Light Infantry is anything but and it only gets heavier as time goes on. Most of the time, heavy is good: heavy squats, heavy deadlifts, heavy riffs, heavy metal, etc. Weight is weight and despite the endless discussions between your privates when they should be pulling security – a pound of feathers and a pound of lead weigh the same – the best you can hope to do is carry it well. After my last deployment, the time came to decide on a new Tactical Tailor MALICE or branch out and try something new, the sister company and their Grey Ghost Gear 5200. For the purpose of this review, I will be comparing the Grey Ghost Gear 5200 to the still-currently-issued MOLLE II.
The MOLLE II features PALS webbing around the top portion of the main bag and is issued with two sustainment pouches commonly used on the left and right sides. The top flap also contains the map-style pouch but the main difference is the main pouch contains a modular divider that, when closed, cut the pack in half with a zipper-flap to access the bottom portion separately. This allows for more efficient packing in some cases, allowing the user to stow their sleep gear or other lighter items in the bottom, keeping their heavier mission essential gear in the top section.
The Grey Ghost Gear 5200 reminds me most of the Tactical Tailor RR5100 if it had been made for temperate climates. It came disassembled in a manageable box which gave me the opportunity to inspect each of the components.
The first thing I noticed was the straps are different from the Tactical Tailor Super Straps and closer to the Low Profile Super Straps – essentially shortening the thick padding to only cover the contact points with the user, increasing airflow to the underarms and sides that the padding on the super straps or MOLLE II would cover. The frame is the Tactical Tailor MALICE Frame but all other parts are branded with the GGG logo.
The only initial qualm I had with the components, initially, were the “made in Vietnam” tags. I’m well aware that plenty of reputable companies have their materials assembled OCONUS (GoRuck’s boots, ROCKY with the Dominican Republic, etc) but the Tactical Tailor MALICE Packs I’ve interacted with over my career have all championed the “made in USA” feature and I know GGG is a sister brand to Tactical Tailor.
The Straps and Waist-belt are very comfortable and complement the frame. The main pack features eight external pouches with routing channels running behind the medium and large ones for odd equipment (camo net poles, ski poles, extra weapon barrels, bipods, etc) as well as two large flat pockets on the inside and outside of the closure lid. Each of the smallest external pocket is at least large enough for two completely packaged MRE’s.
As the Senior Medic for my Light Infantry Company, I do my best to carry enough resupply for each of my Platoon Medics and a little extra. The external pouches are perfect for this application, as I can designate each of the medium sized pouches to fit two M9 Aid Bag internal pouches filled with interventions, organized by MARCH sequencing, just the way I like it. The Two largest external pouches are long enough to fit two 1L fluid bags and all of their stick-kits and extra lines along with whatever sustainment stuff I need (poncho, wet weather jacket, etc)
This is on top of whatever your Unit’s packing list requires. Big Boy rules or no, you’ll always want more socks and undies.
Thank your Doc for all the extra weight he lugs just for you.
The main Pack does not feature a separator in the middle to section off your sleep system and whatever else but it does feature the ALICE-Style Radio Pouch with an additional cinch, the aforementioned mesh pocket on the inside of the lid and two molle sections to attach hydration bladders and the appropriate channels to run your tubes out to you.
This one also came with an insulated hydration bladder and Tactical Tailor FightLight clips. The pack lid has an elastic skirt along with the dual drawstring closure for added water resistance.
Once loaded, the pack sits nice and solid. I appreciate that the bladder attachment flaps are free so I can lay the full bladder across the top of my load when only one bladder is being used. I’ve always hated having to stow it on one side like the old CFP-90 ruck.
Before taking it out to one of my Unit’s rucking events, I decided to put 4-8 miles on it in civi PT’s on a nice, sunny, humid Louisiana day. Under a loose ~50lbs load, I set off to complete 4 miles under an hour. It was a nice, relaxed 15 minute/mi pace and the straps were perfectly comfortable. I spent the first mile or so playing with the strap tension and policing any additional excess. The airflow afforded by the Tactical Tailor frame was phenomenal. After the first 3.5 mile loop, I went for another instead of turning out for the remaining ½ mile walk back to the vehicle.
If you’re not sweating, seek medical attention. If you are sweating, airflow is king to cool you down and minimize rubbing. The frame performed exactly as intended and the pads were the only thing making contact with me.
The low-profile nature of the straps kept the air flowing under my arms and the pads against my shoulders where the weight is balanced and supported against the waist belt.
Now, it’s all well and good to look and feel nice in your rumpus room while you’re getting ready for that 12-miler, or when you’re pulling that weekly PT ruck, but when you’re sitting in your vehicle in Louisiana and you start to notice the rain drops starting, you know it’s do or die time.
This is where my confidence started to falter; I knew the ruck sat well enough on my grey t-shirt on a sunny day during my funsies ruck but this had the potential to be a very uncomfortable morning. The ruck hadn’t yet been through any rain and especially not Louisiana rain. I knew I had bundled up the stuff I needed to stay dry in my waterproof bag but I hoped the rest of the pack wouldn’t get saturated and heavy.
When your AO looks like this almost year-round, you start thinking about drying-out as often as you can. I was especially nervous about the drainage grommets at the bottom of the ruck. I worried they might let water in as well as pushing it out.
Thankfully, those little ALICE-inspired bits of material create a nice semi-occlusive surface when weight is placed on them and prevents water entering from the ground.
My second worry was the water-resistance of the zippers. Most issued and even aftermarket rucksacks use overlapping flap closures and a buckle or cinch both for simple field repairs and to provide a surface for water to run off. To test, I tossed a handful of coyote undershirts into one of the small zippered pouches to see how saturated they got as the miles went on.
While they did get a little damp line from the untaped seam next to the zipper, the shirts came out perfectly fine. In a perfect world, your worn items will all be in a waterproof bag or a bunch of ziplocs but the overall water-resistance of the GGG5200 exceeded my expectations.
I will continue using the Grey Ghost Gear 5200 for my next Army adventure and look forward to really fine-tuning the way I organize the pouches and streamline the resupply process for me and my medics alike. Stay tuned for follow-up reviews.
-SGT Arnold Blackhawk Company Senior Medic