Review - Pentagon Leon 18HR Backpack
History of Pentagon
Pentagon Tactical is a company originating from Greece who have been manufacturing high end kit and equipment across all spheres; military, law enforcement and civilian. Through the existence of Pentagon, they have designed and launched several product lines utilising their own unique camo patterns and continue to innovate and re-evaluate existing products on the market to suit customers who require that edge.
For more info - visit the Pentagon Tactical website.
Why the Pentagon Leon 18hr Backpack?
The Pentagon Leon 18hr was a purchase made after a weekend event with Stirling Airsoft at their woodland site 'The Trees'. Through the event I ran the Crye Precision AVS 1000 pack which I've previously reviewed, during which it was loaded with; 2l hydration bladder, Team Wendy EXFIL, DTNVS, food, Helikon-Tex Windrunner shirt, 1st aid kit and other smaller tactical accessories. The AVS is not designed to be used as an daypack hence it being classed as an assault pack, therefore there was little room leftover to pack additional kit. I identified that there was a need to have a slightly larger pack but didn't want to head towards the larger 3 day assault packs. Research into suitable packs highlighted over 20 across a range of manufacturers all with pros and cons. One of those I looked at was the Pentagon Leon 18hr. There weren't many actual in-depth reviews out there that provided the detail that I wanted and I always want details, and after much deliberation I took a chance.
What you carry on your back must be necessary. Carrying additional weight from useless kit over a period of time and arduous terrain is going to have a negative effect on your body and mind, therefore what you pack must be minimal. The Pentgaon Leon 18hr looked like it was able to handle what I needed to carry.
Herein lies the product description from the website;
A rugged 18hr backpack for professional use. Main compartment is for all your general gear with a interior mesh pocket and a Hydration bladder pocket with hanging parts. Administration compartment with a number of administrative and utility pockets including Tablet pocket padded with EVA and lined with fine tricot. Anatomic shoulder straps with slider adjustable chest strap. The Back is padded with mesh with anti-slip patches and air ventilation channels for comfort.
Front side equipped with MOLLE straps and extra tension straps for apparel and accessories adjustable with Hook n loop straps.
500D Nylon Cordura®
DuraFlex® UTX® buckles and accessories
Hook loop strap keepers
Front administration compartment
Nylon bonded thread
Hydration system compatible
Capacity : 25lt
SKU - PEN-K16093-$$
Brand - Pentagon
Materials - 500D Cordura
Dimensions - 46 x 18 x 28 cm
Product Weight - 900 g
Packaging and Contents
The Leon Backpack was shipped in a standard large transparent plastic sealable ruggedised bag. The exterior of the bag featured one product sticker. The entire package in total weighed just over 920 grams.
Components in detail
The Leon Backpack is manufactured using a mixture of 500D Nylon Cordura, DuraFlex UTX (for the buckles) and Nylon bonded thread.
Leon Backpack Measurements
Height 43 cm
Width 26 cm
Depth (top) 13 cm
Depth (bottom) 17 cm
The Leon Backpack Pack itself weighs approx 890 grams.
The Leon Backpack can carry approx 25 litres.
The Leon is manufactured from 100% Cordura 500D in an Olive colour. This Olive colour compliments Ranger Green or atypical Olive Drab equipment very well. Due to the materials used, the exterior is extremely hard wearing and unlikely to suffer damage if dragged through bushes or scraped along brickwork. The mixture of plain material and MOLLE enables the exterior of the pack to have numerous solutions to suit most operators requirements i.e. by attaching further pouches.
The Leon from the exterior has 2 main accessible pockets (front pocket highlighted in red and the main pocket highlighted in blue). The pack has a host of other noticeable and useful features.
On the front panel of the pack at the top is the Pentagon name and logo embroidered onto the exterior. Underneath the logo are 2 rows of velcro loop material. The top row is MOLLE compatible providing 5 MOLLE loops, whilst the 2nd row is sewn directly onto the front panel of the Leon. This area can be used for mounting unit insignia, morale patches etc.
