The outdoor and tactical industries are naturally connected. Wisport, the producer of outdoor equipment from Poland is the best example to prove this statement. The company was established in 1984 as a regular producer of outdoor gear. Although the enterprise entered military-survival market relatively not very long ago, They feature very wide range of products tailored for this line. Wisport found a huge group of customers and acquired a strong position in the industry.
After a period into production, the needs of advanced backpack users eventually became more relevant Nowadays, depending on our target and needs, we can choose between broad and deep offers of numerous manufacturers. Modern survival-military backpacks are very deliberate, ergonomical and practical constructions. Design solutions have been created during numerous civilian trips and military operations. Our time is a time of specialization, where universal product no longer satisfies more demanding customer.
During past years I have been working over my assesment regarding different solutions. Recently, I got two the most essential criterions while selecting a backpack - the possibility for organizing contents (inner pockets) and access not only from top and bottom, but at least from one side. I hate searching through my equipment blindfolded, what is especially disturbing after dusk. The perfect option is, when I open the pack like a suitcase, it allows me to order my gear.
That's for the begin. Later I consider something what seems to have higher priority like weight, harness type and hydration system. First of all, a backpack must be compliant with a role you have chosen for it, not necessarily for what is was designed by a producer.
Let's take a look at the newest Wisport ZipperFox then.
Wisport ZipperFox is the modification of field-proven SilverFox manufactured by the same company. Top cover and a chimney have been replaced with four-machine zipper sewed around the whole pack. This model was launched to the market in the first half of 2015.
The producer claims ZipperFox is the survival-military backpack, especially designed to work as assault-patrol one. Capacity of 40L suggests it will work fine during one or several days long trips. It is worth to mention, that the construction works perfectly in mountain conditions, where we exhaustly tested it during long marches with almost 20 kgs load.
The version provided to us by a producer is a prototype in ATACS FG, enriched with camouflaged stripes. Unfortunatley it severly elevates the price of a sack, nonetheless improves blending capabilites and esthetics. Moreover the backpack in Special version is available in US Multicam, Coyote Brown, A-TACS AU/LE/FG, WZ. 93 and Pencott BL/GZ camouflages. In basic model we can choose between RAL 7013 and Olive Green.
Technical data (manufacturer):
Wisport ZipperFox has been sewed with lighter Cordura 500, what fits into recent market trend. Cordura 500 is a lot lighter than Cordura 1000, while providing sufficient durability, what was proved in battle conditions. Wisport zipper is not waterproof, what has been done on purpose, as we learned from the manufacturer. According to information we collected it such solution provides higher robustness.
Four-machine zipper runs from the bottom, through the side up just to get back down on the other side of the backpack. This way not only allows to open the backpack "the suitcase way", but also to unfold it absolutely flat. It gives some new possibilites including using it as a mat for sleeping or sitting. What is more it ensures access to the gear from each side on any section of the zipper. It makes organizing contents a lot more precision and keeping it ordered for a whole time.
Apart from the top, the zipper is hidden behind the material. Standard PALS almost all over the pack (apart from the bottom) allowor attaching additional equipment, enhancing backpack capabilities, while making it possible to customize it even for the most demanding users. It's worth to mention, that for skilled "striders" 40L capacity is enough to pack even for the week. During our mountain hiking basic capacity of a backpack was sufficient.
In the front you may find four loops for additional stripes and 10x5 cm velcro. It could be bigger considering the majority of morale patches available in the market is like 10x10 cm. Additional velcro for a name-tape would be also a good idea.
Additional equipment, that cannot be fitted inside can be attached on the bottom or the sides of backpack thanks to the set of stripes. In the lower part there are shallow net pockets for additional stabilization of - for instance - replica, trekking poles or axe.
On the bottom solid transportation grips can be found.
Rain cover is hidden in the bottom part of the backpack. Small amendment like attaching it with velcro would assure more comfort and lower the risk of a loss. Using short stripe for facilitating opening the pouch with the cover would also be a good idea. It is just a little gizmo, but may be appreciated when your hands are freezing cold.
