Maxpedition Falcon II review So there I was thinking of getting a new pack for a GHB and/or a hiking pack or carry on duty or one that could serve as all three. I wanted something below 2000 cubic inches, but above 1000 as I was hoping for minimalist gear (yeah, fail on my part as I always over pack). So I found the Maxpedition Falcon II pack which seemed to fit the bill. I continued my search and eventually found that the Falcon II might be the pack that I wanted. Maxpedition is a company that has a reputation in building quality and durable products so I knew I was safe buying one, but pulling the trigger on a $100 plus pack that I might not like? But life is about taking chances and everyone seemed to like the packs from the reviews I read online. The website has ten color options available but I didn’t want the typical black or OD green. Plus I wanted to stray away from foliage and tan. But I found one in khaki and foliage which looked like an attractive earth tone that could blend in with many environments. After thinking on it quite a bit and seeing that my BFM wasn’t really the pack needed for a day hike, I ordered it and came through after a few anxious weeks of waiting. But some items not covered on the site. No frame and no hydration system comes with it and must be purchased separately. Price: From $116 to $130 (minus taxes and shipping/handling) Initial opinions: Well, it isn’t really khaki like the pictures look, more like tan with a greenish tint to it more than anything, but still an attractive earth tone color. The foliage green is a little darker than the military standard though, but still blends in okay if one had to do that in a woodland (or even arid) environment. But overall, lots of pockets and compartments and nifty bling that had my eyes open and I played with it for at least a half an hour looking over what all it had to offer. The straps are smaller than some packs, but nicely sized for the weight one would be carrying with this pack. And plenty of cushion as well. They are comfortable enough for long trips on day hikes and don’t dig in like you might expect something that narrow to do. The sternum strap helps balance the load out, but is somewhat of a pain to adjust without having to take the pack off. The belt works okay as it is not padded, but helps keep the load off the shoulders to an extent. Again, we are not talking about a full sized pack here, so the belt strap is actually just fine as long as the pack isn’t overloaded with heavy items. The sides and top can be adjusted using the Y yoke and side straps. For smaller loads, this might be ideal to cinch it down to cut down on the bulk of the pack. Pulls are easy to do, even with pouches installed on the side. The yoke can be yanked down easily and pulls the bottom and the top at the same time. D rings occupy certain points on the yoke and can be useful in attaching small items. The handle is strong and nicely sized as it doesn’t cut into your hand. It is also out of the way of the yoke and water bladder hose outlet. Also, there is another snap closure on top which I haven’t really figured out the purpose of besides one more attachment point. But it also serves well as a “lock” of the zipper pulls for the main and secondary compartments. Run the cord through, snap it closed and the compartments stay closed. Not really a necessary item, but quite handy in case the zippers come open for some reason. Inside is divided up nicely. With five main pouches (water bladder, main compartment, secondary compartment, top pocket and bottom pocket) a variety of gear can be carried and organized. Secondary interior zippered and non-zippered compartments are in the main and secondary compartments and a small organizer is in the lower exterior pocket. Main compartment is spacious, but one must be careful when packing. Secondary compartment is okay as well for carrying a spare water bladder or other gear. Size is easy to cram two or three MREs or other meals into as long as you dismantle them first and drop out the unused portions like the cardboard packing and items you won’t eat/need. PALS webbing is on the sides and back of the Falcon II with two main rows on the sides and five on the rear, but only three are usable for attachments points unless it’s a Grimloc. The side PALS are easy to attach to with a side by side PALS system, but the rear is not so easy to get at since they are thicker. It’s best to attach the pouches before filling your pack to avoid unnecessary pains while doing so. The top row on the top exterior pocket is almost entirely useless for pouches as there would be a problem trying to cinch the yoke down as well as getting into the pockets underneath with anything more than a single point attachment. The vertical side webbing on the secondary pocket still baffles me, but I’m sure someone somewhere has a use for it. But with only one set of PALS, it would be difficult to attach anything of size to it. Two straps are on the bottom for strapping down oversized, bulky items. I figure a tent could be strapped down okay on the bottom if one was inclined. Cinching them down isn’t easy due to the stiffness of the webbing, but once they are in, there are no problems with them coming loose. Additionally, smaller items can be strapped under the yoke on the top of the pack, such as a rain jacket or a poncho. While not as sturdy as the straps on the bottom, it should be okay. Note: In having some Maxpedition pouches on my daily gear at work, the stiffness of the Nylon eventually works its way out, but is still highly durable Enough description Grand, how well does the darn thing work? Well, for what I’ve used it for, it works rather well. Built like a tank, it has served me well in day hikes and small forays into the woods. It takes a while to adjust it to where you want it, but when you get it there, it carries very comfortably. While the water bladder sits right on your spine, it isn’t uncomfortable. Getting it sized up right gave me about fifteen minutes worth of work at the house, but once it was just right, it worked like a champ. Believe it or not, this pack actually carried quite well even though it looks to be very ungainly in its design. As long as one doesn’t put heavy objects in the outermost pockets and balances the load out correctly, the way it appears to stick out is not a problem. I, as usual, attached