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