Maxpedition Tiburon 34 backpack review

The Maxpedition Tiburon 34 was chosen as one of the best mid-tier bug out backpacks under 35L in our 2020 review. I had the chance to use the Tiburon on two occasions: once as a plane carry-on bag, the other as a weekend bag for a short trip to the Rocky Mountains. I had never had exposure to the Maxpedition brand so I approached this review with an open mind.

Specs:

  • MSRP: $267.99
  • Volume: 34L
  • Overall size: 17 x 12 x 20 inches
  • Waist belt max circumference: 60 inches
  • Sternum strap max length: 10 inches
  • Weight: 3.7 pounds
  • Colors: Gray, Black, or Tan

Basic features & first impressions

Before I even started packing the bag, I liked that it has three different compartments, with the main one being quite spacious. The availability of sensible colors such as gray or black, and the laser-cut honeycomb MOLLE attachment points made me think that, although the pack has many technical features, it would be inconspicuous enough for a “gray man” setup.

Built-in bottom straps for shelter gear — close to a must-have for a go-bag

I was also impressed that it features a waist belt and a chest strap (both unusual to see in such a small pack). As a bonus, it also has various sturdy-looking handles, outer straps that allow you to compress the pack, and reinforced zipper grab pulls designed to be usable while wearing gloves.

I didn’t like that the zippers are not covered, exposing the mechanism to water and dirt, but the bag has so many other seemingly useful features that it would be impossible for Maxpedition to add much more and keep it affordable.

I am often skeptical of packs with a lot of extra internal pockets. I often find that they are useless and I end up packing my stuff in separate bags, leaving most of the pockets empty. This was not the case with the Tiburon.

Testing and use

As soon as I started packing it, I encountered a significant issue: the zippers do not close smoothly, but rather bend and feel like they are snagging to the point that closing it was a struggle. I had to force the zipper each time I was using it, and I found that the zipper grab pulls come handy for this task.

I tried to convince myself that the pack needed to be broken in, but the zipper situation hasn’t improved over my time with the bag. It’s a flaw mentioned in other reviews.

Despite these problems, I was impressed by how much stuff I could pack in. 

For my cabin bag I packed:

  • A laptop and its charger
  • An iPad and its charger (This was a leisurely trip and, although I need my laptop for work, its battery and sound are rubbish. I use the iPad for reading Kindle books and watching TV shows.)
  • A neck pillow.
  • A trucker hat.
  • A jacket and its outer shell.
  • As we were at the initial stages of the coronavirus pandemic: safety glasses, two disposable N95 masks, and three pairs of vinyl gloves.
  • Sunglasses in their hard case
  • Reading glasses in their case
  • Small toiletry bag containing: travel-sized toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipes, and face moisturizer. Deodorant, camping toilet paper, a pack of tissues, and hand sanitizer.
  • NOVOO portable charger
  • Phone and charging cable
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Wallet (Woman sized. I really need to find a slimmer version but I’m too lazy.)
  • A thick book

Although this seems like a lot of stuff, the overall weight was not much, so I was expecting to use the pack on one shoulder (or two, but without using the belt or chest strap) as I walked through the airport and waited for my flight. However, the shoulder strap dug into my shoulder (I’m not the only one to have experienced this). The only way to make it bearable was to use both the belt and the chest strap.

I liked that the shoulder straps are slightly shaped instead of being straight, making it more comfortable for a woman to carry it. Not sure if this was intentional (probably was), but kudos on Maxpedition for that. My chest is only 34” but I read a review from a bustier woman saying that the straps fit her well, too. Another feature I appreciated is the padded belt. I find that the majority of packs with a belt are made for men and the belt is usually too wide for me to be able to use it (my hips are 36”). This fits me just perfectly.

Note: If you’re thinking of using the Tiburon as a go-bag, the side pockets would seem to be the logical place to put a bottle, but they barely held a 20-ounce bottle, in my case.

For my weekend trip, I packed:

  • My laptop and its charger
  • Sunglasses and their hard case
  • Reading glasses and their hard case.
  • My phone and its charger
  • Toiletry bag
  • A packing cube with a couple of t-shirts, one pair of yoga pants, underwear change for three days, an extra pair of hiking socks, and, because I like to be comfy in the evening, a short dressing gown, a pajama set, a pair of comfy fuzzy socks, and a pair of flat packable slippers
  • A pistol
  • A couple of range glasses
  • A thick book
  • Industrial goggles
  • Two disposable N100 masks
  • Three pairs of disposable vinyl gloves

For this trip, I don’t use the bag as a backpacking pack so I wasn’t concerned about its comfort. I already knew about the shoulder strap that would cut into my shoulder, so I was mostly curious about finding out how much I could pack in, if its various compartments and pockets would be useful, and if I could still pack everything I needed. The answer is yes. And I was pleased that I was able to comfortably use a packing cube to pack a change of clothes, instead of resorting to rolling up my clothes in the main compartment alongside everything else.

Conclusions

A nice pack for its price and size. A lot of useful and thoughtful features, like the three main compartments, chest strap and waist belt, shaped shoulder straps, inconspicuous MOLLE, and overall gray-man vibe (unless you go for the tan color). But I had a disappointing experience with the zippers and the shoulder straps.

My suggestions would be to make sure that you try it on first (as you should anyway with any backpack) so you can make sure it fits comfortably when fully packed.


  • 2 Comments

    • Trace

      Good review! I appreciate you sharing the negative features also. It seems like too often reviewers–not wanting to alienate companies/revenue streams–minimize or pass over problems with the products they are reviewing. Seeing your willingness to comment on the weak points makes me trust your review(s) even more.

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      • John RameyStaff Trace

        Thanks for saying so. That’s part of our promise to the community: https://theprepared.com/mission-values-how-we-work/

        It pisses off a lot of manufacturers, to the point some won’t work with us anymore (many keep a list of reviewers who don’t play ball the way they want) — but we’re here for you, not them.

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