Hoosier EMA/SAR Guy ( Bloomington, IN )
I tested this bag out as my Every Day Carry (EDC). I work full-time in EMA and teach SAR/CERT. My EDC is around 16 pounds including tech. This one is a bit bigger than my current EDC so I also had room for a fleece (bonus in Indiana winter). The exterior pockets were an advantage over my previous EDC. My headphones, charger cable, etc. went into them and were quickly accessible. The water bottle pouch easily accommodates my 20oz travel mug which my previous EDC had a spot for but it constantly fell out so I didn't use it much. There isn't a great spot to stash pens, business cards, gum, small multi-tool, etc. I stuck a "quick access pen" through the MOLLE loops but I need an "admin" MOLLE pouch or a small organizer bag for the inside.
I also loaded it up with SAR gear and took it on a short hike. It rides nice and fits well. (I'm 5' 10", XL/XXL guy.) You could certainly get away with more weight and a longer hike in it than what I was carrying (about 25 pounds). With a winter coat on, I had to let the waist strap out all the way and it didn’t have much room left but I've got some extra around the middle. Once adjusted, it cinched down and comfortably stayed the whole hike. The water bottle pouch easily accommodates a standard 32oz water bottle Which some of those style pouches don’t. So that is a bonus. (It is not set up for water bladder/straw system.)
I could also see it as a commuter bag for people that carry both work/school stuff and gym clothes with them. The front compartment (with the interior separator bag) is a great place for shoes and dirty gym clothes, separate from the main compartment with your clean clothes/sweatshirt, notebooks, and other things. It comfortably holds my laptop and portable monitor.
My wife brought up that it would have made a good “day trip” bag when the kids were little. You can easily access all the “changing station needs” without opening it. The water bottle compartment works for diaper wipes. The front “bagged” compartment would be quick/easy diaper access. The MOLLE system means you can clip various toys to it to entertain the kid while changing them. There is room in the inside for clean/extra clothes and things. And the computer compartment could hold their ipad (and it’s fairly quick, “no look” access to get into it and get it.) Additionally, the top flap system gives you a spot to stuff their jacket they inevitably take on and off five times without taking the whole bag off your back.
As a CERT bag, bug-out bag, etc. it feels well made and will hold up to a lifetime of sporadic use with a few intense use periods. I'm a backpack nerd so I've been through a bunch of bags over 20+ years of military and emergency response work so I'm confident in saying that.
One note about this bag you may love or hate. The small front pocket is actually an expansion bag that goes deep into the main compartment. You can't fit most helmets through the flap opening, but it does it a lot of versatility.