Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Blogger cries "UNCLE" in search of a new pack

I have struggled to keep my wonderful Maxpedition Falcon Pygmy II bug out pack below 16 pounds. It's a slightly older model that does not have a hydration pack, so the other weight will go to 2 quart bottles of water for about 20 lbs, excluding hiking stick, and pocket carry (chapstick, multi tool, cell phone, weapon).

Well, in my quarterly review I decided that I need a few things currently missing from my little pack. Despite multiple changes of undies and socks which would allow for washing and hanging to dry outside the pack, I did not have a change of shirt. I really want that, and possibly some light weight, easy-dry shorts.  I also would really prefer a built-in hydration pack. The thought of losing a water bottle while on foot in the desert is really oppressive. I can carry a patch kit and back-up collapsible bottle just in case, but would prefer the ease and volume of the bladder.

 First, I tried a Voodoo Tactical Matrix pack. It is a great design with lots of great pockets for easy access to often needed items. Problem is that it has a weird carry-handle.  It is on the strap assembly and is positioned such that the pack can only be comfortably worn by someone with  a major bulked-up muscular set of shoulders, a large dowager's hump or severe curvature of the spine. I couldn't believe it when it came in the mail.  I figured it would no longer whack me in the cervical vertebrae once I load it because surely no pack would be made to  have that weird handle smacking the back of the wearer's neck. Boy was I wrong.  About 5 minutes of wearing this thing gives me a headache.

Back to Maxpedition for me, and the Falcon. Pockets and pouches are not as well done as the Matrix, but it had a normal carry-handle, as opposed to the migraine Matrix. The Falcon has the room I need but not a whole lot more than the Pygmy II -- just a slightly larger version.  Because of that, the straps aren't as comfortable as the Pygmy, either.  At least it does not fit a female frame the same way the Pygmy Falcon does. I am really stumped.
Anyone have/recommend a 1600 Cubic Inch pack that works for a female around 5'6" tall? How about someone who solved the Matrix problem, perhaps with scissors and thread? I'm afraid to just cut the handle for fear of ruining the pack for return or resale, but I sure can't use it as is. I prefer not to have a pack with a frame for several reasons, but really want the hydration system and a waist belt. Help?


  1. At the thrift store I bought packs at $5 each.
    In each pack a plastic tray 3x9x12 or so serves as an
    internal frame, is flat against my back and has many
    uses in camp.

  2. re Voodoo Tactical Matrix carrying handle.
    You might carefully cut the stitches,
    remove and keep the carrying handle
    and sew it in place when/if you sell
    the pack.

    1. Vlad, thanks very much. After your comment, I looked at the structure again and found that your suggestion would work. I had remembered the shoulder harness assembly as all being one piece, but it is two pieces joined at the 'carry handle' with the seam covered by another piece of fabric. It will require cutting the seam binding that continues along the shoulder straps, so my 8th grade Home Economics skills will be put to good use!