hro-logo-240pxRecently I came across High Range Outdoors (HRO) on the Internet and I naturally got interested about them for 2 reasons. Firstly HRO is a 100% Australian family business based in QLD and secondly their products are made by hand with the best quality materials available.
HRO was started by Ben Mayo in 2013. Ben is a firefighter with the QLD Fire & Emergency Services as well as an avid outdoorsperson when he finds the time. He also has a background in the military which gives him a solid foundation on what works and what doesn’t. This combined experience in the emergency, outdoors and military sectors gives him the experience he needs to produce high quality bags that will be able to stand up to prolonged hard use and the test of time… which is a very important factor for equipment bags in all three industries.
High Range Outdoors (very fitting name by the way) currently offers several products, one of which I’m going to review today called the “MILSPEC Man Bag”- special thanks to Ben for being willing to send one out to us for free. You can check out Ben’s website www.highrangeoutdoors.com.au for his other products and creations.
hro-logo-bag
One thing that bothers me the most about many bags on the market that are supposedly built for outdoor use is that they often fall apart with serious use. This means two things 1) they weren’t built right in the first place and 2) quality is simply not there. You get things like terrible stitching, MOLLE webbing coming off and the bag falling to pieces in general when carrying even a reasonable load. In this case, the bags are clearly not made to last, are cheaply mass produced in China and the companies who make them purely exist to make a huge profit margin off gullible buyers.
After using the High Range Outdoors MILSPEC Man Bag for a few weeks now I am pleased to say that it has held up very well even with a bulky load and a lot of vigorous activity. I have yet to test it’s water resistance in a rain storm and I’m sure it will pass fine, but when I do I’ll post an update on here.

The fabric used to make this bag is 500 Denier Cordura. Cordura is water resistant but not actually fully waterproof synthetic fabric used in a lot of military kit bags and backpacks. 500D is stitched tighter than 1000D and also dries faster. It is also much more flexible. Nylon cordura is a great choice of material and is overall very durable and long-lasting even through the worst of abuse.

The HRO Milspec man bag is also available in a wide range of colours including:
  • ARID- tan fabric w khaki webbing
  • TROPIC- OD fabric w khaki webbing
  • Kryptek Highlander Multicam
  • BURBAN- tan fabric w black webbing
  • NINJA- black fabric w black webbing
  • EMPIRE- black fabric w red webbing
  • TOXIC- black fabric w fluoro green webbing
  • RESCUE- black fabric w fluoro orange webbing
The webbing used for the shoulder strap, closure straps and MOLLE panel are of very good quality and is either made in Australia or in the US depending on the colour. Fabric is sourced from the most reputable manufacturers around. There is zero compromise on quality with High Range Outdoors.
The stitching is very strong and in most places it’s double stitched with quality thread. As I mentioned before I’be been hauling a sizeable load around and the seams haven’t stretched one bit.

The buckles are MILSPEC (military specification) and are extremely strong. They are probably the best that you can get on the market. You can immediately noticed the difference between the MILSPEC ones on this bag compared with standard buckles as they are harder to undo and feel a lot more rigid. One thing I like to do when I get a new bag is to check the buckles by giving the plastic a good squeeze. If it flexes then in my opinion it is cheaply made but if its nice and rigid then it means its most probably good quality and won’t break on you anytime soon.

Excellent quality MILSPEC buckles

Excellent quality MILSPEC buckles

The shoulder strap is made from 38 mm webbing and is fully adjustable. Keep in mind that there isn’t a shoulder pad. Being 38 mm wide it is quite comfortable anyway without a shoulder pad and there isn’t a lot of noticeable shoulder discomfort (i.e cutting into your shoulder etc).
msmb4

38 mm shoulder strap

At the bottom of the bag, there are 4 rows of MOLLE webbing where you can mount a canteen holder, army surplus ammo pouch, medic pouch, fixed blade knife or perhaps lash a sleeping mat or an ultralight sleeping bag or system underneath with paracord. The configuration you have with the MOLLE webbing are pretty much endless and are limited only by your creativity.
MOLLE Panel (with 3 large cable ties secured through them)

MOLLE Panel (with 3 large cable ties secured through them)

At the front of the bag is a small open slot pocket with room for 2 small notepads and some smaller items such as extra pens, penlight, gum tube etc. On each side of the pocket there is a pen holder which is wide enough to accommodate even a Sharpie.
Front pocket with 2 pen slots

Front pocket with 2 pen slots

Sharpie fine point marker fits perfectly in pen slot...

