STOIRM, Gaelic for STORM, is a new range of tactical packs and clothing from long-established Highlander Outdoor of Livingston in Scotland, writes Bob Morrison.
In addition to taking the STOIRM 25L out to MiliPol 2023 in Paris as my carry-on flight luggage and general purpose camera / netbook light backpack for the duration of the security expo, I have also been using it as my lightweight daysack over the past couple of months while I recover from a knee injury. Measuring 500x310x140mm (50x31x14cm) it easily fits even the tightest of budget airlines’ overhead luggage size gauges and because it only weighs 1.3kg when empty this 1000D nylon pack doesn’t nibble away too much of the sometimes restrictive available weight allowance.
A comparatively basic configuration two compartment daysack with two elasticated side pockets and a lined zipped eyepro hard case, it has the expected padded shoulder straps with sternum strap and four side compression straps. The double action zip to the main compartment runs fully around both sides and top in clamshell style, configured to allow top access if required, and the secondary compartment is over three-quarter length zipped to give good access. All zips are reputable YKK brand, so should not let the user down, and useful pull tabs are fitted throughout.
There is a near full area laser cut ‘felt’ panel on the outer face of the secondary compartment to allow either MOLLE/PALS or hook & loop ancillary pouch attachment but there is no provision for fixing side pouches to increase capacity; though there are the previously mentioned small elasticated pouches on each side. The reasonably large eyepro (eye protection) hard case above the secondary compartment has a ‘felt’ panel for affixing a name tape or tactical flash. Above this, if you look closely, you will see the stylised H in an oval stitched into the 1000D nylon which signifies that the STOIRM range is part of the Highlander Outdoor portfolio. At the very top of the pack there is a simple grab handle.
The padded shoulder straps, with sliding elasticated sternum strap, are slightly unusual for a daysack of this size in having tensioning straps for load adjustment. In front of each strap there is an angular D-ring with an elasticated strap above and nylon strap beneath to allow a hydration bladder tube to be fitted; there is a discreet port near the top of each side of the main compartment to allow the drinking tube to be fed through. There are simple adjuster buckles on each shoulder strap and there are fitted with hook & loop keeper tabs, as are the side compression straps.
The back panel of this pack is EVA moulded and designed to provide airflow while ensuring no pressure on the spinal column. For a degree of additional rigidity with comfort, behind this panel there is what feels like a hard foam panel with a thin stiff board but as this is not intended to be removable there is no way of confirming precise construction without cutting the back open. I suffer from a spinal injury incurred many years ago, so on some other small daysacks I have removed their rigid stiffening panel for personal comfort but I have found no need to mess about with the STOIRM 25L as it is pretty comfortable. Incidentally those tensioning straps also allowed me to make individual shoulder adjustment to cater for a broken clavicle which did not set properly during healing.
¤ The two zipped mesh pockets on the inside face of the opened out main compartment ~ the bright zips with tabs may not be tactical but are very useful in low light conditions
Turning now to the interior, the main compartment has a padded sleeve on the back face which is large enough to accept a 17” laptop; I have not illustrated this in the photos as I usually carry a brace of smaller and lighter netbooks when on my travels, but I have checked that it will accept a standard laptop. Alternatively, a hydration bladder can be carried in this pouch and a small hanging strap for this is included. There is also a broad elasticated hook & loop (as Velcro is a trademark we cannot use that term without proof of manufacture) tab to secure a laptop is carried in the pouch.
The outer face of this laptop/bladder pouch is covered with a ‘felt’ panel to which five removable laser cut MOLLE/PALS panels are attached. These allow the user to attach standard pouches to compartmentalise the interior if required, but I have not made much use of these to date as the Highlander team also sent me a STOIRM Travel Cube and STOIRM Utility Pouch to try out. I attached the long, thin Utility Pouch to the daysack’s laptop pouch face to hold some smaller kit items I might need to get to quickly and beneath this I attached two old mesh pockets (from another manufacturer) for more bulky accessories including a netbook charger and leads. I will return to the Travel Cube and Utility Pouch in more detail in a future review.
¤ The PALS tapes of my SatNav pouch attached to one of the laser cut panels ~ the organiser panel could alternatively be carried in the main compartment
There are also two horizontally zipped mesh pockets under the clamshell lid of the main compartment, and I have found them to be really useful. Likewise, there are similar mesh pockets behind the lid of the secondary compartment. This compartment also has a ‘felt’ rear face to which a removable multi-pocket organiser panel is affixed; this could alternatively be carried in the main compartment if preferred.
Over the last couple of decades I have owned several Highlander backpacks of different sizes but since C&S Magazine bit the dust and then the pandemic struck the company disappeared from my radar until they contacted us about their new STOIRM range… and I am glad they did. All in all this 25-litre pack has turned out to be a rather useful daysack which is getting much more use than I originally anticipated. It won’t be replacing my old faithful and much more expandable MultiCam camera and laptop pack on my more tactical assignments but I suspect it will get plenty of use on civvy street, where a less military-looking daysack is required.
The STOIRM 25L Pack is available in Black, Olive Green, Coyote Tan and Dark Grey. STOIRM 12L, single strap, and STOIRM 40L versions are also produced along with a range of pouches.
[images © Bob Morrison unless noted]