Monday, 6 November 2017

Unboxing Review: Helikon-Tex Raider 20L Day Pack

With the excuse provided by my long postponed return to the classroom I 'urgently needed' a new pack. It needed to be a little wider than the 5.11 Tactical Rush 12 and smaller than the Markhor Elk Mountain. All the usual contenders were considered, and rejected on cost grounds. One of my target shooting buddies who introduced me to Helikon-Tex gear from Poland and has their equivalent of the Rush 12 I already have that's not wide enough for the binders that my workbooks come in. [See how the reasons for a new pack just drip from my lips]

Then I saw helicon-tex's new pack The Raider, it was on pre-order and only available in limited colours, it's a bit wider and has a stretchy over-panel they call a 'beaver tail' which is like a little Mystery Ranch load-sling, built in. Small packs have always had one annoying snag to them: by the time you've packed all the rest of the crap you need to lug around with you, there's nowhere to put your jacket. We've all tried that threading-a-piece-of-550 para-cord-through-the-little-loops thing, kind of works but I've never really found it that satisfactory. The stretch panel solves that at a stroke. If you're cycling it's a neater way to store your helmet when you're not riding. Based on that, the dimensions, and price I ordered one, and got a pack that so far has totally exceeded my expectations. I'd even go as far as telling them they've under sold it, their description online doesn't even mention some of its best features.

With double duvet for scale.

Out of the box it's a solid little thing, and bit of poking around revealed an aluminium stay that stiffens up the centre of the back panel, I've not tried bending it to the contour of my spine yet, but I'll give that a go in the next week or so. I've had a few little packs they all tend to sag down your back, the Rush 12 being the only notable exception so far. The Raider sits well even without the sternum strap being done up, and with it is limpet-like. The stay-bending is only going to improve that. The slight increase in width over other packs in this size really seems to help stabilise the load.

Cheap, and many not so cheap, packs have those stretch cuff pockets for a Nalgene sized water bottle, but make them out of mesh, which; snags, rips and inevitably fails long before the rest of the pack. Not so the Raider. Looks like a good stowage for a fishing rod tube.

A soft-lined pocket on the pack's face, and in the main compartment there's a slip for your laptop, with a pad at the bottom to offer that little bit of extra protection.

I either live in london where while it rains less often we actually get a greater volume of water falling from the sky, or in Yorkshire where its either raining, or about to rain. So I was chuffed to bits when after a couple of days of carrying the Raider around I found another zipper which was hiding a rain cover.

Another other use for rain covers is to keep the packs straps and buckles from being caught in the conveyor belts and overheads when flying hand luggage only on the cheap airlines. They also make a useful improvised container for foraged roadside fruits, and when the amount of tat [school books] you're trying to lug around exceeds the bags capacity they keep everything onboard.

On design, cost, and, construction the Raider is an absolute winner, it's made of branded Cordura with YKK zips. Its even got a meaningful hip belt.

I hope they bring out an 'Airborne  Raider',  perfectly the dimensions of carry-on luggage for the cheap airlines, I've got packs I'd happily sell to finance buying one.

More Reviews, my long overdue return to both the target range,
and our archery camp very soon
Your pal

PS I've just looked and Helikon-Tex now have the Raider in five colours and six different camo's.


LSP said...

What a handy pack!

I understand there's some unicorn hunting in Sherwood Forest. Want to tag?

Exploriment said...

I’ve been liking what I’ve seen from this company. Good review.

Although your pack-fu is seriously lacking if it took you days to find the rain cover.

Whatcha going to school for?

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


I am humbled.

School is for Gas certification.

LSP said...

By *to I meant *a, and anyway, it's open season, no limit. Forgive error.

Anyway, what we need is a bowhunter who takes the beasts down in Sherwood. The part's open, for you.

Don't be shy!

Maria said...

This backpack is a must need for every hunter! I especially love the fact that the Raider sits well even without the sternum strap being done up. Great help for your back during long hours of carrying it.

The Raider is an advanced backpack for any use: from EDC to short hikes, also as a tactical backpack. Their focal point of the design work is the quick and easy accessibility of essential items. Their main chamber has got a velcro panel to attach inserts, an elastic band cuffed pocket and a zippered one. It also has an organizer pocket for small items that is situated at the top of the backpack, and is accessible without the need to open the main chamber! Its front has a soft-lined sunshades/electronics pocket, and velcro panels that allow attaching additional compatible inserts. In addition to that there are two open top side pockets to carry wind shirt or water bottle. If you will use the backpack simply as an EDC item, the flap can be simply rolled and secured, to avoid the hassle of having to unbuckle it every time to take something out. The backpack is also fitted with comfortable, profiled straps, rigid back panel as well as the hip belt.

It's one of a kind!

Angus Havelock said...

Good afternoon from Madrid, Spain.

After having a Ph.D. in military rucksacks, and buying some nice Berghaus and Tasmanian Tiger for the long range expeditions, I'was looking for an edc backpack which also could be useful for dayhikes in the woods and diaper bag when going out with my girls. I want it to be sturdy, lifelasting and lightweight at the same time, and it should not be the kind of bag with bright colours I will never create links with, nor too tactical to look ridiculously Ramboish when in town.

I've read tons of reviews, watched millions of videos on different brands, prices and specs, and I was almost done, having discarded the Munro for too big, and preparing to buy a 5.11 Rush 12.

Then I saw your post.

This Helikon seems to me a beauty (some might disagree as I've read) but I'm still a bit concerned on the difference of fabrics. I know 5.11 is a sure bet, so just wondering if the decission is too obvious.

As I see you also own the Rush, I just wanted to ask your opinion on the real difference of both bags. Rucksack obsession can become a mental disease !!

Thanks in advance,


The Suburban Bushwacker said...


I've been meaning to do a Rush vs Helikon post

I've had the Rush for a few years, since the Raider arrived the Rush hasn't been out of the house, and frankly if it didn't already have a small hole in it I'd already have sold it. The Raider is the best day pack ever, its materials are much better than the Rush, real Cordura and YKK zippers it carry's better, its got extra features - the rain cover and the stretchy cover for attaching your cycle helmet or coat. Its twice as good for a little bit less money. When I do my round up of the gear I bought in 2017 its going to win.

Hope this helps
Regards from rainy yorkshire

Angus Havelock said...

Thanks a lot SBW,

It has been useful indeed. After reading your message I ordered mine, so can't wait to receive it. Somehow I had problems to decide and wasn't sure I was not neglecting a winner. So no more doubts.

Regards from sunny Castile,