Sharpie fine point marker fits perfectly in pen slot…

Inside the bag it is quite minimalistic – just a large compartment with an internal divider, plenty of room there. The divider is large enough to accommodate a regular iPad or perhaps a folded rain poncho or tarp. I know that organisational wise this is not really good if you’re especially picky about organising gear inside the bag, but again it was designed with minimalism and ‘taking only what you need’ in mind. If organisation is an issue, then I suggest you get yourself a couple of medic pouches from a good army disposals store like Aussie Disposals or buy something more high end like a Maxpedition pocket EDC organiser which is fantastic for organising all the little bits and pieces you may need for an everyday survival situation or quick overnighter. One of the hardest things that every survivalist and bushman needs to know is how to do more with less so it might be a very good opportunity for you to think about carrying only what you need instead of everything else but the kitchen sink.

Generous amount of space in main compartment

Generous amount of space in main compartment

At the back of the bag are two loops and these are for the included retention strap which once its threaded through you clip around your waist and that stops the bag from moving around when you’re walking, running or scrambling over rocks for example. Certainly a very good, well thought accessory that many other sling bag manufacturers don’t include. I haven’t really had the need to use the retention strap so far even though I carry around a sizeable load out.
The retention strap installed at the back of the bag

The retention strap installed at the back of the bag

At the top of the bag is a generous grab handle made from 25mm nylon webbing. Nothing fancy – just a piece of webbing, so no pad or anything.
Generous grab handle

Generous grab handle

So far, I haven’t found one single fault with this bag, I really like it and I believe you won’t be disappointed
with it either. In fact other users of the HRO Man Bag can’t speak highly of it enough. So far I haven’t seen any negative comments about this bag yet.

My Setup

Packed to the hilt!

Packed to the hilt!

msmb-gear-setup
So what I’ve done with this bag is set it up as an combination urban/wilderness EDC grab ’n go bag just so you get an idea of how much gear can fit inside and also what gear I use.
I live in a semi rural area where you can go end up in the bush within 5 km and about just under half an hour from the CBD so it’s necessary to cater for both urban and rural emergency scenarios.
An EDC bag is essentially a smaller, bare bones version of your bug out bag so you’re not going to be carrying everything that’s in your bug out bag and certainly not full size items. For example instead of carrying around some honking big tarp or groundsheet and a full sleeping bag, I have a very compact (pocket-sized in fact) Cocoon Sleeping bag I’m going to be testing out soon.
In the main compartment I have a pocket CPR resuscitation mask (one of the proper ‘ambu masks’ instead of the cheap single use ones), a Snake Bite Kit made by Next72Hours (the snake bite kit in the above photo is one made by Bob Cooper Survival but I have since swapped it out for this one) which I’ve done a review of (you can check it our here), a Trauma Pak made by QuikClot (mainly for dealing with severe haemorrhaging, gun shot wounds, sucking chest wounds, avulsions, amputations – that sort of thing). I carry an extra Resqme seat belt cutter/glass breaker in addition to the one my keychain and this tool is handy to have in case of a vehicle accident. It’s carried by firefighters, paramedics and first responders around the globe; you can check out my review of it here. I don’t carry a tourniquet in this bag as I haven’t got around to getting one just yet, but if I need one, I can use my Blackhawk tactical CQB rigger’s belt that is designed for carrying weapons as a duty belt and emergency rappelling (I really like this belt – check out my review of it here).
For shelter, I have a cheap $10 rain poncho I got from a local hardware store, a “Cocoon” emergency pocket sized sleeping bag (which I mentioned before) made by Survivor Industries which I’m going to do a review of soon and one of the original Space Blankets.
I have some PPE items in here including a pair of wildland-firefighting leather rigger gloves and a compact P2 dust/vapours mask in case of a terrorist incident involving chemicals, mace or tear gas or it might just be an earthquake or a bushfire where you need to protect your airways from dust, debris, smoke, ash etc.
I have my favourite survival kit in here: The Bob Cooper Outback Survival Kit which is quite comprehensive. I’ve done a review of it which you can check out here. I also have my Aussie Survival Tools fire starter (see my review here), a Survivor Water Filter (also done a review of it) and a Hoorag Survival Bandanna.
In a small ziplock bag, I have some repair items in here which include a roll of electrical tape, duct tape, good quality super glue, smaller cable ties and beeswax lip balm (which can also be used for starting fires).
If I get hungry, I’ve got a couple of really nice fruit/nut bars in a pinch. Since I carry my stainless steel Cheeki 750 ml water bottle in a shoulder strap holster I don’t carry a water bottle in this bag except for 2 packets of emergency water rations made by Mainstay from Survival Storehouse. The reason why I carry this extra water is as an emergency reserve and in case I come across somebody else who may need water.
For lighting, I have my Coleman brand 40 lumens headlamp (pretty good for the money), a waterproof 60 lumens adjustable focus LED Eluminator torch (also an exceptional torch) and a Life Gear strobe light for signalling purposes.
It’s never fun to go without toilet paper (I know what it’s like) so I have a packet of Sea To Summit Wilderness Wipes in here for hygiene purposes along with a Kleenex tissue pack and a bottle of hand sanitizer for good measure.
In the front pocket, I keep my bullet pen (similar to a tactical pen but made from .308 rifle shell casings – get stabbed in the right spot with one of these and you’ll be left screaming 9000 times), another pen and a fine point Sharpie marker, a Rite In the Rain Notebook as well as 2 Jim Wagner Reality Based Incident Recollection cards which are useful for recording crime and terrorism incidents (yep, I’m a big fan of Jim Wagner’s Reality Based Personal Protection Program), a little tin tube of breath chews and a lens cleaning wipe satchet in case my sunnies or glasses get dirty.
On the grab handle, I have an 8 m paracord bracelet made by Cam’s Cords – I highly recommend them, so check them out.
HRO does make a canteen pouch that fits a wide range of canteens such as US/NATO issue and Nalgene types so that can be purchased separately and mounted on the MOLLE webbing at the bottom of the bag. At the moment I don’t have any pouches attached to the MOLLE panel at the bottom but have 3 large black cable ties at the bottom which can come in handy for repairs, setting up shelter and perhaps restraining a violent criminal or a terrorist – because you just never know.
So as you can see, if you know how to pack right you can fit in a ton of things in this bag – all without it stretching or being too overloaded!

