The “Bandicoot” waist pack by Helikon-Tex is fairly big compared to most other waist packs. It won’t fit below your belly but I got told, that’s not a thing anymore, anyway. It performs well when carried on a 5’o clock or 7’o clock position because you can still reach the pack and it won’t interfere with a backpack you’re carrying eventually.
This bag comes with lots of options to stow and organize your gear. It has 3 zippered pockets: One in the front for small and flat items, a big one in the middle and another flat one on the backside. This back pocket is perfect for storing valuables because it’s almost completely unreachable while carrying the bag.
While the smaller pockets have one way zippers, the bigger one has two way zippers which help to get to the stored items easily even when it’s riding on your backside. Inside the big pocket there is a zippered mesh pocket in the front while the back is completely lined with velcro loops. You get an organizer panel with velcro hooks with the pack that’s supposed to be attached to the backside of the big pocket. If you don’t look closely you might even miss that the panel is removable. The panel has one big slotted pocket on which two more slotted pockets are sewn. Placed onto the two pockets there are five elastic loops.
The main pocket of the Bandicoot is wide enough to store bigger items between the admin panel and the mesh pocket. There’s even a loop for dummy cording inside.
On the outside there’s a big panel of velcro loops you can use to personalize your Bandicoot with patches. If you don’t like patches (but who doesn’t) you can enjoy the Helikon-Tex logo embroidered on the velcro panel. The flaps that connect the bag and the waist belt have loops of webbing on the outside. Since the waistbelt is removable, Helikon-Tex mentions you could use these loops to mount the Bandicoot as a pouch on a MOLLE/PALS panel. Using the bag like this might result in a rather flappy connection so better use the loops to attach a Grimlok or an ITW Nexus Tac Link or other small gear .
There is a tunnel between the main pocket and the back pocket which you could use to route a bigger belt through, though. This way you could carry the Bandicoot on your pants belt or on a shoulder strap with the waist belt removed.
Since the waist pack is made of genuine Cordura and shows the usual level of quality you can be sure that it won’t get ripped apart during normal or even rough use. There are other options like Nylon and Nylon/Polyester available. The waist belt is long enough to be comfortable even for bigger persons or when carrying it over several layers of clothing. The YKK zyppers have pulls made of cordage wrapped in heat shrink tube which is a tough and comfortable solution.
A thing to consider about the Bandicoot if you are not only a user but also a collector: There are no less than 25 different colorways (including the Nylon/Polyester versions) available. Not only different solid colors like Coyote, black, RAL7013, adaptive green and two tone versions but lots of different and rare camo patterns. You can have the classics like M81 woodland, Flecktarn and wz.93 Pantera but also different color options of A-TACS and Kryptek, genuine MultiCam and even the most exotic PenCott colorways like SandStorm and SnowDrift.
How I use it
Full disclosure: I’m not very much of a waist pack person. I normally split the gear I’m carrying between my clothes (cargo pants and jacket) and a bag or backpack. Being biased that way why would I review a waist pack? I was curious and I wanted to see if I could make use of it and I needed one for a more specific post in the future anyway.
So using it for some weeks I have to say: Waist packs won’t become daily companions for me. But I learned that they can be quite useful while running this test. I combined it with a small backpack (Direct Action Dragon-Egg Mk.2). Especially in combination with pants without cargo pockets or lack smaller pockets for organization the Bandicoot helps with keeping things easily reachable. This is even more true when you carry things that should not go rattling around in a big pocket like polished or coated items.
I put the obvious things that might come handy into the Bandicoot: Multitool. Knife, EDC flashlight, small first aid kit, chewing gum and a lighter. What I really liked is the possibility to throw bigger items into the main pocket even when they won’t fit into the internal pockets or loops. For example I had a laser rangefinder in it while doing furniture shopping – small, easy to break, you don’t want to dig for it but you don’t want to keep it in your hand all the time. Perfect. And I hung a pair of gloves at a Grimloc on one of the outside straps.
What I didn’t want to try is the crossbody carrying style. I think a waist pack should ride around the waist but that’s just me being stubborn.
I had one lose thread on my specific one but that was the very first time I had one on a Helikon pack so I noted that as a big exception. The only thing I wished for was the buckle being replaceable. You step on things like this eventually and you’d have to open and re-sew the stitches on the belt to replace it.
To sum it up: I like the Bandicoot and it already is part of my “gear rotation” but I won’t use it on a daily basis.
Update after a few months of usage
The Bandicoot holds up great and it’s just like new. I found two main use cases where it really helps in my daily life.
The first one is a minimalist EDC for extremely short strolls. I’m a person who would never leave home without at least a tiny set of gear. A knife, a flashlight and some first aid items come with me even when I just walk the dog around the block. Since I don’t want to take a full blown backpack or shoulder bag with me all the time I put the most useful things into to Bandicoot and have it hanging on the wardrobe just beside the dogs leash. So I can have my “main bag” set up however I want and still have a proven set of items available all the time. Since I go for a few meters walk with the dog just before bed time daily, I can say, I use the Bandicoot on a daily basis.
The other one is close to what I already described. I use it for items I want to have in reach most easily. During winter season I often wore some heavy insulating garments with small or heavily lined pockets which are no good for tiny sharp objects. I put heavier items into a backpack and had things like a flashlight, dog poop bags and my smartphone ready in the Bandicoot. I might even get other camo versions to match my winter and “GreenZone” clothes.
Key facts (Cordura version)
- Weight: 264g
- Waist min – max: 86 – 116cm
- Dimensions: 26 x 15 x 7 cm
- Capacity: 2,7l
- Material: Cordura
About the author
widhalmt is what you might call a tactical gearhead with a focus on collecting. Like your average nerd he likes to dig into topics he’s interested in and learn as much about them as possible. Then he tries to get hold of his items of interest (he’s quite picky about brand and model when he chose a certain item) and put them to the test. Be it while walking the dog in the woods or go for overnighters outdoors.
In his daytime job he works as lead support engineer for an open source IT consulting company. Since his work involves a lot of travelling and going to customers he has quite some experience in choosing items that are rugged enough for constant travelling but still work in an office environment without offending anyone by being “too tactical” (although he tends to stretch that last part a bit). It’s safe to say that he has some tactical gear on him when he walks out the door (and sometimes even when he stays at home).
In tactical gear he has very widespread interests but if he had to pick something, it’s be knives, bags/backpacks and camo patterns (especially PenCott)