So 3 Day Packs... can you have too many? I think so. Over the last few years I’ve gone through (and shed) a Kifaru Marauder, Eagle FSBE, a couple of BHI Hydrastorm series, an Eagle RAID, and a few others I can’t recall off the top of my head.
If you play this game long enough you go through a lot of kit.
The one pack that has survived the purges and has been the hardest to get rid of is my Eagle A-III, now going on 10 years old.
The Eagle A-III is an iconic piece of kit.
Pack technology and design have come a long way since the days when the A-III was one of the few, generally available with features and durable construction for serious use.
The distinctive shape, layout and design have been ripped off by so many wannabes and there are so many “military type” packs on the street nowadays that the A-III no longer stands out as overtly military particularly in an innocuous color like black.
To me, my old A-III not only has a great deal of nostalgic value but it also fills a practical niche for a full featured, every day carry pack that blends.
I haven’t kept up with the line and it’s various updates over the years but here’s how mine is set up and how it’s fared.
The Eagle A-III is constructed of a single layer of 1000D Cordura. A standout feature is the pocket layout and shape of the pack. All the pockets feature large, heavy duty YKK coil zippers each hooded under rain flaps. The pockets start with one large, main compartment with two successively smaller ones built on top of it. The large, primary pocket zips all the way down for full access and has a flat compartment built into the back which can accommodate a frame sheet or hydration bladder. There are no internal organization features built in. The smaller, secondary pocket (sewn on top of the primary) zips about 1/3 of the way down to allow top access. Finally, the tertiary pocket is sewn flat and has a zipper that allows slot access. One gripe I’ve always had about this pack is that the internal seams, particularly around the zipper were not bound, and from time to time, I have to go in there to sear and smear the fraying material. This hasn’t effected the pack structurally in any way, it’s just one of those minor annoyances.
The pack is ergonomically pear shaped with a wider base and a rounded, narrower top portion which makes it sit well on the back while allowing for good range of motion and arm swing.
The exterior of the pack supports a heavy duty, box X reinforced carry handle of rolled webbing. It’s always been easy to carry the pack that way and has held up nicely over the years. There are a set of accessory loops running vertically from the carry handle to allow attachment of two modular cylindrical pouches to the exterior. I used to get my kicks thinking about all the extra cool guy stuff I could carry if I had a couple of those to go with my pack. I long ago attached an HK snap hook to one and a carabiner to the other to improve the overall utility of the pack.There are also four compression straps and two sets of secondary straps sewn into the side of the pack. The compression straps are really great for strapping extra items to the pack exterior or taking the stress off of the zippers when you’ve overloaded the pack. I have yet to find a use for the secondary straps and probably should have amputated them years ago.
Underneath the carry handle is a drinking tube port covered over by a piece of velcro and elastic. The elastic has long since rotted out and I don’t think I ever had a hydration system in there.
It’s been so long since I tossed the waist strap that I can’t speak intelligently of it’s use or design. Only a pair of vestigial 2” metal triglides remain where it hooked onto the pack. I should probably cut them off. The pack also came with a sternum strap, a set of top straps and sleeping bag compression straps that have long since been tossed by the wayside.
The A-III was built with adequate shoulder straps featuring good padding and an anatomically friendly curve. The serious load was borne on a length of 43668 webbing sewn into the strap which supported a couple of metal D-rings and ended in a ladderlock. The D-rings have corroded under the webbing but it doesn’t bother me much. About 7 years ago, I began to get concerned about where the shoulder straps pulled at the top of the pack (where most of the weight is borne) and reinforced the entire area with a piece of 1.5” 17337 webbing. It changed the way the pack carried somewhat but forever ended any concern that the straps would rip out the seam at the top of the pack. I also beefed up the upper part of the straps themselves so that they maintain their shape and structure more, particularly when under load. It carries much better. I was sufficiently annoyed with the ladderlocks at the bottom of the straps that I replaced them with a pair of 1” SR buckles a while back to make it easier to drop the pack or hang the pack via the shoulder straps over a horizontal beam. The ladderlocks are still on there, underneath the side release buckles just in case one of them fails.
As much as I love my A-III, one thing I had a serious longing for after having sampled some of the newer designs out there was some means of internal organization. That’s the issue the Modular Panel Inserts were conceived to address. I’m happy to say that they really breathed new life into my old pack.
I can’t say enough about my old A-III. It’s like an old pair of comfortable jeans or jungle boots you just can't throw out. They still look sharp after all these years and still perform. Eagle built these things right. There aren’t many pieces of kit that I hang onto for this long, and it has long been surpassed by a lot of state of the art kit, but my A-III is going to be in service for years to come.