Maxpedition Falcon-II Backpack Review
We've been thinking about tight, low-drag, bare-bones Bug Out Bags lately. One that doesn't hold the kitchen sink but is durable enough and designed in such a way as to be multi-purposed. Something that sits tight on the body so's to keep one mobile, something that can hold a water bladder (or two in this case, more on that later) a change of clothes, food, and some must-have tools. And above all it has to be tough, able to be pulled, yanked, torn on in the woods and all around beat-up without a care.
That of course let us to Maxpedition - well known for some of the most durable packs available. We locked-in on the Falcon-II backpack in OD Green for this build since it fits the bill, so we decided to do a full review of the pack itself.
Alright lets look at the basics first. The Falcon-II can run you anywhere from $179 to $140 online. Thats not cheap but in this case you do get what you are paying for. There are other companies that make the same type of bag as the Falcon-II. You can get them on Amazon for around $50 and although they have the same design the material they are made of isn't as durable (600d vs 1050d nylon) and some of the finer details aren't the same. I've come to trust Maxpedition products so tend to stick with them because I hold reliability above all else.
Looking at the size of the overall pack, it's on the smaller end of backpacks most would consider for a Bug Out Bag. You have to be methodical about what you are packing, and leave out the fluff. That's a positive if you tend to over pack your emergency kit because you "have the space" - ignoring the fact that a heavy bag will be difficult if not dangerous to use for those without serious physical training.
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This might not be a pack for the bigger folks: if you are bigger than 5' 11" 225 lbs the shoulder straps could start to feel a little small. The waist belt rides mid-stomach, which is on purpose, so if you have a belt-kit or battle belt it will keep that area free and accessible. This is a perfect sized pack for women and teens. Overall size: 9"(L) x 10"(W) x 18"(H).
UPDATE: Maxpedition now has 2 versions of the Falcon Backpack, the II and III. They are similar but different sizes. The II is 23L while the III is 35L. The III adds velcro interior (for CC or other organizing) and added side ports for the hydration tube. The front pockets are slightly larger. The Falcon-III will run you a few dollars more.
Since we are on the subject of straps let me say this: I really like the straps on the Maxpedition Falcon-II. They are comfy and fit just right. They tuck up under the arm nicely and don't take up unnecessary room along the oblique area. PALS webbing included on them along with a chest strap. One recommendation you will thank me for: get the Web Dominators from Maxpedition to take up the extra strap along the bottom unless you plan on cutting them to fit.
As I mentioned earlier there is a waist strap. If you don't want to the waist strap, loop it back around the front of the pack to get it out of the way or remove it completely. It has its own excess strap bands so floppy straps are not a concern. I wouldn't say it's meant to take up any weight. It is there as a stabilizing strap since it rides so high.
Thats a good thing if you plan on carrying a side bag with you, as I do with a Maxpedition Bottle Holder. With this pack it's almost necessary to have more kit with you if you are looking to cover 72-hours. It really all depends on the type of situation you are facing and what you are planning for.
One good addition is the use of a Maxpedition Proteus Versipack with the Falcon-II, which gives you a waist pack that sits just beneath the bigger bag cleanly.
The pack has plenty of MOLLE on the outside, so you can add a multitude of small pouches as you see fit. Normally I don't like to do that on packs because they tend to flop all over the place and be a distraction, but part of what makes the Maxpedition Falcon-II so great is the retention straps that run along the sides, which helps keep all the add-ons in place.
On the other side we put our Yaesu FT-60R Radio and a multi-pouch beneath it which holds all our fire making stuff along with a compass.
The two front admin pockets are useful for small items, pens, the usual doodads. MOLLE on the front lets you strap on extra stuff.
Behind that lives a middle area, good for middle sized things (see where we are going here?) This middle part can be cinched down into the back via the side straps if you are running less than a full load of the bag - it kind of accordions in there. It's a nice touch and useful.
The final and largest area of the pack is good for clothes & hygiene kit.
There is also an area for a 2nd hydration bladder to go if you want to rock 2 of them. The main bladder space sits under the straps where the back panel is.
The neat thing here is that you can hold 2 waters at a time - if you were using the pack as a day bag during the hot season that could come in handy.
The flap that has the hose pass-through has enough room for both tubes, and a strap that keeps them separate.
Our Camelback 100-Oz Antidote Shorty fits in there nicely. There is a hanger hook in the bag, it's just not attached in this photo.
The bottom of the pack has a reinforced waterproof bottom, which is a nice touch and more useful than you might realize until you need it. Two straps down there too for a bedroll if you want one. Also a good spot for wet poncho storage once the rain stops. The strap which loops over the top of the bag can also be loosened enough to hold items too.
If you havent figured it out already, we think the Maxpedition Falcon-II is a great platform to start building an Emergency Kit Go Bag with. It's easy to expand its capability if you need it, but big enough on its own to get you most of the way there if not all they way there (if minimalism is your thing) especially since weight is such an important consideration. Having a smaller bag ensures you don't over-load it, keeping it at a reasonable and functional weight for the average person.