The first thing I noticed when I first saw the pack were the two pockets on the front. They dominate the design not only in looks but in practicality too. I have come to really appreciate these two pockets which although a simple addition to the Karrimor SF Commander 45 really make it useful out in the field.
The Commander 45 by Karrimor SF is a step up in complexity when compared to the tried and tested Sabre 45 (which I also own and use frequently). Commander 45 does a lot more “stuff” and the aim of this review is to help you make up your mind if this extra functionality is worth it for your needs.
Wearing the Karrimor SF Commander 45 is pleasant enough for a pack with no hip harness. This is a military bag and so is designed to fit above webbing. Karrimor SF have gone a step to further improve the comfort. It takes the form of a very stiff back panel along side a firm lumbar support pouch which protrudes enough from the back system itself to make positive contact with the small of your back, this pushes some of the weight into you and takes it off the shoulders a little.
The shoulder straps can be worn very wide or narrow. Thanks to the lack of permanent stitching at the top where they connect to the bag. Don’t get me wrong it is stitched in place very securely but to a smooth half circle of plastic, which allows the shoulder straps to travel to a spot where they fit comfortably on you. At first I was sceptical to this design but have grown fond of it and both the plastic eyelet where the shoulder strap meets the pack as well as the stitching itself are both very strong.
The pack uses top quality tough materials, which are now usual for Karrimor SF. They are not by any means lightweight but they are going for strength and reliability. The Karrimor SF Commander 45 certainly delivers on this part. The fabric also has a DWR applied and the pack has drainage holes throughout, so its good in wet conditions.
For me the main attraction to this pack was its accessibility, from the clamshell main zip, which allows almost the whole pack to be zipped open and the internal compression straps, which help you compress the load towards you.
The best feature for my work as an outdoor instructor are the two main external pockets. These are simply perfect for storing large first aid kits, dslr’s, bushcraft tools and water bottles. When I am out in the field its normal for me to drop my pack to get something inside frequently during the day. The Commander 45 makes this a hell of a lot quicker and more efficient. You can prioritise the items you may need for the session or day and put them in the external pockets accordingly. To have this feature in such a durable pack makes this one a keeper for me.