After SHOT Show in January and the NRA Show in May I was officially over using the Ogio backpack my wife carried during law school. Looking like a student headed to class at these events was a bit weird and, while the pack itself is quite nice, it wasn’t designed for actually carrying weight all day long. It was time for something new — something a little more tacticool or at least shooting range chic — but on a small budget. Enter the Exos-Gear Bravo Series, currently available on Amazon for a very reasonable $45.95.
The Bravo offers 34 liters (2,073 cubic inches) of capacity divided into four compartments plus a hydration sleeve. It’s covered in MOLLE webbing, made of 600D polyester with reinforcements at load-bearing areas, and comes in tactical colors like Coyote Tan, Olive Drab, Gray, and Black.
On account of the padding, I’ve primarily used the hydration sleeve for laptop storage. Just seemed like a convenient place to put it and access it from.
If I had used it for hydration purposes, a velcro flap at top covers a pass-through port. That port is also accessible from the main compartment and could be used from there to run headphones or other cords.
Of course, inside of the 18″ x 10″ x 5″ main compartment is a mesh pocket that will fit most laptops, so I could throw mine in there instead. There’s also a zippered pouch for small items.
In front of the main compartment is the 16″ x 9″ x 3″ secondary compartment. It has a small, solid pocket on the inner-most wall with two mesh pockets on top of it.
The front of the bag sports an outer top compartment and outer bottom compartment. The top one is 5″ x 8″ x 3″ with no internal divisions or pockets, and the bottom one, pictured above, is 10″ x 8″ x 3″ and has one larger pocket with smaller divided pockets on front for pens and such.
Shoulder straps and back area are padded and covered with ventilated mesh material. It’s quite comfortable, even with a decently-heavy load. There’s a cross strap at both chest and waist level. A metal D-ring is built into each shoulder strap.
No shortage of other straps, either. There are two compression straps on each side.
A 3-way adjustable Y-shaped cinch strap over the top with D-ring on the front pull strap (cigar case hanging from it a couple photos up).
And that front strap runs from the Y-strap all the way down through the webbing on the front of the pack, across the bottom, and to another cinch point. Additionally, there are two more cinch straps on either side of the pack’s bottom, running the length of it front-to-rear. There are MOLLE points accessible on the bottom of the secondary compartment and at the rear of the primary compartment.
If this is all sounding a bit excessive, it’s actually a very nice feature. These straps work in concert to compress the pack down as much as possible. They allow a large pack to transform into a slim one for carrying smaller loads — keeping the weight closer to your back, preventing rattling and moving of contents, and generally eliminating excess volume — and they’re surprisingly effective at squashing clothes and other soft contents down until the whole thing fits flawlessly into a carry-on luggage sizing cage thing.
Side zippers go all the way to the bottom. I found this handy for extricating items that would otherwise have to be dug out through the top, messing up everything above them. Meanwhile, the side straps help maintain order.
Most of these straps have elastic strap retainers on them, keeping the loose ends from flapping in the breeze. In my mind this should be mandatory, but it’s a detail I’ve noticed is “missing” from plenty of significantly more expensive packs and bags.
In terms of quality, the Bravo has exceeded my expectations. For the price I was anticipating something that looked and felt cheap, but that isn’t the case here at all. The material is durable, the stitching is good, reinforcements in load-bearing areas are legit, the zippers are smooth, strong, and double-stitched in. There’s even a rubberized coating on the inside of all exterior-facing walls to keep your contents dry.
I’ve now been regularly using this bag since May and have had zero issues. It’s holding up great and I’ve rucked it with what I’m sure are heavier loads than it was intended to carry (hundreds of rounds of ammo and a gaggle of handguns in a big steel lockbox gets heavy fast). My guess is that the first failure point will be one of the “durable polymer buckles and anchors,” but that’s nothing more than speculation and there are no indications of wear or failure anywhere on the pack.
The Exos-Gear Bravo Series is a heck of a backpack for the price. I’m still surprised by the quality and utility of it, and can easily understand why it’s rated so highly on Amazon.
If any part of it “fits” the price point I’d say it’s the buckles and anchors, based only on their look and feel. Everything else easily surpassed my expectations of what a sub-$60 MSRP (and just $45.95 shipped on Amazon) pack would be.
Specifications — Exos-Gear Bravo Series Backpack:
Size: 34L, 2073 CU in. Capacity when measured in accordance with Standard ASTM F2153
Inner Main Compartment: 18″ x 10″ x 5″
Inner Secondary Compartment: 16″ x 9″ x 3″
Outer Top Compartment: 5″ x 8″ x 3″
Outer Bottom Compartment: 10″ x 8″ x 3″
Material: 600D Polyester
Origin: Made in China
MSRP: $59.95 ($15 less, shipped, via Amazon)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Quality * * * * *
For the price, it’s five stars all the way.
Comfort * * * * *
If this were a high-end pack, I’d expect the same ventilated padding on the waist strap. However, it exceeds the comfort level of many competitors charging many dollars more, and again it’s five stars all the way especially considering the price point.
Utility * * * * *
Generous size, plenty of storage options for small and large items, MOLLE webbing on front, sides, and bottom, compression straps all over, hydration (or laptop) sleeve, velcro areas for patches, a handful of D-rings, nice grab handle on top, and rubberized interior coating for water resistance. Utility has been achieved.
Overall * * * * *
With really nothing negative to say and quality that’s better than expected — all for less than $50 delivered — it’s a five-star backpack for sure.