Be it on the trail, at the range, or even built as an intro level “Get Home Bag,” the Expandable Backpack can fit any need you’ll have for it.
Introduced in mid-2015, the Expandable Backpack by Propper offers all the function and style of a low-profile backpack with the rugged materials of a tactical. Built from 1000D Cordura, the Expandable Backpack (EB) is a low-profile take on today’s tactical bag. Measuring 19″ (H) x 13″ (W) x 9″ (D), the EB has a zipper around the pack’s circumference that holds an extra 2” gusset that adds to the overall depth to the backpack. This helps ensure you can customize its fit for whatever you are carrying.
The adjustable, V-contoured, dual shoulder straps on the EB are an over-the-shoulder design with an adjustable sternum strap that can be moved along the attached MOLLE webbing. Each shoulder strap includes a small mesh pocket at the bottom, plastic D-ring for attaching accessories or feeding a hydration tube (not included) through, and slide-release buckles at the bottom. The shoulder straps consist of a thick foam padding that is carried over to sections in the lower lumbar and sides of the EB’s back panel.
Behind the shoulder straps is a hydration compartment measuring 20” (H) x 12” (W) and is a little over 1” deep. At the bottom of the compartment is a (female) hook-and-loop panel for additional accessories. The compartment can also double as a sleeve for soft body armor.
On the front of the EB (on the top) is an 8” (H) x 9” (W) accessory pouch, and (on the bottom) an 9” (H) x 10” (W) administrative pouch, each is secured via zippers with rubberized pull tabs. On the exterior of each pouch are a (female) hook-and-loop field and several bands of MOLLE webbing for adding additional pockets or carriers. The accessory pouch is a simple space using a nylon lining that allows you to easily access the contents. Elsewhere, inside the admin pouch are two document sleeves, a key ring lanyard, and two bands of MOLLE webbing.
On the top of the EB is a fleece-lined sensitive items pocket, secured by a concealed zipper that is excellent for storing sunglasses or electronics. The top also includes a simple drag handle, and a “pass-through” slot to the hydration compartment. On the bottom of the EB is a single drainage grommet.
On either side of the EB is a side-opening accessory pocket that is connected via a mesh gusset. This gives the EB an additional two 9” (H) x 5” (W) pockets (one being velvet-lined while the other has nylon-lined interior) and secured via zippers.
The main compartment itself features a large storage space in the same tan colors and light accent material that aids in organizing the pack’s contents. At the top of the main compartment’s flap is a mesh pocket secured via zipper, while opposite on the bottom of the interior is a 15” laptop sleeve.
- MOLLE compatible webbing for customization
- Hydration system compatible
- Contrast lining provides enhanced visibility for some pack colors
- Rear compartment for CCW, laptop or backpack armor
- NTOA member tested and approved
- Machine washable
The Expandable Backpack comes in Multicam (featured), Black, Coyote, and OD Green.
Product Evaluation Scores:
- Cost – Good (4/5): Between $99.99 and $129.99 (color-dependent) the EB represents a good medium between the 1000D Cordura with its high-degree of abrasion resistance, and low-profile design that spares on more excessive features readily found in the “tactical” theme. In comparison to other market alternatives, cheaper backpacks are readily found, but are made from lesser quality materials or are simply smaller. The closest comparison would be backpacks from Tru-Spec, such as their Pathfinder, or Condor that are similarly priced.
- Comfort – Good (4/5): The thick padding in the shoulder straps and sections of the backpanel made the EB very comfortable, while allowed for some minimal degree of airflow across the upper back (this was hindered by the fact the backpanel isn’t very rigid and when worn it curved to a degree, thus limiting potential airflow). Despite stressor drills the EB neither became displaced or shifted its weight.
- Durability – Excellent (5/5): Consisting of 1000D Cordura, the durability of the EB placed it in the upper level of abrasion resistance material, and above that of most market competitors with similar typed products. Extensive bartcack and X-pattern stitching were noted in high-stress points throughout the pack that added to its durability.
- Functionality – Average (3/5): As a backpack the EB had a simplified functionality with one large main compartment and several smaller ones for varying roles. The use of the expandable 2” gusset material allowed the pack to shift it’s carrying capacity and role from that of an EDC pack to something more suitable for a trail pack. The shoulder straps were of sufficient design and curvature to contour to the upper torso and evenly distribute the weight across the back and shoulders. The nylon material in the main storage compartment was very effective in helping organize the pack’s contents. However, the flap for the admin pouch stopped above the bottom of the pack and was an annoyance as you should really want to lay it completely flat for not only maximum access, but as an impromptu writing surface when needed. Same with the top accessory pocket and main compartment, all the zippers seemed to stop just to the point of making opening the pack annoying. The EB did not come with waist belt to help further distribute the weight, thus long-term carrying (1hr+) of the EB became a little tiresome. Perhaps the largest negative for functionality is the side accessory pockets, that use an elastic gusset to connect into the pack. When closed, the pockets were flush with the pack and assisted in the low-profile appearance. But when a water bottle or other larger item was added, there was no way to fully secure the opening of the pocket and the item stuck out and was easily snagged on branches. In the future, to improve the functionality of the pockets Propper could make one or both of the pockets secure via an adjustable shock cord rather than a zipper.
- Weight – Good (4/5): At approximately 2.85 pounds (empty) the EB is comparable to other backpacks of similar design. The choice and quantity of the materials used in the design balance its overall weight with durability. The low-profile appearance also minimizes excessive weight by excluding other optional elements other more expensive packs will have (multiple pockets, pull tabs, hook-and-loop, etc.).
Overall Rating – Good (20/25)
I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.
The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.