What Is A Man-Pack?

July 21, 2014
What he wanted, and ended up designing himself, was a simple sling pack that would carry his day to day basic necessities, including a gun, and not cost an arm and a leg. He wanted it adjustable enough to feel custom, available in a few basic colors, and simple enough to be of use to everyone without a master’s degree in engineering.

So, there I was…  stalking through the jungle in between more tents than I thought possible.  Then I realized, I WAS in Tent City during Police Week in Washington, DC and it IS called Tent City for a reason: There are over 100 vendors displaying their products and services under “tents” they rent from the DC FOP.  In one of them I found a product on display called the Man-PACK.  I had to stop and take a look…

What I discovered was a gentleman who had gotten tired of high-priced, multi-purpose (beyond belief), multi-camouflaged…  well, you get the idea. He’d gotten tired of ALL of the miscellaneous packs on the market that were perfect for (fill in your own blank because there’s a high priced specialty pack for everything).  What he wanted, and ended up designing himself, was a simple sling pack that would carry his day to day basic necessities, including a gun, and not cost an arm and a leg.  He wanted it adjustable enough to feel custom, available in a few basic colors, and simple enough to be of use to everyone without a master’s degree in engineering.  Enter the Man-PACK.

I picked up a sample for T&E and have found it generally useful.  Now I don’t mean “generally” as in “it will do.”  I mean “generally” as in I can use it far more often for general day to day stuff than I can any other pack I’ve ever tested with ONE possible exception that costs about twice as much.  My test Man-PACK is OD Green and has no markings on it aside from the sewn on Man-PACK leather patch.

The pack itself is made from heavy duty Pack Cloth, and is water resistant.  Given that the main compartment zips shut AND has a covering flap that secures down by way of a turning tab, I wasn’t able to get the interior compartment wet without opening the zipper and tilting the pack. I measured the main compartment on mine at 15.5”x11.5”x3.5”.  That’s 624 cubic inches of interior space and is more than enough to carry the items listed on the Man-PACK site which include files, iPads, Kindles, and full size laptop PCs.  I have found ONE “laptop” that won’t fit and it’s a four year old HP model that’s too heavy to walk around with on your shoulder anyway.

Inside the main compartment are four utility pockets of sufficient size to carry your wallet, passport, business cards, etc.  I had no problem using them for hand-sized flashlights, a small trauma pack and more.  On the outside of the pack is a general utility pocket which measures 4”x5”x1.5” and is closed by way of a flap that covers it and secures with a magnetic snap.  Next to that pocket, on the face of the pack, are three pen loops of sufficient size to carry many of the AA battery driven LED flashlights I’m familiar with, not to mention large barrel pens.  I don’t call these loops “pockets” because a “pocket,” to me, has a bottom. These are loops that are about 4.75” long.  Be aware that if you slide a pen into one of them, it’d better have a clip that will catch at the top of the loop.  Otherwise you’re simply dropping your pen through the loop.

There is also a beverage pocket on one end of the pack; the end that faces toward your hip / front as you carry the pack slung.  The pocket is big enough to hold a 24 ounce bottle of liquid, but if you’re not using it, it collapses and is held compressed by way of a hook-and-loop flap so it stays neatly tucked out of the way.

Designed as a “sling” pack, to be worn over your head and one shoulder, with the sling across your body, the pack sits neatly against your back behind your hip.  The shoulder sling is adjustable a full twelve inches using hook-and-loop, with 8.5” of that backed up by a web strap on an adjustable fastex buckle.  On the strap, positioned right in the middle of your chest (give or take a couple inches depending on how large or small you are and where the strap is adjusted), is a pocket that measures 5”x3”x1” that closes using a cover flap secured by a magnetic snap.  The sides of that pocket are slightly elastic so you can probably fit a phone in there that’s slightly larger than the pocket’s basic measurements.  How many phones are actually that big?

Where the strap attaches to the bottom corner of the pack, it widens to seven inches and the bottom most space on the strap supports three rows of MOLLE webbing that are elastic.  So, if you want to attach a pouch to expand what you can carry, have at it.  If you’d rather just tuck something into the elastic loops, you can do that too.

Finally, on what seems like the bottom of the pack, there’s a zipper to a compartment that is between the main compartment and your body.  Inside that zippered compartment is a padded space with a sewn in 2” nylon web strap.  That strap is there for you to clip in a holster and spare magazine pouches.  The holster I receives to test with the pack fits both my Springfield Armory 1911 and my Glock 17.  On different occasions while wear testing the pack, I would carry one or the other.  To access the gun you simply grab the bottom of the pack with your left hand and pull it up across your body so that the bottom compartment is facing your right side.  Unzip the compartment reach in, get a good grasp on your weapon and pull.  The holster uses a pull-through hook-and-loop strap to hold in the weapon and although I was originally concerned that long wear of the pack, which leaves the weapon hanging upside down, would slowly pull the hook-and-loop open/loose.  I never observed that having happened and my longest wear test was a four hour hike around a local state park.

Comparable packs can be priced as high as $180 with many of them running in the $150 range.  The Man-PACK is listed at $69.95 on their website.  Having wear tested and used this Man-PACK for about two months now, I like that it doesn’t look “tactical” or even “tacticool.”  It looks like an average everyday sling pack you might find at WalMart but the construction is heavy duty, the stitching is all clean and my pack hasn’t shown the first sign of wear, even after some long days of use.

This is a pack I’ll be happy to keep out and available for those day trips where I need to keep a few items handy for meetings, etc., but I don’t want to carry a briefcase or a full size backpack.   And, it might come in pretty handy as my carry-on from now on as well.  Check it out.  More info is available online at http://www.man-PACK.com.

Stay safe!

About the Author

Lt. Frank Borelli (ret), Editorial Director | Editorial Director

Lt. Frank Borelli is the Editorial Director for the Officer Media Group. Frank brings 20+ years of writing and editing experience in addition to 40 years of law enforcement operations, administration and training experience to the team.

Frank has had numerous books published which are available on Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, and other major retail outlets.

If you have any comments or questions, you can contact him via email at [email protected].

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