasts, law enforcement officers and warfighters deployed around the world. Years later, Ma now has a new venture: Prometheus Design Werx creating rough gear that is ready to go anywhere.

Sometime in 2003, Ma was busy making clothing and backpacks when he got a call. On the line was a US Soldier calling from a distant battlefield using a satellite phone. “He just called to tell us how much he liked our stuff,” said Ma, laughing. “I couldn’t believe it.” Surrounded by burning debris and weaponry, the unnamed soldier sent a redacted picture to Ma and asked that he upload it to the TAD Gear website as a kind of testimonial. “That one picture changed everything,” said Ma.

Prometheus Design Werx @TFB

Prometheus Design Werx @TFB. Credit: Marc Fiorito/Gammanine

The internet response was huge; Ma couldn’t keep anything in stock. Tactical jackets, pants, packs, knives and tools flew out of the store as customers clamored for high quality, functional gear made in America that coincidentally looks bad-ass. Profits rose, new products were designed and collaborations were formed with big-name craftsmen. Even Ma’s creative outlet, Rocket World, was included in the boom. For years, everything he touched was on fire.

Until it wasn’t.


Prometheus Design Werx @TFB

A few years ago, Ma decided to partner with a couple of “outside parties” to help run the expanding business side of the house. The arrangement didn’t work out. “I went through what I can only say was a ‘partnership dispute’ that was eventually resolved.” The details are private, and honestly not that important, but as of about two years ago, Ma officially separated from TAD Gear (the company name officially returned to Triple Aught Design) ready to start PDW.


Prometheus Design Werx @TFB

Born with the same DNA, Ma’s design direction is still recognizable in Prometheus Design Werx – he manufactures high quality gear for adventurers, travelers and warriors. Ma crafts his gear to be functional in any environment, without feeling the need to label it with preconceived notions on how it should be used.

I, along with the rest of my group, coworkers, teammates or however you want to refer to them, have known Patrick for going on ten years. My TAD Gear kit has traveled the world and besides being useful and functional; it has that “Gray Man’ style that I have come to appreciate as I have matured. So when the time came to start looking for a new backpack, PDW was my first stop. I haven’t bought anything from TAD since Patrick’s “divorce”, and I don’t see that changing.

Honestly, I could drone on about how good the PDW S.H.A.D.O. pack looks and functions, but the pictures and specifications speak for themselves. If it comes from Patrick and his team, you know it will work and last and look good doing it.

PDW has just announced that the S.H.A.D.O. Pack 28L and its pouches and accessories will debut in two new colors: OD Green and Wolf Gray. The new colors will be ready for release sometime in late 2016.

Prometheus Design Werx @TFB

Prometheus Design Werx @TFB

The S.H.A.D.O. 28L is a US made, apex, full size, day pack that effectively delivers a ruggedized, streamlined, best in class package designed to perform in a multitude of environments and use cases, both off and on the grid. The unique dual clamshell design allows for full storage access to two compartments, and a high degree of user options to organize EDC items.

Prometheus Design Werx S.H.A.D.O. Pack 28L – $289.00


  • Invista Cordura® 500D
  • 330D 90/10 nylon/PU elastane
  • 70D oxford
  • Nylon mesh
  • Dri-Lex®
  • Multiple density closed cell foam
  • YKK #8 reverse coil zippers
  • ITW and Duraflex® buckles and hardware
  • 550 cord
  • Shock cord
  • Nylon Hook & Loop
  • Volume:
  • 28L / 1708 cubic inches

Approximate Dimensions:

  • Height: 21″
  • Width (max): 14″
  • Width (min): 10″
  • Depth: 8″

Even though he lives in one of the most challenging areas of the country to do so, Ma is a shooter at heart. He’s often forced to travel to play with the “good stuff”, but he still finds time to get out his Ruger 10/22s and practice. In fact, he talked quite a lot about the 10/22 – I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s cooking up a few ideas for that iconic platform.

Whether or not I’m walking the street of New York City or on the trails in the Rocky Mountains, I’m reminded of how Ma’s creativity and ingenuity has changed the tactical gear industry in the last 15+ years. From zipper pulls, Velcro identification areas, shoulder pockets and every day carry (EDC) gadgets – it doesn’t matter if Ma was the original designer or not, he definitely had a hand in bringing them into mainstream circulation.

