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Sitka (modem burner!)

Discussion in 'Gear Reviews' started by LUW, Jun 1, 2010.

  1. LUW

    LUW Loaded Pockets

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    A couple of months back I decided to create a "grab bag", a bag where I would carry essential gear and that was always ready to go on a moment's notice. So I got myself a Fatboy S, and though it is a great bag, I found out it had three disadvantages. First of all it is too small, not big enough to carry all the crap I wanted to carry. I'm not taking everything with me including the kitchen sink, just the stuff I would consider essential, but even though I tried to be very parsimonious, I got it packed almost to the brim. With that, there was no room left for future additions or even for temporary storage. If, for instance, I wanted to take with me an apple as a snack or one of my boy's toys, it just wouldn't fit.

    The second problem with it is that it doesn't have water storage capacity. With this in mind, it is obvious I should have chosen a Jumbo instead, but at the time I didn't think I would need to carry water in my grab bag. A couple of weeks ago, when I was woods bumming with my three year old in a city park, it downed on me that if I had to wash anything I would have to rely on a creek. A Jumbo would have taken care of that.

    And then we get to the third issue, which is IMO the most important one: I didn't find comfortable to walk around wearing a shoulder bag. My left hand kept hitting the Fatboy, so for more serious walking it really got in the way. It's not uncomfortable in terms of weight or that it hurts my shoulder, and everything I need is right there at hand's reach, without I having to take off the pack, but it just didn't work for walking. With this, even a Jumbo would have been a problem, so I'm utterly glad I didn't spend even more money on one. And I did consider getting a Jumbo at a time, because of the water issue and size.

    I needed something bigger then a Fatboy and more comfortable to walk around, so at first I was thinking about a small backpack. Though a backpack is unsurpassed in terms of comfort, it's not as easy to get stuff from it as a shoulder bag, and all the good ones that I was looking at were just too big for the stuff I want/need to carry. A backpack, even a small one, would be overkill in terms of size. My grab bag is by definition not a BOB, a BOB would definitively have to be something bigger, and for that I would go with a backpack. So it had to be something in between a good BOB and the Fatboy, but with water storage capability and comfortable for serious walking if needed.

    And here comes the Sitka. The size looked good, I would have everything easily accessible without having to take off the pack, it has a water bottle compartment and can even carry a water bladder and being a sling pack, it wouldn't get in the way when hiking. I ordered one and it arrived this week.

    [​IMG]

    I'm absolutely thrilled by it :drool:! It fits my needs to a T, with all the room I need for my trinkets and gadgets and still extra room if needed. It's very comfortable to wear, and walking around with it I feel almost like I'm carrying a back pack, but with the perk that I can swing it around and everything I need is just there in front of me. The small strap that you can use to stabilize it on your back is terrific: the bag stays perfectly still on your back, even when running. And if you don't want to use it, you can stow it in the water bladder compartment, totally out of sight.

    [​IMG]

    I added a barnacle to the shoulder strap, and with it I can carry my cell phone or iPod right in front of me, so to access them I don't even have to slide the bag around. However this has one disadvantage: if I slide the Sitka to my front, the barnacle gets exactly in the middle of my back, and that's in issue if you want to sit in a chair. Imagine if you got into a bus and you slide the bag to your front so that you can sit comfortably. I'm undecided if I'll keep the barnacle where it is, but I want to wear it more this way to see if it really gets in the way. If it does, I'll just strap it to the side of the bag, where the shoulder strap is attached close to the base.

    [​IMG]

    Clipped right in front of me is a small Gerber red LED and a Jetscream whistle.

    In the small front compartment I carry all my tools:

    [​IMG]

    Flashlight (Fenix PD30+), Simons 10x25 monocular, Pocket Widgy, aluminum hollow screw driver handle with bits (slot, Phillips and torx), paracord, Leatherman Wave¹ (not shown in the pic), NiteCore head bandana for the PD30 and spare CR123 batteries.

    The other front compartment is a bit larger then the first one. It's big enough to carry all of the following, and I still have room to spare for add-ons:

    [​IMG]

    Granola bars, spork, compass (Suunto A10), notepad, fresnel lens, small Aloksak bag, cheap plastic poncho, particle mask, emergency blanket, pencil and roller ball pen.