The hydration system
In the back part of a rucksack the pocket for hydration system is placed. The pocket is vast and will any type of a bladder will fit it. Unfortunately there is no drain hole in the bottom part, so if the bladder gets damaged, water can possibly pour into main compartment.
Hydration pocket opens from the top and left side with Wisport zipper with two machines. It is sewed from other sides. Usually in this type of a pocket some kind of stripe for bladder attachement can be found. In tested speciment, we could not have found anything what would let us attach a soft bladder (in our case Source WXP 3L Storm™ Valve Hydration System).
Triangle hole for hydration pipe is closed with a cover secured by velcro tape. It is placed in the top of a back side, so the user can freely decide on which side the pipe should go. The pipe is comfortably secured on the harness with wide rubbers and stripes.
ZipperFox got noe, modified harness called SAS Plus (Semi Adjustable System). The main upgrade to basic version is aluminum rail stiffening back in the middle. The rail may be removed.
Nets of the harness are placed with a soft part towards user's back. It provides a lot more comfort and limits both pilling and dirting. As a person getting exceptionally sweaty, I was rather sceptical for this solution, as I prefer having as much breathing surface on a back as possible, but ZipperFox solution is a very positive surprise.
SAS Rail does not limit discomfort, when backpack content was placed messy or when bladder is full. It must take a moment before everything inside gets placed. Then, ZipperFox becomes one of the most comfortable backpacks I have ever worn.
Wide harness in cooperation with wide hip belt provide full comfort even with vast load. The highness of chest belt is regulated with UTX D-Flex system.
On two sides of hip belt we are given a possibility of attaching small pouch in MOLLE system.
Stripes are regulated in easy way, to the contrary for the opinion I have heard. Specimen without camouflage stripes are probably easier to customize, as in tested backpack they are a bit thicker with regard to camouflage imprint.
The main compartment
The backpack gets unzipped completly. An access to a content is available from each side apart from a bottom. The main compartment is accessible via the four-machines Wisport zipper sewed on a sides and a top.
When the backpack is fully packed, the most vital widgets are easily available from the top. There is no risk of uncontrolled unpacking of other things inside. Side straps secures the zipper from accidental unzipping on a side. Practically it looks like opening the extension (so called "chimney") of a classic backpack.
From the top we can also get a zip pocket attached to the rear side of a backpack. We can fit keys, IDs, wallet and other vital items inside, that should not be lost, while kept in pants pockets.
In a frontal part the producer placed to other pockets. From the top we can access a zupm pocket made of a net. Below there is an open, deep pocket. Similar one, finished with light bungee cord is located in a back side. It fits notebook or tablet up to 13".
On a left side there are placed two net pockets equipped with zippers. Personally I think they could be a bit more spacey (more loose on the net), so you can easily fit inside items like - for instance - spare clothes.
In the right side panel the producer located two opened net pockets of irregular shape, forced by backpack design. In the top part there is a panel with MOLLE system. Interesting, as it is sewed only on two sides. Gerber axe perfectly fits in.
First visual impression made by Wisport ZipperFox is very good. It attracts with a shape. After a shile one can spot an essential feature and for sure an advantage - the zipper opening it completly. It allows for access on a full length. It is easier to keep and order inside and shortens time for access to a gear.
During severl long trips, mostly to higher parts of mountains, Wisport ZipperFox was a surprisingly comfortable backpack, also with heavy load on board. It was not irritating, hip belt was working perfeclty and wide harness with SAS system ensured very high comfort of carrying it.
This backpack can be surely recommended for multi-role usage in a field. It is light, as for utilized materials while being durable. Dropping it on sharp rocks was a piece of cake for it. Heavy-duty Wisport zipper is able to be zipped with one hand. Net inner pockets could be a bit more spacey, but despite it, backpack is still very convenient for packing.
Wisport ZipperFox will be appropriate for tourist trips, milsims and surviva/bushcraft. Not to mention typical, military usage. We know, our special forces soldiers are individually interested in it, as well as other specialist military personnel. In our opinion, it should get an A+ with recommendation.
Thanks to Wisport company for delivering us a backpack to be tested.
Attention! It's not the end of our test. We like it so much, that for sure we will use it a lot longer. We will notify you about our impression in the future.