Gear Review: Maxpedition Falcon II Pygmy

The Maxpedition Falcon-II Pygmy backpack is a well rounded backpack suited for day long excursions into the wilderness. Featuring a main compartment large enough for most items needed on a day hike, a smaller outer compartment, and two water bottle pouches, the Maxpedition Falcon-II Pygmy backpack should fit most needs.

Maxpedition Falcon-II Pygmy Backpack

It was in the summer of 2009 when I received my Maxpedition Falcon II Pygmy. After using the Falcon II Pygmy on a couple of hiking trips, it quickly turned into one of my favorite daypacks. Hang on, let me take that back, its more like my favorite day pack.

One of the first times I used the Pygmy was on an eight mile hiking trip with my nephew and my son. It was on a super hot August day, and I knew I was in trouble when I noticed the signs of heat exhaustion setting in. But we found our way to a creek with a nice sized swimming hole where we were able to take a swim and cool off.

Maxpedition Falcon-II Pygmy Specifications

  • Durability – 1000 denier cordura construction
  • Self repairing YKK zippers.
  • From the Maxpedition website:
  • Dimension: 18″(H) x 9.5″(W) x 5.5″(D) Main Compartment
  • 12″(H) x 7.5″(W) x 2.75″(D) Front Pouch
  • 12″(H) x 7.5″(W) Slip Pocket
  • Capacity: 1,400 cu. in. / 23 liters
  • Hydration: Two side pouches for 1L Nalgene water bottles
  • Support: 1in Adjustable Sternum Strap
  • Optional Accessories: Grimloc Carabiner
  • Empty Weight: 36.9 oz.

Over the years, the Maxpedition Falcon-II Pygmy has turned into one of my favorite Maxpedition backpacks.  There have been a few times when I did not know if a hiking trip would turn into a camping trip.  Just to be on the safe side, I packed all of my warm weather camping gear into the Maxpedition Falcon-II Pygmy.

I like that the outside pouch is large enough for TOPO maps, GPS and water filter.  When I stop for a rest break, I like to keep the most used gear in the outer pouches.  this saves having to open the main compartment every rest break.

Maxpedition Falcon-II Pygmy Final Thoughts

maxpedition falcon-ii pygmy

The Maxpedition Falcon II Pygmy is one of the packs on my “grab and go” list.   This means when heading out on a day hike, the  Maxpedition Falcon-II Pygmy is one of the packs I may grab on the way out the front door.  Another pack I use on a regular basis the military surplus patrol pack.

Overall, I think the Maxpedition Falcon-II Pygmy is a wonderful pack.  That statement comes after hiking dozens of miles with the pack.

Full disclosure:  I received the Maxpedition Falcon-II Pygmy at no cost to myself.

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  • Main Compartment: 18"(H) x 9.5"(W) x 4.75"(D)
  • Secondary Compartment: 16"(H) x 8"(W) x 3"(D)
  • Upper Front Pouch: 4"(H) x 7"(W) x 2.5"(D)
  • Lower Front Pouch: 10"(H) x 7"(W) x 2.5"(D)
  • Capacity: 1520 cu. in. / 25 liters


  • We finish our bags with a triple coat of polyurethane for water resistance and add a final coat of DuPont Teflon Fabric Protector to repel the elements. Only the best components and designs are used.
  • We use complete YKK zippers and slides exclusively unlike our competitors who put YKK slides on generic zippers.
  • we add military grade nylon webbing for straps, handles,...