Before Ma created TAD Gear, most people who wanted functional tactical gear for their everyday life look liked they stepped out of the Army surplus store or stocked up on items from the Galls catalog.

Professionally, it’s great to see PDW is making awesome gear right here in the USA. Personally, it’s great to see Patrick and his team doing well and still enjoying being in the industry.


Credit: Marc Fiorito/Gammanine


Prometheus Design Werx –


LE – Science – OSINT.
On a mission to make all of my guns as quiet as possible.
Twitter: @gunboxready
Instagram: @tfb_pete


  • Kevin Riley

    $119 for a pair of shorts? Please stay off the crack.

    • John

      But if it’s really made in the US and is durable, it’s worth it.

      • Mike

        But the shorts fall apart quickly …

        Honestly its disappointing to see PDW pretty much rehash the early TAD days rather than continue to innovate. And they seem to just be patches and trinkets with the exception of a run of shorts that seemed to disintegrate on the users and backpacks that have gotten poor reviews and been sent back by many pack forum members.

        • Pete – TFB Writer

          Something smells fishy. You’re not from the Bay Area are you?

          • Henry Reed

            I am, am I allowed to be here?

          • Pete – TFB Writer

            You’re good. I was implying the poster might have an association with TAD and had something to gain by tearing down PDW.

            Nothing wrong with the Bay Area.

    • Jim N Jenna SK

      I bet he plays “put some ds on it” by rich boy every time a pair is sold

    • Harry’s Holsters

      Buy once cry once. I’ve got Patagonia and marmot gear I’ve paid full retail for and it lasts! I’ve gotten much more value then friend who buy the lookalikes for 1/10th to 1/5th of the price. Mine is still being used almost daily in season while theirs only last 1-2 seasons.

      • Nocternus

        5.11 has top quality items that are very durable for about 1/3 of that price.

        • Harry’s Holsters

          I believe they aren’t made in the US. Not saying there aren’t in between levels of quality. I wear a lot of carhartt in the winter when working outside but mountain khaki makes a better product. Neither are made in the US. There are some boutique brands that makes pants that’ll last a lifetime of moderate use. They cost money. Really hard for either of us to tell if these shorts are worth the money without having a pair.

          • Nocternus

            I will never find out how awesome they are because there is no way in hell I will ever pay $119 for a pair of shorts. I think I saw a knit stocking hat for $39 on their website. That seems like a solid $4 item to me. Perhaps making that knit hat in the USA multiplies the cost by 1000%. I can’t see it outperforming a knit hat made in China. Or 10 knit hats made in China. If given the choice between a USA product and an import I will choose a USA product if the price isn’t astronomical and the quality is better. But when you could buy 10 of a China made product durability goes out the window when it can be easily replaced. It is not in my budget to spend 10x the price on items for it to have a “Made in the USA” tag on the collar.

          • Pete – TFB Writer

            I get it that these products seem over priced. But consider that some of the overseas options are blantant knockoffs, meaning they used stolen designs from US companies. Two, some overseas factories basically use slave labor.

            Also, ever bought a gun or a magazine and had someone say “no way, not worth it”?
            I’m not trying to change your opinion, just saying that it’s not exactly black and white.

          • Bill

            And 3, when the knockoff fails at 0300 during a sleeting rain when you are 15 miles off road in the middle of nowhere, maybe the money you saved can be used as an extra insulating layer for your head, which bleeds body heat at a really incredible rate.

          • Evan

            Actually, my understanding is that the head doesn’t bleed body heat any faster than any other part of the body. However, you lose most body heat through areas of bare skin. In the study the Army did that the “you lose all your body heat through your head” thing is based on, the test subjects weren’t wearing hats, and thereby lost most body heat through their heads. Had they been wearing balaclavas, gloves, and vests but no sleeves, they would have lost most of their body heat through their arms. Basically, the study found the wrong result from the given data.

