Unboxing Review: Helikon-Tex Raider 20L Day Pack
Published: , in The Suburban Bushwacker: From Fat Boy to Elk Hunter
With the excuse provided by my long postponed return to the classroom I 'urgently needed' a new pack. It needed to be a little wider than the 5.11 Tactical Rush 12 and smaller than the Markhor Elk Mountain. All the usual contenders were considered, and rejected on cost grounds. One of my target shooting buddies who introduced me to Helikon-Tex gear from Poland and has their equivalent of the Rush 12 I already have that's not wide enough for the binders that my workbooks come in. [See how the reasons for a new pack just drip from my lips]
Then I saw helicon-tex's new pack The Raider, it was on pre-order and only available in limited colours, it's a bit wider and has a stretchy over-panel they call a 'beaver tail' which is like a little Mystery Ranch load-sling, built in. Small packs have always had one annoying snag to them: by the time you've packed all the rest of the crap you need to lug around with you, there's nowhere to put your jacket. We've all tried that threading-a-piece-of-550 para-cord-through-the-little-loops thing, kind of works but I've never really found it that satisfactory. The stretch panel solves that at a stroke. If you're cycling it's a neater way to store your helmet when you're not riding. Based on that, the dimensions, and price I ordered one, and got a pack that so far has totally exceeded my expectations. I'd even go as far as telling them they've under sold it, their description online doesn't even mention some of its best features.
With double duvet for scale.
Out of the box it's a solid little thing, and bit of poking around revealed an aluminium stay that stiffens up the centre of the back panel, I've not tried bending it to the contour of my spine yet, but I'll give that a go in the next week or so. I've had a few little packs they all tend to sag down your back, the Rush 12 being the only notable exception so far. The Raider sits well even without the sternum strap being done up, and with it is limpet-like. The stay-bending is only going to improve that. The slight increase in width over other packs in this size really seems to help stabilise the load.
Cheap, and many not so cheap, packs have those stretch cuff pockets for a Nalgene sized water bottle, but make them out of mesh, which; snags, rips and inevitably fails long before the rest of the pack. Not so the Raider. Looks like a good stowage for a fishing rod tube.
A soft-lined pocket on the pack's face, and in the main compartment there's a slip for your laptop, with a pad at the bottom to offer that little bit of extra protection.
I either live in london where while it rains less often we actually get a greater volume of water falling from the sky, or in Yorkshire where its either raining, or about to rain. So I was chuffed to bits when after a couple of days of carrying the Raider around I found another zipper which was hiding a rain cover.
Another other use for rain covers is to keep the packs straps and buckles from being caught in the conveyor belts and overheads when flying hand luggage only on the cheap airlines. They also make a useful improvised container for foraged roadside fruits, and when the amount of tat [school books] you're trying to lug around exceeds the bags capacity they keep everything onboard.
On design, cost, and, construction the Raider is an absolute winner, it's made of branded Cordura with YKK zips. Its even got a meaningful hip belt.
I hope they bring out an 'Airborne Raider', perfectly the dimensions of carry-on luggage for the cheap airlines, I've got packs I'd happily sell to finance buying one.
More Reviews, my long overdue return to both the target range,
and our archery camp very soon
PS I've just looked and Helikon-Tex now have the Raider in five colours and six different camo's.
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