Maxpedition's reputation for producing top-quality backpacks is no fluke. Their products, for example the Maxpedition Tiburon, are built and designed through rigorous and strenuous testing, using quality materials. It’s obvious that Maxpedition care about their products and their customer base. Professionals, often law enforcement and military personnel, who demand the highest standard from their equipment.
I am of course, not a law enforcement officer or someone who would ever have a “tactical” use for a backpack, so I would never pretend to understand the nuances of what such a person would require of their gear. When I got this pack, I wanted to see how it would suit my needs.
That being said, the Tiburon has been approved by the National Tactical Officers Association. NTOA members have tested more than 2,000 products in real-world situations through the NTOA’s Member Tested and Recommended Program (MTRP) since 2003. Results of these tests are shared with the law enforcement community, and to have such a stamp of approval is regarded by many law enforcement agencies as paramount to their product purchasing decisions.
My requirements in a backpack
Looking at the calendar for the Trial by Fire Podcast, both this year and next are looking very busy for myself and my colleague. I need a pack that is going to serve my needs when travelling on planes and public transport, as well as to be useful out in the field when on courses or working at outdoor events. The ability for my gear to be able to cross these two worlds, from urban to rural and back again, is extremely important. that goes not just for packs, but for clothing and tools as well.
As backpacks go, the Tiburon is about as versatile a pack as I have ever had the pleasure of using. Whether in an urban setting, or rambling through the countryside for the day, this pack has everything you could possibly require.
There is so much about the Tiburon that appeals to me that I genuinely struggle to find a fault in it. Every inch of this pack seems to have been meticulously thought out. I will attempt to cover much of it here as I see benefit in.
The YKK zippers are all lockable, with robust grip pulls designed to be usable with gloves on, perfect for law enforcement or tactical needs, not to mention being in the woods on a cold morning, which is more often the case for me than the former two examples.
The 1000-Denier light-weight ballistic nylon fabric makes up the majority of the shell and the Nylon Seatbelt Webbing used on the straps is personally one of my favourite things about this pack. The interiors are all 500-Denier white nylon. Combining the brightly coloured interiors with the clamshell style opening system means that you will never need to go digging for any piece of gear. Its easily accessible and visible, even in low light conditions.
The hip straps are equally as well thought out, with the ability to tuck them away completely into the back of the pack when carrying lighter weight or not required. When you are using them, loops on the side aid both in pulling them free and as loops to carry gear, in my case, my gloves. The same nylon seatbelt material has been used here. The hip belt will allow the pack to sit high and comfortable on your back, making load baring feel balanced and comfortable.
In urban environments
Tiburon means shark in Spanish, and it’s easy to see how it got its name. Ergonomically sleek, balanced and unassuming, it will blend into any urban environment without causing a second glance. Very often, military or law enforcement grade equipment can stand out and look somewhat aggressive or treating with its “tactical” aesthetic. The Tiburon does not suffer this fate, and could be carrying a laptop to college as easily as a law enforcers equipment.
One of my pet peeves when it comes to backpacks, is a profile that’s overly wide on the sides or sticking out at the back, annoying people or stumbling through crowds of people or even waiting at a bus stop. Furthermore, an unbalanced pack shape reduces the carriers mobility and balance. However, the width and depth of the Tiburon make it perfect for moving through busy streets. With the side pouches holding 32oz bottles, the pack barely extends the width of my elbows to the sides.
Another annoyance with packs can be excess straps or buckles flapping about and getting caught. Not the case here. The elasticated holds on the nylon seatbelt straps mean you can tidily fold and tuck excess material, ensuring avoidance of any incumbrance, both in an urban environment or in the great outdoors, where brambles and low branches are easy to get tangled in.
In outdoor environments
When it comes to using the Tiburon as an outdoors pack, it fares just as well. Compartmentalisation of your gear in the admin pouch, as well as the spacious main compartment, mean you can quickly and easily access any of your gear. As stated above, the pack opens in a clamshell style. This is particularly useful in the field, meaning no rummaging to the bottom of your pack to find something. At 34 litres, this is one of the biggest packs Maxpedition produce. It will generously hold a tarp and hammock setup, along with any tools, equipment or containers you may be carrying. If you were using a down filled sleep system, you may even get an overnighter into it!
The front admin compartment is perfect for holding notebooks, stationery, cables or wires and electronics. The deep pockets and elasticated webbing hold everything neat and tidy. I have also used it to carry small tools such as a Victorinox as part of my everyday carry. When it the field this compartment is also versatile enough to carry larger items like folding saws, belt knives and cordage.
The middle compartment will be most useful to digital nomads, working or travelling with electronic equipment such as chargers, laptops and tablets. Again, this is something I require when travelling. I often carry camera equipment and my laptop, as well as recording equipment for the podcast when we travel. The pockets here are deep and spacious. More than enough space for battery packs and chargers and the zipped compartment holds my MacBook secure and protected.
The main compartment, as stated is spacious enough to hold a full days worth of hiking gear, or for travelling, would easily be enough for clothing, and toiletries. All compartments open out full in a clamshell style. In the main compartment you can also hold a water bladder, which will fit the bladders tubing snug and secure to the strap using seatbelt nylon.
I demand a lot of my gear, in particular backpacks, often stitching new pouches to them, ratcheting down oversized gear in them. Dragging them through dirt and more often than I care to admit, carrying things that backpacks were never built to carry… ie. rocks and sand.
With that in mind, I dare say this is the perfect pack for my travelling and hiking needs. Over the next year I will be putting it through its paces, and I have no doubt such a versatile system as found in the Maxpedition Tiburon is going to serve me well for many years to come. If it’s the last day pack you ever buy, it will be the last one you’ll ever need.
Padraig Croke is an avid bushcraft and outdoor enthusiast, spoon carver and hiker. He is the co-host of The Trial by Fire Podcast, a bi-monthly podcast dedicated to all things bushcraft and outdoors. He is also an admin at the Living to Learn online community and lead designer of The Bushcraft Journal Magazine.