The Spec-Ops Pack-Rat: A new go pack for my radio gear

The Spec-Ops Pack-Rat makes for an ideal radio gear bag and easily accommodates the Grundig G3

The Spec-Ops Pack-Rat makes for an ideal radio gear bag and easily accommodates the Grundig G3 (Click to enlarge)

As I’ve mentioned before, I love to travel with one bag and efficiently pack my radio gear.

This year at the Dayton Hamvention, my good friend Eric, retiree of the Air National Guard, took me onto the nearby Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Eric is a good buddy and fellow ham, and for several years now, we’ve made it a point to visit both the National Museum of the US Air Force and Wright Patterson AFB while at the Hamvention. This year he was in need of some gear, so we visited the store where those on active duty purchase Air Force-approved gear and clothing. Being a bit of a pack fanatic, I of course quickly found the backpack section. I was searching for the perfect small radio gear pack, and I think I found it: The Spec-Ops Pack-Rat Organizer.

Pack-Rat2This little pack (roughly the size of a larger-format paperback book at 10″ high, 7.25″ wide x 3″ thick) is built very well–it seems nearly bullet-proof.  It immediately suggested several uses. Here are a few of its advertised features:

  • 14 separate storage compartments/ slots
  • A unique “inside-out” design which allows for instant open access while inside packs
  • 12″ gear-keeper leash for keys, lights, etc.
  • Clear business card/ID window
  • External mesh pocket
  • External accessory loops and carrying handle
  • “D”-ring attachment points for optional shoulder strap
  • Fully zippered perimeter allows for a 90° opening
  • Extremely tough Cordura® 1000D nylon exterior lined with heavy duty nylon pack cloth
  • Fully seam-taped interior
  • High-tensile nylon web attachment points and
  • Bar-tack reinforcements at critical stress points

One glance at the Pack-Rat, and I knew that one of its two largest interior pockets could hold my larger shortwave portables, the other could hold my Kindle Fire tablet, and there would still be plenty of room for wires, cables, accessories, and headphones.

PackRat3After bringing it home, I was simply amazed at exactly how much gear it could readily hold.  And indeed, this summer I’ve taken it on several trips; including my July trip to Belize for which I packed all of my gear into one small convertible carry-on pack (a small Timbuk2 Wingman).

Here’s the list of items I stashed in the Pack-Rat:

  • Grundig G3
  • Kindle Fire and power cord
  • Zoom H2n Handy Recorder with wind screen and mic stand holder
  • Eight AA batteries
  • Ear buds
  • Icom ID-51A HT and adaptor
  • 2 Cliff Bars (a guy’s gotta eat!)
  • 3′ stereo audio patch cable
  • two alligator clip leads
  • keys
  • pen, pencil, notepad
  • business cards

At this point, the little pack was full, but could close very easily and didn’t even bulge on the sides; even with all that (somewhat bulky) gear inside.

PackRat1Best yet, as I moved around in town, I could use the shoulder strap from my convertible backpack on the Pack-Rat, making it very easy to carry. Even though most of the internal pockets are open from the top, I never had anything fall out, even when the pack was upside down.  When the pack shuts, it seems to put enough pressure on the pockets to hold items securely. It’s bright yellow interior makes it very easy to see the contents even in dim conditions, such as on a night flight.

Spec-Ops packs are made with pride in the USA and obviously meet military standards for durability and construction. They also carry a lifetime warranty. You don’t have to visit a military base to purchase one, either: Spec-Ops has an online store where they carry their full product line. Spec-Ops Brand also has a store on You’ll find the Pack-Rat on this page–note the number of positive reviews from customers.

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12 thoughts on “The Spec-Ops Pack-Rat: A new go pack for my radio gear

  1. Thomas Post author

    Hi, Jim,
    I assume you know Mark Coady from the Ontario DX Association? I know a lot of Canadian SWLs, but not many in the Hamilton area. I’ll check around, though!

  2. Christos

    Hi Thomas,
    What disappoints me about G6 is the audio. The sound becomes listenable at level 10 and increasing volume soon it overloads. Although the whole felling of the radio is of superior class, I find its sound tiring especially in AM. When use it outdoors soon I miss parts of the talk. I prefer the audio of eton E100, I think it is more clear and powerful. In LW and MW it is weak, but in SW is excellent. Sometimes I place it close to water pipes or heating system pipes and I obtain particularly good signal. I have no idea about its price in your country but here in Europe it costs around 80 to85 Euros, which corresponds to 110 US dollars. Nice your pack, this year I was packing the radio gear in plastic boxes in order to move them by car.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Christos, this is a good point and one I had forgotten. I’ve never been a fan of push button volume controls as I prefer a traditional volume knob/pot for the reasons you mention. The PL-380 does have this advantage over the G6 as well.
      Thanks for your comment.

  3. Jim

    Good morning Thomas
    Ran across your post searching SW radio. I was looking for a speaker on Short wave radios and listeners for a lead on speakers at one of our club meetings. Was wondering if you may have any leads or contacts in our Hamilton Ontario Area.
    Kindest Regards.

  4. Dave Bush

    Ah SSB yes, if the PL-380 had that it would be nice. I do like the bandwidths of the 380 though. Yes, I need to get that G6 out and use it. What I really would want is an non-Buzz version of the G6 but those are hard to find. That way I could use it and keep my “collectible” Buzz edition MIB. 🙂

    1. Thomas

      Hi, Dave,

      The G3 is often my portable of choice for travel. Due to so many comments I’ve heard recently about quality issues with the G3, I recommend it with some caution. I’ve owned 3 G3s, though, and all of them have functioned very well.

      I also travel with the Sony ICF-SW7600GR–it’s my portable of choice if I plan to record. If space is very tight, I’ll travel with my Grundig G6 or Tecsun PL-380.


      1. Dave Bush

        How’s the performance of the G6 vs. the PL-380? I picked up a G6 (Buzz Aldrin edition) mainly because I’m also a space buff but I’ve not yet removed it from the box to try it.

          1. Thomas Post author

            The G6 is a great little radio. I travel with it when I need SSB. The PL-380 has variable bandwidth, which is very useful as well. Which one is better? Tough call. I can say that the G6 is much better designed for band-scanning. The PL-380 mutes while tuning.

            Might have to do a proper A/B comparison some day.

            Get that G6 on the air! 🙂


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