When I’m hiking long distance, or traveling in my car or someone else’s for the day, or what-have-you; I use a modified Outdoor Products Morph backpack to hold my traveling stuff. It’s my primary go-bag or bug-out bag, or just bag for holding whatever I need to for the trip.
For photography when I’m taking my Rebel with me I have a Case Logic DSLR Backpack which allows me to carry my camera equipment and a few other things.
But sometimes I need either a smaller bag, or something in addition to the above bags, but easily carried.
The Leapers UTG Multi-functional Tactical Messenger Bag is a near-clone of the Maxpedition Fatboy Versipack, but slightly larger; just by a few inches overall.
There’s a few other small differences too but nothing very significant and considering the Maxpedition one is over twice, sometimes three times as expensive as the Leapers one – if you’re in the market for one you probably want to consider the Leapers one.
The first thing I noticed upon receiving the bag is that even still inside the package the bag just plain looks like it’s better quality than some of the cheap Chinese knockoffs and clones of various bags and backpacks. Not that there’s anything wrong with cheap clones, they serve their purpose and can be modified and added to if needed.
Even the plastic bag the messenger bag comes in is fairly nice, with plastic snaps and a handle. Heck, the paper wrapper for it is even printed nicely.
From the reviews I had seen it seemed that a few people may have gotten one occasionally that didn’t have the best stitching.
After taking it out of the package I could examine it in detail and see how well it was made, and mine indeed seems to be of very high quality all over and sewn perfectly.
The second thing I noticed is how many pockets and things there are! They stuffed a pocket, a strap, or a loop onto every available location – all without making it look like there’s too much stuff hanging off it or stuck onto it. In fact, until you look closely at it you might not notice that it has more than a few pockets.
The shoulder strap is nicely wide, very adjustable, with a padded shoulder pad with three velcro loops. Also there’s a real metal clip on the strap down near where it widens into the bag backing. The strap is adjustable to quite a large diameter, and has a very large snap for disconnecting one end if needed.
The back of the bag has three padded meshy areas, for comfort and cushioning as well as well letting a little air flow down through there (very much-needed if you are going to sweat while using it).
Also back there is a Velcro loop that you can loop around your belt – nice to keep it from flapping up and down against your hip or back. The location might be wrong for some people but seemed right for me, and that will depend on how ling you have the strap adjusted to of course and how you like to wear it.
Under the bottom is a large plastic loop, pretty good hardness and quality, suitable for hanging a fair amount of weight. The strap for this continues up and is attached to the very large clip to hold the main storage area’s flap down. This strap is also wide and loops back underneath and connects to the bottom of the bag, where there are three loops of canvas for securing things from. Good position here for various things that are a bit heavier, to keep whatever you’re hooking here in a nice low center of gravity.
To the left of them is a bit of Velcro with a metal eye and hole in it which is the bottom of the pocket that seems to be meant for a water bottle. I’m not sure what these piece of Velcro would be for but the hole would be drainage for your water bottle’s condensation. This pocket seems to be extra-waterproof, which is nice – how many times has my side gotten wet from the water-bottle in my backpack condensing moisture to the saturation point and dripping onto me and even wetting the backpack? Many times I answer.
This pocket also has a drawstring with a locking clasp, as well as a loop of rope with a long strip of Velcro at the end, which matches another strip of Velcro along the side of the pocket.
Here’s where you can see some thinking went into it. This long strip of Velcro both on the loop as well as the side of the pocket – allow you to secure whatever you are putting in here no matter what size.
A small water bottle will fit with the drawstring part holding it securely, but with a large bottle this can be Velcroed quite high on the two strips and still very secure.
I was amazed that my Camelback 750 ml (25 oz) waterbottle fit in here perfectly – it’s a deceptively tall pocket. The loop went down over it fine and the pocket held it securely, but I wasn’t 100% happy. It worked even better by turning the hooked top of the Camelback to the side (see pic to the right) so I could Velcro the loop tighter, this was perfect as the loop fit right between the Camelback’s protruding plastic loop and the raised part at the back of the pop-up straw/sipper. This seems to be perfect, but possibly the tops of other kinds of water-bottles wouldn’t hold this loop in place the same way if the water bottle was this tall.
An alternate way to secure another kind of water-bottle (or whatever you were putting in this pocket) might be to use a carabiner in conjunction with and through the loop of the rope of the bag and through whatever loop or hook the water-bottle might have at the top (or around or over whatever else you were putting here). In other words – if what you are putting something in here that is going to fit completely or near completely inside the pocket far enough for the drawstring to hold it you will be good, but if it’s a bit higher than the top of the pocket you might have to evaluate whether the rope is going to hold it securely enough for your purposes. Likely it will but it will depend on the size and shape.
The next compartment over is the largest and, like all of the compartments in the bag, has a water-proofy/water-resistant interior. This one has a drawstring at the top similar to other waterproof interiors in other bags. This compartment also has the large flap that hinges over it, and which continues down securing covering the front with a very large clip on a strap to hold it (I mentioned this above, the strap is part of a lower hanging loop too).
This largest compartment is hard to measure but I would estimate that it is around 5 inches deep at the top and down to around 4 inches deep near the bottom, 8 1/2 wide (also narrowing a bit), and a little over 9 inches tall. It’s not stiff so it’s very hard to measure accurately, plus you can ‘bulge’ it out if needed, giving you a bit more space along one side and thus narrowing another side, etc.
