Long-Term Use Review: Blackhawk Diversion Courier Bag
Jon Stokes 06.28.16
I’m a huge fan of messenger-type bags for a variety of reasons. Yes, backpacks are more comfortable for long hauls, but I can spot an EDC junkie or a prepper from a mile away when I see them out and about with their MOLLE-covered pack. Shoulder bags are far more discrete and fit well with the “gray man” philosophy. In a real emergency situation I’d much rather blend in with the rest of the crowd than stick out with a bag that says “Expensive Emergency Gear Right Here, On This Guy!”
Good covert bags are hard to come by, though, especially if you don’t want to shell out big big bucks. Triple Aught Design, for instance, makes a great messenger pack, but is it almost $200 and a tad (har har) more tactical than what I’m after.
One day while poking around the Interwebs, I ran across the Blackhawk Diversion Courier Bag. This, I’m thinking to myself, is just “street” enough that it could pass for an ordinary messenger bag. I was sold, so I hit up Blackhawk to send me one for review. They sent the bag, and I started using it on regular basis as my get-home bag (GHB). That was like two years ago. I never actually got around to writing a review because I was, well, using the thing.
What I Like
My favorite feature of this bag by far is the large, removable top flap with the inner document/map pocket. I keep a paper map in that clear inner pocket, and the flap itself is what de-taticals the bag. With the flap covering all of the MOLLE and Velcro, it looks pretty much like an ordinary messeger bag from a distance. They could put almost anything under that big flap, and it would work.
My second favorite feature of this bag is the size. It’s on the smallish side, but there’s still plenty of room for a full get-home load-out if you’re smart about what you pack.
I like the padded back because not only does it add a level of comfort to the bag, but it also keeps a pistol from shifting around and printing in that back compartment.
The pass-through zipper on the top of the bag is also nice because a lot of times I want to reach in there and I don’t want to have to open that big flap (and look like a giant dork who has a map in there).
The side pockets make for easy access to multitools and miscellaneous gear. I tend to tuck fire-starting implements in one pouch and tools in the other. The inner pistol mag loops are pretty tight, so I stuff some Bic lighters in them in one of the pouches and it works out well.
The front has multiple pockets in multiple layers, so it’s kind of hard to describe just how many options there are for stashing things in such a small amount of space. Check the gallery for details.
Finally, the top carry handle is a nice addition since I don’t always want to sling it over my shoulder.
What I Dislike
This bag has one glaring flaw. And when I say “glaring,” I mean it’s really freaking glaring.
I carried the Diversion as a GHB on a family trip last summer beneath my wife’s feet in the middle row. We were rolling down the road, and I hear her say, “Why is this on the floor of the car?” I look in the rear view mirror and see her holding up a full 9mm magazine.
Here’s what happened: I had tucked a Springfield XD in condition 0 plus a few full mags in the back zippered compartment, and because the zipper opens from the bottom as well as the top, the bottom zipper had migrated open and all the mags had just slid out the bottom and were scattered around the car floor. Oops.
After messing around with that compartment some more, I was shocked that this hasn’t happened more than once. (It probably hasn’t because I usually stash extra mags inside the main bag compartment. No idea why I put them in that back compartment that time.) These zippers, as nice and heavy-duty as they are, are prone to shift a bit as you move the bag around, and that could mean the surprise dump of mags or a gun out of the bottom hole.
The upshot is that this bag just needs to not open from the bottom at all. The zippers on that back compartment should zip open from the top down, only. If Blackhawk would make this design change, I’d be able to give the bag five stars.
I still really like this bag, and I still use it. I don’t keep mags back there anymore, and I’m pretty obsessive about checking those bottom zippers to make sure they’re secure. But I shouldn’t have to do that. The bag either shouldn’t zip open from down there, or there should be some extra retention mechanism for the zipper like a button or some Velcro or something.
This bag seems sort of like the underrated, red-headed stepchild of the Blackhawk line. I don’t really see any reviews of it out there, even user reviews on retail sites. It’s like nobody is buying this thing, and I’m at a loss as to why.
The Courier generally streets for just under $100, so it’s half the price of the Triple Aught Design Dispatch. I think it’s a fantastic value for that price, and I just don’t get why it isn’t more popular. Despite the issue with the back compartment that I pointed about above, this bag is a great value at $100, so if you spot one going for that price you should snap it up.