The Tango Arc’teryx main Backpack
I’ve been reading up on various military packs with the intention to buy one for winter camping purposes. My criteria: it had to be large and it had to be durable. The civilian packs I’ve had in the past just couldn’t stand up to the use and abuse I put them through and I’d wind up replacing them about every three or four years.
The Arc’Teryx ILBE Tango pack may have solved that problem. (ILBE stands for Individual or Improved Load Bearing Equipment. The military has to have acronyms for everything.) This pack is durable, rugged and heavy, so if you’re an ultra light hiker this pack is definitely not for you. If you’re interested in a pack that can stand up to some heavy duty use and is designed to carry a lot of weight you might want to listen up.
If you follow this link you’ll get a good idea of the physical characteristics of the pack, so what I’m going to talk about is my general impression of it and what stands out in my mind.
First, the pack is 450 cubic inches and weighs about 7.5 to 8 lbs empty. Like I said, not for the ultra light hiker. When you pick it up you can tell right away that it’s well made – think Cadillac of packs here.
Another thing I noted when I put it in on is that it’s comfortable. It molded to my back nicely and the waist belt is thick and felt good when I clipped it on. Lighter weight packs sometimes go with just a strap, which is fine when you’re only carrying 20 pounds, but when you get to carrying 50 and 60 pound loads you’ll appreciate the thicker and more comfortable waist belt.
Below are a few pictures I took hiking it in the hills the other day. I only carried about 30 lbs, but it handled beautifully and Mrs Jarhead put it on and carried it back down the mountain to get a feel for it.
Her opinion? She liked it.
I’ve written an observation under each picture below.
This would make a good hunting pack. Notice how it blends nicely into the background while the Missus is wearing it.
There’s an extendable portion for when you pack a lot of gear. In most packs this is a very flimsy piece of the pack, but on this rucksack it’s very durable.
This pack has a top pouch, which to me is a very important feature of any pack. This is where maps, compass, lighter, headlamp, and other small, but essential items go for quick retrieval. The zippers are heavy duty and there’s a piece of rubber attached to the zipper handle that makes opening and closing it very easy.
The canteen/water bottle holder is deep and wide enough for just about anything you want to set in there and I really like this feature of the pack a lot. Most other packs are designed to carry a Nalgene bottle, so it’s refreshing to see this one able to handle more than just civilian water bottles.
If you like the big Camelbaks this pack comes equipped to carry it on the outside so you don’t lose space internally. Personally I don’t care for them, but I know a lot of people really like them and if it’s a selling point for you this pack has it.
Here you can see the part that molds itself to your back, which makes it very comfortable to wear. You can also see the thick hip belt in this picture.
There are also carrying/handling straps on the back and top of the pack. When I was in the service these would have come in handy when we were loading up a truck with packs that needed to be shipped out. You can use two hands to grab the pack and set it place with minimal fuss. I like this feature a lot too.
Now lets discuss price. If you followed the link above you probably saw that new it goes for around $445 at that site. I found the Arc’Teryx Main Pack on Amazon under used goods for about $100. The total price I paid for the pack and shipping was $103.
Another cool thing about this pack is that there’s a smaller combat pack that piggy backs onto it. You read that right, the smaller combat pack attaches and can then be removed for shorter duration usage. I haven’t done it yet, but I did order the smaller “go to Hell” pack and when it arrives I’ll do another post about it.
This pack is definitely going to be my new winter pack, whether I carry it on my back snowshoeing or pull it along on a sled it’s got the capacity to hold my winter equipment – including ice climbing gear. It’s also durable enough that I hope to have it five or ten years before needing to replace it. That’s a big goal for me, but just holding this pack in my hands has given me hope.
One area this pack would be good is as a bug-out bag. It’s got huge capacity and you could pack enough gear and food for a week or two. Just remember that it’s going to be heavy fully loaded, so if you have to walk out with it make sure you’ve been exercising regularly or it’ll probably kill you.
I’ll write more about this pack as I become more familiar with it. Stay tuned!
BTW: Awhile back I wrote about getting some MILSURP gear and putting it up for sale here. I might have some sleeping bags for sale soon if you’re interested. They are scheduled to arrive this week and before I sell them I need to check them over to make sure they’re worthy of being sold. I won’t sell you guys junk – that’s a promise. Let’s put it this way, if I’m not comfortable sleeping in these bags in cold weather I won’t put them up for sale.
Also, if I like this pack well enough after using it some more I might buy a few and put them up for sale as well. I’ve got to say though that it’s a pretty big pain in the butt bidding, buying, and getting everything shipped out, so if you’re not interested I won’t bother.
Let me know what you think below would ya?
Questions? Comments? Sound off below!