One thing many people don’t know about this writer is that, in a previous life, he wrote a how-to book on bushwalking and spent hundreds of days walking, climbing and cross-country ski-ing in the wild places of NSW, NZ and Nepal. Consequently, when someone sends me carrying gear to review, I have quite a critical eye to quality and function.
Nioa may not have known this when they sent me some of their new Buck Commander (BC) backpack and accessory line, but they needn’t have worried because I was singulary impressed by these products. They are made by Blackhawk, who supply carrying systems to many US Military and Law Enforcement agencies, but these are from their hunting line, which is economical but no less rugged and functional than their military contract cousins. There is a comprehensive range of seven packs of various capacities, as well as other related accessories. See the range on www.buckcommander.com
For a start, I’ll venture a prejudice that I carry from my involvement as an Artillery Forward Observer and hard-core, off-track bushwalker. The crusty NCO’s who instructed my cohort at Portsea did not like things hanging off packs. Rather, they wanted clean lines that would not snag in bush, nor rattle and give the game away to the enemy. Their terminology went like, “Mr O’Dean, you look like a Christmas Tree.” While they proceeded to rip stuff off the outside of my AustPack. This prejudice, therefore, informed the way I approached this review. I requested two packs, one a smaller model to which I attached extra pouches and a larger model, to which I attached nothing;my rationale follows soon.
Having mentioned pouch attachments, you need to know that the way the BC packs achieve this is with the MOLLE system and ingenious S.T.R.I.K.E. Speed Clips. MOLLE is military vernacular, short for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment, and it is achieved by stitching tough nylon webbing in a stitch-interrupted pattern to the outside of larger primary packs so extra items may be attached with proprietary clips. On Mil-spec items, like my own Blackhawk pack, they are a tough and foolproof system which offers great flexibility and “mission specificity”. The camo pattern on all the BC products is the most realistic and attractive Realtree AP®, which mimics a typical American open woods scene in Fall, which is fortunate, as the Australian bush, by and large would tend to browns more than greens. It’s a good choice for an all-round design for Australia.