I am something of a backpack/field bag lover. Perhaps it is because I have yet to find a field bag that does it all. Of all the military issued bags I had, many were good, but none could carry all I needed, be comfortable, have quick access, and adjust to ME.
I have been lucky enough to finally find that bag; or, at least the closest I have ever come. The Eberlestock Gunslinger II is adjustable, MOLLE/PALS compatible, and rugged.
While hiking up a local hill to put the bag through its paces, I came to love the comfort this bag provided while loaded down with gear. A standard field bag can easily weigh in at 35 pounds. With a decent bag, the felt weight can be reduced to 30 pounds. With the Gunslinger II on my back, the perceived weight was closer to 25 pounds, if not lighter. On top of the weight distribution this bag offers, the vented mesh back cuts down on heat retention. Living in central Arizona, with summer days normally above 100 degrees, I love any item that can make you feel cooler in the field. The day I tested this bag out, local temperatures were 102 degrees. Being monsoon season, the humidity was also up pretty high. This pack allowed body heat to blow away and kept sweat from building up.
A field bag is no good though, if it is hard to get to your gear quickly. The design of the G2 allows quick access to every section of the bag. In fact, if you know where a specific item is in the bag, leaving one shoulder strap on and swinging the bag over is easier than with any other bag I have tried out.
The Eberlestock G2 is as user-adjustable as I have ever seen. The shoulder straps, as usual, can be adjusted for tightness at the bottom of the straps down to the bottom of the pack. The innovative part is that the yoke of the shoulder straps can be removed from the bag and adjusted for height on a ladder system that runs down the center of the backside of the bag. The internal frame can be removed from the bag, though it is extremely comfortable and unnoticeable while in. The frame can also be partially slid out to allow the attaching a bed roll more efficiently.
This bag has an internal scabbard that allows a firearm, up to 60” long, to be placed either butt-up or butt-down against the wearer’s back. To keep the firearm accessible, the bottom of the scabbard can be rolled up into the bottom of the bag for shorter rifles or dropped down for longer guns. The top cover for the scabbard is removable to allow instant removal of the weapon. If left in place, the scabbard’s top cover is height adjustable and locks into place with two sets of snap buckles. The space available inside this scabbard is practically a bag unto itself, capable of storing a scoped AR type weapon, or even an AR15, with magazine inserted, or a scoped bolt action rifle with a bipod. At the bottom of the scabbard, the section that rolls out, there is a short zipper. I have yet to fully figure out the functionality of the zipper, however, if you drop a small item into the scabbard by accident, the zipper would ease removal. I did see a video of an individual firing a carbine from inside the scabbard, utilizing the short zipper. I am pretty convinced that is a terrible idea, as you cannot aim in the slightest and the potential to shoot through your own gear is high.
The Main Compartment
The main compartment has enough room to pack all one would need for 72 hours in the field, if not more. The inside of the main compartment, on both sides and the front flap, has MOLLE webbing to attach additional pouches, such as a light first aid kit, radio pouches, or emergency shelter gear. It is equipped with two pouches designed to hold a hydration bladder with a slit for the tube on the outside edges. If only one bladder is needed, the second pouch would be great for holding a machete or similar. At the bottom of the bag, on both sides and against the back, there are a total of four small, open top, elasticized pouches for random items.
The bag can be accessed from the top by an ALICE style opening that closes with a draw string. For easier access, there is a “U” shaped zipper on the front of the compartment that allows the entire main section to be splayed open. The top of the main section is covered by the accessory pouch that is secured by two straps with buckles. On the outside of the front cover of the main pouch, there are MOLLE straps, a hook and loop patch, and an open top pouch that fits a folding shovel with ease.
The Accessories Section
This section is putting good use to the weather flap on the main compartment. The outside is equipped with four rows of MOLLE. The inside provides you with two mag pouches that will fit one AR15 magazine each, amd are secured by snapping elastic straps. The magazines can be removed without unsnapping the straps, yet are fully retained while moving. In between the magazine pouches, there are three sleeves for pen sized items. Above both pouches, there are two open top pouches that can hold a gun cleaning kit, compass, or other items that need to be accessed quickly. Above those two pouches, there is a single large pouch, secured by a zipper.
On the outside of the top section, down at the bottom, there is a small, felt lined pouch. It is referred to as an optics pouch; however, only small optics would fit. This pouch is great for a pair of BCGs though. The best part of this small pouch is that the zipper is covered by rubberized flaps to protect from moisture.
Both sides of this bag have rows of MOLLE straps and a sturdy grab handle. At the bottom of both sides there is a small pouch, secured by a drawstring, that is perfect for water bottles. Eberlestock also makes a scabbard that can be attached to the sides of this bag. The pouches at the bottom of the sides would work well to secure the muzzle end of the scabbard. The back of this bag is made of a mesh material that keeps the operator cool, while underneath is equipped with generous padding that makes the internal frame and gear seem to not even exist. There is also another grab handle on the back.
The shoulder straps have plastic “D” rings and rubber loops to retain a hydration tube. There is a chest strap that extends from the shoulder straps. The waist strap is well padded and has two rows of MOLLE straps. A nice feature of the waist strap is that it can be removed from the bag by easily peeling the hook and loop panel apart and sliding the strap out of the channel that keeps it against the back of the bag. Two sets of compression straps wrap around the bag to help reduce gear shift and excess material becoming snagged when the bag is not fully loaded.
The bag is made from sturdy materials with strong double stitching all around with reinforced corners that are capable of withstanding endless abuse. The YKK zippers are smooth, self-healing, and strong, with weather flaps to keep water from finding its way in. All of the buckles are thick, sturdy plastic that snap into place with authority. The aluminum frame has a black finish to keep rust away. The level of craftsmanship put into this bag leaves little doubt that even the roughest of operators could use this bag without fear of failure for years.
What I’d Like to See Changed
There are a few things that could make this bag a bit better:
- The slits for the hydration tube are too narrow for a mouthpiece to fit, making it necessary to either remove the tube from the bladder or the mouthpiece from the tube to feed it through.
- The finish on the frame seems to scratch and mar a bit easily. A more durable, perhaps powder coated, finish would go a long way for this bag.
- Add rubber on the inside of the weather flaps that cover the zippers to help keep moisture out better than fabric alone. This one isn’t too big of a deal, as the flaps are treated to repel water, though I imagine that can wear out over time.
It really is the little things that make life great:
- All of the zippers have paracord pulls that are held open in a loop by rubber at the top, making for an easy to find, sure to pull zipper.
- The bottom of the frame is covered by a flap that comes up and buckles to the accessory pouch. It has MOLLE straps and helps secure a bedroll against the frame.
- The absolute adjustability of this bag in every manner thinkable means this bag will fit everyone on any mission that requires any small to larger-than-medium sized bag.
- The top accessory pouch can fit two AR15 mags, a full frame pistol, four pistol mags, a weapons cleaning kit, glasses (or small optic), maps, a compass, pen lights, and pens/pencils, making for a quick grab bag right on top of your field bag.
All said and done, this bag is the perfect Bug-Out-Bag. By being able to place a carbine, a scoped rifle/shotgun, a pistol, loaded mags for all, and hydration bladders on top of everything else expected to be found in a BOB, this makes it (finally) realistic to simply grab a BOB and have all you need for 72 hours, if not more. There is no need to grab a BOB, the rifle, a pistol, and a hydration system.
So long as you have the Gunslinger II, one stop shopping and you are out the door!