A suitable police bag has to offer a certain range of basic features for most officers:
- A decent size main compartment for most kit; folders, fleece, custodian etc
- A decent selection of pockets for organizing smaller kit; PNB, Phone, Cuffs, etc
- Shoulder strap and carrying handles (it is not until you don't have one or the other of these that you miss them!!)
- Hard-wearing, heavy duty construction. (Police bags get slung around on a daily basis, often over loaded with kit)
- Sensible weight (Lugging your police bag around all day can be a massive chore if it weights a tonne even before you have loaded it)
- Water resistance (probably not necessary to be totally water proof but the bag should be able to withstand being caught in a shower without all your kit getting soaked.
When choosing a police bag there are 3 main types, rucksack, holdall and load out. A rucksack is ideal if you are going to be on the move for a prolonged period, it is by far the most comfortable method of transporting a load and also leaves you with both hands free (ideal for cyclists). The disadvantage of this kind of police bag is it is hard to access items at the bottom of the bag.
The Holdall or kit bag is probably the most common kind of police bag, a semi rigid rectangular shaped bag often with a divider in the middle and a selection of pockets on the outside and often inside the lid on some of the better designed models. These kinds of bags allow for easy division of kit and the best access without having to unload everything each time.
Load out police bags are more for PSU roles when you need to get a helmet, boots, coveralls etc all in the bag along side all your normal duty kit. The best designed bags can be worn as both a rucksack and also used like a kit bag (some also have wheels and an extending handle but I have never found this a particularly essential feature on a police bag.)
As mentioned earlier, when choosing a police bag price is going to be a major factor, but not at the expense of quality! I have seen one range of products that seems to differentiate itself on price but the quality of their bags and the weight of their kit bags especially is a major let down. Multiple reports of their day sack failing within a few months of light use for example was common place. My favourite brand, which you will pay a bit more for, but it is worth it for quality is 5.11, though I have seen a lot of good stuff at a very reasonable price point from the up and coming Op. Zulu brand.