I first became aware of Highlander about a decade or so ago. I formed the impression, perhaps unfairly, that they were at the cheap and cheerful end of the market and probably not the sort of stuff that would stand up to the abuses of soldiering. I was, therefore, a little wary when I was asked to review their kit. My initial impression on opening the box this pack came in is that they've grown up.
It's a 35litre daysack with molle type loops on the sides and back. It's made with Crye multicam codura and tan coloured mesh webbing and nylon. The materials appear to be robust and the zips and plastic buckles are all reassuringly chunky.
The pack doesn't have a frame as such but the back is reinforces with foam padding that provides structure and there are some airmesh pads that add comfort. There is a 'secret' pocket here that opens and could be used to carry a laptop or a hydration bladder as its padded on both sides.
The shoulder straps are multicam on the outside and airmesh on the inside and are reinforced with webbing and have useful D rings. The straps are tightened by fastex buckles that also allow for quick release. All the straps have velcro fastenings that allow you to roll them up and tuck them away rather than covering them in black nasty. The removable hip belt is well padded with airmesh and is secured to the pack by an airmesh pad. There are the usual straps with buckles on the side, upper and lower, that allow you to tighten the pack up once it's packed.
The molle straps are on the side and back of the pack and are compatible with all the molle pouches I have.
It's a zip opening bag. Inside there is a sleeve pocket with an elastic cord and toggle closure. This elastic works well with a camelbak but I'd prefer some web straps as well if I was going to use it for something heavy like a radio. The top has three port holes with velcro closures which allow the tubes from hydration packs or antennae from radios to stick out. There are some webbing tabs at the top to attach your pack or radio to. The flap has a zipped mesh pocket on it.
The main bag flap has a couple of zipped outer pockets. The upper one is a decent size and is big enough to hold an A4 folder as well as having pockets for pens and all the usual niff naff and trivia we carry with us. The lower pocket is smaller and has some useful mesh pockets in it for stowing stuff.
As I mentioned I was a little wary of the Highlander brand so despite the initial good impression I wanted to make sure I have given it a reasonable work out before giving it the thumbs up or otherwise. I regularly go out for CFT type training so I took the kit out of my issue patrol pack and loaded it into the Tomahawk. All in all it weighed just over 10 kg. The pack was perfectly comfortable and performed as you would expect it to. I'm not usually a fan of hip belts but I have to say that this one is very comfortable and because of the way it's attached it's supportive but can swivel to allow flexibility of movement. I've had it on with webbing and thats no problem but its better to remove the hip belt. I've also been using it as my general day-to-day daysack and it works well and looks perfectly compatible with MTP kit.
I have no specific criticisms of this pack but when I was putting it on for the first time there was a popping sound and I thought the stitching on the shoulder straps had gone. In fact I could find no damage so it must have been something else but I did notice that there was no extra stitching at the stress points such as the shoulder straps which would have given me more confidence. I climbed up and jumped off the wall in the photograph a few times to put it under more stress with no damage done to the pack (or my knees).
This is a good bit of kit with some very nice design features. Of course if you want to destroy a bit of kit you can but I'm satisfied that the testing I've done is rigourous enough that if it was going to fall apart in contact with reality it would have done so. It's not available on Highlander's own website at time of writing but other suppliers are offering it for various prices. The cheapest I've seen is £69.00 . If you're looking for a good multicam day-sack in the mid-price range then this is definitly a contender!
The Elite LX was supplied by Highlander.