On the front panel of the Leon are a further 6 rows of MOLLE loops (7 if you include the velcro row at the very top) with each row containing 5 columns. This provides the operator with 30 connection points for additional equipment / pouches etc to be attached to the front of the Leon. This area could be used for attachment of medic, utility or ammunition pouches if required.
In addition to the MOLLE, there are two horizontal velcro backed compression straps which are fed through a plastic buckle on the right hand side (when facing) the Leon. The compression straps can be used if bulky items within backpack need to be tightly held. It also allows the operator to potentially attach items externally such as a wet jacket or disruptive pattern materials outside of the two pockets.
The main pocket is accessed using the double zip that runs from the left to the right hand side and offers a full width opening of 32 cm with the entire zip length being 62 cm. There are 2 zips enabling the operator to open in either direction. The zips themselves cover approx 2/3rds of the exterior meaning that the opening is certainly wide enough and enables good access to the interior. The interior of the main compartment is approx 48 x 28 x 12 cm (Height x Width x Depth).
At the top rear of the main pocket are two vertical velcro attachment loops with both hook and loop velco elements. These points can be used to secure a hydration bladder, hang from them internal organiser pouches or can be used for cabling used in comms for example as a method to tidy away excess cables. Between the two loops are two labels; the orange front label is purely the Pentagon label only. The rear black label has on it the product name, logo and on the rear are the washing instructions plus the statement 'Made in China'.
The rear back panel contains between the exterior and interior fabric materials a thin board of foam to provide shape, rigidity and cushioning on the operators back whilst protecting the contents of the pack. The back panel has in front of it the hydration bladder pocket, denoted by the elasticated band pocket running horizontally. The elasticated band is not extremely tight and therefore enables the operator to fit in the pocket a multitude of sized objects without the need to stretch the band or struggle to fit objects in. At the bottom of this pocket centrally is the triangular exterior drainage hole, obviously situated here in case of a hydration bladder failure.
The main compartment is void of any details, however the bottom 1/3rd of the pocket is double lined with the exterior of the pack being 100% Cordura 500D material. The front interior of the main pocket features 1 medium sized pocket covering approx 1/3rd of the pocket and is constructed using mesh material which can be accessed by the single zip which when opened provides a 23 cm opening as seen in the fourth image.
The front pocket is again accessed using the double zips which when opened provide 62 cm of opening. This pocket is primarily designed for admin with an organiser panel at the rear which can be broken down into several elements. At the rear is a pocket that has only the front layered with a fine fur type material and would most likely suit a tablet or items that are fragile and not wanting to be scratched. This pocket is large and is approx 41 x 24 x 7 cm (Height x Width x Depth).
In front of this rear pouch on the left hand side are two vertical pockets which provide space for notebooks or other smaller items as seen in the first image below. The rear one measures 16 x 18 cm (width x height) and the forward one measures 16 x 15 cm (width x height). Also featuring is a short 7 cm hanging loop with a plastic clip on the end, useful for attaching keys, whistle or other items to prevent them accidentally being pulled out of the pocket and lost. At the bottom to the left hand side is a smaller mesh constructed pocket accessible using the single zip and it measures approx 16 x 12 cm (width x height).
On the right hand side is a shorter and narrower vertical pouch with two elasticated bands (as seen in image one below), the top elasticated band being split into three MOLLE like loops and the lower one being a singular elasticated band. The lower pocket of this section measures 8 x 13 cm (Width x Height). This area is typically used for pens, knives, small radio or other smaller item storage. This whole front pocket is double lined with the water repellent material on the exterior and interior.
Left hand side (when facing pack)
The left hand side features 3 rows of MOLLE loops each containing 3 columns providing 9 connection points. These smaller areas are mostly used for attachment of radio or medikit pouches, that warrant easy access from the exterior, rather than digging inside the backpack when required.
Right hand side (when facing pack)
The right hand side features 3 rows of MOLLE loops each containing 3 columns providing 9 connection points.
At the top of the rear panel are the two shoulder straps that are stitched to the top of the backpack across numerous fronts, affording more flexibility and security if carrying the backpack when laden via a shoulder strap or two.
