The heart and soul of a good bug out bag is the backpack. Being able to carry all the items in your bag efficiently in a bug out scenario is vitally important. Some preppers go cheap or grab the first backpack that they see in a store without putting much thought into the pack’s comfort, size, design, and features. That’s a shame, especially when you think about the purpose of the bag.
So what features make up a good backpack? First, it should be large enough to hold your entire survival kit, but not so massive that you can’t effectively haul it on your back. Second, it should be front-loading to facilitate quick access to any item in your pack without having to unload everything first. Third, it should have a plethora of MOLLE (MOdular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) webbing or loops to allow the attachment of items to the outside of your pack. Fourth, the backpack should be durable and have rigid back support like aluminum braces to allow the bag to hold its shape. And fifth, the backpack should be water resistant and have some kind of rain cover that can be pulled over the pack to protect it from the elements.
Meeting all of these requirements, and then some, is Eberlestock’s outstanding Halftrack F3M. With an MSRP of $249, the Halftrack is expensive, but like most things in life you get what you pay for. This front-loading pack weighs just 6 pounds, 12 ounces, and has a storage capacity of 3,080 cubic inches. The main storage compartment features a fold-down shelf that can be used to separate the compartment into two smaller chambers and also features numerous tuck pockets on the sides. In addition, the Halftrack sports a vast array of MOLLE webbing on the interior side of the main flap as well as on the exterior of the pack, including on the support belt. The Halftrack is also designed to carry two 3 liter hydration kits, which fit in the side pockets, or two 2 liter hydration kits which fit in the tunnel pockets inboard of the side pockets.
|The main compartment can be configured to create two smaller chambers.|
|MOLLE webbing can even be found on the side pockets.|
Made from 1000 denier nylon, the Halftrack is well-constructed and comfortable to wear. It features seven ventilated pads on the back of the pack, including the largest which fits perfectly in the small of your back. The bag also has aluminum and plastic bracing along the back, which, in combination with the adjustable harness and waist-belt, provides excellent support of heavy loads. These features combine to make the Halftrack F3M one of the most comfortable backpacks I’ve ever worn. I was already sold on the aforementioned features, but what really sealed the deal for me was the built-in rain cover, which stores underneath the pack in a nearly hidden compartment. This rain cover is large enough to cover additional items mounted on the outside of the pack, like storage pouches and canteens.
|The rear of the pack showing the support pads.|
|The Halftrack with the built-in rain cover.|
The Halftrack F3M comes in several colors and color schemes to permit use in either urban or rural environments. Colors offered by Eberlestock include Black, Military Green, Dry Earth, Coyote Brown, and Multi-cam, the color of my Halftrack. Unfortunately, the Multi-cam option will cost you an additional $40 on their website, though I was able to score mine at a local Army-Navy surplus store for the same price as the solid colored bags.
The Halftrack is classified as a tactical pack and earns high marks in that capacity. The top of the main compartment is designed to house a tactical radio with webbing and straps for support. The pack also features two pass-through ports along the top that can accommodate radio antennas and hydration drinking tubes. Even better, the side pockets, which run the entire length of the pack, are long enough and wide enough to house an AR-7 US Survival Rifle with room to spare. This was a very pleasant surprise and something I honestly didn’t expect due to the oversized stock of the AR-7. Lastly, the tunnel compartments on either side of the bag can store long and narrow items like tent polls, knives, machetes, and tripods.
|The AR-7 fits in the side pockets with room to spare.|
|The top compartment with the flip-top lid is very large.|
Eberlestock, which has been in business since 1985, offers an impressive lifetime warranty that covers everything on the backpack except for normal wear and tear. So in the unlikely event that something does go wrong with your bag, Eberlestock will repair it or replace it, free of charge. Another plus in my book is that Eberlestock is an American company. American companies that provide outstanding products along with superb customer support deserve our support and our business.
So if you’re looking for a great hunting, hiking, or bug out backpack, you should consider Eberlestock’s F3M Halftrack. The superb quality, comfort, and versatility combine to make a terrific bag that functions well on the move. Sure, you can spend a lot less money for a backpack, but why go cheap for a bag that falls apart the first time you use it, that isn’t comfortable, and that doesn’t have the features that you really need? If you’re going to spend the money, spend it on something that will last and provide years of outstanding service. The Eberlestock F3M Halftrack is one such backpack.
Note: This is an independent review. I do NOT get paid to review products on this website. I will only recommend products in which I use and believe in and which I think will benefit my audience. The views expressed in my reviews are personal views and are written without any influence, whatsoever. That said, I reserve the right to engage in paid affiliate marketing and promotion with brands, companies and individuals whose products I review.
I picked up a Tioga 80 from Big-5. Large and framed, with multiple access points. It's been doing the job well.
But there are a few things I like about the HalfTrack. That fold down internal shelf designed to split the main compartment. BRILLIANT. I imagine it is somewhat rigid – and hinges down into place. I hope that's how it's done.
TWO 3 liter bladder mounts? THAT is serious water work, there. But y'all have to be able to hump that and the gear with it. Still, it's not a minimum – it serves as an option for those that can. Nice.
I also run a MOLLE II pack, with double sustainment pouches. Some people complain about the feel of it, but it hasn't upset my back. Both the Tioga and the MOLLE II can be adjusted for different spine lengths, but the Tioga has a better waist belt (includes some storage, and padded hoops to hang your thumbs when you want a place to rest your hands.)
Limited use on short hikes, so far. I'll provide an update as I use the pack more.
So, How was it on the trail? How long did you spend with it? was it a good working Pack or was it hard to live with?