There are a lot of small packs on the market, and I've tried a few of them. From Berghaus to Karrimor, Jack Wolfskin and VauDe to name a few. This week I decided on a change of tack. I was meandering around the city centre and a small pack in 'Yeomans' outdoor shop caught my eye. It was the Forces 33 Patrol Sac by Highlander and at £24.99 seemed ludicrously inexpensive, but just the job for bushcraft. So several hours later and £24.99 lighter I got the sack home and loaded it up with all my bushcraft basics and off I toddled to the nearest woody place.
The Forces 33 (Let's just call it the F33) is made of a material called XTP900 which the makers say is "a specialist fabric woven from polyester yarns, specially texturised to maximise strength and resist abrasion". It has a 'funnel back' anti perspiration system designed pump fresh air around the spine and keep sweating to a minimum. It has 2 side pockets and one on the lid with elasticated accessory straps on the top of the lid. The shoulder straps have the same mesh padding as the back and are fitted with a chest clip for comfort. There is an unpadded hip belt and an axe/walking pole accessory loop. Down the centre of the pack is a 'Daisy Chain' accessory loop system to fix extra gear on.
The images below can be clicked for a larger pic.
I loaded the pack up with the following items
Hennessy Expedition Asym hammock
Thermarest sleeping pad (full size)
3 season sleeping bag
58 pattern waterbottle, crusader cup and crusader cooker
US forces 1st aid kit
Granny B Small Forest Axe
Bison Bushcraft knife
Water filter & Millbank bag
3 days food
1 T shirt
1 Pr socks & undies
Blue flame lighter
forces Knife fork spoon set
1 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon (i know)
This is how it looked full
I went for a hike and was surprised at how comfy it was although I'm only 5'6" so I don't know how the pack would sit on a taller framed person. The straps didn't chafe and were very comfortable and although I didn't get a real sweat up, the back system seemed to work and I was quite cool.
See the back vent system below:
The fabric seems very hardwearing and the fixtures and buckes are top notch. This buckle is on the chest strap and is typical of the quality of the bag.
Also of note are the zips which are well made and chunky enough to open or close with a gloved hand.
The side pockets on the pack are not large but I managed to get my 58 pattern waterbottle and crusader cup and cooker in one and in the other side my US army 1st aid kit and 100ft of paracord.
The top snow valance is generous and with all my kit in there was still room for about 4 more Ltrs of odds & ends.
Finally I rolled up my M65 combat jacket with liner and popped it under the elastics on the lid and had a quick run. It didn't dislodge and made it all the way home without adjustment.
The F33 is a cracking bit of kit for the money and at £25 you're not going to worry too much about abusing it. I was especially impressed by the comfort and the quality of the fittings on the sac, my only gripe is that the hip belt is unpadded. But with only 33 Ltrs on your back this shouldn't be too much of an issue. Although I've only given the F33 a quick appraisal, The bag feels like it can take a fair amount of abuse and indeed it's going to get it. I can't comment on water repellancy as it didn't rain, but as with most rucksacs, even top notch ones a liner is always worth the investment. So if you're looking for a decent 'no frills' patrol pack that won't break the bank, you won't go far wrong with the F33