When it comes to concealed carry, there is no shortage of debate about methods, tactics, gear and philosophy. One of the topics guaranteed to stir the conversation is that of off-body carry. The strict definition of what constitutes off-body may differ, but for me it has always meant any method of carry not directly attached to the clothing you are wearing, and concealed by same.
I won’t fan the flames of heated debate here — this article focuses on a method of carrying a firearm when the more traditional ways are just not possible or practical. I think we can all imagine circumstances that fit this bill.
If I am going to consider off-body carry, I want as much security and control as I can get. There are products that look like day-planners or similar carriable items that are designed to conceal a handgun — but those are too easily separated from their owners, and frankly you’ll look a bit weird if you refuse to go anyplace without your day-planner clutched in your hand.
The concept of the concealed carry backpack makes much more sense to me. First, the backpack is a ubiquitous item in our culture and can be worn or carried with nearly any style of dress. It is also highly practical, because you can carry a great deal more than just your gun. And you’re not likely to raise suspicion by keeping it with you — as most people have valuable or personal items in their packs that they would not leave unattended.
But before I’m going to consider carrying my handgun in a backpack, it has to be a top-quality pack to begin with — not some novelty item. This is where ALPS OutdoorZ comes in. Makers of top packs and vests for hunting, hiking, and the rugged outdoors, they know more than a little bit about making a quality backpack, and they know about concealed carry.
I got a copy of the Extreme Ghost 20 backpack and gave it a serious look. I’m not won over by fads, and I especially don’t like products designed for the sole purpose of making a quick buck from a target market. I am happy to report that this backpack is solid in every way.
It is first and foremost a well-made pack that has tons of storage space for your daily gear in well-thought-out compartments. The quality of materials and workmanship are excellent, with heavy stitching and industrial duty zippers, complete with strong and convenient pulls, all attached to the nylon Cordura shell. Oh, and you can carry your gun in it!
Just inside the heavily padded back of the pack is a hollow that is lined on both sides with hook-and-loop accepting material. The Extreme Ghost 20 does not come with a holster — they know that’s a personal choice you’re going to want to make for yourself. I wanted to carry the Hellcat Pro in my EDC backpack — and chose the Crossbreed Modular holster with hook-and-loop backer. Quality outside deserves quality inside. The Crossbreed fits the Hellcat Pro perfectly — and also the regular Hellcat (I love a good two-fer), and the backing holds it firmly in place wherever you position it, even through all the movements of a busy day.
The compartment is accessed via zippered openings on either side of the pack. This of course, makes it ambidextrous for pistol access. The zippers are equipped with excellent pull extensions that I found perfect to hook my thumb into and quickly open the access point. Alternately, you can carry the handgun in the front zippered flap, as the fastening material is plentiful there as well.
But, as I mentioned, this is not just some fad backpack. The Extreme from ALPS OutdoorZ is a legit all-purpose pack that is designed for everyday use, as well as everyday carry. Starting with the simple styling, it does not scream “Tactical Timmy Here!”, but will fit in anyplace. It can easily hold your laptop or tablet as well as all the personal items you need for a long day or weekend out. It even has a generous drink bottle holder. The many zippered compartments allow you to organize the pack your way and keep everything securely in place.
Comfortable to wear and carry, it even has a side handle if you wish to simply carry it as luggage. And speaking of luggage — it is the perfect carry-on size that will easily stow in the overhead or below the seat in front of you on an airplane (without a firearm or related gear, of course!). The Ghost 20 is a 20 L capacity pack with a main compartment that measures 19”H x 12.5” W x 5.5” D and weighs just over 2 ½ lbs. empty.
Carrying your handgun off-body is a very personal choice, often driven by needs and circumstances in your life. If your decision is to be prepared for this type of carry, this is a winning choice. The Extreme Ghost 20 pack from ALPS OutdoorZ combined with the Crossbreed Modular holster is a legitimate option.
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