I was surfing Woot! last week when I came across some excellent deals on backpacks and bug-out bags from a company called Yukon Outfitters. After some research, I found that Woot! often runs heavy discounts on Yukon Outfitters gear, but reviews are somewhat lacking on these products. Since I have been in the market for a bag capable of doing double duty at work and at the range, the $40 Yukon Tactical Alpha backpack seemed like an excellent, low-risk way to subtly “rep” my enthusiasm for firearms at the office. Meanwhile, the MOLLE compatibility of the bag appeared to be ideal for potential range usage. While Woot! is by no means fast in the shipping department, the bag arrived around five days after I placed my order and I have now been carrying it to work for the past week. This simple, short-term review will cover the basics of the bag, along with my initial thoughts regarding its quality and features.
One thing I really liked about the Alpha bag when I first saw it was that it screams “tactical”, but does not go overboard. An affordable MOLLE compatible bag is something I have wanted for a few years and the Alpha has no shortage of MOLLEwebbing on its front, sides, and straps. In addition to the MOLLE loops, the front pockets of the bag are adorned with two sections of Velcro. This should provide plenty of space for patches.
The Alpha I purchased was sold as a Coyote and Foliage Green colored bag. In my opinion, these designations may not be true matches with gear from other manufacturers. The Coyote on the Alpha bag is closer to what I would typically consider khaki and the Foliage Green looks a little more like Ranger Green to my eyes. While color variations unsurprisingly exist between manufacturers, those interested in the Yukon Outfitters lineup may want to keep this in mind. Overall, I really like the two-tone look.
The only logo on the bag is the Yukon Tactical wordmark and bear at the very bottom of the lower front pocket. It’s nice to be able to carry a piece of gear that does not make me a billboard for a certain brand. Approximately three inches below this logo and on the bottom of the bag are two drain holes that I really hope I’ll never need. There is also another hole in the rear of the bag. Flaps that flank either side of the bag’s top handle can be lifted to reveal two ports for a hydration hose.
The bag’s primary compartment features three large mesh pockets and a throw pocket with a drawstring. Approximate dimensions for this compartment are 21” by 12” and it is about 4.5” deep. While a padded compartment can be found on the back side of the backpack, a large laptop might be more likely to fit in this area. For reference, I can squeeze my 17” Alienware PC in this pocket, but cannot fit it in the rear padded one.
Since I’ve mentioned it, the rear compartment is easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it. The zipper can be found underneath the bag’s straps and it only travels halfway down the sides of the Alpha. This pocket can store a small laptop or hydration bladder and has a port that a hose can be fed through on its way to the outer ports near the handle. While this compartment is reinforced on one side (where the bag sits on a person’s back), it is not really padded in the same sense that most laptop-ready bags are. I highly recommend a laptop sleeve be used with the Alpha.
Moving back to the front of the pack, the upper small pocket contains a medium-sized mesh zipper pocket and two nylon open-topped pockets. There are also four elastic loops in this compartment, but I doubt I will ever use them. This is a great place to store external hard drives or glasses that might otherwise be crushed in the primary compartment or large front pocket.
At the very top of the bag is a small pocket with soft cloth lining. This area is intended for cell phones or GPS units that might be scratched if stowed with other gear. I really like the placement of this pocket as it is well isolated from the rest of the bag.
The large front compartment of the Alpha is rife with pockets. A single large open nylon pocket, two medium nylon pockets, and two medium nylon pockets with retention straps can all be found here. There are also places to store business cards and pens. Lastly, a single large zipper pouch rests in the back of this compartment.
The final storage areas can be found on the sides of the Alpha. These tall, narrow pockets are excellent for water bottles or umbrellas. Suppressors also happen to fit very nicely in these compartments. This will come in handy for me as this bag is expected to see range duty on occasion.
Carrying the Yukon Alpha backpack over the course of the past week has been mostly an upgrade over my old Targus bag. The rigid back and sectioned padding on the rear of the bag help it to rest comfortably on my back. When the bag arrived, I immediately noticed that the foam padding used by Yukon is much denser than the kind used on my Targus backpack. The straps are also a substantial improvement for me with a pronounced curve that helps them stay in place on my shoulders. My biggest complaint about the backpack so far relates to the awful plastic buckles used to adjust the straps. These pieces lack teeth to bite into the adjustment strap and as a result, never stay in place. Unfortunately, I find that I am constantly readjusting the straps to fit as I like. To me, this is a serious design issue that does detract from an otherwise nice product.
Since I’ve only carried the bag for a week, it is perhaps a bit premature to start talking about its durability. That said, the double stitching used throughout the Alpha looks good and the material feels like it will hold up to regular, low intensity carry. Yukon Outfitters does use 600 denier polyester for this bag, while companies like Maxpedition frequently use 1000 denier fabric, so technically speaking it will not hold up to the same sort of abuse that a more expensive bag would. The buckles on the Alpha are also all plastic and feature no reinforcement. I do not expect this to be an issue for my usage level, but it might concern some. Another potential area of concern are the zippers. They seem to work fine right now, but Yukon does not use known zippers, like those from YKK. My recommendation is to be careful when zipping the pockets closed.
So far, the Yukon Tactical Alpha backpack has proven itself to be a very nice option for my usage level. At $40, I was willing to take a risk on this bag and I feel it was money well spent. For heavier use, I probably would go with a pricier option from 5.11, Maxpedition, or LBT, but this bag should serve me well. My minor quibble over the lackluster laptop compartment can be easily addressed by simply using a laptop sleeve. However, I am very disappointed by the poor showing by the strap buckles. Had I paid full retail, this would have been a deal breaker for me, but I can deal with it considering the price I paid. With that said, while I would not recommend anyone pay the full $80 retail price for the Alpha, at $40 it is a solid value.