Paratus 3-Day Operators Pack Review
Picking the right pack to use as a 72-hour Emergency Survival Kit can be a little tricky. It usually takes a few tries to get it right. The costs can add up quickly, something most of us would want to avoid.
One pack that we have found that can straddle the cost to material to function ratios are the Paratus 3-Day Operator packs by 3V Gear. For $80 you get a pack that can serve as a strong platform to build off of, one that is designed to be affordable but durable.
3V Gear is an US based company (Utah) and their products come with a Lifetime warranty on manufacturers defects, which is pretty cool.
We've gotten our hands on a Paratus and will be using it throughout the course of the year. We will give periodic updates as we beat on it more, but we'll begin with our first impressions.
There is a compromise between cost and materials when it comes to backpacks. The quality of the pack itself it dependent on the cloth and thread it is constructed with.
1000D cloth will cost you more than 500D, but will also be nearly twice as thick and heavier. This is an important calculation you should make when comparing brands.
Let's start off by looking at the basic building block of the pack itself: 600D PVC backed polyester. This is a pretty durable material that fits right about in the middle of what other brands have available.
It offers a good compromise between weight and strength, and offers a decent amount of waterproofing to boot (although we always prefer to have a poncho or pack cover available during a downpour.)
Throughout the pack you can find examples of double-stitching, which adds another layer of durability. We like durability. Especially for equipment we need to use during an emergency.
The Paratus is available in 4 colors: Black, Olive Drab, Coyote Tan, and Foliage Grey.
The Layout of the pack is very simple. There are 2 main storage areas and some MOLLE accessory pouches on the outside, one of which is the Paratus Rapid Deployment Pack which is included with the Paratus.
There are 2 Ally MOLLE Pouches which come attached to the sides when you buy the pack.
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There are also MOLLE attachment points along the outside of the pack to allow you to expand and customize your kit. We'll dive into those a little more later.
They do make the pack look more military style, so if you are trying to keep your gear low-key then this could be a downside for you.
The main pocket features a laptop sleeve and a pretty deep storage area.
The secondary pocket on the front side has a small mesh pocket for holding smaller items.
All told you are getting about 2,500 cubic inches (40 liters) of storage space, which is pretty decent. You can of course increase that by adding additional pouches to the outside.
I like the padded and molded back panel, the part that sits on your back, quite a bit. The way it's designed should allow for decent airflow to keep heat and sweat down.
Pouches & MOLLE
Since we are on the subject of the pouches, let's look into the way we are using them.
We decided to go a different route than using the stock layout of the pack, and that flexibility is one of the cool features of the Paratus 3-Day Operators Pack.
Although the Rapid Deployment Pack fits perfectly on the bottom of the pack, we removed it and put a Condor Tactical Utility Pouch in its place and another above it. One holds a poncho and the other our most used tools.
Along one side we put 2 Funanasun MOLLE pouches. They are cheap and pretty decent. One can hold little odds-and-ends such as lights and batteries and the other can be a First Aid Kit.
On the other side we found a small draw-string water bottle pouch which fits a 40 oz Klean Kanteen, our preferred day bottle. Maxpedition and Condor both make good water bottle carriers that you could use as well to get a little more storage space.
A Maxpedition dump pouch would fit nicely on the outside face of the bag. It would stay closed but is there in case it's needed, to carry wet or dirty items we don't want inside the pack.
We removed the Deployment Pack so it can be used as a fanny pack in conjunction with the Paratus, since it comes with a built-in hip strap. It can be carried comfortably along the front or side and it large enough to hold our EDC kit and other small frequently used items.
There is a pass-through pocket on the back which allows you to mount the Deployment Pack onto any belt you want.
3V Gear also offers a wide variety of accessories to trick out your pack as well: many different types of organizers, pouches, and cases and all at very affordable pricing.
There is a lot to like about this pack. Firstly we think that the pack is a good deal. For $80 it's difficult to find something which offers this level of function and material quality. This is in part due to the fact that they don't use 3rd party distributors or resellers for sales, but go direct to consumers.
This frees up a bunch of money for other important things like food, clothing, and water treatment products. Save the $200+ packs for when you are a little more experienced, have your kit more finely honed, and know exactly what your pack needs will be for your particular situation.
Could you get cheaper bags? Sure, but they are generally made from low quality materials and to lesser production standards.
The overall simplicity of the pack is also a positive: it decreases the temptation to overload the kit with too much gear.
40 liters is the Goldilocks size for emergency kits: it's not too big it's not too small. If you pack it carefully you can get all you'll need in there.
One last thing, and hear me out on this: the pack looks cool. I know, who cares, and how is that relevant? Well in the case of a parent trying to get their kid into the idea of prepping their own kit, or a spouse trying to get your other spouse into it then looks matter. Believe it or not this is an issue in some families!
OK so here is the part where I put on my "Prepper Snob" hat and pick the Paratus 3-Day Operator pack apart a little bit.
All of these comments should be taken with a grain of salt, since I am comparing this pack in some cases to higher-end ones which cost 3x as much but this is a review so lets go:
I'll start with the inside of the bag, since I think this is where there is the most room for improvement with minimal impact to manufacturing cost.
I would love to see a high-viz interior, ie. a brightly colored lining that helps create contrast while looking into the pack. A great example of this is the way Spec OPS does it with their T.H.E. PACK series.
This really makes it easier to see inside the pack when you are digging around for stuff, especially in low light conditions.
I think this pack could use a few more pockets, more built-in organization options. There is room for it, especially in the front pocket area where the gusset is.
Dual zipper pockets on either side of the gusset (ala the way the 5.11 Covrt pack does it) would be very useful as a storage place for phone, wallet or glasses.
The handle on top isn't up to snuff. It needs to be built a little better to handle heavier loads. I worry about yanking that sucker off one day.
MOLLE on the bottom of the pack would be useful. There are a couple of loops there that would be ok for carrying walking sticks or something but they aren't super helpful for securing a sleep kit.
The MOLLE on the sides don't extend high enough so that the pouches can be secured by the side cinch straps like they can on the bottom. One or two more rows would have been great.
There is no hook for a water bladder, so if you decide to use one it will just sit in a lump in the laptop/baldder pocket. I would also prefer to see a dedicated water bladder pocket area with zipper wither in the middle of the pack ala Spec Ops packs or along the backpanel.
The 2 Ally MOLLE Pouches are kinda ok but not specific enough for me. They don't hold our Kleen Kanteens so I opted to remove them completely and go with other pouches instead.
So who is this a pack for? By our thinking this is a good beginners pack for someone just starting out or making their first emergency kit. It's not horribly expensive but checks a lot of boxes for what a Bug Out Bag should be.
It's not as bullet-proof as the higher-end packs are, so if your gear sees heavy use then you might want to save your pennies and upgrade from here. Take a look at our favorite bug out bags for some ideas.
If you are looking for a bag that will only be used during a rarely during a sever weather event or emergency than this pack should be on your short list.
Where to get one:
You can get a 3V Paratus 3-Day Operators Pack directly from 3V Gear for $74.95 (plus shipping) on their website.
Or get one from Amazon via Prime for $80.
eBay has new and sometimes used ones available.