Featured Spending Time with a Prophet – SOG Prophet 33 Matt Stagliano May 3, 2016 Join the Conversation Many of you out there are just like me. You have a day pack for hiking, a bug out bag, maybe a camera bag, a range pack, a hunting pack, a lightweight pack, as well as all of the empty packs you discarded along the way during your exhaustive search. My basement is littered with them. There's a deep undercurrent of discontent in my psyche, and it's caused by an inability to locate the perfect do-everything pack. While I was at SHOT Show this year, I picked up a new offering from SOG: the Prophet 33 pack. It’s a midsized pack, somewhere in size between the Vertx Gamut Plus and the GoRuck GR1. There are a few SOG knives in my rack, and I have no issues with the quality produced by the Washington state company, but a pack line? This was new territory for them and I had to find out for myself if this would be a workable ruck, or a complete flop. I’ve been using the Prophet daily now since the end of January and while it has performed relatively well, it is not without shortcomings either. To look at it, the Prophet is part weekend bag, part lightweight pack (think Mystery Ranch or Arc’Teryx Khard), and part misplaced turtle. This identity crisis is ultimately its Achilles' heel, but not one that is a deal-breaker. It is not overly tactical in appearance. In fact I get a lot of compliments on the styling, though there is some definitive military flavor with the sniper gray color, external hook and loop field on the front as well as the laser cut hypalon molle field on either side. This is relatively low profile and does not take away from the look of the bag. However, add a beard and a pair of cargo pants on the user and the subtlety goes out the window — but it you're still wearing PMC Contractor chic around the house every day you may have some other things to worry about. Made of Kodra 500D nylon with a P.U. coating, the Prophet is water resistant but not waterproof. It has an adjustable shoulder and concealable waist straps, so can be converted to your preferred carrying style. The shoulder straps can be hidden away and the bag suddenly becomes a carry-on sized duffle or weekender through the use of conveniently placed carry handles. It fits perfectly in overhead compartments, but can be a little large when wedged under the seat. Ask me how I know. Go ahead, ask me. Perhaps the most noticeable design element is the impact resistant hardshell compartment at the top of the pack. Where most packs lend themselves to shifting weight to the bottom, SOG has made a Crazy Ivan and shifted weight to the top of the pack. I found myself using this compartment for nearly everything smaller than a laptop: headphones, hard drives, lenses, flashlights, a full size Glock 17 and everything in between. You name it and I put it in this compartment. When carried, the weight sits higher between your shoulder blades rather than on the lower back (not necessarily a bad thing, depending on what you're carrying and how far you're humping it) and that took a little getting used to. The external side compartments are made up of the aforementioned MOLLE field-flaps and can be adjusted and tightened with compression straps. I found these extremely useful when carrying my sneakers to and from the gym by using the small locking straps underneath the panels. I have also used them to carry a 40 oz Hydroflask or to strap tripods to the bag during photo shoots. Internally, the bag is relatively roomy, without wasteful extra pockets. There is a very slim pocket that is listed as a “laptop sleeve”, but it lacks any level of padding. I placed my 15” MacBook Pro in it, but found that I really had to force it down into the area. This made it difficult to remove when there was anything else in the pack. To get around this, I used a padded sleeve of its own and just kept that in the pack, leaving the laptop area empty for a magazine or a folder of documents. There are a few zippered mesh pockets on the interior as well that were handy for storing smaller items, but I found it difficult to access the bottom pocket without opening up the entire pack and laying it flat. To do that, you need to unbuckle the compression straps and unzip the pack, potentially spilling the other gear you are carrying on the outside. The mesh itself seems a bit thin and prone to fraying if subjected to heavy use like I've seen in some of the Vertx bags, but time will tell. It's still early to pass judgement on that part. With hydration compartments, a keyring loop, daisy chain nylon, and interior sunglass storage, it appears as though SOG was trying to adapt this pack for all users, rather than focusing on one particular demographic. Admirable in approach, but lacking in delivery. Now here’s the not so great, in practical terms. The Prophet has a hard time standing straight up. It's like a RECOIL web editor at the Circle Bar during SHOT. Place the bag vertically on a flat surface and it almost immediately tips over due to the weight of the upper compartment. Even with weight in the bottom of the bag, it just doesn’t want to stay put. Tossing the pack on a chair or even leaning against the wall, it has a tendency to slide or flop over when not carrying something rigid like a 15” laptop. It wants to lay down flat, simple as that. Is that a huge concern? Probably not, but finding a good way to prop up the pack eluded me. This particular problem can be seen in other packs as well, but there are times I want my pack standing upright. No matter how I shed the pack, I could not find a simple way to put it on its back rather than its belly. Much like the Vertx Gamut and certain other packs, the Prophet can be opened about halfway and the compression straps on the outside keep the pack from unzipping the entire way. However, with any weight in the hardshell compartment, you will find yourself fighting to keep the bag upright while you search for your contents. As I mentioned, that compartment gets filled with everything, and it really causes an unbalanced load. I loved the fact that you could unzip the pack the entire way and access the bottom contents easily. This made packing the bag extremely easy. The zipper pulls are reinforced and oversized, making them easy to find. However, I often confused the pulls for the hardshell area with those that open the main compartment, and I opened the wrong area more than once. This could be operator error and I know many of my peers actually put different colored pull tabs on their gear for various reasons, but if it happened to me it'll happen to others. Prob'ly. As a photography pack, it can't compare to dedicated photo bags like Ogio, Pelican, or Think Tank. While there is an internal hook and loop field that could accommodate smaller pouches (think the Arc'Teryx Khard system), it wasn't enough for me. I wound up inserting my prototype Vertx Gamut Plus Insert loaded with lenses and camera bodies and that worked decently enough, but it added much more weight than I wanted. Also, near the bottom of the pack on the exterior is a small zippered stash pocket perfect for storing a lightweight rain jacket, hat, or even a hidden backup gun. I really like this small design element. While some users may not use the “turtle shell” like I did, it’s hard not to toss all your smaller items in there. With relatively little organization except for some elastic pen holders, all of the items get jumbled up. Your best bet if you are carrying many small things is to get additional zippered pouches to stay more organized. The Blue Force Gear DAP series, Vertx Tactigami accessories and Grey Ghost inserts are some options there. Back on the good side, the shoulder straps are extremely comfortable. I found that the several exterior carry handles really made it easy to sling this bag around, regardless of where it lay. The Prophet 33 is a highly capable, all around pack with a ton of potential, but while I continue to carry this every day, my search for the perfect pack continues. The SOG Prophet 33 retails for $229 and can be found online at their website. Follow SOG Knives on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with videos on YouTube. 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