Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gear Review - EMS Big Bang Daypack!

About a month ago, EMS contacted me to possibly review one of their daypacks. Being a huge EMS fan, an avid hiker and a gear junky to boot, I was really excited for the opportunity. Even more so, I was excited that this gear review would be published on EMS’s Outdoor Gear and Adventure Blog!

A week or so after being contacted, the daypack arrived. The style was the Big Bang Daypack and was red in color. It was medium in size, holding 2,300 cubic inches. I immediately began opening it up to see how many compartments the bag had and what I thought they would be best used for. I noticed there was one large compartment as well as one front organizing compartment as many hiking packs have. In addition to these two compartments, there were two smaller compartments up near the shoulder area and one thin, but large, padded compartment behind the larger compartment. I knew that I would find uses for all these compartments when I was ready to gear up for a hike.

EMS Big Bang Daypack with day hiking contents

I also looked at the shoulder straps in detail. Good shoulder straps can make or break a day hike. The ones on this pack were awesome. They had great mesh padding, as many good hiking packs do. This same padding was found on the portion of that pack that rested against your back, located at both of your shoulder blades and your tailbone. Finally, there was a good waist strap to help keep the pack against your body during unstable movement, as well as a chest strap. The chest strap on this pack was unique from other packs. It was adjustable and could actually move up and down five or six inches to fit perfectly to your body.

Organizing compartment in the front of the pack

Large compartment in the front of the pack

The pack sat for a little while until I found the time to finally take it out. With a newborn at home, hiking has been on hold lately, but I still try to get out whenever possible! I gathered up all the typical items one may take on a day hike. The contents were a sweatshirt (or any second layer), survival kit, compass, map, ¾ of a gallon of water, lunch and a camera. I must say, the pack did seem a little small to me compared to my Kelty Redwing…but I was seriously surprised when I fit all of this stuff in the Big Bang Daypack with room to spare! For a smaller pack, it packs quite a punch…no pun intended :).

Large, thin, padded compartment, great for a Camelbak bladder (or laptop)

Great shoulder straps and padded back

 Adjustable chest strap...one of my favorite features!!!

The two compartments near the shoulders and the thin compartment in the back definitely came in handy. I was able to put my wallet, cell phone, watch and car keys in the two shoulder compartments as I like to keep these items separate from my other hiking gear, because I’m always rummaging around in it. I wouldn’t want these items to fall out by accident. The thinner compartment seemed perfect for a Camelbak bladder. I don’t use one of these, but my wife does. I put it in there, and it seemed to fit well. Also, I thought the padding inside this area may also insulate the bladder and possibly keep its contents cold.

Survival kit, two water bottles, big hooded sweatshirt stuffed in large compartment with room to spare!

Side mesh compartment for easy access to a water bottle!

The great shoulder straps and back padding made the pack comfortable to wear. The weight in the pack seemed to balance itself well. I really like the adjustable chest strap. The waste strap is good, but I must say, if it was padded, it would make it great. Most of all, I was happy with how I could organize my hiking gear in the multiple compartments.

Top shoulder compartments were perfect for my valuable items I like to keep separate from my hiking gear!

After playing around with the pack, I went on EMS’s website and checked out the specs on the pack. I was surprised to see that the two compartments at the shoulders and the thinner compartment were actually for a laptop and its accessories (power cords, cameras, etc.). The primary use for this pack was tagged as “campus use”. So, this pack is really a multiuse pack. It can be used in the woods, in the office or at school. That’s a pretty versatile investment at the retail price of only $110. I give this daypack two thumbs up and would highly recommend it for day hiker.



  1. Pretty sweet, Karl. Nice review, good gear!

  2. Nice looking pack. Since I'm small I prefer smaller packs and this one looks like it would be perfect.

  3. EMS really stepped it up with their pockets and pack design. I hike for 15 years with an EMS pack that has just 1 big compartment. All these new pockets and features almost make me feel spoiled!

  4. @Kim - It is, it's a small pack that seems to have a ton of room. EMS has really done a great job with the different compartments.

    @Grant - It's really amazing how EMS has stepped up their gear. It used to be I would only by Northface this, or Mountain Hardwear that. However, EMS is now a real contender with these other brands.

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  6. Still using this bag over a decade after I got it. This thing is STURDY. Carried it through college and grad school, still use it as a commuting bag almost everywhere I go.