Hill People Gear offers some truly unique designs.Designs that I haven't seen before. Their line up is, as they say "just complex enough to solve the problem, but no more". We recently had a chance to field test one of their day packs. The pack we reviewed is known as the Tarahumara ($120). It's a prime example of HPG's uncomplicated ideology.
The Tarahumara name is derived from a famous runner tribe in Mexico. It's essentially a small day pack that can be mounted to larger pack for versatility (examples on HPG website). Their gear is used by Soldier's, Hunter's, and Outdoor Adventurers, to name a few. With the ability to be used in a wide variety of terrains and conditions. The pack is simple yet functional and I'll go over the details below.
The Tarahumara measures 17h x 9w x 4d with around 750cu of storage capacity. It is constructed of 500d Codura- making it extremely tough. There are a few color options to choose from: Coyote, Foliage green, and Ranger green. A perfect color selection for hunting and tactical applications.
A problem I often run into with small day packs is the shoulder strap system. They usually don't fit well due to small shoulder straps and box shaped pack designs.
Hill People Gear took it a step further. Instead of a traditional shoulder strap, they incorporated a single piece harness system. They are 3.5" wide and lightly padded. The shoulder strap is reminiscent of a military H-harness. It wraps around your shoulders and neck almost molding to your body. The adjustment points allow the user to fit the Tarahumara to their body type. The harness system is interchangeable and used on some of their other equipment. Another feature I enjoyed was the easily adjustable sternum strap. The whole system feel's as if it were a custom fit.
The main pouch of the pack has a single vertical zipper. The zipper stayed secure and never unzipped during my usage. Keeping with HPG's simple design philosophy- the main pouch has no internal pockets or accessory pouches. I don't feel pouches and pockets are important on a small day pack. The main pouch has two horizontal compression straps. They can be used to cinch down gear inside the main pouch or used to store items on the exterior of the pack. The compression straps have elastic "end keepers" to make sure everything stays squared away. There are two side pouches that will fit a standard USGI Canteen or 32oz Nalgene bottle. They can also be used to store any items you would like to access quickly. The compression straps hold the Canteens in the side pouches securely.
At the bottom of the pack there is a compression system constructed of paracord and a cord lock. This can be used to store things like rain gear, poncho's, or shelter systems.I have my tarp attached utilizing this system (as you can see in the photos above).
There is a padded back panel that houses a storage sleeve between the main pack and itself. This sleeve can be used for a hydration bladder or for storing maps and such. I was able to securely carry my M4 carbine (barrel down) in that fashion.
Overall I really like the HPG Tarahumara Pack. Its extremely comfortable and uncomplicated. In a day pack I don't need a ton of pockets for stuff to get lost in. This pack will replace my extremely uncomfortable current day pack (Maxpedition Rolly Polly Extreme). I plan to use it hunting and mountain biking. It would also make an excellent trail running pack- with its comfort and snug fit. It's the first pack that made me feel as if I weren't wearing one.
When you have a chance check out the HPG website. Take a look at some of their other gear offerings, free instructional information, and forum. www.hillpeoplegear.com