I’ve been using some form of the Maxpedition Fatboy for over five years. I picked up my first one in 2010 just before heading off on a trip through Mexico, Cuba and Central America. A few years later I left it in a hostel in Argentina, by the time I realised and called the hostel it was nowhere to be found. I like to think some equally nerdy traveller found it and is using today to travel the world.
My current version of the Fatboy is the GTG (Good To Go) version, a version that uses lighter materials for weight savings and has a slightly different configuration than The Original Fatboy.
Since I purchased the GTG a few years ago, Maxpedition has totally revamped their line of bags and appears to be phasing out their older line of bags in favour of their new AGR range. The bag most similar to the original Fatboy is the Wolfspur, although it looks like an interesting bag there are a few features that put me off that i’ll talk about in the end of the review.
What do I use the Bag for and why this kind of bag?
I use the Fatboy as a small travel and EDC bag when I don’t need the larger carrying capacity of a backpack. It’s Great for a personal item on the plane, it’s big enough to carry my kindle, a travel guide, charging cables, water and anything I want to have easy access to.
The Fatboy only has a limited carrying capacity and I like that, It forces me to think about what I really need to bring. I’ve experimented with larger messenger/laptop bags and I find them uncomfortable when I need to carry heavier stuff like gym gear and a laptop. If I need to carry that much stuff then I’ll use my Kelty Peregrine 1800, a medium sized daypack that’s the most versatile bag I own.
A small shoulder bag like the GTG is so easy to access gear on the go, you can swing it round in front of you really quickly In a crowded train station or busy tourist street. Having the bag in front of me gives me quick access to my camera and is safer in areas where pickpockets may be working.
It also packs pretty flat If I want to pack it in another bag. I bring just hand luggage whenever the trip permits so I often stuff the Fatboy inside my Tom Bihn Aeronaut, that way I have a small day bag for when I arrive at my destination.
Features of the Fatboy GTG
The Shoulder Strap
The strap on the Fatboy GTG is made from 1.5 inch heavy duty webbing, you could probably tow your car with it. The strap is stiff and the edges can dig into your shoulder if the bag is loaded up. With this being said they do provide a pad that is meant to sit on your shoulder and make the bag more comfortable and it does indeed do that when it stays in place. The strap is permanently attached to one side of the bag but can be undone on one end with a side release buckle.
Water bottle Pocket
Sized perfectly for carrying my favourite water bottle, the 700 ml Klean Kanteen, it will not however carry a 1 litre Nalgene. I like to carry a water bottle with me most of the time and having a dedicated water bottle pocket on the outside gives me quick access. Some other shoulder bags want you to store a bottle inside the main compartment which takes up space unnecessarily and there’s a risk of water leaking over the rest of the contents.
Small Zippered Side Pocket
This is a great catch all pocket for things you want quick access to like a small camera. I keep my GoPro in there when I’m travelling and a reusable grocery bag. The grocery bag is super useful because it quickly triples my carrying capacity, perfect for when you’re on the go.
Small Pocket on the main flap
I don’t use this pocket on a daily basis but I keep a few small items in here for “emergencies”. A sewing kit, Bic lighter, a few coins etc
Zippered pocket on the front
An organisational pocket with elasticated slots for pens, a spork, granola bars etc.
I keep a Mini medical kit in here with some bandaids, antibiotic ointment and other small items.
The Main Compartment is accessed from the top via a flap that is secured by a side release buckle. The compartment has no organisational features which is just how I like it. I like to just have one large compartment that I can stuff items down into. I often use Eagle Creek Pouches to keep my gear organised, that way I can quickly move the pouches between different bags I’m using. It has a decent amount of storage space, for example it can hold a rolled up windbreaker, travel guide and a few snacks.
Concealed Carry pocket
This pocket is designed to give quick access to a velcro mounted firearm, I live in Europe so I don’t use it for it’s intended purpose but its a great stash pocket. I use it at the airport for passports and boarding passes or anything I want close to my body and thus more difficult to pickpocket.
Good grab handle
On the top of the bag is a solid grab handle that can be used to carry and pickup the bag, I also find it useful to help pull the bag around in front of my body when i’m accessing stuff on the go.
Mesh back panel
The area of the bag that sits against your back has a a durable mesh material to help ventilation. There is also a velcro belt attachment to fix the bag in place.
Now that I’ve covered some of the features, I want to give you a few more of my thoughts on the bag and how I like to use it.
Stay away from the tactical colours unless you want to stand out
Maxpedition are an innovative company and they have several different sling/messenger style bags. I personally chose the Fatboy GTG because it had a sleeker look than the majority of their bags. A lot of their bags are covered in MOLLE webbing and have a very tactical look, I went through a phase of thinking anything tactical is cool, I went through a phase of playing too much Call of Duty.
The last thing I want now is a bag that’s looks militaristic. I want to blend in as much as possible, especially when i’m travelling and moving through airports. I recommend staying away from tactical colours and styles of gear unless you’re buying them for a specific purpose.
I’d LOVE it if Maxpedition released more bags that have a subdued styling but retain the tough as nails construction and design.
I’ve had a couple of issues with the bag
An area of stitching has come apart just above the zipper, I assume it was when the bag was loaded up full and with the zipper being opened and closed it put too much pressure on the material and it gave out. There’s no way I can see to really repair it and it doesn’t adversely effect the use of the bag.
The main buckle that connects the shoulder strap to the body of the bag has been damaged, with one side of the male part of the buckle completely snapping off. Again this is very strange considering Maxpedition uses high quality buckles.
I did contact Maxpedition about these issues and I have to say i’m not super impressed with the customer service. I was told that they could send me a replacement buckle but that I would have to pay the shipping to Finland. Yes I live in Finland but does that mean I should have to pay shipping for a faulty buckle? Seems weird to me.
My thoughts on the new Wolfspur Bag from Maxpedition
Maxpedition has recently released a new range of bags labelled AGR (Advanced Gear Research). The Wolfspur is the name of the new small shoulder bag in the range and although it does have some excellent new features there are a few things I don’t like.
- The new Seatbelt material shoulder strap – It looks comfy
- Expandable water bottle pocket – A pocket that can hold any size water bottle up to a full size Nalgene and then compresses flat when not in use, a really nice feature.
- I like that the main compartment zippers open and can be accessed from the top, I think this would make for easier access to camera gear on the move.
- The bag’s pretty Fugly – As mentioned I like bags that blend in and they’ve added a semi hard pouch meant to store electronics to the flap of the main compartment. It looks abnormal and I feel like it would just getting in the way when accessing the bag. Also the futuristic webbing they have on the Wolfspur makes it stand out somewhat.
With this negative aside I’d really like to get my hands on one of the Wolfspur bags for testing and see if I can look past it’s faults.
Final thoughts and What I’ll be looking for in a new small messenger bag
Something a little larger (but not as large as a laptop bag) – I now own a medium sized mirrorless camera with a few extra lenses and the Fatboy simply cannot handle that kind of capacity, especially if I’m carrying water and all the other basics I want to have with me.
A more comfortable strap – The strap is built like a tank out of thick webbing, because of that the edges tend to be quite abrasive and can dig in to your neck when moving the bag from your back to your front as I often am. A bag with a seatbelt material strap would be great.
That’s pretty much the only things I’d be looking for when changing up my small messenger bag system. Maxpedition have gotten it so close in making the perfect small shoulder bag and I look forward to checking out some of their new products.
Thanks for stopping by
PS – One of my all time favourite horror movies – The Thing
PPS – If you’re confused by the PS and you want to win a Maxpedition Bag you should probably watch the video Here.