Our friends at Miltary 1st sent over some new gear to check out. They are one of the best military and outdoor retailers in Europe with plenty of stock, so be sure to check them out. Today, we’ll be taking a close look at an all European designed and made tactical gear. To be exact, it’s the ZipperFox 25 backpack, made by a company from Poland, Wisport.Wisport is a company that does all of it’s manufacturing in Poland. They started their operation in 1984 and never looked back. Many of their products are designed with close cooperation with active military and law enforcement personnel and in 2012, Bagar, the owner of the Wisport brand got the contract for major manufacturing.
They take great care to provide innovative designs and advanced materials, however, their greatest focus for 3 decades now has been on quality. They believe that their customers should be able to rely on their products in every possible situation, while constantly wanting to improve their products at every stage of their life cycle. Their projects, resources, and manufacturing methods are revised and improved on a permanent basis in order to take advantage of the latest developments in design and materials. They continually work with their most demanding customers, such as professional travellers and Special Forces, as well as their suppliers and retailers in order to offer the best possible product range that will meet and exceed all expectations.
AT FIRST GLANCE
The backpack in question is the Zipper Fox, with 25L of capacity in Coyote Brown colour. Don’t let that number fool you though, as it has much more to offer. As it’s obvious from the start, the whole outside of the backpack is almost covered in MOLLE webbing and compression straps, so the actual load capacity is significantly increased.It features many bells and whistles that make the use even more comfortable, ranging from hardware details to other solutions not found on many other packs from other manufacturers. It seems that their statement regarding cooperation with special units and customers is true. A novice user might even find a solution for a problem that never knew even existed. The materials feel rugged and of high quality and the stitching seems well above average. Its rough dimensions are 50X27X19cm and it weighs 1350g. Now let’s see what it has to offer.
MATERIALS AND WORKMANSHIP
Materials used for the construction are mainly Nylon and 500D Cordura fabric. They help keep the weight down and still are able to withstand some serious abuse. All plastic hardware is provided by ITW Nexus/Duraflex, which is as you know the leader in this field.
The zippers are branded with Wisport markings and are very reliable and of high quality. Even when you think to yourself “well, that’s that for the zipper”, you just reverse what you did and it’s back to normal operation. We used and abused this pack over the course of two months for work, sports, travelling, hiking and so on. It was dragged, overloaded, and otherwise rough handled and it’s still as new. The only part that shows wear and tear is the main compartment zipper pulls. And those did not get defected or something like that. They just got some chipped paint. That’s it.
The stitching is really heavy duty, just how we like it. Mostly it’s done with real care, but we could notice a tiny human error here and there. Nothing catastrophic or harmful for the overall structure and barely noticeable. MOLLE is straight and its stitching is done perfectly with up to 1mm of every stitch extending past the end of the webbing.
ON THE OUTSIDE
Starting at the bottom back, we have the hip belt. It’s nicely padded and removable. The liner is constructed from a 3d knitted mesh material which helps with air flow. Now one might say, that the belt construction and size is a bit of an overkill for a 25L backpack. But again, bare in mind that with all the straps and all, it can be loaded pretty well.
This shows even on the hip belt, as it features some extra attachment points on the outside and a heavy duty buckle to hold it together. All excess webbing is neatly taken care of, in this case by a plastic pinch buckle, one on either side. When attached, it’s held securely in place by a velcro piece in the middle and a webbing strap, one on each side. The strap runs through a cinch buckle for even tighter fitting.
THE BACK PORTION
The belt, as well as the back, are all covered in a micro 3d knitted mesh, which helps with venting. While it’s not as great as some rigid frame and a mesh, it most definitely works when using the pack in hotter environments. The back portion is slit into several bigger cells which creates air tunnels, further improving the venting. Even wearing it without a shirt on is very comfortable. Just close the middle tab properly.
In the middle of the back, we can see a strip of webbing closed with velcro. It’s the cover for the SAS system, which probably stands for Semi Adjustable System. It’s basically just a long thin piece of aluminium which can be bent in a preferred shape.
You can bend it in a way that holds the majority of the back portion away from your body, or as i like to bend it, so it contours to your back perfectly. It takes some trial and error but when you’re done, it will stay that way.
At the very top centre back, we can see another cover, closed with velcro. It’s the cover for the hydration tube port. Opening a zipper on the side allows you to gain access to the hydration compartment. While it’s not the biggest one I’ve ever seen, it’s still enough for a 3L Source hydration bladder. Open the port on top and run your hose along either shoulder strap.
