Maxpedition is famed for their tough military style backpacks and pouches to it was a surprise to get to review the Maxpedition Larkspur. The Larkspur is a shoulder worn courier or messenger bag and while it is made from the same tough nylon as most of their bags it feels like their designers were told – velcro – that’s good stuff! Let’s see how much we can use on this one. The result is a big shoulder worn bag with one main compartment, two large front pouch pockets, two slightly hidden internal pockets and two narrow side pockets. The Larkspur has a single 2-inch strap that is attached permanently on one end and with a quick release buckle on the other. The back of the bag has a tunnel to allow it to be attached to the top of a luggage trolley and a single large handle made from a folded piece of strap. It also has a removable 1-inch strap that is designed to hold the bag close to your body when cycling or walking long distances. Finally inside the flap a single large but shallow pocket that zips closed and a zip that lets you get it to the main pocket without unclasping the cover.
Maxpedition or military style bags are often quite customisable but they use Molle webbing to allow you to attach extra pouches or bottles to the outside. The Larkspur uses velcro not just as a way to hold pouches closed but as a way to help provide organisation inside the bag.
The main compartment has loop velcro covering the entire back, two-thirds down the sides and the whole front. The two hidden compartments have loop velcro down half the height of one side and the main pouches the same. The main and narrow pouches use velcro to hold close and the front of the bag has a large area of velcro for pouches or patches. This approach has advantages – the main compartment, in particular, can be lined with whatever pouches and bags you want and I found that cable tidies could be used to attach things to the inside of the bag. I was able to construct a holder for my water bottle and for my kindle which suited me perfectly. A little research online showed examples of people attaching pouches to the outside of the bag where the large pouches are designed to seal and velcroing shut the tunnel on the back of the bag to provide an extra pocket.
The disadvantage of the customisable approach is that when you first get the already expensive bag it is a blank slate that requires more money and time to customise. This might be an acceptable trade off for some people but you should know it is it there.
The Larkspur is made to stand up to the world. It is made of made of 1000 dernier nylon which translates to nylon with a very tight weave making it stiff, strong and fairly water resistant. I’ve had the Larkspur out in driving rain and the bag shrugged it off without absorbing it. The strap goes all the way around the base of the bag so it can be filled to the brim without putting strain on one particular point. Finally all the seams are at least double stitched giving even more strength.
It should be noted that the Larkspur does not come with a pad on the strap and I fairly quickly moved one from another bag onto it. It seems like an exercise in cost cutting that went a little too far and without it the strap is not comfortable. The handstrap is also not suitable for carrying the bag very far but is fine for lifting it into or out of the car or onto a table.
Looking at a picture of the Larkspur I did not think that it was very large but on getting it and looking inside it the main pocket feels huge. On consideration, I think this is because the main pocket has nothing inside it to divide it up. Most bags split things up into a laptop pocket, a pocket for this and a pocket for that. The Larkspur’s main pocket is 15.5 inches long, 10.5 inches high and 4.5 inches from front to back. I’ve had my 15.5 inch laptop, lunch, water, cables and books inside it with no problems at all and a lot of space still available unused. The hidden pockets were perfect for my kindle and a notebook and the front pockets worked for cables and a first aid kit.
The two small narrow pockets are designed by Maxpedition as sheath pockets for a knife but I found that a torch fitted perfectly into one and an epi-pen perfectly into the other.
Maxpedition is an American hard use and military supplier that makes a variety of bags, pouches and systems to tie them together. They’ve had some controversy over the years portraying themselves as a US company but carrying out the vast majority of their manufacturing in Taiwan. The company formed in 2003 and specialised in gear for the military and law enforcement but soon got a dedicated following amongst EDC carriers and hikers. They are currently expanding their ranges to include knives, tools and patches.
