Carry on My Wayward Son – review of Hill People Gear’s Tarahumara Pack
As I’ve traversed over the undulating and winding road through the world of Airsoft and MilSim, or as is our preferred nomenclature, ‘Plastic Deth’, I’ve noticed in recent years a steady cross pollination between both this pastime and the Out Doors and Every Day Carry lifestyles and movements …
I too suspect, as is the case with me, an appreciation and fascination with high end gear, kit and equipment has given me an appetite and a demanding appreciation of good value, functional products, which ultimately represent value and longevity.
Enter Hill People Gear’s ‘Tarahumara’ pack. I’d used extensively both in game and to and from work on my daily commute Tactical Tailors (TT) ‘venerable’ modular assault pack. This, still going strong, even being now four years old, in Multicam I was after something a little larger, and for personable reasons, something a little more sublime and less ‘militaristic’. Yet it had to have the same durability as the ‘TT’ and more importantly functionality.
So here’s my overview of Hill People Gear’s, in Ranger Green the ‘Tarahumara‘.
Whilst not out of sheer lazy journalism, I’m not going endlessly drivel on about the companies origins and inception, but rather let you read the accompanying biographies of its to founding members, brothers Evan and Scot Hill.
I only further add, that in my own never ending quest for high end gear, HPG design, prototype, formulate and test their gear before assuming production with First Spear LLC, who are another incredible tactical design house, who aside from being former Marines, also make incredible gear, which I too use, albeit thematically a more ‘tactical’ mindset.
So, I’ve included, both the Hill brothers biographies here, to serve as an intro to the pack which I’ll go on to review but urge you to head on over to their web store. Not only packed with an overwhelming wealth of products and options. This too serves as their communities hub and forum, packed full of tales of their adventures, travels and exploits all the whilst using and abusing their very own products.
Evan Hill | Founder, Design, Etc.
Evan grew up in the west, including tenures in Colorado, Alaska, Washington, New Mexico, and West Texas. Always on the edge of town, always outdoors. He started sewing using his mom’s machine when he was 12. Early on, he sewed a pack that included a side panel design that came out on a Lowe pack the following year. Since the Lowe brothers were heroes of his, Evan was gratifed. His early outdoor resume is rounded out with numerous outdoor adventures both inside and outside of the Boy Scouts, culminating in the rank of Eagle Scout. Evan went on to major in Anthropology while serving as a forest fire fighter on the Wyoming Hotshots in the summer. After college, he spent over a decade involved in web and software design and architecture in the dot.coms of Seattle. After a welcome return to the land in the form of moving his family to central Oregon, Evan turned the design and engineering skills he had honed in the dot.coms back to a problem area much nearer and dearer to his heart.
Scot Hill | Founder, Operations, Etc.
Scot, grew up alongside Evan across the American west, and also achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. He parlayed his Boy Scout experience into 5 seasons with the Forest Service as a trail crew member and wilderness ranger. Scot worked in the San Juans of southern Colorado and the Gila of southern New Mexico performing a wide gammut of duties including horseback patrol, horse packing, trail construction and maintenance, fire fighting, sawyer / feller, and gear buying. On the San Juan, Scot was very involved in Leave No Trace instruction and wilderness preservation. He gained some notoriety with his hard line stance about not using helicopters to evacuate people from wilderness areas who didn’t have life threatening injuries. Above all, Scot spent months on end traveling and living in the back country during his tenure with the Forest Service. Today, Scot is an environmental consultant and master of the “why can’t you design a piece of gear that does such and such” question.
So, the plunge to throw my lot in with HPG was three fold, the endless, practical and glowingly golden praise from end users had me compellingly intrigued, and despite post exit from Europe, the ailing pound held sufficient sway and testament to HPG’s incredible price point, even against the dollar, this generously sized high pack was still only £100 shipped to the UK. Thirdly, I could nary justify the exorbitant prices of higher end ‘branded products’ and mentioning no names, whom have of late been extensively criticized for their lack of durability and longevity.
Right, straight out of the proverbial box, it’s stunningly visually evident that this is ‘Ranger Green‘ – I’m a huge fan of this particular Pantone, if only being previously an avid collector of Eagle Industries RLCS suite as used previously by the inimitable 75th Ranger Bn. It can be optioned in either Coyote Brown or OD but, both of those colors are so prevalently available there was only one real choice. I’ll confess now, that this pack was previously available in genuine Multicam, and despite my strides to procure something less tactical, had it been available I may well of struggled to resist.
Other initial first impressions, is the feel, fit and finish are immediately and strikingly evident. Neither a stitch out of place or left loosely unfinished. Which speaks volumes about their incredible quality control and R&D process. This is, a labor of love …
The Tarahumara is a single bucket affair, accessible by a solid single vertical zipper allowing easy access to its interior.
It’s spacious enough to holdfor example my jacket, keys, an abundance of ephemera that I regularly carry, including my latest reading material and naturally the obligatory watch cap, neck gaiter whilst still leaving over 2/3rds the main compartment vacant. Impressive, despite its diminutive exterior appearance, it’s interior space is almost like the vacuously spacious Tardis !!!
This is backed by a secondary interior sleeve, which is to store a hydration bladder, or alternative perhaps one of HPG’s long pockets or folded or rolled tarp or ‘basha’.
What I particularly enjoyed about this is the ribbed and padded inward facing panel which doubles not only as insulation but creates a multiple point of contact across the back and shoulders thus distributing and offsetting the weight of load carriage.
The left and right of the main compartment are flanked by two generously open pockets, ideal for bottles, gloves or even perhaps magazines which in the short term require quick and easy access too …
The underside is replete with an ingeniously simple shock cord bungee system, ideal for carriage of a roll mat, stowed sleeping system or inclement weather clothing when more space is required from the internal pocket which require more secure storage.
The straps are HPG’s own proprietary system, easily adjustable for height and preferred depth, but even a quick run out the store proved these to be a welcome addition alleviating weight evenly across the shoulders and back.
Like all good treasure, from any anticipated mail call, HPG have finished off the Tarahumara in true style with two ‘cinch-able’ compressions straps. Thus allowing the contest to be reasonably held place whilst out traversing to and fro what ever your adventures.
So, to surmise, incredibly well built, high end at incredible value with endless thoughtful detailing. I feel I’ve not only purchased a great product, but taken a stake in HPG’s community and ethos too – now, excuse me whilst I head back over to their web store and peruse over another hot coffee, whilst outdoors, naturally – S23
Weight: 1.44 lb
Length: 4.00 in
Width: 9.00 in
Height: 17.00 in
Dimensional Volume: 612.00 in3
Dimensional Volume (DV) is NOT the number used by manufacturers to denote capacity. To get a cubic inch number that you can use to compare to what you’re accustomed to, multiply DV by 1.5 as a rule of thumb. Bigger packs can use an even bigger multiplier – up to 1.7.
tools – contingency
Head on over and become one of the Hill People here: https://www.hillpeoplegear.com/