One of the things I like to take my time with when getting ready for a hike or an overnight in the woods is gear selection. Most of the time, I try to go as light as possible and use my brain to come up with solutions that may have otherwise been easy to accomplish with a specific piece of gear. I have always felt that this is an important way to open your mind and push yourself towards being more self-reliant.
I have had the great pleasure of testing out a medium sized shoulder pack by Drago Gear called the Hiker Shoulder Pack. As it turns out, this pack is excellent for a three-day overnight (going lite) or for a day hike where you want to carry enough gear out to enjoy yourself. While backpacks have always been known to hold all your gear while you’re on the move, I’ve found that a quality shoulder pack like this can actually help ease your travels since you’re carrying less, thus you can also move longer as well. We’ll get into the features that the Drago Hiker Shoulder Pack has in a minute.
I admit, I have never heard about Drago Gear before receiving the Hiker Shoulder Pack for review. It appears they are a somewhat new company that is trying to make its mark in the tactical gear field, a field that is already pretty stacked with competition. After browsing through the Drago Gear website, I really liked the product range they carry for tactical use, as well as the easy to navigate website. These days, too many companies have websites and are far too difficult to navigate and practically give you a migraine with all of the advertising and animation. Examining the pack itself revealed another great surprise, excellent quality.
The first thing I noticed when picking up the Shoulder Hiker was the quality of the materials use to make the pack. Drago Gear used 1000D Cordura for the pack itself and let me tell you, dragging this bag through the mud and dirt wouldn’t hurt it at all. Along with being water resistant, it also cleans up very well after some use in the field. The 1000D Cordura is very sturdy, yet seems to be flexible enough to form around the gear you loaded up. Cordura itself is one of the highly regarded fabrics used for tactical gear, so the fact that the Shoulder Hiker comes with 1000D, they meant for the pack to last a lifetime.
When it comes to pockets, you won’t be shy of places to carry your gear with the Drago Hiker. On the left side of the pack (when facing it) you have a water bottle holder that easily keeps a standard Nalegne bottle in place, or you can tighten it with the provided heavy cord and cord-lock. The holder has a drain-hole at the bottom for any leakage, but also allows you to extract the water bottle easily. Another benefit the heavy Cordura gives you that is not advertised is the fact that it keeps a cold water bottle a little colder, a little longer. You won’t be sipping on ice cold water at the end of the day, but you won’t be drinking hot water after a few hours either.
On the right side of the pack is a useful zipper pocket that I believe was meant for ammo and all things gun related, minus the piece. For my review, I stuffed this pouch with paracord and my figure eight carabiners for easy tarp and shelter erection. The inside of this pocket is has a smaller pocket against the side wall with an elastic opening at the top to keep items from sliding around. On the outside of the rounded pocket you have a few rows of always useful MOLLE straps for adding any of the indefinite number of MOLLE compatible gear.
On the front of the pack, you have a medium/small sized pocket with a zipper for keeping everything in. This is useful for items like your fire kit, compass, keys or wallet. Just below the zipper for this pocket is a soft Velcro sewn in patch with Drago sewn into it. This provides you with a place to add your own custom patch. Directly above the last mentioned zipper pouch is nice pouch that is designed for your tactical glasses, sun glasses or anything else you would want to toss in. I used it at the range for my shooters glasses and ear protection. It’s very easy to gain access to this pocket since it is one the top and the zipper (like all of the zippers) is easy to operate, even with gloves on. On the outside of this pouch is another strip of Velcro for adding your own custom patches.
Moving down the outside of the pack, you find a VERY HEAVY DUTY plastic buckle that hold the top flap in place and everything inside right where you left it. The buckle is fully adjustable for those days you pack the Drago Hiker super full. Directly below the main flap, you have another zippered pouch that is the equivalent of the outside pouch mentioned earlier that can hold your wallet, cell phone and more. Just above, you find a dual-zipper pocket that is twice as large. It has a place where you can clip your keys and a pocket for you to store them in so they don’t drive you crazy and make a ton of noise. The back of this pocket is lined with webbing, providing yet another place for storage. This was perfect for my small notebook and some small pencils. I was able to pack my digital camera, binoculars and a light weight rain coat all in this same area. The dual zipper also gives you a few options on how to get to your gear when on the move.
The main compartment comes next and has a very handy pull-tie cord for closing the top of the pack when you have a full load. The paracord has a thumb-friendly cold tie for cinching everything down. The inside compartment is large enough to hold two Nalgene bottles, some clothing and a few tools as well. On the other hand, you can stash a ton of ammo in here as well; it’s all about what kind of load-out you wish to go with. One my last trip out, I had my hammock, Nalgene and GSI nesting cup, hammock tarp and some packaged food for cooking dinner out. Again, you can over-load this area and adjust the top to compensate. I’m very fond of this setup and how Drago give us different options for our load-outs.
The final pocket is also large and meant to be used as your sidearm storage area. The entire rear wall of this pocket is lined with Velcro so you can adjust your sidearm holster to suit your needs. You will need to purchase a separate Velcro holster since the Drago Hiker doesn’t come with one, but a majority of the competitors packs that are comparable don’t offer a holster either. I kept my little KEL-TEC P11 and a few extra magazines in here and everything rode well. The zipper is very easy to get to, so accessing your sidearm doesn’t take long at all.
Toss in a great shoulder strap with excellent padding and adjustability, as well as Drago’s Tri-Point cushioning system, and you have a great carry system that rides very comfortable against your body throughout the day. The pack itself is manufactured in China, and I really like the quality and can whole-heartily recommend this shoulder pack to everything, from the casual day hiker to the Marine looking for a shoulder pack that they can take into hell and back. You can find the Drago Hiker on the net for about $45, which is a bargain. Drago certainly knows how to put a great pack together.
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