Size: 12 x 22 x 7 inches empty
Item Weight: 1.3kg empty
Colour: Black, khaki or green
Textile: 1000 dernier nylon
Optimised for right-handed use – the quick release is only on one side
Warranty: All Maxpedition gear has the same limited lifetime warranty. This translates that anything that is a defect from manufacturing will be fixed for free however long since the purchase was made and that they will quote you a fix for anything caused by the user.
Most Maxpedition bags are aimed at an active outdoor usership but their strength and organisation has made them popular as everyday carry bags. The Larkspur fits well into the more urban side of this providing lots of customisability and, unusually for Maxpedition, the ability to have a laptop with you.
Ease of use
If you want to use the Larkspur ‘as is’ it is a very simple bag with its one huge compartment. If you choose to customise with the velcro it’s possible to get quite elaborate to fit your exact requirements.
On a day to day basis I was a little concerned about the zip through the top flap but after I got used to remembering it was there it gave a very easy way to get to things in the bag whilst wearing it. If the bag was down on the floor or a table it was easier to open the flap but the zip is great when you have the bag on.
The Larkspur is deceivingly roomy and this led me back to an old problem – I tried to fill the space up and ended up carrying around much to much stuff. Be warned – a big bag can be heavy!
It is accessible to anyone with a mild-moderate visual impairment, including the blind and those who experience visual symptoms, like photophobia (light sensitivity), eye strain or colour blindness. The layout of the bag is simple and can easily be customised internally to a memorable configuration. The Larkspur’s colours are both subdued and internally they are slightly lighter both of which will be beneficial to those with visual impairment.
It is accessible to anyone with a mild-moderate hearing impairment, including the deaf and those who experience auditory symptoms, like tinnitus or hyperacusis (sound sensitivity). With the large amounts of noisy velcro used to keep the bag organised and closed it might not be the best bag for someone with acute sound sensitivity. The strap and clips made no creaking or movement noises even when the bag was packed full.
Input and touch
It is accessible to anyone with a mild-moderate upper body impairment and those who experience symptoms that affect their hands, wrists and shoulders, like a tremor, fatigue, reduced dexterity or precision. The use of so much velcro means that bag can be opened and closed with relatively little precision, although a certain amount of strength is needed to pull the velcro apart. The main flap is secured with two clips but these are large and under most circumstances does not actually need to be clipped closed. The zips on the main compartment and in the flaps come with large paracord pullers that are easy to grip or customisable if required.
Movement and mobility
It isn’t accessible to anyone with a mild-moderate mobility impairment, including wheelchair users and those who experience physical symptoms, like severe fatigue or chronic pain. In a word the bag is probably too big if you have a mobility impairment. It might make an excellent carer bag though and the epipen pocket is a perfect shape.
Motion sickness and balance disorders
It is accessible to anyone who experiences a mild sickness or dizzy spells.
It is accessible to anyone with a mild-moderate cognitive impairment, including those with a learning disability like dyslexia and those who experience cognitive symptoms, like problems with memory, concentration, planning and organization.
No social interaction is required anymore or less than with any other bag.
It is made out of 1000 denier nylon which is not a common allergen. The buckles are made from hard plastic and the zips from a plastic coated metal. It should be noted that some people find velcro irritating to the skin and if you are one of these people this is not the bag for you.
The Larkspur is an odd bag which seems to neither be quite one thing or another. Maxpedition makes tactical bags designed for the outdoors and a courier bag does not fit quite into this. Alternatively, the typical audience for courier bags – cyclists will probably not find the Larkspur ideal. That leaves use as a day to day bag. If you want a large, tough and customisable courier bag this might be it although you will have to go through a certain amount of work, time and money to get it customised right for you.
Personally, I’m going to keep on using the Larkspur. I’ve found that its huge velcro space means I can have some mobile office pouches and some out with the family letting me change very quickly and securely. Recommended for those who want a messenger bag tailored to their needs.
The review is based on the OG Maxpedition Larkspur kindly provided by Maxpediton. This post contains affiliate links.