*Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Items to keep you alive in the event you must evacuate: discussions of basic Survival Kits commonly called "Bug Out Bags" or "Go Bags"

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*Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by hutchb25 » Thu Jul 12, 2012 11:48 pm

So on a recommendation from a poster here, I checked out Hill People Gear a while back when I was looking to set up a chest rig fighting load without going super-tactical with a load bearing vest. What I ended up finding and doing is almost totally unrelated to that, but it's actually been even more useful to me. I'll try to post some pics tonight or tomorrow...

Hill People Gear is a smaller outfit run by two guys who spend all their time in the Oregon back country. Their stated design mission basically centers around simple, functional gear for real people in the real boonies. And a lot of their production takes place here in the US, which is fine by me.

Their "Kit Bag" chest pack is basically exactly what it sounds like. It's a bag on your chest with three zippered pockets (there are lighter iterations of it, including one with MOLLE grid on the front), designed to carry your essential survival supplies, and to conceal a firearm while still having it accessible. The harness is pretty comfortable, and the bag can ride as high or low as you want it. The rear-most pocket is designed to carry your firearm and has a velcro strip, presumably to hold a magazine pouch? I carry a revolver so my speed loader rides in one corner. The design is intended to have you position the zippers on a corner, with the rain flap folded back and a gap to stick your off-hand thumb in and 'rip' it open and away, exposing the firearm. It works better than it sounds. The gun pocket is quite large; I am able to fit my .357 GP100 in it with the 4 inch barrel, and room to spare.

The middle 'main' pocket has two pouches within it and a few retainer clips. In it I keep:

1x Platypus soft bottle, half litre
1x Compass
1x Clif Bar
1x Large fire steel
1x small bag of tinder
1x Forest Service map of my AO
1x Petzl Taktika head lamp

The front pocket is just a small zipper pouch. I have a trash bag in there, some TP, some parachute cord and a few bandaids. I intend to include a 5x9, a roll gauze and some quick clot.


The unit rides very comfortably and is intended to integrate with HPG's backpacks, and as such it works fine with a camelpack or any other BOB/back pack I've worn so far. People wanting a more minimal set-up with just a firearm and a few essentials can get the Runner's version or the MOLLE version to customize it. I deliberated quite a bit, but am happy with my choice. The price is a little steep, but the quality is there, and I haven't really found any other products like it.


This has actually become my EDC bag. It sits near my bed at night, and in the day it rides in the car with me. At work, it goes on the truck.

I also wear it mountain biking; before I was unable to carry much in the way of survival necessities or a firearm. It's taking some getting used to because it is extra weight in a place I've never had it before, but when I startled a bull moose the other day I was glad to have my gun with me, and be able to draw it reasonably fast. He ran off, but you never know.

So check them out and if this is a spot in your gear you've been looking to fill, I highly recommend it. If you lose or ditch your backpack, your essentials will always be in arms reach and securely attached, and the gun concealment is a great feature.
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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by the_alias » Fri Jul 13, 2012 3:41 am

Thanks for the review - I want to pick up some bits of their gear in the near future. Namely the runners kit bag.
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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by Gingerbread Man » Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:32 am

Cool, I like that. I like that wearable sleeping bag thing, the Mountain Serape.

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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by PistolPete » Fri Jul 13, 2012 2:47 pm

Thanks for your impression, I've been looking at this and other products for a while. I'm eager to see pictures and hear about how it holds up over time in the field.
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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by Niblick » Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:34 pm

I would be most interested in hearing whether or not you think that the kit bag is "sneaky". What are other people's impression of it. I'm interested in acquiring something similar but at least to me, its just as overt as a chest rig with magazines on it. Kinda like putting a cloth over a holster and calling it concealed carry. What do you think?
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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by TDW586 » Sat Jul 14, 2012 4:38 am

Very interested in the HPG kit bag to carry a full size CCW while hiking with a pack, thanks for the review.

