Karrimor SF – 3 Day Assault Pack
If there is one thing that the Brits have down solid, it’s their load carriage systems. They design incredible bergens (what we call backpacks or rucks here on our side of the pond) You can see the influence of their designs in many American designs as well as throughout all of Europe’s armies. It’s for good reason; the Brits have been equipping their soldiers with the best kit they can build (you know, contemporaneously) since back before Rule Britannia!
Recently we had the chance to meet up with the lads from Karrimor SF, a direct descendent of the famous UK equipment company Karrimor. They build most of the gear issued by the Ministry of Defence (their version of our Dept. of Defense) and so equip everyone from the lowest ranking “squaddie” on the ground all the way up to Prince Harry. We had the opportunity to check out some of their newest bergens, packs which will be sold here in the states via distributor Grey Ghost Gear in the very future. Originally founded in 1946, Karrimor had humble beginnings, making simple hand-sewed cotton-duck bicycle saddle bags. They grew into a huge provider to the European commercial outdoor market, and contractor to the United Kingdom’s armed forces. Their innovative Haston Alpiniste rucksack of the 1970s became one of most famous alpine rucksacks ever. In the 1980s, the pioneering Karrimor sports boots (KSB) were the first to be made with lightweight fabric. Now world renowned, the British specialists in adventure outdoor equipment (Ranulph Fiennes uses the hell out of it) have evolved into Karrimor SF, specializing in load carriage for the tactical and military market.
The Karrimor SF brand was conceived in 1995 by the Karrimor team in conjunction with Deric Gollop. Deric worked on the innovations and technologies from the civilian brand to produce specialist backpacks for SOF and law enforcement units. Karrimor SF is a separate company from the civilian brand, and operates under an International Brand License – we’re confident they’ll soon they will become a more recognized Brand in the United States.
Over the last few months we’ve been using a Karrimor SF day bag out in the field, testing the design and quality. It’s been out in the bush, down to the range and across the country. To make it short and sweet, we like the damn thing.
The pack is best described to American users as a “3-day Assault pack” style layout. Its slightly larger than most U.S. packs sporting this title though, and as a result has a bit more versatility. The Pack has an internal polymer frame which can be removed if desired, and PALS/ MOLLE style webbing on the outside to add additional gear. The example we received from Karrimor SF came in the new British variant of Multicam dubbed Multi Terrain Pattern (MTP) which has been in use since March of 2010. MTP is the version of Multicam developed for the British Armed Forces, and uses the same colors and proportions of regular Multicam, only the colored shapes are more elongated and also have some have the spotted edges of some shapes in the old Brit DPM pattern. Constructed of Cordura, the pack has four main compartments.
1) The radio/ hydration pouch. This pocket is accessed from the packs top, via double zipper, and allows for your hydration bladder or radio to be slid easily in or out. The design has an integrated drain hole at the bottom, access to removing the frame, small access ports to the main compartment (for additional commo / hydration routing) The top zippers allow for a tube, hand mic or antenna to be routed out and down to the shoulder straps.
2) The main compartment. Featuring a full length zipper track the whole way around the packs edge, the bag can be filleted open quickly and opened wide to grab gear buried at the bottom. There are two cinch straps equipped with Fastex buckles to secure a large radio or gear you want segregated. Large, simple and easy to use, the feature we like most about this are the (4) corded heavy duty zipper pulls. You can have two zipper pulls together at the top, and separate them to only partially open the pack at the top. The additional two pull tabs can be pulled down to the bottom of the tracks, allowing access to either side of the pack, which is great for getting items out of the bottom without unpacking everything.
3) Mid-pocket. This open topped “catch all” pouch is secured with Velcro, and has elastic sides. Its about 2/3 of the overall length of the pack. Its great for quick access to items which are constantly being used, such as a water bottle or large map, sketch kit, etc. we found it to be a nice place to keep a pistol when out hiking. Another potentially common use would to stow warming layers while out on the move.
4) Outer pocket. Roughly the same size as the mid pocket, the outer pocket features the same heavy duty YKK zippers used throughout the packs design, and small cinch straps which fastex buckles found in the large/ main compartment. Concealed at the inside top, there is a horizontal, zippered small items pocket to keep small items such as flashlights, batteries, etc.
The pack’s MOLLE covered sides have two main cinch straps which can be loosened to expand the capacity, and pulled down tight to reduce the overall size and prevent inside items from shifting. The back and shoulder straps are heavily padded for comfort, and work well even when loaded down heavily and carried for extended periods.
Overall, we really like the
pack BERGEN. It’s sewn well and constructed from quality components. The layout of the pockets are uniquely interesting, but 100% functional and great for organizing all your gear. The four zipper pulls used on the main compartment is simply genius, and one of the best features. It’s our understanding that this pack will soon be carried here in America by Grey Ghost Gear, who is the exclusive US distributor of Karrimor SF products. Check out the UK site here : http://www.karrimorsf.com/more and their current products carried by Grey Ghost here: http://www.greyghostgear.com/karrimor-1
For more on the Karrimor SF back story, Our homeboy Rob Curtis from Gearscout has this great article which helps explain this British invasion :
Mad Duo, Breach-Bang & CLEAR!