Sunday, June 9, 2013

Maxpedition Gearslinger Lunada Review

PreSchool backpack, can of coke and Lunada for size.
 The day before my birthday I got an email from Maxpedition asking me if I was willing to review a few of their products. As someone who has carried a Maxpedition bag almost daily for the last five years and was in the process of looking for another one I readily agreed.

It took me a total of a week to pick out the products I wanted to review and around the middle of April I got a box in the mail from Maxpedition. The first bag I put into use was the Lunada.

I told my contact that I would take about a month to review a bag because I wanted time to play with the product, get to know it and see how it held up over time.

I've carried the Lunada for a little over a month now and I am thoroughly impressed with this little bag.

MOLLE on both sides, front and shoulder strap
I say little because it is a smaller bag. Some people I have polled have said they think it looks like a preschool sized backpack and they wouldn't be far off. It's over all length from top to bottom is only 11 inches (give or take some flex) and the width is about 8 inches (give or take flex and any MOLLE attachments you might add. As far as thickness is concerned, totally packed out makes it sit at around 7ish inches.

The bag has five main pockets: A large, open top pocket on the back of the bag filled with hook and loop wherein you can put anything from a gun to a notebook or random odds and ends; a main, large, zippered pouch with two smaller open top pouches and a small zipper pouch; a short and wide pocket on the top of the bag that can fit a pair of shooting glasses with a smaller open top pouch equipped with elastic loops for small items like lighters; a medium-size zipper pouch with more open top pouches and loops and a final zipper pocket on the front of the bag for narrow items.

The bag itself is covered in webbing for any MOLLE attachments you might want to make. My last Maxpedition bag had webbing for MOLLE attachments as well but not in any places I could see reasonable to attach anything. The Lunada is different. I have discovered a love for MOLLE I never had before and have a MOLLE pouch, a knife holder, my trauma sheers and my cell phone holster all
held to the bag with MOLLE. I have plenty of room for more if I want it, too.

Carry Handle
Padding and traction on back of Lunada and shoulder strap
A huge improvement over my last Maxpedition bag is the carry handle on the top of the Lunada. It's made of a neoprene type of material that is comfortable to carry. This is essential if you are going to find yourself quickly carrying the bag from place to place and don't want to sling the entire thing over your shoulder. Or, if you are trying to hang on to it to retreive things from the bag. 

The Lunada comes from the Gearslinger line of Maxpedition products which means that it has one shoulder strap and the bag is mean to be carried across the wearers body. But, unlike the Versipacks, the Gearslingers can be adjusted for either right or left shoulder carry with the switch of hook.

The strap itself is wide and padded and makes for very easy and comfortable all day carry (if you have healthy shoulders and don't weight the bag down too much). The strap also has MOLLE attachments on it and my love for MOLLE has spread to that region. I have attached a wrist watch and a knife and flashlight to the shoulder strap in a location I can easily access with the bag on my back.

Shoulder Strap
The strap is also exceptionally long for adjusting around even the most thick amongst us but can be cinched down quite well for us tiny people as well. What's even better is the addition of an elastic band on the strap that allows you to roll up any excess strap and secure it from floating around and getting in your way.

The strap also had a few D-rings on it for things like keys or whatever else your imagination can foresee connecting to it.

The shoulder strap also has a quick release latch for those of us who may want to escape our bags quickly or run the strap through something for extra security.

 For added security for on-body carry and for a little more support for long walks, a second strap can be secured to the back and shoulder strap to hold it more firmly to the body. There is also a belt-wrap on the back of the bag that allows a third attachment point to the wearer. Those who are into extreme adventuring or find themselves hanging upside down for any reason can be assured that their bag will stay on their back and around their waste and their items will be secure (provided they remembered to zip all of the pockets).

Additional Strap with whistle, belt loop and backing
The back of the bag is padded with a ventilated foam that is wrapped in another breathable rubbery material. Anything hard or pointy in the bag can be carried in comfort and despite a whole month of daily wear and carry I have yet to see any evidence of a breakdown in the material despite the frequency of taking the bag on and off.

