* PRODUCT REVIEW * Expedition Pack MK11

After a few DXpedition trips to remote and hazardous locations, your transceiver can start to look a bit worse for wear.  My old TS2000 was in that boat.

Even with the best intentions — such as wrapping it in clean beach towels whenever you’re lugging it around an island like I’ve done before — sand still manages to find its way inside during packing up and unpacking the station.

While a bit of sand in the top chassis speaker and handheld mic audio grid (thanks to some IOTA set-ups on the beach) may not stifle the rig’s performance, they can sure leave a sour taste in one’s mouth.

Thanks to the Expedition Pack, however, now I can leave the extra beach towels at home!

Upon reading a review in the old February 2002 edition of CQ Magazine which I picked up at a local Hamfest, I was excited to read about a backpack designed especially for protecting radios on DXpedition adventures.

A quick surf of the web enabled me to purchase the newer MKII version on-line and the pack arrived two and a half weeks later by registered mail!

The Expedition Pack is manufactured by a company called Communication Outfitters which designs backpack style carrying cases for specific products (e.g. radio transceivers).

According to the company website, the initial version (NOT the one I purchased) was designed specifically for the Yaesu FT 817 and Tokyo Hy-Power HL 50B Amplifier, LDG Z11 Auto tuner, the MP-1 or MP-2 or other collapsible or wire antenna systems, as well as a variety of dual band mobile radios.

As well, the lower section evidently held an external battery pack and several velcro straps internally were there to secure handhelds or other accessories…

In reviews that I read about the MKI version, the construction was said to be very sturdy nonetheless the backpack itself lacking in sufficient space, somewhat uncomfortable to use and certainly not suitable for trekking over any type of difficult landscape towards a secluded DX-stination.

Given that most of the DXpedition work I see myself doing in the future will be from rugged island terrain, this is the reason why I went for the MKII prototype.

(Apparently, there were also some complaints about the fitment of the FT-817 though this was corrected in future runs).

Fortunately, the Expedition Pack MKII allows use of the larger HF radios such as the FT100, Icom 706 series and Kenwood TS2000.

Like its older brother (or is that sister?), the top panel has two velcro openings to allow the use of antennas either on the right or left of the radio.

There are several compartments on the large section, too, including two zippered openings on the lid which allow microphone or antennas to feed through the lid.

There are also small compartments that will accommodate some light clothes, food and other items for the day expedition.

As you would expect, the pack is complete with heavy padding for your back and shoulders; a sternum and waist strap are included too. 

Also incorporated is a small removable pouch for your handheld radio, mobile phone or GPS, which connects to the shoulder strap at chest level and a place for your License, ID or other small notes on the right front shoulder strap.

Rumor has it that the Expedition Trail Pack (Which I did not buy although probably should have) is the one to really watch out for.

It is a top loading backpack which will hold BOTH the MKI and MKII types. 

It also has a small pack that converts to a fanny pack which is designed especially for storage of an FT 817.

Apparently, the fanny pack has a specially designed pocket for the Yaesu FT 817 complete with a cut-out on its side for the microphone connection.

As I said before, the Expedition Trail Pack will hold both the Expedition Pack MKI and Expedition Pack MKII inside the large compartment.

This pack also has a pocket between the large and small pack that allows placement of a water bladder such as a Camel Back Hydration system.

In summary, this is a great product for the radio adventurer with the potential to provide added protection for expensive radio gear during DXpedition work.

In fact, I can’t wait to test it out for real! 

Apart from the sexy look and the fact the backpack is so light (18 oz empty), I particularly love the water resistant material and the compartments for additional items such as a water bottle, lunch box, stationary etc. which will make life on the road much easier!

The Expedition Pack MKII is not exactly inexpensive but I would be willing to pay even more for a quality DXpedition backpack such as this.

Subsequently, I would recommend this pack to anyone who would like a convenient and multi-purpose way to store or carry portable DXpedition equipment.

Before I finish up, before carrying any loaded backpack, it is recommended that you be sure you know your physical limitation and consult with your physician if you are unsure how a weight bearing pack may affect your health or back.

73 de Darren