November 17, 2022
I first became aware of the Hill People Gear (HPG) Kit Bag as I was recovering from shoulder surgery. I wanted to go on walks, but I never go about unhealed, and I was unable to move my arm low enough to draw my pistol from my waistband. That’s when a guy told me about the HPG rigs. Luckily, he had one I could borrow, so I was in business. The HPG Kit Bag brought the gun up to my chest where my primary hand could draw the pistol. It also allowed me to carry the pistol and other EDC items comfortably.
HPG produces several versions of the bag, and despite some size and material differences, they all follow the same pattern: a rectangular pouch affixed to a mesh-backed H-harness that is four-way adjustable. The H-harness is constructed of nylon and mesh, and the Kit Bag works as a standalone piece of gear, or it can be worn comfortably under a backpack. It’s clever and functional and allows the wearer to use the Kit Bag to augment existing gear rather than forcing the wearer to invest in a whole new pack system.
I’ve worn two of the rigs extensively: the Runner’s Kit Bag Medium (RUKBM) and the Original Kit Bag Medium (OKBM). While both are excellent bags, there are minor differences. First, I’ll cover the OKBM.
Original Kit Bag Medium
The OKBM features a 10x7x2.5-inch main compartment with a zippered front pocket. While the strap and the harness feature lightweight nylon and mesh, the main compartment is built from sturdy 500D nylon and is rugged for its intended role. It weighs in at a pound empty. The stitching is heavy duty, both in thread and in stitch pattern. Honestly, it’s overbuilt, but I admire that. This bag will be around after the wearer is nothing but memories and dust.
The body of the pouch has tabs at the top and bottom, allowing the pouch to be used in tandem with other packs. There is also a row of PALS webbing on the bottom of the OKBM, giving the user the option to attach smaller items that they might want quicker access to, such as a TQ or a knife.
The main compartment is lined at the rear with PALS cut Velcro, meaning that you can use PALS or Velcro to secure an equipment pouch of your choice, be it spare ammunition, a flashlight, pepper spray, or anything else you may need when out and about. The front of the main compartment features two small internal pouches that have dummy cord loops above them. The rearmost compartment is intended for a pistol, and when unzipped, allows easy access. There is a vertical strip of Velcro for modular nylon “strap” holsters designed for packs. This is the version that I borrowed from a friend and wore while recovering from shoulder surgery.
Since I was staying close to home and had one arm that worked, I never utilized all the space. It has 175 cubic inches of volume, which is more space than you think. A few years later, I found myself busted up again. Long walks and hikes with my fuzzy companion (my dog, not my wife) have become a staple of my fitness regimen rather than previous runs. I wanted items besides a pistol. To the Hill People Gear website I went.
Runners Kit Bag Medium
I came across the Runner’s Kit Bag Medium, or RUKBM. The RUKBM is the same height and width as the OKBM but thinner at 1 inch versus the 2. The RUKBM eschews the large middle compartment of the OKBM for a thinner pack that’s more “low-profile” than the OKBM. It also shaves a quarter pound of weight off the bag. Based on my experience with the OKBM, this looked perfect for my needs, so Santa snuck it under the tree.
I’ve used both extensively. In the last 6 months, I’ve drawn the pistol from the RUKBM twice. One was for a pack of coyotes that could smell that my dog was in heat. The mounted Streamlight TLR-2 G handled that without a shot fired. The second encounter was more serious. A blacked-out van drove past and then looped around. As it came back my direction, the masked driver and passenger were greeted by an overt movement as I placed my hand on the Glock 19 in the pack and began to draw. They wisely chose to keep driving.
Could they have been masked because of COVID? Sure. Could they just have forgotten to turn their lights on? Sure. Either way, I’m not gambling with my safety. Although I had practiced drawing the pistol, both times I noticed that it would get hung up slightly on the nylon holster. Since the pack is sized perfectly for the pistol, I have stopped using the holster and place the pistol directly in the pack, ensuring that there is nothing else in that compartment. Depending on the setup, it might not make a difference, but with the large TLR-2 mounted on the gun, it made a difference with me.
Also, in retrospect, I would order the OKBM unless I was really concerned about weight. With the smaller RUKBM, I found myself running out of room for things that I might like to have on my longer walks. You always run the risk of overpacking, but the option for the extra storage would be nice to have.