I am a backpack fiend. There are over a dozen high quality backpacks in my arsenal. I carry one to work. One for the gym. There are some that get use only when I’m traveling. I have a few that I use when I go out on hunts. While there is much more to this review, I’ll come right out with it and let you know that the Trident 31 backpack by Vanquest, is the one.
On paper, this 31 liter bag looks like a day pack for hunting. I received one in Coyote Tan. It has MOLLE all over it that gives it a tactical flare. Your first look at this bag would be very deceiving if you didn’t actually open or use it. The rough and tumble exterior opens up to a pack that is quite refined.
Let’s talk about what it’s made of (SPOILER ALERT: Nothing cheap). The outside of the bag is wrapped in 1,000-D Mil-grade Cordura® with a durable water repellent fabric protector. I tested that water repellent on a particularly wet monsoon day here. Surprisingly enough, none of my food, paper or electronic items got even remotely damp. The liner of the Trident 31 is made of moisture resistant 210-D Ripstop nylon. What that means for you is that there is an added layer of moisture protection in a product that is proven against snagging and tearing.
The zippers are high quality YKK RC-Class that are lockable for your protection. The zippers all have large Hypalon loop style tabs for easy pulling. This bag is made of tough stuff. They even went high tensile strength on the nylon thread used to hold it all together. This yields a backpack that is not going to fall apart over the years.
The main compartment opens to unveil pockets, lots of them. The pack, in total, bears 44 of them to be exact. 5 of them are in the main compartment, this includes one specifically for a laptop, helpful, as I generally keep my laptop with me everywhere I go. It would be one thing to stop at the laptop compartment, but the folks over at Vanquest went one better and padded the entirety of the main compartment. This padding adds a layer of insulation that help to protect your gear from bumping around while your humping it around.
The padding offers the added bonus of thermal protection. I’ve found that I can get away with transporting items in the main compartment on a 20 minute drive and still find them as cold as they were when I loaded them. There are hook and loop fasteners on either side of the interior compartment. This is to use the four separating panels that come with the backpack. They are also padded and wrapped in Ripstop. I found using the panels to keep my gym shoes from bumping uglies with my food to be very easy and convenient. You can also remove the panels altogether to hold larger items. The last feature of the main compartment is a drinking straw access hole, a water bladder fits nicely in a pocket behind the laptop pouch, rendering it secure and offering a hydration option.
The two remaining pockets on the back contain an array of pockets within pockets. One could call it pocketception. The larger pocket is phenomenal as a quasi-office organizer. It is also large enough hold standard letter size paper. The smaller pocket has some pockets that are good for business cards and things of that nature. The pocket has elastic loops sewn in which are great for holding shotgun ammunition. The last pocket, on the side of the pack has more than enough room for a water bottle, canteen or tripod. There are several elastic loops to keep those items tight to the pack.
Straps and Support
The backpack straps feel very rugged when you sling the bag. Once they are seated on your shoulders, you realize just how comfortable this set up is. You have adjustments for every aspect of how you carry the load. There are load leveling straps over the shoulder, an adjustable chest level strap and easy to pull, easy to secure straps for tightness. This pack also has a waist belt. It’s fully adjustable and made of the same comfortable material as the shoulder straps. There are MOLLE loops on either side of the waist belt to boot. Don’t want a waist belt on your business-professional setup? Okay, take it off. It’s fully removable.
This seemingly normal everyday backpack has a rigid back panel that supports this pack just like a framed pack. It is very comfortably padded but supports your posture and keeps the backpack from losing shape like most do when they are loaded down. The comfortable shoulder straps mated with the waist belt and rigid back panel makes for a very sturdy and surprisingly comfortable fit.
Of Course, I Have a Complaint
The zipper for the main compartment moves well and is easy to operate but this is where I find my only gripe. The Trident 31 is designed so that you can sling it sideways like a sling pack. The problem lies in that the zipper opens up from the side of the pack more so than it does from the top. If the option was there to open the pack all the way down the other side, this backpack, no joke, would’ve received the first perfect score out of every review I’ve ever given.
But Wait, There’s More!
As a first responder and adventure enthusiast, I appreciate versatility in items that I use. This pack offers all kinds of it. I love that I can attach my IFAK to the MOLLE and have it at beckon call. This backpack offers one more surprise, an almost hidden pocket where you can stow any sized handgun. I received the $9.99 Vanquest CCW Holster hook and loop attachments that secure inside this hidden pocket and offer a very CIA super secret squirrel concealment option. It offers quick access to an easy drawing holster that can be well hidden.
Last up, let’s talk pricing. There are a host of companies making day packs with volumes in the neighborhood of the Trident 31. At the time I’m writing this, the Trident 31 retails at $174.89. Top name brands in the 30L realm go for more than that. There are others that cost less, but, here’s what I know. When you grab a hold of this pack, it feels tough. A month of testing and the thing looks like it did when it showed up at my door. In all honesty, this will be my go to backpack for my work day, gym day, traveling and hunting. This backpack is as close to being perfect as I have seen in an item.