The VISM Tactical Backpack is a small to mid capacity backpack manufactured by NcStar. The main compartment has an internal capacity of over 1,200 sq inches and there are six additional smaller compartments: two on each side and two on the back. It’s also fully adjustable to accommodate different sizes and is available either in solid black or a green digital camouflage print.
When we review tactical backpacks, we’re looking for them to meet three criteria: durability, comfort, and what extra features does it have? The VISM performs amazingly in comfort with wide and well-padded shoulder straps. It also has sternum and waist straps (both padded) that help to increase stability when carrying heavier loads. These are a useful component that’s often overlooked in similar capacity backpacks so we were happy to see them on the VISM. Other handy features include a separate pouch for a hydration bladder, zippered top compartment, and handles on both the top and each side.
The VISM is constructed of a durable and lightweight PVC material with MOLLE webbing on the front and bottom for attachments. The main compartment measures 18x12x6” and closes with a heavy duty zipper. Inside is a smaller, zippered internal compartment to keep loose items separated. The four side pouches each measure 5x5x1.5” and they proved useful for carrying the items that we needed to access frequently like our GPS or energy bars. However, they were a little too short to carry a water bottle in so we used a hydration bladder instead and routed the drinking tube through the metal D-rings. Finally, if 5 compartments weren’t enough, the VISM has two more on the back below the main zipper. The top pouch measures 8×4.5×2” and the bottom 9.5×9.5×3”. These, plus the 4 side compartments, bring the internal capacity up to a little over 1,700 sq inches.
PROS / CONS
What we liked about the VISM was its versatility. Because of the lightweight PVC material, it makes both a convenient day use backpack as well as a decent smaller-sized overnight pack. Its internal storage structure is designed to hold books, laptops, and tablets securely which suggests that it could be easily converted to a school backpack or for traveling. Another thing we especially liked was all the side and back compartments which greatly increases the possible storage space and makes it possible to use the VISM on a multi-day trip.
We weighed the VISM down to the maximum that felt comfortable to carry with a backpack of this size (about 25lbs). While the straps distributed the weight evenly it was clear that the seams were feeling the strain and the zippers were under enough pressure to become hard to open and close. For this reason it’s not recommend to carry too much actual weight inside the VISM even though it offers a large amount of storage space. A generally “cheap” feel.
Overall we found the VISM to be a decidedly lower quality tactical backpack that’s designed for daily use or in moderately rugged conditions. We took it on an overnight trip and despite our happiness with all the storage space it offered, the construction just wasn’t there. But, because of its lightweight design we would recommend it for up to a 3 day trip.
The VISM would be a great purchase for people who are looking for a practical and versatile, yet inexpensive backpack that can be equally useful both in town or in the wild. It also appeals to children who are looking for a stylish way to carry their books to school, but don’t expect the lower priced, bargain bags to last as long as better made, pricier offerings from companies like Maxpedition and 511 Tactical.