When I was young – quite young – I had a serious thirst for adventure, and I was always undertaking something dangerous – many called it “stupid” or “foolhardy” as I recall. I was very independent (still am) and many also used the term “hard-headed” to describe me and some of my exploits. It’s okay, I believe everyone should follow their heart and their dreams, when possible. Which leads me to my youngest daughter, who just got out of the US Army – where she served as a Combat Medic. Now, those who know me, especially from the past, know how hard-headed I was back in the day. However, my youngest daughter easily has me beat in the “hard-headed” department.
As I write this article, on Nov. 7, 2013, my youngest daughter is in New Zealand, and is undertaking a 2,000-mile trek across that country – on foot – all alone! She wants to experience life, and not just live it. Okay, I can understand that, I really can! But being a parent, one naturally worries about their children – no matter how old they are – and want them to be safe and protected – if anyone ever wonders why a father has so many gray hairs – like I do – look no further – our kids give us gray hairs! My youngest daughter has been planning this trek for about 5 months, and even though I was (still am) against it – especially by herself – I promised her I’d help get the best gear available for such an undertaking.
Much of the equipment and gear she purchased was very good, still it was (is?) meant for weekend camping in my humble opinion – not for an extended 4-6 months trek in the boonies of New Zealand. The pack she had, while a nice commercial one, simply wouldn’t hold up for that kind of long-term use and abuse. I mentioned this to the nice folks at US Tactical Supply http://www.ustacticalsupply.com/ and they insisted that my daughter come in and pick out any backpack she wanted for her adventure. And, to be sure, US Tactical Supply only carries the best of the best when it comes to all the products they sell. After visiting the US Tactical Supply walk-in store, and checking out their backpacks, my daughter decided on one made by Eberlestock called the F4M Terminator backpack – go to that web site for a video of the features of this backpack. And, here is a link to the pack, that is sold at US Tactical Supply. Now, to be quite honest, I couldn’t have picked a better backpack myself – I’m proud my daughter took the time to exam all the packs, for the best features, to help serve her needs for this trek. BTW, in New Zealand, they call what she is doing “tramping” around the country.
I was totally impressed with the F4M Terminator backpack when I checked it out at US Tactical Supply. However, I didn’t get a chance to fully exam all the features of this pack, until we came home. To say I was totally blown away with all the features this pack offers, is putting in mildly. To start with, the pack is called dry earth in color – a very clay-like color that blends in no matter where you take it – it also comes in other colors, too. And, I honestly lost count of the number of pockets this pack has, but if my public school math is correct, there are 12 different pockets for carrying your gear. Plus, what I really liked was that this pack has a top opening and front opening pocket – with heavy-duty zippers for getting to the main compartment – really sweet!
The carrying capacity of the F4M Terminator is 5,000 cubic inches, and the empty pack weighs in at a little over 8 pounds if our bathroom scale is correct. All loaded-up, with the gear my daughter will be carrying, the pack weight about 35-pounds – a bit much, however, she has it down to the absolute bare essentials she’ll need on her trek – and she will be adding some freeze-dried foods – which will add a little bit more weight to the bag. The carrying straps/system is worth mentioning, too. There is a heavily padded lumbar support on the back of the pack, as well as several more padded areas, to help keep the load from cutting into your back. Also, the adjustment straps – there are several – allows you to carry the F4M Terminator higher or lower on your back – super cool – as well as being able to adjust the main shoulder straps for the size of your body – moving the straps inward or outward with Velcro adjustments, and my daughter spent a lot of time getting the pack just right – however, once out on the trail, more adjustment will probably be made to keep the pack just where she wants it on her back.
On each side of the Terminator, there is a long side pocket – one on each side – for carrying more gear. My daughter placed her walking sticks on one side and they fit nicely. There are several other pockets on the outside of the pack, the bottom pocket held her tent, sleeping bag (a light-weight one – wish she had gotten a heavier-duty one) and her inflatable mattress and inflatable pillow – they all fit in there like this pocket was made especially for them. Again, the pockets are secured by heavy-duty zippers so nothing will fall out.
