Thursday, October 06, 2016

Gear Closet: Mustang Survival Bluewater 30L Gear Hauler Backpack

One of the things that I like most about the outdoor gear industry is that it continues to grow more diverse and sophisticated with each passing year. Now days, most of the items we use in the outdoors are the result of some great design choices, brilliant planning, and an evolution of things that we've learned from the past. As a result, we now get highly technical, purpose-driven gear that is specifically made for the actives that we we personally pursue. This is evident in just about every product that we use on our adventures, but even more so when it comes to backpacks, a competitive segment of the outdoor market that continues to show true innovation on a regular basis. 

Because of this, we now get finely-tuned packs that offer more functionality than ever before. Case in point, the new Bluewater 30L Gear Hauler from a company called Mustang Survival, which has been building impressive products for use in the outdoors – specifically sailing and other water sports – since 1967. Recently, Mustang expanded its line of EP Ocean Racing products by introducing several Gear Hauler packs, and as you'd expect they are perfect for anyone spending a lot of time in and around sailing ships. But, they are also perfect for adventure travelers heading to damp climates or anyone who participates in a lot of watersports as well. 

Made from 210 denier, TPU coated ripstop nylon fabrics, the Gear Hauler is made to be very durable and repel water, keeping its contents safe from moisture. Those rugged fabrics are coupled with urethane-coated zippers that also ensure that no damaging liquids make their way into the interior of the pack. The result is a waterproof bag that is designed to be used in, on, and around the water. That makes it a good choice for long-distance sailing, stashing beneath the cockpit of your kayak, carrying it to the beach, or on a hike in a wet environment.

As you can probably guess by the name, this pack offers 30 liters of carrying capacity, which is a considerable amount for just about any short outing. The bag features a very large central pocket that swallows up the bulk of what you'll want to carry with you, including extra clothing, camera equipment, food, and so on. That main pocket also has a mesh sub-pocket that is a good place to stash a smartphone, charging cables, your passport, or other important items. You'll find another handy pocket located on the outside of the pack that includes sleeves for holding pans, as well as several smaller stash compartments for keeping smaller items well organized. 

Need yet more storage space? The pack also comes equipped with a highly versatile MOLLE panel on the front that can be used for a variety of things. I like to carry an extra pair of shoes on the exterior of the pack for instance, but it is equally helps in hauling wet gear that you want to keep separate from the items inside the bag. It is also a good place to stash a water bottle since the pack oddly enough doesn't have any dedicated bottle pockets, nor is it hydration ready. 

Best of all, the Bluewater 30L Gear Hauler also has a dedicated laptop sleeve that is sealed tight with a roll-top enclosure that adds yet another layer of protection from water. This allows you to slip your valuable electronics into place, and rest assured that they are safe from the elements, something that few other backpacks can promise. As a frequent traveler, this secure compartment is a welcome addition to this bag, with my one caveat being that I wish that this compartment also included a separate sleeve for my tablet too. That is a small nit to pick, but for someone who hits the road frequently, it would be nice addition. 

While obviously putting a lot of thought into how this pack performs around water, Mustang Survival didn't forget about making it comfortable to wear too. The bag has a surprisingly well-padded backpanel that provides a solid level of ventilation too. The shoulder straps are wide and nicely padded as well, while a secure sternum strap locks the pack into place, even while carrying a heavy load. That same sternum strap can be adjusted vertically to dial in just the right fit too, which is important when wearing it for long periods of time. 

Speaking of comfort, I found the pack to be very easy to wear for longer periods of time, particularly when using it on shorter hikes and for travel. It would not be my first choice for a longer backcountry excursion, but it is versatile enough to work well in those environments, while also being able to transition nicely to use around town as well. The fact that it resembles a travel backpack more than a highly technical hiking pack helps to ease that transition nicely. 

Priced at $180, the Bluewater 30L Gear Hauler is a bit more expensive than most daypacks that you'll find from other manufacturers, and if you don't need the level of water protection that it brings, another pack might be a better choice. However, if you find yourself frequently on the water, or visiting places where rain or excess moisture is an issue, this is a great pack to have in your personal gear closet. Not only is it great for sailing, it make an excellent travel pack too. Durable, versatile, and good looking, I feel like Mustang Survival has a real winner on its hands, and if you have need for a pack that can keep your valuables safe from water, I think you'll love it too. 

Find out more at MustangSurvival.com

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