The Tidewe 5500cu external frame backpack has been on my back for many 4 and 6 mile ruck marches now, so it is time for an update to how it performs.
Durability: so far no problems with straps, buckles, or fabric.
Comfort: when carrying a substantial load the comfort level is better than a surplus ALICE, and has a better weight distribution than a MOLLE ruck.
Utility: you can definitely pack a lot of gear in the Tidewe, it’s is probably more than you need for a 72 hour “get home” bag, but probably just right for my purposes of carrying: 1 Beretta M9 with 3 magazines and 100 rounds 9×19, an Army modular sleep system (winter bag and bivy), a top tarp and ground tarp, a propane bottle and burner, a pot to boil water, an AR-15 (carried external) and 100 rounds of 5.56×45 ammunition with three magazines, a laser rangefinder, a spotting scope, extra cold/wet gear, extra socks, sleeping pad, food for three days, and various other items (mildot master, write in the rain notebook, pencils/pens, tape, 550 cord, etc).
The nylon straps remain the “weak link” in the overall system, but are still completely useable, and easy enough to adjust when the main shoulder straps slip a little to add slack.
Interesting points….these can be had in civilian sporting camouflage, but mine is in the black/gray scheme that was cheapest. They can be had off of Amazon for around 120 US dollars, which makes them a good buy for people who need a serious hunting or endurance hiking bag. There are better rucksacks out there, but you will pay more for them, whether Eberlestock or Mystery Ranch or Kelty there are definitely better materials, better fit, more comfort, better weight distribution options. But they all cost a lot more, so the “value proposition” is definitely there with Tidewe.
Downsides: These are a “made in China” product, which is why they are affordable. If there were a “made in USA” equivalent for 200 dollars (an 80 dollar price increase) I’d say that it would be worth it to buy the American made option. But there’s going to be a lot of “made in China” gear that I take with me to Mammoth, from the Vortex Venom scope to the Arken Optics mounting system, to the generic quad rail free float forend I bought off of ebay mounted on the AR-15. It’s really hard to not purchase Chinese made, or partially Chinese made sporting good products in the current American market without purchasing “top tier” goods. If you are like me as one of the “poors” who doesn’t mind building on an Anderson “poverty pony” lower then stretching your dollar as far as it goes for your hobbies is probably a big concern.
But, when I was growing up (in the previous century) the label “Made in Japan” had been associated with low quality and cheap. For quite a bit of my adult life “Made in China” has meant low quality and cheap. Now “Made in Japan” is associated with high quality and expensive, and China (under the direction of the Chinese Communist Party’s goal of neo-mercantilist empire) has decided to make it largely impossible to not “do business in China.”
It is an interesting problem, one that I hope resolves favorably to the United States (and the rest of the world) without becoming mercantilist raw resource providers for the Chinese manufacturing conglomerates.