Story by Jim Cobb, Photos by Jim Cobb and Tammy Cobb
I’ll admit to having something of an addiction to packs, bags, and similar gear. Everything from large backpacks suitable for multi-day excursions, to pouches small enough to slip into a pocket. I have multiple options for each. It is a sickness, I know. It’s probably why I like The Hidden Woodsman so much.
For years, I carried a Vertx EDC Gamut backpack as my daily bag. It worked perfectly for the laptop and paperwork I lugged to and from the office, along with some survival gear. It also worked okay for day hikes, but honestly it is a little large for that. I don’t carry much when my wife and I hit the trail for an afternoon, but I still want more than I can comfortably carry in just my pockets.
Over the last few years, I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect EDC bag for those short trips into the field. I wanted something that’s sturdy and well-made so it would stand up to real world use and abuse. Made in the USA would be a nice bonus. I wanted something large enough to be truly useful, but not so large it would invite overpacking and weigh me down, thus defeating the purpose.
The Haversack from The Hidden Woodsmen ticks all of those boxes, and then some. I’ve been aware of The Hidden Woodsmen brand for a while, but it wasn’t until recently that I finally got around to ordering their Haversack. It was exactly what I was seeking.
The traditional haversack was a single-strapped bag, employed primarily by soldiers. Small in size, it was typically for carrying some food, mess kit, ammunition, and clothes. The idea was to be able to keep accessible what was needed in the field, without weighing the soldier down. Over time, it was adopted by hikers as well, as a means of carrying just a few odds and ends on the trail.
The model created by The Hidden Woodsmen is a traditionally styled haversack. Let’s get the basic specs out of the way first, then we’ll dig into the bag’s quality and features. The bag measures 11 inches by 12 inches by 4 inches. It comes with an adjustable shoulder strap, with a total maximum length of about 60 inches. The strap has a moveable pad for comfort. The Haversack also has a grab handle at the top.
The fabric color on the model in this review is Ranger Green, with tan buckles and shoulder strap. Alternatively, it is available in a few different camouflage patterns. The 1000D Cordura fabric is great with water-resistance. There is MOLLE webbing on the sides of the bag, so you can strap on additional pouches if needed.
Everything is stitched with rot-proof nylon thread. There is extra stitching reinforcing all of the stress points, such as where the straps connect to the bag.
The large flap cover has two buckles to keep it in place. There are two side flaps that can buckle together just under the main flap, for added security. All in all, there’s little chance of things just bouncing out of the bag as you move along.
All of the buckles are heavy-duty and obviously made to last. These aren’t likely to snap and break at the first sign of cold weather.
When you flip the cover open, you’ll find a zippered pocket that stretches the width of the bag. There is also an open-topped pocket the same size just behind that. Bright orange fabric lines the main compartment. There is another large, zippered pouch at the back of the bag’s interior. On either side of the main compartment are small pockets. All told, there is a fair amount of organizational capability even in a bag this small.
The fabrics and other materials are made in the USA, which is always a nice bonus.
I’ve carried the Haversack on several hikes of various lengths over the last couple of months. There were a few observations I made right off the bat.
Even with the various pockets and pouches within the bag, you still end up with some gear just dumped into the main compartment. The bright orange interior makes it easy to find what you’re looking for in the bag, without having to just dump the entire thing out.
That said, with a bag this size, you have to be very diligent about your decision process regarding what you’re going to carry in it. On one hand, there’s plenty of room inside for all manner of survival and EDC gear. However, this isn’t a full-size pack and you’ll not be able to carry doubles and triples of everything, adhering to the oft-repeated advice, “Two is one, one is none.”
It isn’t just a matter of cubic inches of space, either. Because the Haversack is worn cross-body, suspended by the single strap, too much weight will grow uncomfortable quickly. One way to mitigate that—in addition to limiting what you carry in the bag—is to keep the bag more towards your back, rather than bouncing on your hip. At least, that’s what has been working well for me.
The Haversack is an excellent way to explore a more minimalist approach to your gear. The size of the bag forces you to make hard decisions based on what you truly need to carry, versus what you just like to have with you.
I found that the bag was quite comfortable, even on extended jaunts in the wilderness. The shoulder strap’s pad is great for reducing the pull on your shoulder. Because the pad isn’t sewn to the strap, it is free to slide up and down. This means that you can shift the bag to different positions without having to adjust where the pad sits.
The Haversack even took a trip to the beach with me, carrying a few books, some sunscreen, and a few other odds and ends. It performed admirably in that environment as well.
Now, here’s the thing. Often, when I’m heading out on the trail, I’m bringing along at least a couple of knives and possibly some other gear that I’m reviewing for the Knife & Gear Society or for one of the magazines for which I write. So, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m not necessarily packing a full complement of survival gear and such.
Instead, I’ll have four knives, some photo props, a notebook, and a few other things that I might need to document my review process. Much of which would probably make me look like a serial killer if someone were to peek inside.
That said, here are items that are almost always present in my Haversack:
For those looking for a small to mid-sized bag or pack to carry just some essentials when they’re headed out into the bush for the day, you could do far worse than the Haversack. It is extremely well-built, with features that are truly useful, rather than just extraneous bells and whistles.
What I truly love is that it forces the user to pare down their load out to just what they’ll need, nothing else. That’s a mindset I think many of us can appreciate. K&G
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Dimensions: 11 inches x 12 inches x 4 inchesColor: Ranger GreenMaterial: 1000D CorduraMSRP: $137.00
The Hidden WoodsmenWebsite: TheHiddenWoodsmen.comInstagram: @TheHiddenWoodsmenFacebook: @TheHiddenWoodsmenYouTube: @1982mal
The Hidden Woodsmen
Malcolm Coderre started The Hidden Woodsmen several years ago. The goal was to offer vintage style gear updated with modern materials and construction. Which is exactly what they continue to do today. They use military grade fabrics and webbing, with everything made right here in the United States.
He originally was sewing everything himself at home. After just a few years, his product line was successful enough that he had to bring on others to assist with construction of the bags and packs.
Those of us who have been following him for the last several years have noticed how his skills and designs have evolved over time. They were always great, don’t get me wrong, but he’s really grown into quite a stellar craftsman.
Jim Cobb is a recognized authority on disaster readiness. He has written several books and is also the Editor in Chief for Prepper Survival Guide magazine. He is a longtime collector of knives, EDC gear, and defense weapons. Jim lives in the upper Midwest with his wife, kids, and a motley crew of dogs and cats.
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