Due to the similar core platforms of these two versipacks, I have chosen to display both reviews in one post. Forgive me if this causes the flow to read a little jumpy.
Main: 8” x 5” x 10” deep, padded sides and bottom, front and back internal pockets
Top: 6” x 5” x 1” thick with internal pocket and elastic loops
Front: 8” x 7” x 1.5” thick with various pockets
Zipper CCW pocket: 9” wide x 11” deep with 7” x 8” loop field
Back CCW pocket: 9” wide x 11” deep with 7” x 8” loop field, hydration compatible
There is a new big boy in Versipack town and his name is Colossus. The Jumbo was a big version of the Fatboy, but the Colossus branches off into its own breed. The base construction starts off with an ambidextrous design rather than worrying about separate regular and S-type versions. The big show is definitely the main pouch which is now bigger and fully padded. The inner frontal side has a sleeve with elastic velcro flap and the inner back side has a sleeve/mesh sleeve combo. The mesh sleeve has been sewn down the middle to form 2 pockets. Although you can fit a lot of different things in the main pocket, the first thing I had in mind was my DSLR camera. I could do without the inner sleeves for my uses since they can snag when putting the camera in, but I think most people will find them useful. Tis better to be able to cut them out rather than wish they were there. On my Jumbo I added in some extra foam on my own, now mister Colossus comes with it standard. How the main pocket opens is also a huge plus for me. Double zippers open up the flap away from you to have immediate and free access to the main goods. The Jumbo is easy to open, but one must manage the main big flap when getting to the main pocket.
The actual Colossus main pocket flap is quite suped up in which the interior has big elastic loops and a zipper mesh pocket. Very multi-use, but for me it's great for my manuals and CF cards. The exterior of this flap is a little Janus like in which there is a big velcro ID area with cave/sleeve area under it which has further loop. Although you probably won't ever put a strap through the cave/sleeve like on the Janus, it does make a great place for quick access to large flashlights and beat-sticks. A shockcord and cordlock rig is included and all of this is on top of a double zipper pocket. A litte further down, still on the top pocket is another velcro loop that is sewn sleeve style. Inside includes a sleeve with elastic loops. The elastic divisions are 2 medium and 1 big to give better holding options.
Moving a little further down is what I call the mid pocket. This area is a good square size and has 2 sleeves in the back each with elastic velcro flaps. Behind these is another divider sleeve. At the bottom is a velcro seal to allow one to close off or create access to the lower pocket. On the exterior of the mid pocket is a loop velcro panel and a slim single zipper pocket. Maxpedition has been listening to my suggestions and put the logo out of the loop so the pride can still be there, but not at the cost of your velcro space. Blending in at the bottom is the lower pocket which has a single zipper opening and can fit a beefy, but not super long flashlight.
The sides no longer have standard pockets, but this is likely for the best so the Colossus size doesn't get out of hand by default. PALS compatible webbing does cover the sides if one wishes to addon other pouches like a nalgene holder to make things more Jumbo like. A good batch of PALS webbing is also on the bottom to allow a fairly large pouch attachment.
While the Colossus went in the size increase direction for the Versipack line, the Manta went the opposite way. The Manta on its own is not much more than beefy shoulder strapped CCW pocket, but has huge customization possibilities when other pouches are added. Due to all the PALS webbing on the front of the Manta, this makes a great platform to form the Versipack you always wanted or just need on specific day. One simply attaches other PALS compatible pouches as desired. The upper area is 3 Rows x 6 Channels (not counting 2 extra loops up top) and the lower area is 2 Rows x 4 Channels. The upper area has loop velcro between the PALS rows for ID patches. I'm not a fan of the Maxpedition logo being in the middle of the upper velcro strip, but one can destich it off without too much hassle. The lower area comes with a shock cord and cord lock rig and is ontop of a sleeve which is good for flashlight like items. I personally would have gone with 2 Rows x 6 Channels for the lower area. The sleeve area would be lost or harder to use, but this would allow a lot more mounting options. When creating loadouts for the Manta I find myself adding pouches where I want to, but they are less secure since the PALS webbing I spoke of is not there.
The adjustable shoulder strap has one female and one male side and comes with a removable shoulder pad. The pad is similar to the old style with velcro flaps, but the bottom now uses the foam with rubberized nylon grid. The connection points back on the actual pouch have elastic loops which are great for having over the SRBs to help prevent accidental opening. If one does not need this and wants easier operation, they simply push SRB out under the elastic and let it rest on top.
The main CCW area hasn't changed much which is not a bad thing. A big plus is the double zipper opening to make things more ambidextrous. Like before on the Jumbo, this pocket has a big 7" x 8" loop field great for holding the maxpedition modular holster or mag / multitool holders. When going all out CCW, I suggest deciding on your most comfortable zipper opening direction and then making a big pull cord for that zipper. Then make sure to move all the other pull tabs away from the pull cord so they are not in the way. On the Manta when CCW is in mind, I do not use the top PALS row to give myself good room to grab the zipper pull. Back to both, a slight problem occurs when mounting extra pouches to the webbing on the upper area where the straps connect. Pouches that "fit" here usually start to dig into your zipper area. This isn't a show stopper, but does cause one to have less of an opening since the zipper will ram into the pouch or its Malice clip.
The back area is for the most part totally new. For cooling standoff, foam with rubberized nylon grid is used which looks like it will be much more durable than the air-mesh on the Jumbo. A good dose of this is on the back and the shoulder strap connection areas. Up on the strap areas are sleeves which work well for holding folding knives. I show these sleeves can fit multitools in my pictures, but they are not the most comfortable things to carry there. In the middle is another CCW pocket which is closed with a hypalon flap. The closure is velcro with a metal snap in the middle and a D-ring is up top for an easy grab to get to the pocket. The velcro belt loop connection is also on the hypalon area which can fit up to 2.5" belts. For those who don't know what hypalon is yet; it is really heavy duty rubber-ish material with little give and non-slip qualities. Inside this back area is another 7" x 8" loop field for another place to put modular velcro attachments. Although I do not have one to try, this pocket is also made to fit a 50oz. or smaller hydration reservoir and has a webbing loop for a hanging point. Despite being easier to open up, I don't like this area as much for CCW. The pistol handle can be fairly visible when viewing the side of the pouch and you can't use the belt strap since it interferes with pulling the pocket open. A pistol is easier to get a hold of without the modular holster, but then it is less secure and could flop out while running. Even though I don't sound so jazzed about this back pocket, it is nice to have it there rather than nothing and likely others will find great uses for it.
I will continue to beat up on mister Colossus, but so far I'm happy with a high majority of the design decisions. For me specifically it is an awesome DSLR camera pouch, but others will find it great for many other uses. The fact that it can hold 6+ guns with 2 being fairly easy to draw is quite an uncommon feature.
Even though I'm sad about the missing bottom area PALS, the Manta is still the best make your own shoulder bag platform out there. Those who constantly need to adapt to changing daily use requirements will find the Manta and additional modular pouches worth the price.