different pouches to the outside, two water bottle pouches to the sides, a double magazine pouch to the rear (for a flashlight and Leatherman) and sometimes a general purpose pouch that carried my stove and fuel. Overall weight was in the twenty pound range, but again, carried very easily. I figured one could go up to thirty pounds or so without having major difficulties with this pack. The straps have other attachment points where I carry my GPS (in a pouch) and run the water tube through. They are not in the way during the carry. Getting the pack on and off is a little problem as the straps are stiff (see note above) and getting them to loosen is not easy to do. It is a pack that one could carry for some time and not feel uncomfortable. I’ve had mine on for four hours at one pop and it didn’t feel like it was digging into my back or shoulders. It was comfortable to carry for long distances and did not throw off my balance while slipping on roots and mud. However, when Maxpedition says it happens to be XX amount of cubic inches…they tend to be fairly liberal on that thought. I don’t believe it’s actually that much or I’m not cramming it right, I don’t know which. So finally I get to the overall thoughts… Pros: Sturdy! The pack is fairly stiff when I first got it and is still showing the stiffness associated with the “new” pack. The fabric on the main bag is starting to loosen up a bit, but not in a bad way. Lots of external pockets and interior pockets. Makes organizing your gear fairly easy inside if you are inclined to do so. With PALS webbing, attaching other pouches is a cinch, especially with the side panels and the rear panels. Not as easy on some (read below in cons) of the panels, but the PALS webbing is there in case you need it. The stitching is first rate from what I can tell and it seems to be strengthened in the parts where it is needed the most. Zippers are all YKK designs and have the string pulls which I thought was a handy detail. While the main compartment has some space taken up by the water bladder, it is still large enough with clamshell loading so you don’t have to dig to find things. The carry handle is strong enough to drag or hang fully loaded from a hook when not using the pack. Cons: It is a small pack and not really suited for a BOB or GHB in my opinion. There is just too much stuff that needs to be carried for a SHTF situation and the Falcon II just doesn’t have the space needed to pack everything away. The water bladder takes up more space in the main pouch than I’m comfortable with as it bellows out inside the main compartment. The PALS webbing on the outermost pockets is not easy to set items in since the Y yoke comes right through the middle of the where you might be attaching something. The pack itself sits right on your spine with a full water bladder and it takes some getting used to, but after a couple of minutes, you don’t really notice it. It might be nice to have the weight spread across your back, but again, we aren’t talking about heavy loads here. Load out is not particularly easy as one has to start from the rear and work your way out. Water bladder, main compartment, secondary compartment, and then the two rear compartments. Not made in the USA, but at least it’s not made in China, at least the one I don’t care for. Made in the Republic of China (Taiwan). I count this as both a pro and a con. Not made in the USA as a con, not made in the PRC as a pro. And price. For a daypack, this product is a little more expensive than most. However, if one was looking for a day pack with tactical qualities, the price isn’t as bad as some. But overall, you pay for quality and this is a quality product in my opinion. Ideal uses: Patrol work for day patrols or carrying basic needs. Can carry the bare basics survival gear though. Day hikes as one could carry exactly what was needed and a lot more. For those that over pack (like I do) it provides necessary space for most of your gear. The tie down straps on the outside help out in this regard for bulkier items. This could be an overnight pack if one desired, see below. Hunting trips as this can easily carry spare ammo, binoculars, pogey bait, a small stove with fuel, spare cold weather gear and a skinning kit. However, if you are packing out large quantities of meat, this isn’t your pack. Minimalist overnight camping for those taking the bare essentials. Nothing major or huge, but just enough to get by. This pack can carry most items for these trips either inside, in attached pouches or strapped down on the bottom. We are talking poncho shelter trips with a light sleeping bag though. If you are looking at a “comfortable” trip, you might want something bigger. Junior or youth bug out bag. With its smaller size, but decent carrying capacity, this pack might be ideal for youth as their bug out bag until they grow older and into a full size pack. For the little ones, comfort and necessary items are the key and this pack can do that. With adjustments, it should be able to carry comfortably on youth 8 years old and up and will probably last them through their teen years when a larger pack would be needed. Possibly as a Get Home Bag if the distance doesn’t run over a night or so. It’s small enough to be crammed into the trunk of a car or behind the seat of a truck, but has enough capacity for a quick overnight trip as mentioned above. Not really intended for: Three days of gear and food. While one could carry these items inside, it’s a trade off of what do I leave behind in order to make room for the rest of the food? Multiple day BOB. Well, maybe if one only had the minimum items required. But if you go over a day or two, I wouldn’t suggest this as your pack. Parting shots… If one was in the market for a day hiking bag that can turn tactical at a moment’s notice, this is your pack. Rough duty and harsh conditions are no big deal while carrying the Falcon II. Enough capacity for most gear, it is not oversized or balanced incorrectly for the load out. It carries comfortably on the back even over bulky layers. With the addition of MOLLE pouches, you can and will get more gear in if needed and effectively make this into a decent GHB, but as is, is a minimal pack. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a well built pack for daily carry and overnight carry with minimal gear, but not as a serious BOB.