The Best Features of the Direct Action Gear Dragon Egg Pack

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Direct Action Gear started in Poland, and has since expanded into the US market with an office in New York. Their gear definitely has some unique features which I would simply categorize as “outside the box”. They’ve got three military backpacks, which range in size and available features. The smallest is the “Dust” model, while their 3-day offering is named “Ghost”. I’ll eventually review all three of these bags, but for now, I decided to have a look at Direct Action Gear’s mid-sized, best seller – the “Dragon Egg”.

Overview

Made from 500D Cordova (with waterproofing), the Dragon Egg weighs 3lbs 9oz and is fairly small(ish). For a 24 hour ruck, it looks small, feels small and, in my opinion, is small; but it packs like a bigger bag. I don’t know if it’s the egg shape or what, but with an official internal capacity of about 1520 cubic inches, this bag definitely packs differently than it looks – in a good way. I will say, however, it’s about 500 cubic inches short of most 24 hours packs, but for me, that was a non-issue; more on that later. This guy is available in 12 color/pattern options and that’s something that very much stood out to me. They are, in no particular order, Black, Olive Green, PL Woodland, Coyote(the one I’m reviewing), Camogrom®, Multicam®, Shadow Grey, PenCott GreenZone™, PenCott Badlands™, PenCott Snowdrift™, Kryptek Highlander™ and Kryptek Mandrake™. If you can’t find this pack in a design you like, there’s just flat out something wrong with you.

Notable Features

This tactical backpack has a lot of niceties things to offer. One of the most unique offerings is the Laser Cut PALS webbing. Nearly all bags I look at have the standard 1 on/1 off nylon PALS direct-action-dragon-egg-laser-PALS-webbingwebbing but Direct Action took a different route. They built what I would call a “PALS Panel”(if this term becomes a standard, I want royalties). The panel approach reduces weight, and exterior awkwardness so there’s less chance for a snag, and, because it’s made from waterproof material, it doesn’t get soggy and flimsy like most standard webbing. It’s also stronger, and I think this design is rather unique – I like it. Some other nice set ups are a Para-cord handle, Heavy duty, invisible YKK zippers, and the patented “Combat Vent” rear panel. This consists of molded foam panels that sit against your back. I liken it to orthopedics you would get for your boots. It feels weird at first, but after a couple of miles on the trail, it’s honestly and appreciable feature – and one that only Direct Action Gear has.

 

Field Test

I’ve been taking this pack with me everywhere I go for the past 2 weeks. Despite our horrible winter weather, I’ve managed a couple of light trail hikes(less than 4 miles), both of which the Dragon Egg accompanied me. I stuck my hydration bladder in the back pocket of the almost direct-action-dragon-egg-interior-storagerear-most compartment. It just seemed like it was meant to go there, although there are multiple holes in the top of the pack which allow positioning of the bladder in many different locations. The very rear most compartment is small. I couldn’t quite figure out what to put back there. It’s almost designed for papers or something. You could definitely put the bladder back there but it’s a very slim, narrow, rigid compartment so I don’t think a fully loaded hydration rig belongs. My 13″ macbook Air however, fit like a glove in the thickly padded section of the rear, so I’m calling that the laptop/ultrabook compartment. The main compartment is average with a couple of dividers. This is where I packed some extra socks and food(plus some toys for my son). The front opens in full-clamshell fashion. This section is not large, but fully compartmentalized. direct-action-dragon-egg-back-ventThis is where almost all of your small gear goes. There are compartments on both sides of this section – it’s nice, real nice. One thing I really like about this bag is that there just seems to be a place to hook something on, everywhere you look. The entire pack has compartments, handles, loops, you name it – everywhere. This pack remained comfortable to me throughout my ventures. To be fair, I didn’t have it loaded with sand and, if it were heavier, I think the only shortfall would be the waistband. Load transfer is critical on long trips and this pack has a waistband but it’s not padded. Overall, I had very few complaints in the field.

Pros

It may sound stupid, but I’m really critical of where a pack rides on my back. After years of hikes in the Marine Corps, I know what comfort is and in the field, it can make or break you. Thatsaid, this pack cinches up to your back effortlessly. When you pull down on the shoulder strap cinches, with only your pinky and thumb, the pack sucks right up to your pack. It’s literally the smoothest cinch I’ve ever come across. Another thing I liked was the soft-lined pocket in the front of this pack. I put my cell phone in there because the inside of the small direct-action-dragon-egg-interior-storage_4zipper pocket Nice little pocket – perfect for a cell phone is really soft and protective. It’s the “fragile drawer” of the Dragon Egg. I also got a kick out of the fact that everywhere you look on this pack, there’s a pocket or loop or something that can hold gear or have gear attached to it.

