Monday, January 16, 2012

Review: AUSCAM Raven Pack accessory bags.

Following on from my previous review of the outstanding 1993 design AUSCAM Raven Pack I wanted to give the accessory packs their own bandwidth.

Both types of pack are fitted with 50mm webbing clips, and are designed to be mounted to other packs, which i feel limits their over all usefulness. That said, having modular packs you can strip off and dump, or share around or even demount to stock or rummage through is a great idea.I'll break this little review into discussing each mini-pack separately, but should at least cover their shared features together. As well as having 50mm clips, on canvas webbing, both packs are made of waterproofed nylon, like the Raven main pack itself, and are fully decked out in the traditional "hearts and bunnies" AUSCAM. Narrower straps are of the same nylon tape that is ubiquitous to buckle fasteners everywhere.

The larger of the two types (of which there are two included with a full Raven kit-out) features 50mm clips at the top of the pack, as well as a carry handle about midway. The top-end clipping gives it a no-sag attachment and ensures that contents are less likely to spill when opened. The main closure is achieved with a substantial zipper, which is nicely situated under a lip to reduce water entry from rain and the like. Documentation included with the pack indicates that this side-bag has a capacity of 12L which makes it a substantial boost to your carrying capacity. There is no internal structure within the bag, but it has two sets of webbing loops dangling from the bottom which could be used for lashing. Interesting features include a 1 inch square flap of hook-and-loop which could be a cord or hydration tube retainer. Happy to have its true nature indicated, if anyone knows!

The second pack is the loaf-shaped bum-bag, which features a long and deep, but narrow 5L of storage, with three sets of 50mm webbing clips at the midline, and three Fastex buckles securing it closed. It seems a fairly exposed may to store things, so I can only presume it was meant for large hardy items, the included manual indicates that it was suitable for storing some kind of comms gear. I think it would be rain or cold-weather gear, if I were hiking with it. One Other thought I had was that this bag at least, could be affixed to a belt and worn like a huge MilSpec bum-bag, but again, its rather open closure system would limit the gear I stowed in it. Hammock, novel and hydration system for a palm tree lounge anyone?

So, with these two types of accessory pack described, how do they sit and fit on the main Raven pack? When I received it, the 3-clip 5L loaf-pack was affixed low down on the back on the Raven, where the webbing matches exactly the clip configuration on the little pack. The twin day-packs had more options for where to clip them, being 2-clips, but I think keeping the center of mass low is always a good idea in a pack,

All told, this looks be a a great system for lugging loads of gear. No frills, sturdy construction and all Australian MilSpec fittings. Rugged gear for rugged country.

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