    The main compartment I will use for temporary storage, for whatever I need to stuff in there. Right now I am carrying a big poncho (that blue roll), but I'm still not sure if I will keep it there. It's bulky, but it's easier to carry then an umbrella. In the sides of the main compartment I stuffed with those blue and silver pouches, a green laser pointer (125 mW), sharpening rod, more paracord and my spare glasses (silver case).

    [​IMG]

    In the blue pouch I carry miscellaneous items, like a small "one use" flask of Locktite super glue, zip ties, sewing kit, fishing kit², duct tape rolls and signaling mirror.

    [​IMG]

    In the metal pouch I carry my fire gear:

    [​IMG]
    WetFire cubes, fire steel and striker, magnesium bar and Sparkie One Handed Fire Starter.

    On the other side I carry an ESEE HEST knife in it's sheath³:

    [​IMG]

    In the zipper pockets I have a pair of gloves and on the right my FAK:

    [​IMG]

    I carry only the bear essentials here: bandaids, Tylenol and Alivium, Digesan (anti-emetic), Scaflan (anti-inflammatory), DigiPlus (anti-emetic and enzimes - good for when you eat too much or are bloated), Allegra (anti-histaminic), small bandage roll, sterile gauze pack, Micropore tape, latex gloves and a pack of Kleenex.

    ¹: Will be substituted by a Leatherman Juice S2 or CS4 to save on weight.
    ²: Yeah, I know, why would I need a fishing kit in the city, but look at the size of that little tin, it's small and light. Ok, I admit, I'm a geek.
    ³: The HEST will be substituted by something else, since the pry bar on the end of the handle does not agree with my hand when I have to chop something. I have a Busse Boss Street and a custom blade in route that may take the HEST's place, but if they're too big I think I'll get a Fallkniven S1, BRKT Bravo 1 or maybe an ESEE-4.

    What I still have to get:

    • Lighter: I have an eGear Fire One butane lighter en route right now from Going Gear.
    • Bottle: Also from Going Gear, in the next week or so should arrive a SS Nalgene 32 oz bottle.
    • Gloves: The ones I have are a cheapo pair, but better then nothing. I definitively have to get something better like maybe a Mechanix pair.
    • Bandanna: Also en route from Going Gear.
    • FAK: I need to add Allivium (fever/analgesic drops) and Allegra syrup for my boy and Ponstan (anti-spasmodic, great for menstrual cramps).
    With all the gear I'm carrying, I don't have anything to put in the bladder pack or the front small pocket:

    [​IMG]

    I think I'll use that just to store wallet, tickets, etc. Another feature that I did like about the Sitka is the compression straps, that can be totally removed if I want:

    [​IMG]

    It also came with a bungee cord and a stretch of black paracord to tie things down if needed. Though I removed both, I carry the bungee cord in one of the pockets, since it's nice to have it around just in case.

    Just as a comparison, here is the Sitka compared to the Fatboy:

    [​IMG]

    Sitka as a camera bag:
    I have a D90 and it's a pretty bulky camera. The Sitka will hold it, but it's really awkward to get the camera in there, specially with the regular 70-120 mm lens. If I remove the lens from the body then it fits well, but I for one do not want to have to assemble the lens every single time I get the camera out of the bag. If I wanted to carry my 200-300 mm tele it would fit in the water bottle compartment, but I would have to pad it to keep the lens safe. So all in all, the Sitka could carry a DSLR camera, but I would have to pad it and wouldn't be able to basically carry anything else. In other words, it doesn't work :tsk:.
     
    marcclarke likes this.
  2. sjmack

    sjmack Loaded Pockets

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    Great review.


    (Psst, go with the Bravo 1) :-X
     
  3. jeeves3443

    jeeves3443 Loaded Pockets

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    I think that extra stretch of paracord is designed to act like a 'security system' for the zipper ties. My Kodiak came with it threaded into the nylon strap with the 'D' ring on the end of it. I guess the idea is that you run the cord through all your zippers, making pick-pocketing more difficult.
     
  4. ProjeKtWEREWOLF

    ProjeKtWEREWOLF Loaded Pockets

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    nice review and pics. I was considering a Sitka, but after seeing it next to the Fatboy...no chance. Too small for me.
     
