Sunday, January 25, 2015

REVIEW: 5.11 Rush 72 Range Pack

For short trips out, you only need a small satchel to carry what you'd need as a prepper. To spend a day out then you'd need a regular-sized backpack, but when it comes to really hitting the wild and needing the ability to stay out there if necessary for a day or three, then you need a range pack... A good quality range pack, too (as we've had the misfortune of finding out the hard way).

So today our latest review is of the range pack which Burt and I - after extensive testing of many, many different packs - have come to the conclusion of being the best there is in terms of many important factors such as:

- Capacity
- Durability
- Comfort
- Design
- and very importantly... Price.

Yes, there are some amazing range packs out there. There really are. But they can get heinously expensive and not everyone has that kind of budget. At the same time you don't want to go cheap, as that can be potentially devastating or even fatal (see linked article above).


Enter the Rush 72 from 5.11. Its price vs quality puts it at that ideal range for your everyday prepper, and that average price doesn't mean that the bag lacks in features, as I'll go into, but I'll break it down into the categories as listed above:

Capacity

This thing is a 47.5L backpack, so it's designed to be a 72hr bag (hence the name), but with its open-ended modularity it can be made to last much longer. The thing is practically covered top to bottom in molle webbing, so you can mod the hell out of it and still have it bear the load well. It also has fairly solid webbing straps on the bottom to hold a bedroll if you swing that way, as you can see on my own personal loadout here:



Durability

This thing is seriously built like a tank. To be perfectly honest, I've put it through more than I'd care to admit and it still looks near new. The molle webbing is quite solid with the exception of the bedroll loops on the bottom which - while solid in themselves - I'd have liked to see something more load-bearing there for people like me who carry pioneer-style bedrolls to save pack space. The strapping on it is climbing harness quality and the buckles are rock-solid with no play in them whatsoever.


All of the zips are nicely finished with proper end-caps rather than the tied-off paracord nonsense you often see on packs nowadays. The back harness is probably the most impressive part of the design of this pack as it has been built to absorb so much of the load weight that even if the rest of the pack WAS designed to be flimsy, it could probably take it easily. However 5.11 seems to have spared no expense in terms of materials used.

Comfort

This bag is EXREMELY comfortable. Easily the most comfortable pack I've ever worn. That being said, I often massively overload my bags since I like to use my hikes as an excuse for a workout. Because of that I've added some extra shoulder padding to the straps which does NOT come with the bag.


The back of the bag has a set of seriously padded kidney straps which can be stowed away inside of the back padding if you don't want them or only have a light load. It also has four individually raised, padded sections to not only keep your back comfortable but keep a 'crucifix' design airflow pattern across your spine, which is nice on such a large pack. Behind this backing design is actually a slide-in sheet of thick plastic - a bit like a thin armour plate - which is thick enough that it manages to block anything from your bag from poking you in the back, and it's large enough that you can easily remove it to use as a lap-table on your campsite.

One thing that does irk me slightly is the 'yoke' design of the back straps. Rather than the tops of the straps individually connecting to the top of the bag, they merge together to form a yoke which sits across the back of the neck. This does a marvelous job of hiding the weight of your pack, don't get me wrong, but if you have a thicker neck like I do, it does tend to rub the sides of your neck a bit more than conventional straps would.

Design

After trying so many range packs, I have to admit that I can tell a LOT of thought has gone into the design of this bag. It makes excellent use of space, expands beautifully, has incredibly prolific expandability and rides extremely well on your back, even when overloaded. It has a monster-sized bladder pocket on it, too, which they call a 3L pocket, but an industrious man could get up to 5L in there pretty easily. It's fully ambidextrous in its hose openings, too, for all the southpaws in the audience.


The main thing you notice when you get one is that it's full of little things which are just super nice little details. The spacing of the straps on the side are just right to fit either a jacket or a rifle/bow, depending on your needs. There's a small, heavily padded, soft pocket right at the back of the strap yoke which you can easily reach without taking the pack off, which provides a great little protected resting place for a phone, GPS unit or sunglasses. The entire front panel of the bag can expand out and turn into a helmet carrier that is big enough for even a full-face motorcycle helmet. I use it to carry a haversack filled with cooking gear and it rests in there very securely.


Every pocket on this thing - from the main back pocket to the smaller front and side pockets, are filled with their own pockets, many of which are zipped, making pack organization super quick, meaning you can get to what you need fast, and the main area of the bag can be opened fully to the point where you can lay the bag flat on the ground, undo the side straps, and fold the thing completely open as if hinged at the bottom of the bag, which means you can access the things in the arse-end of your bag without having to rummage around like a kid with a showbag.

So What's the Score?

This bag is extremely well designed, extremely durable and extremely well priced for what you get. Its very few faults can easily be overlooked when taking into consideration the beauty of its design vs its purchase cost. The even better part is, if you want the convenience of this bag, but in a smaller size, 5.11 also makes the Rush 24 and Rush 12, which are well worth checking out, as they follow very similar design patterns but on a smaller, more convenience scale.
Long story short, Burt and I don't go out without our Rush 72s anymore. You shouldn't either.


Pros:

- Beautifully designed with lots of features
- Does amazing job of distributing weight
- Supremely comfortable compared to other packs
- Huge storage capacity
- Very reasonable price

Cons:

- Bedroll harness points could be more secure
- Neck-region of shoulder straps have the capacity to rub on some people


RRP: USD$180

Rating - 9/10



- CumQuaT