review: rothco map case as day bag

My buddy John, from Ft. Smith, sent me a new bag for day hikes. He’d seen the Timbuk2 small that I usually carry and thought I could use something that would hold all my gear and look a little more “bushcrafty.” Here’s the bag. I added the patches to it as soon as it arrived.

This is a Rothco map case. It’s a copy of the GI map case in use for many years. If my memory serves, this one may be a little deeper than the original, but I don’t have access to one to do a comparison.

It’s made of a soft olive canvas with a center divider in the main compartment. There is a small pocket under the flap that is ideal for my pocket journal and a number of elastic pen loops. The back panel has some type of hardboard insert to give the bag some shape and “body” when you set it down. This could be easily removed, but I’ve left it because it makes a good writing and sketching surface when I’m out bushwhacking.

The shoulder strap is sewn directly to the back, which I like. I’m not a huge fan of detachable straps on this type of bag. The stitching is sturdy and the taped seams should make for a very durable bag. Another thing that I love about these old style canvas bags is that they can be stuffed to the gills. Some of the newer Cordura fabrics just don’t seem to have the give that you get with canvas.

This is a typical load out for a day’s ramble in the woods. On top of the bag is my headlight, just in case I drag my feet getting back to the truck. On the upper left in the orange waterproof case is my fire kit that contains matches, fire steel and several types of dry tinder. Below that in the red waterproof container is my First Aid Kit which is basically a high speed owie and blister module. It also includes some allergy tabs and some OTC pain killers.

Next is my Spiffy Kit that includes a pack of wet wipes, folding toothbrush, dental pics/flossers, a small flat container of toothpaste and a small bottle of hand sanitizer. There’s nothing worse than feeling like the entire Somali Camel Corps has camped out in your mouth after a good meal and a mouthful of Copenhagen. Below that is my pocket journal and Fisher Space Pen.

On the far right is my Grab and Go pouch that acts as a mini survival kit. I’ll do a quick review of that in another post. Below the pouch is my Mora Companion knife in carbon steel. To the right of that I my GI canteen with cup. This handles all my¬† cooking needs. Next is my glucose meter with lancets and test strip. Finally is my high speed, low drag do-rag for when I don’t want sweat dripping on my tinder while fire making.

Below the bag is a sample of the snacks that I take. During the summer I seldom do any cooking on day trips unless it’s just to brew some coffee or tea. In the cooler months I’ll stop long enough to actually cook something. The best times are when I’m in an area where I can cook on a wood fire, although I usually have a small alcohol or solid fuel stove with me.

Here is the bag fully loaded for a day’s trek. There is actually enough room left in the bag that I could have included the canteen, but I prefer to have it on my belt. If it is easy to reach I pay more attention to hydration. If I have to dig through the bag I’ll often ignore the need to drink. Not a good thing to do in hot weather.

When fully loaded, the bag is still lightweight and comfortable to carry. If the brush is thick, it can be swung to my back out of the way. Hanging at my side, it is quite comfortable. I prefer a haversack over a day pack because of the convenient access. It’s easy to reach down to access my camera or journal without having to stop and take the pack off. I wouldn’t recommend a rig like this for a load much over ten pounds, but this tips the scale at three pounds without the canteen. That’s light enough that you hardly notice it’s there.

As far as the Rothco map case is concerned, I can highly recommended it. It’s light, tough and capable of being overstuffed. The build quality is good for the intended usage and, at less than $10, it is a good value.

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