The British summer is pretty consistent in that you can never predict the weather. You leave the house in a T shirt bathed in sunlight only for the clouds to roll in two hours later and have the wind howling up the paper thin leg holes of your perhaps optimistic cargo shorts.
Its at times like this that I start to think that women are on to something. In situations like this my girlfriend will pull out an umbrella and some kind of shawl out of a handbag that must rival the TARDIS for space. The usual male equivalent for me is a backpack. The problem with this is that it is too large. I don’t want to carry a hoofing great backpack when all I need to carry is a small jumper and some small EDC type items. The realisation gradually hit me that I need a man-bag.
When shopping around for my ideal man-bag I came across one company in particular that has a great reputation, Maxpedition.
Initially I started looking at the Gearslinger range that resemble small single shoulder backpacks. The other potential man-bag design was the Versipack range. I decided in the end to go for the Fatboy Versipack in khaki which I ordered from Flashaholics.co.uk. I have ordered a number of things from Flashaholics.co.uk and have found their service and range to be very good.
The pack’s main compartment is large enough to fit a 500ml bottle of water, a sweater and a few other small things too. This compartment has a storm collar that can be pulled shut to limit the ingress of rain water into the pack as well as stopping small items from escaping through the gap between the compartment an lid.
The storm collar can be used to vertically extend the main compartment to some extent, yet this is at the expense of not being able to close the main flap. That said if you are desperate for more space the Jumbo and Colossus versipacks are probably a better choice. The main compartment could maybe do with some sort of separate set of bags or pouches to avoid all your goodies bouncing around as you move. 90% of the time I am carrying a light base layer of clothing in the main compartment which packs out the compartment somewhat.
On the front of the main pouch is another smaller pouch that has an un-secured front flap pocket. This flap pocket I often use for waste or items that I would not be worried about loosing for speed of access. The internal zipped pocket contains a similar pocket that retains loose items to some extent.
The velcro sealed pouch to the left of the main compartment is probably intended for a flashlight, folding knife or handgun magazine. The velcro retaining strap is adjustable for length in order to tightly secure your selected item. I use this pouch to store my 4Sevens flashlight, however the pouch is quite large in comparison, which makes removing it awkward.
On the top left of the bag is a small quick access pouch that is probably best explained as a GPS pouch. It is just too small to fit a pair of sunglasses inside. I struggle to find anything that fits this space particularly well and I find myself wishing that this pouch and the flashlight pouch swapped places.
To the right of the main compartment is a long, and useful zip secured pouch. This is probably the most useful pouch on the bag. All the items I want to carry in case of emergencies sits in this pouch. On the outside of the pouch are nylon retaining straps that can be used to mount other pouches. On the top right side of the bag is another section of nylon webbing that would be ideal for mounting an accessory pouch like the Maxpedition rollypoly series.
Above the nylon webbing is a clip to which I attached a short stretch of paracord. This I use to temporarily carry a water bottle when I have run out of space in the main compartment. The bottle tends to bounce around a bit but its far better than carrying by hand.
Behind the main compartment is a large zipped compartment that is lined with a velcro loop surface for the mounting of different accessory platforms. One of the major uses for this bag in its native USA is for the carrying of a concealed weapon. This large back pouch is the intended location for the concealed weapon and can be fitted with a velcro holster and magazine pouch. That said the most use I put it to is carrying a thin paperback or loose paperwork. It seems to be most useful for storing thin or soft items so the position of the pack on your hip is not uncomfortable.
This pack even when fully loaded never feels uncomfortable to carry. It can be switched between shoulders without the right handed carrying design causing any problems. The included padded shoulder strap allows for a good deal of movement to ensure the weight of the pack is distributed evenly.
The things I require this to carry are the kinds of things you wish you had in awkward situations. Some warm clothing when the weather rolls in, a tissue when you get something mysterious on your hand or light when you are trapped in the middle of nowhere at night. I wanted to be able to have a small contingency in plan for these situations in life.
This pack in a normal day holds:
- A spare sweater.
- Small first aid kit.
- 4Sevens Flashlight.
- Plastic bags.
- Zink and Insulating tape.
- Emergency sugar (for those who get moody with low blood sugar ;)).
- Some weird signalling kite that is not sold anymore…
I plan to add a small UK legal pen knife to the pack when I get around to choosing one. When that happens look out for a new review!
This pack is a sturdy and practical answer to my call for and appropriate man-bag. Although comparably expensive the build quality suggests that it will last. It has also stimulated my interest in further Maxpedition gear. I would certainly recommend this to anybody else looking for a similar solution to your every day carry needs. If you have any questions please feel free to ask them in the comments section below.