Hello. Just a brief one here as I got this system a little while ago and have used it sufficiently to write a few lines, just in case anyone was interested...
Lots of photos here (NOT MINE) -
Firstly I brought this bag for about £350, as the full set including postage from the US and customs fees (cost about £40 in customs). I realise it's a lot of lolly but I used to do a bit of Airsoft and I keep meaning to do more so brought this with the idea that I would use it for more than bush craft.
It appealed to me for the following reasons and have benefited/worked for me -
I love army kit as the stuff I have is tough as old boots. Thing is though, you can get away with maybe one camo item but any more and you start looking a bit daft. Especially if they are not matching patterns. This whole pack set is brown, although it looks gold ish in the photo's it's really kind of tan. IT's actually Coyote Brown.
Set of everything
In matching colours it includes a Camelbak and a patrol pack, along with four pouches. The pouches have MOLLE fittings on the back. The Camelbak however does not, and needs to be fixed using other methods. The small assault pack fits on the top of the main pack.
A friend told me that frame systems are great. Having never been really comfy with a back pack (and never trying one with a frame) I thought this was worth a punt. It's worth noting that the frame is small on this pack leaving you with almost full arm mobility and no restriction.
Spares and repairs
As with all USMC and USGI pack systems there will be abundant spares for years to come. Belts, frames and shoulder straps are really cheap and highly available for the CFP90 pack system which is about 15 years old now. It also comes with a bag of spare clips which is handy.
Quality Manufacture & Design
It's Made in America, which I'd rather to made in China. It was pretty much designed by Mystery Ranch and is made by Eagle Industries who make great tactical Cordura kit. It also has built in fail safe bits, such as a bodge it together system and redundancy buckles incase any of the clips break etc. You can even carry the pack without the frame in extreme circumstances.
Sleep System Pocket
A fantastic part of this bag is the bottom of it - it has a separate compartment for your bag and takes my British Army "Arctic" or my Carinthia Defence 4 without compression. It's massive. I also fit my bivy bag in it. It allows you to put your bag in the bottom and access it without getting everything else out that is buried on top of it. Cleverly, the separator inside can be un-zipped allowing you to have the full size of the bag for packing stuff. Still it's a great place for your doss bag.
I know not everyone thinks it's great but I love MOLLE. I like to carry as much or as little as a choose too, where I choose to. Obviously this bag is covered in loops.
There are two on each side for pulling the bag in on itself as well as two on the bottom which I use to fit my folding kip mat into and my bivy poles (which I keep in the matt for protection). It's probably about two foot wide, the matt, and doesn't protrude much at all either side. When you're not compressing the bag they are great to stuff your jacket in or a poncho so you have quick access to them without going in the bag. Usefully, each side of the pack has a little pocket underneath. I put my bivy poles in these and strap them in with the compression straps.
The small pack clips onto the top of the big pack. That was a bit of a gimmick for me as I can't imagine I'd fill both and manage to carry it. The small pack is however FANTASTIC and I use it all the time. Inside there is a removable plastic panel which stops lumpy things poking into your back. It also has a radio pouch bit inside which is a great place to put the Camelbak bladder and you can route the hose out of a Velcro flap at the top near the carry handle. Having owned the Karrimore Predator 45 it was a bit too small for me to use for camping and a bit big for anything else. This on the other hand is about 35 litres and looks like a reasonably normal pack. The zip is massive and I frequently fill it with pack lunches, nappies and kids coats when we go for family days out and it is comfortable on my back. It has both a sternum strap and a belt although I generally don't use the belt and tuck it into the compression straps at the bottom. It too is covered in MOLLE but aside from sticking the "assault" pouch onto it I haven't bothered with any other pouches although I may get a B&T pouch as I have one of those on another pack and it's pretty useful but realistically I don't need anything else. It too has fail safes. The shoulder straps also tuck into the back padding should you wish to stick it into a locker and not want the straps to snag (useful when I take the kids swimming!) but I think it was designed that way for wearing on armour and fixing to the main pack.
Anything I want to keep dry goes in a dry bag however it's nice to think the dry bag will keep dry too This pack system is supposed to be waterproof and I haven't gotten it sufficiently wet to comment. The zips are the "waterproof" type that are now on goretex jackets etc but I wouldn't trust them 100%. The pack itself is Cordura and looks laminated on the inside so I assume it is.
The Camelbak is closest to the civy "Ambush" version. It is insulated however the tube cover isn't which is amusing as your first slurp is freezing on a cold day but then the rest is as luke warm as it was when you filled the bladder. It's also worth noting that it is not the normal sized Camelbak. The whole quick detach hose and mouth piece is great as it allows you to take off the bite valve and then poor water directly from your bladder into your cup or pan or whatever. Other than that I personally think the whole thing is massively over engineered for civy use. The British Army Thermobak's can be brought for quids these days and are brilliant. Equally the Source Hydration ones are fine too if yo are not worried about insulation. The fact that this Camelbak is short as opposed to the "normal" length means that it doesn't sit comfortably on your back, or at least not on mine. If you pull the shoulder straps really tight and have the sternum strap almost under your neck it's not too bad but I assume it's designed for use over armour and this is one of those things that don't transfer to civy use easily.
See this page (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Camelbak-A...item2c6a5cee7b) for a pic of the bladder, this page has more info http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Camelbak-A...item53f2e93081). IF you ask me however, I think that this hydration system is massively over engineered.
I can't think of anything else to write but I really like the main pack and use the small pack all the time which has added value for me. All in all it's a fantastic bit of kit. The belt and shoulder system is out of this world for me - no movement in the pack at all and the straps/belt are really well padded. It really helps hold the weight. I think the most I carried in it was about 80lb for five miles, half down hill and half back up (with a tea break at the bottom)! and it carried the weight well. It is designed to withstand 200lbs but I think that is exclusively for US Marines and not slightly over weight bush crafters like me!
This is the first review I have ever written and has taken ages. I'm sure it's not the best and it would have probably benefited from some photo's but I will endeavour to add some in the future. Feedback and any questions are welcomed.