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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by hutchb25 » Thu Jul 19, 2012 1:08 am

Niblick wrote:I would be most interested in hearing whether or not you think that the kit bag is "sneaky". What are other people's impression of it. I'm interested in acquiring something similar but at least to me, its just as overt as a chest rig with magazines on it. Kinda like putting a cloth over a holster and calling it concealed carry. What do you think?
I've worn it around a few people now, and honestly nobody has asked many questions. If they do I just show them the main pocket and explain the contents and I get a "Oh, cool!". And most of those people are ones I've intentionally shown the setup to. Everyone at work just calls it my murse, if they notice it at all.

If you want it to be more covert, the zipper flap can be kept folded 'closed'. I guess I don't worry much about it around here because you pretty much expect to see people with guns in the woods.


And yeah, their other products are pretty neat. I think I want to try their little day pack, people seem to like it.

Heres some shots:

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The main pocket is pretty spacious. Sometimes I'll throw my leatherman in there too, mostly around the house so I don't lose it in between outings and work days (I am the place where 'nice things' like sunglasses, watches, and name brand multitools come to die). In there I have a map, headlamp, compass, water, snack, and not pictured are a small baggie of tinder and a fire steel. There's some little keeper clips mounted next to each of those inside pockets; I use one to attach my compass lanyard to.

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And, the carry pocket. My only gripe is that my speedloader tends to float around in there...if I set it right under the butt of the GP100, it'll both keep it in one place and make the gun a little easier to grab, but a few jostles on my bike undoes it all. Not a huge issue because I've practiced to rip that pocket pretty wide open, but I wish it could sit still somehow.

The 'grimlok' clips on the outside top are for lifter straps to make it ride higher...I don't use them. However, I do attach my klean kanteen to one of them and it's not uncomfortable. Leave it to me to totally bypass what is probably a big innovative feature and use it for something menial!




I also have their bike bag. It's not really review worthy, but it bears an honorable mention. It looks good (I got the ranger green to match my kit bag), it stays put, and holds just enough. I think I've actually packed it with more stuff than HPG intended: Bike pump, inner tube, multi tool, AND a glow stick. My only complaint is that I have to take it off to get my bike on my bike rack, which is a rails-straight-back spare tire mount.
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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by JohnnyRico » Sun Aug 05, 2012 12:23 am

I love using my kit bag when I'm fishing. Easy acces to lures, good place to keep my license, and my G19 is in easy reach around the other fisherman.

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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by ROCK6 » Sun Aug 05, 2012 3:30 pm

Great review Hutch; noticed the comment on the speed loader, have you tried using the flatter Speed Strips?
Niblick wrote:I would be most interested in hearing whether or not you think that the kit bag is "sneaky". What are other people's impression of it. I'm interested in acquiring something similar but at least to me, its just as overt as a chest rig with magazines on it. Kinda like putting a cloth over a holster and calling it concealed carry. What do you think?
I’ve worn an HPG Kit Bag mountain biking, kayaking, fly-fishing, hunting, numerous day hikes and several backpacking trips. I actually, I’ve only received a couple of inquiries and all were positive. When wearing a backpack, fishing, biking or kayaking, it actually blends in so well, it is “sneaky”.

I put my photos on another post along with a video where I was practicing my drawing while using hiking poles; I’ve found the HPG Kit Bag by far the best CCW method for outdoor’s activities. About the only thing I can do is technical climbing, but it still works for general bouldering. Also, we’ve done a lot of off-trail hiking through, up and across smaller rivers and as long as you’re wading, you’ll keep you gear and pistol dry…even if you do take a dunk, I’ve found it easy enough to do the lazy side stroke without it causing much difficulty.

Backpacking with a concealed handgun has always been a challenge and evolution to find something you can quickly access, it actually concealed but still comfortable for several miles on rough trails. I can say enough about how the Kit Bag does exceptional at all of those.

