Gear Review: The Watson Evac Sling By Hazard 4

Bags, bags, and more bags. Bug out bags, EDC (everyday carry) bags, G.O.O.D. (Get Out Of Dodge) bags, the list can go on, but we don’t need an army of bags to do what we need to do. As with any essential piece of gear, quality and dependability are the key to success. With so many bags on the market, the task of finding the right bag for the right application can be daunting. We have been on the search for a bag that can serve multiple purposes. One that can be a bug out or get home bag, and also have the ability to tackle weekend fun. One company, Hazard 4, has been in the business of making various types of bags and carry systems for the last few years under their parent company Civilian Lab.  Their gear has become popular with folks in the tactical world as well as the civilian world. So we decided to see what all the hubbub was about and picked up their newest bag in their Evac Sling series, Watson.

I push my bags to their limits. Is this appropriate? I don’t know, but if it wasn’t then there wouldn’t be limits would there? When I opened the box and gave the Watson a look over, I was impressed with the craftsmanship. The bag felt solid. The stitching didn’t look flimsy and the zippers were firm with an ample amount of material covering them from the elements. I tried to find where it may be weak with fraying or separation, and I couldn’t find anything wrong with it. The top handle was larger than some other bags I have handled, and I liked the fact that it was beefy while giving the impression it was able to handle whatever heavy load was placed in the bag.

Watson Front

Front W/ MOLLE Attachments

Top Handle

Top Handle

Next I took a look at the compartment layout. The first one I had to check out was pocket behind the back padding. This area is thermoformed so you can have some ventilation on your back during those hot and humid days. The back pocket was padded and appeared to be setup nicely to house a number of different items. I like the fact that you can have quick and easy access to your firearm or tablet/laptop if that’s what you prefer. Yes, these are items I would prefer in this pocket. I was able to fit my iPad Mini and have a ton of room in the pocket, but my 13″ Macbook Pro would not fit.

Watson Main

Main Compartment

Organizer Pocket

Organizer Pocket

Back Pocket W/ iPad Mini

Back Pocket W/ iPad Mini

Back Pocket Will Fit 11" Macbook Air

Back Pocket Will Fit 11″ Macbook Air

The main compartment is very roomy. To be quite honest, I was shocked when I saw how large the main compartment was. You will see how well it worked during the field test. The side pockets are rated to hold up to a 1L Nalgene bottle and Hazard 4 isn’t making this up. They are roomy. The front pocket has enough small pockets to keep you organized, and since I still use a pen from time to time I truly appreciated the pockets for my pens. My folding knives were able to find a snug home in the organizer as well. When I had enough of giving the Watson an “alien exam”, it was time to conduct a rigorous field test.

I decided to do something different. What would be better than loading the Watson out and taking it in the woods? Nothing that I could think of so that’s what we did. I put together some gear that I think a person may want to keep in a go / camping bag. So what would one need? Let’s start off with a small, homemade first aid kit. Then let’s add shelter, which was a Hennessy Hammock Explorer with straps and a rainfly. For a good night’s sleep, I packed a Sea to Summit sleeping bag liner and a Cocoon inflatable pillow.

Main Compartment W/ Hammock

Main Compartment W/ Hammock

Watson Side

Side Compartment

In the organizer I added some odds and ends such as a folding knife, pen, headlamp, good old toilet paper, and even room for my Oakleys. In the back pocket I was able to carry my Glock 23 with extra mags. The only thing I was missing for this was the special holster that Hazard 4 makes for this setup. I will have to get that at a later date. Lastly, I was able to pack another small bag in the other side pocket incase I wanted to leave the campsite and explore a little. With all this, I felt I was fully stocked and ready for the field.

Back Pocket Firearm

Back Pocket Firearm

Back Pocket

Back Pocket

I decided to take this heavily packed bag on a five mile hike through the mountains. The hike started out with the Watson snug on my back. The side straps helped keep the pack stabilized on my back and I did not feel the load shift while ascending or descending steep areas. At about the midway point, I switched gears and tried to use the Watson as a chest pack. While I could see it being functional in this position, I don’t suggest it with a heavy load unless you are trying to even out a heavy load on your back. It was really neat as a chest pack, but we always want to pack safely to avoid serious injury on the trail.

Packed For The Trail

Packed For The Trail

Ready For Action

Ready For Action

The strap padding was very comfortable as the extra wide width contributed to the Watson’s stability. This was a well thought out design. All pockets were easily accessible even with the pack on and this is a huge plus while out in the field. The pack bravely held up to the day and the mileage put on it. Here are my overall observations of the Watson:

Pros:

  • Excellent construction
  • A large amount of storage space
  • Versatility – will fit any application the end user chooses

Cons:

  • Only comes in two colors (black and coyote) – I would like to see more civilian colors offered to the public so one can remain low key
  • Should have included the holster for the back pocket

In conclusion, the Watson is far from elementary. It is a rugged and versatile pack that should provide the user with years of reliable performance no matter what you throw at it. The Watson’s MSRP is $122.99, which is very good for a bag of this quality. I commend Hazard 4’s R&D Team on a well executed design. So take a Watson and see where it can take you.

 

Stay Safe!!

-SP

Watson Tag

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