I decided to do some research on the pack before I invested the energy to personalize it. I found widely varying reviews and opinions on the pack so I was adamant about deciding for myself. Upon the first evaluation, I was still undecided due to the cut and bulk of the pack. At first the zippers were very hard to operate and caught on the lining very easily. Once broken in, the bag sculpted to my back and the zippers became far more user friendly. The first addition I made the the pack was a 102oz water beast bladder system from Camelbak. It fit perfectly and even came in OD like the pack I chose. As I've added equipment and accessory pouches all over it to make an extended sustainment pack. This brought it's capabilities from 3 days to a month or so fairly quickly. The molle system made adding the pouches very easy. The pack itself full loaded weighs in at 36 pounds before water is added to the bladder.
The interior of the pack has a pvc coating making the pack water resistant. The external compression straps make it easy to attach a bed roll, rope or backpacking tent. I've also added a tomahawk to the exterior compression strap. Instead of buying a ready made system that you have to deal with how it's made, this system allows for easy customization. The drink tube can be routed left or right due to the pack having 2 gusseted outlet tabs with hook and loop closures. I haven't tried rucking the unit for extended days, but it works great and is fairly comfortable for a weekend pack trip. I usually use it for car camping trips and extended range trips where it would take 3 or more days to walk home.
Overall, the pack gets 2 thumbs up. One for being fairly inexpensive and one for being robust for it's price. I'm not saying this unit is equal to anything made by Blackhawk, Eagle, Maxpedition or other name brands. The packs strength is it's price. It doesn't have the best zippers or hook and loop. It doesn't have a name brand's warranty or backing. I've kept this pack loaded for almost 2 years now and I've car camped, hiked, rendezvous, and bugged out with this pack on numerous occasions. There isn't a single rip, tear, hole, zipper issue or even a worn strap. Solid performance at a budget price. The only reason I'm changing is so I can have a modular sleep system in my pack during winter and to have a better suspension system.
Let's take a look at mine:
I've added a Condor extra large bottom pouch that was made to be a stand alone satchel. A few Blackhawk pouches of different types, a Condor Tool carrier pouch and smaller flashlight/admin pouch on the front. Each pouch has it's purpose. Food, first aid, hygiene, Pens and paper, tools and such. The outside Molle webbing has held up tremendously well. Not a single stitch has come loose, nor has a zipper had to be reset. It's holding together my menagerie of pouches like a champ!
The modular nature of the pack allows me to customize the setup depending on what I'm planning. I can attach my shotgun scabbard to the side and now I have a pack hunting rig! Another couple additions I made are a SOG tactical tomahawk in a custom made kydex sheath and Blackhawk TaTang knife in a custom sheath.
Here's what the pack holds right now, minus food. I keep a small food bag prepped and ready for a hasty exit. I can lash it to my pack in a second so the food isn't in there right now.
8x12 tarp, heavy duty tent stakes, Skeeter Beeter Hammock, Precut tarp lines, Sleeping bag, Rope, Cook pots and stove kit, rain gear, dopp kit, mess kit, Stainless mug, tea/coffee/juice kit, playing cards, Med kit, sam splint and shears,Katadyn hiker pro filter, Poncho and garbage bags, shemaugh, hat, gloves, wet wipes, zip ties and gorilla tape, head net, microfiber towel, paracord, notebook with info and codes, Night ize figure 9's, writing utensils, mirror, tools, inner tube ranger bands, P51, Blackhawk TaTang knife, SOG tomahawk, 12v solar charger, AA/AAA charger, CR123 charger, assorted batteries, chem lites, headlamp, backup battery charger for technology, bladder, map case and compass, GPS, water hose, yoyo fishing kit.
I used to add a pad and 2 man tent under the compression straps when it was cold out, but they are in the trailer and it's freezing cold outside. Not gonna go get them right now. I did notice a few things have come up missing over time. My spare socks are missing, as are the clothes pins I keep in there. Huh, must have needed them elsewhere.
I'll make sure to post a review of my recreational pack, and Osprey Aether 70, when I get a chance. The new Bugout pack, a Marine ILBE and assault pack, will also be coming up for review.