I recently did an article on my initial impressions of the Bongo Gear Becker Mk. II. I like the pack a lot, and as it comes from Bongo Gear it’s a really good pack. I’ve also got a couple Hill People Gear packs, and they have the best suspension I’ve ever used on any pack, both in terms of quality materials and construction but also the way the design is meant to ergonomically work with our bodies. For those unfamiliar with Hill People Gear’s equipment it’s very modular, which can be confusing at first, but once you take the time to learn about it there’s a lot of good things going on with their gear. So naturally I wanted to see if I could put my HPG suspension on my Becker Patrol Pack.
Now I want to preface this with the fact that this is absolutely unnecessary, like I said in the review of the BPP the suspension is adequate and quite comfortable as is. If I didn’t already own a full set of HPG suspension I wouldn’t run out and buy it just to put onto this pack, that would nearly double the cost, but since I have it why not make this pack into a Cadillac?
I started with a HPG shoulder harness. This is attached via two load lifter straps at the top and the two shoulder straps at the bottom.
Next it was time to attach the bottom two straps to the shoulder harness. Since the factory straps are sewn in I’m going to reuse those. I could just take the 1” QD buckles off the factory strap and run it through the cinch buckle on the HPG harness, but I want to retain the QD function. I went to my stash of buckles and webbing and found a QD buckle with a loop on one end and a ladder lock on the other.
Once I had the shoulder harness on I decided I wanted to see if my HPG Prairie Belt would fit. In my opinion this is the most comfortable hip belt when sized properly, so having this belt on this pack would be a great combination. The factory hip belt is captured in place by two Velcro flaps, so I removed it and laid my HPG belt in. The HPG belt is about 3/4” wider, so the flaps don’t close as far as they do on the factory belt, but most importantly they do close enough to hold it and the Velcro lumbar pad in place.
At this point we’ve added a very comfortable shoulder harness and hip belt and it is fitting really good, but there’s still one more piece I want to try. HPG uses what they call “delta straps” on their larger packs to pull the pack deeper into your lumbar region. This helps get the pack load closer to your center of gravity and it stabilizes the load more. A person could almost overlook these little straps, but they make the pack so much more comfortable that I wanted to find a way to include them.
I’ve now integrated a very good suspension system onto a very good pack and frankly I feel I may have the best of both worlds. Both Bongo Gear and Hill People Gear make great gear, and you wouldn’t be hurting using a full system from either company, but sometimes it’s fun and interesting to see what you can come up with.