    User reviews

    Maxpedition Falcon II BackpackPros: Sturdy, ridged, perfect size for a small to medium size frame, compact and expandableCons: Awful chemical smell! Loose and uneven stitching, too many loose straps, no bottle holder (you have to purchase one separately)I usually carry an EDC (Every Day Carry) along with my work stuff in one backpack. Most tactical backpacks are bulky and cumbersome. Not so much with the Falcon Backpack. Reviewers commented on how small this bag is and I can see why they say that. When I first opened the box shocked I was relieved by the compact size. I was looking for something that wasn’t too big as I’m a little over five feet tall. I can see why this pack could be too small for some though. This is a perfect size for a carry on - especially if you keep a couple days worth of clothing and personal hygiene items with you in case your luggage gets lost.My old backpack was bulky, use to sag, and pull on the straps if I put a decent amount of stuff in it. This pack is ridged, not flimsy, so it keeps its form. I haven’t noticed the weight like with my other bag. I like that it has several straps to keep it compact but will also allow for greater expansion if needed.I have two main complaints. One, the smell is horrendous! It’s a mixture between formaldehyde and dog poop on your shoes. I know that sounds strange but that is the only way I know how to describe it. I’ve had this backpack by my desk for several days and the headache from the smell is nauseating. My eyes are burning. The attached tag stated that the pack was treated with Teflon-which might explain it. It would also explain why this pack is so ridged. It seems that you could do all kind of damage to it and it will still keep its shape. I now understand why one reviewer stated that the pack is bulletproof. If you want something that is supple or malleable this is not the pack for you. The second complaint would be the stitching. I paid $140 for this pack. I was expecting better quality and even stitching.FYI: This pack doesn’t have a side pocket for a drink/water bottle. You have to buy one separately. I’m guessing they decided a beverage pouch was not needed because of the water bladder compartment. Speaking of the water bladder-it goes in a separate zippered compartment in the back. The bottom of bladder compartment does have a hole for drainage if something happens to the bladder. The rest of the packs bottom is solid. If you put it down on something wet it shouldn’t immediately seep into the inside.It has a good bit of Molle webbing on the front, sides and shoulder straps. It has a key ring above the top pocket that has a snap closure. It also has a clip attached to one of the inside pockets.There are eight straps that are free to whip in the wind. I was disappointed that they didn’t come with some sort of tie down. It reminds me of an octopus with flailing arms. They are distracting, cumbersome and messy looking. The straps are nicely padded. I Used a towel in the end photos to show the straps on the bottom. The bottom straps can be used to hold a sleeping bag, coat or additional carry on attachments.Overall a strong sturdy backpack.
    My background: I own more than two dozen tactical bags, packs and pouches, the majority of them being Maxpedition--multiple Versipacks, laptop bags, messenger bags, ARG gear, etc., some of which I have been using for roughly a decade. I am extremely active, have taken my Maxpedition bags with me through every form of sporting activity, have used them extensively in the field and have taken them around the world on my regular international travels. Maxpedition gear is, hands down, the toughest stuff I have found at ANY price range. Some of their bag layouts are dated and not always an efficient use of real estate (Fatboy), but they are the only bags that I can honestly say have NEVER failed me, or even hinted at failure. I bought this Falcon II for the primary purpose of being my international carry-on, replacing my Max laptop quad bag that didn't hold enough travel gear. And while I only unpacked my new Falcon II a few hours ago, I can already tell you that this is my new favorite backpack and an amazing piece of work.INITIAL IMPRESSION: Again, I just received it. But again, I've owned Max gear for years. I can spot/feel quality, and this is quality. As always, the bag is stiff and compacted. Max bags generally take a month or two to soften up a bit, but they will never be "soft" bags. The thick, quality material that does not give in. I own a 9yo Versipack that I have beat the living **** out of over the years and it still looks new. Granted, it's covered with white crusty stains--that's my old dried sweat salt, from using it in the field and never washing it. A cop buddy of mine bought his Max bag just before starting the police academy ten years ago, and to this day still uses it. Crams it full of backup/tactical gear, ammo, magazines and chucks