At the very top, we have a mandatory carry handle. just a strap of webbing securely sewn right next to the shoulder straps. It’s nice and soft, so it can deform and potentially conform to your carrying, pulling or hanging needs.SHOULDER STRAPS
The shoulder straps themselves are a nice piece of work also. Upon inspecting the attachment point, I was very happy with what I saw. A thick piece of webbing, sewn in as a construction part of the pack, serves as reinforcement for the shoulder strap attachment. The straps are sewn into the pack with three heavy duty multi stitches each. There is no way that they can break off without destroying the whole backpack.The top of the shoulder straps also sports some load distribution pieces of webbing, ran through cinch buckles. The closest stitch that holds this webbing is a bit too close though. Not leaving enough of the strap to actually pull the top of the back forward. It does work to some extent, but I prefer to use it just as another reinforcement for the shoulder straps.The webbing runs vertically all the way down along the shoulder straps, reinforcing them even further. Sewn in place at four points, the rest creates a neat attachment point for anything your heart desires. Following it down, we get to an elastic piece, sewn in horizontally. This can be used to hold your hydration tube in place or some cables you might have running along the shoulder straps.Even lower, we find another piece horizontally sewn to the shoulder straps, only this time instead of elastic, it’s normal webbing. The right shoulder strap it features a logo, while the left one is blank. This is also a retention loop and can be used for much, much more.Moving along we get to the sternum strap. The attachment point for it is a MOD-U-LOX sternum strap system, which besides holding the sternum strap in place also features a 360° rotating hydration tube retainer. It has 8 stops and can hold your hydration tube in any position. A very nice feature that is left out on most backpacks. Of course, you can add some aftermarket hardware by yourself, but it’s nice to see a company thinking about EVERYTHING.
Another great feature of this system is that the sternum strap gets wrapped around the shoulder straps. On many other brand backpacks, this sternum strap attachment is located on the piece of webbing, running along the shoulder strap. And quite often, they are designed in a way that enables them to be removed. This creates a slight problem with thinner webbing, as the whole attachment system likes to un-hook from the webbing part when over tightening. Nothing like that to worry about here. The sternum strap can be moved up or down and if needed, removed completely. There is enough webbing to allow for some serious adjustment and/or fitting bigger built people.
Going even lower, we get to the final bit of these shoulder straps, which is a side release buckle. If in any situation you need to quickly drop the pack from your shoulders, just squeeze the two buckles and it drops. This is a standard for most tactical backpacks, but not all manufacturers use the high quality plastic hardware, which can prove to be a major flaw when dealing with heavy loads. Again, heavy duty stitching can be found above these buckles and lower at the webbing attachment points on the lower back. The strap is again long enough to allow a perfect fit, no matter how big you are.
Moving to the sides, we see a MOLE matrix. 5 rows X 4 columns. There is another column to the rear end (furthest away from your body) but it doesn’t have full width. Enough for items as thick as a pen. Maybe even an MRE spoon. On the bottom of this matrix, we find a nice thick grab handle, which comes in really handy (pun intended). Its made of heavy duty 5cm wide webbing and sewn in place with four stitches, like the ones on the shoulder straps.
Running horizontally over the MOLLE matrix, this pack also features two compression straps, closed with side release buckles. The webbing is 50cm long and adding the buckle it goes up to 60cm. This means it creates a loop big enough for you to attach a sleeping mat/bag, a tripod or anything longer that would normally not fit inside the pack. Again, heavy stitching allows for some serious tension on those straps, you all your gear stays in place. These details are identical for both sides of the pack.
We’re slowly getting to the point where we can explain the name of this backpack. But first, let’s take a look at the front of the pack. Its main cover features a MOLLE matrix as well. The numbers are the same as with the sides, 5 rows X 4 columns. Some extra slots can be found on the sides of this matrix, again just big enough for an MRE spoon.Four COMMON LOOPS are fixed to the sides of the main cover (two per side) to provide even further expansion possibilities. Either just by adding some cordage or use aftermarket webbing with buckles. Either way, it’s a welcome addition when you need to carry just that other thing too.
Below this, we find a pair of compression straps, with the same side release buckles as on the sides. These are roughly 60cm long and provide the same carry options as the side ones. The major difference is, that these two webbing straps are also connected to the front some 15cm from the top attachment point, below the side release buckles with a SLIP LOCK buckle. This creates not one but two usable loops for attaching extra gear on the outside. Both loops can be individually tightened at the bottom and then pull out the rest of the strap on top. A simple yet very effective design feature.
On top of the front, we have a small 5×10 velcro panel for unit patches or flags. Above that, the lid features some more MOLLE, 3 rows X 4 columns, while the bottom two rows create another two columns on their own. One on each side.Last but not least, the backpack features a double bottom closed with a velcro strip, in which you can find a rain cover. It’s not attached to the backpack, so you can quickly take it out and use it in any manner you like. It’s lined with thick shock cord, which is secured with a CORD LOCK.
