Choosing the right bag or pack

As the title suggests, I am going to attempt to pass on a few tips and suggestions regarding choosing the right bag or pack for your needs. I don’t think I will ramble on about what company to choose because you are:  

A) Reading our newsletter.  

B) Already know that choosing a company who builds all of their packs and bags in the good ol’ US of A using superior US sourced materials and craftsmanship is a good idea because you know that it means our products are built for life, and we guarantee that!  

Keeping it simple and without getting all techie regarding bag design, let’s begin evaluating your decision process.

The first thing you need to determine is the “style” of bag / pack that is needed. What is the primary environment the bag/pack will be used in?

Is the pack/bag going to serve in a busy urban system getting pulled in and out of an ambulance day in and day out or will it be used in a wilderness / rescue setting where the bag/pack will be carried over long distances and rough terrain or both? What is best for the situation, one of our full-on pack designs or one of our more traditional response bag designs? It is good to keep in mind that all of our traditional bag designs have the capability to be worn as a backpack or lumbar pack.  All of our packs have grab handles so they can be carried like a bag as well. There is really no issue in discussing which is more durable (urban or wilderness styles) because all of our products are built for life regardless of the environment they are going to be used in.

Once the “style” of the bag is determined, we need to look at what is going to carried in the bag/pack. Is this an ALS or BLS bag? Is it going to be an Expedition or Hasty Team bag / pack?

Conterra offers several product lines of the same design that vary in size. An example is the Responder series sizes I-IV and the Flightline series (to include the ALS Extreme) that is offered in 3 sizes.  Your choice will depend on how much or how little equipment you are required to carry. I spend a lot of time with Emergency Services and Rescue Teams going through what equipment is really necessary to carry (beyond what an agency may require).  A big hint: go through your equipment and really think about what really needs to carried, i.e. 27 Kerlex bandages makes absolutely no sense unless it is a Mass Casualty bag! You all know what I am talking about. The configuration of the bag is a consideration i.e. pockets and other organizers.  Thankfully, Conterra builds bags that are platforms for your specific organizational needs, not bags/packs with sewn in pockets and dividers. We do this for a good reason: we don’t know exactly what you are going to carry so we don’t want to assume the exact combination of pocket sizes you need...right? Instead we offer our MOS system (Modular Organizer System), which allows you to choose what size pockets, pouches and internal dividers you need. This allows for personal customization to fit your needs. All of our bags/packs have Hook & Loop (Velcro) panels that mate with the MOS options.

After you have determined what you need as far as style and size, it finally comes down to your personal preference.  Out of your options is there one that you simply like better more than the other?  Is there a color that you prefer?  Is there a specific feature that is more important to you than another?  Does one meet your needs better than another?  These are the questions to ask yourself when comparing your options.  Which one do you like and which one works best for your needs, keep it simple.

So to summarize:

  • Decide what environment you operate in the most and choose your “style” of bag/pack.  (Ambulance, SAR, Fire, Expedition)

  • Determine how much equipment is required to be carried and choose the appropriate size (ALS, BLS, Special Op’s)

  • Choose the bag/pack with the options that suit your needs (probe/shovel pockets, zippered hood for personal gear)

I truly think the best suggestion of all is to really take a good look at your equipment and think about what you really need to carry and keep it to a minimum. We all know the way it goes in our world, if there is a space available somebody wants to cram something in there! Keep it simple and organized so you don’t have to dig around to get equipment when things go epic!

After taking a good long look at those suggestions I feel confident you will be able to narrow your choice down to a bag / pack that fits your needs. If you are still having trouble, drop me a line...I am sure I can convince you to get rid of most of the 26 ice packs you are planning on carrying around!


Conterra Inc
Conterra Inc