I have never been shy about my respect for Eberlestock packs. Not only have I reviewed more of them than any other brand here at GunsAmerica Digest, but I carried one in the war. (An early Generation 1 Gunslinger, standard issue for snipers where I worked.) Eberlestock has always made things that are incredibly durable, renowned by soldiers and hunters the world over. Never one to rest on their laurels, they have been steadily also working to make things lighter and more functional, which is much appreciated if you have carried one for a living.
But this week, we are taking a look at a line of packs that is outside the normal for Eberlestock. If 2020 has shown us anything, it is that having a bag for the urban hellscape is a very good idea too. Between riots, supply shortages, and COVID 19, you just never know what could happen. One minute you are sipping coffee at the desk in your wingtips or pumps, the next you have to make it back to the casa with just what you put in your trunk this morning. Can’t happen? Tell that to the residents of Minneapolis, Portland, or Chicago. Spontaneous Civil Disturbance is as likely in the forecast as rain or hail these days.
In light of this need, Eberlestock has responded. New for this year is an absolutely fantastic line of what they call Everyday Carry Packs. These packs feature all the ruggedness and comfort of the hunting and military lines, with none of the signatures. The collection was created from the ground up not to scream “TACTICAL”. If you have ever been in a city on fire, you know that the number one thing you want to do is blend in. But it is also a reality that you likely need some stuff to make it back to your home or safe area. Eberlestock cut away all the obvious tells of a military-esque product, with the idea you could carry what you need to carry while maintaining a low profile.
Another nice touch, they created the line with bags in a wide array of sizes. The exact situation you are in should dictate the size of a get home bag you need. If you need to travel 3 miles from the office to the front door, you don’t need a 50-liter pack. But what if you have a much longer commute? You might very easily need 1-2 days’ worth of stuff to make it, should you be relegated to the Reebok Expressway. Not to mention the wide difference in environments and seasons across the Nation.
I don’t think I need to spend 5 paragraphs telling you about the padding and frame structure. Trust me on this one, Eberlestock is as comfy as a weight on your back is going to get. Great ventilation technology, waistbands, straps, etc. Cool?
Good. Then let’s talk about testing protocol. With the line-up, I felt the best way to help you find your size was with a standard load out. If you haven’t bought a lot of high-quality packs in your life, the size bit can be a bit confusing. You will often end up with a much bigger bag than you needed and may try and then fill it with extra nonsense, which is a bad idea. If you are super familiar with sizing etc, well, you probably don’t need my opinion.
Figuring that in a worst-case scenario you have to keep your weapon in your car, we chose to add that to the packing list as item one. While size is a bit flexible and maybe unneeded for you, we picked a SIG SAUER P320 X-Carry as our baseline. It is riding in an N8 Tactical IWB holster, with a double mag carrier from the same brand. Then we have 2x 50 round boxes of 9mm, a Nalgene bottle survival kit, 1.5-liter water bottle, a pair of spare socks, and a USGI Canteen pouch sized first aid kit.
Now like we said, that is just a good all-around representation of gear. Not exactly what you need, but a baseline. As our packs got bigger, we kept all of that and added as we had room. Let’s see the tale of the tape.
Bandit H31 – 935 cubic inches
I hope the pictures do it justice, as this pack is so small it is cute. Almost like a GI Joe sized pack. And I say that without malice. Small in this case is innocuous, and no one would think this bag is packing some serious hardware. This pack is absolutely perfectly sized for either day hikes or a minimalist survival package. Unlike most of the others in the line, it also retains a laser-cut MOLLE flap, meaning you could add pouches as needed to make it a bit bigger.
Load out- It held everything if we count expanding the side pocket for the water bottle. Which I wasn’t planning on. Still, this is a fantastic little pack, and perfect for short-range get home. It might look small, but imagine taking it up the stairs to your apartment every day. Small is sometimes good. My wife tells me that all the time.
F5 Switchblade – 1500 cubic inches
A perennial favorite, the Switchblade is now revamped in several new colors. This one is so popular, we actually have a stand-alone review of the model with a ballistic panel insert. Our nonballistic test version is a slight step up in size, and capable of filling a wide variety of roles.
Load out- Everything on the basic list, including the 1.5-liter water bottle inside. (It has external pockets for that, but for our test interior matters.) Then we were able to add a pair of shoes and a warming layer. This is not insignificant since the author wears a size 14 Wide shoe, and a 2XL jacket. Shoes are also a big deal in a get home bag if you work in business wear. Walking 10 miles in wingtips is not going to be a fun time. Ditching them for some sneakers or boots is a very good idea.
S27 Little Trick – 1140 cubic inches
The Little Trick is both bigger and smaller than the F5 Switchblade. How? Because the Little Trick has a secret compartment that unzips to make the bag longer. In fact, exactly long enough to hold an AR pistol, provided it has an 8-inch barrel. Which kind of changes the game. We therefore had to pack it twice, once with the compartment open, once without. It is a little thinner than the Switchblade, but the ability to carry a bigger gun is huge. Your pistol will fit if it has a collapsed length of 22.5 inches or smaller.
Load Out- compartment open, all the base load out, plus a 2XL warming layer. No shoes, however.
Compartment closed- This was an odd one, mostly due to pack shape. It held the basic loadout to include a 1.5-liter water bottle inside, plus 3 rifle magazines. Maybe a tiny bit more space for odds and ends, but not much. The thin profile is a plus for carrying, but it does cost you on cargo.
S25 Cherry Bomb – 820 Cubic inches
This is a rather unique pack, as it is the only one on the list that you can tell was created specifically as a weapon carrier. You can tell by the shape and pocket system. The pack is tall and thin, with a deeper rear pocket behind a teardrop-shaped front pocket. Eberlestock calls this the public and private compartments. The idea being the front pocket holds all your pocket junk like a phone charger, snacks, etc, and the rear one holds a “pistol”. Like a big boy pistol. So we also kind of had to test it differently.
And I would be ready to call it the best covert weapon carrier on the market, except that it depends on your arsenal. It holds a pistol tighter and easier to deploy than the Little Trick and also keeps all your random other gear from jamming up the draw stroke. But…. You are once again limited to an overall length of 22.5 inches. Which means an AR pistol with an 8-inch barrel and a Maxim pistol brace. And I prefer a 10.5-inch barrel, with a Maxim brace. And I’m sure I’m not alone. If you are running a CMMG pistol, SP-5, or a B&T9, this is perfect. Or even an 8 inch AR like mine. Running a Law Tactical Folder would also negate this issue. But I would really like to have seen this pack 2.5 inches taller to accommodate a bigger group of weapons. If we were using stars, I would give this a 4 out of 5 solely for that reason.
Load out- Given the dimensions, I felt obligated to leave the AR in the back with some spare mags, and just test the front pocket. While that AR is a huge gain, we had to toss the first aid kit, water bottle, and Nalgene survival kit. This is a very streamlined package, and perfect for a specific need. But keep that in mind if you are looking for an all-purpose bag.
All in all, this represents some great new options for EDC. And Eberlestock actually has even more options than we put in this review. If 2020 has you looking for a get home bag, these are some options I can strongly recommend.