This product may not be at the top of your preparedness list, but I enjoy doing reviews of products that impress me and perform well so you are getting a review of it. That being said, depending on your AO it may not be a bad idea to have some type of rappel or steep angle kit. I am a rope rescue technician and climb in my free time, so I have a decent amount of equipment. However, I have recently wanted to make a dedicated 'tacticool' bag designed specifically for rappelling or steep angle descent. Though the idea for the bag has long been a project in the back of my head, it got thrown together VERY quickly due to some outside forces.
Force number one was the fact that LBT is uber expensive. Always has been. My med bag from them retails around $600 and it was a gift. I partially believe LBT must use a synthesis of Yeti Fur, Unicorn Blood, and Chupacabra Fang to make their fabric which may explain the price but all joking aside they make fantastic products. I saw on the forum that they were having a 40% off sale for Labor Day and knew I would have to pounce. While I really didn't need any other bags or pouches, the rope idea popped back to the front of my mind and I ordered it. Force number two was the fact that a friend of mine owns a climbing and rescue store that is web based and pretty big. I told him I ordered a bag and needed 100' of static line that is pretty durable and 'tactical'. He had some Edelweiss static rope in stock that was designed for some of his military clients and can supposedly take a shock load. Also used heavily in caving he told me is is exceptionally abrasion and water resistant. I checked online and retail was $0.96/foot. When he told me that he would sell it to me for $0.49 a foot but I had to buy the 200' he had left...I really couldn't say no.
So that is where the concept and main parts of the bag came from.
The two pictures above are provided by LBT and are the two you find on their website. The bag I actually got was in the color coyote brown, which strangely enough is no longer available. I went with this color because I think it will match all of my MultiCam gear best. Due to the sale I was able to get the bag shipped for around $84 not bad since retail is $118.16. The specs, also from LBT are as follows:
100ft Rope Bag
•Small, light weight pack
•Capable of carrying 100 feet of nylon rope
•Feed holes on top and bottom of pack
•Easily adaptable for Helio and repelling operations
•Attaches to belt via hook and loop
•Adjustable, elastic leg straps
•External pocket for smaller mission specific items
•Overall Dimensions: 15.3L x 10W x 6H
•Weight: 1.1 lbs
If there is one thing that stands out on this bag it is the quality and workmanship. I didn't expect anything less from LBT, but I did want to point it out in the review. All the stitches and seams are excellent and the material is very high quality which I know will correlate to longevity and the bag lasting well against rough treatment. Areas around the D rings are reinforced as are all of the straps on the bag.
My friend was able to hook me up with the rope as debated, and shrink tubing for the ends. I had him cut the 200' into two 100' lengths. One for the bag and one to keep/sell. Total came out to be $105 for the rope after tax and more haggling.
Drawing from my masssive amount of experience and all around awesomeness I decided on the following layout for my bag:
100' Static Rope (black)
Top end to have figure eight with safety on end, and an alpine butterfly 2' from that.
Screw locking carabiner through figure eight (black).
Two 12' sections of webbing (black). Designed for making an anchor if I feel it is necessary.
Standard '8' for rappelling. Went with this instead of a rescue 8 for weight and size.
10.5' section of rope for Swiss Seat. Usually around 12' for most people but I am tiny.
One more screw locking carabiners (black).
Concept of Use
The way I have laid the bag out sets it up for a rapid deployment and use. It uses minimal equipment, but technically could use less. In an emergency or rapid egress situation, I could pull the end out of the top and wrap it around an anchor securing the figure eight with safety to the alpine butterfly. Though other techniques are up for debate, this is what our technical rescue FOG recommends and what I am most familiar with. If I deem that a multi-point anchor or anchor straps will be needed then I will use the lengths of webbing. Following this, I can deply the bag by throwing it over the incline. I can either use a Swiss Seat by using the length of rope in the external pocket, or my riggers belt which I always have on. Furthermore I can use either the standard 8 or a carabiner to descend.
Everything fit quite well. I must say when I first saw the bag I wasn't sure if it would hold 100' of rope. Once I actually put the rope in though, I realized that there was quite a bit of room left in it. This sort of upset me because all the extra space that was available allowed the rope room to move and made the central strap on the top basically useless because even when entirely tightened it still wasn't tight enough. I know that this really isn't LBT's fault because there are so many different diameters of rope that can be placed in the bag and 100' of one diameter will use way more space than 100' of another. Not like I can really blame LBT. They did set out to make a bag to hold a multitude of ropes of varying brands and sizes. I just wish I would have taken this into consideration and maybe packed the bag with like 120'.
The bag has many integrated methods of transport. A large velcro strap across the back you can sling over you or around you, 4 metal D rings for attatchment to packs, and a drop leg set up with all pieces included. My favorite method is slinging the bag around me but I think it would be a tight fit for larger people no offense. I do have to say that while a good idea, the drop leg is total rubbish. Pardon my redneck, but ain't no way you can have something that large and heavy strapped to your thigh. I have tried it with my current carrier and tac rig and it is just excessive. That being said, there is a major design flaw with the drop leg set up itsself. The strap that you run you belt through isn't a completely stitched loop. It is a half loop with a 1'' section of hook and loop at the bottom for rapid removal from the belt. While also a good idea, the hook and loop isn't enough to support the weight of the bag and after just a few steps it separates and allows the bag to slide down your leg. Not very good in a tactical environment. The D rings however are awesome. They are stitched in with reinforcement and are very sturdy. I can see this being really useful to both attach the bag to your equipment and vice versa.
Deploying the bag is also very easy, rope feeds from it very well and I had no binds or kinks. This of course also depends on the type of rope and packing, but in my experience the bag also will play a role in its effectiveness. The main compartment of the bag has a draw string section around the top of it that allows you to draw it tight once the rope is in it, and loosen it when the rope is being deployed. Each hole that the draw string travels through has a metal grommet for added durability and they have rounded edges so as not to bother the draw string. The main compartment also has a cover that fastens over it and has a single compression strap. This cover has a permanent hole in the top should you want to leave the rope coming out and allow it to deploy this way. The compression strap features 2 locations to attach a carabiner for either external storage or leaving the rope come out the lid.
Bag - $84
Rope - $50 (100')
Carabiners - $20
Standard 8 - $15
Webbing - $12
Total - $181
Even though the images show me in a vertical application, I also will most likely use this bag for anything that exceeds a 45% angle where safety is an issue, especially at work. I intend to leave this bag in my car and may hopefully expand on it if I can. If I could add anything to it, it would most likely be a RNR edge pro kit.
Okay so to sum it up. The bag as it stand is an excellent bag, and it definitely has enough room for a modular set up and lay out depending on the AO and intent of the operator. I chose to make it a rappel bag but there is nothing to say it couldn't be set up with a MA system or ascender lay out for example. The overall design by LBT is amazing and gives you room for just enough equipment to get the job done for a tactical entry or some other high angle situation where you want a safety factor. The majority of the equipment designed for transport of the bag kinda suck to be honest, and make it slightly difficult to move the bag other than just carrying it in your hands. This for sure isn't a deal breaker especially in my hands where it will just lay in my car, but it could certainly be for operators that wish to actually incorporate it into a tac rig somehow.
Design - 4/5
Quality - 5/5
Ergonomics - 3/5
Concept - 5/5
Overall - 4.25/5
Would I recommend it to others? Yes. Questions? Comments? Let em rip.