- By John Fenna
- 1 Comments
- Last updated: 26/01/2017
Carry that load John Fenna finds the new BCB “Payload” 45 litre capacity pack to be comfortable, versatile and tough.
The Payload Pack is designed to carry a load with the weight high and close to your body; the internal frame, made from tough ridged plastic with an aluminium centre section, transfers much of the load onto your hips through a comfortable padded hip belt. If need be, both the frame and the hip belt can be removed, the frame being accessed from inside the main compartment.
The back panel of the pack, between the frame and your body, is well padded for comfort and has lumbar and shoulder spacer pads of thick closed cell foam for extra comfortable padding and to create an airflow gap.
These pads are covered in a comfortable mesh fabric designed to minimise the build-up of sweat, and this mesh is also found on the body contact sides of both shoulder-straps and hip belt.
The shoulderstraps are well, but not excessively, padded and are ergonomically shaped for comfort. They feature daisy chain webbing ending in a “D” ring, elasticated drinking tube holders and a fullyadjustable, elasticated chest strap. The padded shoulder straps terminate with quick release buckles to allow for quick kit drops and the lower webbing straps adjust to length through the lower half of these buckles.
The ends of the webbing straps incorporate hook and loop “strap tidies” to avoid the need for rubber bands to keep the straps from flapping.
The hip belt is held to the pack back panel with hook and loop fixings and adjustable straps and is easily fitted or removed. The outer faces of the hip pads have Molle type loops of webbing for mounting extra pouches and the belt closes with a quick release buckle that is adjustable from both sides. The belt ends have Velcro style tidies built in.
The pack’s main compartment is of about 30 litre capacity with a tough 2-way coil zip running low on each side for maximum access and there are twin internal load-securing straps for stabilising heavy kit. On the outside of the main compartment there is a top grab handle with twin access ports for antennae etc.
On each side there are 4 rows of Molle webbing loops and at the base, mesh water bottle pockets with elasticated tops.
Mounted top and bottom of the sides are NATO spec clips that will mount Bergan side pouches or the Jetstream Hydration Reservoir. 4 loops on the top of the pack are designed to attach the BCB “Chilly” System – a personal water cooler – but can also be used to attach other kit as well.
The zip to the main compartment is covered with a simple flap for weather/dust protection.
The base of the main compartment features a drainage eyelet and 4 webbing attachment points.
Two pockets form the front of the pack; a 10 litre top pocket that has an inverted “U” shaped zip with twin pullers coming about two-thirds of the way down each side of the pocket, and a weather/dust cover flap.
Inside the pocket, at the top, is an internal mesh pocket with a single-puller zip for small items, while on the front of the pocket there is an external, flat “document” pocket with a vertical zip closure under a flap on the left side.
The front of the top pocket has 4 rows of Molle webbing for mounting extra pouches etc Velcro type attachment strips for mounting ID patches etc.
The base of the pocket has a large eyelet for drainage.
Below the top front pocket is another pocket, this time with a capacity of about 5 litres with a horizontal fullwidth single-puller zip under a protective flap. The front of this pocket has 2 rows of Molle webbing and the base has a drainage eyelet.
Each side of the pack also features twin load compression/ stabilisation straps with quick release buckles and Velcro strap tidies.
Between the main compartment and the pack frame there is a dedicated pocket for a hydration system bladder. With the Payload Pack you get a 3-litre “Source Hydration System” – a hands-free water reservoir.
This low profile reservoir has a central internal baffle which stabilises the water, helping prevent it sloshing around when you move, and also stops the reservoir bulging at the bottom when it is more than half full.
The top of the reservoir has a “wideslide” system opening to give a generously wide opening for ease of filling the reservoir with water (or ice) as well as quick emptying, drying and cleaning.
In this the top of the reservoir folds over an integral bar and then a captive slider is fitted to give an air-tight seal. The slider also forms a carrying handle. The reservoir clips to the inside of the dedicated pocket in the back of the Payload.
The reservoir itself features “Glassmlike”TM and “Grunge Guard”TM technology which prevents bio-film build-up, and inhibits bacterial growth forming on the reservoir and drinking tube surfaces for the life of the system. “Taste Free”TM technology – a “co-extruded PE film” stops your water picking up any flavour of plastic – even after extended periods of time. The drinking tube has a cool weave cover tube and QMT (Quick Mate Technology) for keeping your drink cooler (the cover when damp cools the tube by evaporation) and quick and easy disconnection of the angled ‘storm’ valve that has a great flow rate and a push/pull close and opening as well as a twist lock. A captive cap pushes on to the valve when you are not using it.
The drink tube can be led through the pack pocket top zip – the double puller allowing you a choice of sides for “over the shoulder” mounting or can be led through one of the tube exit ports found on each side of the pack below the shoulder spacer pads, for ‘under the arm’ access to your drink.
As the dedicated reservoir pocket is close to the pack frame and therefore your back, it keeps the weight of the water close to you to maintain a good centre of gravity, while the pocket is padded with closed cell foam to insulate the drink and to protect the reservoir itself from damage.
The Source Reservoir comes with its own comprehensive booklet of care and use instructions.
The Payload Pack is made from tough and durable Polyamide fabric with strong Polyamide webbing straps, tough clips and buckles and has tough coil zips with cord pullers that are silent, unlike metal pullers that jangle when moved, and the whole pack is well constructed with bound main seams and strong stitching.
You might think that all the features of this versatile pack would make it heavy, but it weighs in at about 2kg complete with the water reservoir, which is not that heavy for a modern, military style, practical pack of this size. During testing I have carried some pretty heavy loads and generally abused the Payload pack but have found it able to take poor treatment, carry the loads and still prove durable, versatile and one of the most comfortable military style packs I have tried.
The “Source” hydration system proved excellent in all respects and is also one of the best I have ever tested.
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