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Cannae Pro Gear has released a series of bags they call “Battle Ready Professional Gear.” The Legion Elite Day Pack with Helmet Carry is one of the packs in the new line. The company claims it’s designed for the “heavy hitting professional operator.” With all those catch phrases, I couldn’t help but check it out.

First things first; I’m a total bag snob. I’ve been a mountain climber and a medic for much of my life, two endeavors that require a quality pack. Heck, I’ve even been to a pack fitting school put on by Whole Earth Provision Company back in the day.

I’m not a total gear-do, but a good pack that’s well fit and well designed makes your life on-the-go much easier. Poorly made and poorly designed bags wear you out, confuse you, and generally just make your life suck.

As for “heavy hitting,” there are some definite hits, but a few misses as well. The first thing I like about the Legion Elite bag is its dimensions. This isn’t a week-long camping bag. It’s not even a three-day assault bag. It’s a day bag. The Legion Elite’s got just enough room for that, and no more.

This is not a camping bag. You will not be able to put your sleeping bag and ground pad on it. You won’t get a tent in there. Could you strap one on? Sure, but don’t. Get a bigger bag for that. Because as it is, this bag is the right size to strap on and go.

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There’s an old saying, “give a soldier a ruck and he’ll fill it.” The Legion Elite is big enough to fit my gym clothes, a towel, my shoes, food for the day, a tub of protein and a big laptop.

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The Legion Elite would have been perfect when I rode a bike to work (13 miles each way). On the “battle ready” side, it easily holds a sidearm and ammunition, a stripped down harness with hard plates, a few extra rifle magazines, goggles or glasses, gloves, everything in an IFAK, a change of socks, a few extra radio batteries, your woobie, three quarts of water, a unpackaged MRE. And yes, your helmet. That’s stuffed pretty tight in there, but that’s all you need to raise some hell and break contact.

It sticks close enough to the back that you can get in and out of a vehicle with it on. And although it’s not terribly comfortable, you can drive with it on, too.

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The Legion Elite’s narrow enough that if your shoulders will fit through, the bag will fit through, and it doesn’t go above your shoulder line. Because of the wide and well-padded shoulder straps, the movable chest strap and the hideaway belt straps, the whole thing sticks well to the body.

It all compresses up tightly. And if you’ve pulled all the adjustments in right, it won’t swing out on your shoulders or bounce up and down while you run. So this bag gets most important things to get right, right. It has the right dimensions for the job, it’s easy to fit and moves well with the body.

Overall construction is quite solid. With reinforced box stitching and Cordura throughout, I don’t expect the fabric to wear out, or the major contact points to come loose during a long period of regular use.

I’ve had the Legion Elite a little less than a month now. It’s been in my truck every day, and I’ve used it for either a gym bag, range bag, or hunting bag pretty much every one of those days. There is dirt, but no discernible tearing and no real wear points that caught my attention. It is, overall, a well made bag.

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Oh, there’s MOLLE webbing all over the bag. It works fine. But don’t use it.

One of the features of this pack is a large, open pocket on the outside. Cannae calls this the “Helmet Carry”. As far as the helmet carry goes, I’ve seen this on several packs now, including some others I own, and I really don’t get the point. Perhaps I haven’t been operating operationally for long enough, but whenever I was in actual combat, my helmet was on my head. If it was not on my head for some reason, it was in my hands, on my knee, or otherwise very close by and easy to put on. It was not, however, stuck in a bag. Traveling somewhere in-country? If my IBA was on, my helmet was on. (Statement not valid when posing for “cool-guy” pics.)

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So I just can’t see the “tactical” use in this feature. However, it’s good for a whole lot of other things. As you can see in my IWI Galil Ace review, it works for a folding stock rifle pretty well. You could also stash a couple of Nalgene bottles there for fast access. By far the more use mine has gotten is for my gym shoes, keeping the stinking, filthy things out of the inside of the bag.

The right side zippered pocket will, if stuffed in really tight, fit four standard AR magazines, or three AK mags. The left side pocket is also big enough for a one liter water bottle or canteen. It’s disappointing that there’s no drawstring to tighten up whatever is in that pocket, and it’s otherwise open. So when I set the bag down, my water often bottle fell out. There’s MOLLE on both sides of these pouches so that you can strap things on and ruin the otherwise handy width of the bag.

Inside, there are a few small pouches that are big enough for a wallet, note pad, maybe a few bandages, but not much really. And that’s the way I like it. I’d pick a big open compartment over lots of small compartments any day. If I want to separate small objects things I’ll put them in labeled, transparent zip lock bags inside the pack.

There is one odd thing here, however. There’s a compartment for your phone or small radio, with a port to the exterior of the back, supposedly for your headphones. This makes no sense to me at all, as that would leave your phone, or radio inside the pack, which you would have to open to control. Maybe I’m not operator enough to understand what’s going on there.

What I do understand is the loop side pile all throughout the pack so that you could put lots of gear tucked away here and there. That I like a lot. I could put a flashlight, laser target designator, suppressor, tourniquets, all sorts of things lining the interior edges of the bag, and get to them easily from the side opening zipper, without having to open the entire bag. Great feature all the way around and well thought out.

