MAXPEDITION SITKA S-TYPE GEARSLINGER

In the past, I’ve complained about bags that have tons of velcro and MOLLE on the outside, as looking too “tactical” for every day carry.  My reasoning was simply that a tactical-looking bag draws too much attention to itself.  Today I find myself reexamining my opinion.

Lately I’ve noticed more and more people carrying “tactical” looking bags.  Are they not-so-discretely transporting weapons in those bags?  I can’t say for sure, but my guess is that the majority are not (then again, I live in a state where concealed-carry is illegal, so someone in, say, Nevada or Oregon may have a different view).  More likely than not, these people have discovered that bags designed for “tactical” applications are also pretty handy for carrying non-tactical stuff.  And they look pretty neat, too.  So these days, carrying a bag that’s got lots of MOLLE or large Velcro fields on the outside may not make one stand out as much as before.

From the “back” – the Sitka S-Type Gearslinger

From the front..Note that the strap goes across from left to right, as is the case with all of Maxpedition’s “S-Type” models.  On the regular Sitka, the strap would go from right to left, to be worn over the right shoulder.

That said, for the last few months I’ve been using the Maxpedition Sitka S-type Gearslinger as my daily carry bag.  For those of you not familiar with Maxpedition’s Gearslinger series, they are essentially single-strap backpacks, or sling-bags, worn across the body similar to a messenger bag, but with the bag on the back instead of down by the waist.  The weight of the bag rests more on the back than with a messenger bag, but access to the bag’s contents is easier than with a backpack.  Instead of having to stop and take off the pack like a backpack, the wearer can just pull the Gearslinger around front and access its contents without taking it off.  A Gearslinger gives one the best features of both a backpack and messenger bag.

The Sitka is Maxpedition’s medium-sized Gearslinger, similar in size to a “one-day” pack (enough space to hold a day’s worth of food, water and other essentials).  It’s on the small side, though, and the next smaller-sized Gearslinger – the NOATAK – is actually pretty tiny.  I’ve owned both and prefer the size of the Sitka.

The following is a summary of its features, and things I like/dislike about some of those features:

Main pocket: the main pocket measures 15″ x 8″ x 3″, so its big enough for letter-sized paper.  This was a big plus in my book, as it meant I could take the Sitka to work.  The main pocket also has internal pockets and dividers.  There are two mesh pockets good for stashing miscellaneous small stuff.  The mesh makes it easier to find those small items (especially if you slip a Paqlite in there).  For some reason, the two mesh pockets share the same zipper, though, so you have to open one to get to the contents of the other.  Its a small annoyance, but I suppose it does eliminate hunting around for the right zipper to pull.  The mesh pockets also form a divider that has a buckled nylon strap to secure any items you might put behind the divider.  There is also a velcro field under the divider, allowing configuration of pouches, holsters, etc.  On the opposite wall of the main pocket, there are two open-top accessory pockets.  All of these internal pockets are oriented with the openings facing sideways – in other words, if you’re carrying the Sitka on your back, the pockets are all on their sides.  But slide the Sikta around front to access your stuff, and the openings are all facing up.  The zipper also goes around a little over 3/4 of the edge of the bag, also to facilitate opening it up from a sideways orientation.

Main pocket viewed from the side; big enough for 8 1/2" x 11" paper; has internal dividers and mesh pockets. Paqlite not included.

Large outer pocket: There is an 8″ x 7.5″ x 2″ pocket on the outside bottom of the Sitka.  It has two internal pockets, one with an opening oriented toward the side.  The other pocket opening is at a 45 degree angle, so it will hold onto its contents, yet provide easy access, regardless of whether the pack is on its side or upright.  I’m not sure why both pockets are not oriented this way.  There is also a lanyard for key ring attachment in this pocket.  As with the main pocket, the zipper goes around so that the pocket can be accessed either from the top or the side.  I found this pocket to be the perfect size to stash my admin pouch – a TAD Gear Shingle – full of tools, pens, first aid kit, etc.  There is also enough room left over for my Fenix TK 12 flashlight (although I wish the Sitka had a dedicated flashlight/knife/magazine pouch on the inside of one of the pockets).  It should also readily accommodate similar-sized admin pouches like Maxpedition’s Monkey Admin Pouch, or Mil-Spec Monkey’s own “silent” version.

