Maxpedition Hard Use Gear is well known amongst hikers and backpackers for the wonderful backpacks, day packs and gear bags they make. They're also extremely popular with the tactical community, both real, police & military, and imagined, paintball & Airsoft types. Less well known are their office-style products such as the attache under review here. All Maxpedition gear is made with Teflon coated canvas, with large, strong buckles and zippers. There are usually mount points and a variety of clever pockets with zippers, buckles and velcro all over their packs. The style is reminiscent of military bags and backpacks and many of Maxpeditions equipment is compatible with modern US military designs.
The bag under review is the large sized brief case, known as the Aggressor Tactical Attache. Make no mistake. This is a large bag. The main compartment measure 17x13x5 and is padded. This will hold a 17" laptop and associated gear with ease. Within the main compartment a moveable panel is held in place by internal velcro mount points. This panel allows you to sub-divide the compartment so that you can store the lap top separate from other gear and equipment. The divider has small pockets stiched onto, the first of many small pockets I'll be talking about that can be found in and around the Aggressor. The main compartment is accessed through a stout zipper with two pulls that have small pieces of paracord attached. There is a handle mounted on top of the bag composed of two separate handles on each side of the bag. These velcro together to provide a single, padded carrying handle. To access the main compartment easily, these need to be separated. Access can still be made without separating the handles, but you'd be hard pressed to get a large laptop in or out of the bag that way.
Outside the main compartment is where the fun starts. This Maxpedition brief case is actually quite a bit more sedate looking than the run-of-the-mill Maxpedition bag. While the overall design matches the well built, sturdy, "hard-use" approach of all their other bags, the purpose here is clearly more in keeping with an office and a little less a mountain top or firefight. All around the bag can be found a series of pockets, large and small. On one side of the bag is the largest pocket except for the main compartment. This pocket is also padded. Inside it has a large folio pocket with a strap and buckle where papers or folders can be placed and secured. Running across the front of that pocket are a series pockets stiched onto the larger folio pocket. These can hold pens, pads, whatever. Then there is room within this pocket for other things, acting as a smaller compartment for the bag. On a recent trip I was able to store a couple of hard-backed books there.
On the other side of the bag a plethora of pockets are available. There are four immediately visible. They're arranged across the face of the bag and come in three different sizes. There are two small pockets with pull tabs, secured by velcro, just big enough for a digital camera, or an MP3 player. Below is a larger sized pocket, again secured by velcro. In mine I've been storing a Plantronics speaker head set that I use for web casts & recording things. Next to all this is a larger pocket secured with a zipper. This pocket could store a paper-backed book, or even two. There's another small pocket stiched inside. I'm keeping a titanium spork there that I use for lunch. On the same side of the bag, not immediately visible is a very large, narrow pocket that runs the length of the bag. This held shut with velcro and has a large plastic d-ring to provide access. Inside this pocket are a number of velcro mount points. This semi-hidden pocket is a regular feature of most Maxpedition bags. There's a small pocket with a clear plastic front on top of the larger pocket. I've been using mine for business cards, but it could store some other identification or something you want visible outside the bag. It took me a week to realize that this pocket was actually a flap for yet another small pocket, secured by more velcro, underneath. I haven't figured out what to put into this one.
On either side of the bag are a couple of clever little pockets that I've gotten used to when working with a Maxpedition bag. These are rounded pockets and are perfect for holding water bottles or things like that. These pockets come with a strap on shock cords that goes across the hole of the pocket. The shock cords can go around the top of a water bottle to hold it in place. Inside the main compartment are a couple of, I'm not sure what the technical term is, compression holders or something, that allow you to adjust the length of the shock cord. The whole arrangement is secured through the use of velcro, again.
Across the top of the bag, in addition to the handles already mentioned are large plastic clips for attaching a carrying strap. The strap provided is a wide, padded, adjustable strap with rubber lining the inside, which gives it a nice grip on your shoulder when you're carrying the bag. There are also a couple of little loops, secured with still more velcro, for holding an umbrella in place.
The overall construction is wonderful. It's very clear that the brief case will last a long time. The seams are all double stitched with some type of nylon. The clips and other connectors are made out of very tough plastic. The case just drips tough all the way around.
I've been using the bag for a couple of weeks now. So far, I'm enjoying it. I used it on a recent airplane trip. On the trip I was able to carry my usual office equipment (minus the spork and a steel water bottle, neither of which I wanted to risk with security), a laptop and associated gear, a netbook and charger, several hard back books, camera, GPS, phone, MP3 player and a fleece jacket. The main compartment was a tad stuffed, but there was still room in some of the other compartments and pockets when I was through. The great strength of this bag is its sheer size. Unfortunately that's also the bag's biggest weakness. It got heavy. I really had placed (I started to use the word crammed, but since there was still room, that was a bad word) quite a lot of stuff into the bag. I could have carried more. My back would be permanently bent now, but I could have carried more.
To sum up, this is a large, tough case, well designed and well suited to carrying around the kind of junk a geek like me, and possibly you, accumulates. I'll be posting a follow-up review in a few months to see how things have held up.
You can also see a video review of the bag here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJm-N-jksvE