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by Bill Mills
"You can put your sorrys in a sack, Mr!" Exactly what that line means was never explained on the sitcom Seinfeld and you may not have any "sorrys," but hauling around paintball gear can sometimes be a task in and of itself - one suited for the Gearsack
A couple of years ago, JT released the Nocarryon bag - a hefty piece of rolling luggage, that could easily handle a player their gear, and their clothes either carried as a backpack, or rolled as luggage. As innovative (and then copied) as the Nocarryon bag was, it also had its drawbacks. It was bulky for use at the field, and suffered the main problem most gear bags do for paintball - organization.
It's not just enough to have a bag big enough to store everything that goes with you to the field, but it needs to be compartmentalized and protected, or tools will scratch a brand new ano job, and goggle lenses will get scratched and cracked by an air tank.
Then of course the whole package needs to be manageable, comfortable to carry.
JT has answered this call with the Gearsack. First seen worn by JT Sponsored teams at the 2000 NPPL World Cup, the Gearsack is a compartmentalized backpack build with paintball in mind.
A main strap holds the top and bottom end-caps in place, while zippers seal them to the pack's side panels that are held shut with a Velcro style closure. Beneath the outer shell lies a second, padded layer made up of a wing on either side. A velcro strap holds this layer shut over the bag's core.
The core of the Gearsack centers around the compressed air system and goggles - two of the most important items to protect from damage, for safety reasons. The tank pocket holds air systems up to 114 cubic inches, completely enclosed. At the top of the pack, a rigid curved support protects a goggle system. A removable pouch connects in the center of the goggle and can be used to store miscellaneous small items, or the space in the center of the goggle can be used for a loader.
Narrow pockets with lock down straps flank the air system to hold four barrels securely. The pack's two inner wings are actually paintgun pouches. Each is padded, and forms a large pocket to allow two paintguns to be carried in the Gearsack in full protection. Four more pockets on the interior of the wings allow for more small items and tool storage.
The two wings close together leaving room for a pack smashed flat over the air system in the center.
The two outer side flaps also each have one large mesh pocket on their inside for paint rages, flags, or other flexible items.
On the outside, two more side pockets provide ample storage space - enough for a cleat on each side. Throughout the bag, mesh materials, and even metal vents help minimize mildew and the rot associated with not unpacking and cleaning gear right after getting home.
Outside, heavy web straps provide additional strength to the Pack's thick Nylon and closed cell foam walls. While the pack doesn't feature zipper or latch locks, d-rings and web loops allow a cable style bicycle lock to seal everything but the side pockets as protection from less than trustworthy baggage handlers.
Every major closure on the Gearsack is either an adjustable strap, or a Velcro style closure that allows everything to be packed tightly whether the pack has a large load or a small one. That way nothing shifts or has room to bang around. Even the outside pockets feature elastic cinch straps.
With everything bundled up in the Gearsack, a carry handle on the top makes the bag easy to tote, but what sets it apart from other backs are the backpack features. A fully padded back, padded shoulder straps, sternum strap, and hip straps make the Gearsack reminiscent of a frameless alpine stile backpack. hip straps make all the difference in the world by placing the weight load on the user's waist, rather than the back and shoulders.
In practical use, the Gearsack has proven to be an outstanding new product. It provides excellent gear protection, and organization. With most tournament style paintguns, drop forwards and cradles may need to be removed for the paintguns to be stored in their intended pouches, and side mounted items like the Warp Feed, definitely need to be detached as well. The one thing for a weekend tournament that didn't fit in the pack quite so easily was a supply of 150 or 200 round loader pods. For the upper level tournament player this probably isn't an issue as pods would be shipped with additional team supplies. For the more casual player who is likely wearing their shoes or boots to the field, five or six 100 or 150 round tubes fit in the side pockets.
With about 6 months of use on my gearsack,
it has flown cross country, been tossed about by baggage handlers, worn
as a backpack, used for trips to the local field, taken as carryon luggage
(when transporting a camera and notebook computer) and proven to be a solid,
effective way to transport my gear.
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