2/3 YOMP-ENGINE No2.1 - VANQUEST MARKHOR-45 VARIANT - (Review).


A backpack that’s feature packed, inside and out.

In the old days a backpacks features were on the outside, if it had any feature at all. Lucky for me, these days there’s as much to talk about on the inside of a good backpack as there is on the outside.

This is the 2nd in a series of posts about YOMP-ENGINE No2. But in the 1st post: DAY HIKE LOAD OUT 20/21 - YOMP-ENGINE No2 - VANQUEST IBEX 26L VARIANT I talked about the IBEX-26, so what happened???

Basically, I found that the IBEX-26L wasn't quite big enough for what I wanted to do so I asked, and VANQUEST very kindly, made a MARKHOR-45 available.

IBEX26 AND BIG BROTHER MARKHOR-45

This is great as the these backpacks are fundimently simalar but the MARKHOR-45 is 19L bigger, giving me much needed volume for projects to come. So to be clear, I've made a switch from the IBEX-26 to the MARKHOR-45 for the purposes of volume. 

WARNING

Be warned, this is a long and detailed post. Get a cup of coffee, put your feet, make your self comforable and lets get started with the MARKHOR-45 EXTERIOR.


Access to the main compartment is via a clam shell, zip around then up and over design, giving the rucksack better weather protection, more airport security, improved drag profile, the ability unzip the wings of the rucksack and access gear attached to the Hook and Loop (HAL) field inside. 


Another benefit is that gear can be pulled from anywhere in the rucksack, top, middle or bottom. especially if a ladder gear organisation pattern is used.

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The hood of the MARKHOR-45 has 2 pockets. One is easily large enough to take a VANQUEST EDCM HUSKY MAXIMISER POUCH which is one of their largest organiser pouch, with room to spare. Number Two pocket is smaller with no capacity so is idea for notebooks, tickets and wallets I.e. flat gear.



At the base of the VANQUEST MARKHOR-45 is an adaptable, large capacity pocket, which works great for gear on the trail that you might need quickly and without disturbing the rest of the load. Wet weather gear or extra layers for instance.


With access from a zipper at the front, the lining for this pocket is only sewn to the inside front of the rucksack so gives us the option to use the entire main compartments depth if we want to load that way or we can separate for wet and dirty clothes for instance. I love this design. I’ve seen an alternative which was a bottom partition or false bottom, that could be zipped-up.


I didn’t like this much as it was either used it or not, there was no half-way compromise. The MARKHOR design means we can partially use the base pocket and have space in main compartment for longer full hight items, such as walking poles etc.


At he bottom left and right of the rucksack are 2 elasticated water bottle pockets, these are angled to make withdrawing a bottle while the rucksack is being worn, easier. There is an adjustable shock cord that can be used to secure a bottle. Despite being shallow, longer items can be carried in these pockets if you use the rucksack, side compression straps or a strap passed through the MOLLE field to secure it all.



The MARKHOR-45 has two MOLLY fields of; x4 rows, x2 columns, left and right of the rucksack. This look is minimal MOLLE giving a low tactical profile but enough to be useful.

Compression straps are super useful on a larger rucksack such as the MARKHOR-45, keeping the pack compact and stable on the back, especially if you don’t like to completely stuff-out your rucksack. A good idea if you need to throw a jacket in there during the hike.


I really like Beaver Tails, they add extra compression and carry options. The MARKHOR-45 Beaver Tail is easily one of the best I’ve seen. It’s dual sided, literally doubling our carry possibilities.


Side 1 has the familiar laced shock cord expedition configuration, the go-to for stuffing hats and gloves when it gets hot. With x2 columns of 1” wide webbing, great for attaching walking poles and ice axes using x2 VANQUEST ELASTO GEAR LOCKS (supplied) To the bottom of side 1 is a Hyperion duck bill to give heavy tools some extra support. The Beaver Tail has x5 mounting points. x4 compression straps.




The top two are side release buckles. At the bottom they hook into webbing loops but are still adjustable. The 5th central mounting point keeps the Beaver Tail in place when it’s being unclipped for access to main compartment. It’s not adjustable and can be tucked away in a little pocket. I guess this comes into play when the Beaver Tail is being used to carry a long rifle, this isn’t my experience so I won’t discus now.


Side 2 has clean design made up of a laser cut MOLLE field, which includes an integrated hook and loop field and behind that there’s a large flat pocket with a secure hook and loop closure. I thought this pocket was for access to the frame sheet the Beaver Tail has but nop! It’s a pocket, it even has a hiviz lining. If I respect VANQUEST for anything it’s their attention to detail.




