5.11 Dart Backpack | SHOT 2017

It is great to see more historically “tactical” companies embracing “covert” style gear. Hopefully the day of the MOLLE clad contractor, with cargo tactical pants, ball caps with cool guy patches, and backpacks that scream “I’m going to war, or maybe have lunch at a park in downtown Somalia” look is nearing it’s end… (Yeah, right, who am I kidding).

Anyway, 5.11 has a great little pack that looks more like a student’s school pack, yet still retains a number of features that still have “tactical” functionality.

Roll top with a nice color inside to contrast and make gear easier to find.

Nice large opening with a nice color inside to contrast and make gear easier to find.

The 5.11 Dart Backpack is constructed of water-resistant dobby weave nylon,is slick stick compatible with internal MOLLE, and has an angled zip main compartment It has their easy to access “TacTec System” so you can easily get to your side arm, and has a zippered sunglass compartment). It is also hydration compatible.

Deep compartment for your "things".

Deep compartment for your “things”.

The Dart will accept a ballistic panel (in place of the removable laptop compartment) and also features reinforced shoulder straps. It will contain a respectable 1500 cubic inches, at 19″ tall, 13″ long, and 6″ wide (I had to estimate–it is that new, they didn’t have the specs on it).

Very good concealment

Very good concealment

It comes in three colors, oil green, grenade, and knight watch, and will be available this fall. MSRP is $109 which is actually a pretty good price. I’m going to have to get one and see if I can break it (I have a special talent for destroying backpacks)…



Tom is a former Navy Corpsman that spent some time bumbling around the deserts of Iraq with a Marine Recon unit, kicking in tent flaps and harassing sheep. Prior to that he was a paramedic somewhere in DFW, also doing some Executive Protection work between shifts. Now that those exciting days are behind him, he has embraced his inner “Warrior Hippie” and assaults 14er in his sandals and beard, or engages in rucking adventure challenges while consuming craft beer. To fund these adventures, he writes medical software and builds websites and mobile apps. His latest venture is as one of the founders of IronSights.com; a search engine for all things gun related. He hopes that his posts will help you find solid gear that will survive whatever you can throw at it–he is known (in certain circles) for his curse…ahem, ability…to find the breaking point of anything.


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  • Gus Butts

    Is it covert as in it hides the fact that you’re humping a 5.11 bag around SHOT show?

  • valorius

    I made a ‘covert’ bulletproof backpack with 1/2″ thick fiberglass hard armor plates i found on ebay. Cost me like $30. In my tests they will stop any JHP or FMJ handgun round and all FN 5.7mm rounds fired from a Five SeveN pistol except the AP SS190.

    • Wow!

      The best covert stuff are things that are homemade because you can design them for unconventional storage. The best design IMO was Ares Defense’s backpack where you deploy a vest over yourself without taking the backpack off. They never officially released it but I made a few for myself and some officers and we all love the design.

      • valorius

        That does sound pretty cool. The one i made gives level IIIA+ protection (it will stop anything up to .30 carbine and most 5.7x28mm rounds). I figured if there’s ever an active shooting situation i can take it off and either put it on ‘backwards’ to protect my chest, or go prone behind it and wait in an ambush position for said shooter to enter my field of fire then light him up.

        As long as the threat doesn’t have a high velocity centerfire rifle, i should be well protected. The fiberglass plate only weighs about 3 lbs. I also keep one in the trunk of my car with medical and emergency supplies in it.

  • Ace of Lances

    I don’t know the lingo much; is MOLLE the system of rings that you can use to attach anything to the backpack? I have these type for my daughter and I for hiking, hunting and camping. Coupled with lots of dollar store carabiners, they can’t be beat! Compass, multitool, shotshells, water bottles, you can have access to so much without opening the pack. I don’t see how that is a bad thing. It sounds like it must be ‘out of fashion’ now in 2017… Hopefully that just makes them cheaper. The pack shown here really does look like my daughters’ school bookbag. Not sure about the ex military folks, but this pack doesn’t beat MOLLE gear in my quaint canadian wilderness forays.
    Idk, maybe I’m reading this totally wrong, and this is a military only section and is intentionally to hide the utility factor; it that case, cool backpack! From a Joe consumer standpoint, I’ll take the MOLLE.

    • Tuulos

      While they are great for the things you listed, this seems to be more designed for the everyday use in the city etc. where the webbing doesn’t really get any use and it just makes the backpack stand out more.

      • Ace of Lances

        Ah, yeah, makes sense then to have the webbing inside a compartment. I’ve only been to a city a couple times, and it was hard to carry all my stuff without a car to pack it around 🙁

        • Ben Pottinger

          I tend to agree with you. I bought the 5.11 Rush 12 and absolutely love it (and the MOLLE its covered in!). But I live in KY so its not like I’m really hiding anything by carrying a non-MOLLE pack anyway. Everyone in KY is packing a gun so we just all expect you to have at least one on you anyway, MOLLE or no MOLLE.

      • Ace of Lances

        Looking at this, it looks like it would be very good for crawling, pushing through dense briary growth as well.

  • Dbom

    So someone help me here on the logic:

    1) Having MOLLE screams the fact that you are a poser, cityboy, wanna-be. So in that case, you don’t have any mission you are on and won’t be carrying any cool tactical tools to shoot or stab bad guys. So ignore me…

    or

    2) Having the new non-MOLLE stuff REALLY means you ARE on tactical missions and must conceal your true mission critical/lethal gear stuffed in your back pack.

    So as a regular guy, do I now have to get the covert style backpacks to show/pretend that I’m just like an operator or do I keep the MOLLE stuff to show I’m not?

    Or should I just get the pack that I like and is functional?

    This is hard…

    PS- if I’m over 35, why would any criminal assume I’m a student hauling books with a backpack anyways…there’s got to be a reason I’m using a backpack and not a damn briefcase, no?

    (now there’s a free idea for 5.11…)