it in the trunk of his patrol car every morning and a decade later it still ain't coming apart.SIZE/LAYOUT: This is the area I'm most excited about. This bag is the PERFECT size for me. We've all seen the pics so no need to go into detail about the compartments--there's a main compartment, a middle one, two smaller pouch-type compartments on the exterior and a hidden compartment in the back for hydration or a concealed handgun rig. For my needs, I wanted a backpack that could fit my laptop in it and comfortably accompany me both on the airplane and also out in the field where I may, at times, be moving quickly. This is a long but narrow pack, not at all bulky even when fully extended, and is just the perfect size to combine storage space with maneuverability. I know some guys have said they would use it as an overnighter bag, and I'm confident I could pull that off, but I seriously would not want this as my primary bag if I was going into a situation where there's even a remote chance that I might have to stay out for more than a night. That's when I switch to my Samsonite Airlight shoulder pack and a smaller tactical secondary for my electronic/weapons gear.If/when I carry a firearm I do so in a concealment rig on my body, and I'm not carrying a hydration rig, so the only thing the hidden pocket will be used for--and very effectively--is to hold my boarding passes and other airport paperwork that I don't like to store in areas more easily accessible to thieves (like the outer pouch). To that end, the hidden compartment wonderful. Simply swing the bag to the side and grab my documents. The zipper and layout would be very, very difficult for a thief to access without my knowing.My main concern with the main compartment would be that it fit my 14" laptop in a sleeve, a sweater/fleece and perhaps a couple cans of beer that I always sneak onto the plane. I can tell you now, IT DOES.The middle compartment is perfect for my 10.1" Samsung notebook and Amazon Kindle. This compartment, like the main, is quite tall and surprisingly roomy, so you can fit a surprising amount in there. I took off all the cross-body straps and store them in the bottom of this compartment, just in case I have to use this pack while running. I obviously don't need to be all strapped-in to a rig while strolling through the airport.With the outer pouch pockets, the larger (lower) of the two has an internal panel where I'll probably just store a few pens and a flashlight, plus my medicine kit and toothbrush travel set. It can hold much more. The smaller will be for all of my travel USB cables and chargers or, once I've landed, perhaps a pair of sunglasses. You could probably fit at least two pairs in there.OVERALL COMFORT: This is not a bag meant to carry heavy loads. I would probably be hesitant to load anything more than 30lbs in this pack, as it's simply not built for that kind of payload. The straps are well made and designed, but not thick, padded or robust enough to carry around a lot of weight, and while I have no doubt the structural integrity and materials of the bag could withstand 50lbs of crap in the bag, I doubt it would be very comfortable. This is a light bag for a person who many need to maneuver through dynamic situations.LIKES:1) Size, layout, expected Max quality and projected durability.2) There's an ACTUAL, WELL-MADE CARRYING HANDLE ON TOP!! This has consistently been my only criticism of Maxpedition gear--go ask anyone who owns a Fatboy Versipack, or almost any other Max pack. But the Falcon II has about as tough of a handle as you can ask for and it's AWESOME.3) Fits everything I need as an airline/tactical bag, nothing more, nothing less.DISLIKES:1) This is not an actual criticism as it plays a functional component of this bag, but there are SO MANY straps hanging here and there. Again, I removed the cross-body straps and keep those in the middle compartment. If you don't have any specialist hardware to tie-up or tie-in all the loose straps hanging about, just get creative and fold, flip or otherwise rig them into any of the many existing and functional loops.2) This is also not a criticism but a hopeful suggestion. If, like on most other Max packs, they could rig a small side pouch or two on the exterior (yes, I know you can purchase one separately and I do own them), that would be amazing. Somewhere to store my Leatherman or tac light for quick and easy access, or perhaps a small camera or even pepper spray. Small side pouches are always useful and wouldn't take up much space or obtrude much on a pack this slim.I rarely receive new gear and am so excited about it that I spend the next three hours playing with it and writing about it on Amazon, and like I mentioned earlier, this is not my first tactical bag. That should tell you all you need to know. If the dimensions and layout work for you, don't bother having to ponder over this one. Just hit order, and you'll have your new favorite bag.

