It’s always exciting to check out new items from lesser-known makers from different backgrounds. Lii Gear is a Chinese manufacturer that has grown over the past few years. Their designs focus on urban users, drawing inspiration from the tactical and techwear world. They produce bags and accessories in a variety of fabrics and use some exotic hardware. Lii Gear have picked up a steady following, being more easily available in Asia than other parts of the world. Notably, their collaboration with Strato Gears was covered on this site last year.
Lii’s own line was not well distributed to North America or Europe until being picked up by Suburban, a specialist carry retailer in Hong Kong, who have forged a strong connection with the pack enthusiast community and helped link the Western and Eastern halves of the industry with fans on both sides. Today we will take a look at their Mr. Octopus pack and see what they have to offer.
|Capacity||18l||1098 Cubic Inches|
Quality and Comfort
Build quality on Mr. Octopus is good-to-excellent. There are no stray stitches or crooked pieces. The bag is made from a a fabric they call “Black Fog.” It’s softer and lighter than 500d Cordura, with a slight sheen to it that I believe is meant to be similar to Dyneema. Lii did not use binding tape on the bag. Zippers are water repellent and No. 8 in size.
Comfort on the bag is good. The bag is smaller and likes to ride higher on the back. The straps are wide and heavily padded. Straps can be adjusted for height and completely removed if the user wanted to convert the bag to a sling. Carbon fibre pieces sit mid-way up the straps, presumably to add stability and prevent rolling, though this isn’t really clear. Lii uses tube style attachment points for an optional waist belt. Note also the zippered hydration or cord port over the pack’s left shoulder.
Organization and Access
The face of Mr. Octopus offers 4 columns and 5 rows of PALS webbing for accessories, two vertical zippers to access the main compartment and a small accessory pocket at the top. There is also a loop field for patches that sits atop a velcro flap that allows the front panel to completely open up.
Each side of the pack features another PALS field, a loop field for more patches and a water bottle pocket. The bottle pocket are elasticized and will accept 1 liter bottles, though they will eat into internal volume. The top access zipper runs partly down the side and leaves room for upper attachment points for beavertail type accessories.
The bottom on the pack is mostly slick, save four lower attachment tabs and the grab handle. There are paracord counter zipper pulls that can be seen from this angle as well.
Looking into the top of the pack there are three attachment tabs atop the back panel and a hydration sleeve. There is a plastic frame sheet with an aluminum stay behind this.
Each side of Mr. Octopus can be accessed independently through one of the vertical zippers.
Lifting the hook and loop flap and unzipping each side of the the bag allows the front panel to be completely opened up. There are a series of rec rings around the perimeter to accept accessories and two vertical dump pockets on each wall that are best accessed from the top opening. The inside of the flap is fleece lined and will accept hook backed accessories.
- Pricing comes in around $200. Given the features, I think this is about right.
- Access to the main compartment is both somewhat unique and actually useful. I like the option to access the pack from the top, either side or via the full panel.
- Useable, low profile bottle pockets are always appreciated.
- Carry comfort is good enough for a pack this size. Really. It’s a little bag.
- The plastic frame sheet and aluminium stay are rigid and really keep the pack upright. Well done here.
- Number 1 gripe – the vertical zippers are No. 8 instead of No. 10. They are plenty stout, but not smooth enough to allow the user to rip open the panel. Instead the user must use the individual zipper pulls on each side. Perhaps one could add their own cord that spans the two?
- I think the feature set is about right on this bag, but I did find myself looking for some admin type, quick access organization. A pouch could be added, but often these work better if they are deliberately built into the bag.
- I wish Lii had used binding tape on the bag. It’s not a huge issue, but it make the pack feel unfinished and lower quality.
- The material covering the inside of the shoulder straps is soft and may present durability issues over time, although none presented in testing.
- Speaking of the shoulder straps, comfort is good, but I couldn’t help but think the shoulder straps are more heavily padded than they need to be. I think the width is good, but they could be a little sleeker and lighter weight if the padding were reengineered some.
I’ve long been on the hunt for a panel loading pack that comes in under 20 litres. This little bag has some quirks, but I think it’s one of the better options if you are looking for something in that category. It’s sleek, has just enough features to be useful and carries well enough. Give Mr. Octopus a look.
The Lii Gear Mr. Octopus is available from Suburban starting at $213.
Disclaimer: the Mr Octopus was supplied by Suburban for use in this review. The content of this review was not shared with Suburban or Lii Gear prior to publishing. Our reviews are unbiased and never modified to keep a brand happy