Having a pack to carry your kit when out in the wilds for the day is something many consider as being a essential.
Day packs come in all shapes and sizes and finding one that is going to suit your needs can be tricky.
A typical day pack has to be spacious enough to carry your kit and tough enough to protect it.
The Highlander Recon Day Pack
The Recon Day Pack is a 28 litre pack produced by British manufacturer Highlander. The pack has been designed primarily for the military/airsoft market but can also serve the bush crafter and outdoors enthusiast equally well.
Design and Construction
The pack has been constructed from tough XTP fabric which is available in olive green, black and MTP camouflage versions. The webbing /straps used in the pack is of military quality and the zips and fittings are all of a heavy weight and hardwearing variety.
The seams are well sewn and secure throughout every element of the pack. The pack isn’t water proof but can repel a light shower so a waterproof cover is required if you want to venture out in the wetter months.
The overall design of the pack is well thought out with plenty of generously sized compartments incorporated into it’s design. The largest compartment can be fully opened like a clam shell pack and is hydration bladder compatible. This compartment is big enough to take a set of waterproofs and a small stove setup alongside your food.
The second biggest compartment has three small internal pockets and and the main space is big enough for packing some spare clothing and other less bulky pieces of kit.
There are two other compartments attached to the front of the pack. The small one is suitable for a first aid kit and your compass etc there is also a velcro patch on the front of this compartment for ID / unit patches or even safety reflectors.
The larger compartment is more suited towards storing maps and netbooks and there are two internal pockets for your pens and admin kit.
There are a number of well placed compression straps along the edges of the pack to allow the user to keep it’s profile slim and there is a heavy duty grab handle mounted at the top of the pack.
As you would expect from a pack that has been designed for military use, the Recon Pack is covered with Molle webbing. This system allows the user to expand the pack by mounting other Molle compatible pouches onto the pack. The Molle webbing can be found on the front of the pack and also on the sides and gives the user a lot of flexibility when mounting extra gear.
The shoulder straps are adequately padded and are shaped well and there is a adjustable chest strap which is removable. There is also a removable waist belt should you require to use one.
There is a slight issue with the sizing of both the shoulder straps and the waist belt, if you have broad shoulders or are taller than 5’ 8” then you will most likely find that the shoulder straps are too short in length which is surprising for a bit of kit designed for military use.
Four of my friends who are around 6’ tall and broad-shouldered found there was little room for adjustment and it proved impossible to put on their backs when they tried again while wearing their winter layers.
While the length of the straps were ok for myself (5’ 8” ), I would have liked a bit more length in the waist belt as when I wore my winter jacket the belt was left with little adjustment and when wearing gloves it was struggle to adjust it. So this pack is really suited for the smaller built person.
The back of the pack has been produced with a breathable mesh padding which is both comfortable and fairly effective as along as it is keep dry. The padding tends to soak up rain water very quickly and is slow to dry out so when you do get caught in a shower make sure you cover the pack with a rain cover to prevent this.
I have been using the Recon every day for the past month and have used it in the hills, woodlands and in an urban environment (work). It has taken some serious bashing in some pretty poor weather conditions and survived well so I imagine that it will serve me well for quite a while to come.
The only issue is the size of the straps and waist belt as they do not accommodate tall or well-built people and this is something that you should be aware of and consider before you buy this pack.
In summary, I have found the Highlander Recon to be flexible, comfortable to carry and spacious enough for all my kit and is perhaps something that should be considered when looking for a day pack.