  5. LUW

    LUW Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks guys, I'm glad you liked the review! :pop:

    sjmack, the Bravo 1 is currently at the front of the list :nana:.

    jeeves3443, could be, and I'm sure it would work very well for that end.

    ProjeKtWEREWOLF, I would say that the Sitka is of medium size. If you need lost of space, you should consider a Kodiak or even a backpack (like the PF), where you cold go to town in terms of space.
     
  6. marsos52

    marsos52 Loaded Pockets

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    lux thanks for the review...nice pics too..shame no shoots of you carrying them....its looks twice the size of the fatboy ...i have it nocely organized too
    its reminds me of my condor only mini
     
  7. LUW

    LUW Loaded Pockets

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    marsos52, you're welcome!
    I didn't make any shots of me wearing it because I didn't have a spare photographer handy at the time :idiot2:. But if I don't find someone to help me I'll set up my tripod and will get these shots to show. I think that "wearing pics" are fundamental when you're thinking about a bag, since just the bag not always gives the viewer a good idea of how it wears.
     
  8. pilote

    pilote Loaded Pockets

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    very nice review...i love it when you guys give lots of pics with your commentary...
     
  9. LUW

    LUW Loaded Pockets

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    :cheers:
    Internet forums without pics would be a drag to say the least> Might even drive me back to work :nana:.
     
  10. greyhound352

    greyhound352 Loaded Pockets

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    Great looking setup, really enjoyed the pics. Looks like a well thought out kit.
     
  11. marsos52

    marsos52 Loaded Pockets

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    thanks luw
     
  12. straightpuke

    straightpuke Loaded Pockets

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    I want this bag so bad! These pictures are making it harder to resist the urge...
     
  13. koda

    koda Loaded Pockets

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    I love the Sitka. I originally got a jumbo versipack, but it wasn't for me. I can't wait to get a Sitka. Really enjoyed your review, thanks.
     
  14. LUW

    LUW Loaded Pockets

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    One thing that became very clear to me is that sometimes just pics, and even loads of pics of the bag and of it being worn, will not be enough. In other words, you have to wear the thing to be sure it's the right bag for you (unless, of course, we're talking about backpacks). Fortunately I striked a home run with the Sitka, but it was a gamble.

    And another important thing that I guess everybody here already knows, is that the gear to be carried is always evolving. Be it because you find a better option for your current gear or because your needs change with time, I don't think there is such a thing as a "definitive list". Of course there are essentials, like blade, light, MT, etc, but your list will eventually change with time.

    For instance, I just realized that I should carry a pen drive with important info. I EDC a pen drive, but hadn't considered having one in my grab bag. Thinking about it however, the question is why not having a pen drive in there too. So one more item I need to get.
     
  15. eme714

    eme714 Loaded Pockets

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    I really enjoy the Sitka in person and would really like it to work for me. However, when I flip it towards the front it rides to high. Loosening it so it rides lower in the front, only makes it uncomfortable when it is on my back.
     
  16. M24shooter

    M24shooter Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks for the review. I've got a Fatboy-S that I really like. I'm thinking about putting together a bigger bag with the same intent as yours, and I'm trying to decide between the Sitka and the NOATAK.
     
  17. LUW

    LUW Loaded Pockets

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    NOATAK? Couldn't find that one. How does it look?
     
  18. M24shooter

    M24shooter Loaded Pockets

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    It is basically a smaller Sitka.

    [​IMG]

    http://www.maxpedition.com/store/pc/Noatak-Gearslinger-62p1436.htm

    For what I'm wanting, I don't think I'll need the full sized Sitka, but I'd like to actually see them side by side in person before I decide. I've already got a lot of Maxpedition stuff that I ordered, that once I actually got it was too big or too small.
     
  19. LUW

    LUW Loaded Pockets

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    If I didn't know better I would say that's a Sitka! I guess you'll have to see them side by side to be sure which one suits you best.
     
  20. skeet

    skeet Loaded Pockets

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    I've never liked the nalgene pouches on the gearslingers. IMO it unbalances them to the water side too much. With gearslingers to bladder, versipacks and backpacks go nalgene.

    My .02