Gear · Hiking Gear

Gear Review: Hill People Gear Runner’s Kit Bag

In early summer of 2003, on a trip into the Olympic Mountains, I met the Hill brothers. They became a legend*. I think mostly it was envy of their tent setup that included a light weight wood stove. Sitting on the outside of their tent, the flaps open and the heat pouring out as a storm brewed in the mountains, I was mesmerized about how gear could be so vastly different from what I was used to. I was only a few years into backpacking and my gear choices were not very good then. Evan and Scot always were willing to talk gear. Over the years they moved a couple times, into the Western inland on the mountains of Colorado. And Hill People Gear grew, and now has a gear shop in Grand Junction, Colorado (it’s on my list of places to visit in person!)

My recent addition to my pack setup has been adding a Hill People Gear Runner’s Kit Bag (in teal….what a color. It makes me smile when I look at it). This front bag rides independently, but can also be clipped onto a backpack for even more stability, if desired.

Why was I interested in a kit bag? As some know, I am a Second Amendment supporter and I carry. As a female, who is rather short – and who has a short torso, it has been trying for me to carry over the years concealed while hiking/backpacking.

I carried most years in a Safepacker, which I would run my pack’s hip belt through. However with my short torso the Safepacker would smack my hip and thigh nonstop when I was doing anything beyond walking on a flat trail. For a 6 foot man it works well, but not for me. It did offer protection from the elements however for my handgun.

Some trips I just open carried, if it was in aNational Forest. I never did it in busy areas, I didn’t want anyone getting upset over it. Every time I opened carried I would have some random guy start talking to me and then stick next to me, the entire hike. I have no idea what was up with that, but apparently they all “needed” a bodyguard. But more so, I was always worried I would get my handgun wet or dirty with this set up.

This front chest rig has 4 straps to keep it where it should be, and the back is strong mesh which doesn’t stretch or shift. It can be worn over clothing easily, but easily have a jacket put on after you put the rig on. It is designed to be worn either by itself, or you can wear it with a backpack over it, and as I mentioned above you can get clips that allow you to attach the upper half to a backpack for heavy loads/stability. I have the clips, however I don’t need to use them so far, but if you had a full EDC (everyday carry kit) you might want to do that.

I was hesitant at first when I was researching the kit bag, wondering how this would fit over an ample lady chest. Evan was honest, he told me he didn’t know how it would work for me. I’m here to say not only does it work for a C cup, it actually makes that part “disappear” behind the bag. It doesn’t ride odd either. Hangs where it should. I have to think the back of the kit bag is why: since it is held tight to your body, and has 4 straps to adjust, you can cinch the bag down tight. The bag doesn’t flop around at all – and with boobage, those lower straps are the reason why.

(Photo borrowed from HPG – to show how the setup looks)

The Runner’s Kit Bag includes the following features:

Fabric is: 500d construction or a lightweight ripstop option
Quick access concealed pistol compartment
Comfortable mesh backed H-harness
Elastic keepers for the H-harness straps (Keeps straps from blowing around)
Velcro loop and dummy cord loop in pistol compartment allow for various retention options
Tabs with grimlocs at the top for hanging on another pack, or for use with Lifter Straps (optional) for docking to a host pack
Tabs on the bottom for attaching to another pack, or for use with the Stabilizer Kit (included) for running with
Front zippered access flat pocket with two interior slot pockets with dummy cord loops above them

Specifications:

Weight: 0.81 lb
Length: 1.00 in
Width: 11.50 in
Height: 7.50 in

Should YOU buy a kit bag? Yes. But that is my opinion. It’s great for carrying so many things. Even just a first aid kit, cell phone, and snacks for a local hike, where you don’t need a backpack. US made, supporting the dreams of an independent business.

* The legend story?

I had started a loose knit group of people who liked to hike and backpack in those early days. I had been denied reaching Marmot Pass in the Olympic Mountains (in Washington State) by snow, from the East side earlier that summer. I planned up a trip taking the Upper Dungness Trail, where we would spend the first night, then’d we’d visit Marmot Pass and make a loop with Tubal Cain, and end back at the vehicles. Well, that didn’t quite happen due to a bad storm coming in, and I turned back and returned to camp. So we had two great nights at Boulder Shelter area on the trail, and hiked back out.

The Hill brothers came into late on the trip. They had a long drive, as they lived even farther away than I did then. Earlier that day 4 younger adults/teen had shown up and set up in the shelter there, one of the few in Olympic National Park. Between the two younger ladies who had on ill fitting packs, and the boombox strapped on top of one of the guy’s packs…it looked to not be a good night.

As dusk settled in the sounds of hard rock loudly played across the subalpine forest. Then we heard and smelled a fire starting up. Only thing is….fires were not allowed there anytime, and more so, there was a fire ban. And then we heard the guys ripping cedar shingles off of the shelter roof. To “burn”.

But the Hill brothers took a walk over to the shelter and had a talk. Whatever came of it, the fire went out and the roof tiles were put back on. They even fitted the ladies packs. And the evening was no longer full of caterwauling sounds from the boom box.

The legend and myth was born.

What would the Hill brothers do?

Definitely not be wusses for one.

~Sarah

FTC Disclaimer: Sarah received a kit bag for reviewing. We loved it so much we bought one for Kirk. All thoughts and opinions are ours solely.

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