Cons

The waistband is really underpowered. It’s a wide, nylon strap, and it definitely serves the raw function of load transfer, but from a comfort standpoint, it doesn’t measure up. I think this strap should have, at the minimum, some padding. If it had any padding at all, the improvement would be exponential. The only other suggestion I would make on the Dragon Egg are the external side pockets. These pockets are big enough to hold canteens which is good – and, they have PALS paneling on them too! But, both side pockets are identical. I’d like to see the side storage different on each side. Maybe one compartment bigger than the other. Or, two compartments on one side and one on the other. I just find it hard to get along with wasted space.

Conclusion

All things considered, my favorite thing about this pack was how natural it felt. It is smaller than most 24 hour bags I’ve looked at, but it holds a ton and is very versatile. This bag is so versatile in fact, that it’s literally my new EDC bag; I love it. Compartmentalization is a very personal matter, but for me(like the three little bears), this pack is just right. I would say that if you’re looking for a crazy-durable 1 day pack, you’d be missing out if you didn’t have a look at the Dragon Egg.

Questions?

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Meet the Author

I'm a former US Marine, full-time father and husband, and part-time survivalist. I like old things, like music, furniture and time-tested survival technique, but there's always a place in my heart for new technology such as weapons and sleeping bag fill. I'm here to share my knowledge and experience, and I hope you'll share yours as well.

23 comments… add one
  • james bacardi Mar 13, 2015, 10:34 am

    Great review ! This bag is exactly what im looking for in a New EDC to replace my 511 backpack that ive had a few years.

    • Mike Mar 24, 2015, 8:47 am

      It’s a really nice bag indeed James. I’m actually going to be field testing their larger of 3, the Ghost, very soon. Stay tuned!

  • james bacardi Apr 3, 2015, 2:05 pm

    That’s awesome. I’m really looking forward to it !!!em

  • james bacardi Jun 15, 2015, 11:07 am

    Was wondering when you were going to post the ghost review. I’m really interested in the pack but would like to know what you say about it before i made a decision.

    • Mike Jun 24, 2015, 8:39 pm

      James – I’m almost done writing the review of the Ghost. It’s a wonderful bag and I highly recommend it.

  • manny Oct 4, 2015, 1:27 pm

    would this bag be a good school bag?

    • Mike Nov 18, 2015, 1:19 am

      Little on the small side for a school backpack – I’d go with the Ghost if you want a Direct Action.

  • Halie Nov 20, 2015, 1:14 am

    Great review! I wish I had found this when I was first looking for a small every day carry pack, you’ve given more information than I could find anywhere else. I may still get one.
    Can you tell me where these packs are manufactured? That’s one detail I can’t find a clear answer on anywhere online.
    Thanks!

    • Mike Nov 22, 2015, 1:47 am

      Halie, manufacturing varies all the time. These companies are constantly changing their day to day operations to meets demand so it’s tough to nail down where things are coming from. It’s best to call and ask them, as that will provide you the most up to date answer.

  • Jarrod Dec 9, 2015, 5:35 am

    After researching many backpacks, I bought the Direct Action Dragon Egg. It’s a great, low profile backpack that falls between the 5.11 Rush 12 and 24 (too small or too big). My main requirement was external bottle holders. Why waste space inside for an insulated bottle? I was worried my Hydroflask would fall out, so I clip it with an S-biner to one of the vertical loops. Maybe slightly deeper pockets would prevent this. My 15″ laptop doesn’t fit in the rear pocket, but fits fine in the large main compartment. I also have enough room for my tablet, laptop charger, phone charger and a bunch of other things. I used this as a carry-on bag for a recent international trip and it was great. The strap keepers prevent the bag from looking messy. I like a clean look. I estimate I had 15 lbs in it and walked through a few airports with no problems of hitting people with it on my back, even while walking to my seat. I love the padded back channel. It’s very comfortable. The paracord handle is stout, easy to grab and comfortable to hold. It sits nice on my back. I agree that the waist belt would be more comfortable if it was wider and/or padded. The zippers are smooth and never stick. It doesn’t always stand up by itself like others, but that’s a minor issue for me. I would like to see a larger velcro patch, too. I’m looking forward to many years of service, like my Camelbaks. I look forward to what Direct Action comes up with in the future.

