MONS Gear Box Product Review
Having put two bags from Camelbak through the paces over the past weeks, we cannot be more impressed with the thought that has gone into each detail in these bags. While each bag shares a lot of the same features, it would be wrong to say that the RUBICON is just a larger version of the SKIRMISH. But to start, I will focus on the similarities and then move on to what the RUBICON has that the SKIRMISH does not.
The SKIRMISH is hands down one of the most comfortable backpacks I have ever worn. Straps are extra wide and do not dig into your shoulders. However, this bag is very big. I have the straps almost as tight as they go. I am 5’10” (178cm) and the RUBICON is even bigger. But this means that you can fit all your kit in this bag. Starting at 4.8lbs with the insert (5.8lbs for The Rubicon), this bag is heavy. Adding gear and water really brings it up there, but it stays comfortable. Partly from the waist belt, and partly from the wide padded straps.
Each bag has one big main pocket, and it is great, a seemingly infinite space for ramming your gear inside. Three potential access points to get inside and stuff or retrieve. The main entrance to the big pocket has two double zippers built in which you can zip down to the bottom of either side so you can get into the bag without taking it off both shoulders. A zipper along the bottom allows you to enter without digging through everything on top. I like to keep a smaller bag stuffed with a jacket and gloves and my first aid kit at the bottom of the main pocket to access through this bottom zipper as they are things I do not need often, but want to get at them quick when needed.
Camelbak has built a moulded form to give shape to the bag and maintain its posture both when on the ground and on your back. It is heavy, maybe unnecessarily so, but it provides both structure and protection. You can easily pull it out if you don’t need it. There is also a lumbar form that can be removed at the access point to the reservoir.
This access point is set in the bottom of the bag, and would rest over your lower back, and gives you instant access to your water, so you can refill without unloading the rest of your pack. These two bags come with the 100oz MilSpec ANTIDOTE Lumbar Reservoir which repositions water weight low and on your hips for a lower and more stable centre of gravity. It is easy to fill and keep clean with stowable waist belt helps take this weight even further away from the shoulders. Finally, multiple drink tube exit ports for routing tube over the shoulder or under the arm.
The Cordura fabric is super tough. After long weekends of exercises and operations this bag got treated rough. But it is holding up the way a bag backed by a lifetime guarantee would, like a champ.
Both bags feature CamelBak‘s LIRR system, a special backpack material and hardware that dramatically reduces IR signature in the near-IR light range (0.7-1.3µm). Photocathode devices (NIR Image Converters) do not detect temperatures, but rather IR radiation variances. NIR-compliant packs use a special fabric that allows soldiers to appear at the same radiation level as the surrounding terrain, thus making them more difficult to detect.
The RUBICON adds more space with higher volume pockets, and additional pockets on the outside of the bag. In addition, it has an internal drop down sheet that velcros in place to separate the bottom of the main pocket that is accessed by the lower zipper. Each bag has side lash straps carry spare gear and to reduce the profile. Each bag has handles on both sides and the top, which is great when you need to get your bag in a hurry.