Another great feature is the straps. The Legion Elite Day Pack has a wide, padded belt strap that hides away, probably the way you’ll keep it most of the time. The shoulder straps are also wide, and padded as well. Considering the size of the bag, you’d be hard pressed to fit truly heavy loads into it that would cause any kind of digging into your shoulders.

A unique feature of this bag that I have not seen on other bags: the adjustable chest strap. Each attachment point of the chest strap to the bag moves up and down on a rolled edge Cordura rail. Pretty ingenious really, and if you are wearing kit, or are a woman, or a woman wearing kit, this is a particularly welcome feature.

There is also the obligatory loop pile area on the outside to slap on any myriad patches you may have.

Those were the hits, but there are a few disappointments with the bag as well.

A big swing and miss for this pack is the top hand handle and how it interacts with the fully opening zipper. The zipper itself, which opens about 300 degrees all the way around the bag is great. If you unhook the two buckles on the Helmet Carry feature, the zippers allow you to completely open the back and lay it out flat. Very helpful.

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The fail here is that the top handle is attached to the flap that opens, not to the main body itself. That means that the bag relies on the strength of the zipper teeth to keep the bag together every time you pick it up. Under a heavy load, that may eventually fail. Even more importantly, the zipper doesn’t have to break for the bag to come apart at the top.

If you’re in a hurry and the zippers are left open a bit and you grab the top handle and ran, the pull on that top handle opens up the zipper and the top of the bag comes open. That’s only a problem if the bag is filled to the top, or if you don’t have the Helmet Carry buckled. A better solution would have been to move the top zipper closure one inch away from the back, and place the top handle one inch closer to the back. That would lave the top handle supported by fabric itself, not by the zipper, and still provide the full functionality of the fold open zipper configuration.

Also, for a bag designed for the “heavy hitting professional operator”, the zipper pulls are all wrong. They’re the same color as the bag, are fairly small, and are cord loops. Zipper pulls that are small and the same color as the pack don’t work well in low/no light.

Especially on the main compartment, as well as the “hidden” back pocket, you should be able to find those pulls with your eyes closed, quickly and easily. Make these a flat tab, and make the tabs for the hidden compartment feel different from the ones on the main compartment. They are also loops. In general, I don’t like loops, as they get caught on things. A simple sewn tab would provide all the same real estate, without the danger of getting caught and opening up the bag, or tearing the zipper.

Finally, like many bags, the Legion Elite Day Pack comes with a water grommet at the bottom of the back. This is a simple hole in the bag, not a valve, supposedly for water drainage. It has been my experience that these kinds of grommet drains introduce more water and mud into the bags than they keep out.

When you take your bag off and set it on the ground — on the muddy, wet ground — the weight of the bag and gear push that water and mud into your bag through the hole. And the wetter and muddier it gets, the more likely you are to take breaks and drop your bag to the ground. If the drain doesn’t have a valve, I’d rather it didn’t exist.

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The back zippered compartment is designed either as a two liter hydration bag, or doubles as a concealed carry pouch. Like much of the interior of the bag, the back part of this pocket is lined with Velco-like loop so that you can attach a holster or accessory pouches.

The zippers on this pocket only go down about 60%. I was able to fit my FNX 45 Tactical, suppressor, and 2 spare magazines into the pocket, with minimal shoe-horning. But, since the bag doesn’t open all the way here, you’re going to have to fish for whatever you put near the bottom of the bag.

So much of this bag is done well, but a few head-scratcher design choices keep it from being the great piece of gear it could otherwise be.

Specifications: Cannae Pro Gear Legion Elite Day Pack with Helmet Carry

Capacity: 21 Liters
Dimensions: 19.5” (H) x 15.5” (W) x 6.5” (D) inches / 59.5 (H) x 39.3 (W) x 16.5 (D) cm
Weight: 2.9 lbs / 1.3 Kgs
Colors: Black or Tan
Price: $160
Ratings (out of five stars):

Materials and Workmanship * * * *
Cordura, reinforced stitching, quality zippers and buckles. Great materials throughout. I would have preferred the D-Rigs not be plastic, especially if they are going to list them as “heavy-duty”. The zippers are quality, but too small for the application.

Design * * *
There are a whole lot of things done almost awesome on the bag. It makes me feel like somewhere the “good idea fairy” got involved and someone didn’t quite finish thinking it through.

Overall * * * *
A few changes would really take this bag up a big level. All in all, a good pack with the basics done well.

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28 Responses to Gear Review: Cannae Legion Elite Day Pack with Helmet Carry

  1. I’m currently using a swiss gear day bag that I got for 5 bucks at a thrift store to ruck 30 pounds of rice on my daily walks. I’m haunting the thrift stores to try to come up with a bigger bag to up the load.

    Day bags are great. But they do have limitations. I hope to rotate my swiss gear bag into my get home bag in my 4runner. After i find a bigger replacement.

