Monday, November 12, 2007

Monsoon Gearslinger Review


Dimensions (main compartment) : 18" (High) Tapers from 16" wide at base to 6" wide at top.

Total Capacity : Over 1600 cu. in.

Hydration (two) : Up to a 100oz/3L reservoir (rear hydration pocket), 1L water bottle (side pouch)

Shoulder Support : Wide shoulder strap (tapers from 4.5" to 3")

Waist Support : Concealable 1.5" waist strap

Empty Weight: 2.8 lbs

Maxpedition is a small American company based in Gardena, CA that specializes in innovative hard-use nylon gear. Their product line ranges from wallets and small pouches to medium sized backpacks. They are best known as companies for their single-shoulder carry versipacks, but have other unique products in their lineup as well. This review will focus on one of their larger items: The Monsoon Gearslinger.

Traditional backpacks have been a carrying method of choice for many centuries. In recent years, single-strap packs in the design of messenger bags have gained increasing popularity with a large section of the public. Maxpedition has further expanded this market with the introduction of versipacks and now gearslingers. The gearlslinger is a cross between a backpack, messenger bag and versipack all in one. The gearslingers are designed to be carried slung across the body and laying at an angle across the back. They have all of the functionality and capacity of a traditional backpack while enjoying the versatility and easy on-off motion of a messenger bag or versipack.

The Monsoon gearslinger is Maxpedition’s largest gearslinger, and the pack is available in black, OD Green and Khaki. The listed capacity is over 1600 cu. In. and it has a plethora of pockets and compartments in which to hold all of your gear. I recently had the opportunity to take a Monsoon pack on a business trip in Europe. I utilized the gearslinger for both business purposes and for leisure activities during my time off. I found it to be a very good item to have along as it was able to transport all of my business items as well as serving double duty as a pack for sight-seeing and souvenir hauling. Like all Maxpedition products, the pack is incredibly well crafted and intended for rugged use.

For my business purposes, I loaded it up with a laptop computer, business files for two weeks of work and assorted electronics (cell phone, chargers, camera, etc…). The pack shouldered well and was professional enough in appearance that it did not stand out solely as a backpack. Files were easy to get in and out, and my laptop sleeve functioned quite well in the main compartment of the pack. I carry a small laptop and thus had no trouble carrying it in the Monsoon. It should be noted that laptops over 15” may be very difficult to fit if not impossible due to the tapered contour of the pack.

On my weekend off, I unloaded everything except a camera, water bottle, cell phone and rain jacket and headed into Paris. The pack was at home everywhere I went. For crowded areas I especially liked the secured waist-belt compartments for my wallet and passport. I had no concerns about pickpockets with a zipper and snap closure in their way. A jacket folds up and stows very well beneath the compression panel, and is easily retrievable. Souvenirs were easy to fit into the bag, and It didn’t feel overloaded even with a couple of bottles of wine, bread, cheese and fruit. While loaded, I appreciated the wear panel on the bottom outside of the pack. It really served to cushion and protect items inside the pack.

One of the nicer features on this pack is the quick-release buckle on the front of the shoulder strap. This buckle was very easy to undo and allowed for the bag to be quickly doffed upon entering a plane, car or train. While it took a few times, It became very intuitive as to how to sling the bag over my shoulder and then secure the shoulder strap clasp. Beyond this, I appreciated the plethora of external and internal pockets available on the pack. My camera, cell phone, mouse and other peripherals all had a dedicated spot in the bag. There were also several unused pockets for further items if necessary. A final plus I have not touched upon is that, like all of their other bags, if you want to expand its capacity with add-on pouches you can. The pack has numerous attachment points for any clips that are interchangeable the ALICE/MALICE configuration.

There are only a few downsides to this pack in my opinion. The shoulder strap could do with slightly more padding. This is simply a personal preference, but I feel a touch more padding could add to the comfort of the bag. Secondly, I found the back panel fairly flat despite Maxpedition’s efforts to add contour and breathability to the bag. I perspired under the bag somewhat, but generally only after long periods of walking or other exertion. Finally some people may find the look too military for their purposes. In this instance, the pack is available in black which will prove to be the most neutral of the available colors.

This is an excellent and ruggedly designed bag. The workmanship is top notch, and the usability is excellent. I used it for two weeks and found it to stand up to the rigors of travel while fulfilling all of my business and tourist needs. I think this pack would serve very well for a range of purposes from travel, to commuting or just around-town use. For your next pack or bag, consider the Monsoon’s versatility, unique design and exceptional function.

Overall Rating: 4 howls (out of 5)

1 comment:

ABearInTheWoods said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your review. The Monsoon is a great travel/touring pack.

I noticed that when I used to carry my gear in a regular backpack, I would either sling it over one shoulder anyway, leaving the unbalanced load to slip off of one shoulder, or, I'd wear the backpack conventionally, but (out of personal laziness perhaps) I'd sometimes skip a sip out of my water bottle, or that spontaneous camera shot, or looking up something in my guidebook, or forego taking a closer look at something through my binoculars, because it would mean taking my backpack off and digging through the main compartment to find what I needed/wanted.

This slingpack design fits close to the body, like wearing a one shoulder belt harness, and when I want to access anything, I just flip it around to the front (with the sling still on), and I have access to all my gear in neatly organized separate compartments. The MOLLE system allows attachment of whatever personalized and specialized pouches you desire to fit your needs.

Note: in some situations, it actually functions very nicely as a "frontpack", with frequently accessed gear all right up front in easy reach (GPS, radio, mapcase).

I believe it is now available in a Foliage Green also.

If I could add a "wish", I'd prefer a left shoulder version of this pack.