Maxpedition: The Last Bag You’ll Ever Need

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Maxpedition Product ImageOrdered in July of 2011, I’ve been using a Maxpedition Kodiak Gearslinger as my daily work bag for over six years now. This bag has served me well, at work as well as for travel. Often holding multiple computers and other paraphernalia, in its daily use over six years the Kodiak has stood up to abusive environments as well as over packing. The Gearslinger comes in multiple styles–in addition to my full-size Kodiak Gearslinger, I’ve had a chance to work with two smaller versions–the midsize Sitka, and the smaller Noatak.

As a testament to the quality and usefulness of the Kodiak Gearslinger, it has been available for sale, as is, for more than the six and a half years I’ve owned mine. You can find it on the Maxpedition site under the Legacy Series section. There is a ton of awesome here in the Legacy Series, such as the Jumbo Versipack that I use as my Nikon D90 camera bag. The Jumbo Versipack has plenty of room to safely and securely hold my SLR digital camera with a NIKKOR 28-200mm lens in this comfortable and rugged bag. Whatever your use-case, you’re likely to find the perfect bag in Maxpedition’s Legacy Series.

Just scanning the Legacy Series page, there are so many great bags–but it doesn’t stop there, as Maxpedition has recently announced their fall 2017 line-up to their current line of AGR (Advanced Gear Research) bags. Whether you’re looking for a daily-carry bag, a travel bag, or a go bag, Maxpedition is likely to have what you need.

As luck would have it, you also have a chance to win an awesome Maxpedition Riftcore Backpack. (Contest ends 12/14/17)

Why I Love Maxpedition

Ease of Access

The Kodiak Gearslinger, as the name suggests, is a single-strap backpack. With one sturdy strap running diagonally across the wearer’s chest, you can comfortably wear it as a backpack or quickly swing the bag around, while still on, to your front for access. This also allows the pack to be fully donned and doffed with just one arm.

Maxpedition Gearslinger positioned to the front.
My son used the Sitka Gearslinger in Khaki at a convention. Here is the bag easily slung to his front to put away some gaming papers. Photo by Ryan Hiller.

This simple feature of a sling bag is so valuable. I work as the technology coordinator for a K-12 school district. It’s located on a single campus, but I walk miles per day dealing with various issues. I carry my computer and other equipment with me most of the time as, invariably, if I don’t bring it I’ll need it. Being able to sling the bag to access from my front allows me to quickly snag items without fully removing it, speeding my time at a location. Also, with my hands often full of various items, it’s a godsend to be able to put the bag on and take it off with one hand, without having to set stuff down–this is completely on, mind you, not like a normal backpack hanging uncomfortably on a shoulder by one strap.

Imagine how nice this is in an airport security line, as the line slowly moves, I can sling the bag to my front, put in whatever items I can’t wear through security (watch, wallet, belt, phone, etc), and keep moving since my hands are free to deal with other luggage. Or when I hit the X-ray machine, I can reach back, doff the bag, and place it on the conveyor belt, all with one hand. The Kodiak Gearslinger has been with me on every flight I’ve been on since I purchased it in 2011.

The ability to easily move the bag to your front earned it a spot in the movie Inception, as a character, needing to place explosives while weightless, easily accessed the devices with his front mounted Gearslinger. Even in dream-state, when any bag he could imagine was available to him, he chose Maxpedition! Maxpedition products have been featured in many more movies and television shows.

Screenshot from inception of Maxpedition bag.
Arthur trying to set up a “kick” in a weightless environment. He has his explosives in a Maxpedition Gearslinger slung around to his front for ease of access while floating. Screenshot from ‘Inception.’

Many of Maxpedition’s bags are designed with “concealed carry” in mind. If they’re sufficient for an off-duty police officer to quickly access the tools of their trade while under duress, then they’re certainly going to allow me to access my computer or iPad with ease!

Typical Loadout

For daily use, in the main compartment I carry my 15″ MacBook Pro. I use a protective sleeve that just stays in the compartment as the Maxpedition does not have padding. This compartment then often holds other computers, papers, various adapters, you name it. There is an outer pocket that easily holds a 9.6″ iPad in an Otterbox Defender case, and a second, smaller pocket that I usually have a radio in. I’m a volunteer firefighter, and this large Motorola “walkie-talkie” is programmed with local fire as well as my school’s radio channels, so I just have it with me most of the time. Currently the iPad pocket is holding an extensive computer tool set from iFixit. (Link to the new version of the tool set–this is worth a whole other review!)

Maxpedition Kodiak With MacBook Pro
The computer is stored within a padded sleeve inside the Kodiak’s main compartment. Image by Ryan Hiller.

Using the PALS webbing on the back of the bag, I mounted another pouch for a CPR mask and gloves. This pouch is not from Maxpedition, but there are many versatile pouches on the site designed to mount with the PALS webbing. The FR-1 Medical Pouch looks like an excellent little bag that would let me include more equipment than just my Pocket Mask. On my Versipack that I use as a camera bag I have a Rollypoly MM Folding Dump Pouch that is basically a small attachment that converts into a good size bag for quickly storing things– Jack Bauer style. (Speaking of Jack, he’s used a Maxpedition bag too!) In addition to the attachable pouches, I’ve used the PALS webbing in other situations as well, such as attaching my tripod on photo-expeditions and attaching poster storage tubes at conventions.

