Friday, October 31, 2008

Bullet Blocker Ranger Pack

Bullet Blocker (also known as "My Child's Pack") is a company that provides a really cool product. The reason for the product's existence is anything BUT cool. See Bullet Blocker was formed after the Columbine school shootings by two fathers who wanted to do something to help their kids and others defend themselves in an active shooter scenario. They created a pack known as "my child's pack" which was a 3.4lb ballistic backpack which incorporated their “Bullet Blocker” panel of Threat Level IIIa ballistic protection into a high quality backpack.

The idea is that if there is an active shooter situation, the user can run away from the situation and their torso (and head area if the pack is lifted up slightly as seen in the photos) can be protected from gun fire. Also...if the person needs to run toward the shooting for whatever reason...possibly to escape, the pack can be put on the front of the body to defend the front of the torso. It's also good as an added layer of protection for military and tactical personnel, either being worn as a pack, or by using one of their panels in a strategic spot in a vehicle or other application. They also have panels that fit in a briefcase, 3-ring binder, travel luggage or several vest styles. They can make custom panels for you or you can buy pre-cut panels to add to your own pack. All there packs carry the bullet blocker panel discreetly as well, so no one will know it's there.

The bullet blocker material isn't like typical ballistic vest's a little thicker and heavier, but has been proven to stop a lot more hits than a vest insert ever will. It's threat level is IIIA but it can stop many more hits than a typical vest can. I don't mind the extra weight either, because I know what kind of protection I'm getting and it's being carried in the pack. One test even tested out knives on these panels, nothing would go through. The company did a test on one of their panels...70 rounds of various calibers from pistols to shotgun and rounds penetrated the panel....although I wouldn't want to be the person wearing that pack at the end of that!!! The video is below...pretty impressive.

and an independent test...

One user who has found great comfort out of this pack is Erin Sheehan, who purchased a Bullet Blocker pack after surviving the Virginia Tech school shooting when the gunman entered her classroom and opened fire. Had some of these packs been in use, maybe some more students would have survived.

The panel itself is sewn right into the pack. It's a semi-rigid panel so it also works well as a frame for the pack.

The version of the pack that I am reviewing here is the Ranger. This pack is a nice sized pack for an over nighter or a couple days in the field. It's geared more toward the tactical community as you can see by the universal digital camo pattern (the only color available so far). The size is a little bit smaller than a 3 day pack but you can stuff a ton of gear in this pack. It has a large main pocket and several smaller pockets to organize your gear.

I would like to get some of my constructive criticisms out of the way first. This pack is a nice quality pack, but there are a couple suggestions I have for it's design.

First is the webbing used on the shoulder straps. The straps themselves are ok, but the webbing where the straps adjust is a textured webbing that I would rather have replaced with a normal webbing material. My reasoning is because the material that was used is harder to adjust when tightening down the shoulder straps and sternum strap. It causes too much friction and in fact the sternum strap is very difficult to get adjusted. A little bit of added length to the straps also would help get it on if you're a larger individual or are wearing it over a vest.

The second thing that I would rather have improved is the way the shoulder straps come together at the top. They loop around at the top connect. When tightening the straps down that piece tends to push on the back of your neck. It's not too uncomfortable, but having two separate shoulder straps would resolve any comfort issues this might cause.

Those are the only 2 "problems" I've had with the pack...although they aren't deal breakers for me...I still love the pack. Here is one suggestion that I make of any pack that doesn't already have this feature...quick releases on the shoulder straps. This helps you ditch the pack if it get's caught up on something or if you need to ditch the extra weight in order to move faster or need to ditch it in the water. to all the great features of the pack...

  1. Sternum Strap.
  2. Rubber top carry handle.
  3. Padded mesh back and shoulder straps for comfort.
  4. Small compartment at the top of the pack for smaller items such as keys, etc.
  5. A second smaller compartment for electronics. This compartment is fleece lined and has an opening for headphones to be wired through. Also good for a radio and earbud/headset.
  6. Large side zip laptop compartment along the back panel. This should be big enough for most laptops.
  7. Large main compartment with a "sleeve" along the back panel for documents or anything thin. This doesn't appear to be able to hold a i believe it's for paperwork or periodicals. The top of this sleeve isn't at all flimsy. It's reinforced and will keep your paperwork in place and safe.
  8. Large zippered pocket on one side (left side when worn) that goes the height of the pack. I've found this is good for a water bottle or two, or a rolled up sweatshirt or other like sized items.
  9. On the opposite side are two smaller pockets. One is about half the height of the pack, the other is a smaller square pocket. I've found this perfect for carrying my camera in in a pelican box.
  10. On the front of the main compartment are two more is on the lower half and I've found it's good for a rolled up sweatshirt or other small items.
  11. The second compartment on the front is an organizer compartment. The compartment itself can hold a decent amount and it also has several organizer pockets for pens (4), a clear ID pocket a zippered pocket, several sleeve style pockets and a lanyard with clip for keys.
  12. All zippers have pull tabs for easy access.
  13. The bottom of the pack has a thick rubber layer for added durability.

The construction of this pack is very good. It can hold up to a good amount of wear and tear. I've used this pack quite a bit and have stuffed some of the pockets to where I thought the zippers would split, but they held up well. I've actually put this pack to use for it's intended purpose on one occasion (lucky the pack wasn't needed) when we attended a demolition derby. While sitting in the front row one of the cars which had too much gas in it caught fire. The fire was getting out of the firemen's control and there was fear it might explode. I held the pack in front of my 3 year old son to be sure if it did nothing would strike him.

I really love the idea of this pack, and once my son gets into school I will be getting him one or an insert for whatever backpack he may get. The level of discreet protection is worth every cent. With the threats against schools not only from other school kids, but terrorist threats, I feel every prevention that can be taken to help students survive is worth it. This is not paranoia...this is prevention. MJ Safety Solutions' bullet blocker should be on the back of every student.

MSRP: $240

Also, see my section on "The Perfect Day" with videos from Glenn Beck with Brad Thor. This segment pertains to the terrorist threat against our schools. If you have children this will, as Glenn Beck says "scare the bat snot out of you", but it will also help you to be prepared. See it HERE.

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