Large outer pocket is plenty big for my admin pouch; note the zipper allows access from both the side and top

 

Given its size, the large outer pocket is perfectly sized for a full-size handgun.  The NOATAK had a similar but smaller pocket that was just right for a compact semi like the Glock 19, and had a velcro field for a CCW holster.  The Sitka’s larger pocket is big enough to carry a full-sized 1911 along with some spare magazines, but oddly, does not have any velcro.

Two internal pockets; one “slashed” so it can hold items either in a vertical or horizontal position, but still be accessible from both. Note the absence of velcro on the inside of this pocket.

There is also a small zipper pocket on the outside of the larger pocket that one could use to store flat items – I use it for band-aids, handi-wipes and a package of quik-clot.  The zipper is secured by a snap that looks like its meant to deter casual thieves from getting into that pocket.  I would not, however, put valuable documents in there (e.g., passport, cash, etc.), as the pocket is on the outermost surface of the bag away from the wearer and a thief could probably just bypass the secured zipper with a razor blade.  If you have valuable papers, I’d suggest keeping them on an inside pocket close to your body.

Small outer pocket: there is also a 4″ x 7.5″ x 2″ outer pocket above the large outer pocket.  As with the others, its zipper allows access from either the top or the side.  Inside, its got an internal divider that also has elastic sewn onto the front.  The divider makes a convenient home for a checkbook and the elastic is perfect for securing cables and small items that you might want to access quickly.

The outside of the pocket features a “cave” with velcro and a shock-cord.  Although not a secure pocket, the “cave” provides a convenient place to put a pen, flashlight, knife, or any other small item that has a pocket clip.  The shock cord can be used to lash down a windbreaker.

As pictured, the "cave" is used to house a Cold Steel Safe Keeper III push dagger. The handle protrudes just enough to give the wearer access, but maintains a relatively low profile. The sheath is tethered to the shock cord inside, so the wearer need only pull the knife free and the sheath stays in place. Some may question, however, the wisdom of wearing a knife on your back.

I actually use the smaller pocket to carry a Maxpedition mini-pocket organizer, along with a charger for my phone, a li-ion emergency phone battery and spare AA batteries.  I clip a pen to the “cave” on the outside, but would caution against putting anything too valuable there, as it is again on the surface farthest from the wearer and any item clipped there could be taken without the wearer knowing.

CCW/Hydration pocket: on the panel closest to the wearer’s back, there is a flat 8″x7.5″ pocket.  It has a large velcro field inside for attachment of a CCW holster, as well as an opening on top for a hydration bladder hose.  I found this pocket to be a perfect fit for an iPad.  The pocket is generously padded on one side, so I have no problem putting my iPad in there with only the magnetic cover to protect the screen.  A word of caution, however: because this pocket has a small opening at the top, I would not put an iPad in there if I encountered heavy rain, as there is nothing to keep water from running into that pocket.

The CCW/Hydration pocket is also perfect for an iPad or other tablet. Be careful, however, as water could get in the top.

Other features: the Sitka has a water bottle pocket on the side, large enough for a 32 oz. Nalgene-style bottle.  It has grab handles located on the top as well as the side, to facilitate pulling the bag around to the front.  There is a “Y” shaped compression strap to cinch down on the outer pockets, which is good as it keeps the bag from feeling too “jiggly”, but can impede access to some of the pockets.  The shoulder strap and back of the pack are generously padded with aero-foam (the kind that doesn’t get destroyed by velcro).  It also has a cross strap (essential if you’re going to ride a bike or motorcycle with the Sitka) that can be stowed in the CCW pocket when not in use.

Now, at this point, you may be asking yourself what any of this has to do with zombie anything.   It doesn’t really, except that should the dead rise and start walking, or the living start rioting in the streets, or an earthquake or hurricane strike, there’s a good chance that some of us could get stuck away from home.  I know that what I carry in my every day bag isn’t going to sustain me for very long during an emergency.  The gear I carry every day is meant to help get me home, or at least someplace where I can hold out for more than a day.  So its important that your EDC bag be functional enough to carry both the stuff you use every day, and the emergency gear you may have to use someday.