The Highs: Build quality, loaded with features, tons of capacity, lifetime warranty

The Lows: Needs a better shoulder strap

The Verdict: A tactical bag that makes a great daily bag!

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A few weeks ago I stumbled across a site that features products targeted at military and law enforcement personnel.  The company is Maxpedition, and their line of tactical gear is extremely broad and appears to be tough-as-nails durable. One of the items that caught my eye, because it may have applications beyond military and law enforcement use, is Maxpedition’s MPB, or Multi Purpose Bag.

On the Maxpedition site the MPB is shown with hand guns, ammo, scopes and other related gear, but in looking at it, I was struck by its similarity to the Red Oxx Metro.  I requested a sample and have been using it for the last week or so in place of my trusty Metro.  Let’s take a closer look…

Specifications

Dimensions

  • Main Compartment: 14½”L x 5½”W x 11″ Deep with Velcro Divider  (NOTE:  all dimensions are what I measured on the sample I received; they may vary slightly from what’s shown on the Maxpedition site. I stand behind what’s presented here.)
  • Side compartments (2):  12¾” L x 1-5/8″ W x 10″ D; include multiple pockets for papers, etc.
  • Forward End Compartment: 5-5/8″L x 1½”W x 9″D, with ID/Pen Holder
  • Rear End Compartments (2): 5-5/8″L x 1½”W x 5″D; 5-5/8″L x 1½”W x 2-3/4″D
  • Exterior Dimensions Overall (including main, front, rear and side pockets): 18″L x 8½”W x 11¼”D
  • Carry: 2″ Strap w/ Non-slip Shoulder Pad
  • Capacity: I think a reasonable usable estimate is 1584 cu. in., or ~26 liters
  • 1000 Denier water and abrasion resistant lightweight ballistic nylon fabric

Material Specs

  • DuPontTeflon® fabric protector for grime resistance and easy maintenance
  • YKK high strength zippers and zipper tracks
  • Duraflex UTX-Duraflex nylon buckles for low sound closures
  • Triple polyurethane coated for water resistance
  • High tensile strength nylon webbing
  • High tensile strength composite nylon thread (stronger than ordinary industry standard nylon thread)
  • #AS-100 high grade closed-cell foam padding material for superior shock protection
  • Internal seams taped and finished
  • Paracord zipper pulls
  • Stress points double stitched, Bartacked or “Box-and-X” stitched for added strength

This is a well made bag with remarkable capacity.  It features 22 separate pockets or enclosures.  Finding them all is akin to looking at one of those “Highlights” magazine features in which you discern the differences between two images, one of which has been doctored in subtle ways.  There are pockets all over this thing; just when you think you’ve found them all, you discover another.

In terms of size, here’s how it compares to the Red Oxx Metro:

Red Oxx Metro (L) vs. Maxpedition MPB

The Metro is a bit longer, but not nearly as wide.  What should be obvious from the photo above is that the MPB has numerous additional pockets and compartments.  Both bags easily accommodate file folders and papers; the Metro tends to get tight when a full sized laptop is aboard.  The end pockets on the Metro can handle a smaller sized water bottle; there’s no provision for one on the MPB, although Maxpedition sells an accessory bottle holder which the MPB can handle. (There’s another option we’ll take a look at in a moment.)

Let’s take a closer look at the MPB…

A Photo Tour

Maxpedition MPB:  front

The MPB is a good looking bag with a vibe that’s similar to that of Red Oxx, but with some important differences.  The bag features two carry options:  briefcase type carry handles which are secured by a Velcro® closure, or a shoulder strap.

Here’s a shot of the main compartment.  The opening is via twin zippers with a synthetic strap connecting the two sliders; opening it is quick.  The top flap is further secured via a hook and loop closure; we’ll see that in another moment.  To assist in separating documents or a laptop from other items, there’s a center divider; its location is determined by its position on (what else?) a hook and loop setup. (Note there are small pockets on the interior side walls – for boarding passes or small brochures; there are also slim pockets on one side of the divider):

MPB main compartment with center divider

Here’s the main compartment, holding  a fairly large zippered portfolio, and several folders and pamphlets; the walls and bottom panels of this main compartment are padded with closed cell foam padding:

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On the Maxpedition site, the divider is shown with a Glock and some ammo magazines; these same (included) accessories can be used to secure items intended for other forms of business.  Below, I’ve put a Flip video camera in the (adjustable) holster.  It could also be used to secure a power brick for a laptop or netbook.  The other accessory, rather than carrying ammunition, can be used for reading glasses, small electronic devices, or perhaps a pair of nail clippers.  Use your imagination!

