We are a tribe of travelers. As a child in a military family, we were constantly on the move. And always had to travel to visit our stationary relatives. This mobile theme has carried on to my family as well. My oldest son was flying the friendly skies at the ripe age of 5 weeks old to attend my cousins wedding at Pebble Beach. And we haven’t slowed down since then. Our baggage has to be durable enough to withstand the punishment the baggage handlers dish out. And practical enough to haul and organize our belongings for various length trips. 15 years ago I purchased all four of us North Face Double Track carry on bags. Bombproof! But very basic inside. Recently, I tried out the DC FLT Line from 5.11 Tactical.

A recent trip to Outdoor Retailer in Denver offered a good initial test of the DC FLT Line Roller. Traveling alone, I decided to pack everything into just a carry-on piece of luggage for this trip. The rectangular shape maximizes its volume offering 56 liters of total capacity. More than enough for a week on the go. And a much better shape than the tapered design of my North Face roller. Additionally, there is an expansion zipper that can extend the thickness by two inches. A nice feature for an extended trip. Or in my case, returning home with more cargo than I left with.


Features of the DC FLT Line courtesy of 511tactical.com

  • Meets US carry-on guidelines when unexpanded
  • Durable multi-stage collapsible handle
  • Integrated laser-cut web platform
  • 840D Ballistic Nylon blend for lightweight resilience
  • Three reinforced grab handles
  • Integrated stationary supports
  • Removable mesh toiletry bag
  • Insulated laptop sleeve
  • Hypoallergenic foam padded interior
  • Locking zippers on main and secondary compartments
  • Heavy-duty wheeled base
  • Hard corner protection
  • YKK® self-healing zippers throughout
  • 22” H x 14” L x 11” D main compartment when fully expanded
  • 3388 cubic inch / 56 liter total capacity
  • Tandem luggage strap w/ quick release buckle included
  • Supports 5.11® Stay Secure Snap System
  • Water, stain, and soil resistant finish
  • Extensive Bartacking at stress points for durability
  • Flag patch attachments at left and right side
  • Supports custom embroidery
  • MSRP $159.99

DC FLT Line Exterior Overview

The outside of the DC FLT Line features two zippered pockets. A smaller one on top that allows quick access to travel items. And a larger padded pocket for a laptop, or in my case, an iPad Pro. The multi-stage pull handle was comfortable and stable enough. A little bit wobbly but not too bad. This is a distinct difference between the sturdy aluminum handle on my North Face bag and the DC FLT Lines handle. But it does the job fine and time will tell if this “handle” can handle the abuse. No pun intended. The large ball bearing wheels did a great job and felt very smooth on the pavement as well as the airport walkways and escalators. Three reinforced handles can be found on the top, side and bottom of this luggage. Making handling the bag a snap in the trunk of a vehicle as well as overhead compartments. Another nice touch are the two velcro MOLLE panels on either side for a patch or identification. Finally, all corners have additional protection to help stave off the abuse of flying.


DC FLT Line Interior Overview

On the interior, you’ll find a basic open rectangle shape that fits stacks of shirts, pants and shorts. Maybe it’s the way I fold my clothes, but this thing seems built for me. I had plenty of room to spare after packing for a 6-day trip. In fact, I returned home with several items that were given to me at Outdoor Retailer from several vendors. Concerned with the number of additional goods acquired over three days, I was put at ease once it all fit without needing the expansion feature. A large mesh compartment on the inside of the lid is perfect for flip flops, flat shoes or a beach towel. Two heavy duty straps and buckles easily secure the contents from shifting in flight. Another nice touch is the inclusion of a mesh toiletry kit.

Packed for 6 days with room to spare


Final thoughts

5.11 Tactical has been producing high-quality goods for our service members and law enforcement officers for years. I own several of their clothing items, backpacks and tactical gear. And I have always been happy with the products. The DC FLT Line is the first luggage piece I’ve used from them and I’m pretty happy with it. The size and shape are wildly efficient for me. Plus, having a grab handle on three sides proved to be helpful. I feel a little beefier handle would help increase it’s stability and using 1000-1200D fabric would make this a killer carry-on. Overall it gets a passing grade. I’ll continue using the DC FLT Line Roller for business travel to see how it stands the test of time.