The top of the pack deserves mention, as it is a small pack itself, that you can remove from the pack. My daughter is using it as a fanny pack, during her flight, for carrying her ID and other stuff she’ll need. And, while in Auckland, New Zealand, for several days before her trek, she will use it as a purse of sorts. The pack can be fastened around your waist like a regular fanny pack, or used across the front of your body like a courier pack. And, in an emergency, if you had to bug out and run like the wind, and the F4M Terminator was too heavy and/or bulky to carry, you could place survival items in the removable top pack and run with just the gear you have in there.
The F4M Terminator is manufactured out of 1000 Denier Nylon – super heavy-duty material. All pockets on the pack have tensioning straps, for snugging down each pocket – if you’ve ever gone hiking or on a long range patrol, you know the importance of having your pack and everything in it, nice and tight, so nothing rattles around, and nothing moves around causing a hot spot on your body. There is a waist belt, and it can be removed if you don’t need it – I suggest you always use the waist belt of a more secure fit – and there is a chest strap there if you need it – once again, I’d use it. All straps attaching the F4M Terminator to your body are nicely padded and thick – heavy-duty in all respects. On top of it all, the Terminator also comes with a rain cover – for nasty weather.
There is PALS webbing all over the outside of the Terminator, for attaching more pouches if you feel the need for carrying more gear. And, there is also PALS webbing on the inside of some of the pockets – for carrying even more gear. You can also add a hydration bladder to the pack. And, to top it off, you can purchase rifle scabbards if you desire to carrying rifles/shotguns in the Terminator. And, depending on the size of your rifle, if it’s a folding stock model, you can actually fit the rifle inside the pack and no one would be the wiser that you were carrying a rifle.
I tested the Terminator for comfort myself, and found it to fit nicely, after a few pulls on the carrying straps to make it fit my body – large! My daughter also tested the pack, fully loaded, on her back, and the fit was just great for her. She was against getting another pack, she liked the one she had, but I explained the benefits of a military-grade backpack, over any commercial hiking backpack, and she is glad she visited US Tactical Supply with me and found this pack. I wanted my daughter to have the best of the best for this trek, and without a doubt, I think she has some great gear, and I have no worries that this pack will ever fail her. And, as I’ve mentioned before, about the nice folks at US Tactical Supply, they are great to do business with – they donated this pack to my daughter (no charge) for her trek – asking nothing in return – they just wanted her to have the best pack available. After checking out this pack, I wanted to let SurvivalBlog readers know about it. I’ve mentioned before, that some Preppers feel they need the biggest pack they can find – and then stuff it with everything they can – including the kitchen sink – only to discover, that they can’t walk even a mile with those monster packs.
The Terminator isn’t too big, nor is it too small – you can easily make this your BOB and never look back, knowing you have a pack that will last you a lifetime. And, just before my daughter left for New Zealand, US Tactical Supply got word from Eberlestock, that the New Zealand Defence Forces, adopted the Terminator backpack in an open competition. What’s the odds, of my daughter picking a backpack that she will carry in New Zealand, that the New Zealand Defence Forces will be using?
As I’ve said many times, quality never comes cheap – you can buy all the junk you want – and you will be buying it over and over again. If you buy quality, you only have to buy it once. The F4M Terminator retails for $399 as it comes from US Tactical Supply – however, you can add rifle scabbards if you wish, and other smaller pouches to the pack, too. If you are looking for the best pack around, then save your money and get the Terminator – it will be money well-spent, and you wont’ have to worry about this pack failing you. Then load the pack up with the gear you need – and just remember, you don’t have to fill the pack completely – take what you need for bugging out purposes…
If I were looking at getting a new BOB, I would, without a doubt, save my money, and get the F4M Terminator and never give it a second thought – I was “that” impressed with this pack.
If SurvivalBlog readers are interested in following my daughter’s trek, you can do so at her blog site. Of course we are all hoping she can make the 2,000-mile walk. But one never knows what may happen along the way, injuries and illnesses can stop a trek like this, as can severe weather – luckily, in the Southern Hemisphere, it is Spring right now, and as I write this, it is Fall in the USA. However, I’ve been told that a person can experience all four seasons in one day on certain parts of New Zealand. So, I ask all SurvivalBlog readers to keep my little girl in your prayers, as she undertakes this adventure. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio