I've been suffering through the Goldilocks syndrome of bags ever since our airline switched to the Electronic Flight Bag. One is too small, the next bag to large. Four trips into this bag and I am thrilled.
Pluses: The wide open, double zipper top makes for easy access. Carries my Contigo coffee thermos as well as a large bottle of water. Plenty of space for lunch. I added the 511 Molle 6x6 to hold my David Clark headset.
Cons: Still just a tad too large but we're talking 1-2 inches. My only wish list would be that the large full length "quick access" pocket would be a zipper rather than velcro. With any weight in the two front pockets the velcro pulls apart and opens that pocket wide open if the bag is hanging from your shoulder or from your luggage. Even snaps would be better and more secure. And I think the perps would hear that velcro rip open if you used it for concealed carry.
Easily a 4.75 rating. HIGH quality construction, nearly a perfect flight bag for an airline pilot.
I'm a Paramedic and use this bag daily when on the ambulance.
It stands up on it's bottom and does not fall over when driving and fits in the front cab along with my partners gear.
It holds all the gear I don't carry on my person along with food and water with some room to spare.
I've been using the bag for about 2 years now and is still going strong. It also never leaves work as it fits in my standard sized locker, despite always hanging from a hook, the straps are undamaged.
My only complaint is the secret pocket is held together with velcro and when the pockets attached to them are heavy with gear the pocket opens so basically you cant over load the front two pockets.
I carry my stethoscope in the secret pocket and it has protected it well.
I've used this bag for over a year now. When used as an overnight bag it works well, however it falls down as a computer bag. There is no way to divide up the large center pocket for laptop and file storage; everything just kind of gets thrown in.
I have carried this briefcase almost every day for over seven years, including on deployment in Iraq. It literally has been all over the world with me. In all that time, I have yet to have something break, tear, or fail. The closest is that the Velcro on the CCW pocket is a little worn, but after seven years, I don't think any Velcro would be perfect.
I have carried laptops, tablets, files, and piles of other gear in it. The front pockets are ideal for chargers, plugs, and the other small things needed for electronics. My coffee mug fits neatly in the end pocket, and the tablet goes perfectly in the rear pocket.
The most easily missed part of the design is the large webbing strap on the rear - ideal for dropping over the extended handle of a roll-aboard suitcase. The briefcase fits neatly beneath an airline seat. With it and a small roll-aboard, I am good to go for a week on the road.
This is the best field briefcase I have ever seen. If it ever wears out, the only replacement is another just like it.
I am a pilot for a major carrier here in the US. This bag fits very well in the cockpit and is quite functional. There is one drawback in that with the equipment I carry every day, the bag's depth is about 2 inches too Narrow. Height is perfect but there needs to be a divider in the main compartment to store a computer. Also, a couple of internal pockets on the end in the main compartment would be a bonus. I would buy one made to these specs yesterday after using this bag for the last month. I spoke with someone on the phone the other day and gave them the same feedback. Feel free to contact me if there any questions. You would have a lot of buyers if these changes were made. A few of my friends have already purchased this model
Does come with a shoulder strap. Lots of room, nice storage options. I've beat it up and shows no sign of wear. Fits nicely in an overhead while flying.
This is a great bag, but it does have one or two things that I don't like.
I'm on the road a good bit, and I primarily bought this bag because I wanted something that I could carry my laptop, other associated gear (cables, chargers, tablet, etc), but could also serve as an overnight bag.
The large center opening is great for an overnight bag. I can stuff a day or two of rolled clothing in there, ensuring that I will only have to bring a single carry on on a flight.
The downside is that when I'm not stuffing the center of the bag with something, the bag sort of looks "limp". It kind of collapses in the middle. It's sort of a shame because otherwise the bag looks great. I wish there were some way to either uniformly collapse this center pocket when not in use, or otherwise keep it from collapsing when empty.
Also, the felt on the insides of the laptop pocket and main compartment feels thin and like it's only attached around the perimeter of the panel. It sort of gives it a loose feel that doesn't seem to fit with how rugged the rest of the bag feels.
Last, the two front pockets are roomy, but the zipper orientation can make getting to things a bit awkward at times. I wish 5.11 would let you just zip off the front of the pockets with a dual-zipper, similar to the one on the main compartment.
Otherwise the bag is great. I've been through a lot of bags over the past year and a half trying to find one that fit my needs, and this one comes the closest.
I spend a lot of time in a tie and wanted something that I could take with me on the road that would have a separate compartment for a pistol. It is fine enough but there are some things that are preventing this from being a 5 star purchase. The first is the size. If needs to be brought in a few inches. It is far too wide. For business purposes (which I believe is the intent of the product) anything significantly longer then a legal pad is excessive especially given the 2 water bottle holders on each side. The other issue that I have come across is the hook and pile that works as the closure mechanism for the area that holds my pistol. There needs to be a secondary means of securing the closure. I am thinking about having snaps sewn into mine. The closure is weak when you have a full bag and toting a full 1911. It stresses the velcro, pulls it down, and makes a scratching noise when picked up. I have since needed to downgrade weight-wise to an M&P shield and there is still hook and pile tape straining to come apart when I carry the bag. 5.11 could at least have sewn the hook and pile on TOP of the handle straps as well so there is a full and complete closure.
I purchased the Side Trip Briefcase to replace an old, low-frills shoulder briefcase that was worn out and did not provide adequate space or organization for my EDC. Being a civilian, the exterior presentation of this briefcase clinched my purchase; the appearance of other competing bags that I considered came off as a bit too tactical for a large private sector law firm.
This briefcase has been terrific. The two large outer pockets provide more than ample space for various writing implements, power/charging cords, USB keys, flashlight, multitool, and anything else that I may want/need to add. The extra space makes it easy to expand the bag's content without hardly noticing. My firm-provided laptop is large but fits perfectly in the back pocket (as designed), leaving the voluminous main compartment open to files, iPad, and anything else that I may be carrying to or from the office. The utility of the concealed carry area goes without saying. As for the end pouches (for beverages), I knew that I would use them but have to say they are a fabulous convenience, especially in the morning when I almost always have a drink to carry in from the car. (Typically, a water bottle occupies one end for any unexpected needs.)
The quality of design and execution in this bag is excellent. There are the points above, the ease of access to all compartments, the durability of materials, and attention to smaller points (such as the rain cover) that make this bag versatile for many uses and professions (LEO, military, or civilian).
I've been using it for 4 years now. I took it with me in the field, on trips (service and private), in the office. I never got to fill it up!. Laptop, documents, bottles, magazines, flashlights, cables, stationery, clothing; everything has a place. It's amazing.