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New line of physical training sandbags provide tactical athletes a weighted solution to train anywhere, anytime

Comfortable, efficient and duty-specific weighted fitness equipment for the tactical athlete


Sponsored by 5.11

By Victor Masters for Police1 BrandFocus

As law enforcement officers, we rely on our equipment to function and quite literally help to save our lives when it matters most. When we train, we should be able to train with fitness equipment that provides that same level of reliability. Reliable equipment allows us to focus on our training and not finding sand in places that it doesn’t belong days later or compromising our form due to pain caused by poorly designed equipment.  The 5.11 PT-R Weight Kit 50, the PT-R Weight Kit 100 and TacTec Plate Carrier from 5.11 allow us to focus on our workouts and not worry about a handle ripping off, a bag tearing or other common issues with poorly designed equipment.

PT-R weight kits from 5.11 allow for fitness training on the go.
PT-R weight kits from 5.11 allow for fitness training on the go. (5.11 Tactical)

After spending five years with the U.S. Border Patrol in El Centro, California and currently going into my seventh year as a police officer with a busy municipality in Washington State, I, like most officers, have found it challenging to fit workouts into hectic and ever-changing schedules. Even working for an agency that allows me to work out on-duty can be challenging on days when we are chasing radio calls all day, attending trainings, meetings, etc.

The 5.11 PT-R sandbags and 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier have solved a lot of these common barriers to working out that I’ve faced by allowing me the flexibility to workout anywhere, anytime and to always be ready.

The first thing I noticed about the PT-R sandbags is that they are flat and compact. This allows the sandbag to easily fit in the trunk of my patrol car or personal vehicle without sacrificing much space at all. The mobility factor alone allows me to always have a mobile gym in my trunk. The sandbags can be easily removed from the trunk and utilized in a safe location such as an empty parking lot or park.

Another feature about the PT-R sandbags that I found to be incredibly useful is that they offer more than just a sandbag workout. Each sandbag comes with two filler bags. These filler bags can be quickly and easily removed from the sandbag thanks to their end-loaded design. Thanks to handles on the filler bags, they can be used to complete either dumbbell or kettlebell workouts such as kettlebell swings, dumbbell curls, lunges, goblet squats, tricep extensions and so much more. The possibilities are endless and they give you so many more options than just a standard sandbag can offer.

In addition to the PT-R sandbags, 5.11 has really hit it out of the park with their TacTec Plate Carrier. I am fortunate to have worked for two agencies that allow the use of outer vest carriers for daily wear. The benefits of doing so are plentiful, however we need to also train with the equipment we wear daily. As with the PT-R Weight Kits, the 5.11 TacTec Plate Carrier doesn’t disappoint. Built with rugged, lightweight 500D nylon, padded yoke shoulder straps, perforated mesh and built-in airflow channels allow for maximum range of motion, maximum airflow and maximum comfort.

My issued ESAPI plates easily fit into the carrier which can accommodate medium (12.5 inches high x 9.5 inches long x 2 inches wide) and large (13.25 inches high x 10.25 inches long x 2.25 inches wide) ESAPI plates. The TacTec Plate Carrier when combined with the PT-R sandbags really brought my training to a whole other level with regards to training specifically for the job.

Wearing the vest while utilizing the PT-R sandbags for dummy drags, shoulder carries, stair climbs and other job-specific movements has allowed me to train under the same simulated weight and physical conditions that I would encounter in any situation on the job, which has helped to keep me always ready for whatever the day may bring. As a bonus, the design and comfort of the TacTec Plate Carrier has allowed me to focus on my workouts and not on readjusting the vest, plates or shoulder straps, which are common issues with many other types of vest carriers that I have tried.

The 5.11 PT-R sandbags and the TacTec Plate Carrier have also greatly helped to alleviate a major source of stress for me and many other officers who take our fitness seriously. Vacation! Vacation for those of us who stick to a regular fitness regime and diet can be anxiety inducing. Trying to line up hotels with fitness centers and/or nearby gyms can be a major hassle. Equally so, arriving at your destination to find that said fitness center is really just a circuit weight machine with a broken cable is also a major letdown and leaves us looking for a backup plan.

During a recent 1,300 mile family road trip to San Diego, I brought my 5.11 PT-R sandbags and TacTec Plate Carrier with me. I was extremely impressed at how small the sandbags were when unloaded. They were easily stowed along with the vest carrier under the rear car seats and took up almost no space at all. Their compact size would allow them to easily fit in a carryon or checked bag for those traveling by air.

When I arrived in San Diego, I stopped at Home Depot and picked up sand, which cost right around $12 for 150 pounds. Thanks to Rogue Fitness, I was able to leave my actual ESAPI rifle plates at home and inserted my Rogue Fitness weighted vest plates that were exclusively designed to be used with the 5.11 TacTec Vest Carrier. Within a few minutes, I was up and running.

During the two-week duration of my trip, I was able to burn off some of the calories I was consuming due to letting my diet wander a bit and kept myself prepared for my return to duty. Sandbag burpees, lunges, squats, overhead press, tricep extensions, swings, throws and more were all completed day in and day out. After completing the sandbag workouts, I removed the filler bags to do some isolation exercises such as bicep curls, tricep kickbacks and other exercises.

Overall, the 5.11 PT-R sandbags and TacTec Plate Carrier are an outstanding fitness system for officers looking to train as they fight and always be ready for anything. They perfectly compliment a regular weight and cardio fitness routine and are the perfect solution for those that regularly travel or don’t always have much time to get a workout in. Their unparalleled level of reliability and craftsmanship allow you to focus on your workouts and not on your equipment. The PT-R Weight Kits and TacTec Plate Carrier are a must have for anyone who takes their fitness seriously and wants to always be prepared.

For more information on 5.11’s new Physical Training-Ready (PT-R) line of products, visit https://www.511tactical.com/pt-r.

Read next: This iconic tactical backpack gets an upgrade

About the author

Victor Masters is a an active duty police officer for a municipal police department in western Washington. He began his career in 2010 with the U.S. Border Patrol in El Centro, California. He has served as a patrol officer, forensic artist, intelligence agent and public affairs agent. Since 2016, he has been assigned as a public information officer and recruiter. 

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