    Helmets suck. Whether you’re wearing or carrying them. But they are one of those things you need. Not want. Need.

    • For training rucks, the old school Alice packs are hard to beat. I fill mine with bags of flour.
      Also, anytime I’ve hunted way out in the wilds I’ve taken the Alice pack. It’s nowhere near as comfortable as other packs, but you can pull the pack itself off and just use the frame to lash the quarters of your kill onto for the hike back to camp. Then just dip the whole thing in a creek to wash it off and you’re good to hunt again.

        • “Yes. I’ve experienced Alice.”

          Argh. As much as I want to have fun with that, and I really, *really* want to, I…

          I just can’t jwm.

          (Ralph on the other hand… 🙂 )

      • ALICE packs really are hard to beat. When I had to turn mine in for the new ACU crap, I went and bought my own. I mostly use it for working out for now, but if I hit the trail, it goes with me. Sure, there is better out there, but it works and was pretty dang cheap. I did find it funny when some privates or specialists showed up to a jump this year with an ALICE pack. They aren’t bad for that purpose also and their NCO must have told them to try it out.

    • jwm, I have a Swiss Gear (from a similar source and price point). It can hold a few pistols, a boatload of ammo, ears/eyes, sordid and sundry first aid, and whatnot for the range. It would also do fine for a 36-48 hour bag (until I switched to a slightly larger pack and 7 days…)

      Unlike this thing, which features fewer pockets and compartments, the Swiss Gear does not scream to everyone who sees it “HE’S GOT A GUN!!!” it says ‘ignore the books and laptop’. Sorry, I’m a lo-pro kinda guy, always have been, always will be.

  2. Note: there *is* a tube port in the back compartment. Pass your finger up along the top inner edge and you’ll find it by the left strap. Cleverly it goes through the inside of the strap and out a slit at top of strap. Rest of review is spot on. There’s also 5 column molle on the pack behind the helmet carry flap, not sure what that could be used for except some mag or map/admin pouches.

    • Holy crap, there is one. It took me a while to find it even after you pointed out where it was. I’ll ask for the review to be amended
      Thanks

  3. Carried a “helmet” bag around the world a couple times. I’m pretty sure it NEVER had an actual helmet in it…ever.

  4. Nice bag. The only reason I have one is I scored a condor patrol pack at the flea market for $20. Like new money. Had the engineers tool bag inside for a bonus along with notes on somebodys bug-out-bag preps. I’ve got two alice packs with frames that get used for hunting/camping.

  5. Hey JWT – I bought the Exos Bravo Tactical Assault Backpack for the wife on your recommendation – she loves it.

    I have the 5.11 Rush72 and she had asked me about one “for girls” (i.e. smaller), but the 5.11 Rush24 has no hip belt, which is a deal killer for me.

    Anyway, the Exos is now $45 at Amazon, but only the grey remains in stock.

    https://smile.amazon.com/Exos-Tactical-Backpack-Rucksack-hydration/dp/B01DUIQV4W/ref=sr_1_1?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1473291306&sr=1-1&keywords=Exos+Bravo+Tactical+Assault+Backpack

  6. I’m intrigued. I’m always looking for a decent bag to wear while traveling on the motorcycle, and this looks like it’d hold up well. That phone/radio compartment you quibbled about? That’d come in handy for headphones snaked in under the helmet. The price point seems a little steep though, especially with all the various design quibbles you’ve mentioned. It’d have to be one of those things I checked out in person, before dropping that kind of change.
    Going off the Galil tangent, would a broken down AR pistol/SBR do well with it?

    • On the broken down AR, it would work fine, but it would depend on the stock and barrel length. It will not be concealed.
      As for the phone/radio compartment, be aware that, no matter if you are sticking your headphones under your helmet or just in your ears, you will not have access to the radio or phone itself. So no manipulating the radio, no changing frequencies, no reading the battery level, no changing batteries, nothing, without taking the pack off and opening up the bag. I just can’t see how that’s ever an option.

      • For my personal circumstances, it works okay, having done it with other bags. Just as a preemptive disclaimer, given that I have a cochlear implant, my hearing while on the motorcycle is already shot. I comply with all state laws and have the required mirrors. That said, when I’m riding, I tend to set the phone to the media player, pull up the desired playlist and put it on shuffle, then plug it all in and gear up. Since I can’t access it while riding anyway, it’s the equivalent of having the radio on while riding.
        Other than that, yeah, having a device compartment inside the bag, threading headphones out of the bag, and wearing the headphones while hiking around, isn’t really the greatest setup. I don’t get why pack manufacturers keep insisting on making that a standard setup.

  7. Nice detailed review. Surprised you don’t dig the helmet pocket more. I would think it would be great for urban bike commuters and travelers or for guys who had to put on a lid while riding in a vehicle for bump protection then take it off when dismounted for a hike. Seems like a good place to put wet or muddy clothes too.

  8. Appreciate the comment about the grab handle location. Hadn’t even thought of that. Most of the negatives I could deal with, but the handle location and the grommet make me think twice about this.

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