Coming up this Friday we will start our 3 weeks until Christmas, holiday bag review. We have three bags, and three weeks until the big holiday, coincidence I think not. The products we will be reviewing are the STM Velo 2 Medium laptop shoulder bag. Also The Hazard 4 Switchback: sling pack. Last but not least the Man-PACK Classic 2.0 XL. I have spoken to all three companies, hazard 4 being the hardest to get a straight answer from, and a demo model to test. Literally it was like pulling teeth, the only reason I say these things is, well because it’s true and in my opinion reflects on their customer service. STM was a great company to speak with and getting the demo bag was easy, now I might sound a little biased, maybe, just maybe, I am. I have carried this brand of bag in the past, but I promise it will not influence my review one bit, scouts honor. The third company I spoke with was Man-PACK, and in fact got to speak with the President and creator Aaron Tweedie. He and I spent 30 minutes on the phone, he answered all my questions. A great person to speak with and didn’t know me from “Adam”. Thanks again Aaron, and the marketing departments at the other companies.
Here is how the review is going to work. I have set aside a list of things I cannot be without during a “normal day” which you will see with the first bag review. I will carry each bag for one week, and report back on how the bag performed i.e. weight ease of use, shoulder and body fatigue etc. etc. Yes I know how much you like them so yes near the end will be doing some video reviews as well.
Again thank you to everyone for sticking around during the server move. We will have the full site up and operational hopefully soon after the first of the year.
Also a big THANK YOU! To the sponsor this week… Please check them out for all of their, unique and custom jewelry.
To start things off I think Hazard 4 should change their slogan from “progressive modular gear” to “Accessory’s Not Included”. We’ll get to that in just a bit.
The Switchback Sling Pack, is constructed of 1000D Codura Nylon, measures 18″ long, 11″ wide, 6.2 inches deep, and has a generous amount of MOLLE. Now remember that’s just the pack without anything attached to it.
In a review like this I would normally do a Pro’s Vs. Con’s. I don’t feel that I should do that this time considering we are putting 3 bags up against each other for “everyday carry items” Not scaling a mountain or clearing / breaching a room.
My Everyday Carry Items: Please don’t rob me if you see me on the streets, cause there is just one item I’m not showing you. 😉
1. Macbook Air 13″ Laptop
2. Macbook Air Power Adapter (yes I know the battery lasts 10 hours, but hey I’m paranoid about running low on juice)
3. 2 Altoid Tins that are my “Med Kit” and USB flash drive box
4. My iPhone 6 Plus
5. 3 Pens, 2 Pilot V7’s and my Fisher Space Pen
6. Seagate Portable Hard Drive
7. Bose Ear Buds
8. Swiss Army Knife (you can’t be Macgyver without it)
10. iPad Mini
11. Document Sleeve
In my opinion this is a pretty standard carry for anyone who is involved with Technology, and if not, really only a few things are gone.
I carried this bag for just a little over a week, and at first I really liked this bag its was comfortable, the strap is nice and padded, I felt that my laptop was safe and secure, but as the days went on, I slowly started to loathe the Hazard 4. The materials used are great, very strong durable codura nylon, but I noticed the stitching around the rubberized handle was actually starting to come loose. The Switchback Sling Pack, is large for an everyday carry bag, inside on what I like to call the “chest desk” there are dividers and places to put small things like my altoid containers, headphones, pens and keys.
There are no dividers for the large compartment where 90% of your things will go, I never needed a document sleeve until I started carrying this pack, it destroyed 2 file folders in one day. Ok this is one of my biggest pet peeves. Hazard 4 will gladly sell you one of their own divider packs for your bag, but at the price point and premium you pay it’s not worth it, most of their “accessory’s” start at $35.00. Wanna carry your cellphone? Bang! $35.00 bucks. Wanna carry your wallet? Bang $35.00 Bucks. Wanna carry anything? Yup you guessed it $35.00 dollars, well that’s at least what the price starts at. This is where my local Army Surplus store comes in handy. I purchased, one external pack for my charging block, and 2 dividers for the inside which cost me less than $25.00 for everything all with MOLLE straps. Now my biggest frustration comes out to play. This bag made me feel like I had to carry everything that I needed on the outside, instead of being protected inside the bag! What do you mean, you say? Yes that very large pocket on the inside of the bag is great if you’re going to be carrying, C-4, AK-47, AR-15, and a pant load of misc. other weapons. I’m not kidding they have a picture right here. If I have to carry that on my back, the zombie apocalypse is finally here or no thanks, I already have a range bag.
I know it sounds like I’m really dogging this bag. Honestly it has a lot of great small features. One of the things I thought was the best, is the way Hazard 4 deals with excess straps once it is in the correct postion, there are 2 velco tabs that get placed around the strap when it is rolled up. The locking mechanism on the main buckle is awesome, it even tells you when it’s locked, so far that has been great. The Switchback also has three handles one on the side, the bottom and top which makes it easy for carrying when you don’t want it around you. This bag is designed to be able to wrap around your body and use the “chest desk”. To do this you have to first release the support strap, grab the bottom and pull it around you. I hope you are wearing tight-fitting clothing or it really doesn’t work that well when the bag is “fully loaded”. The only other bad thing about this bag is that you can’t carry in on any other shoulder, so grabbing it and slinging it around your right should is not a possibility.