MPB Divider Panel

Here’s the hook and loop closure on the top flap of the MPB:

Top flap closure - MPB

One of the two side compartments; unlike the zippered side compartments on the Metro, which have no real width, these are 1-5/8″ wide, making them reasonably commodius.  The twin of this pocket features a few pen slots and smaller compartments for business cards and the like; as you can see, the zippers go all the way to the bottom for easy loading/unloading.  Note that all the main compartments feature padded walls, including the outside panel on these compartments:

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Here’s the same compartment with a few folders and catalogs:

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One of the compartments on the end of the bag (this one faces to the front of the bag) is a full 9″ deep:

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On the front of this compartment is an ID badge holder; flip it up (it’s secured by, what else, Velcro) and beneath are 4 pen slots.  All exterior and interior panels are 1000 denier ballistic nylon:

ID badge holder on front end compartment - MPB

If you wish, you could also use this pocket for a water bottle:

Front end compartment - MPB - with water bottle

The D ring for the shoulder strap is made of a nylon blend which seems tough without being brittle.  More on the shoulder strap and the snap hook in this image in a bit

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YKK zippers are used throughout the MPB, and feature nylon sliders with paracord pulls:

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Nylon thread is used on the bag, and stitching appears to be of uniformly high quality; I was unable to find any flaws whatsoever.  All critical seams are reinforced with double stitching, bar tacks or ‘box and X’ stitching:

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A plus is the fact that it’s easy to grab the briefcase handles when you want to switch to them from shoulder strap mode; the straps stand up a bit (they’ve “relaxed” a bit since this photo was taken, but they are still very easy to grab):

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The smaller of the two end compartments on the rear end of the bag:

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The shoulder strap is a perfunctory affair, with a simple wraparound, removable shoulder pad secured with, well, you can guess:

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Finally, the surface of the bag which will see the most wear.  It’s reinforced with two hefty straps:

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A few thoughts about the MPB

Right off, I should admit that I immediately transferred all my gear from my Metro to the MPB when it arrived, and have little inclination to go back anytime soon.  The configuration of the MPB seems a bit better suited (by virtue of its greater width) for business use than is the Metro.  Both are fine bags, and although the MPB doesn’t quite have the Red Oxx overbuilt/bomb proof feel, it’s clearly a very durable bag and has a number of really nice features.  A few other thoughts:

  • If you have a phobia about Velcro, don’t buy this bag. It’s everywhere – Maxpedition makes a number of accessories that can be secured to their various products via hook and loop closures, and there’s a good deal of the stuff on the MPB
  • The shoulder strap is the sole discordant note in the MPB song book.  It’s perfectly serviceable, but I wouldn’t live with it for more than a day or so.  This strap is very simple and it works, but frankly I hate the nylon snap hooks:  they don’t have the same quality feel and look as the rest of the bag. In addition, there are so many more comfortable options when it comes to shoulder straps, the bare bones affair that comes with the MPB has a tough time looking like a serious contender.   Here’s a shot of the very good Briggs & Riley “flexible shoulder strap” (in olive) on the bag:

B&R strap on the MPB

  • I personally would pay $10 more for a magnetic closure on the briefcase handles, versus the Velcro that’s used here.  The Velcro grips tenaciously and is a PITA to separate, plus it’s obnoxiously loud.  What’s ironic about this is that Maxpedition cites the “low sound” closures afforded by the Duraflex buckles on the interior of the bag, yet is apparently ok with (hardly silent) Velcro on the handles and the flap of the main compartment
  • Unlike the relatively spartan Metro, the MPB is loaded with little compartments and pockets for storing all manner of gadgets and gear; equipped with a proper strap like the Terragrip or Briggs & Riley strap shown above, it’s a very capable daily bag, pilot’s bag, or general gear bag
  • Just for the record:  my Asus netbook fits with a lot of room to spare in the side compartments – even in its neoprene sleeve
  • You may have noticed two loops above one of the side pockets (scroll up 5 photographs if you didn’t).  They’re intended for storing a Maglite®-style flashlight; I imagine they could be used for a compact umbrella or something similar
  • The bag is available in 5 colors:  Black, OD Green, Orange, Foliage Green, and Khaki (shown here).  Black would certainly de-emphasize the commando look; I just happen to like that look, and it’s why I chose the “Safari” color scheme for my Metro and Air Boss.  YMMV
  • The MPB is backed by a Limited Lifetime Warranty; price, $139.99.  Made in Taiwan