Who is this bag best suited for?

This bag is perfect as an Everyday Carry bag/haversack. Plenty of ‘prepared’ guys today need something more than just their pockets to carry all their gear so the HRO man bag is perfect for this. The ladies and the mean guys might call it a ‘man purse’ and tease you about it but who cares when all you gear fits conveniently into the bag instead of carrying around ominous bulges in your pockets. You can carry all the items you would need on a daily basis e.g. phone, wallet, iPad, earphones, breath gum, sunnies and other bits and pieces plus some basic survival equipment like a folding knife, multitool, torch, small survival tin, a disposable rain poncho, space blanket, small boo-boo first aid kit and something like a Survive Outdoors Longer (SOL) Emergency Bivvy bag. The HRO man bag has the advantage of carrying an amazing gear load out all the while remaining very plain and non-descript (that’s if you get the ARID TAN and OD Green colours of course) especially in urban situations where you need to be the ‘gray man’ and not stand out from the crowd.
The MILSPEC man bag is also great as a hunting bag, you can fit a good amount of rifle ammo in there as well as some necessary bits and pieces. For that purpose I suggest you go with the ARID- tan fabric w khaki webbing, TROPIC- OD fabric w khaki webbing or Kryptek Highlander Multicam colour options as they all blend in very well in natural environments.
As I detailed before, I’ve setup my bag as a hybrid Go Bag and EDC kit so I have it stuffed to the hilt with EDC items as well as a ton of survival and first aid gear.
At the end of the day, really the options you have with this bag are only limited by your imagination and creativity and you can configure it in many different ways according to your needs, requirements and skill level.

Buy Yours Now!

So if you want a quality product that is built to stand up to hard use and the test of time, why not head over to www.highrangeoutdoors.com.au where you can order the MILSPEC Man Bag. Solid colours go for $70 whilst camo ones for $75.
Don’t forget to like HRO on Facebook and subscribe to his YouTube channel for new products, updates, offers and lots more.

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Generous grab handle

Generous grab handle

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Until next time, “Be Prepared, Stay Alive!”
~OzSurvivalGuy