The Pantac MAP hydration pack is a versatile sustainment pack with numerous features which make it one of the most popular assault pack designs around. As with all other Pantac USA products, it is constructed completely from Cordura and ITW buckles and carries a lifetime warranty. Also included with this pack are a 2.5 liter hydration bladder and tube cover.
This pack is very precisely named. It is a hydration pack that allows the user to bring along extra equipment on a patrol. It gives the end user more capabilities then they would have on their kit but not as much capability as a 3 day pack would bring along. This size of pack is often used to carry sustainment items such as food and clothing on a dismounted patrol but can be adapted for many uses.
The pack itself is two compartments, one large and the other small. The small pocket is roughly 9″ x 8″ x 2.5″ and is well sized for magazines, an MRE or similar equipment. The large compartment is 16″ x 8″ x 3.25″ and includes a mesh sleeve for your hydration bladder inside. Also inside are elastic loops for securing equipment and 3 hangers for your bladder. There are three ports by which your hydration hose can exit the pack, one top center, one left and one right. All are covered by elastic material to prevent anything from getting in the pack. This pouch is sized perfectly for one of the larger PRC radios, a soft shell or any other equipment required for your mission.
Externally, the pack features a 4″ x 6″ Velcro field, two compression straps and 2 columns by 4 rows of MOLLE loops on either side for additional pouches. The bottom of the pack features grommets for each pocket and four loops to attach additional equipment. The pack can be carried with it’s included, tuckable pack straps or by it’s MOLLE straps. When attached to a vest it covers 4 columns by 8 rows.
The first thing that I like about this pack is it’s overall size. It is very narrow and doesn’t hang me up as I go through doors or get in and out of vehicles. It’s not too tall to bump the back of my helmet when I look up and it doesn’t interfere with my ability to sit down.
Second are the compression straps. There are two straps on this pack with elastic keepers to police your extra webbing. This is well thought out and enables me to silence the gear in the pack no matter how full it is. Remember, slosh slosh = bang bang.
The external MOLLE webbing is in exactly the right places. I can roll up a rain shell and tie it underneath the pack and use the sides to mount a couple spare mags or a radio. If I need more storage than that then I need a bigger pack! The last thing I need are rows upon rows of MOLLE loops catching on every branch I crawl under and begging for an additional pouch that will just end up bouncing around and making noise. Great design here. The hydration accommodations are first class. The mesh sleeve adds minimal weight but keeps your bladder separate from the rest of the crap in your pack. This means you can remove it, refill it and replace it without pulling everything else out. Three hose ports means you can adjust the hose run to your gear and the hangers at the top mean your bladder won’t sag down and pinch off your water supply when you need it the most.
The shoulder straps are plenty wide, adjustable and don’t include any unnecessary padding. They pack away quickly and completely when not needed and don’t get in the way of the MOLLE attachments. The grommets on the bottom of the pack allow for drainage and each zipper has a nice para cord pull for use with gloves.
I generally have a tough time coming up with things I don’t like about Pantac products and this pack is no different. I did, however find some tolerance issues in the MOLLE webbing on the back (body side) of the pack. While threading the MOLLE strap through the loops on the pack I noticed there were a few of them were too small. Also, it appears that in order to stiffen the pack, 3 lines of stitching were covering the center two MOLLE loops making them unusable. While this is not a show stopper for me, it does feel a bit cheap and would prevent someone from using additional MOLLE attachments such as MALICE clips to make the pack more secure under load.
Eagle Industries and London Bridge Trading Company both offer similar packs, but expect to spend $100-$200 for them and don’t expect a hydration bladder to be included. Voodoo Tactical also produces a comparable pack, called the Merced Hydration Pack. It appears to be similar in size and includes a bladder but it cannot attach to a MOLLE system. I have not had a chance to use this pack but it may be a good alternative. That said, it has a one year warranty instead of the lifetime warranty included with the Pantac MAP Pack. One last similar pack is the Condor Fuel Hydration Pack. Again, it cannot attach to a vest but it is about $55 and has an included hydration bladder.
Currently the Pantac MAP is priced at $60.95 which I feel is a fair price for what you are getting. If you want yours in a camouflage pattern, you’ll pay an additional $15. For that you get a no frills, all business assault pack that can double as a hiking day pack and includes a hydration bladder. It’s numerous features like compression straps, dedicated hydration suite and included pack straps make it a steal at either price point. To pick up a Pantac MAP for yourself, click here.