Gregory UM21 Backpack
Price Paid: $300 (years ago)
absolutely bombproof pack, but it's not without its peculiarities and problems. you'd have to be on crack to pay $1200 for one of these. i don't care how superior the materials and workmanship are, these packs, used, with the 4 molle pouches, but, without the accessory assault and butt packs or the compression sacks, would not be worth a dime over $400. at least, not to me.
i've carried a um21 all over eastern europe and asia-let me tell you that it can get heavy. it weighs about 16lbs empty... all the straps on the thing take forever to secure and organize, that's a pain...the waist belt (the most important weight distribution part of a pack is designed to go over a military belt, if you are just civvy hiking, a support belt should be worn to comfortably carry the weight on your hips and legs.
if you pack it properly and get all the adjustments right, though, and it is completely comfortable with a lot of weight. but...believe me, you'll regret setting off with 125lbs in your pack unless you're a real badass. i'm 6ft/175lbs/run 10 miles a day, and the most i'll comfortably carry in my um21 is about 75lbs, because the damn pack weighs so much bone dry and empty, to begin with.
another annoying thing about this pack is that the standard 5-piece military sleep system (just 2 sleeping bags, a bivy cover and 2 stuff sacks) when properly packed will not fit into the sleeping bag compartment at the bottom of the pack.
i got a good deal on mine, but if i were to do it over again, i would definitely opt for either the usmc ilbe pack, kifaru emr, or a good ol' fashioned cfp-90 or a european bergen. i have heard good things about many civilian packs, as well.
BUT, if you were to look at my pack, today, you would never be able to tell how extensively it has been used in the field. it's been thrown into and out of so many vehicles, it's been drug on cement and genuinely abused, yet it cleaned up with soapy water and rags, has no fraying or marring, even on the seemingly delicate spongy-type shoulder/waist harness material.
the plastic pieces have not snapped in cold weather, the zippers have NEVER EVEN ONCE, that i can recall gotten stuck, much less damaged. the waterproofing on the interior is still completely intact.
everything that is supposed to be stretchy still is, everything that's supposed to be in a particular place has stayed put. no rips in the material, no weakening of the seams-whatsoever.
it is my understanding that 95% of the soldiers that were issued these packs hated them and used either alice/malice/kifaru/etc. mine has been good to me, but i'm not sure i could carry everything i needed in the pack AND a weapon/magazines and ammunition/comms/whatever other requisite tools. all of that and the pack could weigh as much as i do.
can you tell that i'm not exactly sure how i feel about this pack? i'll say this: i don't think i'd ever take it overseas again. but who knows?
Design: Internal, top loading, with seperate sleeping back compartment
Size: 6000+ cubic inches (big)
Number of Pockets: numerous, easy to add more
Max. Load Carried: 105lbs, wife carries 93lbs
Height of Owner: 6ft
Price Paid: $225
If only it had an integrated hydration provision it would be the best backpack in the world.
I very much love this pack. My wife and I each have one. They are beautifully over-built, super-heavy duty packs, made in the USA.
But the UM-21 packs don't have any provision for hydration and Gregory doesn't make a matching SPEARS/MOLLE2 hydration pouch for the UM-21. And let me tell you, when you communicate with the folks at Gregory and point out this glaring oversight to them, boy do they get pissy!
But regardless the UM-21 is a superb pack, just be ready to address the issue of on-board drinking water, because Gregory will be of zero help I assure you.
We have used our UM-21s as the basis for the making of two, mondo, bugout bags in anticipation of the almost inexorable implementation of martial law come the rapidly approaching fallout from peak oil. With that in mind, the UM-21 will carry a lot of very useful items and will do so with the utmost of comfort. No other pack is even remotely as easy to wear for extended periods as is the UM-21, and to be sure, no other pack will carry as big of a load as will the UM-21 - and still be easy on your shoulders and back.
Ebay sometimes has good deals on the UM-21 packs, just check to make sure that you also get the additional four side packs that come with the UM-21 main pack. They make a lot of difference and are excellent for holding all sorts of goodies. The matching butt pack (also made by Gregory) is a fine piece of equipment as well. Get one if you can.
Stick a Katadyn water filter in your pack, a reliable fire starting solution, some 550 paracord, a Hennessy hammock, a Heatsheets emergency bivy; a fishing kit, a Leatherman Wave, some ultralight cooking gear, Orikaso plates, a good spork, and a high quality survival knife (Ontario or Ka-Bar, for example), some good rain gear, and a Gerber axe combo - and you are basically set for business.
And if you do get yourself a UM-21, please be sure to email Gregory and express your displeasure about the sad fact that the UM-21 does not have any provision for hydration.
Max. Load Carried: 80
Height of Owner: 5'11"
Price Paid: $225
This pack is amazing. If you can find it with the "complete system" for a cheap price get it! (Make sure it comes with the 4 stuff sacks, and the 4 side bags.)
I've had mine over 3 years now and nothing has broken on it. Keep in mind that this is a military backpack, it's built for the demands of our special forces units. A "tank" for a backpack. A super Gregory.
A couple of modifications I recommend are, carefully cutting out the inner bulky compartment in the main bag, it just adds weight and takes up space. Also using one of the long skinny stuff sacks as a holder for any Camelbak pouch. It can hold two full 3L reservoir, and using the radio antenna holes for the hoses.
If you have any questions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Design: top loading internal
Number of Pockets: 5
Max. Load Carried: 120lbs
Height of Owner: 6'1"
Price Paid: $200 used
Bloody awesome pack system. Very comfortable, and easy to modify to your size. The patrol pack is the best all around, everyday pack. This one was issued to special forces units in desert camo. Looks cool and will hold the kitchen sink too!
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