    • Mike Dec 11, 2015, 10:26 pm

      Thanks for the awesome review!

  • Kasey Dec 10, 2015, 4:35 am

    I was if there was a pouch/compartment specifically intended to serve as a pistol pouch/compartment. If not then is their one that would work just as well? I don’t leave home without it so this is high on my personal preference. Thanks!!

    • Mike Dec 11, 2015, 10:27 pm

      Check out all the pistol holsters here. There are many to choose from and they don’t break the bank!

  • Chris Feb 16, 2016, 2:50 pm

    Mike how tall are you ?, and does this pack sit well with you. What about the Ghost ? I’m 6’2, USAF, used to issue packs, but not for long hauls.. Since the kids are getting older, I want something to take to the trails, for bringing small comforts like a jetboil stove and some shelter items, but mainly gear for emergencies..I’d be doing day hikes with them. But something to use solo for a 24 hr..

    • Mike Feb 16, 2016, 2:59 pm

      Chris – thank you for your service. I’m 6 feet tall. This pack fits me really well, although as I mentioned in the review, it is smaller than you might expect. I think if you’re shopping the Direct Action bags, I’d get the Ghost for you, and most certainly the Dragon Egg for your kids. These are really nice bags Chris. I find that the Ghost is my main trail bag. I still don’t have much use for the detachable bag that is part of it, but the main meat and potatoes of the Ghost is perfect for me. I think you’d be feeling awkwardly light with the Dragon Egg.

      • Chris Feb 16, 2016, 5:39 pm

        Thank You for your service Mike……. This is an awesome web page.. this information is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’ve been checking around for a couple months to get ready for the spring trails… You stated that the egg is on the smaller side, but that might be what I’m looking for.. We’ve started up mountain biking too.. so I’d like the pack to be comfortable to ride the bike with.

        • Chris Feb 16, 2016, 5:45 pm

          Or maybe the Condor II ? I just don’t know. I definitely want a waistband. I wish you could rent a few and try – return..

          • Mike Feb 16, 2016, 6:36 pm

            The Condor is also a very nice bag.

        • Mike Feb 16, 2016, 6:36 pm

          Chris – I’ll take a few pictures of the Ghost and the DA next to one another, and on me too. I’ll email them to you tonight.

  • Kevin Feb 24, 2016, 9:37 am

    Hey Mike, thanks for all the great info on the site. I noticed that the Dragon Egg advertises that the waist belt is detachable. So I’m curious, does the waist belt attach to the pack the same way it does on the Ghost? In other words, would you be able to use the Ghost waist belt with the Dragon Egg pack? Obviously this would assume you have both packs or have somehow obtained a waist belt off a Ghost pack.

    • Mike Feb 28, 2016, 1:39 am

      I don’t recall the waist strap detaching from the dragon egg. I’ll have to check on that. I do know exactly how the hip belt attaches to the Ghost, and I can tell you that there’s absolutely no comparison in size, so I would definitely say that the Ghost strap is completely different from the Dragon Egg. The Dragon Egg has a very small strap – sort of a “just to have it” type of deal, where the Ghost has a serious, 3″ or so wide padded hip strap.

  • oscar May 9, 2016, 6:56 pm

    Hi Mike.

    Great review! When are you gonna do a review on the Dust? My sister just bought me one and i’ll be getting it sometime this week. Just wondering if you’ve been able to try that out. I currently have a 5.11 Rush 24 as my everyday bag but i feel its too big for me as an EDC bag. I’m 5’1, 129lbs. I’m hoping the Dust will be a good fit.

    • Mike May 15, 2016, 11:56 pm

      Oscar, I will definitely be reviewing the Dust, but as to when, I’m not sure. Maybe I will try and make some time this summer. Actually, I’ve worked with the Dust extensively at this point. EDC is a very preference-oriented, and for me, I find the Dust to be fairly small, but I’m 6′ 190lbs with a medium sized frame, so I much prefer the Dragon Egg. For your size, I think the Dust would be wonderful, and it is a very nice bag too.

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