Wrapping up…

My initial impressions of this bag are very positive.  It accommodates my business-related stuff much more easily than does the Metro, with all the little gear pockets perfect for storing jump drives, iPods, and the like. Red Oxx products are truly remarkable, but Red Oxx doesn’t do little pockets and frills very well.

At $139.99, it happens to be priced right at the Metro’s price and is a solid value.  I’d give up the mag sleeves and holster, a bit of Velcro here and there, and the flashlight loops if it’d mean the bag could be equipped with a proper strap.  Or….  perhaps Maxpedition should consider making the shoulder strap optional, with two choices:  a bare bones cheapie strap for field use, and an upgraded strap for business or flight use.  Either way, nothing can hide the fact that the bag is a very functional, good looking workhorse.  You can see the MPB at the Maxpedition site by clicking here:  Maxpedition MPB

I’ll update this post in another six months or so to let you know how the MPB holding up.

Please comment if you have questions or have had experiences with this or similar bags.

The Fine Print:  I have no connection to Maxpedition

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8 Comments on Review: Maxpedition MPB (Multi Purpose Bag)

  1. Michael W. says:

    Your pictures are SUPERB and show this bag off to much better advantage than Maxpedition’s own website. You need to get some recognition from Maxpedition! It amazes me that people who are actually “in the business” can’t do as good a job as a corporate guy in Nebraska having fun on his blog!

    If I were going to buy a range bag that doesn’t scream “tactical” I might be tempted to buy this bag. It’s a big plus that they come in some relativley “non-tactical” colors. In fact I’ll recommend this to my friend who is a shooter….

    But I’M still in traveling mode, and I think I’ll stick with RedOxx for now for for my travel and daily carry gear for the following reasons:

    1. You’ve sold me on RedOxx quality and now I own several pieces and I’m impressed based on my own first hand use. The zippers, hardware, and snaps are top notch. At first I thought they were overpriced, but now I realize the value is there, they aren’t charging extra for a name (like Briggs & Riley etc.) they are simply charging for the cost of manufacture (and presumably enough profit to make a living).

    2. I can’t say how important the “self-locking” zippers on the RedOxx are to me. This is one of those “minor” features that means more and more – see Doug Dyment’s explanation of “spill pilfering” here (scroll down halfway):

    http://www.onebag.com/bags.html

    RedOxx uses the strongest, most expensive zippers that resist breaking and simply WON’T open unless you tug on the zipper pull (at which point they open as easy as other zippers.

    3. The MPB bag is too “busy” for me – all those pockets are helpful in a range bag (with cleaning supplies, ear plugs, etc.) but are overwhelming for travel. The Gator from Red Oxx – which has many of the same pockets are your Metro and as its larger cousing the CPA – has just enough, but not too many, pockets.

    4. I like RedOxx’s intelligent use of snaps on the handle wrapper and side pockets instead of Velcro or zippers – easier to operate, no ripping sound. Also intelligent design features, like the strap behind the snaps on the side pockets, which help opening and closing the snaps.

    5. I REALLY like the fact that RedOxx is committed to manufacturing right in its home town in Montana. While I’m not an economic isolationist, I like to think that RedOxx is helping to build a community up there by providing jobs. And also shortening the “lines of miscommunication” which many importers have told me they experience when sourcing overseas (some importers have to accept design variations foisted on them by their manufacturers).

    Being made in Montana also means the overseas manufacturer for a US designer isn’t offering up the designer’s designs to competitors (with “legally required” variations, of course) or doing cheap knockoffs for distribution through the bazaars in Asia.

    6. RedOxx has outstanding customer service – they fill orders quickly, they always have the colors I want (and they have a good selection of colors).

