As a follow up to our introduction to the new series about living a tactical life without a tactical job we present the first article. About the Helikon-Tex Carryall backup bag. You might ask: “A frakking shopping bag to start the series? You gotta be kidding me.” Why not? It’s worth your time and it’s something you can actually use instead of carrying just in case. We get to the fun things later. Promised. And as a side note: we’re not planning on just posting product related texts, just let’s start with one.

Helikon-Tex carryall backup bag can be checked and bought on the bellow link:

The bag in a smocks pocket
Helikon-Tex Carryall in a smock

The problem

You know these little, light reusable shopping bags you can fold into even tinier pockets and carry with you to have one when going shopping? You are annoyed that they only hold one bottle of beer and a small 500g steak before they feel like they’re gonna rip apart? And you don’t like that you have to carry them in your hand just in case you need both of them? And after all they look like they were painted by children in kindergarten or just have the logo of a supermarket printed on them?

The solution – Helikon-Tex Carryall

Fear not! Helikon-Tex to the rescue! There’s the „Carryall“ backup bag to carry all your spice, beer, meat, grooming articles you can wish for and more. Designed like their infamous bushcraft satchel this bag collapses and folds into it’s own pocket so you can easily carry it within your everyday backpack and break it out if need arises. The best part about the carryall is that it’s made of rip-stop polyester and has a heavy duty shoulder strap attached. So this bag means business.

Zippered pocket on the inside
There’s a zippered pocket on the inside

The pocket that’s used for storing the bag while collapsed moves to the inside just beneath the main zipper when the bag is in its full form. You can store valuables and small items in there and have them in reach a lot easier than searching within the whole of the bag.

The Carryall backup comes in various solid colors and in Camogrom camo pattern just to show everyone that you like tactical gear even while running errands.

Besides its use as a reusable shopping bag there’s always what it gets advertised for: Put it into your backpack while hiking and use it for collecting tinder, wood, food or whatever you might want to collect while out and about. It’s just a great way of massively increasing your carrying capability temporarily without weighing you down.

My personal use case

My job requires me going on week long business trips a lot. Since time on weekends is precious I tend to do shopping for some items while I’m away. I’ve got time to spend anyway and it helps with getting to see a bit of the cities where I stay. Also I try to not always go out for dinner but just get a small snack and eat at the hotel room. Since my backpack or messenger bag is already full with things I need for my work and things I want as a tactical gear head, there’s not much room for bananas and shower gel. This is where the carryall comes in handy. I put it in the main bag or a bottle holder and just take it out while shopping on the way from the customers to the hotel.

The Carryall can carry all
Helikon-Tex Carryall as shopping bag

Another use case where I like to use this bag is when going really light and switching between a cold winters outside and an overheated mall. Same goes for when you have more items to carry home than what you took with you when you started a trip. The carryall is a great expansion if you have to stow a winter jacket, switch out a sleeping bag or a dirty laundry bag from your backpack or trolley. In all these cases you have something big and relatively light to carry just for parts of your trip but don’t want to get weighed down by a matching backpack you won’t need for the longer part of your trip. Just put the big items into the carryall and sling it over your shoulder. Since it’s almost shapeless, you can carry it that way even while having a backpack on your back. That’s no solution for long hikes, but it helps with getting bulky items to the train station.

The carryall works for foraging when bushcrafting, too
Use it when foraging on a bushcrafting trip

Even when you do have a backpack capable of carrying the extra load, you can easily use the carryall as some sort of makeshift rain cover while putting items on the outside of your rucksack or just to keep items that tend to slip out of straps, like jackets, in place. Don’t get me wrong, the bag is not waterproof but it will help with keeping items from getting soaked in showers. Put the items in the carryall, make a roll and attach it to your backpack with straps you would use for sleeping bags.


If you want to sum up the bag in one word: huge. Not in a way that you could stow your stuff for a weeks business trip inside (at least I can’t), but it’s way bigger than the usual reusable shopping bags and even bigger than it looks on the pictures. That might be due to the fact that it’s almost built like a ball and you can only see 2 dimensions in the photos.

The carryall doesn't take much space when collapsed
Tiny when collapsed

And why is it „tactical“? It’s not only the subdued colors or the camo pattern but it’s more about the materials and the techniques used. The shoulder strap is like that on other small Helikon-Tex bags which means it’s relatively comfortable to carry even for lengthy walks and it’s definitely not going to break even when you put a considerable load onto it. You could enhance comfort with extra padding but that would make collapsing impossible. The ripstop polyester will withstand wear and tear even when you pack the bag to the brim. „Ripstop“ means, you have thicker threads woven into the fabric which stop it from ripping open even when a small hole is punched into the bag. You might know this kind of feature from tactical pants.

The size and the toughness come with a bit bigger size when collapsed but you can still easily stow it in your bag or even in the pockets of most cargo pants or of a smock as you can tell from picture above.

Finally, why is there a bushcraft satchel by Helikon-Tex when there’s the carryall? The bushcraft satchel is even a bit bigger, it’s made of nylon instead of polyester and it can’t be collapsed. Instead it has MOLLE/PALS webbing, some extra slots on the outside and more pockets on the inside. It’s a great bag but not as easily stowable.

A friend of mine once said: “These things are so useful, you might as well just get a bunch of them and stow them everywhere. In your car, in your bag, just in case.” And as a dealer we tend to agree.

Quick facts

Here’s a quick overview of the facts of the carryall backup bag.

Values in italics were measured by us. All others were provided by the manufacturer.

  • Manufacturer: Helikon-Tex
  • Weight: 150g
  • Dimensions (full size): 37 x 17 x 37 cm
  • Dimensions (collapsed): 14 x 4 x 12 cm
  • Capacity: 29l
  • Material: Polyester

About the author

widhalmt is what you might call a tactical gearhead with a focus on collecting. Like your average nerd he likes to dig into topics he’s interested in and learn as much about them as possible. Then he tries to get hold of his items of interest (he’s quite picky about brand and model when he chose a certain item) and put them to the test. Be it while walking the dog in the woods or go for overnighters outdoors.

In his daytime job he works as lead support engineer for an open source IT consulting company. Since his work involves a lot of travelling and going to customers he has quite some experience in choosing items that are rugged enough for constant travelling but still work in an office environment without offending anyone by being “too tactical” (although he tends to stretch that last part a bit). It’s safe to say that he has some tactical gear on him when he walks out the door (and sometimes even when he stays at home).

In tactical gear he has very widespread interests but if he had to pick something, it’s be knives, bags/backpacks and camo patterns (especially PenCott)