          • Bill

            Ok, if my hat and sleeves and pants legs get ripped off while I’m tumbling down a hill because they are cheaply made I’ll freeze everything equally

          • Evan

            I’m not saying you should buy cheap knockoff gear. But I also don’t think it’s all that important to spend a lot of money on a hat. A hat is really the simplest piece of gear there is, and I’ve had cheap $4 hats that were perfectly serviceable. I currently have three hats, including a cheap blaze orange one that I picked up several years ago when going camping during some kind of special youth hunter weekend, because most of my gear is earth tones or camouflage and I didn’t want to get shot by some 12-year-old with bad judgement and a case of buck fever. That’s now the hat I wear most often, and it’s served me quite well.

          • Harry’s Holsters

            Also consider materials. I’ve seen synthetics that appear the same when new buy quickly show how different they are with use. I see if when hanging out with friends and wear the same number of synthetic layers and on the surface we look life we are dressed the same but I’m warmer or not sweating as much because my clothing is warmer and wicking the sweat better. It also lasts me longer.

            Buy once cry once is my favorite saying because it is true on almost everything.

        • Al Wise

          5.11 is made in China.

          • Nocternus

            Doesn’t change the fact that I have been wearing the same 5.11 Pro Pants for 10 years and they still look like the day I first got them.

          • 360_AD

            That may be so, but 100% of your money isn’t going to China. Say what you will about outsourcing, 5.11 still maintain a workforce in America. And, those Americans need to feed their families and pay income taxes just like you do.

            This absolute “I won’t buy X because it’s made in China” mentality is utterly asinine.

          • Friend of Tibet


        • Bill

          If you had Royal Robbins pants before the design was sold to 5.11, you’d realize that there are major differences in quality. Then compare current 5.11 to Crye, Arcteryx, Arktis, Beyond and some of the other high end companies and you’ll see that when you spend 3x the money you get 3x the pants.

          • Nocternus

            So what you are saying is that my current 5.11 pants that I have had for 10 years and still look brand new aren’t as good as Crye, Arcteryx and Arktis pants and those pants will last 30 years and still look brand new. I am going to have to call BS on this one.

          • Bill

            Call what you want, buy what you want. The suit you have made by a tailor is better than the one you buy from Walmart. Argue that all you want.

            When your crotch rips out while you’re going over a wall I will laugh. Sorry, nothing personal, but it’s funny.

          • Nocternus

            A fool and his money are soon parted.

          • iksnilol

            Why bother with 6 pant legs, you’ve only got 2 legs anyway.

          • Friend of Tibet

            Any actual research data to justify your 3x better quality thing?

          • Bill

            I checked with my crotch and it reminded me that it’s never been exposed while wearing Cryes, but couldn’t say the same about 5.11.s.

            5.11s aren’t “bad,” but they aren’t as good as they used to be and won’t take nearly the abuse the higher end products will. If you don’t go over many walls or wear them for weeks on end and aren’t overly concerned about crotch blowout they should be just adequate, or fine.

  • Boris Pistoff

    I would like to see a designed Combat Rectal Thermometer (Cosmoline lubricated of course!) Is this company for real? These prices !!! This company must be Yuuugeeee.

  • Harry’s Holsters

    I’d really like to see a video on this pack!

  • MyFifteenthAccount

    Yeah, let me rush right out and buy a $300 backpack because I saw a commercial on the internet.

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      You saw a commercial on PDW? Where?

      • MyFifteenthAccount

        This article is it.

        • Pete – TFB Writer

          Ohhhhh. I see what you are saying. THIS is the commercial.

          Good one.


  • Nocternus

    All of these packs i keep seeing seem to be lacking in the suspension department. I ran the gambit of 5.11 backpacks before realizing that what i really needed was a well designed backpacking pack not a tactical pack. I have been incredibly impressed with my Gregory Baltoro 65 pack. It makes 50 lbs disappear on your back with its superior suspension system. I believe I picked mine up for about $250. Expensive for a pack but worth every penny IMO.

    • Harry’s Holsters

      You’re 100% right. One their website the pic using the pack looks a little staged.

      I have an osprey Atmos 48(I think, biggest you can fit in carry on storage) I really like it for carrying but getting anything out of it is horrible. I wore it traveling Europe and carrier roughly 40 pounds in it and it can’t be beat for comfort. I wish someone would combine the utility of a tactical style pack with backpacking style support.

      • Matt Fulghum

        you might want to look at the Kelty MAP 3500. it’s not really any less comfortable to carry than my Redwing 50, and it’s very much a tactical pack from a layout perspective. I’ve been really happy with it.

