Sometimes I think we do too many pack and ruck features and reviews, but then we get a thing like the Markhor from Vanquest Tough-Built Gear, and I say – Nah! Give the people what they want. This was a truly enjoyable and fun ruck to put through the paces. I have seen a variety of load carrying gear that was flexible, modular and customizable. But I think as far as the amount of configurations for one product, the Markhor tops the charts. I always want to know what’s behind the name, and found out that Markhor is a tough and adoptable mountain goat, native to Pakistan and mountainous regions that border it. No doubt, this pack adopts to many configurations, and if I had a real Markhor, I would load it with my Markhor 45L full of mission essentials.
The instant impression of this pack, is that it offers a whole lot in one package. Bang for the buck would be a very accurate statement. This thing has a lot of thought put into it, and a myriad of features. For starters, 45 liters is about the perfect size for anything from a 3 day hunt, extended search mission, or a a light day pack – if conservatively loaded. Back to our old discussion on volume, 45 liters translates to approximately 2750 cubic inches. We got ours in coyote color, which proved as adoptable to hunt, as it was for a cross-country travel.
The majority of the exterior of this pack is 500 denier nylon, with some heavy use areas, particularly the bottom, being 1000 denier. Overall it feels very light, and despite many accessories that come with it, very agile. A noticeable feature of the outside front of the Markhor 45 is the removable beaver tail, which covers the entire front face. This removable piece functions to aid in cinching the pack, can store some flat items, such as a packable set of rain gear, offers laser cut MOLLE attachment option, and of course by design secures larger and bulkier items such as helmet, larger jacker, or antlers to the main pack. If that wasn’t enough, the panel is reversible, with a full section of laser MOLLER on one side, and a bungie retention on the other. Removing the beavertail panel lightens the carry options of the pack, and gives it a sleeker appearance. Without the external panel some of the exterior cinch straps are removed as well, but the Markhor still has several and ample straps and buckles to secure the interior load.
The shoulder pads are nicely padded, and have no exposed mesh, which keeps things easy to clean, and free of snags and debris. The waist pad is sturdy, and adjustable at left and right sections, as well as in the middle. This is easy to do on the move, in part thanks to the grippy plastic zipper pulls, which are found throughout the pack. The lower portion of the pack offers a separate and smaller storage compartment. This is very similar to larger GI issued rucks where a sleeping system may be accessed. However unlike those rucks, this is a separate compartment entirely, and works well to keep anything from a larger aid kit, to dirty sneakers, to a cold weather system which may need to be accessed separately. On the work-related side of the game, I kept a deployable bag of 75 foot rappelling line, and it was very convenient to access. This could also be done one handed and while on the move.
Rounding out the list of exterior features, are double water bottle/utility pockets, and quarter sections of laser cut MOLLE. This was my first real experience using this type of attachment. I think that it is handy if needed, but when weight calls for a more secure attachment, I would prefer traditional MOLLE. With that said, for MARKHOR specifically, these sections are perfect. They are lightweight and attractive options, for that in-case, kind of a packer.
Their offset allows for securing a weapon or a tool from the lower pocket up. Each side also has two cinch straps, top and bottom, which work on the main portion of the fully-opening clam shell style ruck. I would really like to see an option of having these or additional straps go around the entire pack, including the lid, as well as having these be wider. For the amount of work this pack can do, I think these would help in truly keeping the whole system together. Although most users might find that an a request which might make the Markhor overbuilt, I would look forward to using it to full capacity in a deployed environment. This would be my only request, although with everything I put this pack through, the straps, buckles and zippers functioned without fail. On that note, the Markhor 45L has handled everything I threw at it. With an average load of approximately 60 pounds, the pack went on a cross-country trip as a primary load carrier. It was dragger, carried, raised and lowered off cliffs, exposed to rain and sand.
I truly enjoyed having load lifters and entirely adjustable shoulder pads on this rig. With the weight I put into it, having the pack sit too far or too close to one’s back may become an issue, especially on longer hikes and missions. The ability to adjust the weight and the suspension system becomes critical, including when wearing bulky clothing and armor. As I said, even without looking at the inside abilities of this ruck, most of these features with as much intended function as they are on the Vanquest Markhor, are typically found on much more expensive packs.
But if I thought the list of features on the outside of this Markhor was impressive, the true beauty was on the inside. As mentioned the bottom section functions as its own compartment. The top lid of the pack has a smaller compartment as well, and a small accessory pocket. The later is nicely lined on the inside, and functions great for eye pro, smaller optics, or some neat sea shells, if you’re so included. The large interior opens via a full clam shell zipper, and offers several options for organization and customization. With another laser MOLLE panel, cinch-able hydration pocket, and some mesh interior compartments, the Markhor comes with several hook and loop secured pockets. Any and all can be used or positioned in any configuration.
Part of the adjustable suspension system of the pack, is a multi-point soft frame, with an internal kydex sheet. As a perfect compliment to the load lifters and tough shoulder straps, the system adjusts to different users, and for different weight loads. Combined with the removable padded belt, which also offers smaller utility pockets, these features as a whole are usually found on more expensive, large name brands, which have been often used in government contracts. The hydration pocket will actually accommodate two 3 liter bladders. With two hydration points, the Markhor is ready for a longer mission. As handy, is the orange interior color. Aside from the obvious use as a marker panel, this makes looking for items in dark and low light environments a bit easier.
The Vanquest Markhor comes in black, grey, and coyote. The manufacturer calls it their “moist advanced pack”, and its easy to see why. From the large scale features of the frame to smaller elements of the ITW large zipper pulls, webbing dominators, mesh pockets, and utility snaps which we have used to hold tourniquets for years – the Markhor is one tough pack. At under $300, it is a worthy competitor to any big name hunting or tactical ruck.
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 off my personal experience with the product.
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