I was a little bit disappointed when I unboxed my new Pygmy Falcon II by Maxpedition. I’ll admit that my expectations were high, but that’s only because I’ve owned and abused at least twenty of their products over the last few years, including the Monsoon Gearslinger that I carry around every day. So what was it that cast doubts on my purchase of this product?
First of all, I noticed there were a few things missing. For some reason, I assumed the pack had a waist strap, and it does not. That’s my fault entirely for not noticing when I selected the pack, but I was still a little let down. I next noticed that the straps don’t have the little elastic keepers for stowing away the excess. Is that a big deal? Not necessarily, but the Monsoon has a ton of little “attention to detail” features like these, so when I saw them missing on this pack I felt like I was getting short-changed.
That’s not all.
Opening up the main compartment, I realized that there’s no special pocket for a hydration bladder. There’s also no slot, flap, or pass-through for the drinking tube. In fact, the only thing that makes this pack “hydration bladder compatible” is that the zippered pocket inside the main compartment also serves to keep the bladder secure when you slip it behind. That, and there’s a little bit of a strap at the top where you can actually hang the bladder. Once again, I was disappointed. One of the main reasons I wanted the pack was to use it with a hydration bladder.
The final issue that I had stemmed from the pack’s design versus how I perceived it in the photos. Pictures of the pack make it look more flat and wide than your generic “MOLLE Assault Pack, Medium,” but the dimensions are nearly the same. (Notice that when you view the previous link, the generic MOLLE pack has both a waist strap and a separate pocket for the hydration bladder. I own one of these as well, and that’s where my assumptions originated.)
Clearly, I didn’t get what was expecting. I don’t blame Maxpedition for this in the least (except for maybe the strap keepers) because most of my issues with the pack are entirely subjective. That being said, I also noted that the pack’s construction was in line with what I expect from the company. This thing is built to last. I also found out that it held the gear that I had in mind for it perfectly. So I gave it a chance.
You’ve probably figured out by now that the Pygmy Falcon II is a small, two-strap backpack. The approximate capacity is 1400 cubic inches, and it features two mesh pockets for water bottles as well as MOLLE webbing for customization. The main compartment is spacious and opens completely with a heavy-duty double zipper (this is where you feed out the drinking tube for your hydration bladder, by the way.) The secondary compartment has space to put pens and flat items in security, but is also wide enough to store additional gear. There’s also what Maxpedition calls a “torch lair” beneath the secondary compartment, which consists of bungee cord that can be used to lash down a bedroll or rain jacket (or get creative.)
I’m glad I gave this bag a shot. The Pygmy fully redeemed itself in the field, and is now my go-to adventuring pack for most situations. I loaded it with gear, installed a hydration bladder, and took it out several times this past week. The first couple of times, I just ran a few trails with it. It turns out that waist belt would have been overkill, because the pack rides comfortably high on my back. With the sternum strap locked down, I’m able to run long distances with the back secure and steady – no wobble, chafing, or bouncing.
I did the final test of the bag today. A full six hours of hiking, climbing, and intentional rough treatment was on the menu; the Pygmy gobbled it up and asked for seconds. At no point did the pack become uncomfortable. The first leg of my hike involved some unfortunate rain and my contents stayed dry. Just to be sure, I took the pack off, and tossed it in a deep puddle of fresh mud (the fact that I had some camera equipment in the bag should illustrate how much I trust this company’s products.) The bag was half submerged, but everything inside was untouched. There’s the slight possibility that my obsessive belief in waxing your zippers could have helped, but there’s no way to be sure. The high-denier material and Teflon coating used by Maxpedition is so great that even the outside was fine; the mud sloughed right off without a hint of staining.
- Comfortable, comfortable, comfortable. This bag felt like part of my body, even after six hours.
- Not “over-engineered.” The spacious compartments let me stow my gear the way I want.
- Mesh bottle holders got a lot of use, even with the bladder installed.
- The usual Maxpedition quality. Everything about this pack is as solid as a rock.
- Looks pretty sharp.
- No elastic strap keepers.
- No separate compartment for hydration bladder.
- If you’re a geardo like me and you want to be able to add morale patches, you’re out of luck. This pack – shockingly – has no Velcro fields.
- Like most rugged equipment, the pack itself is rather heavy compared to most civilian packs. If you’re concerned about weight, I would look elsewhere.
If you want a smaller pack for short excursions, it would be hard to beat the Pygmy. As I said before, I own one of those generic MOLLE Assault Packs and while the capacity is similar to the Pygmy, the construction is not even close. Maxped uses the YKK zippers, thick nylon, beefy straps, and solid hardware. Just compare the buckles between a cheap bag and a Maxpedition pack and you’ll see what I mean.
As with any bag, your selection process should start with the gear you’re looking to carry. Lay it all out and see how much space it will take up. Once you’ve determined that the Pygmy has enough room, then I say go for it.
Check out the Pygmy Falcon II on Amazon for the best prices!
* I was not compensated in any way for this review. I paid full price for this item and wrote the review for the benefit of my readers. If you found this review helpful, please do me a favor and click through to Amazon using one of my links. Your price doesn’t change, but I’ll make a few cents commission for the reerral. That’s money I can spend on more stuff to review!