        • Harry’s Holsters

          The layout looks good but how is the back support?

          • Matt Fulghum

            Very good. Two aluminum stays and an HDPE sheet. It’s not as cool, temperature-wise as a newer Osprey, say, but not bad.

  • Dan

    “Combat Rectal Thermometer”…LMFAO?

  • Roy G Bunting

    Boutique combat gear manufacturers get popular with the shooting and airsoft population, get more demand then the can handle, partner with a big company that takes over and turns them into a mass market brand.

    See 5.11, Blackhawk, and possibly Tactical Taylor and LBX.

    • Harry’s Holsters

      5.11 grosses a ton of money and has a very diverse product line. I don’t know if I’d call them a combat gear manufacturer any more. I don’t know if that’s their primary source of income now.

    • Bill

      LBX is a great example: TT can meet the needs of multiple markets at varying price points.

  • EzGoingKev

    Does anyone know what sling that is on the SCAR?

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      It looks like a VTAC Padded with HK style clips.

  • John Smith

    Keep on buying all your stuff from some sweatshop overseas.Don’t worry about the all the people here trying to earn a livable wage.When you wonder why all the jobs are gone take a look in the mirror.No ,you didn’t cause this to happen but you sure as hell aren’t doing anything to help the situation.Oh ,and I love my two pairs of $119 shorts almost as much as the fact that I’m doing my part to help people in this country.

  • Thebowlwhisperer

    It’s funny how the shooting community has come up with fashion terms like “the grey man” that are just as much marketing crap as anything in my girlfriend’s Vogue. We value ourselves as “real men” and think we are above fashion, vanity, and designer-worshipping. But let’s be real. These days there is NOTHING grey about wearing anything even remotely related to TAD around anymore. I’m not bashing tactical clothes. I love all of my TAD, Arc, and Crye stuff. But two days ago I arrived at the airport in Florence, Italy and was waiting for my girlfriend to go use the bathroom when I noticed the woman waiting next to me was wearing a Daniel Defense hat. I obviously knew she was American, so I gave her a compliment on her hat. She said her husband got it for her. And lo and behold, I see a guy walk towards us who looks like the twin of Bryan Black. Beard, 5.11 cap, black polo, cargos, a MOLLE sling bag covered in patches and blood types, and hiking boots. I’m sorry but there is nothing grey about that. I knew immediately what this guy was into. And in my case, it’s a good thing because it tells me I have a fellow enthusiast to talk to. But I can’t imagine he doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb amongst all the soft-shouldered suits of Italy. He certainly did to me. The very next day I’m waiting for some sandwiches in a tiny osteria and in behind me walks a fit guy, uber clean cut. He’s wearing a big watch, olive drab cargos, and a black technical T. Both have a visible Karimor logo. I knew IMMEDIATELY that this guy was Italian military. The same day, there is some huge tour group walking around the city center. I actually am very curious what this group was, as it was over a hundred young men and women with short hair, tan pants, black polos, and what can hilariously only be described as drop-leg fanny packs on a few of them. No discernible insignia, so I am curious if this is some off-duty uniform for military college students on vacations or if it was a private organization. But I can certainly say nobody looked more out of place than this group. I honestly don’t believe us tactical people buy tactical clothes for the purpose of blending in anymore. To me it is clearly a fashion statement, as the ostentatiousness of the style completely contradicts its purported use. No regular people go around in cargos and polos and sunglasses everywhere, standing around with chests puffed out, especially in vacation/tourist areas. They wear sandals and Adidas and ripped skinny jeans, have low-quality bags, and
    don’t have their blood type all over their stuff. I’m sorry if this offends anyone, but I brought a suitcase full of my custom suits here and none of the Italians (or French, where I was a few days ago) are giving me a second look, because that is what they wear. This is the true essence of the grey man (for me I just hate looking like a tourist). This is why SOF grew beards and wore the pakol in Afghanistan. I still own and love all my tactical outdoor gear, but I seriously propose we stop referring to the look as “the grey man.” Everyone knows what it is if local militias fighting ISIS try to copy the look.

  • None

    If they really wanted to jump on the band wagon, they would have offered the pack in grey.

  • CavScout

    So where’s this supposed original photo? I want to see it.