Tactical or traditional?

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Suffolkrafter

Tenderfoot
Dec 25, 2019
74
47
39
Suffolk
I'm in the market for a new rucksack, something around 30 to 40L. I've always gone down the route of standard mountaineering or hiking-style rucksacks but I'm a bit bored of these, and there are many interesting looking 'tactical' style packs out there, by manufacturers such as 5.11 tactical, helikon, mil-tec etc. These tend to feature more compartments than I have possessions and molle webbing. I do like a bit of compartmentalisation. Has anyone gone down this route, and if so, what did you think? Do they typically stand up to outdoors conditions? Is the whole molle thing worth it or more of a gimmick? Interested to hear about people's experiences.
 

TeeDee

Full Member
Nov 6, 2008
6,365
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Exeter
I've always wondered if the Molle stuff holds weight 'well' and close to the body.

I have a sneaky suspicion that it seems to slide away from the main Center of Gravity ( you ) as they get more and more loaded.
Maybe not important or noteworthy on smaller packs and I maybe talking out of my hat but thats always been my thoughts from watching how they sit on the body.
 

Wildgoose

Full Member
May 15, 2012
354
102
Middlesex
I have a 5.11 pack which I use for work. All the pockets and kit separation is great however it does mean the largest compartment is actually quite small.
there’s also a temptation to find unnecessary kit to fit the pockets-because they are there.

For outdoors use I prefer a standard pack, any little odds and ends go on an organiser pouch inside the main pack.
Easier to keep the whole thing dry too
 

MrEd

Full Member
Feb 18, 2010
1,453
395
Surrey/Sussex
www.thetimechamber.co.uk
i have a maxpedition back pack bag i use for weekend trips, its about 32litre internal i think - a xantha, not available anymore.

I like it, i can take off the waist belt and cinch it down and use it for carry on, or i can load it up and add a few pouches on the outsidewhich i put smalls in, and some extra straps can strap a blanket roll to the underneatt.

Its more comfortable when loaded with a bit of weight tbh, than half full. I have a second waist belt for it that i can put more pouches on if going out for longer etc.

I also use ot for my camera equioment using F-Stop internal organisers.

I like it, its horses for courses if thats your thing, but i have got used to the compartmentalisation, and i tend to keep things in the same places each time.

I also have an LK35 i bring out now and again, or a berghaus bergen if away for a multi-night trip (dont do that much anymore tbh)
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
3,810
2,989
Mid Wales
Yep, decided I wanted a new rucksack for day-tripping into the wood etc. and bought a Karrimor SF 30L Predator with Molle side pockets and front pocket (so now nearer 40L) - never use it - I've gone back to my old traditional Vango day pack. I think part of it is I've just gone off the whole looking squaddy thing but also I don't find the Molle stuff quite as flexible to use as I thought I would. It moves around too much if it's not done up fully and to do it up fully takes too long so you don't ever take the 'bits' off which means you may as well have gone for the standard bag with side pockets anyway.

Just my 2 pence worth :)
 
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SCOMAN

Full Member
Dec 31, 2005
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Perthshire
MOLLE is first and foremost for the military to allow them to compartmentalise and change their load out. It does add weight in the form of additional webbing and may put the balance of the pack off. There are lots of variation on the theme and you need to determine what weight you want to carry. More weight the better you need to consider the carrying system. A waist belt will allow you to transfer the weight to the hips and ease the load from your shoulders. The sternum strap will help balance the load. Most military daypacks that have waist belts are designed to be worn high above webbing making them uncomfortable. A modern pack will usually have a better load bearing system. I'd stick with companies such as Karrimor SF (NOT KARRIMOR), Camelbak, Savotta, both Maxpediton and 5.11 are reputable other company's will copy the design but with poor fabrics, stitching and quality control. You're right about the compartments some have loads and all add weight. One or two pockets will do, IMO. A 30 - 40L pack is a good size with one or two external pockets. I use a mix of Kifaru packs, far too expensive for what they are IIH. I just bought a vintage swiss pack probably about 30L. The original leather straps were uncomfortable and there was no waist belt. I've modded it and it's far more comfortable. Lots of options.
 

Suffolkrafter

Tenderfoot
Dec 25, 2019
74
47
39
Suffolk
Maxpedition xantha looks pretty good, as does the karrinor SF predator. I see that's listed on Ray Mears' site too. Another that caught my eye is the helikon summit. It has molle on the side, but not to the extent that I'd look like I'm on some kind of special operations mission. It looks fairly practical too.
 

Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
1,743
647
Berlin
I wouldn't use Miltec, MFH or Brandit stuff.
It usually isn't worth the money, in my opinion, It's most times factory new rubbish, wrong constructed and made with bad materials.

Another quality brand is Tasmanian Tiger, that's the military brand of Tatonka, made in China. Berghaus is made in China as well but used in NATO Armies, the German army uses the 35 litres Munro and the 110 litres Cyclops Atlas, both don't have Molle stripes.