I chose the Lunada because it was the smallest Maxpedition bag said to be able to fit a tablet. I was not disappointed. While it won't fit securely in the back-most pocket (it will fit enough to make a quick get-a-way), my Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, with case, fits perfectly in the main zippered compartment. With little stretching I can also fit my 11.5 inch bluetooth Logitech keyboard that I may take with the tablet for moments like this when I need the ability to do a lot of typing but don't want to lug around a laptop.
Lunada and tablet

The bag itself can hold quite a lot of gear. If you are looking for an Every Day Carry (EDC) bag that has a lot of capacity you may love this bag but you might also think it doesn't have enough.

It is a very compact bag and stuffing some of the pockets may mean a little difficulty in putting things in other pockets.

I use this Lunada as a purse, diaper bag, blow-out bag and just a bit of a "get home" bag. For its size it fits its many rolls very well. I can fit my wallet, diaper and wipes in the bag with my cell phone MOLLE attached to the outside. I like this arrangement because it allows me to answer my phone without having to dig in my bag and I can finally hear my phone when it rings, too. Because I'm a chapstick junky I've also MOLLE attached my chapstick to the outside of the bag while I've put things like my sun/shooting glasses in the top pouch along with sun screen, a lighter, some hand wipes, hair ties and nail file (very useful for those moments when you get your nails broken in someone's face in Krav).

Tablet with Case in Lunada
In my last bag I was forced to spread my blow-out/survival gear all over the bag. In this bag its all in one stop. My pressure bandage, tourniquet, medical tape, chem lights, epi pen, petroleum gauze, compressed gauze and so much more is all in one location. I never have to even open that pocket unless it's an emergency and that keeps everything well organized and in its place.

Tablet with case and 11.5" keyboard in Lunada
In the very outside zipper pocket I have a seatbelt cutter and window breaker and some disposable bibs for my kids and a package of kleenex. Nothing says prepared like being able to wipe a nose and extricate yourself from a vehicle all in one pocket.

Lunada Main Compartment Contents
Tablet, Wallet, Diapers, Wipes, Bandanas,
Crayons, Survival Tin, Lotion, Keyboard (occasionally)
In the smaller compartments inside the main pouch I keep bandaids and femenine products and bandanas, some coflex for my son (who is allergic to bandaids) and a tin with spare batteries for my flashlight and some alieve for Krav nights that
are particularly brutal. I also have a tin of crayons for the kids.

Also attached to the outside of the bag via MOLLE is a small med pouch specifically for my son. Because he is allergic to bandaids and has pretty severe reactions to some bug bites I carry paper tape and some 2x2 gauze, hand sanitation wipes and a tube of Cortisone10. I can take off the pouch and leave it with him without having to empty and repack my bag.

Lunada Main Compartment Zipper Pocket Contents
Bandaids, Condoms, Feminine Hygiene, Medication
With all of that in the bag it's packed pretty tight. Fully packed with tablet and keyboard my bag weighed 14 lbs this morning. I may have been able to pack just one more thing in the main pouch but not without feeling I was
weighing down myself. Some already think I carry way too much on a daily basis. Some would think I don't carry nearly enough. I feel the contents and bag are right on the "just right" line. Any more and I feel I would find myself leaving my bag in my car and opting to just take my wallet and cell phone with me when I needed to make stops which, consequently would make me feel lax in my preparedness as what good does a bag of supplies do you if you don't have them with you when you need them?

Because the bag carries high on the back instead of low around the hip it makes for much easy carry similar to a backpack with less fatigue on the shoulder and neck than with the bags that carry around the hips. The trade off is that it can make you feel as though you can't access the contents of the bag as quickly. With a little good organization, the use of MOLLE and the quick release latch on the strap I have yet to feel as though the bag where too slow to access. I've also developed my own way of quickly switching the bag from back to front carry without having to remove it from my body. I'm also very happy to have the contents of the bag with me vs left in the car. Having the bag on my back also makes me feel as though my arms and side are much more free to carry anything from my children to guns and magazines. 