One phrase kept going through my head while first handling this backpack. ZIPPERS GALORE! The main compartment is closed with a zipper, that runs almost all the way around the pack. This is where the actual name probably has its roots. Firstly we have the standard double zipper pulls which are a common thing on almost every serious backpack. But that’s not all. Hidden on the bottom ends, we have another pair of zipper pulls. One on each side.This allows the user to gain access to the main compartment from the sides, without the need to open the top. If you have this in mind while packing, you can really make use of this feature. Especially convenient in rain, when you don’t wish to expose the rest of the gear to the elements.
When you use the main pair of pulls to open the pack, you can open it completely. This gives you all the freedom when packing and easy access to all your gear when the backpack is full. The sides fall down flat so you can get your organising game on. While it does give you a slightly false sense of volume, you get used to it very quickly.The main compartment features a 17 X 23cm big zippered pocket right at the top and a long stuff pocket, covering some 2/3 from bottom to top. The top pocket is perfect for small or thin objects that usually don’t like to stay in mesh pockets. It’s zipper runs along the whole width and the overall pocket profile is quite low.Now while the backpack offers a dedicated hydration compartment, I use the stuff pocket inside for my hydration system. As said, i use a 3L Source hydration bladder which fits in the compartment. But i also often place in a British military desert DPM hydration pack. Why? Because it has a temperature retaining liner, which in combination with some ice holds your water nice and cool throughout a hot summer day. And that combo doesn’t fit in the compartment. Unfortunately, there’s no hole for the hose to go through so you have to make one yourself. That’s the small “tear” on top of the inner wall, right under the top for the inside pocket.This portion of the inside also features four COMMON LOOPS (two on each side) for fixing the load. Straps are not included, but in this case, some shock cord would do the job nicely.
The sides offer some cleverly designed pocket for your organising needs. One side features a mesh liner, covering the whole thing. Sewn on around the sides and in the middle, this creates two mesh pockets. A zipper runs all along the length and has two zipper pulls. These two pockets take some getting used to, as they are fully closed when the two pulls are together. Now one might think that’s nothing special. Well, it’s just the fact that you open and close both pockets with these two. So if you have the pulls right in the centre, it’s fine.If you, however, manage to move them to either side and open let’s say the bottom pocket, a part of the top pocket opens as well. And if you have small items in your top pocket, some might fall out. It happened to me more times that I’d like to admit, but i got used to it and now always keep the two pulls together at the centre.
On the other side, we have a mesh pocket, lined with elastic on the bottom and a MOLLE matrix platform on top. The matrix offers 3 rows X 3 columns with the lower two rows creating another column on the far left. This platform is sewn to the side only with two vertical stitches on the ends, creating a convenient push through slot. This feature can be used in many different ways if you plan on using this backpack as a tool bag.Longer items can be slid through and secured without any further tying or clipping. In my opinion, it would be better if this platform was mounted a bit lower or had one row of MOLLE webbing less at the top. that way, you could carry small hatchets or hammers head side up, but now there’s just not enough room at the top to close the lid. Eventually, you could cut the platform to shape without damaging the overall structure of the pack. Or just add some webbing with side release buckles to the MOLLE side and get a similar function.
On the inside of the main cover, we can find another smaller stuff pocket on the bottom and a zippered mesh pocket on the top. The stuff pocket has a very low profile and is perfect for items that can be packed down like gloves, caps, shemaghs, etc. The mesh pocket up top is a great feature, as it’s big enough for all items that you need close at hand. It’s mesh construction lest you see what is where and if it even IS in there. Just don’t forget to close it, as the next time you open your top lid, all the stuff will be flying out of it. Heavier objects like keys and flashlights will definitely be on the move.
Overall, this backpack is well worth the money. With its price of 149,95€ at the Military 1st website is definitely not the cheapest one. But the quality you get is superb. With every little detail thought out and a very, i repeat, VERY rugged construction it sits at the top with other hard-hitting backpacks in this category. A handy layout enables the user to set up their equipment to their own personal preferences, it’s a go-to backpack for every occasion.
As “little” as it is, its outer straps allow the user to attach a wide variety of things to it, including and not limited to touring skis. An avid (pardon the expression) gear wh*re I’ve seen and used many different and wonderful pack designs. That’s why i highly recommend this backpack to anyone that needs their no-nonsense gear to last.
After all that, I’m happy to inform you that we have another article coming up, featuring a pack from the same company. And it’s a BIG one. An 85L monster with its own twists. So be sure to follow our page, as you won’t want to miss it.