The shoulder straps are made using strong durable materials with lots of double stitching used throughout to hold the materials together and in place. The underside of the strap features the same meshed padded material as seen on the rear of the Leon to help with heat and water wicking as well as enabling air flow and providing a level of comfort. Each strap features towards the top half an elasticated horizontal band which helps with routing the hydration bladder pipe on either the left or the right hand side. Underneath this band are two rows of MOLLE each with 2 columns. Other than being used as clip on points for torch, ranger beads etc, these don't really have any advantageous use. A solid olive plastic D ring 'UTX Dura Flex' features on both sides as well adding additional attachment points. The lower half of the straps feature the sliding chest compression strap. When worn by different statured operators, a single fixed chest strap may be fine for one individual but be in an inconvenient place for another. This sliding strap enables the operator to don the Leon and adjust the chest strap depending on comfort and gear accessibility which is incredibly useful. These chest compression straps on both sides can be removed if required. At the base of each strap is a medium sized UTX Dura Flex buckle which connects the strap the base of the Leon. Having these buckles here again is of interest as it enables the operator or others to quickly remove the backpack if required without fully taking arms out etc.
The rear panel itself features four meshed and vent friendly pads that keep the back of the pack slightly away from the operators back enabling some airflow which is especially useful in a hot or humid environment.
Across the centre of the pack is a horizontal strap with the words 'GEAR UP' written on it, on the other side of the strap is a velcro section (possibly this is to be used in conjunction with when you may stuff a tarp or jacket onto the pack) when in harbour area or camp location.
The bottom two mesh pads have the lower 1/3rd manufactured from am almost fake leather type material which is where the backpack is most likely to sit and rub against the operators lower back or against other belt equipment. Making this section more durable is what Pentagon have gone for. At the very bottom in the centre of the rear panel is a small inverted V hole which is the main compartments drainage hole.
The Leon further features a horizontal waist strap which is stitched onto the lower rear panel and also covered by the lower shoulder strap section neatly securing it in place (as seen in images one and two). The waist strap is adjustable but not removable and features a UTX Dura Flex buckle and on each section of the strap are two foldover velcro tabs which can be used to secure away excess strap material if it's pulled tight.
The top of the Leon features a centrally located grab handle that is a part of the shoulder straps. The handle itself is thick, padded and uses double stitching. With the handle being built in this is more reliable than the standard handle fixed only at two points to the main backpack.
In the middle area of the top of the pack is a central hydration or radio port which is double folded over to prevent water entering the interior of the backpack easily.
The main pocket zip is further overlapped by cordura material preventing snagging and has two corded YKK zippers.
The base of the Leon features 2 rows of MOLLE with each row containing 6 columns providing 12 connecting points. This area would typically be used for larger pouches / medikit storage outside of the main compartments if required.
Packs like any kit require regular maintenance and care to help prolong the life of your gear. Cleaning kit after a day on the ranges or weekend hiking or even 2 weeks deployed in the field is a wise choice. Keep an eye on the stitching, zips, MOLLE loops and interior materials and if any damage or wear is seen, take action, again this can save costly repairs or replacements further down the line. The Leon 18 backpack can be maintained using the following guidance;
Use stiff / medium brush to clean off large pieces of debris from exterior of pack.
Use soft brush to remove finer debris from exterior.
Hand wash in warm water without soap.
Use soft brush or cloth to clean interior of pack.
Hang and allow to dry naturally.
The Leon 18 Backpack was tested in a number of environments; range, urban and woodland, used in conjunction with a number of tactical pieces of equipment. Each of these has pros and cons and I've listed them below.
Self - the Leon does standalone by itself easily. Depending on your task or requirement when the Leon is put on, loaded and outdoors it is comfortable to wear for long periods of time. As mentioned depending on your situation i.e. hiking, the chest and waist straps can be used to strap it down tight to your body, but even when using just the shoulder straps, if packed properly the Leon sits comfortably in the middle of your back up high. Best felt in this use, there was definite airflow between the pack and my back during its use.