Maxpedition CPR Mask added.
Image by Ryan Hiller.

The Kodiak Gearslinger has many more features as well, such as a cool Y-compression strap anti-theft zipper capture system, an additional retention strap, a distress whistle on one of the buckles, a water bottle pocket, and more.

In an earlier every-day carry article posted on GeekDad, I presented my typical loadout. Some of this has changed since then (like I’m not regularly carrying my Wacom tablet, instead, carrying my iFixit tools most days), but with my Kodiak Gearslinger the image below shows my typical loadout.

I often find myself with a second laptop, reams of paper (why do people need to print things?), cables, and other paraphernalia in my bag.

Maxpedition platform and contents
Using my Kodiak (and my belt), this is typically what I carry. Note: when I took this picture, there was a bunch more stuff in there, papers, adapters, etc. I’m not really this tidy. Image by Ryan Hiller.

Durability

I’ve used this bag almost daily for over six years, often with a heavy load and in many environments, in the rain, dirt, you name it. All zippers are still fully functional, there are no rips or tears inside or out, and, other than one buckle that I slammed in a car door, all buckles and snaps are functional–the PALS webbing, even the color, everything is in great shape.

Sizes

I’ve been primarily using the Kodiak Gearslinger. This is the largest of this style Maxpedition bag, with a volume of 1380 cubic inches (22.6L) and overall dimensions of 13.5″ x 7.5″ x 20″. Again, this easily holds my 15″ laptop in a rugged protective sleeve–this in addition to tons of other stuff, including sometimes a second 15″ laptop.

The mid-size Sitka Gearslinger has a volume of 940 cubic inches (15L) and overall dimensions of 10.5″ x7″ x 18″. While this won’t hold my 15″ MacBook Pro (well, barely), it will easily hold an 11″ or 13″ MacBook Air, iPad, my camera, and more. It’s a nice medium sized bag.

With a volume of 500 cubic inches (8L) and dimensions of 10″ x 5.5″ x 14.5″, the Noatak Gearslinger is significantly smaller than its siblings, but I was still able to carry both my Nikon D90 and an iPad. Without the camera, I’d be able to load up an iPad and a MacBook Air–though I’d prefer the Sitka for this as both the iPad (in case) and Air fit tightly. For just a camera and accouterments, given the back-carry and sling bag feature, I may prefer this over my Versipak as my camera bag of choice.

Maxpedition Gearslinger Size Comparison
Three Gearslingers–the Noatak in foliage, the Sitka in khaki, and the Kodiak in black. Image by Ryan Hiller.
Maxpedition Side View Size Comparison
Side view of the Gearslingers. Image by Ryan Hiller.
Noatak with camera and iPad
It’s a tight fit on the iPad and I’d like some more padding if I was going to carry the camera and the iPad at the same time, but the Noatak does handle both. The main compartment will hold a MacBook Air, albeit without much room to spare. Image by Ryan Hiller.

As someone stated in a review on the Maxpedition site, any of these bags would make awesome diaper bags, as you could keep the bag on and easily accessible in questionable environments where you would not want to set the bag down. Being able to hold your baby while donning and doffing the bag would also be so convenient. I did not discover these bags until after my kids were older, but these would have to be the best diaper bags ever!

The New Maxpedition Line-Up

While the Legacy Series is amazing on its own, Maxpedition has many newer models. The new bags are under the AGR (Advanced Gear Research) moniker, and while I’ve only used Legacy, the AGR bags look stellar. Maxpedition has also recently added three products to their AGR line with their new Fall 2017 products, including a dedicated camera bag!

While my Jumbo Versipack is a superb camera bag, this dedicated bag is certainly worth checking out if you need to carry more gear than just the camera.

At 1100 cubic inches (18L,) the Gridflux Ergonomic Sling Pack falls in right between the Kodiak and the Sitka in terms of size, but it looks like they’ve included everything that’s awesome in the Gearslingers, and they’ve learned from the Legacy Gearslinger series and amped it up! There are so many features demonstrated in this video!

Maxpedition Gridflux
The Advanced Gear Research Gridflux. It’s the same single strap design as the Kodiak, with many new design features. Image from Maxpedition website.

Recommendation

I’ve loved my Maxpedition Gearslinger. It has comfortably carried all my gear for years. The single strap sling design allows me to easily access the bag while worn as well as don and doff it one handed. After nearly seven years of near-daily use at work and for pleasure, everything still works on the bag, zippers, clasps, and straps. With the available Maxpedition pouches and PALS webbing, many different configurations can be devised.

The bag is an excellent work and travel bag. I wish I’d known about it when I had infants, as it would be the best diaper bag ever. The newer line of Advanced Research Gear bags has improved on the Legacy Series bags with many little innovations in bag design. It’s almost too bad this bag will last forever–I’d kinda like to have an excuse to get one of the new AGR sling Packs!

Great for daily carry or as a go-bag, you can’t go wrong with any of the Maxpedition bags.

Pop on over to the Maxpedition site for a chance to win a Riftcore Pack!

The three Gearslingers
Three sizes of Gearslinger on three sizes of Hiller. Photo by Beth Clothier.

Disclosure: Maxpedition provided a Noatak and a Sitka for review. I purchased a Kodiak nearly seven years ago at full price and it’s worth every cent.

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