The Wrap Up:
The SwitchBack: SlingPack is constructed very well the placement of the MOLLE loops are great, and you can pretty much hang anything anywhere. The Hazard 4 is hard to get into, even the large main compartment is “guarded” by two buckles on the side, and a very large zipper run. It does fit the body very well, and carrying this bag for several miles “fully loaded” left me with little shoulder and body fatigue. The velcro badge and patch holder is nice and makes this bag have a statement all its own. I cannot recommend this as an everyday carry especially at the $176.99 price point. Unless! You are not using this bag on the go. I noticed the time I most enjoyed this bag, is when I was just traveling would be stopped for long periods of time, and could load / unload my belongings. If you are a commuter to an office, and like I said you just used it to transport your stuff, this bag will work great for you. Me, I just get in to my stuff to much to make it worth while. Remember Accessory’s Not Included!
Thanks! Tech guy
Man-Pack Classic 2.0XL:
Creator: Aaron Tweedie
The second of three reviews for the “Holiday Of Bags”. I carried the Man-Pack Classic 2.0XL for just over a week now. I went with the XL model because I wanted the largest bag Man-Pack offers just to be sure it would carry my “everyday items”. So far this bag does not disappoint, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect by any means, but overall I was very impressed. The people at Man-Pack were great to work with, and I even spoke with the creator and CEO Aaron Tweedie. If that doesn’t scream great customer service I don’t know what does.
The first thing you will notice is how well it is constructed. Made from lightweight very durable 600D Cordura Nylon, and comes in at 15.5″ x 11.5″ x 3.5″, which is one of my favorite things about this bag, it’s just big enough to carry the things you need making it a perfect everyday carry bag without all the bulk. In the previous posts I have listed out what I carry on a daily basis so I’m not going into that again. So let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this bag.
The bag is comfortable to wear, the longest distance I carried this bag at one time was 2.7 miles “fully loaded”. The strap isn’t really padded which worried me in the beginning, but having the bag slung across your body, the XL 2.0 is well-balanced, and the Man-Pack left me with no shoulder/back fatigue.
At the front of the bag is a large pocket with a magnetic closure that was perfect for my laptop charger and headphones, the paranoid side of me would like a snap closure, but it never came open in the week I carried it, and I haven’t lost anything from that pouch. There are 3 pen holders that are easy to get at and use, the only problem I noticed is when I would sit the bag down flat and pick it again the bottoms of the pens would get pushed out of the holder, and fall on the floor which really annoyed me. Moving to the side of the bag is a collapsible drink holder which is genius. I don’t know about you, but walking by things like desks, people, and anything else your drink holder can and will get caught on everything. The drink holder on the Man-Pack is available when you want it, and stows when you don’t. Moving around the bag at the bottom of the shoulder strap by your hip are a generous amount of MOLLE loops, perfect for carrying your cell phone, knife and really anything that has MOLLE straps. Hey! Doesn’t the strap have a cell phone pouch? Yes it does. It will fit most cell phones, but if carry anything around the size of an iPhone 6 Plus or large Android, those cell phones won’t fit. However it does fit the iPhone 6 perfectly, and on the other hand is a great sun-glass holder. I buy cheap sunglasses so for me this wasn’t an issue. I’m not sure I would put a $200.oo pair of Oakley’s in there, but it is out-of-the-way and protected.
The strap does come apart using Velcro (ya know for when you’re having good hair day,and don’t want to mess up it up) a plastic buckle with a strap to adjust for height secures it to the bag. To be honest I pulled the strap apart just once to see, but after that I would just throw it over my head (I don’t have very many good hair days). The Man-Pack can be carried one of three ways. Across the body, over on shoulder which unlike the Hazard 4 is comfortable, and with the bag in front of you on your chest. The very bottom of the bag hides the “secret compartment” as I like to call it. A zipper closure pocket that measures the length of the bag, and is padded in neoprene with 3 nylon loops inside. This pocket is great for a, iPad, android tablet, small laptops, and even your gun and holster which they sell on the website. This pocket is great, and can be accessed without taking the Man-Pack off. I never carried my laptop in this compartment. Again I’m a paranoid freak when it comes to breakage, I just didn’t feel that it had enough padding to keep my Macbook air safe, but again that’s just me. I carried a number of tablets, and self-defense items the pocket worked great! When accessing the “secret compartment” the Man-Pack comes around your body, and is now in-front of you which is handy if you use mass transit, or you’re like me and just need to drive a short distance, and don’t feel like taking it off.
The main compartment of the Man-Pack is a flap secure by a metal turn buckle, which at times can be annoying to close, when the fabric sinks the buckle is hard to get into place and turn to secure it. Underneath the flap is a two zipper opening keeping your belongings very safe and secure. Inside the main section, are two large pockets, one with a zipper closer and a D-Ring for your keys. Here is a quick hack the packing of the Man-Pack comes with a metal ring that attached the tags, which I took apart attached to the D-Ring for fast and secure key storage. The main storage area held all of my documents, laptop, Altoids tins, and many other miscellaneous other items.
The Wrap Up:
At the price point of $79.95 for the XL 2.0 and $59.95 for the Man-Pack Classic. These bags are great, and probably one of the best bags I’ve carried in the last year. Easy to carry and affordable. Really and truly I have one complaint about this bag. IT NEEDS A HANDLE! I move with my stuff many times a day, and normally a short distance if the top of the bag had a handle for me would make it perfect. Aaron did tell that there are more products on the horizon for the upcoming year, and yes we get to review them. Check them out on the web http://www.man-pack.com you still have time before Christmas if you have a picky person on your list. Also you can save 10% by using code #toughlove. At the end of the reviews I will post some videos of my findings of the 3 bags, but until then enjoy these videos from Man-Pack also check out their very funny commercials, and my attached photos.