Spiritus Systems Chest rig - worn in conjunction with a chest rig, the Leon worked well. The chest rig straps fortunately did not catch or snag on the shoulder straps of the Leon and it was easy to don / doff. Only observation was that in this config, thought should be given to not wear the chest or waist strap as if it needed to be removed at speed, if the strap got caught underneath a dangler / medi pouch, it could cause issues. I personally had the chest strap connected and didn't have any obvious issues as it was out of reach for snagging from magazines and any radio antennas. Care should also be taken regarding routing of comms cabling to avoid getting caught in shoulder straps of pack.
Crye Precision AVS - when worn over the top of the AVS with an empty rear panel, the Leon was comfortable, sturdy and didn't move at all. When the CP Pouch Zip on Panel 2.0 was fitted and was lightly loaded, the Leon did not shift when mobile. With the rear CP 2.0 removed, and the Leon sat flat against the rear AVS plate bag, again the Leon did not move. Recommended to not wear either the chest or waist strap, for ease of access to AVS pouches and ancillaries. For the purposes of the images I did wear the chest strap. Care should also be taken regarding routing of comms cabling to avoid getting caught in shoulder straps of pack. It should be noted that by wearing the Leon over a rear panel, access to anything within the rear panel with be severely limited for the operator and for others attempting to access any pockets / pouches.
Loading - I comfortably carried up to 12kg in this bag spread across both pockets without issue. The built in carry handle at the top felt strong when the Leon was weighted and didn't feel as though it'd buckle or cut in if carried by it for a short duration. My typical low level loadout packing consisted of;
1st aid kit (self and others)
Helikon-Tex Woodsman Anorak Jacket
Team Wendy EXFIL Carbon (and ancillaries)
L3Harris DTNVS & JerryC CE2 COTI
Spare radio and batteries
2L Hydration Bladder
Helikon-Tex DNC Windrunner Shirt
Snugpak Sleeka Elite Jacket
Thoughts and opinion
The Leon 18hr backpack is low profile enough to be worn in a civilian environment, yes it's olive and does feature external MOLLE but it's non-intrusive and also is minimal in size. Wanting a backpack that could cater for larger items such as a helmet, night vision / thermal equipment, food, water and dry / warm kit required something larger than my trusty Crye Precision AVS 1000 Pack. Notably for me was the depth of the pack, it through research offered more space from front to rear than other packs of the same size. The Leon offered me more flexibility for carriage of kit, able to handle large volume of heavy kit (over 12kgs) which was packed tightly or was bulky proved no issues and with the space to attach additional pouches if required. Even with less packed and tightened down via the straps, there was minimal movement.
Personally the downside for me in most packs that are on the market at the moment is the incessant need to provide 'admin solutions' into these packs. Whilst the front pocket is loaded with extra pockets, the likelihood of using them all at once is non existent. I'd personally love to see manufacturers providing baseline sleek packs with the option of buying inserts such as admin (featuring a ton of admin pockets), magazines (i.e. 4 mag pouches stitched into a panel able to hold 2x M4 mags each), grenade (elasticated pouches for storage of grenades) etc. It's not a problem, it does offer some solutions if you need it, but for me it gets in the way and is a waste of space.
The Leon is constructed very well, having used it in various locations for a number of months now, it's held up to good and bad weather, carried a lot of heavy and bulky items without issues and the buckles and stitching are all in perfect order (another reason to maintain and check kit regularly). The width is something that I would certainly say is a positive. It's relative slim width ensures that when worn and when filled, it does not interfere with arms movement going backwards i.e. if shouldering a rifle, it really does fit neatly into the back. For a 'small' backpack, the Leon is a small, reliable, adaptive backpack and I recommend you have a look at it if you're after something that can carry a lot but isn't the bulky size of a 3 day assault pack.
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I am not paid for my blogs by the manufacturers or companies that I purchase my items from. I am not offered freebies to promote a product. These blogs are purely written from my own experience in truth to help advise and inform others who may wish to purchase the items or understand more about them. If I am sent a freebie to review this will be stated at the beginning to make you aware.
If you have any questions about the product, want more photographs or want to learn more about a specific feature that I've covered, please comment below and I'll be happy to respond and help.