The Beaver Tail is completely removable and remembering what I said about attention to detail... the top compression straps have their own little pockets to tidy them away, the bottom compression straps can be hooked to the vertical twin rows of 1” webbing that is now exposed.



Use this with a couple ELASTO GEAR LOCKS and the 1/4” webbing gear loops to the foot of the MARKHOR and your ice axes and waking poles can still be carried easily but still leaving us with a slick professional, expedition look.


The base of the VANQUEST MARKHOR-45 Is 1000D Cordura and has multiple mount points for MOLLE attachment or sleeping bags etc.



The VANQUEST MARKHOR-45 gives us plenty of carry options. There’s the standard drag loop at the top of the rucksack and auxiliary loops on the left and right hand sides so we can carry with more ground clearance, duffle bag style.




For me the main suspension system is a thing of beauty. The shoulder straps are an integral yoke attached to the main rucksack body by a ladder system.



This allows adjustment of the shoulder straps for different back lengths. I think this is fantastic because if used with the shoulder strap, load lifters, means we can really dial the rucksack in for maximum load and carrying comfort.


For a rucksack of this size (45L) a good sternum strap is essential. It can stop the weight of the rucksack from pulling shoulders back and pulls the rucksack into the body more. This is really nice if we’re moving through close country or running, it makes the rucksack feel more like part of the body. The MARKHOR-45 sternum strap also has an integrated emergency whistle (Attention to detail : )


 The hip belt is removable, adjustable and really improves the comfort of a long heavy YOMP by shifting weight to the hips and taking it off the shoulders and back. The standard issue belt works best for people with an up-to 34” waist, if yours is a little more prosperous you can buy an after market, Belt Extender.

MARKHOR-45 INTERIOR

The interior of the VANQUEST MARKHOR-45 is an absolutely thing of beauty.


Part of me wants to re-decorate our house just like it while another part me (my wife) likes period features so we’ll be leaving the house just as it is :) The interior color-way is grey and high-viz orange, with reenforced zones, to stop the frame sheet from damaging the interior material, being color matched to the exterior.


Interior continued, unzipping the rucksack completely and laying it out we can see it has x4 zones; left and right wings, inside back and inside front.


The left and right wings have pretty descent hook and loop fields that I like to mount my power kit (left) and an IFAK (right) with help of a couple MOHL-AIR (MOLLE Onto Hook and Loop) adapters. 


The inside back zone is very cool and well designed. At the top there is a port for a hydration hose with a strap to secure a bladder and stop it sinking to the bottom of the pack. Next down is access to the frame sheet, secured with very stubborn hook and loop.




Below this is the hydration bladder / laptop sleeve pocket, this has x4 unhook-able compression straps that were probably intended to cinch down the sleeve content to stop it moving around or falling out but these straps also pull the MOLLY / hook and loop panel tight against the frame sheet making it a super stiff and stable area to mount gear.


The inside front essentially has 3 pockets, the first and top pocket is actually a second access to the large hood pocket mentioned much earlier in this post.


This feature is more useful then I first thought, being able to lay the inside front out flat and access all these pocket is really useful especially if we organise our gear with that in mind. At a pinch it’s also possible to access the main compartment through this pocket.

So below this are X2 zipper closure, ToughMesh pockets, both have capacity and are translucent so we can see whats contained.

VANQUEST MARKHOR-45 DECOMPLIED


Quite frankly this could be the only rucksack you will ever need. With the removable twin side Beaver Tail and the slick expedition ready rucksack underneath, we’re getting three rucksacks looks in one. There’s a ton of options for attaching more volume to the outside, the hip belt even has 2 rows X 2 columns of 1/2 MOLLY for pouches, a field knife or water bottle. In contrast the interior organisation possibilities, means we can cinch down a quick, light mission load and reduce the MARKHOR excess bulk with the compression straps. In short this beautifully considered and design rucksack has strong multi mission possibilities, long, short, large or small.


I approached VANQUEST with a request for this rucksack and they were very generous to make one available for my extending hikes but it transpires, that it’s very easy to use this super adaptable rucksack for shorter day hikes or a large EDC as well, no problem at all.

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FEATURED NOT MENTIONED:

VANQUEST FATPack First Aid Trauma Pack

For more information and tech spec for the MARKOR-45 visit:

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