The longer you hang around Path Untraveled, the more you’ll hear me rave about Maxpedition Hard-Use Gear. Over the years I’ve owned a number of their products – many of which I’ll be reviewing here – and they’ve never once let me down. The rugged quality of their bags, pouches, and accessories cannot be overstated. We’re talking bar-tacking, ample reinforcements, and extremely heavy-duty nylon construction.
As an example, I have a Maxpedition Urban Wallet that I’ve been using for four years and the dang thing is barely broken in.
You’ve may have also figured out that I’m a cheapskate, and when I can figure out a way to save a buck, I have no qualms with taking it and then sharing my stellar find with others. The simple fact that I’m willing to pay the somewhat steep prices for Maxpedition gear should be a good indicator of how much faith I have in their wares. We’re not talking Kifaru prices or anything, but Maxpedition isn’t what you’d call “bargain bin.”
The Maxpedition Monsoon Gearslinger retails for $165 on the company site, but you can get it for around $120-140 on Amazon. Worth every penny, for a bag that’s build to last through a lifetime of tough use.
The Monsoon is part of the Gearslinger series, which means it’s a single-strap pack design rather than a traditional pack. Meant to be worn over one shoulder, it holds roughly 1000 cu.in. / 16L of kit out of the box. There are MOLLE attachment points that allow you to configure and customize the pack for extra storage. The Monsoon is configured for use with a hydration bladder and also has an integrated side bottle holder. Internal dividers and pouches are best-suited for flat items like papers or books, while the main compartment is open and free to stuff with your sundries. The padded compartment that sits against your back is also set up for use with a handgun. Anyone who says that it’s not set up well for concealed carry probably doesn’t grasp how it’s supposed to be used. You do not have to “swing the pack around” to access that compartment! I use the same compartment to hold a pair of camera lenses (the padding is pretty good – they don’t dig into my back at all) and I can reach behind me and extract them with zero issue. The design is actually pretty intuitive, and I’m not even using it for the intended purpose.
I mainly use my Monsoon as EDC for “urban applications” such as toting around my laptop and some notebooks. I did field-test it on a few short hikes and it’s surprisingly comfortable when loaded with a day’s worth of water, snacks, survival kit and a few camera lenses. The strap is wide enough to distribute the weight well.
As far as carrying the Monsoon around town, I got the results I was hoping for: a functional, rugged pack that doesn’t make me look like I’m about to go to war. The shape and style of the bag is very much a combination of “North Face” and “Jansport,” and thus the bag doesn’t look overtly threatening.
This friendly Gopher Tortoise thought what he had on his back was as durable as it gets . . . until he came across my Maxpedition Monsoon.
Going back to the laptop thing. . . I ordered the Monsoon specifically for the purpose of carrying mine around, but I was ultimately forced to pull the trigger without knowing if my laptop would fit. No matter how much searching I did, I couldn’t find a single reviewer who could say one way or the other if the bag would accommodate a 14″ laptop. So here you go: the Maxpedition Monsoon will hold a 14″ inch laptop. And I don’t use a dinky laptop, either; I’m talking about the older “business-rugged” HP EliteBook that I upgraded for field use. This thing’s a brick, and the bag swallows it up with room to spare.
Speaking of room, there’s another benefit to the Monsoon’s unusual outer flap design. Though you’ve probably seen pictures of a jacket or sweater being stowed under that flap, there’s actually enough room to fit a hygiene bag, camera bag, or some other type of modestly-sized carrier. Just as an experiment, I clipped my Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack inside of the flap and it fit just fine, effectively turning the pair of bags into a single load. You could stretch this method to the extreme by extending the length of the flap’s strap with a Maxpedition extender, such as the one that comes with the Janus pouch.
As far as other add-ons go, the MOLLE flap on the rear is perfect for a Maxpedition FR-1 First Aid Pouch (to add a lot of stuff) or a Maxpedition Fatty Pocket Organizer (to add a few smaller items.) Of course, you can attach anything that’s MOLLE compatible, including mag pouches and sheathes.
- Two hydration options (bladder and bottle.)
- Extremely well-built. Will probably last longer than the owner.
- Comfortable when carrying light-moderate loads.
- Great for a laptop bag that can also be used for an impromptu hike or Geocaching romp.
- Low-profile, less “tactical” design.
- The flap system is a little “over-engineered.” Pulling open the buckled flap reveals a small, very flat mesh pocket and a weirdly-shaped closed pocket that’s hard to get small items out of.
- Not that great when it comes to running, but that’s to be expected with an over-one-shoulder sling bag. The built-in waist belt helps though!
- Water resistance could be an issue in a heavy downpour. The only way to zip the main compartment is with both zippers meeting at the top – where they don’t quite meet all the way. There’s a rain flap (secured by the big buckle at the top) to cover the gap that remains, but I wouldn’t trust it in a . . . well, a monsoon.
Even though it’s not my first choice for extended outdoor activities, I still break the Monsoon out for short hikes. It’s perfect for lugging around my laptop and electronics, so the pack gets daily use. It looks sharp, sits comfortably, and has plenty of room for all of my EDC stuff. All-in-all, another purchase from Maxpedition that I don’t regret in the least.
Check out the Monsoon 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 referral. That’s money I can spend on more stuff to review!