Review: FAST Pack Litespeed

Lightweight, skinny and nimble, the Litespeed is designed as a smaller lighter version of the hugely popular EDC pack. The Litespeed is a go to for those wanting just enough room to hold essential items for every day carry. How do you improve upon something that is seemingly perfect? It’s a dangerous thing to take a product that your loyal consumers love and then reconstruct, redesign and reimagine it.

by | 11, Jun 2015 | David Massey, Review | 3 comments

We know that the gears never stop turning at Triple Aught Design (TAD) so evolution of the FAST Pack series was inevitable. You could apply the philosophy, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” here, but we know how motivated TAD is to evolve, so they broke it down and rebuilt it from the ground up and a new Litespeed was born.

This is not however, a Classic Coke turned New Coke scenario. TAD took all the parts that people may have had complaints about and made them better. The end result is one of the most rugged, versatile, and customizable packs I’ve ever put on my back.

Most of the general features are the same, or very similar, to its predecessor. The Litespeed is a clamshell style opening and is 1350 cu. in or 22 liters. For your smaller items, there’s the zippered admin pocket located at the top front, above the loop patch panel and two mesh interior pockets.

The outside is covered in PALS webbing for customizing with pouches. The TAD signature Transporter Tail is back for all your miscellaneous gear transport needs. An extra outer layer, helmet, tripod, or long rifle is securely attached with the tail.

It’s made of 1000 Denier and 500 Denier Invista™ Cordura® which is tough as nails. The back padding has been upgraded to Evazote® Closed Cell Cross-Linked Ethylene Copolymer Foam and DRI-LEX® Aerospacer Moisture Management Mesh and breathes very well.

The new version of the Litespeed was an improvement to say the least. But once you get down to it, the changes made are worth a closer look and definitely worth the $245 price tag because it will get a lot of use. We’ll take a closer look at the modified features:

CHANGES

Space
The new Litespeed sort of went on a diet shedding two inches, both in width and in length but gained an inch and three quarters in depth. The new dimensions are 10.00″ W x 20.00″ H x 6.75″ D. If you do the math it’s not quite a difference of 50 cu in., regardless it still ends up being more space with the newer more svelte iteration.

Framesheet
TAD added a framesheet made of HDPE or High Density Polyethylene, which is also used in pipes for its strength to weight ratio and it provides a nice base of support for some other changes like the shoulder straps.

Shoulder Straps
Perhaps the only thing I could have changed on a TAD pack would be the shoulder straps. They were comfortable and functional, but I didn’t know I disliked them until the new straps debuted on the new Litespeed. The new foam padding is soooo nice. It hugs your frame perfectly.

They moved the attachment points for the load lifters from the top of the bag, over to the frame sheet side of the pack and also attached the straps further down, thereby allowing the pack itself to move up and carry higher up on your back. In my opinion this is a HUGE improvement. Previously, if you were using the load lifters you would have to unbuckle them to get inside the zippers and some people didn’t like that. Moving the pack up and shrinking the length allows you to wear the pack without interfering with utility belts.

Straps
The Transporter Tail straps are now removable, which allows you to strip away the Transporter Tail to simplify things. It can be then moved inside the pack and used to secure items using the attachment points. I removed the longer straps with female buckles and replaced them with ITW QASM females to get rid of excess webbing that I didn’t need. I rarely carry anything more than an outer layer in the Tail.

The ice axe loops were deleted and replaced by webbing straps on the bottom that give you the option to secure a rolled jacket, fleece, rope coil or beddding pad. Like the Transporter Tail straps, these are also removable. Although I never used the ice axe loops for an ice axe, they did come in very handy during GORUCK Challenge #400 when our cadre told us we had to hold and carry our packs in front for miles, with no shoulder straps. He didn’t say anything about ice axe loops though.

As stated earlier, the load lifters feature has been moved and in its place, there’s 98 inches of paracord threaded through and cinched down to act as a place for attaching extra gear, like an outer layer or some rope. I replaced mine with shock cord because I have enough paracord elsewhere and I wanted the snappy-ness of the shock cord.

Internal Interface
The bladder pocket has been deleted and replaced with attachment points for the newly released Control Panel 1. The numerical denotation “1” on the Control Panel suggests to me that they will be releasing another version of the panel or some other attachment entirely. We can only hope that a padded photo insert or something equally awesome is on the drawing board.

At first I was bewildered and just sad about the bladder pocket disappearing. I kept reminding myself that TAD has method to their madness, and after using the new attachment points for adding a non-TAD laptop sleeve, and now the Control Panel (which will secure a bladder or a laptop) I see the brilliance in the versatility.

Now with the Control Panel 1 in use, it’s clever and functional and that sad empty feeling about the bladder pocket you had is now gone. Life can go on now.

The Litespeed was first conceived to be the quick strike for EDC operations and the newer version maintains that presence for the TAD lineup of packs. The new ride is very comfortable and the new straps, frame sheet and higher ride height make that possible. I decided to break in the new Litespeed officially with a 15 mile hike up 11,000 feet to summit Granite Mountain in Arizona. It was also a first for a brand new pair of Salomon 4D GTX Quest boots. Find my review of the Salomon’s here.

There is a new feeling of snugness to the pack. The old Litespeed seemed relatively snug and tight but this one just forms to your body like a cute and fuzzy koala bear, except this baby has zippers and PALS webbing.

I feel like there is less swing from side to side and the redesigned load carrying geometry has everything to do with that. The hike was a great proving ground for the pack, climbing up and over boulders, going through rocky craggy passes and shuffling side to side. The straps and ride height make carrying heavier loads a breeze, although with a pack that small, heavier loads should be saved for an EDC or something larger. I carried a Ranger LT hoodie, water bottle, a camera, two lenses and some energy bars. Not a huge load out but awkward in size and weight. It handled my cargo well.

The ITW Web Dominators are a welcome addition, furthering that objective to make the pack as sleek and compact as possible.

This pack is small and light; encouraging you reduce your load out. It’s perfect for everything you need and nothing you don’t. Whether it’s a change of clothes, IFAK and some food and water or a more complex load out, the Litespeed is mission capable and ready to rally.

Here’s the web archive of the old Litespeed if you want to study the genealogy.

David Massey Senior Contributor & Recon Specialist

David Massey is from the USA and works full time as a MultiMedia Producer, Photojournalist and writer, creating imagery for an aeronautical university and shooting freelance assignments wherever they may be. He’s traveled to Africa, Asia, Europe and Central America in search of a good story. More…

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