My Canon Rebel EOS fits fine in this compartment. I’m sure two would fit but you definitely would want some padding and protection around them, and it would be a tight fit with two. But one is perfect, and it would allow you extra space for padding and even space for another lens, also with padding.
This largest compartment certainly is big, and it holds my seven-inch Nexus 7 tablet just fine, with room left over. In fact, it even holds the large armored and padded case I carry the tablet in. There’s also a mesh pocket inside there, and on the side of the pocket is the inner part of the above-mentioned cord that goes around the water-bottle pocket, there’s an adjustable clasp inside here too so I suppose you could use the inner part of the cord to secure something inside the large compartment too. In the modding department it’s nice to have access to this cord.
The compartment’s flap itself has a large wide strip of Velcro across the front of it and, of course, a flat zippered compartment inside the flap. On top of the flap is another compartment with a single zipper that goes around the back of it, this is a long thin storage area, good for a phone or iPhone with extra space remaining. It’s fairly thick and might hold a small walkie or a clip. There’s also wide Velcro on top of this pocket too.
Behind the cover flap is another thin but deep zippered pocket with two large strips of velcro inside. This would be the ‘hidden’ pocket, big enough for a (legal) concealed weapon or whatever you want to stick in there.
To the right of the main compartment is a long thin slot with an open top, and on top of this is another compartment with a pair of zippers. This one would be especially good for anything that is going to protrude that you want to snug the zippers up against. A walkie-talkie, phone with headset or earphone cable sticking out it, weather radio with antenna, etc. This is a nicely thick pocket, ballooning out somewhat and with a pair of straps that provide more loops for accessories.
The two flaps that the shoulder straps attach to also have a multitude of straps/loops for attached things, some are wide and some are thinner and there even some thinner ones on top of wider ones – let’s face it; you’ll be able to attach pretty much anything to this. Also, the upper flat that the shoulder strap attached to has a pocket that continues down into the upper section of these flaps where the shoulder straps attach.
On my first hike with it we only went about three and a half miles, not too rough terrain but a few dicey places jumping over spots of water and such. even though I probably didn’t even need to bring any supplies I loaded it up with as many things as I could think of to give the bag a good test run.
Loaded in were my Camelback 750 ml water bottle (water bottle pocket), two protein bars (top pocket), point and shoot Canon camera in its case with extra batteries (large main pocket), pepperspray in holster (right-side pocket), hand sanitizer and tissues (front pocket), two pieces of paper towels and poop bags for the dogs (concealed pocket) and a few miscellaneous items scattered throughout the pockets.
The bag was comfortable, and I was able to easily (easier than my backpack of course) reach down or swing it forward to get whatever was looking for in the pockets. It stayed put on my side no matter what I was doing, even when taking a pee break (you definitely don’t want it swinging forward at that point!) and for the most part I didn’t even notice I had it on.
The one beef I might have is that the shoulder strap is so long and I had it cinched up around the halfway so the shoulder pad couldn’t go any higher, which meant that it was a bit too low to actually be on my shoulder. Next time I will try loosening the strap some and giving it a bit more slack and the shoulder pad should be positioned correctly; but I wonder if the bag will be too low for my taste. We’ll see.
The above paragraph is invalid – ‘duh’ on my part. I thought initially that the shoulder strap wouldn’t slide back any further because the bucket wouldn’t slide through. But on one hike while using the bag I realized that the velcro on the shoulder strap could be opened and the buckle could easily be moved and repositioned over the shoulder strap, through the strap on the shoulder strap, etc., where ever was needed.
I did a quick test near the end of the walk to see if it was possible to wear it on the right side. It was indeed doable but not as comfortable as the left side because of the angle of the straps and how they are attached.
All in all, even though it was a short (and still quite cold) hike the bag performed as expected for hiking purposes.
As an electronics device bag it worked well also. The Nexus 7 in its armored case fit in the center pocket just fine, and I was able to easily pull it out as needed. I also felt that it was well-protected just putting it in without the case and the surrounding canvas of the messenger bag is pretty heavy-duty.
Micro-USB, car USB adapter, thumbdrive, and OTG cable fit in the side pockets along with a notepad and pen. I felt very secure carrying it in the bag, it was protected and if I had been in a situation where I was afraid it might be grabbed I feel confident that no one could have easily gotten it off my shoulder because of the position of it being under my arm and against my side.
I also felt like it was pretty low-profile, both for security as well as; well, just not wanting to haul around a big bag like I do with my laptop.
On another day I had to pack up my small camera, batteries and accessories, a road GPS, cords, mount, an iPod, and a few other things (for a trip in someone else’s vehicle). Everything fit nicely in the bag and it was a simple matter to sling it over my shoulder, grab my cooler and be on my way. Everything fit well in individual pockets so that nothing was jumbled together nor did anything have a chance of scratching something else or banging against anything. Again, another successful journey with the bag.
Followed by a longer hike, with some food, water, GPS, and a number of items for an afternoon hike. It was roomy and secure, and easily accessible as before.
In conclusion – a great bag, good for general purpose use. It can carry a surprising amount of supplies and seems to be built quite well.