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Hill People Gear Launches Junction Pack

The Hill People Gear Junction Pack is now available to order. This pack occupies a couple of niches in the Hill People Gear line. On one hand, it is a less technical and more compact day pack option for hiking. It also boasts features that make it likely the most appropriate option in their line for everyday carry or travel.

The Junction is just big enough at 22L (1350 ci) for trail essentials plus a puffy jacket. A good insulation layer is really a 3 (or even 4) season necessity in some places in the west, including Grand Junction, CO where Hill People Gear operates their retail store. The Junction is basically designed to be the pack that Hill People Gear retail store employees can point to for anyone who is looking to go on day hikes in their area.

This is the first Hill People Gear pack to feature a true hydration pocket. The zippered hydration pocket is located on the suspension side of the pack and is also designed to serve as a laptop compartment for up to 13″ (and even some 14″) laptops and tablets.

You can learn more about the specific features of the Junction pack at HillPeopleGear.com and in the video below.

Hill People Gear Pocket Frame Sheet

Hill People Gear is now offering HDPE frame sheets that are precut for their pockets like the Pals Pocket, Admin Pocket, and Tara Pocket. It also fits packs like the Tarahumara and upcoming Junction Pack. These sheets are a simple and inexpensive way to make these pockets more comfortable when used as a standalone pack.

The sheets add some stiffness to the pack which helps it hold its shape instead of rounding when stuffed and helps prevent the wearer from feeling odd-shaped cargo pressing through the back of the pack. You can also find other uses for them once you are in camp like a cutting board or a way to keep dry tinder off a wet ground.

I previously used a Tarainsert for the same purpose. It adds a significant amount of organization capability but costs and weighs more. The new HDPE inserts are certainly a simpler, less expensive option.

HillPeopleGear.com

Choosing a Hill People Gear Kit Bag

I recently picked up an Original V2 Kit Bag from Hill People Gear which brings my experience with Kit Bags full circle (I’ll explain more about this later). I think I have learned a few things about these bags in my many years using several of the available models and I hope to share some of that in this article especially when it comes time to decide which Kit Bag to buy.

Hill People Gear offers 8 different versions of the Kit Bag by my count. Judging by the responses of those I have helped buy their first Kit Bag, this can be a bit overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be if you can understand the patterns of sizing and features. A little guidance about how this information applies to you can be helpful too.

Kit Bags from top to bottom: Original V2, Runner’s, and Recon (with Blue Force Gear Ten-Speed M4 Triple)

Start with the Handgun…

I tell people to start with the handgun. The size of the largest handgun or handguns that you intend to carry will dictate the size of the Kit Bag which will, in turn, narrow your options. There are two basic Kit Bag footprints (length and width): Original and Snubby.

The original footprint is 11.5″ by 7.5″ and is suitable for large handguns with or without mounted lights including full size 1911s, large frame Glocks, and even many backcountry-worthy revolvers. This footprint includes the Original V2, Runner’s, Recon, Heavy Recon, and SAR Kit Bags.

The Snubby footprint is 8.5″ by 6″ and is suitable for handguns and light combinations like a Glock 19 with compact weapon light or smaller. This footprint includes the Snubby, Snubby Recon, and Snubby Original Pattern Kit Bags.

Now Choose Your Capacity and Organization Features Based on Intended Use…

Deciding on a size narrows your options significantly but there is still work to do. You’ll have to decide how much you need to carry and the ways you want to organize it. The decisions can be made easier but understanding the differences between the models. This is actually fairly straight forward once you see that all of the Kit Bags are basically just remixes of the same three pockets (Gun, Cargo, and Slip) with the occasional presence of PALS webbing.

It is important to know that all Kit Bags have a Gun Pocket and all but the Heavy Recon and Snubby Recon have a front Slip Pocket. After that, you only need to know which models feature the larger Cargo Pocket and PALS fields. The Cargo Pocket will double the thickness of the Kit Bag in most cases and greatly expands the capacity.

This feature breakdown is a slight oversimplification but it isn’t too far off. Models like the SAR and Heavy Recon break the mold a little with some unique features but they can still be understood within the framework below with some additional reading on the Hill People Gear website.

The Original V2’s Cargo Pocket makes it significantly thicker than models without it like the Runner’s Kit Bag. Kit Bags are all configured with the Gun Pocket closest to the wearer, followed by the Cargo Pocket, and Slip Pocket moving away from the chest.

The following table shows the original footprint Kit Bags with the pocket type/feature type across rows. The features that are present for each model are indicated with an “X”.

GunCargoSlipPALS
Original Kit Bag V2XXX
Runner’sXX
ReconXXFull PALS Coverage
Heavy ReconXXFull PALS Coverage
SARXXXDiagonal Partial PALS
Field

The following table shows the Snubby footprint Kit Bags with the pocket type/feature type across rows. The features that are present for each model are indicated with an “X”.

