Monday, 21 Jan 2008

UTG (Leapers) Pack
Rating 3 of 5 stars
Design Frameless 3 Day Assault Pack
Size small-med
Number of Pockets 4
Max. Load Carried 40 lbs
Price Paid $65
Pack Weight 5.5 lbs
Total size 2110 cu inches

A.K.A.: Leapers Assault Pack, Leapers Web Pack or UTG Web Pack.

I bought this pack at the end of the summer in 2007, and used it twice last season. This design is very comfortable. The padding on the shoulder straps is nice and thick, the back panel is padded, and the hip belt is wide. This is especially important because other packs I have seen have only a inch wide strap for the hip belt, and it’s uncomfortable to wear. Especially if you put load on your hips, and it cuts into the skin. UTG designed their hip belt to be 4″ wide, and it has padding inside. Not too much, enough to be comfortable. It has 3 rows of webbing for MOLLE for other web gear. Looks like only 2 (top and bottom) rows should be used for proper attachment of web gear, or maybe just the middle one. UTG used a pad of Velcro to attach the hip belt. It’s like and envelope, and the hip belt goes inside. Take a look at the pictures below to see what I mean. The hip belt can be removed completely.

The shoulder straps are 3″ wide, and nicely padded as well. I have seen packs that have more padding, but the small(er) size of this pack does not seem to warrant the extra material. The sternum strap is adjustable, and quick release buckles adorn the bottom of the shoulder straps. I like the US Army approach to quick release buckles. Seems like the UTG buckles might come apart under stress or if too much weight is in the pack, and I jump and shift the entire load. Time will tell; I will either take the quick release buckles off, and sew the straps together, or maybe find a better solution.

Back padding is actually separate from the outer (back) wall of the pack. It has a Velcro strap on the top, so you can put a map or something flat in between the back and the padding. Since this pack is completely frameless, I made a  frame from 1/16″ and 1/8″ aluminum stays in a trapezoid shape.  This modification made the pack a lot sturdier. The back padding seems to be about 3/4″ thick, and feels like its made of some sort of foam.

The main compartment is 21″ x 10.5″ x 6″ in size. Inside there is a drawstring pocket on the back wall for either a water bladder, radio, or whatever else you can use. I usually put my towel in there. Inside the outer wall there is a zippered mesh compartment you can use for wallet, keys, etc. It measures 8″ x 5″ x 1″. The dual zippers open only about half way, so it’s a chore to stuff things inside on some occasions. More than once I wished the zippers opened all the way, or at least 3/4, so it would be easy to pack the main compartment. At the top, by the carrying handle (which is 2″ webbing, folded in half for the handle, and sewed very well to the rest of the pack) there are two slits covered by Velcroed flaps. I believe these are for a drinking tube from a bladder, or an antenna from a radio.

The front top pocket is 11″ x 7.5″ x 2.5″. It curves at the top, just like the main compartment. This pocket is has dual zippers, and opens only half way as well. Kind of a pain in the a$$ to get things in an out, since the pack is made of stiff fabric. I usually carry my Army mess kit, some fire starter bricks, and other small items inside. This pocket has 3 rows of webbing for attaching MOLLE or other web gear.

The front lower pocket is 11″ x 11″ x 3.5″. Inside the back wall is covered with a Velcro panel, and some loops on the top. I imagine this is nice to attach more loops for organization, or other pouches, so they don’t shift around. The dual zippers only open half way on this pocket too. This pocket has 5 rows of webbing for attaching more MOLLE or other web gear.

This pack boasts two side pockets. They are 9.5″ x x6″ 1.5″. I can easily put an Army canteen inside. Usually, these pockets hold my leather work gloves, rope, and other small things. You could probably fit two 16 or 20 ounce bottles of water in each pocket. These also have 4 rows of webbing. The dual zippers on these pockets open about 3/4 of the way, so getting tall items in and out is easy. On the bottom of the pack, on the main compartment, there are 3 more rows of webbing. I have fed straps through the outer loops to attach my sleeping bag and sleeping pad. There are three grommeted drain holes in the center, between each webbing strap.

The fabric is said to be 600 denier nylon impregnated with PVC. It’s supposed to be waterproof, but that remains to be seen. All the zippers are medium-duty. I really like the heavy teeth of the YKK zippers on all the Army gear, and really wish UTG had used these here. UTG zippers do slide pretty easy, and have little loops on them. Stitching seems average, except for the top handle. The attachment points for the handle are superbly done, and look like will last forever without ripping out. After several more trips I will see how this pack holds up. I have seen better, and I have seen much worse.

Update:

As of May 2008 I have removed the plexi stiffener from the back. It kept the backpack upright, and it could not curve with my shoulders. This made it lean away from my body, and a pain in the ass to hike.

Update2:

As of October 2008 I have added a custom aluminum frame.  I bought two 1/8″ and two 1/16″ pieces of metal at Lowe’s Hardware, and  cut them to  size.  The end result is a trapezoid frame with an extra horizontal piece that sits on to of my waist.  All the pieces are drilled and bolted together.  I bent the frame to curve along my back.  This fit is much more comfortable than the old plexiglass frame.  If you would like pictures or ideas on how to make a frame for your pack, shoot me and email, or leave a comment.

Update 3, 5/2011: Overall rating has been downgraded due to inability to adjust shoulder straps for torso length.  This pack is designed for someone who is taller than me.


One Response to “UTG (Leapers) Pack”

  1. David Says:

    I just purchased this pack today to use as a bug out bag. I am very interested in your frame mode. If you could email me the photos, I’d be appreciative.

    Thanks,

    Dave.

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