As I approach the end of my Law Enforcement career, I am trying to transition away from the overt, MOLLE covered backpacks in the standard black, tan and olive green color schemes. I want more gear that is built with the function and durability of those original military packs, but look like an everyday travel pack. Last January at SHOT Show, Vertx had introduced a new collection that was created with a professional, world traveler mission or adventure focused use. They focused on style while not losing functionality and incorporating a simulated waxed canvas material and leather accented pack with a European look. The DWR finished canvas and rugged 1680D bottom panel resists wear and tear while still maintaining a stylish appearance. The front panel can be stowed away to reveal laser cut molle for more quick access gear. I found that with the two G-hook straps, that same panel can be used like a “beaver-tail panel” to secure a helmet (either a bump or bike).
This everyday commuter style pack, the Ardennes Holiday, has a 30L capacity and comes in at 4lbs, mostly due to the heavier weight canvas. I have been using it as my daily pack for the last couple of months and a couple weekend trips. I have tested and owned more backpacks than a small REI. I have noticed that the last several years the packs have been creating multiple ways to carry your gear. In the beginning, it used to really bother me that most of the pockets shared the same space. Now I finally caught on that they are creating a semi-custom way to configure your gear that is best for you. You can carry large items in the pocket or secure smaller items in the divided or zipper pocket inside. This pack utilizes a lot of this style of pockets. They also covered the inside of the main pocket and the CCW Compartment (laptop/hydration pocket) on the back with a soft pile lining for use with velcro storage solutions and Vertx Tactigami accessories.
Throughout the Holiday pack there are several zippered flat document style sleeves for securing your smaller gear. The interior of the main compartment comes with a laptop sleeve that you can adjust or remove and fits up to a 16” laptop and a three slot organizer on the front side of the compartment. The pile lining allows for use of Tactigami or other velcro backed accessories. Of note the laptop sleeve covers a lot of the available liner in the main compartment when in use. The pack stiffener can be replaced with an armor panel for added protection. I added an Overflow Mesh Pocket and MAK Standard pouch to the interior of the lid for quick access to light items and small electronics. The CCW compartment is lined to accept the TactiGami accessories or other velcro type holster and magazine pouches. The compartment is accessed by a dual zipper with one having a large luggage tag styled, leather quick-pull tab. The lid, CCW and main compartments all have dual zippers that are capable of being locked and all zipper pulls are girth-hitched cord with leather for easy use.
You are able to grab and go with four handles, one above the shoulder straps, one on the front panel below the lid and two side leather reinforced luggage pass through handles. The two ergonomic padded shoulder straps accommodate an adjustable chest strap and there is a removable and adjustable 1” waist strap. This system provides for a comfortable carry, even when the pack is loaded down. There are two cable/tube pass throughs from each side pocket into and out of the main compartment, coming out adjacent to each shoulder strap for comms, hydration or charging/storage cables.
Final Thoughts: This is a versatile pack able to be configured for daily ops or a weekend trip while still looking good. Durable without the look of heavy cordura and nylon or large molle panels. I expect this to be my commuter bag for several years or until I no longer require a computer and a gun.
By the numbers:
Comfort – 5/5 The padded back panel and smart layout along with the ergonomic shoulder straps provide for a comfortable ride and if the weight requires, there are both an adjustable chest strap and waist strap to support it. The single main compartment and two side pockets keep the cargo load balanced.
Durability – 5/5 DWR coated canvas and reinforced bottom panel along with solid stitching will limit wear and tear on the pack even in austere conditions.
Functionality – 5/5 This pack combines pile lining, covered molle panel and several zipper and elastic storage compartments allowing you to customize your gear for organization and access. To include the removable/adjustable laptop sleeve and use of Tactigami holster and pouches in the CCW compartment.
Weight – 4/5 At 4 lbs,the pack is a little heavier than most of my daily commuter bags that utilize nylon materials. I’m good with it for the strength and durability it provides.
Value – 4/5 This pack is priced higher than the Gamut series of packs and some of the similar quality competitors packs with similar features. To me, the extra cost did not provide any value or features I can’t find in lower cost options with similar quality. I do acknowledge the extra cost is likely for the canvas and leather materials.
Overall rating – 4.6/5 This pack is both stylish and very functional, with the ability to organize your gear using velcro pouches or Vertx’ own Tacticgami.
I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based on my personal experience with the product.
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