As outdoorsmen most of us like to occasionally hit the trail to get into backcountry areas that are off the beaten path. While I am not a hardcore backpacker, I do like day hikes and often wear a day pack on certain types of hunting excursions. On a recent outing into the Guadalupe Mountains of west Texas in put a tough pack to the test. The Vanquest Ibex series of backpacks are engineered “Tough Built” in mind and drew my attention. Having tried Vanquest products on a number of occasions I felt assured I would like the Vanquest Ibex-26 model (not too big, not too small). In addition, I put the 6×9-inch FTIM Maximizer, a nice accompanying Vanquest pouch, through its paces.
Core features of the Ibex-26 include a clamshell design that gives rapid access to the main compartment, along with a slim, gray-man design that blends well in both rural and urban environments. Found inside the main compartment are two mesh pockets and a laptop/hydration bladder compartment. Extra-large, lockable zipper pulls make access into those pockets a breeze. Additional useful features include a front shock cord with Hypalon “Duck Foot” for supporting lightweight gear such as a jacket. Bottom tool loops and attachment webbing will support items like tripods, trekking poles or a machete/hatchet.
Two 3-D side pockets offer Hypalon MOLLE-Air panels for expansion and can store a wide variety of useful tools including medical, communication, and survival essentials. The hydration bladder tube can pass through either of these side pockets.
Another great feature of this pack that I really like are three grab handles on the top and both sides for ease of carry when not wearing it as a backpack. The suspension system allows for carry of heavy loads: EVA foam shoulder straps, a breathable mesh back, stiff frame sheet, elastic sternum strap (with integrated whistle), and padded waist belt all add to the usability and comfort of the Ibex-26.
Additional specifications include but are not limited to:
- Four compression straps with side release buckles
- Pack capacity: 26 liters
- High-visibility, lightweight moisture resistant 210-D Ripstop nylon interior
- Removable padded waist belt with forward pull adjustment
- Padded shoulder straps with load lifters and sternum strap with integrated whistle
- Bottom attachment webbing and adjustable loops
- 1,000-D Mil-grade Cordura fabric on the bottom and 500-D for the body treated with Durable Water Repellant
- Finished with high tensile strength bonded nylon thread
- Multiple colors to choose from
- Direct order cost: $209.99
The Vanquest FTIM Maximizer ($37.99 in the 6×9 inch model) shares many of the same features as the Ibex-26 pack and is ideal for putting together a survival pouch or medical kit to carry inside or attached to any of the larger Vanquest packs like the Ibex-26. I like Vanquest’s “Tough-Built Gear” as they put it and in particular the Ibex-26 pack because it is streamlined, rugged, and rides comfortably high up on my back even on a long day in the backcountry.
Vanquest of course offers many other packs (including a larger version of the Ibex-26, the Ibex-35), bags, pouches, firearm cases, and other gear. Their designers are military veterans and outdoor enthusiasts. Vanquest headquarters is in Orange County, California.
Perhaps Vanquest’s mission statement says it all: “Build the toughest bag that you’d use every day, and help you stay organized and prepared.” In my estimation and experience Vanquest has done just that with the Ibex-26 and FTIM Maximizer. More information can be found at vanquest.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
TERRY NELSON – is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement with police and sheriff agencies, including SWAT and sniper roles, and has served as a state game warden. Nelson also served seven years with New Mexico State Guard. A lifelong hunter, guide, tracker and firearms enthusiast, Terry is sought for training in multiple disciplines by both civilian and police-serving agencies and companies. Nelson also holds a Basic Tac Med instructor certification from Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.