I've previously posted about the fact that I'm planning on participating in the Bataan Memorial Death March in 2013; in a nutshell, I'll be walking a marathon with a thirty-five pound ruck on my back. Right now I'd like to cover the pack itself; I'll cover what I'm carrying and how I train in another post.
I have to say this before I start. Any statements that I make with regard to a specific brand name of product are done solely to be of use to the AoM community. I won’t talk about it if I haven’t used it. Nobody pays me to use their stuff. If something works for me, I’ll tell you. Same goes for the negative. This concludes the disclaimer.
Originally, I had been using the latest Government Issue MOLLE ruck. This is a giant thing – it looks cool, but is not very streamlined. I wanted something that was more compact, “higher speed” if you will. I had heard good things about Voodoo Tactical, so I checked out their stuff.
I decided on the Large Tobago MOLLE Assault Pack; the pack itself is 20" x 19" x 12" – plenty big for civilian or military luggage duty. There are a ton of features that in comparable bags would push $300-$350. The Tobago clocks in at $110. It’s made overseas, but it doesn’t suck. I believe in the details, so I’m going to bore you for a bit.
1) Large main bag that opens FLAT so you can see your stuff and not play the “where’s my stuff” game. Also, there are retention straps so your stuff stays where you put it. On the open flap, there are two mesh zipper pockets that help organize other gear.
2) The front bears a good supply of MOLLE webbing to attach other gear. There is a vestigial amount of hook & loop for adding identification. Not enough for me; one of the first mods will be creating greater acreage of hook & loop. Behind the very front holds a zippered pocket. The next large zippered bit behind the front holds plenty of places for “admin” stuff (pens, phones, pads, etc.) The pouch on the bottom front has zippered mesh pockets on the back of the flap for organizing the little gear that always runs to the deepest, darkest corner of your ruck; plus more MOLLE for adding more gear! I’ve decided that this will be the place where M&M’s and socks will live.
3) There are two pouches on either side that barely hold my Jetboil stove. With a little break-in, I think it should work just fine. There are also three carry handles – one on top, and one on either side – to facilitate carry (Because we all know that one shouldn’t carry their loaded ruck by the shoulder straps.)
Two covered ports on either side allow you to route radio antennas or hand mics, there is also a covered port in the center top for your hydration tube. The now obligatory cargo cinch straps are present – two per side.
Sternum straps (that may be a bit short for my chest, but we’ll see.)
The removable shoulder straps would come in handy when using this for luggage as it keeps airline conveyors from wrecking your bag. The shoulder straps are nicely padded as of now; time will tell as I train with this and use it regularly if I need to modify them.
The padded back is really nice. It has molded venting for cooling (once again, time will tell.)
Behind the padded back is a space for your hydration system, and there is a removable rigid reinforcement panel with one aluminum stay; so this is essentially an internal frame ruck, cool.
Overall, this bag appears to be pretty dang solid. I’ve used bags from most of the big names (including the biggest, Uncle Sam) over the course of nine years in the National Guard and two deployments, and this would rank right up with the best of them – at a fraction of the cost. I will admit that right now, I’m in the Honeymoon phase; and as time goes on, I expect to discover the things that I love, and the things that make my teeth itch. But believe gentle readers, that you will be the first to know.