I have been on the lookout for a small modular / tactical pack for a while now for day trips out, either hiking, fishing along the coast, and even stopping out overnight (travelling light, as I often like to). I jumped at the chance to review one of the Sparrow 20L rucksacks from Military 1st, made by Polish company Wisport.
Two things stood out to me from reading about the Sparrow 20L online. First was the strong Cordura materials used to make the bag, robust and hard wearing, and bringing a little more stiffness and tensile strength with it. The second point being that it has lots of MOLLE webbing, attachment points, straps, and quick release buckles which are really useful for attaching what I like, and with potential to configure the bag how I want it with added MOLLE pouches. Wisport gear is developed in collaboration with Polish Military forces, and the Sparrow 20L rucksack comes with a 5 year manufacturers warranty (you can’t argue with that for confidence in their products).
The pictures show the Wisport Sparrow 20L pack in the A-TACS FG (Forest Green) pattern, but is also available in 10 other patterns including the A-TACS AU and A-TACS LE colours.
The Sparrow’s 20 litre volume will hold a lot of useful items, perfect for 1-2 day excursions. For the size of the pack, there is a really good amount of MOLLE webbing – 3 x rows on the front, 6 x rows on each side, and 2 x rows on the base. With all of the straps and attachment points, it is really easy to build the pack up with extra pouches, in particular the 5 litre Wisport Sparrow pockets (not included with the pack), these can be attached to the side webbing, adding loads of extra storage capacity.
The stated 20 litres of storage space is split into two main compartments with an extra flat zipped pocket on the front (for maps or documents etc). Dual zippers fasten both main compartments, the Zippers are Wisport branded, are good quality and really well stitched in. All zippers also have a little pull cord (knotted at the end) that makes them easy to grab and use. The zipper to the main compartment is covered by a Cordura storm flap to protect against water and dirt ingress, this also allows the third column of MOLLE attachment points on the storm flap (great use of limited space on a relatively small pack).
I really love the way that the main compartment fully opens, the zippers open right the way to the bottom allowing the pack to completely fold open (like a little suitcase). This makes it really easy to pack completely full, with access to items right at the bottom of the pack without having to pull everything out. When it opened up fully it’s a bit of a Tardis and can fit a good amount of stuff inside, the picture shows a thin rolled up sleeping bag and a BioLite camp stove inside the main compartment, but and will also hold more if required.
On the inside of the opening flap is a zippable mesh pocket, good for a folded jacket or other clothes. There is also a large open sleeve compartment towards the back of the main compartment that extends to the full height of the pack. This is designed to hold a hold drinking system (this will hold a 3 litre Camelbak system).
On the Front
The secondary compartment is also a good size (pictured below with a 14 inch wood axe and a 12 inch solar panel charger). The sceond compartment also has internal pockets for organising smaller items so that they don’t get lost. Two nylon straps hang down on the inside of the compartment with a snap link and a D ring attachment (useful for hanging keys or small items on).
The front of the pack has 3 x rows of MOLLE webbing and 2 x compression straps that can be used to attach a jacket or other items. There is also a Velcro badge panel at the top (I have attached my Military 1st patch here). There are 4 x extra D rings on bottom (to strap a sleeping bag or tent).
The Sparrow has 2 x compression straps on each side with quick release buckles, to compress pack when partially filled to prevent items moving around inside. The compression straps have a good length of nylon strap (approx 12 inches) so they can be loosened off enough to attach a sleeping back or sleeping mat. Wisport have also added some neat little elasticated strap holders to tidy up any loose ends to prevent them dangling down (a nice touch), just roll up the extra strap length and push underneath the elasticated strap.
On the Back
The back-plate of the Sparrow is thickly padded with special hard foam that gives an adequate stiffness to the pack, but still really comfortable. The padding is covered with a spatial grid air mesh that is divided into 3 areas, with ducts to allow air circulation around your back to keep you cool. The Sparrow rucksack has nice wide and really well padded shoulder straps, they make the pack very comfortable to carry even when heavily loaded. The inside of the shoulder straps are lined with more of the cooling air mesh and everything is very well stitched. The front of the straps have the Forest Green camo pattern with a number of useful straps and attachment points that are easily accessible when the pack is being worn.
Elasticated webbing straps down each shoulder strap will hold a drinking tube or can be used to attach other items. There is also a small rotating tube clip at the bottom of each shoulder strap to clip the end of a drinking tube (one on each side so you can choose which side to route the tubing). At the top of the pack there is a small hole to pass the tube through, the fitted Velcro flap can be used to cover the hole and prevent rainwater entering the pack when not in use. There is also a good sized grab handle made of nylon webbing, this has been really well sewn into the top seam of the rucksack and feels incredibly sturdy.
Quick release Duraflex buckles are fitted on the the shoulder straps to allow you to drop the bag to the ground if needed or quickly escape if the pack gets snagged on something. The buckles have good solid connections and are easy to unclip even with gloves on. A good length of spare strap (approx 18 inches) is included that gives a wide range of adjustment for the shoulder straps. The straps can be tightened right down (suitable for a 10 year old child to carry), and plenty of room loosened right off (plenty for a large adult with multiple layers of clothing). An adjustable chest strap (with quick release buckle) is neatly sown into the shoulder straps to assist carrying heavy loads. Overall I found that the Sparrow pack is really easy to adjust to comfortably fit most people of most sizes.
- Capacity: 20L
- 2 independent compartments
- 2 internal sleeve pockets
- 2 internal mesh pockets with zippers
- Front zipped pocket
- Air Comfort carrying system
- Quick detach system
- Adjustable shoulder straps padded with air mesh
- Loops and elastic bands on shoulder straps
- Chest strap with buckle
- Strengthened back section
- Sewn-in hip belt attachment points
- Front Velcro loop panel with removable Wisport logo patch
- Allows the use of hydration systems
- Passage to the main compartment for a drinking tube
- Hydration hose mounting brackets on both shoulder straps
- Nylon straps for attaching sleeping bag
- MOLLE compatible with multiple attachments points
- Main compartment zipper opens all the way
- Side and front compression straps
- Durable Wisport zippers
- Quick-release Duraflex buckles
- Durable Nylon carrying handle
- Material: Cordura
- Dimensions: approx. 16″x12″x8″ (40x30x20cm)
- Weight: 850g
- Manufacturer: Wisport
- Made in Poland
- 5 years manufacturer warranty
After using the Wisport Sparrow 20L rucksack, I feel that it a brilliant little bag that comes in really useful for day trips, and potentially 2-3 day trips if you intend to expand the storage space using additional MOLLE pouches. The cost of this pack starts at £59.99 at Military 1st, with £69.99 for certain colours and camo patterns (like the A-TACS patterns). For the money it is really well constructed with some well designed features for a pack of its size. Wisport also do a 30L version of the Sparrow and a wide range of other tactical packs and pouches.