Vanquest has done it again with its new bag. Adding to their lineup of already popular military and EDC bags Vanquest has developed the IBEX -30.
We have been putting this bag through the paces over the last 30 days prior to it’s public launch and we have found this to be one beast of a bag.
In initial testing the IBEX earned the nickname the Whales Mouth. Due to the tapered design of the bag and the wide access mouth holding 30 liters of storage space this bag can swallow all your gear whole. So let’s explore it a bit and show you why the IBEX-30 is a bag worth your time.
If this is TLDNR check out the quick video review.
True to the quality materials make quality bags mantra that made Vanquest the monster it is, the IBEX-30 is made from ultra-durable 1000-D Cordura®, water-repellent DuPont® Teflon and YKK #8 zippers.
The famous 550 paracord loops on the zippers carry over to this bag as well as a new generation of zipper pull. These rubberized sippers have held up to weather without an issue and make for an easy way to get a hold on your zipper while not getting caught on other objects.
The shape of this bag is fundamentally different then other bags on the market. This is not an adapted schoolbook bag or a framed camping bag. The shape is designed to give the bag a rigid and stable shape without adding the weight of an internal or external rigid frame.
The top of the bag is also wider than the base. If you’re used to hiking you can appreciate how this design works to shift the weight in your favor as well as make access to items in the bag easier.
The compression straps with buckles in pairs on each side allow for you to create a secure solution for long walks or trips. Making sure you have gear positioned and secured can make the difference when outdoors for long periods.
Extra wide shoulder straps as well as waist straps make even heavy loads easier to carry. All to often I pick up a bag and without even loading it with gear know it’s going to suck. Straps to me are one of the single most important aspects of a pack. They need to be wide enough to disperse weight and padded enough that when fully loaded they do not become saws trying to tear my arm off.
Many times cheap bag makers will take the standard nylon straps they use and just wrap a shoulder or waist belt around that. The IBEX takes the more costly approach of making the straps from the wider cushioned material adding the nylon straps to the padding.
The advantage from this approach is that weight is distributed better and the waist belt actually works as a support instead of just being used to stop the bag from bouncing. When you use a bag that is designed to hold 30 liters you will really appreciate this added attention to detail.
I really love the MOLLE on this bag. It is done in a discreet manner offering you the ability to attach items to the bag, but not scream “HEY LOOK OVER HERE I HAVE FOOD AND AMMO AND LOTS OF STUFF YOU WANT TO STEAL”. Having it placed on the waist straps makes carrying med or trauma kit in the woods a no brainer and offers fast access. Seriously if you’re carrying a bag like this without a trauma kit you need to be smacked around a bit.
There is external MOLLE attachment points across the waist straps, on each side of the main bag compartment, along the zippers of the main panel and on the shoulder straps. You know for when your ridiculously large 30-liter pack isn’t big enough for you already.
Across the top of the bag as well on the middle of the main compartment you will find hook and loop attachment points. These are perfect for nameplates as well as morale patches or bag identifiers.
In addition to the shoulder straps near the body is 2 grab handles. These are non-padded and will not work for a way to carry the bag. The intent is to be used for flipping the bag up over your head or for using to lift the bag from a vehicle or the ground. There is a strong loop as well between the shoulder straps for hanging the bag during storage or transport.
Along each side is a pocket with a zipper that runs the full length of the bag. These pockets can be used for any number of things but are designed to carry hydration packs. When fully loaded you can run 2 100oz hydration bags and run the tubes up through the top of the bag and down each shoulder strap. You know for when you decide a 4 day hike in the desert is a fun idea, or maybe you just have a family like mine that is always thirty but refuses to ever bring water of their own.
One of the features I love about this bag is the huge mouth you can make by zipping back just the top portion of the bag. What is even more impressive is the tippers of this bag run along the edges from the very top to the very bottom. You can open it up and lay it out on the ground or table getting full access to all your gear fast and easily. You will never have to dig through this giant bag for your gear and with this much space that is a huge advantage.