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Maxpedition Falcon III Backpack, Black

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  • Overall size: 10"(L) x 12"(W) x 18"(H)
  • Main compartment:  10"(L) x 6"(W) x 18"(H)
  • Overall volume: 2160 cu. in. / 35L


  • 100% Denier
  • Imported
  • Overall size: 10"(L) x 12"(W) x 18"(H)
  • Main compartment: 10"(L) x 6"(W) x 18"(H)
  • Overall volume: 2160 cu. in. / 35L
  • CCW pocket, with lockable zippers, fits large pistols
  • 3D breathable mesh padded back and shoulder straps

User reviews

This thing is so much bigger than you'd expect. Maxpedition quality (i.e. it's bulletproof). Great organization. I believe it is within the size limit for a carry on.-I can easily pack 4 days of clothes (casual to business casual, no shoes), everything I need to keep my phone working, toiletries, pens, papers. and still have some room left over.-It's just a little too narrow to fit a laptop, you might be able to cram one in but I don't recommend it.-Tablets fit great, with a keyboard, mouse, etc.-It is big enough for an overnight hike, no frame so maybe not an extended hike, but with the ability to add modular pouches and equipment you can easily take enough for whatever you plan to need. A little too big for a day hike unless you have kids. But it would work if it needed too.-With the compression straps it would be perfect for a student, without a laptop.
This Falcon III is appropriately BIG for how I primarily use it (as an outdoor range bag, though sometimes as an EDC pack to-and-from work). The toughness and weight of its nylon is what I expect out of Maxpedition product; clearly a step up from the usual $50 to $70 tactical backpacks that I've skimped on in the past. I can haul a lot of gear with this pack, and it so far has shown that it can easily handle serious weight such as ammo or even small plate targets when needed. When using both shoulder straps, it fits me comfortably and securely and I don't have to fuss much with the fitting. The main storage cavity is generous; I can have a collapsed AR pistol or my braced MPX safely stowed and still have plenty of room for accessories and a tablet or laptop.The secondary storage area just forward of the main containment area offers additional space for paper items, like targets and a notepad, as well as some factory ammo (boxes placed in on their sides) and magazine storage. But this compartment does best with items of limited girth. Both of these compartments can handle any of my target pistols in addition to the items already listed. There's netting and sleeves and such for smaller items like writing implements and multi-tools and other hand items. Certain articles of light outdoor clothing can also be stored away, again in addition to what's previously cited. There are two other ancillary zippered compartments; I use them for various tools and hand accessories. Plus I went ahead and weaved on a first aid kit (also made by Maxpedition) to the Molle webbing, though aside from the few bandages, some gauze tape and a pair of scissors, it's mostly filled with more hard gear.As much as I like this backpack, I must admit that it's not perfect despite my apparent 5-star rating. It lacks a rain shield, the most glaring omission. Even heavy denier nylon like that on this backpack will still wick in moisture, a situation that's not great for firearms. And although Maxpedition provided additional reinforcing to the bottom of the main storage compartment, I think it would have benefited from an even thicker layer of reinforcing. And then there's the lack of an external pouch for my Yeti tumbler, inexcusable though I must admit that this pack has provisions for hydration in its main storage area. However, there ARE times that I'd like to have something other than water to drink. Aside from sealed/closed bottles and flasks that can be carried inside (and at the same time taking away storage space for other uses), there's nothing that's built into (or onto) the pack that gives me that utility immediately. At least Maxpedition provides Molle webbing along both side panels of the backpack, so I can see about adding a bottle carrier in the future.But those are quibbles that have solutions. I can add a stiffener board to the bottom of the backpack as I've done on other backpacks. Bottle holders can be configured for Molle webbing and I already have a synthetic rain guard that fits over this mammoth backpack. So all is not lost, though I will confess that there IS one problem that is harder for me to rectify. Early on in my review, I mentioned that the pack fits me well...when I use both shoulder straps. My problem is that I have a longstanding tendency to carry backpacks by way of a single strap, just as I did in high school and college many decades past. Carrying the Falcon III in this manner is NOT as enjoyable, as the balance is always off kilter no matter how light the load is. Just the backpack alone is enough to skew how it fits across my back. An impromptu sling pack it ain't. However, the fault lies within me on this nitpick; old habits DO die hard, if they die at all.I won't hold that against this excellent Falcon III. In truth however, it's 4.5 out of 5 stars. And I'm quite happy with that.

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Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger

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  • Main compartment: 16.5” high x 8.5” wide x 3” thick with internal organization
  • Top front: 7.5” wide x 4” high x 2” thick with internal organization


  • We finish our bags with a triple coat of polyurethane for water resistance and add a final coat of DuPont Teflon Fabric Protector to repel the elements; Only the best components and designs are used
  • We use complete YKK zippers and slides exclusively unlike our competitors who put YKK slides on generic zippers
  • We add military grade nylon Webbing for straps, handles, and...

    User reviews

    I purchased the Gearslinger as my EDC for personal items (workout gear, small electronics, several survival items, etc). It worked great for the first 6 months but unfortunately the buckles started snapping off one by one. I was completely shocked by this as the reviews were very favorable on Amazon. The big buckle gave out first and the smaller one that locks over the front of the bag snapped about 3 weeks later.I tried calling Maxpedition's customer service team but apparently they make it very difficult to either have the entire bag replaced or to send in your defective bag and have it repaired. I've considered replacing the buckles myself but the challenge is replicating the same stitching pattern to properly attached the female end of the buckle to the straps.Now I'm stuck with an otherwise awesome bag that doesn't stay locked around my person, which totally defeats the purpose of investing in this type of bag in the first place.
    I’m not a dude and I don’t carry concealed. However, my husband is and when I needed a small but functional gym bag that I could fit spin shoes, as well as a large water bottle and a few other essential gym items (ear phones, protein bars, diaper and wipes, extra pants for my potty training 2yr old etc) he suggested I borrow his bag like this one. I am often carrying in my baby and 2 yr old to the gym daycare and needed something I could quickly put on without worrying about it shifting around while I’m rushing in nearly everyday. I liked it so well I ordered my own bag. I love that I can pull it to the front and quickly access my gym ID cards and money. my hydro flask water bottle fits nice and snug and doesn’t fall out when I’m pulling it to the front. Obviously, I don’t really need all the extra straps and webbing but all in all, I use this everyday and am very happy with the purchase.

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