A friend of mine who works in some capacity with the Australian Army and found out about my interests in gear and the like. After telling him about the Stargate LRP that I do, and showing off the pictures of us all in kit, let me know that he had some "leftovers" that he could send my way. I'm always keen to see some gear that the troops really get, even though there may be problems with it, as soldiers are renowned for discovering, its designed to be rugged and multipurpose. In his first care-package to me, my friend delivered this huge pack, the Raven Pack, in the Australian DPCU AUSCAM pattern. The first thing I should mention is its size. I'm used to the kind of torso-wide backpacks that you see back-packers at airports carrying. Tall but reasonably narrow, the kind you can see skinny elbows holding on to, hands on chest straps.
Not this pack. Its shoulder wide on me, when empty and without any of the accessories attached.
From the research I've done, the pack has upwards of an 90L capacity, again, without the accessory packs and has a wide range of internal and external storage capability. Constructed of nylon, canvas and Cordura with drawstrings and Fastex buckled cinch straps. I was surprised at the variety of materials used, it seemed quite a hybrid piece. The top hood Fastex's down, with a drawstring to improve packing, and water proofing. Inside the lid is a zippered pouch, for personal items or documents. There is 50mm canvas webbing attachment points over the lid. down both sides and two strips running horizontally over the back of the pack. The midline of the horizontal 50mm canvas webbing are two large loops, for the straight handle of an entrenching tool.
On either side of the entrenching tool loops and sewn onto the pack body are two utility pouches, each fitted with a drawstring and Fastex strapping. These pouches measure 28cm in length, 10cm in depth and 11cm in width. They could suit a variety of needfuls in a secure and at the ready location regardless of how else the pack is configured. One of the interesting things about this pack is that it seems to be top heavy, but I think there must be a method for packing heavy items lower which is integral to how the Army trains its troopers to pack.
Another interesting feature is the bedroll/sleepingbag pouch that makes up the bottom of the pack. It is composed of and outer layer of heavy Cordura, which opens on the left hand side through a crumplable pouch type opening. The inner layer is a lighter green bag, which closes with a drawstring. This whole assembly is otherwise independent of the storage in the bottom of the pack. Three Fastex clips fasten the bottom section closed, but otherwise "unsealed" by zipper or hook-and-loop. I thought this was very odd, and I'd be delighted to hear from a serviceman as to what the deal with that is. Also inside the bottom storage area is a small, shallow "bucket pocket" against the back wall. I have no idea what this is for.
The top and bottom sections of the inside are seperated by a waterproof zip panel which whn open, would allow large items to be stowed in the pack, utilizing the full available length. When sealed, the top section has two Fastex clipped compression straps, one vertical and one horizontal. This is a great feature and would significantly increase the available space in the pack. There is also a shelf like pocket against the back wall, also with a draw string, adding to the internal storage structure. Lastly there is a long horizontal zipper, leading to some closed cell foam padding.
The shoulder straps are highly adjustable, both centrally, and at the bottom of each armature. There is a sternum strap, which is also configurable as well as a simple nylon webbing hip-belt. A final interesting feature is a removable lumbar bad, hook-and-looped into the padding of the pack, and includes a long black cord. Possible flotation marker? Who knows. There are a couple of openable hook-and-loop flaps that could well be for identification purposes and again, I'd be delighted to hear from someone with experience with this kind of pack to explain these little features.
This is a great, big pack, which I look forwards to taking camping/hiking with, and to load up all my kit and costume for Stargate LRP. I'll cover the accessory packs in a subsequent post. This is already huge ... Much like the pack. Hearts and Bunnies anyone?