I don’t attach the Kit Bag to my pack’s shoulder straps. One of my criteria was a holster that would stay on my body if I dropped my pack. Although the Kit Bag can be attached, I prefer to wear it as a stand-alone. The design is such that a pack, its shoulder straps and waist belt don’t interfere or are uncomfortable (at least not with a little adjustment as comfort is a very personal opinion). The only down side is that it tends to trap heat in the warmer season. With that said, we’ve done backpacking with heat-indexes in the hundreds with close to 100% humidity; you’re sweating anyways and this isn’t going to make it any less comfortable:D

Photos/video from the Kifaru Koala post:

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Your CCW is still easily and quickly accessible (even with hiking poles):

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Last edited by ROCK6 on Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by RGR SNAPLINK » Sun Aug 05, 2012 4:05 pm

Rock,
You mentioned climbing/bouldering with a kit bag. We actually did that yesterday. We were evaluating if it was ever really doable, as well as the Runners Harness system for Canyoneering. Over 100 degrees in the Unaweep made for a taxing day of climbing!
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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by ROCK6 » Sun Aug 05, 2012 6:11 pm

RGR SNAPLINK wrote:Rock,
You mentioned climbing/bouldering with a kit bag. We actually did that yesterday. We were evaluating if it was ever really doable, as well as the Runners Harness system for Canyoneering. Over 100 degrees in the Unaweep made for a taxing day of climbing!
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That's awesome! I've done bouldering with it, but didn't know if the harness and top rope would get in the way...evidently not! Too cool and this makes the Kit Bag even more versatile. I've had two good friends get their hands on mine and test it out; both now own one (I think one got the Runner's Kit Bag) and love them. It's good to see you can do more technical climbing with you CCW and not have it interfer.

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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by Niblick » Sun Aug 05, 2012 8:37 pm

RGR SNAPLINK wrote:Rock,
You mentioned climbing/bouldering with a kit bag. We actually did that yesterday. We were evaluating if it was ever really doable, as well as the Runners Harness system for Canyoneering. Over 100 degrees in the Unaweep made for a taxing day of climbing!
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Gotta say, that pic makes me want a chest pack more than ever. And I already wanted one pretty badly, now to choose...kifaru or HPG, hmm.
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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by RGR SNAPLINK » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:59 am

Niblick- Well you know which way I am biased toward. If you would like, I can post a pic showing our offerings side by side with the Kifaru so you can compare size.

Rock/Niblick- The runners harness set up is really my go to for day activities and warm weather overnighters. I actually stayed out with it last night. Went and explored some canyons over by the Colorado National Monument. Stayed in a drainage. I know staying where water flows in the desert is not the smartest idea. Skies were clear and I was away from the main body enough to react before a major flood carried me and my beagle away.

So when I want to stay overnight, I just slap my sleeping bag on the back and put a bivy on the bottom. I always have a Neo Air inside.
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Here is a thread showing more of the Tarahumara packs overnight capabilities. This was in early spring, same area in Colorado. Right outside Grand Junction. Black Ridges Wilderness I believe.
http://www.hillpeoplegear.com/Forum/tab ... fault.aspx" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Last edited by RGR SNAPLINK on Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by JohnnyRico » Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:18 am

Niblick wrote:
Gotta say, that pic makes me want a chest pack more than ever. And I already wanted one pretty badly, now to choose...kifaru or HPG, hmm.
They're even 10% off right now - should make it easier.

