TESTED: Hitting the Trail With the 5.11 Cloudstryke 18L Backpack

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Backpacks are a dime a dozen these days, with a plethora of choices available from your local department store to an outdoor gear shop and, of course, online. However, not all are created equal by any means, and pertaining to reliable performance, comfort and efficiency, the pack thins out greatly. A new player in town is the 5.11 Cloudstryke 18L Backpack. This innovative pack was sent to me to test and review, and my time with this on-the-back storage unit was both eye-opening and a sheer pleasure. 

First Impressions: 5.11 Cloudstryke 18L Backpack

Not your typical backpack, the Cloudstryke’s design punctuates with unique fronts straps featuring multiple pockets and storage areas. I found the design both ingenious and aesthetically pleasing. The pack’s streamlined, ultralight body became apparent upon pulling the this portable storage unit from the box. The lightweight feel could inspire questions of construction integrity sacrificed under heavy, uneven loads. But later testing would prove otherwise.

The backpack sported multiple pockets of varying sizes, along with a hydration compartment (for a 2 liter reservoir, sold separately), MOLLE attachment points, side compression straps and multiple external gear loops. Overall, the sage green and orange accented design had a true “earthy” feel and I quite liked it. The pack definitely perked my interest and I was ready to fill it up and strap it over my eagerly-awaiting shoulders. 

Body Fusion

Like an all-around outdoor pack, the items I filled it with were varied in both weight and shapes, including items like clothing, flashlights, knives, a mini medical kit, and small packs of snacks and multiple water bottles. Surprisingly, this pack seemed to grow exponentially to meet my demands as I kept adding item after item. Its durable stitching and Honeycomb ripstop nylon material didn’t fail in the slightest under the pressure of its interior load. It could definitely take a day-trip’s worth of gear with room to spare. It was only when I swung the pack over my shoulders and it rested against my body did I truly grasp this backpack’s user-friendly design.

Even loaded, it hugged my back and felt a part of me, not cumbersome, awkward, or bulky in any way. The front strap pockets proved excellent for storing smaller items needed on the go. It presented the items easily accessible, even when while under motion on a brisk hike.

Final Thoughts

From my time with the Cloudstryke, it was clear that there was more to this backpack than originally met my eye. Its subtle design choices, strategically placed pockets, bottle holders, and mini gear compartments made this store-all unit one that was easily organized and practical when time is of the essence in the Great Outdoors. Its form-fitting feel was comfortable and practical when traveling over uneven terrain, thanks to its fully adjustable sternum straps, side compression system, and side straps. My final verdict on the Cloudstryke is that you need to add this to your outdoor collection today. No matter what packs you have, this one will always have a purpose for both urban and rural day excursions. The Cloudstryke’s subtle features, ultimate comfort and superior construction are what make the defining differences between just any ordinary, generic pack and this must-have, elite carrier. 

For more info, visit 511tactical.com.

The 5.11 Cloudstryke 18L Backpack in several styles.

5.11 Cloudstryke 18L Backpack Specs

  • Materials: N100D Honeycomb ripstop nylon 
  • Capacity: 18 liter / 1098 cubic inches 
  • Overall Weight: 1.28 pounds 
  • Color Options: Volcanic or Sage Green
  • MSRP: $125

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