I don't use MOLLE stuff, but I think about buying a Savotta border hunter and to add several sizes of Varustelekas snow and sand proof own brand pouches, wich are made by Savotta in Estonia too.

But I want a high quality rucksack to transport it mainly by car or train. So it would be very comfortable to reach everything via it's own outer pouch. In this case it wouldn't disturb me if that pack becomes heavier than necessary.

And I think that's the reason, why this system exists. Do modern armies walk long distances with luggage, or do they usually drive around in cars, lorries and tanks?
I guess the military rucksack became a handy portable and soft wardrobe case.

Another rucksack I think about is the following, the Essl Ru 5026 Kaderrucksack large 40 litres, designed in Austria, made in Chech Republik, used in the Austrian Army.

It has a couple of outer pouches sewn onto the large main compartment, so it is handy but relatively light with 1650 g.

Bushcrafters who own it always recommend it.
In the side pockets fit supermarket 1,5 litres bottles easily and in the third one fits the German /Austrian military mess kit easily, most tarps or rain suits should fit as well in this pouch.
You have additional the flap pocket like at most civil rucksacks and a belt pouch for a small camera or whatever. In an extra small outer pocket you find the additional rain cover, but instead of most fashionable Molle rucksacks the design is classic and doesnt allow rain water so easy to enter in the pack.

And with a price of only 90 € this European made and Army tested quality product is relatively cheap.

 
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Suffolkrafter

Tenderfoot
Dec 25, 2019
74
47
39
Suffolk
side pockets fit supermarket 1,5 litres bottles
Now that is something to dream about. Half the reason I want to upgrade is that the side pocket on my current pack is just too small to fit a decent sized bottle. The open top mesh design side pockets are ok so long as the are strongly elasticated - I have dented a steel bottle after it fell out of one of these. So a good sized side pocket is a definite plus for me. Some solid recommendations in this thread thanks folks.
 

Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
1,743
647
Berlin
I had this rucksack only a few minutes in my hands, because I just asked a foreign man in the middle of Colone about it. So I don't know exactly the dimensions of the side pockets.

But I have seen a video where somebody put his arm next to a bottle inside the pouch, so I think a small and tall 750 ml cooking pot should fit as well in the side pouch, perhaps even a bigger one.

I called Army Warehouse in Austria who sell this rucksack and the German mess kit and asked them to try out if the mess kit fits into the third pouch, the guy did it and told me that it fits with enough of space around.


So for bottles and mess kit the fit is everything else than tight.
The three pockets are professionally designed for that use. I guess the sidepockets are made for 1 litre Thermos bottles, because that rucksack is designed for civil and military use, and in winter times father should carry two thermos bottles for the kids on a day hike...

Because I got some financial problems during the Corona Virus Crisis and because I own as a former Boy Scout leader round about 30 rucksacks I currently don't buy it, but this rucksack is definitely on my wish list, because I think that's an ideal size and construction for three seasons use with light and compact equipment.
 

Tiley

Full Member
Oct 19, 2006
2,052
157
56
Gloucestershire
I tried a Rush 24 once and did not like it. Zips on rucksacks are, to my mind, not good news: when they fail - and they do! - it renders the pocket of compartment next to useless. So, I have gone back to a good old single compartment thing with straps. On the day pack front, I have a choice of two: a Norwegian Telemark pack (inexpensive, bombproof and 'old school') and a Savotta Jaakari M. It's the latter that gets the most use, principally because it doesn't have side pockets but does have compression straps, making the carrying of smaller loads that bit more comfortable. The wand pockets, too, are the right size for my water bottles but are not big enough for the British army issue black plastic one. It does have some MOLLE but isn't smothered in it to make it look too tactical but its presence can give you the chance to add side pockets or whatever you will. I would suggest that you leave the military packs to the military; there are plenty of really good, subdued coloured alternatives out there that might just be more practical!
 

Suffolkrafter

Tenderfoot
Dec 25, 2019
74
47
39
Suffolk
I've just found the Tasmanian tiger modular pack 30 vent online.
I think it ticks every one of my many boxes. 30 L is about optimal size, especially when carrying the kid's stuff. It's modular and compartmentalised, but it is all hidden away inside and removable. It has open top side pockets. It has molle but the whole thing looks relatively understated. I'd be as happy wandering about town with it as I would be in the woods. To me, that's important. It seems completely functional, has the benefits of a 'tactical pack', but doesn't look overly tactical, I don't think. I could see myself using this for almost anything other than winter conditions in the mountains when an open top access might be preferable to zip access.
 

Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
1,743
647
Berlin
A bomb proof 35 litres construction is this original German army mountain troop Cordura Nylon rucksack.
Made in Germany bei HEIM.

No zippers, no risk.


This price means the currently still produced new product, but for a used one you have to pay round about 30 €, but slowly they are getting rare on the surplus market.
(They exist on the surplus market in two slightly different cotton versions too, heavier of course, the Cordura version is outstanding light. 850g currently, older versions even 100 g lighter. The cotton versions have round about 1,4 kg.)

That's the rucksack I currently use for my light and compact 3 seasons equipment.