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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by RGR SNAPLINK » Tue Aug 07, 2012 11:43 am

Rock/Niblick,
When we designed the Runners Harness, I really saw it as a niche for mountain biking as well. We have been testing it under all kinds of conditions. Here are some from this AM.
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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by Kitsune » Tue Aug 07, 2012 12:16 pm

Thanks for the link and the review, this is definitely an item going on the wish list, especially since I am a travel light and functional type of person; this is right up my ally for being able to pack a few more items without having to get a bigger bag.
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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by ROCK6 » Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:21 pm

RGR SNAPLINK wrote:Rock/Niblick,
When we designed the Runners Harness, I really saw it as a niche for mountain biking as well. We have been testing it under all kinds of conditions. Here are some from this AM.
I've had similar experiences with the regular Kit Bag. Is there any reason other than being thinner and with the additional "bungee" strap with the Runner's Bag? I must admit, I have to keep my biking Kit Bag minimized so it's not too bulky. Oh, BTW, your "testing" doesn't look like work...looks too fun! :D

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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by Ebby » Tue Aug 07, 2012 6:31 pm

I don't have a Kit Bag (it's on my Do Want list, along with a Mountain Serape and Compression Kit), but I can testify that HPG makes good gear. I got a CB Tarahumara last year as a belated birthday present from the wife, and it's my current favorite pack (still waiting on my Kifaru Zulu to get here at the end of the month). It's the perfect size for day hikes and is my grab-and-go whenever I get a long weekend to visit family. You can pack a surprising amount using the two compression straps across the back and the 550 on the bottom. The beefy center zip looks overbuilt for a pack this size but plain works every time, and the shoulder harness setup is genius. While I haven't seriously overloaded this pack (hard to do with something smaller than a Kifaru E&E), and I am used to carrying stupid amounts of weight without a hip belt, it is easily the most comfortable setup I've ever used and if it were more compatible with body armor I would love to swap it out with the shoulder straps on my ruck.
Last edited by Ebby on Wed Aug 08, 2012 7:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by Niblick » Tue Aug 07, 2012 9:19 pm

RGR SNAPLINK wrote:Rock/Niblick,
When we designed the Runners Harness, I really saw it as a niche for mountain biking as well. We have been testing it under all kinds of conditions. Here are some from this AM.
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God damnit...would you please stop it. My wife will straight divorce me if you keep posting awesome action pics :D
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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by RGR SNAPLINK » Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:37 am

Rock,
I just prefer less clutter up front. The standard kit bag is what most people like though. I just have the same issue a lot of people do in that I will fill a space when provided. Makes what I carry up front only what is neccesary when I use the Runners Kit bag. That being said, your standard Kit Bag would mount up just fine to our Runners Harness/Tarahumara set up.

Rock/Niblick,
I honestly have the best job ever! No action shot today though. I went for a 1000 ft of vert trail run today. Had no photographer so your homestead's happyness is safe for another day!f I can however, give you a little preview of things to come via some prototype testing!
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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by the_alias » Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:39 am

I'm just posting here again to say I am jealous RGR Snaplink. Damn you sir! :clap:

You guys ship to Europe?
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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by RGR SNAPLINK » Wed Aug 08, 2012 12:02 pm

the_alias wrote:I'm just posting here again to say I am jealous RGR Snaplink. Damn you sir! :clap:

You guys ship to Europe?

Alias,
Been a long time my friend. I see the Bushcraft Compilation came along quite nice.

Of course we ship to Europe! If you want something, email me direct at joehayes at hillpeoplegear. com and I can get you taken care of.
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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by northernxposure » Wed Aug 08, 2012 1:52 pm

HPG is good shit.

Purposeful, solid, dependable. Now if they'd make an S20M, I could find a new home for my MR Longbow.

Hopefully that'll hold me off until they release their frame, or else I'll have to track down a used Kifaru hauler.

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Re: *Gear Review*: Hill People Gear Chest Pack

Post by RGR SNAPLINK » Fri Aug 10, 2012 4:01 pm

northernxposure wrote:HPG is good shit.

Purposeful, solid, dependable. Now if they'd make an S20M, I could find a new home for my MR Longbow.

Hopefully that'll hold me off until they release their frame, or else I'll have to track down a used Kifaru hauler.

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Funny you mention that. We are accepting pre orders as of last night for S20Ms!
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