Saturday, September 13, 2008

Maxpedition carry bag: Man Purse, Baby!

Yup, I carry a purse. You wanna make something of it? Huh punk?

Dialing down the manly defensive reaction a little, I'd like to write about the Maxpedition carry bag I use. In my opinion, the ultimate man purse.

In our modern 'culture', and I use that term very loosely, a purse is something carried by woman. In reality, what most woman carry is a handbag and not a purse.

The history of the 'purse' goes back through the ages, and ranges from a simple skin bag holding flint and gut string to the mountain man's possibles bag which might hold a wide array of tools and supplies.

Soldiers for all time have carried gear with them in shoulder bags, as have hunters and craftsman working afield. It's only in the last few centuries that a man carried purse has fallen out of favor, and women took over the duty of hauling all the gear and supplies.

Today, with our technological toys and gadgets, along with all the flotsam normally gathered in a mans pockets, man-purses are making a come back. Not everyone wants a 'Bat-Belt' full of holsters and clipped on widgets.

My own choice is a Maxpedition 'Fatboy' Versa Pack.

After reading multiple reviews, I decided to give the Fatboy a try. It's a carry solution for those days when I don't want a holster on my belt.

Some days are T-shirt days, or more usually tuck-in-the-shirt days. That does not lend itself well to concealed carry. I desired a purpose built weapon bag, but have never been comfortable with fanny packs. I'm wide enough already without having
something adding another few inches to my table toppling girth. Maxpedition had the solution, and a manly beast it is!

It's made of very heavy synthetic, similar to what a tow strap is built of. I can't imagine ripping it, or having the fabric itself wear out. The zippers and fasteners are built of heavy polymer and don't look the least delicate. The carry strap and main pouch have fasteners that can be handled easily with gloves on, and the zippers have pull ties to allow the same.

Designed for hard and heavy use, the Fatboy also has concealed carry in mind. Behind the main pouch is a zippered pocket big enough to comfortably hold a 1911 sized pistol and a few spare magazines. The back side of this pocket is covered in Velcro, and a minimalist universal adjustable holster can be slapped onto it, along with magazine pouches. All stays quietly out of the way till the big zipper is pulled, leaving the pistol wide open and easily drawn.

I should mention.... this is concealed carry only in the sense the weapon is not openly displayed. That, and much of the public would have no idea it's a bag designed for carrying a pistol. To those in the know it fairly screams GUN!. In my decades of CCW carry, I have never had anyone question me about carrying a weapon after spotting it on me. In the year or so I have carried the Maxpedition occasionally, I've had several people comment on the carry bag with full understanding of what it is. In one case, an officer made eye contact, then glanced at the bag. I said one word, quietly, "Permit", and he moved on without fuss.

The Fatboy must have been designed by someone who has carried a shoulder bag before. It's shaped in such a way that it falls naturally to a comfortable position, and that means it must be purchased in a right hand or left hand version. The carry strap changes in width and angle depending on the version ordered. For those who despise a heavy bag banging against your side, the designer placed a snap/strap on the backside of the bag so it can be fastened to a belt and kept solidly in place.

The carry strap itself comes with a comfortable and adjustable shoulder pad, and a quick disconnect buckle in case you want to drop the bag instantly. If the bag is grabbed and used to drag you, the buckle can be squeezed and the strap releases. That's a well thought out detail.

There are pockets built in that are suitable for cell phone, flashlight, wallet, and anything else you might imagine. If those are not enough there are strategically placed velcro patches that allow attachment of accessory pouches. One large velcro strap on the front of the bag is perfect for unit patches and name tags.

In growing accustomed to a 'man-bag', I have taken the time to build it into my range practice. Adding draw/fire exercises using the bag, I have found it's only a few seconds slower that drawing from a belt, with practice. As I carry the bag to my left side, and I am right handed, my left opens the zipper and my right makes the draw naturally. It's all one fluid motion given the outstanding design of the bag. It's only slightly slower when un-holstering a cell phone or wallet.

