About a year ago I was preparing for the 2012 Sniper’s Hide Cup in Douglas, Wyoming. I knew I needed a decent field pack for the event so I started doing some research. I had heard Eberlestock’s name many times. Their packs with built in scabbards are quite popular in the precision shooting crowd. Ironically, the scabbard is the one feature of the Eberlestock packs that I wasn’t very enamored with. I did some searching around on the Eberlestock site and landed on the X4 HiSpeed pack. This is essentially a spinoff of their popular X3 LoDrag pack, minus the scabbard option. Just what I was looking for!
When the pack arrived it was packaged well within a cardboard box. I pulled the pack out to have a look at it and I was pleasantly surprised at the construction quality. It is constructed very well with nylon, heavy duty zippers, draw cords, molle webbing. The works. The layout is functional and easy to modify and the pack has generous padding around the belt and back where the pack rides on the person wearing it. Starting with the front of the pack, you have two main compartments secured with zippers. The compartments zip open on three sides for a wide opening allowing easy access to gear stored within it. Both compartment flaps have molle webbing sewn onto the outside to facilitate the attachment of molle pouches and accessories. The two compartments are separated internally by flaps that velcro together to form a pseudo floor/ceiling for the two compartments. I like it configured in this manner as it helps organize gear and allows you to separate delicate electronics from more robust magazines or ammo boxes. However, if you have larger items or you prefer the ‘dump and go’ packing method, you can unvelcro the flaps and allow pass-through access from the top to the bottom compartment. It’s a useful feature, but one I’ve not taken advantage of as of yet.
Internally there is an accordion style file folder area for paperwork or further organization of slim materials. The accordion runs most of the length of the pack, behind the velcro separators. I found it a good spot to slip a Camelbak hydration bladder. The accordion also helped protect the bladder from punctures from other items kept in the pack. On the hydration note, there are openings on both sides of the pack to pass through the hydration hose and bite valve. I did find the fit a little snug with Camelbak’s bite valves and quick detach hose couplings but it will fit.
Looking at the part of the pack that rests against your back you can see a few of the nicer features the pack provides. The most prominent being the generous padding around the lower back/belt area and upper shoulder area of the pack. The shoulder straps themselves are height adjustable so you can customize the fit of the pack to the intended purpose. I didn’t wear a gear belt for the competition so I had the shoulder harness set high so the belt portion clipped around my waist. However, if you were running a gear belt and planned to ditch a pack at the start of a stage, you could run the shoulder harness lower and move the belt portion up above the gear belt like a hiking pack.
There is a small chest strap between the shoulder straps for support if you so desire the feature. I’m not a fan of them and I’m less a fan of not being able to remove them, which on this pack…you can’t. However, it doesn’t get in the way much so I just leave it unsnapped most of the time. The pack is capable of carrying quite a bit of gear and weight. I had it fairly loaded down for the SHC with ammo, magazines, 100oz of water, range finder, rear bag, kestrel meter, and the like. Which brings me to my next point. The pack carries weight well. It was well balanced, and comfortable, with very little shifting of the load as I walked between stages and even had to run up a hill at the start of one stage. Just because you can carry a bunch of gear doesn’t always mean you should. It carries weight well and it is a comfortable pack. However it can get bulky if you load it down and even comfortable bulk will slow you down. For that reason I believe this pack is well suited to longer competitions where you start out and hike an entire course or have to do some land navigation over 12 or 24 hours. It’s a good long range pack, and it quite capable of being a good medium range pack. If you have short stages or time to resupply between them, you may be better off with the battle belt method.
Nothing interesting to report with regards to durability. The pack has held up well and not even offered a hint of failure or wear with any of the materials, snaps, zippers, or closures. The pack is essentially undeterred by anything I’ve yet been able to throw it.
The price on the Eberlestock X4 HiSpeed puts it in the average price point for packs of this type. It is not what I would characterize as cheap or affordable, but it also doesn’t really fall into the premium price point that can follow a name like Eberlestock. The Eberlestock X4 however lacks some of the features of the higher priced Eberlestock packs, such as a scabbard. So while it fits the bill for what I was after very effectively, it may be possible to drive the cost of your own unit up depending on options that you add. For a name like Eberlestock though, this is a pretty good price on an excellent field pack.
You can read more about the Eberlestock pack and their other offerings at their website.