Words and pics: Rich Norman

As kids, we had military surplus canvas M1967 butt packs. Who didn’t? Of course with a couple of canteen pouches all alice clipped onto an uncomfortable belt. This is our version of that venerable and popular design.

– Hill People Gear

Here’s the M2016 in manatee and foliage:

It has an 8l / 500ci capacity, and its dimensions are length 4″, breadth 11″ and height 7″. Unladen it weights 1.3 lbs.

Aside from using the pack as a bum bag, Hill People Gear (HPG) has a whole list of alternatives:

▪ Shoulder Bag – with the included shoulder strap

▪ Butt Pack – goes nicely on our Prairie Belt or Recon Belt (sold separately), and probably a lot of other detachable pack belts and battle belts.

▪ H-Harness Web Gear – with the separate purchase of a Prairie Belt and our Shoulder Harness, you can recreate that classic belt kit in modern materials.

▪ Top Pocket – can be mounted as a top pocket on our larger packs including Umlindi, Ute, and qui-Ya. Probably on some other company’s large packs as well.

Up front, it should be emphasised that you need a decent MOLLE belt to use this large, feature-rich pouch as a butt pack (also known as a bum bag, or fanny pack).

I’m going to review it as a standalone item, however, which I’ve been lucky enough to gain on loan from HPG’s UK source: Tactical-Kit. As such, I can’t give an appraisal of the bag’s longevity or performance under duress; but rest assured – the bag’s OEM is First Spear. So, together with HPG’s design know how, you can guarantee it’s going to be bombproof.

And, because HPG isn’t *that* kind of brand, they don’t leave you high and dry if you just buy the butt pack without a belt. It comes with a shoulder strap (stowed inside the pack). And it’s not just some afterthought shoulder strap, either. It’s built to the same high standards as the rest of the pack.

After admiring the pack my next thought was, “There’s so much going on, how the hell am I going to do it justice?”

Keeping this in mind, it does look like a pretty busy bag at first glance – with all the straps, G-hooks and loose ends. However, the majority of the straps are removable and the loose ends of those you choose to use can be easily tidied away with One Wrap, Web Dominators, or similar. Whether you buy tactical gear or packs for hiking, you should be used to that by now.

The other thing to note is that everything has a purpose, depending on the pack’s use. So the bag is modular and scalable. Every attachment won’t be in use all of the time – but you get that freedom, rather than being constrained by a manufacturer’s narrow idea of what their pack is for. *Those* manufacturers want you to buy two or more packs, right? HPG is not *those* manufacturers and as such they design more flexibly.

In this review I’m going to run through my interpretation of the bag’s highlights, underlined by some pics. However, you can skip to HPG’s explanatory video which I’ve linked at the end of this article, if you’re in a rush.

The item makes extensive use of First Spear’s signature 6/12 PALS cut, inside and out. It’s laser cut 500D – with much of the rest of the bag also being composed of the same denier Cordura. As such, it’s pretty light when compared to old skool webbing and 1000D.

The 6/12 panel on the front of the bag is cut diagonal. Aside from being visually pleasing, this is a really useful feature when reaching back to grab an item; a bit like the way Crye’s horizontal mag pouches work – the angle makes it easier to get to stuff you can’t see.

The base of the bag also exhibits 6/12. Note the compression straps.

The 6/12 panels on the sides of the bag do double duty as external pockets, accessed from the top. Again, note the compression strap.

While the 6/12 front panel may look like a beaver tail, it isn’t – it’s more of a beaver sleeve in that it isn’t accessed from the top, but from the sides. It also doesn’t hinge like most beaver tails.

It is, however, lined with loop One Wrap:

At the rear of the pack is the lumbar flap attachment, for belt use. This is composed of a Hypalon-type material. It opens and closes with Velcro.

Here we can also see the pack’s HDPE frame sheet, which is removable. It’s very rare to find frame sheets in packs twice the size of this one, so kudos to HPG for including one. Basically, this makes the pack carry better.

Up top, we find a carry handle.

Also up top, some chunky #10 zips, which lead to a clamshell-opening main pocket.

The rear of the inside back panel is 6/12, faced with loop One Wrap.

On the opposite face is a mesh zipped pocket – again using a beefy zip.

Back to the externals and it’s straps, straps, straps. And tabs.

The tabs are used to attach the pack to an H-harness, for chest carry – or to utilise the included shoulder strap.

I have to mention the hardware. Yes, the bag as a whole is of the highest quality. But the attention to detail with the fixings is sublime.

Not only that, but take a look at the stitching. Immaculate.

Want more? You’d be right to. I’ve just scratched the surface. Have a look at this video from HPG:

Lastly, a big thanks to Ian from Tactical-Kit for trusting me with this bag.