Looking at the Maxpedition web site, this bag shows available in a number of colors. Many accessories are also available to customize the carry solution to your needs. They also sell varied shoulder bags, brief cases, back packs, fanny packs, wallets, and other assorted goodies. If all are the same quality as the Maxpedition products I own, then their prices are not high, but a good value.I expect to have my Fatboy bag in service for years to come.

Note..... this little review is wholly my own. Maxpedition doesn't know me from Adam and they haven't given me a thing to write nice words about them.


Brigid said...

You know Christmas is coming up. . . . .

Carteach0 said...

Methinks I have spotted a clue!

BobG said...

I tend to favor a photographer vest, myself. Whatever works for the individual is what is important. Belt types are awkward, if I wasn't in favor of a vest, I'd probably opt for the bag you use.

Freddyboomboom said...

Good review.

I like mine a lot, as well, although I don't have a holster in mine. The pistols I put in it aren't small enough to shift around much, and I haven't found a holster that fits in there well enough.

I keep the spare magazine in the pouch with the velcro closure, and you can see the base plate, but nobody has seemed to notice...

Somerled said...

It looks like a newfangled possibles or dope bag, à la Col. Whelen. Every guy should learn how to accessorize. Pockets have limits particulary when the gear tears holes in them.

immagikman said...

An interesting thought. Never considered a Man Bag, just because I never needed one. However in changing jobs, I may be on the road more often.

No that I can actually carry a firearm in this state. :P

JAFO said...

Excellent review. I am a recent Maxpedition convert, having started by buying a CondorII as a replacement laptop bag. Thing is TOUGH!

I finally got past the "man purse" bit and tried one of the fatboys, in OD green. I'm hooked, and now looking at possibly a larger model.

I'll post my own review on my site later I think.

Vanilla Chunk said...

I don't carry (the hassle and the downside is just too great here in L.A.), but if I did, I might look at some of the Mountainsmith lumbar packs. They carry as fanny packs, but also as shoulder bags (Mountainsmith makes some of the best shoulder straps on the market) or as a mini backpack. They also look a little less like a gun bag, IMHO. Great website, btw.

Anonymous said...

I've got a Fatboy and like it too.

There's only one thing I'd differ on with regards to the article: The 'quick ditch' buckle. Being an off-body carry method, the buckle appeared to me to be a liability that might allow someone to take the bag away through a pickpocket-style bump-and-run grab. If someone wants to wrestle my piece away from me I don't want the strap turning loose as I'm fighting for retention. I solved the problem, as I perceive it, with a loop of very heavy duty cable tie through the webbing and around the buckle. Imagine having to secure the two ends of strap webbing if the buckle were to break and you'll get the idea. Trimmed close and tucked in you can't even see it.

P.S. - You can tell the Right handed version from the Left handed by the strap buckle: It goes in front. My salesman didn't know and I had to make an extra trip to swap it.

JAFO said...

I second the bit about the buckle. I solved the problem by doing a little paracord fancywork in the area.

Guess I'm wierd- I carry the right handed model on the left hand side. I am right handed. :shrug:

TSL said...

The convenience of carrying such a bag is truly incredible. And who says that its tacky? The same actually fits well with either my suits, barongs, or casual attire. In fact, one of our municipal treasurers and the provincial general services officer is sporting a similar "purse" as well.

And relative to maxpedition products, I cannot deny how sturdy the same is! as for its concealability, let's just say that I've yet to enter a mall whose security officers were able to find sig saur or glock.

Cheers! great posts Sir, particularly with respect to handreloading! More power!

Anonymous said...

I bought one of these after seeing a friends Fatboy. I bought the Jumbo and, though I am still feeling kinda funny wearing it I have legitamized it a bit by turning it into a diaper bag for my 20 month old.

But of course I also have the 1911 in the rear pocket.