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Maxpedition Pygmy Falcon II Backpack Review

At a Glance

User Rating

The Pygmy Falcon is suitable for both military and civilian use, both outdoors and around town. I found it worked well as a daypack or EDC pack. The pack can also work as an overnight bag, although you have to travel a bit on the light side. If you’re packing necessities alone, this bag would easily hold enough equipment for a one or two day hike.

Overview:

The best backpack isn’t always the biggest. A small, light pack is often the smart choice when speed and mobility are important. One of the most popular small packs on the market today is the Maxpedition Pygmy Falcon II.

This compact, rectangular pack is designed for EDC, BOB, overnight travel and short outdoor adventures. Don’t let the small size fool you, however. The Pygmy Falcon II can hold a lot of gear while still allowing for plenty of mobility.

I’ve used a lot of Maxpedition products in the past and I’m generally a fan of the brand. I’d actually heard about the Pygmy Falcon II in two different ways. Many of my law enforcement friends rave about this pack. Oddly enough, so does my college-aged son and his friends. With such a wide range of appeal, I had to check out the Pygmy Falcon II for myself. Here’s my complete review:

Features:

  • The bag is sturdy and water resistant. The stitching is high tensile strength composite nylon thread. The YKK zippers are self-repairing. I especially liked the UTX-Durafex nylon buckles. They barely made a sound when used.
  • The pack comes in four colors: black, green, khaki and foliage green, dark brown and wolf gray. For tactical and military uses, your color choice will reflect your theater of operation. For civilian uses, I’d recommend the khaki or the foliage green – they’re the less tactical-looking options.

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Main Uses

Since 1988, Maxpedition has been making bags, backpacks and similar gear. They cater to military, law enforcement and security personnel. Many of the bags are equipped with concealed carry compartments for firearms. The general durability of the bags also makes them a popular choice among campers and hikers.

The Pygmy Falcon is suitable for both military and civilian use, both outdoors and around town. I found it worked well as a daypack or EDC pack. The pack can also work as an overnight bag, although you have to travel a bit on the light side. If you’re packing necessities alone, this bag would easily hold enough equipment for a one or two day hike.

The pack has 18 liters (1110 cubic inches) of carry capacity. This was enough space to use the pack as a Bail Out Bag. I also found the pack big enough to comfortably carry survival gear. This could include a light change of clothing, a survival kit and even a handgun.

For Everyday Carry, this bag can easily fit a laptop and a few normal-sized books. In most cases, the pack should be suitable as a carry-on for air travel. The pack does have a somewhat tactical look, but nothing overwhelming. With a subdued, classic style the Pygmy Falcon II looks equally at home on a military base or a college campus.

Size

The overall size of the pack is 9.5” (L) by 8” (W) by 17.5” (H). It’s not called pygmy for nothing. Still, there’s not a lot of wasted space. The pack holds 1100 cubic inches (18 liters).

The top of the pack has a 1” webbed grab handle and two 1” attachment loops. Even with a full load of gear, the Pygmy Falcon II is easy to both carry and wear.

Side Pouches

The bag has dual side mesh pouches. Each pouch can hold a 32 ounce or one liter cylindrical container, such as a water bottle. Each side of the pack has two rows of 2-Channel PALS webbing.

The bottom of the pack is made from non-slip, abrasion-resistant material. The pack is designed so that a rolled-up tarp can be attached directly underneath, where it’ll be somewhat protected against the elements. Although the Maxpedition website doesn’t mention it, I found this space was a great place to store a jacket.

Straps

Maxpedition is pretty well known for their Y-shaped compression straps. I found the Y-shaped strap to actually be one of my favorite features on the pack. Not only does the strap provide structural integrity, it also helps keep the pack comfortable. The ergonomic and supple straps combine with the sternum support. The overall effect is a noticeably reduced the weight on my shoulders during long rucks.

The two back pack straps are 2.5” with five channels of PALS webbing. The straps are padded, breathable and comfortable even for long periods of time. The backpack straps are augmented by a removable sternum strap. This strap is made from 1” webbing with a 1” quick release buckle.

This pack doesn’t have as many straps as other packs of this size. I found this to be a positive since it helps prevent overloading the pack. Plus, fewer straps means the pack has fewer items which can get caught on doorways, tree branches and other environmental hazards.

The exterior has plenty of PALS webbing for additional pouches and accessories. As typical with many Maxpedition pack, there are many accessories available. This is one of my favorite things about the brand – I can always expand the pack when I need to. Aside from extra pouches, Maxpedition has a line of 32 ounce wide-month Nalgene bottles which will fit the pack perfectly.

Main Compartment

The overall size of the pack is 9.5” (L) by 8” (W) by 17.5” (H) while the size of the main internal compartment is a respectable 9” (L) by 4.5” (W) by 17” (H). The overall capacity is 1400 cubic inches or 23 liters. The pack has an empty weight of 36.9 oz.

The main compartment is big enough to hold a wide variety of gear. I stored a multi-tool, knife, some gloves, a small first kit and even a paperback book with no problems. The outside upper and lower pockets have pouches of various sizes. This was a great place to store thin, loose items such as a small sewing kit, a permanent marker and my car keys.

Inside the main interior is a hydration bladder loop hanger made from 3/4 webbing. There are also three internal pockets: a 9” (L) by 13” (H) internal slip pocket, a 9” (L) by 7” (H) internal zippered pocket and a 9” (L) by 4.5” (H) internal slip pocket.

Durability and Product Life

The pack is made from 1000-Denier light-weight ballistic nylon fabric and DuPont Teflon fabric protector. So dirt and grime tend to just slide right off the pack, even in wet, muddy conditions. Just a damp rag is all you’ll ever need to keep the pack clean.

I’ve ordered Maxpedition products in the past and they’ve never let me down. They let you return or exchange a product within 20 days. In most cases, this should be enough time to really wear the pack and get a feel for how it fits.

While I’m new to this pack, I’ve had previous Maxpedition packs last for almost 10 years. I expect the Pygmy Falcon II to last a long time as well.

Here is a video of Maxpedition Pygmy Falcon II Backpack for more information and review

Comparable Brands

Maxpedition is one of the most popular MilSpec manufacturers in the industry, so there isn’t a ton of comparable packs of the same quality and price. You can find similarly sized packs at sporting goods stores, by manufacturers such as Jansport, but the Pygmy Falcon will be leagues ahead in terms of quality.

Note that the Pygmy Falcon II doesn’t have a great layout for a water filtration system. If you’re looking for something with a hands-free hydration delivery system, you might want to check out CamelBak. However, CamelBak won’t have a pack of this size at this high level of quality. Personally, I’m willing to forego a hydration system on a pack of this size.

Conclusion

Just because a backpack is small doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. Rather, when you can only carry a limited amount of gear, you need to make sure your pack keeps that gear safe and secure. The Pygmy Falcon II is durable, easy to access and portable.

This little pack can handle big jobs. It’s tough enough for active duty military and law enforcement officers. At the same time, it’s also functional and light enough for use as an everyday carry for students. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy this pack, too. It works well for day hikes, fishing trips and more.

Overall, the Pygmy Falcon II is my favorite small-sized pack on the market. I give it my highest recommendation. It’s small… but mighty.

  • Anthony Ward

    “The pack has an empty weight of 36.9”
    I’ll assume ounces?