But still I was more than happy to check them out- I have been wrong before, and I'm not bothered by it. Let's face it, I was really quite curious more than anything else so I selected the Entity 27 backpack, the Utility Panel and the small utility pouch. More on the sheath and panel later, for right now I'd like to talk about the Entity 27, the largest backpack in the series.
I needed a bigger backpack which is why I went with this one. And this is why I owe Maxpedition an apology- it is actually perhaps the nicest backpack I have ever seen, and most certainly the nicest one I have ever owned. In addition to my apology, I would like to suggest that the design team that worked on this series be given a raise, and the marketing team gets a slap. Yeah, I know the tactical crap sells stuff, but it also turns a lot of people off, many of us here at Multitool.org included.
Rather than thinking "urban grey man or tactical operator with acleverly disguised urban response equipment cargo device" try thinking of them as "a normal, stylish every day backpack that has many of the benefits we have come to enjoy from tactical type bags, but in a less eye rolling package." If you ignore the marketing and think of the bag like that, you really do start to see the attractiveness of it. I think the most striking bit for me was that it has MOLLE attachment points that don't look like MOLLE attachment points.
The well padded and adjustable shoulder straps each have a couple of MOLLE type horizontal straps across them, right above the adjustable sternum strap, but you really don't see them. They look like a stylistic thing if you even see them at all- and when you attach something that doesn't look tactical (like, coincidentally the Entity sheath) it still doesn't look ninja-ish or out of place. Plus it is comfortable. I really don't feel like I would be uncomfortable with it on for a lengthy period of time, even with a fair bit of weight in it.
There are a number of other features about it as well that I really like. What's more, there are a few I don't like, but Maxpedition has forseen this and gave the user ways to ignore the things they don't like. For example, there's these little magnetic tabs on the outside of the bag that keep the zippers from going down too far when you don't want them to. I find they just get in the way, so Maxpedition included a small pocket underneath them to tuck the magnetic tabs into so you can get rid of them any time you like, and instantly have them back if you change your mind.
They did the same thing with the drawbridge straps on the inside. As the whole back of the pack zips down to open the whole compartment they thoughtfully included these straps to keep it all together so all of your stuff doesn't spill out when you open it. If they are annoying you or getting in the way, simply tuck them into a pocket and you don't have to worry about them anymore! Plus, if you don't need these teeny pockets because you are using the magnets as intended, then you have an excellent couple of pockets for microfilms or that last ditch bullet that all true operators carry.
And, if you do use them, they are remarkably easy to undo or do back up, using a small spring clip. I'll post a video later on showing just how easy these are to use, because it's difficult to describe just how cool they are without seeing it.
Inside the clam shell compartment there are a variety of smaller zippered pouches on the back and side that don't really encroach into the main compartment very much, leaving the majority of the space for whatever you like. There's also a Velcro (I know, it's hook and loop, not brand name Velcro) patch on the inside of the outer panel for attaching any of the Velcro backed bits and pieces, like the Utility Panel I got. Between the six built in pockets (two zippered, one open on the back, one zippered pocket above the Velcro and one open pocket on either side), plus the ability to attach more specialized panels, organization in this pack shouldn't be an issue.
There are also wing pockets on either side, complete with zippered and open pockets for all manner of things, like "writing device, ink" and "pointing device, laser" and each wing pocket also has an unzippered outside pocket for things that need to be accessed quickly and easily, like bus passes, airline tickets etc. While looking at the wing pockets I discovered something that I think I like enough that I want to petition congress to pass a law to include on every backpack from now on- the side handle.
There are handles on either side- they are thin and reinforced, so you probably wouldn't want to carry the pack all the time by them while your collection of bowling balls is inside, but they sure make handling the bag easier when it's not on your back. There's a third strap of the same type on the top of the bag too. I really like the multiple grab options on this thing.
Next up is the large, padded laptop section. This particular model is a bit overkill for me as it will hold a 17 inch laptop, and I am still in the dark ages with [i]only[/i] a 15" laptop, like some kind of caveman or something. What's nice to see is the padding is thick enough that I feel like I could fall over backwards (falling being one of my more popular hobbies) and not damage my laptop. I won't actually be trying this, but it is worth mentioning. If Rolls Royce made laptop bags, I get the feeling that this is the amount of padding they would use.
But, there's another pocket yet, tucked in between the mesh back panel and the laptop compartment that may or may not be useful for a lot of you- it zips open on either side to reveal what is intended to hold a holster for CCW. There's a Velcro strip in the middle that will securely hold a Velcro sheath securely for either right or left hand draw, whichever you prefer, and it couldn't be easier to use. Just open the pocket, pull apart the velcro, slide the sheath in and close the pocket again. It will be locked in to the exact position you want, until you want to release it again.
I'm using a Softair pistol here because it's the only pistol I have with a sheath of this type, but there are lots of sheaths available, either from Maxpedition or from pretty well anyone else. Lethality of the round aside, the bag doesn't know it's a fake pistol!
This pocket actually adds a fair bit of versatility for the folks that either choose another method to carry, or don't carry at all- without a holster in the middle you have a very versatile pocket. You can use it as one big pocket, accessible from either side, or two separate pockets, separated by the Velcro in the middle, depending on your needs. Since the pocket was designed as a safe CCW space, it is reasonably secure, so this could be a good pocket for a passport or wallet- it is easily accessible, but not likely something a pickpocket is going to get at.
My only issue with it as a CCW pocket is that it is zippered, and I think I would rather have a Velcro patch or more magnets closing it, so that it would be a lot easier to access the pistol. During repeated attempts to unzip it, I found it rather awkward to do it without having to adjust the location of the bag significantly. If there was a moment when one would need to draw, one would probably want that operation to be much smoother than having to open the zipper a bit, shift the bag to open the zipper more, reach for the gun, have it hang up a bit on the zipper that isn't open all the way etc. With magnets or Velcro you could just force your hand in the gap, grab the pistol and draw. But, I suppose it is just as easy to leave that panel unzipped when it is occupied.
The Entity 27 has a lot of really great, well thought out features, but I think what really gets to me most are the details, like the tuck away stuff that really sets this bag apart. I know in the past I have been a bit harsh on Maxpedition because of their knotted paracord zipper pulls, but apparently they listened because the Entity series has giant, oversized zipper pulls that are easy to use, even with gloves on, and the zippers on the clamshell compartment and laptop compartment are lockable so you can secure those areas if need be, such as during travel.
Also for traveling, there is an opening next to the CCW pocket that you can feed over the extending handle of a rolling suitcase so you don't have to carry it through an airport or train station and there are lock tabs for the main and laptop compartments, so you can lock the zippers closed when traveling. This is a totally separate pocket from the CCW pocket, even though they are similar size, shape and placement.
Plus the sternum and shoulder straps are adjustable, as is the waistband, and the wasitband can also be tucked inside small pockets when not needed, just like the magnetic wings and drawbridge straps.
It really does look like a normal, every day backpack. I can't stress that enough, and while I thought it looked bulky and awkward in the pictures, maybe it was just the model in the tactile-neck it was on that made it look that way. It's not often I say this, but it looks better on me than it does on the ripped ninja in the form fitting outfit.
I'm really impressed with this pack, and, being Maxpedition, the quality is extremely high. I am looking forward to putting a few miles on the Entity 27 and the various attachments and I will update this thread as I do with any observations I have. So far I have to say that I am really liking this one- a lot more than I figured I was going to!