As odd as it may sound, I enjoy hiking, but not camping. Nothing makes we wince more than thinking about camping out overnight. I can hike all day and all night, but I do not want to camp out in the wild. I would rather march all night if it means not sleeping out. I like sleeping in my bed, in my house. This drives those friends of mine who enjoy camping crazy, but I always make sure not to ruin their trips. I’ll try to plan my trips and pack my backpack so that I can either get back home or back to the local hotel. It’s a weird foible, but what can you do?
Since hiking is my hobby of choice, I am always on the hunt for a good backpack. My criteria for a good pack are as follows:
• Built well – If the pack falls apart on the first trip out the door, then I probably won’t be buying that model again. I look for a nice balance between solid construction and weight.
• Pockets and storage – I like having room to pack in all the stuff I need for the trip. I do not over pack or bring unnecessary gear, but I do not want a pack that is full after putting three items in it.
• Waterproof – I do not normally hike in the rain, but every so often the weather works against me on my trips. My packs do not need to be completely waterproof, but some protection is appreciated.
• Comfort – This is important. I want a pack that is comfortable to wear (if packed correctly). So padded and adjustable straps are appreciated.
These concepts have served me well over the years. So when I recently found myself in need of a new hiking backpack, a friend pointed me towards the Condor Compact Assault Pack.
I’ll admit that when my friend picked up this tactical back pack, I was impressed with the size and variety of the compartments. The pack comes with:
• A main compartment sized at 18″ x 10″ x 5″ (click here for more backpacks in this size)
• A second compartment measuring 15″ x 8″ x 2″
• Front side top compartment at 4″ x 7″ x 2.5″
• Front bottom compartment: 10″ x 8″ x 2.5″
• Padded shoulder straps with sternum strap (thumbs up here!)
Like I said earlier, I try not to over pack, so I was pretty happy with the selection and size of the compartments. The pack has a pretty good build quality that made me feel that the pack could hold up to routine wear and tear.
At first, I thought the Assault Pack had a cool military look with its camouflage pattern. Upon closer inspection it has that weird “digital” camo look. I never understood the purpose of a digital pattern. Is this for when we fight the machines and we’ll be able to hide from them? I usually don’t like camo colored items because I try not to blend when I’m hiking. Where I hike there are times of the year where I’m sharing the trails with hunters. So during those times of the year all my gear gets safety orange tape slapped all over it.
Excluding the digital camo, this pack looks pretty cool. The condor pack has a nice squared off look that makes it look nice and compact. Depending on how far you want to take the military look, the Assault Pack has MOLLE/PALS compatible webbing that allows for expansion. Now you can look like your favorite Call of Duty character!
No matter how cool a pack looks or what features the marketing department puts on the tag, what really matters is how well the military pack holds up in the field. After using the Condor Compact Assault Pack over the summer, I think I can give a pretty good opinion on the quality of the pack.
Well, I can happily report that the assault pack has held up remarkably well. All the parts, straps and seams are still intact. Even with my clumsiness, and several spills down hillsides, I have managed to avoid ripping or damaging the pack. However, I have found a spot along one of the secondary compartment zippers that seems to be wearing out/potentially ripping. I will have to keep an eye on it.
Also, even though the pack makes no claims about waterproofing, the backpack has protected my gear sufficiently well during my rainstorm encounters. The material has gotten wet, but not enough to soak through.
If I had one complaint, and this is a somewhat minor nitpick, is that the pack seems to be a dirt magnet. I fully admit that dropping the bag in dirt will make it dirty, but the dirt seems to hang around longer than other packs. I guess some could argue this helps with the camouflage look.
So, how would I sum up the Condor Compact Assault Pack? It is a pretty good pack. I have used the pack for hiking and a few times on train trips for work. I wouldn’t normally use a camo colored bag for work, but my normal work pack was stolen from my gym locker. I get the feeling the camo scares people off because when I bring the pack into the office, my workload seems to drop. I’ll have to investigate that.
The price on the Condor Compact Assault Pack is in that sweet spot under $100. If I paid more for it, I would probably be a little annoyed, but at $50 to $80, I could not be happier. I feel you will get your money’s worth with the Condor. It might not be the greatest backpack ever invented, but you will get some good use out of it.
After the fact, I found out the pack comes in a variety of colors. With that knowledge, I might pick up another color for the condor case in the future. That’s how satisfied I have been with this backpack.