The ubiquitous fanny pack has been a staple for concealed carry for a long enough period of time that, unless being worn by an obvious tourist, it just screams “gun.” Access to the enclosed firearm is slow at best since most folks do not practice presenting from the pack. However, one advantage of the fanny pack has always been the ability to carry both a firearm and extra “stuff”. For everyday carry we continue to use regular holsters, both IWB and belt mounted, forgoing the supposed advantages of the fanny pack.
There are, however, some circumstances that we have encountered where unconventional solutions are called for when carrying a handgun and other gear. Such has been the case when working matches that require quite a bit of walking such as the Allegheny Sniper Challenge (ASC). This three day event requires the toting of a handgun (for dealing with the ever-present Rattlesnakes found in the Allegheny Mountains) as well as an assortment of other “stuff” required for the administration of three days of assorted shooting stages and a basic trauma kit. Over the past 15 years, we have used belt and chest holsters for the handgun and assorted packs and ammo cans for the other gear required for running the match. Never satisfied with the accessibility of some items, which seem to be in the truck or a pack somewhere on a 4-wheeler, we’ve been on the lookout for a better solution to keeping necessary things like a timer, radio, range finder, first aid kit, writing implements and handgun close to hand. The Heavy Recon Kit Bag from Hill People Gear seems to be the solution and it fits our needs perfectly.
Hill People Gear is a small, family-owned company located in western Colorado. Run by folks who have literally spent most of their lives outdoors, Hill People Gear offers innovative equipment that is American-made and fully tested before being marketed. The folks at Hill People Gear make several different sized Kit Bags with different volumes and features. Some are low enough in profile to conceal under a jacket while others have considerable capacity. All are designed for chest carry with the included suspension or they can be attached to the shoulder straps of a backpack. We got our Heavy Recon Kit Bag in plenty of time to fit it out for the Spring ASC Match. The Heavy Recon Kit Bag is Molle/PALS compatible and the back side of the two main compartments, or pockets, is also hook and loop friendly. Each of these pockets closes with double slider zippers.
The first order of business in outfitting our Kit Bag was to get a hook-and-loop-backed holster to go in the back (gun) pocket of the Kit Bag (the compartment closest to our chest). A quick call to Galco Gunleather had one of the company's CarrySafe holster/accessory carriers in hand and it worked perfectly. The elasticized CarrySafe Holster has hook-and-loop on the back side and we just stuck it on the back panel of the gun pocket. The CarrySafe holster covers the trigger on the 1911 pistol we so often carry and was easily mounted to offer a good angle of presentation. The Accessory carrier was adjusted to hold a 1911 magazine and was mounted horizontally above the pistol so as to be accessible to the support hand for reloading.
An easily accessible inner panel holds a full-size firearm close-at-hand.
The front, interior facet of the forward pocket of the HR Kit Bag has a couple of open-top pockets for organizing gear and the back of it is both hook-and-loop and PALS/MOLLE compatible. This is where we will be carrying our range finder, first aid kit, extra score sheets, notebook, timer, etc. To the outer front face of the Kit Bag, which is PALS/MOLLE compatible, we attached a small fixed blade knife, a small radio and a digital camera case. We were puzzled for a bit on how to attach the stuff that was not PALS friendly to the front of the kit bag. The solution was actually quite simple as both the radio and knife were each attached using the ubiquitous cable or zip-ties found most workshops and garages across America.
While we will use the Heavy Recon Kit Bag from Hill People Gear mostly as a handgun-hauling, administrative bag, any of the different sized Kit Bags from the Hill People can be useful to hikers, mountain bikers, runners, fisherman and other outdoor folks needing to tote a handgun and a light load of other gear. The Hill People Gear Kit Bags come in 8 different colors/patterns and several sizes. A look at the company's website is definitely worthwhile for details on the different bag’s features and dimensions. Especially interesting is the user feedback in the “What’s in your Kit Bag?” section: there are some pretty innovative ideas there.
Should one have the need to carry a defensive handgun and a bit more “stuff” than will conveniently fit in their pockets, any one of the various Kit Bags from Hill People Gear may just be the solution. Our Heavy Recon Kit Bag retails for $115. The HRKB will see considerable use as an administrative bag/pistol toter during the coming shooting season and, with a change of contents, will also accompany us on day hikes here in the Alleghenies during the summer months. Compact, light and versatile, The Hill People Gear Kit Bags could just be the “better than a fanny pack” idea; try one and see.