GunCargoSlipPALS
SnubbyXX
Snubby ReconXFull PALS Coverage
Snubby Original PatternXXX

Some of these Kit Bags also come with some additional accessories but I consider them mostly ancillary to the decision of which Kit Bag will work best. The Runner’s Kit Bag and Snubby come with the Stabilizer Strap which is highly recommended if you plan to use the Kit Bag for actual running. The Stabilizer Strap is optional for all other Kit Bags. The Original Kit Bag V2, Heavy Recon, SAR, and Snubby Original Pattern all come with the Lifter Straps which tie the weight of your Kit Bag into your pack’s suspension. The Lifter Straps are optional for all other Kit Bags.

My Experience and Advice…

My Kit Bag experience started years ago with the early original Kit Bag before there was loop Velcro in the gun pocket. It was excellent but I tended to overload it thanks to all that available space in the cargo pocket. Hill People Gear eventually added the loop material to the gun pocket which is a feature I knew that I would like to have eventually. When the Runner’s Kit Bag came out, I couldn’t resist any longer so I sold my original Kit Bag and bought a Runner’s Kit Bag.

All Kit Bags (except the Heavy Recon) feature front Slip Pocket which I find to be sufficient for most reasonable packing needs.

The Runner’s Kit Bag was (and still is) just about perfect for me. I can’t overload it due to the lack of Cargo Pocket but it still carries everything I need. I tell people to pack only the things they want to access on the move (phone, maps, compass, chapstick, electrolytes, etc.) and whatever they need to answer “nature’s call” in the woods which implies the things you would need if separated from your pack (hand sanitizer, signaling, TP, etc.). The Runner’s Kit Bag will hold all of that and, as the name implies, it is great for when I am running the forest roads around my home.

Later I picked up the Recon Kit Bag which is basically just a Runner’s Kit Bag with the addition of a full coverage PALS field on the front. Hill People Gear often shows these bags with Blue Force Gear Ten-Speed (or similar) pouches mounted on the front and I am inclined to agree that this configuration is optimal. The combination offers a ton of flexibility, additional capacity, and easy access while on the move while still keeping everything close to the chest.

I thought I arrived at the perfect Kit Bag for me with the Recon/Ten-Speed combo but a few interactions made me wary of using it in some settings due to its less discreet appearance. Maybe this is not an issue for you but it was just the excuse I needed to come full circle in my Kit Bag experience. I picked up another original Kit Bag except this time with the updated features of the V2.

While the Cargo Pocket adds to the thickness of the Kit Bag, sometimes you just need the extra capacity. All models with a Cargo Pocket have 2 slot pockets and 2 anchor points. Many also feature a 6/12 backing for additional versatility.

The Recon is my ideal Kit Bag. It is likely the most versatile but also among the most conspicuous which is what sometimes holds me back from using it. If I am in lightly trafficked areas, I’ll reach for it almost every time.

My Runner’s Kit Bag is probably my most used Kit Bag since I tend to use it, as intended, for running. It is stored in my gun safe with a lightweight, small-frame revolver and speed strips inside so that it is always ready to go for a run. It is also slim and inconspicuous so it still sees a lot of trail use.

If what I intend to carry is more than my Runner’s Kit Bag can handle and the situation rules out the Recon, I’ll reach for the Original V2.

The original pattern Kit Bag may be the flagship but I still steer most people to the Runner’s/Snubby or Recon/Snubby Recon depending on the intended handgun. They are slimmer, lighter, but they can still carry enough stuff (not too much stuff, enough stuff). If I were to choose just one, it would be the Runner’s Kit Bag for all the reasons above. I would miss the flexibility that the Recon’s PALS grid adds but I could do without it in favor of a more discreet appearance.

You can learn more about all the available models or pick up your own Kit Bag at HillPeopleGear.com.

Sneak Peek: Hill People Gear Junction Pack

Hill People Gear dropped a sneaky hint about their upcoming pack, the Junction, a few weeks ago and we caught it. We now have even more details and images of the new pack.

Scot Hill said this of the junction, “It is a minimalist daypack just a bit larger than the Tara. Top load, no compression straps but lacing, two wand pockets, and Tara style suspension.”

The back panel has a zippered compartment that is designed to accept a 13″ laptop though that may vary in the production version. The top flap also has a small zippered compartment for organizing small, quick-access items. It also retains all the loops necessary to be used as a compression pocket/panel on HPG’s larger packs.

If you have been looking for something a bit bigger than the Tarahumara and with a bit more organization, this could be it. The Junction is not available for sale yet. Stay tuned for details.

HillPeopleGear.com

Sneak Peek: Hill People Gear Fanny Pack

Hill People Gear (HPG) is very well known for their Kit Bags, a handgun concealment chest rig designed for backcountry travelers. Now they are about to take their proven design and apply it to fanny packs. Fanny packs are “in” again but in outdoor circles, they never went away. The ability to carry gear on your hips, in a location that is easily accessible while still moving, is just too handy to ignore.

The HPG Fanny Pack shown is a production sample. It makes use of the Snubby Original Kit Bag footprint and layout meaning it should easily handle handguns up to roughly Glock 19 size along with other essentials like a GPS, phone, snacks, etc. It features a rear clamshell gun pocket, a clamshell gear pocket, and finally a front stash pocket.

HPG would like to have this to market before Christmas 2019.

HillPeopleGear.com

Photo Credits: Kevin McDowell (Operations Manager, HPG)

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