Triple Aught Design OP1 Review

Ever since I purchased my TAD FAST Pack Lightspeed I have been looking for an admin pouch to throw on it.  The built-in admin pocket wasn't cutting it for all the smaller items I carry on a daily basis (pens, pencils, highlighters, digital storage, post-it notes, two cell flashlight, etc.) and the internal mesh pockets didn't keep frequently used items at my fingertips.

I looked at a few different options:

I wanted something that was slim enough not to adulterate the streamlined design of the Lightspeed and that had ample space to store both small- and medium-sized items.  It had to be easy to get into and be designed in such a fashion that allowed access by opening only the top portion of the pouch.  I also convinced myself that a zipper closure system was best as it would be substantially quieter than Velcro.

I eventually chose the Triple Aught Design OP1.  I do love the looks of this product and its functionality is exceptional, but I believe my principle rationale for purchasing it was the fact that it is produced by Triple Aught Design.  While I've developed an affinity for TAD's gear that can be described as nothing short of "cult-like devotion," their reputation for exceptional products and great customer service weighed heavily in my decision.

The dimensions of the OP1 are 7.25" x 6.75" x 1".  It's constructed of 500 denier DuPont Cordura fabric.  All zippers are YKK brand and all hook-and-loop is Velcro.  It's made in the USA to milspec construction standards.  At $55.00 it's one of the more expensive admin pouches I considered, but the quality of the construction as well as its US manufacturing origin make it well worth the price.

The OP1 mounts to a bag via two MOLLE straps.  Most MOLLE attachment systems I'm familiar with utilize a strip of nylon webbing, usually reinforced with some form of plastic, which is attached at the top of the accessory, threads through the MOLLE webbing, and then snaps closed at the bottom.  TAD's MOLLE system is a bit different as it utilizes a hook-and-loop closure to secure the bottom of the attachment straps.  I do like this attachment mechanism; it appears just as robust as a snap-type closure and I have found it easier to use.  Moreover, it's a bit thinner than the snap-type systems I've encountered.

The front of the OP1 features a small pocket with Velcro closure.  Additionally, there is a Velcro flap which opens to reveal three smaller pockets (one pen-sized pocket flanked by two slightly larger pockets).  I routinely use the smaller pocket to store my car keys and cell phone.  I haven't as of yet, found a use for the pockets under the flap; they're trickier to get to and haven't offered any desperately needed storage.

The OP1 unzips and opens in a clamshell-like manner.  Inside there is an open-top pocket on the portion affixed to the bag and an additional zippered compartment on the pouch's "flap."  The zippered compartment ensures that items stored within are not unintentionally dropeed when the whole pouch is opened in the "upright" position.  The main features of the interir are two rows of double-layered elastic webbing (one row per half).  These rows are stitched into sections of various sizes facilitating the securing of various different-sized items.

I have been running the OP1 mounted to the "beaver-tail" of the Lightspeed for a good few weeks.  I've taken it to and from classes daily and it "endured" a weekend trip to NYC wherein it faithfully performed without incident.  I haven't really used it in a more aggressive manner but it's on my itinerary; hiking, kayaking, and mountain biking are among my spring and summer plans.

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I'm going to adhere to the framework I created here as best I can.  However, as this is a pouch, not a pack / bag, I am compelled to make some modifications, as necessary.  The overall score will still be between zero and twenty.

DESIGN:  5 Overall

Theory:  5

On paper I believe the OP1 would look just as great as it does in fabric.  As far as admin pouches go I would submit it's one of the best designed.  Zipper rather than Velcro closure ensure long-term functionality (Velcro does degrade with prolonged use) and, more importantly, peace and quiet when accessing the interior of the pouch.  It's a superior design intended to carry a multitude of accessories in a convenient and streamlined package.
Aesthetics:  5

 Compared to others in the class, this pouch is exceptionally good looking.  The exterior is clean and doesn't have any unnecessary embellishments.  I'm pleased that TAD didn't include a massive piece of Velcro on the exterior (as on the MilSpec Monkey offerings, for example) as it doesn't really add much in terms of usefulness but would certainly make it stand out more.


Materials:  5

500 denier Cordura fabric is a great choice for this pouch.  It's durable and relatively water-resistant; the few paper products I carry in it haven't gotten wet through ran and snow (the pouch has had a couple exposures to both for approximately 5-10 minutes each time).  Of course, it's not completely waterproof.  If you were to keep it in the rain or snow for long enough it's bound to have some leakage into the interior of the pouch.  As it's not claimed to be waterproof or even water-resistant I won't dock points.

Construction:  5

Made in the USA with great stitching to prove it.  Triple Aught Design always seems have to have great quality construction.  The seams and stitching are clean.  Bar tacking on the MOLLE attachment strips is a great reinforcement.

Hardware:  5

As mentioned, all the zippers are YKK brand and the other hardware (two D-rings on the upper part of the MOLLE attachment straps and three zipper-pull caps) is made by ITW Nexus.  I haven't experienced any problems with either the zippers or the other hardware.  The zipper-pulls are fantastic as paired with 550 cord - you can pick up a fully-loaded pack with the zipper-pull and not experience any problems (not that I frequently manipulate my bag by grabbing zipper-pulls, but if I did...).  I don't expect to be having any trouble with the hardware on this pouch at any point in the future.


Packing / Retrieval:  5

Packing the pouch is simple enough.  The main zipper allows the whole pouch to be opened in a clamshell-like manner.  This design facilitates packing and retrieval of all things within the pouch.  What was important to me in choosing this particular pouch was the ability to unzip only the top portion and still retrieve items.  Other pouches I looked at required opening a massive flap to access the main compartment, an unnecessary encumbrance, in my opinion.

Organization:  4

The main interior compartment is organized well.  As aforementioned, there are two internal pockets and rows of elastic webbing to secure other items.  My main gripe with the elastic webbing is the size of the various "slots."  I tend to carry more smaller items (pen-sized things) than larger ones and, as such, I'm wanting a few more smaller slots than are stitched in.  Moreover, the smallest slots are slightly too small for most things I've tried to squeeze in them.  I've had to double-up a few smaller things into a larger slot which seems to work well for the time being.  Hopefully I'll be far away from the academic uses of this pouch and my bag by May.  In terms of overall functionality the slot sizes don't detract much, but the sizes are irritating enough to consider knocking off a point.

Modularity / Expandability:  - - -

N/A - it's a pouch; can't expand much from there...

CARRY:  5 Overall

[I'm ditching the two subcategories here and scoring the attachment mechanism; seems like the right idea...]

I love MOLLE.  It's a wonderful system.  Triple Aught Designs' Velcro system works wonders, too.  As discussed above, it's a clean, slim, lightweight way to secure the end of a strap.  Moreover, the neat little pull-tabs TAD has added to the Velcro system facilitate quick detachment of the pouch.  I have nothing but praise for their method.

TOTAL SCORE:  19.5 / 20

Overall, the OP1 is a fantastic little admin pouch.  I would recommend it to anyone looking for a clean, well-designed solution to storing a variety of smaller items on any MOLLE compatible pack.  I could also see using something like this pouch as a standalone system, keeping things organized in a car's glove box, for example.  I trust that it will serve me well for many, many years.

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