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Red Oxx Airborne Carry on Ruck Sack (C-Ruck) Review

Red Oxx - Fine Bags From a Company You May Never Have Heard Of

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating


Red Oxx Airborne Carry on Ruck Sack

Loading the Red Oxx Airborne Carry on Ruck Sack (C-Ruck)

James Martin
As a frequent traveler enamored with rugged, well-designed luggage, I like the very idea of a bag hand made by folks who care about their products--like the friendly folks at Red Oxx. But my main concerns for rating a day pack or ruck sack are comfort, durability, and versatility. Can I use the bag picnicking, or on a photo expedition, as well as for a carry-on travel bag? The Red Oxx C-Ruck comes through these tests with flying colors (it comes in 12 of them in fact).

The Carrying Comfort of the Red Oxx Airborne Carry on Ruck Sack

The main idea behind the C-Ruck was to bring back a classic WWII paratroopers pack, updated for today's traveler. When you pick it up you'll know it's not a one of those wimpy sacks folks buy frequently (c'mon, count those worthless "day packs" you've accumulated over the years and tell me you don't have a C-Ruck's worth of dough invested in junk!)

The velour covering the shoulder straps is so cuddly-soft I can only describe the feel of them as sensuous. The thick, padded straps are attached via stainless steel rings to the top of the C-Ruck, and thus are free to spread to whatever angle they need to match your body width. And here's the neat thing: the shoulder straps don't get tangled when you try to put the pack on quickly--the second strap is waiting for you to put your arm in on the other side. This may seem like a little thing, but it was a revelation to me, a guy who sometimes struggles for countless minutes to find that second strap that's tangled somewhere behind his back, and who must look like a dysfunctional whirling dervish doing so. Bless those who've figured out this marvel of engineering.

The back of the C-Ruck is padded with closed cell foam so the likelihood of stuff wedging itself into your back is reduced.

Durability of the Red Oxx Airborne Carry on Ruck Sack

Red Oxx Airborne Carry on Ruck Sack

Front of the The Red Oxx Airborne Carry On Ruck Sack dwarfing my 85-300 lens

James Martin
We don't have a baggage testing lab here at Europe for Visitors, and I liked the C-Ruck enough not to dump a couple bowling balls into it and drag it behind the car. So this part of the review will have to deal with construction details and materials. Red Oxx features bags a paratrooper could love. That's because they're fashioned under the supervision of experienced parachute riggers, namely the owners of Red Oxx.

Materials? We're talking 1000 weight urethane coated Cordura, the armor of the baggage industry. The C-Ruck's got huge zippers: overload this bag all you want, since you're unlikely to leave remnants of your journey all over the airport when you stuff it to the max. Shoulder straps adjust via metal mil-spec quick releases. Red Oxx has sewn on many straps with side release buckles and attachment loops, so you can strap on your bigger souvenirs.

Side release buckles are an obsession of mine. I've broken a few and had to throw away good bags because of them. Buckles should mate easily and should not be able to miss-mate (because that stresses the fastener till it gives out). The C-Ruck's Fastex are great buckles, designed to prevent unintentional release and large enough for my big meathooks to manipulate.

Versatility of the Red Oxx Airborne Carry on Ruck Sack

Ok, here's the cool thing: the guys at Red Oxx love pockets, and the C-Ruck has enough that you'd better remember where you put stuff or you could get in trouble later on. Going on a big game photo shoot? Those big, deep, side pockets you see on the picture to the left will easily hold an 85-300 f4 zoom lens. You should be able to stuff a 400mm in there if it's not too big (the pocket is 14 inches high). Picnicking? Well you can, if you wish, fit a bottle of wine into a side pocket. Picnicking with a group? You can get TWO bottles in each pocket and still have room for the silverware!

There is an interior pocket between the main compartment and the foam back padding that will fit a laptop computer. I'm not sure it's the best place to carry one unless you put it in a padded case, but you could.

You can't have enough zippered pockets, but the C-Ruck comes close.

Bottom Line

Red Oxx Airborne Carry on Ruck Sack

Side View: Red Oxx Airborne Carry On Ruck Sack - C-Ruck

James Martin
The C-Ruck is a fine and roomy ruck sack. I've packed all I need for a summer month in Europe inside the thing.

I've had the C-Ruck a couple of weeks, examined it, used it, and for the life of me can't see what I'd improve. Yeah, it could be lighter, but you'd give up many of the features that increase durability and make it stand out from the pack. You top load the C-Ruck, which you might find less convenient when used to pack clothing compared to a pack that opens like a clam shell, but it's easier to top load--and easier to know when to stop. Besides, packing to excess doesn't strain zippers, always the first to go when your overburdened baggage explodes.

Red Oxx makes a lot of fine bags in Billings, Montana. Check out the Red Oxx web site for the full range. The Red Oxx "Air Boss" shoulder bag was designed with the help of Doug Dyment, of One Bag fame. Packing light is what you need to do to enjoy your trip. A good bag is essential.

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