Middle Zipper Pocket Contents
QuickClot Combat Gauze, Petroleum Gauze,
Epi Pen, Triangular Bandages, Duct Tape,
Compressed Gauze, Chem Lights (Red, Blue),
Medical Tape, Tourniquet, Thin Cinch
Pressure Bandage, 4x4 Surgical Sponges,
Lunada Right
Med Pouch, Sharpie, Tape Measure
Knife/Chapstick Holder
If there is a downside to the bag it might be it's small size. But it may also be its best quality as it's still smaller than some purses but much better organized. We all know that the larger the bag the more likely you are to fill it making it too heavy to comfortably carry. The Lunada fits a lot of stuff but limits you from carrying too much unless you are carrying particularly heavy items like boxes of ammo, lead weights or gold bars. That being said, you are not going to be able to use this bag for anything larger than a tablet, a hardback book and a portable keyboard.

While I've been loving the Lunada for it's very utilitarian design I was a bit bummed that it did not feature a water bottle holder. I am, after all, a mom on the go and water is an important resource and while I understood I could get a MOLLE water bottle holder for the side of the bag it wasn't until I carried around a water bottle in hand for a few weeks that I had my AH-HA moment and realized that the torch holder (the elastic drawstring on the front/top of the bag) actually made a phenomenal water bottle holder. Problem solved!

Also attached to the outside of that pocket is a sort of slip sleeve with some hook and loop I was a bit at a loss with what to do with (other than affix an American flag patch a friend of mine gave to me). Finally, while looking the bag over for places to hide weapons I discovered that would be a pretty good place to conceal a fixed-blade knife. Attaching the sheath to a dog-tag chain and securing it to the bag I now have a nicely concealed neck knife on hand.

To test the water resistance of the bag I decided to turn the hose loose on it on a rain setting. For about thirty seconds I simulated a pretty aggressive downpour. I put paper towels in the bag to see how wet they would get and the only parts of the towels that got wet were those closest or touching the zippers. The water resistance works well but it's certainly not water proof and more than a minute in solid rain may end with the contents of the bag getting wet.

Some people are also concerned that the bag looks too "tactical" giving them away as someone who might be a gun owner. While it's true that this bag is nothing you would take to the opera or even a date at a five-star restaurant it's not as "tactical" looking as people fear.

Hidden Knife
In an attempt to see just what your average lay-person had to say about my bag I conducted a series of interviews of complete strangers. I asked a total of two questions:1) If you were to describe this bag to someone who never saw it before, what general description would you give it? (designer purse, military bag, etc) 2) Given that you can make certain assumptions about people based on the products they use and carry, what, if any, assumptions would you make about me because I'm carrying this bag.

Shooting Glasses in Top Zipper Pocket
Top Zipper Pocket Contents
Hand Wipes, Shooting Glasses, Sunblock, Lipstick,
Hair Ties, Comb, Nail File, Lighter
The overall consensus was that the bag looked outdoorish, hippy or utilitarian. One person said it may look like a tool bag if it weren't for the fact that it was being carried by a woman. Only one person pegged it as being a "military type" bag. The assumptions that were made about me was that I was hipster, someone into whole-foods and natural products, a lesbian and only one person said they figured I was an EMT because of my trauma sheers stuck in the MOLLE. Only a few people (mostly Moms) have stopped me to ask me where I got my bag because they love how organized and comfortable it looked. One man in line behind me at a burger stand said, "Wow! Everything in its place!" when he saw me retrieving certain items from my back without ever even having to turn the
bag around. I said, "Since you brought it up, does this bag scream 'gun' to you?"

He said, "Oh, God, no! Wait. Is there a gun in there?" I told him there was not.

The only person who associated the Lunada with a gun was an off-duty police officer who asked me if the bag was a Maxpedition  and wanted to know where within the bag they kept the hook and loop for the holster having owned Maxpedition products in the past.

Lunada Left with Cell Phone
The conclusion of my surveys was that there was no general impression that made your average individual assume I was any more armed than they were.

The Lunada will remain at the top of my list in terms of EDC bags and I don't believe I will find myself wanting to replace it any time soon.

While my first impression was to feel I made a mistake in that it might turn out to be a little small for my needs, I have discovered that this bag has perfectly fit my needs for what I should be carrying on a consistent basis. While I very well may end up with a larger bag for the car with more "get home" items like a change of clothes for myself and additional pairs of shoes, the Lunada is a perfect choice for the ins and outs of daily life, all that goes along with that and a little more.

If you (male or female) are interested in a good utilitarian bag for EDC carry, I would recommend giving the Lunada a look.

Alternate Use for Torch Hold

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