Originally seeing this bag back at shotshow, I finally got around to getting one for myself to beat up on. The general shape certainly brings memories of the S.O. TECH Go Bag, yet there are substantial changes that make the Plan-B unique and not just some half-assed copy. Before I go off into comparisons, let's go over pack concept. The main idea of having a pack in this tall and slim shape is to optimize it for stowing in vehicles. Rather than two straps, a single thick strap is used to enhance the grab and go capability. Although the Plan-B can hold a diverse array of items, it is still a specialty pack and won't be able to hold things like laptops or other wide items that many people may take for granted fitting in most backpacks.
Back to comparisons, one of the major changes I like is that the main compartment zippers are where you would expect them rather than on the back facing towards the body. This allows for great accessibility while wearing. The bottom grab handle may seem like a fluff feature at first, however works great to pull from the normal 'on back' position to 'front mount' in one swift motion. A 2" strap with a tri-glide is also down at the bottom which can be used as a compression strap or for lashing down gear. The main shoulder strap connects to the side of your choice using tri-glides. It isn't a no-brainer ambidextrous setup, but will fit better on your shoulder carry side of choice. The shoulder strap sports some nice padding and PALS webbing, but could use some more rows of PALS for more mounting placement flexibility. The main connection hardware is a 2" locking SRB which will likely have users divided on opinion. I could see where a lock on the SRB makes sense on the original hasty EVAC concept of the pack where you want to make sure there is no chance of strap failure. That said, personally I've never accidentally released a SRB of any size in my life, and I've been around A LOT. Therefore I find the lock pretty much just a hassle as I toggle it on by accident all the time. I haven't tried yet, but I think the lock part can be torn out while keeping the rest of the SRB intact.
For a concern, I had difficulty keeping the main strap slack adjustment tight if I took off the black slack keepers. There is a handy 2" D-ring at the end of the slack that makes a great pull adjuster, however there is so much room in the SRB slots, that simply breathing can loosen up the slack with the keepers off. I thought at first the slack keepers were on wrong since they are placed around both the main strap and the slack without using the hook part. As it turns out, this is done on purpose to make the SRB work better. Without them placed similar to as shipped, the SRB is a slip monster. For a personal fix I plan to sew in some gripper webbing into the SRB slot to tighten it up. I'd prefer the SRB just works like normal rather than having to play with the slack keeper placement after I adjust and loosen.
A cross strap comes standard that connects to the other lower side of the pack. These are great for helping secure the pack for heavy motion when time permits to connect it. It seems to function ok, but I'm not so sure of the need for both an SRB and a swivel hook on the messenger strap. I would simplify it to just the SRB despite losing some placement changing ease. The swivel hook attaches to the main strap D-rings great, however there are no other D-rings to connect to so it feels the idea was carried over from other Hazard4 products without further consideration.
The top sports another drag handle and has a 1" strap under it connecting to the main shoulder strap. Despite looking out of place, this strap actually helps adjust how the pack fits on the user's back. Nearby is a velcro flap for hydration tubes and a zipper opening for alternate options such as for antennas. This slot can also comes in handy if putting a rifle inside that doesn't quite fit, allowing the barrel to stick out of the top. The hydration pocket has an opening so both these ports can be reached through the hydration or main compartment.
The sides of the pack offer a generous amount of PALS with 9 rows x 3 channels. This allows for many modular pouch types to be mounted to expand the holding capability when desired. The lower areas of the sides even have pockets which will fit most water bottles and even a Camelbak better bottle. They function as great quick access pockets, but aren't quite big enough to hold a classic Nalgene bottle. Compression straps are included high and low on each side that have integrated velcro loop slack management. Normally I say compression straps are mostly a hassle, but in this case it makes a lot of sense having the design goal to make the pack slim. With some creativity you can get even more out of the straps such as securing a rifle to the side for stowage.
For comfort the whole back has a padded foundation with additional padded ridges to help with airflow. The ridges aren't super tall, however do help and if they were too pronounced it can result in an uncomfortable ride. For durability they are made of the same 1000D material as the rest of the pack rather than a fancy mesh that will wear down more quickly. Near this back area is the hydration pocket which opens with a single zipper to one side. Not a big deal, I just wanted to note the pocket isn't set for ambi use. Inside, one side has tricot material to interface with velcro based attachments such as pistol holsters. This offers some nice flexibility if you don't plan on holding a hydration bladder. If you do however, there is a nice attachment loop up top and an access port to route the drinking tube as desired.
Organization pockets are located on the front, a smaller one up top and a medium sized one under it. The smaller pocket is a simple double zippered pocket with a loop velcro field on the outside. The sizing is great for holding wires and power plugs, but of course not limited to. The larger pocket has more going on internally consisting of a divided sleeve pocket for pens and other admin items. Just below is a dual velcro flap pocket good for holding a modern phone while being accessible from either side with the dual flaps. This medium pocket is very similar to a large GP pouch in size and thus can fit the same items. 5 x 3 PALS webbing is included on the exterior just in case the user wants to add on a pouch or is looking for some mere quick attachment points.
The main compartment opens up with dual zippers and with the compression straps released, makes quite a full opening for easy access. The back has a mesh pocket with elastic top and the flap interior has good sized zippered mesh pocket. The sides are lined with tricot like a camera bag to interface with the supplied divider. The divider is great for sectioning off the pack or can help cushion if having a SBR upper and lower inside. It would be nice if another divider was supplied as that would be handy for smaller item setups like medic bags. As for what can actually fit in this main compartment, it lends itself to holding multiple medium sized items, but not so much on larger gear such as a helmet wont fit. However, there is plenty of room for an E&E, medical, or bug out bag type setup. I was able to fit my medium sized camcorder inside and even used the divider to make room for power supply / wires storage. Keep in mind if you try and use it as a daily pack, it won't fit some common items like say a legal sized sheet of paper without bending or folding.
Overall I dig the pack. The webbing doesn't feel like the usual USA stuff I'm used to, but doesn't fall apart from normal abrasion like ghetto webbing does. The fancy light weight 1" SRBs used on the compression and cross strap are also a little rattley, but not a deal breaker. There are some other small things like the pull cords being a cord other than 550 that throw me off and give a lessor quality vibe, but I'm making sure to give it a chance on real world results and not just my offhand perception. I think the big plus of the Plan-B is the accessibility while still worn. It excels at special uses such as for EVAC and Active Shooter needs, however some will find the Plan-B a good fit for EDC or casual use as well.