It has exactly 35 litres capacity, I called HEIM and asked the boss. It doesn't have 25 litres how asmc writes wrong in the description.
It can be compressed like that, but it isn't the maximal capacity. 35 litres is correct!

In the side pouches fit (the relatively small) usual Bundeswehr aluminium bottles or civil 750 ml stainless steel bottles with flat closure like clean canteen or 360 Degrees, which I use because they are lighter. With neoprene cover they get a tight fit, but it's OK. I even managed to put the 750ml bottle in its neoprene cover in a 450 ml Robens titanium mug, but I only can get it back, because around all is a well fitting nylon bag which I pull out to get the mug. The mug fits pretty tight in the side pocket. It works but that isn't ideal.
With plastic closure the bottles are to high. You need the insulating steel/ bamboo closure. But than it fits perfectly with neoprene cover in the pouch.

The original German army folding mat, currently available only used but often in good conditions, is meant as a back pillow in this rucksack and sits there in it's own compartment.
Don't buy the bad asian copy of that mat. It doesn't fit properly in the special compartment because it's to thick!

But of course you could put clothing in this compartment instead of the folding mat.
That's nice if you use the rucksack as a pillow.
 
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Oliver G

Full Member
Sep 15, 2012
202
91
Melbourne, Derbyshire
I've done both, I used the standard 45L patrol pack on exercise and to be honest I didn't use the molle that much, I used the standard PLCE fittings for a radio bag and the other side for a camelback.

The Molle was great on my armour and webbing because I could put what i wanted where I needed it but on a day sack it just adds mess that gets caught up on things.

For bush crafting I tend to just use my 70 litre civvie bergan with everything tucked away, or a small osprey 30? litre.

Oddly enough there is not much compartmentalization in the issue patrol pack, you have the main body of the bag, an inside mesh lid for bits and bobs and the top lid for stuff (haribo). If you wand to compartmentalize you just put different groups of kit into drybags or the green zip bags you get blank rounds in.

As a compromise try the NI daysack, I've used this before the MTP change over and it is quite good. https://www.ex-mod.com/hardware/british-army-patrol-pack-grade-1-1114266.html

An exercise we did was to have a jam jar in a pouch or side pocket of our daysacks for a weeks exercise, if the jar broke you were handing the kit too violently and had the pleasure of cleaning the inside of the pockets. If you treat all your kit as such you'll find it can stand up to quite a bit, gear doesn't need to be as tough as you think.
 

Erbswurst

Native
Mar 5, 2018
1,743
647
Berlin
@Suffolkrafter
That TT bag is very heavy for its size, but I guess it's made in a good quality.
As far I am informed the German army bought TT sani rucksacks and I often see at the railway stations German soldiers who bought TT webbing privately and use it in the army.
 

Buckshot

Mod
Mod
Jan 19, 2004
6,196
158
Oxford
i have a 5.11 Rush 24 and i love the pack.
I use it as a day bag when I'm teaching. the compartments mean i can get to everything easily. Things like a food temp gauge for when cooking.
I have it so the main compartment is empty except for a saw. this is so i still have space in it for storing a fleece etc when needed.
The main problem with this kind of bag is the zip not being waterproof. that means the pack isn't waterproof. Easily solved with a rain cover which i have done but in an environment like the UK it's more of a pain to don and doff the cover than if in California for instance!
 
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SCOMAN

Full Member
Dec 31, 2005
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Perthshire
I would observe as someone that has far too many rucksacks, and another on the way ssshhh, modern ones are lighter and more comfortable. The traditional bring a completely different soul to the party. I don't know whether it's a tactile thing, an historic thing or subconscious appreciation of a simple pack but the traditional pack has it's place. My Kifaru bags are some of the best I've seen and had. My recent purchase and use (I've been wearing it walking the dogs just to max on the exercise) of a Swiss 'salt and pepper' rucksack has scratched an itch I've had for years. I have modded it bringing the straps into the twentieth century and it carries well. It's very much different strokes for different strokes. Some, like me, it's what I feel like using on the day.
 
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barclay03

Full Member
Jul 14, 2014
42
12
Glasgow
I have a slight mixture of both I'd say. I carry a Rush 24 every day to work etc as my edc bag, well build backpack and one of my main reasoning behind its purchase was the ability to compartmentalise everything, which is perfectly suited to what i need, although im not a fan of molle on a pack!

When it comes to being out and about as a day/overnight pack I have a choice of Karrimor Sabre Delta 25 (great pack again, but not being able to carry a decent sized bottle on the side annoys me) and a Tresspass Deimos 28 (have had this for years, used a lot, comfortable and have never found a fault with it. Also used whenever i'm on the motorbike as my spare visor fits pefectly into the "air gap" and around the waist belt section lol got a habit of jamming my jacket into that air gap also when im walking).

For longer trips or requiring more load i have a Karrimor Sabre 45 with most of the available side panels to swap out depending on what is required. Great pack, well built, but can look quite "squaddie" I guess. Simple enough design and comes in black aswell as olive, so doesnt look overly military imo.
 
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