Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Review: Maxpedition - SITKA-S Gearslinger Pack

A friend of mine recently "downsized" his regular daypack, and tells me he's very happy with the choice he made, so I wanted to have a look at the pack, and share his feelings and my own observations. This is the Maxpedition SITKA-s Gearslinger. The "S" is for "sinister", as this is the "lefthander" version of the pack. The regular version is exactly the same, just mirrored for ease of use for righties. That was a really nice touch right off the bat, and i was impressed that they offered this version as standard. It may need to be ordered in, but the fact the manufacturer offers it is a big tick in my books. The good folks at LE Gear got this one in for my friend.

The idea of this particular pack is that it will carry all your needfuls, without bulking up or weighing you down. It is jam packed with attachment points, pockets and pouches, but most importantly, it compresses and packs your gear down to reduce bulk. Very important if you have a lot of traveling to do, which is one of the reasons my friend got it, for a long trip OS.
Right from the get -go you can see that the pack has a lot of features, and I'm going to try to cover them as best I can. It is made from the same 1000d Cordura, triple polyurethane coated for water resistance that features in a lot of the gear that I have reviewed. I love this stuff, its hard wearing, and when coated with Du Pont Teflon® fabric protector, sheds rain and crud and takes a beating. Its single-sling layout puts the strap crossing your body, and it sits nicely. When tightened there was no feeling of it slipping around when walking about, but for additional security, there is a "third-leg" strap tucked away in the bottom to make an inverted "Y" of strapping should you feel the need.

The padding at the back is really nice, and the top handle is also padded.

Behind the padded backing is a pocket with ports for a 3L / 100oz hydration bladder, with all the fittings, including retention cords and loops on the main shoulder strap for the tube. There is also a 1L / 32oz Nalgene bottle pouch off to the shoulder-side edge. It looks like it would also fit my 1L SIGG bottle too. (Although the dimensions are different).

As well as the hydration bladder pocket, there are three main equipment pockets: The large compartment is 15"x 8" x 3" and features a variety of internal storage, including a Fastex stule compression strap, a zippered pouch and a wide  loop-field panel for presumably attaching a concealed-carry holster, or your collection of patches, in my case... A small laptop might fit, my iPad certainly would.

The top-front pouch is 7.5” x 4”  x 2”  and features internal organization in the form of wide elastic loops, and a pocket, as well as externally, with  a wide belt of hook-and-loop loop-field running the width of the pocket, over which is stretched a loop of shock-cord. This pocket sits up high and is good for a lot of smaller items, as you can see, my friend left his iPhone earbuds in one of the loops, to give you an idea of scale.

The "Y" shaped compression strap has its arms crossing this top pouch, with a Fastex style clip joining the leg between the two front pockets.

All the zipper pulls feature a paracord toggle, rather than a metal tab, removing  the metal-on-metal noise generation these can otherwise give, a great addition I thought.

The bottom front pouch measures 8” x 7”  x 2”  as is also jam-packed with internal organization, pockets and pouches in the lid and the body of the pocket, as well as a retention lanyard give you a wide range of locations to stash your needfuls and keep them in place for when you need them.

Another great feature of the bottom front pocket is that it has a theft-deterrent  press-stud, which holds the zipper in place to reduce the success of a "yank-and-grab" thief.

The bottom front pocket also features a four row, 2" wide tow-channel band of  PALS/MOLLE loops, as well as running the compression strap through to the base of the pack.

Ther is also a channel of the same 2" wide PALS/MOLLE loops along the "off-shoulder" side which, as well as two at the base of the shoulder strap, giving a wide variety of accessory attachment points.

One of the outstanding features of this pack though, is its ability to be accessed whilst still being worn. Being a single-shoulder pack, it can be slid around the body, much in the same was as my Crumpler Messenger bag, allowing access to all the pockets and pouches, one-handed, to get at your needfuls, (or those sneaky CCW panels) without dropping your load, or having to unsling anything you might have loaded up over your other shoulder.

My friend is really happy with his pack, and I was impressed too, it was really well put together, with all the internal finishings well-sealed and stitched, I expect it will last him a long time. Apparently it makes a good pillow too, there is something to be said for a daypack that you can rest your head on when the opportunity arises. As the man said "Somebody wake up Hicks"

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