Wisport Caracal – A cat of a new breed
Ever find a piece of gear so unique, you can’t help but like it? You may not be sure how it fits in, but you’ll find a way? The Caracal pack by Wisport is one of those things. In fact, if you study the entire Wisport line, there isn’t one pack which is not unique, or somehow stands out from the crowd.
As in the past, we were happy to partner with Military 1st for this review, who sent us the Caracal 25L in ATACS AU. After working with www.military1st.com on several projects already, I am truly impressed by the variety of their quality products, customer service, and free shipping to the US. Wisport is a Polish company, which has earned quiet a following, and the Caracal is one evidence of why. Wisport has been in business since 1984, which considering the climate of the region is no small task.
While having a diverse selection of packs and rucks, Wisport makes outdoor and adventure gear for hiking, skiing and military customers. All are designed and made in Poland, with a strong ethical approach to quality and customer service.
The Caracal is a 25L pack, which offers several unique features. Much like its name sake, the nimble feline, this pack has some teeth while remaining flexible enough as a daily carry or a mission specific pack. It definitely suits the day hikes and hunts, offering spacious main compartment, MOLLE attachments, compression straps, and something that so many packs lack – a rain cover. This basic but functional feature can make a difference in deciding what to keep your stuff in.
The ATACS AU on this pack was simply sexy. It not only blends well with a multitude of environments, it looks great and feels smooth. The ITW Nexus buckles are well placed and functional. There is a handy hydration sleeve, and a top buckle which secures the main compartment over or under the carry handle. Both work well for securing the pack, or hanging it until you need to grab-and-go.
The first unique and most obvious feature of Wisport Caracal is probably its shape. Freddie Mercury said that “fat-bottomed girls make the world go round”, and the Caracal is the pack version of the fatbottomed girl. The lower portion of the pack is gently sewn to a wider dimension that the top. However this isn’t a structured or framed feature, only material. As such it is easy to pack up or down, and maintain the overall shape and flexibility.
Mind you, it is very appealing in that design, but you have to be mindful of the feature. The pack opens as a full clamshell, so naturally the heavier items will be easier accessible, and probably at the bottom. On that note, the main compartment zips with a unique cover around the zipper. This piece of material is more like a lid rather than a traditional storm flap style, and serves well to keep rain and dust out. It also looks very professional.
The next stand-out feature is the frame and suspension system. There are two alloy stays on each side of the back area, aided by nylon webbing with minor adjustment features, and a think Kydex sheet. The middle of the back is an air mesh sheet, which is positioned slightly away from the pack. I believe the idea is to allow for moisture management, while still providing support, and avoiding extra weight. It performs very well, and combined with perfectly padded shoulder pads, I think overall this is one of the most comfortable packs I have worn. The shoulder pads are padded, but not overly so.
They maintain their flexibility with or without kit, which makes the pack blend well with the user. The stays are easily removable using the adjustment points and a couple of security tabs. and allow the pack to be even more flexible, although most users will see no need to do this as the system works very well as mentioned.
The interior has one main compartment, and a couple of stacked pocket toward the back of the clam shell, including a smaller mesh pocket. All are handy, and more utilitarian than anything. They will accommodate several smaller items. The exterior front has two pockets. One smaller on top, which accommodates a Phokus Research pocket IFAK perfectly, and a lengthwise pocket just below which runs most of the front. Both are zippered, and deceivingly slim. The main lengthwise pocket will fit several items, such as a thin rain jacket, gloves and a pair of PT shorts. It can also be handy for a scope, a K tool, or an MRE. All zippers have cord pulls running through the metal zipper pull, which makes them more secure, and keeps the cord from coming undone.
The hydration port/hose access is positioned above the top of the shoulder straps, under a nylon cover which open down. This is another unique feature, in that it keeps the access clean and out-of-the-way, while being routed in either direction. The thin nylon cover also eliminates the need for Velcro tabs. The details in sternum straps, webbing dominators, elastic keepers and a plastic hydration hose clip are perfectly placed. They appear low-key, but very functional when needed.
Overall the pack is 1000D but very light. The Caracal has a removable waist strap, which is flexible and secured by hook and loop under a perfectly sized back pad. It provides just enough support on the hips, considering the full load capability of the pack. It also has side adjustment which are very smooth and easy to do on the fly. Both the shoulder straps and waist pad have air mesh for comfort and breathability. Overall the pack performed excellent. While I got used to its unique appearance, the small features impress me every time. It comes 11 (yes, eleven) colors and camo patterns, and lists at $130.95 on www.military1st.com At that price you can try more Wisport products and tell us about their unique features.
- Capacity: 25 litres
- Hydration compatible main compartment with inner sleeves and mesh pocket
- CAMELBAK compatible
- Two independent front zipped pockets
- Partially adjustable AIR BACK suspension system with fibreglass rods
- Adjustable shoulder straps padded with air mesh
- Loops, elastic bands and hydration hose mounting brackets on shoulder straps
- Adjustable chest strap with buckle
- Removable and adjustable waist strap with padding and oversized quick release buckle
- Concealed waterproof cover hidden in the bottom compartment
- Front Velcro loop panel
- Side and top compression straps
- Durable Wisport zippers
- Strengthened Nylon carrying handle
- Main compartment zipper opens all the way
- Duraflex, ITW Nexus and National Molding quick release buckles
- Quick detach system
- MOLLE compatible with multiple attachments points
- Material: 500D Cordura
- Dimensions: approx. 18.9″x11.8″x7.1″ (48x30x18cm)
- Weight: 1280g
- Manufacturer: Wisport
- Manufacturer’s number: CARACAL22ATACS-FG
- Made in Poland
- Five years Manufacturer’s warranty
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