    7. Now that I am “invested” in the line, I appreciate buying pieces that have a common theme and design. I have the Gator, several Aviator Duffels, the simpler of their garment bags, their Dopp kit. It’s not essential, but it’s nice when the pieces match.

    8. Cachet. While RedOxx isn’t Gucci, they have staked out a niche for themselves with a good reputation and staying power in the market place. My concern with many of the other manufacturers is that they will come and go and eventually the bag you loved will look like some anonymous piece from Walmart or Cabelas or Scheels.

    I will concede, however, that the fact that you NOW acknowledge – LOL – that mayhap the Metro is a little too narrow – has convinced me to buy the CPA as my next RedOxx “investment” instead of the Metro.

    If, however, you are absolutely, positively certain that the MPB can replace your Metro…I would be willing to make an offer on your old Metro to save you the trouble of trying to Craig’s List it in the proverbial (and actual) “Middle of Nowhere.” :-)

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Michael,

    Great comments, as usual. And thanks for the nice words about the photos; I try to improve them a bit each time out.

    You know how strongly I feel about Red Oxx – great stuff, made in Montana, fantastic warranty. I keep going back to the Air Boss when I travel just because it’s so damned satisfying to use that bag.

    For my daily use, the MPB may very well turn out to be better than the Metro. Its size and proportions are better suited to the stuff I carry. I agree, the plethora of little pockets takes some getting used to, but that’s not much of a hurdle to overcome. We’ll see… maybe I will make you a deal on the Metro!

    As for craigslist, surely you jest. There is no nearby craigslist site… people are a prerequisite, and there aren’t enough here to warrant a site. If there were a craigslist for cows and corn however, we’d be all over that!

    [Reply]

  2. Michael W. says:

    Ahh good…no competition for the Metro!

    [Reply]

  3. Elle says:

    WOW…. all I can so is what a detailed review!!! This looks like a really solid overnight bag or even just for a short day trip as it seems to protect the valuables very nicely.

    It does seem to be on the more masculine side and I am not always a big fan of velcro everything just because it’s not as easy or fast, however if safety and security are important, then velcro works great I believe.

    Fantastic photos as well!!

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Elle: thanks for visiting and for your kind words! kc

    [Reply]

  4. Till says:

    Kevin, very good review and excellent pics as usual. The thing with the Velcro is funny. I thought exactly the same thing. If it is really a tactical bag even zippers are pretty loud. You’d be shot before the zip is open. :)

    At around 38 linear inches this is about the maximum for a personal item in my experience. Some airlines don’t specify any measures, others are between 35 and 38. The BR strap looks perfect on that bag, by the way.

    Michael, while I agree with most everything you say, I would say that Briggs is not the best example when you talk about paying for a brand name. If you compare comparable models e.g. Airboss to 235x. You will see that they are in the same price range indeed. The BR will offer even more features, an even more thought out approach to ergonomics, a nicer look and the brand name plus an equally good warranty at the same price or perhaps 10 per cent more. There are only two possible downsides to BR. The ultimate durability might not be quite as high as Redoxx but is still among the best in the business and their “simple as that” warranty makes this almost a moot point. For carry-on luggage which stays in your careful hands all the time, ergonomics and looks are more important and the BR range more than makes up on that for what they lose perhaps on ultimate durability. The other downside is that they are manufactured in Far East. While the political side of that issue persists, I have never seen BR knock-offs.

    A better example might have been Tumi whose Alpha series has similar merits to the BR baseline series but is roughly 30% more expensive because of the name.

    That said, the Tumi 26141 is an iconic design and completely excels in everyday use. I would not be surprised if it ended up in the design section of the MoMA.

    [Reply]

  5. Luke says:

    Kevin,

    Sorry, missed this. The only problem that I see with this bag is the increased width. If I am using an AirBoss for my main bag, do i really want a second bag hanging off my shoulder? I want to put the bag that will be under my seat and will also be the bag that I carry as my daily bag at my destination, inside the AirBoss, and I don’t think that this bag will fit. I may be getting the Metro.

    [Reply]

  6. John O'Connell says:

    Many thanks,great review.Now I’m off to buy one.Cheers.

    [Reply]

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