Monday, March 28, 2011

Gear Review: Datsusara Battlepack- BP-02

Datsusara is a company that makes hemp products, primarily targeted at martial artists. Their current line includes a gi, tshirts, a large backpack, a smaller backpack, a large duffel bag, and I believe they will soon be coming out with a smaller duffel bag. Datsusara's website can be found here, and the specs for the BP-02 as well as an assortment of pictures can be found here. Additionally, I will post the specs below, directly from the website:

• Body made of heavy duty 100% hemp canvas
• Large main compartment (23x13x8", 58x33x20cm)
• Expandable center compartment with compression straps
• Large side pockets (17x5x3", 43x13x8cm)
• Front pocket with dividers (16"x12"x1", 40x30x3cm)
• 2 sided upper zip pocket (5x9x1", 13x23x3cm)
• Back plate (removeable) retains the pack's form and provides support
• Inside pocket for laptop (laptop area approx. 13x13", 33x33cm)
• Media player compartment with headphone port
• Molle compatible webbing on front and sides
• Sternum strap and padded waist strap (waist strap can be hidden)
• YKK® self healing zippers
• Back and Hip Pads
• Removable logo with velcro patch, now you can customize your bag
Comes with a large polyester "nasty bag" for wet gear separation (13x22 inches, 33x56 cm)

I used the BP-02 for my trip to California for the Pan Ams. This allowed me to have only one carry on, which was quite convenient for the trip. This bag has an insane amount of pockets and compartments. It also has sternum straps and strap you can lock across the bottom. If you don't like the straps that come across the bottom, you can store them in the back outside pockets. There are two large pockets on the side. In one pocket I stored my flip flops, while I put my granola bars, checkbook, and a water bottle in the other.

There is one outside pocket that is smaller and thinner than the rest of the backpack. On my trip, I folded and put my "regular" clothes in there aka clothes I wouldn't work out in. The top part of this pocket buckles on to the rest of the backpack. This way, you can shove some clothes into this space and rebuckle the pocket. I imagine you could shove a gi or towel in that space if you wanted to, but I wouldn't put anything too small.

The main compartment of this bag is HUGE!! When you open the compartment, there are two mesh pockets and one nylon pocket on the front inside, and an elastic compartment on the back inside. In the main compartment I stored the following:

- A1 Atama Women's Mundial 9 gi
- jiu jitsu belt
- 3 athletic cotton tshirts
- a few pairs of underwear
- 2 pairs of socks
- 3 books
- 1 magazine
- pair of shoes

In the mesh pockets I put:

-mouthguard in case
- toothbrush
- contact lens case
- contact lens solution
- glasses case

I could have absolutely shoved more gear in this bag. I kept two rashguards in the nylon pocket. I could see this pocket being used to isolate a sweaty rashguard from the rest of your gear. However, if you want to keep a sweaty gi away from the rest of your equipment, every Datsusara bag comes with a nylon nasty bag. The nasty bag is meant to keep sweaty items from stinking up the rest of the stuff in your bag.

On the top front of the bag, there are two small pockets. These are pretty small, and I think they're only really good for small items like jewelry.

I rate this bag a 9.5/10. There are only two reasons for it not being a 10. The first reason is the price. This bag costs $99.95, which is pretty steep. However, since hemp is sturdier than cotton, I imagine this bag will last much longer than my other gym bags which need replacing every few years. And this bag may save me from the cost of checking bags in the future! The second reason is the two small pockets on the top front of the bag. To me, they are too small to put anything in except for jewelry, which I wouldn't put there anyway.

Additionally, Chris at Datsusara provides some of the best customer service. I was having problems with the straps on my Light Battlepack, and he was extremely apologetic. He exchanged the bags for no extra charge. Additionally, he is very receptive to customer concerns and suggestions via email or the Datsusara facebook page. I remember asking about a Light Battlepack (LBP) a year or so ago, and now I have one in my hands. The BP-02 is also the result of customer feedback regarding the BP-01.

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