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My 15 Minute "Interview" Of The Arc'teryx Blade 21

Discussion in 'Gear Reviews' started by Cryptic, Oct 3, 2008.

  1. Cryptic

    Cryptic Loaded Pockets

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    Last weekend I stopped by a local tactical shop to see what they had to offer. One of the bags that I went over was the Arc'teryx Blade 21. One was black, the other was "Universal" camo. The camo one had LEAF stitched on the front, the black one did not.

    The bag is pretty light overall, with very plushy padding on the shoulder straps. Easy to get into. The back is a kind of a hard foam, which is further reinforced with the removable insert inside of the bag. The bag is a little on the small side for EDC( 1280 cubes), but has a unique side-loading design. I am sure that it would be great for books, papers and whatnot. The quality of the bag seemed to be high- definitely "brand-name" stuff.

    However, I was disappointed in a few things.

    1.) The foam backing+insert made me feel like I had a turtle shell on- YMMV.
    2.) The pack material was high quality, but much thinner in texture. Their site says: 1260d Ballistic Nylon/630d Superpack nylon, but it felt far softer than 1000D Cordura.
    3.) The side-load design- good idea, but not a lot of people will use it as intended. Since I hold my packs on the left, this doesn't work for me.
    4.) I had read on several sites that their LEAF line was made in Canada. This is not true any longer- both packs were made in the Philippines.


    So, I'd give the pack a B- not for everyone, but still good quality.
     
  2. fshalor

    fshalor Loaded Pockets

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    After rolling daily with the Blade21 for about 3-4 months, I can address these.

    Since I shared most of the same observations, here's how it worked out for me;
    1. The backing molds more than I was expecting without showing it, or feeling strange. I have been completely blown away with how neatly this bag tucks into your person, regardless of load. Slips eaisly under any plane seat while 3/4 full. If you leave the insert in, a laptop without a sleeve will "bounce". Insert out works well, but the insert does a lot for stabilizing the structure. I chose to use a sleave full time. (Carry either a Macbook pro 15.4" or a MSI u100 10". ) The shoulderstrap angles aren't for everyone. Some people seem to find it awesome, others, discomforting. I think they are a bit too narrow at the top. I second the YMMV. It suits me at 5'11" 150lbs with average shoulders. With or without motorcycle jacket on.
    2. I think the softness of the material has something to do with the treatment. 3 months, several plane trips, daily motorcycling, 10+ day trips with this bag on the deck of a boat with gear in it or on the grating of a tower out in the ocean, and a month on a research vessel and it's held up very very well. The only sign of any wear is on the sipper "garages".. one of them has a few frays on the very edge from the under material. I should hit it with a lighter or something.
    3. Side loading was strange at first. I almost didn't get this bag because of it. I was very concerned about not having load balancing straps. And very concerned about zippers holding the weight in. The way this is designed, the zippers hold minimal or no load, even when stuffed. I've gotten quite used to the side load setup.

    However, there are two issues. One is, I carry on weak side (left) shoulder with a light backpack out of habbit. I'm also used to accessing while moving from left side. (To keep strong side free for other things.) There is zero way you can access anything in this bag from the left side without doing something strange. Right side access is okay, if on the right shoulder only. I could go for a "left" oriented version of this bag without a second thought.

    Second: I'd love to see a means of tucking the existing shoulder straps and D-ringing out a single strap for quick conversion to messenger bag carry.

    4. Yup: mines from Philippines too. (Black, Arc'Teryx logo.)

    I second the B rating. even with the surprises this bag has given me, it's still slightly unusual and not for everyone.

    There is something to be said about the ability to insert a full 6-pack of porter in a "small" backpack, zip it up (middle pouch), and not notice. I can't do that with my Kelty Redtail 1800 without completely rearranging the contents. (I don't do this very often, but I forgot I'd taken off my saddle bags that week.)
     
  3. Cryptic

    Cryptic Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks for the follow-up! :roof:
     
  4. Elmo

    Elmo Loaded Pockets

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    probably a silly question but where can you buy the LEAF version. Nothing shows up on google


    thanks
     
  5. panzer

    panzer Loaded Pockets

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  6. Elmo

    Elmo Loaded Pockets

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    you can order it at Quantico Tactical
     
  7. sLaura

    sLaura Empty Pockets

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    Thanks for the info. My friend has a Arc'teryx Blade 21, I don't know where he bought it, though he sad that the quality is great but a little expensive.

    --

    "A person will be just about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
    --Abraham Lincoln


    sLaura smartwool
     
  8. Cryptic

    Cryptic Loaded Pockets

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  9. tacdrivrnc

    tacdrivrnc Loaded Pockets

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    I recently picked up a Mantis 26 at REI on sale. It's kindof a olive/brown-ish color. Not particularly tactical looking, but very well made, hydro-compatible, and with plenty of organization. Nicely padded shoulder straps too.
     
  10. Cryptic

    Cryptic Loaded Pockets

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    Recently picked up a mint condition Charlie pack; will post pics + review soon.