SNOWSHOE MAGAZINE GEAR REVIEW:

Gear Review: CamelBak Mil Tac H.A.W.G.

New from the Max Gear tactical line

The CamelBak Mil Tac H.A.W.G. is a frameless 500 denier Cordura daypack with 4 columns and 7 rows of PALS webbing on the front. The pack comes equipped with a baffled 100 oz. Antidote hydration reservoir.

4 columns x 7 rows of PALS.

The fact that the H.A.W.G. is designed with soldiering in mind means the pack is a little heavier and a bit more expensive than the comparable model from the company’s civilian line of products. Why should a snowshoer consider going in on more weight and higher price? Because of the durability. The 500 denier Cordura fabric used in the construction of the pack will stand up to crampons and ice that would do a slimmer, less costly pack in.

My 25″ MSRs stowed in the H.A.W.G.’s compression straps.

Side view, w/ hydration hose run from bottom left port.

Suspension and hydration bladder

As most users will be wearing it with body armor, the H.A.W.G. is light on suspension. But the foam sewn into the hydration compartment for insulation does provide structure when the pack is worn in combination with a filled reservoir. The included 100-ounce Antidote bladder includes an internal baffle designed to lessen sagging and sloshing. The hydration tube is covered with a generous neoprene sleeve and the mouthpiece is protected by a plastic cover. These features do a great service to the cold weather user. You would still be advised to “blow back” the contents of the tube in frigid temps, but the insulation will at least provide you with the opportunity to do so! In addition, the mouthpiece cover is a sanitary feature that all reservoir systems should employ, in my opinion (RN’s son speaking here!).

Internal compartment with hang loops.

Compartments and organization

The internal compartment is undifferentiated, but up to three pockets or pouches may be suspended via the three internal hang loops.

H.A.W.G. admin set-up.

In front of the internal compartment is another deep compartment backed by several organizational pockets. A fob is included for your keys, pens and pencils are accommodated, and a hook-and-loop secured shock cord loop keeps your GPS unit in place should you end up taking an inadvertent (or intentional!) tumble.

Front pocket.

A simple half-length pocket is accessed from the front of the pack. Stow a couple of items in this pocket to ease the opening of the clamshell pocket behind it; their weight will help the compartment flop open.

Grommets and bottom loops.

The hydration pocket as well as both clamshell gear compartments are all drained via the inclusion of a grommet. This feature will be much appreciated by everyone who has ended up carrying a few extra pounds for the rest of the day after having their pack soaked. The four bottom loops provide lashing points for items such as a puffy layer or ground pad. I would recommend against stowing much weight underneath, however, given the limited structure of the pack.

PALS (aka, MOLLE) webbing

The front of the H.A.W.G. includes a loop segment to marry with a hook-backed patch should the user so choose, and is covered with the webbing system known as PALS or MOLLE. The webbing allows for the extension of the pack’s 25L capacity via the attachment of a variety of accessory pouches and panels.

A good winter daypack

The H.A.W.G. makes for a nice winter daypack for winter snowshoe outings. Let me emphasize that it is definitely a daypack; while it can fit a stove, food, puffy layer, etc. to hunker down for an unintended night out, those planning on spending the night out should look at a larger pack.

But with that caveat in mind, let me say that I find this a nice pack, indeed. The 500 denier Cordura is tough without being as heavy or unyielding as 1000 denier Cordura. The dimensions of the H.A.W.G. are also to my liking. The pack is not designed to ride higher, per se, but the 16.5-inch length works for my stubby torso, and the foam segment sewn into the bottom back snugs nicely into my deep lumbar curve. The pack includes an easy to remove webbing belt meant for stability more than for pulling weight into the wearer’s hips.

The Mil-Tac H.A.W.G. compresses down tight.

To learn more

The Mil Tac H.A.W.G. is priced at $172.50 at the CamelBak website, but a little patience and shopping around should turn up one at a lower price.

Author information

Matthew Timothy Bradley

5 thoughts on “Gear Review: CamelBak Mil Tac H.A.W.G.

  1. I have been searching for the right back to take with me on my hiking travels. I am planning a 2 week hiking trail which will mostly consist out of climbing snowy mountains and being in pretty wet conditions. Would you recommend this pack for a beginner hiker? We are a group of 10 going out and doing some sightseeing so between all of us, overnight gear will not be a problem. Also, does this pack have a chest strap? If not, can it be added?

    • I would not hesitate to recommend the Mil Tac H.A.W.G. for use as a day pack. It fits an underserved niche in terms of size and features. It comes equipped with a 100oz hydration reservoir, when all too often packs of a similar size only fit a 70oz reservoir. There is plenty of room to fit a stove or other water purification system should you need to draw more water along the way, as well.

      The main compartment is large enough for a compressible insulated layer and/or rain gear. There will be room left over for a Mylar blanket and a day’s worth of food, as well.

      That said, if your group is staying outdoors the entire two weeks then at least some of you will need larger packs to load up your tents and sleeping bags. The Mil Tac H.A.W.G. is too small for those items and lacks a framesheet and/or stays, besides.

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