Inside the bag you have 30 liters of space to store your gear. A large amount of space like this is easily wasted if not for the zippers mentioned above and the ability to attach smaller pouches, gear and accessories via hook and loop as well as MOLLE.
When you add the MOHL panels from Vanquest to this bag you end up with a one amazing storage solution.
What’s this bag for?
We received this bag on a T&E to try it out and send back after we finished the review. At the time the pack was unreleased and no pictures existed of it. My contact at Vanquest just told me it was something I would likely be interested in. When I opened the box my first thought was man I live this color.
The bag came in their special black camo design. Since my favorite pattern in the world is Kryptex Typon this bag quickly became dear to my gear whoring heart.
Upon some further playing around with it I had to ask myself, self? What are you going to use this for to write a review on it? It is too large imho for a get home bag, though several of you use larger ones than this. It’s a great size for a go bag but since I pack my go bag and just check it once a year or so that’s a hard product to review.
At first glance it was too big for a hiking bag. Well let me be fair here. It’s the perfect size for a hiking bag if your going hiking for a few days or your stuck carrying everything a family of 4 needs for a day trip. Since it’s winter here (Fall really, but we didn’t really get fall this year went from summer to winter.) that was sort of out of the question.
Chris from DBW hit the nail on the head with one super use for the product when I was at the shop picking up some FFL transfers. He says “You need to take that to shot show and you can fill it with swag.” After thinking on this I realized that I might very well be able to walk the floor the entire day taking swag from every booth that offered it and still have room for more. So needless to say if I’m allowed to keep the bag that long your likely to see pics of me on the show floor with it. Vendor beware I have room for your tchotchke.
While enjoyable for me though that’s not really what the bag would be made for. That’s when an unexpected issue arose that required me to pack the family in the car and drive 700 miles east to see family.
Picture me the eternal over packer, my wife who I think over packs (can you even imagine) with a 10 year old and a 3 year old that refuses to potty train. The amount of electronics, clothes, diapers, snacks and drinks that had to be accounted for during a 12 hour trip that involved a night over in a hotel to avoid bad weather is astonishing.
Enter my life saver the IBEX-30. With water for the kids in 1 hydration pack on the right shoulder and water for the wife and me on the other our liquids (other than coffee) were accounted for.
Inside the main compartment we had everything we would want to take into the hotel so a full change of clothes for 4 people as well as PJ’s for that night.
In addition we had all the snacks for the 2 kids as well as energy bars and 5-hour energy drinks for me distributed in the quick access top pouch and main compartment.
This was a lot of stuff and it all fit. Not only did it all fit it was accessible enough that my 10 year old (who I think is blind at times due to his inability to find every day objects right in front of his face) was able to locate and access the items he needed as we drove. My wife was able to reach down between the seats and hand back the 3 year old his Cheezit’s and gold fish making the ride far easier than usual.
Over the next few weeks I found that a bag as versatile as the IBEX-30 was a huge asset. It came in handy during Cub Scout adventures, it fit several AR-15 lowers for transport to a laser etcher using dividers between them.
I’m not sure if it’s an issue of the when you’re a hammer everything looks like a nail or not but I can say that in the short time I have had this bag it already has found more uses than I originally expected. As the guys at Vanquest told me “It’s an everything bag”. They are sure right about that.
My 3 year old still thinks it’s not a bag. He is convinced it’s a saddle he uses to have daddy carry him around the house.
The bag is lightweight with excellent support in all the important places. The zippers are configured for optimal access to the compartment. A mixture of hook and loop with MOLE attachment points make the bag modular and versatile for any mission.
The large size of the bag and the price point that goes with it may not fit all budgets or needs. While there are certainly smaller bags that are more affordable, if you need a bag this large, cheap bags are going to give you a real pain in the back.
Your mileage may vary but at the end of the day we found the IBEX-30 to be a winner. If you have kids, hike, travel, ride motorcycles, breath oxygen or walk on this plant your likely going to find a use for this bag. You can buy the bag direct from Vanquest for 189.99 here: http://www.vanquest.com/products/ibex-30-backpack.html or find a local dealer.