Until now I have using my son’s 42 liter Rhino trekking backpack. I never found it a very handy backpack, with all the dangling straps, difficult access and too few compartments.
It resulted in the loss of my HT on my second activation (and that still hurts, I can tell you) so I started searching for a handier solution. Many hours of googling later it resulted in this…
…the purchase of a Helikon-Tex Ratel Mk2 cordura fabric, YKK zippered, MOLLE/PALS compatible tactical backpack in Multicam color pattern, designed in Poland, crafted in Vietnam.
As with many things in Taiwan: there is choice, but limited. I could have gone for a cheap Chinese pack (nah, you’ll regret it), a Taiwanese branded one (expensive!), or order one from abroad and wait an eternity (…). So when I found a store close by that sells Helikon-Tex and at a good price I decided to go for it. Online reviews of Helikon-Tex are usually positive, with quality almost always scoring high. The only thing that held me back was the volume: only 25 liters.
So I went to the store with all my gear in the Rhino backpack and they gave me a Helikon-Tex Ratel Mk2 to try it out.
I had room left in the Rhino when I was packed up, but amazingly I also had plenty of room left in the Helikon-Tex Ratel. So much so that I decided to buy one on the spot. The two boxes with radio gear fit in snug and so does the orange cooking kit. In the lower front pockets there are spare clothes and rain gear with room to spare, and in the upper one essentials that you need to grab in an instant: mosquito repellent, sunscreen, spare battery, etc. Exactly the way I want it.
But as I said, in Taiwan you have choice, but only limited: I could either choose between a very foul brown looking one or the camouflage version. The latter one was US$10 more expensive, but one sigh later it became mine.
Tactical backpacks usually don’t come with side pockets, but since the Helikon-Tex Ratel Mk2 has MOLLE webbing I bought two additional water bottle pouches and a pouch for my HT. One water bottle pouch acts as a pocket to strap the antenna and walking stick to the pack, the other is for an actual bottle. I really wanted to buy a shoulder strap pocket for the HT, but they didn’t have one that could clamp around the strap, so I went for a regular MOLLE one. Not ideal, but at least the HT has a fixed place and hopefully won’t get lost again.
One hundred and two US dollars lighter I walked out the store, but happy that I found the pack I like. And since the weather is looking good enough this Sunday, I can try it out for the first time and I’m really looking forward to it. Stay tuned.