PDW SHADO Backpack Review
The SHADO by PDW was one of the most anticipated pack launches of 2016, We got our hands on the pack and got to see if it lived up to the hype.
Prometheus Design Werx is an outdoor gear company that specialises in producing top-tier products with top of the line materials right here in the US. If you are reading this then you have probably heard of another like company that goes by the name of Triple Aught Design. TAD was founded by Patrick Ma who split from the company and founded his new project PDW. I have had many TAD products and you can see the similarity in products with both PDW and TAD, which is a good thing. The SHADO was the first product from PDW I was able to get my hands on and probably one of my most anticipated pack orders in a long time. The pack is available in Coyote and Black and comes in at $289 for the pack alone. Many packs I review here at RMK following the same principle which is, Made in the US - Made with the best materials possible. These kinds of packs don't come cheap but in my eyes are normally worth the cost.
The 28L SHADO Materials:
- Invista Cordura® 500D
- 330D 90/10 nylon/PU elastane
- 70D oxford
- Nylon mesh
- Multiple density closed cell foam
- YKK #8 reverse coil zippers
- ITW and Duraflex® buckles and hardware
- 550 cord
- Shock cord
- Nylon Hook & Loop
From the materials listed above, one can tell the SHADO is not your average tactical pack. The 500D Invista Cordura is, believe it or not, a more badass version of my favorite Cordura nylon. By making the SHADO out of 500D instead of the typical 1000D Cordura PDW shaved off a couple ounces while keeping that tear and abrasion resistance 1000D Cordura is known for. The SHADO is also brought together by all #8 YKK zips which make opening and closing the bag exceptionally smooth. The combo of Cordura and YKK is a must have on any bag worth buying.
Something I like to throw on all my packs if they don't already have it, is the paracord/heat shrink zipper pulls. I originally got this idea from Goruck.
Starting on the front of the pack we have a velcro patch with extra room for all of your morale patches. Underneath the velcro you have a small daisy chain like attachment line running vertically. Over the chain there is a shock cord hooked up the the sides of the pack to allow for some quick external storage for things like an overlayer.
Directly above the velcro section of the pack you have your front grab n go pocket as I like to call it. This is where I typically store my wallet, keys, phone, and any other smaller items like chapstick or gum. On the inside of the pocket, there is a handy key strap. For how large this pocket is and it being the only one outside of the main compartments I would like to see some internal organisation for things like pens, and business cards.
On either side of the SHADO sits a drink a Nylon mesh drink bottle pocket. This is one of my key factors when reviewing or using an EDC style pack. On any given day I will be carrying a 40oz Hydroflask for my water and one of my many coffee mugs along with me. I loved seeing the SHADO have these pockets however they fell short when I actually used them. The material used for the pockets is great and does a good job at slimming down when not in use. The problem comes from the top of the pockets where for some reason there is stitching that cuts into the space of the opening. I did manage to get my large Hydroflask in this pocket one time after fighting the pocket and using both hands for a couple minutes. I thought these pockets would stretch out and make it easier to access as time went on but I was wrong. In the picture below is my Stanley master series mug that is only 16oz and is still squeezed by the pocket.
I am unsure why PDW decided to add this top section of the drink bottle pocket, because if it was not there I could maybe get the bottles in within under a minute.
Moving to the inside of the pack we have a full claim-shell opening. This style of opening is great in a pack like this and allows for serious organization while loading out the main compartment of the pack. This is also not commonly found in a pack that does have bottle pockets so props there for PDW.
The inside of the main compartment is where the padded and suspended laptop sleeve hides. The sleeve is padded enough that I felt comfortable leaving my Macbook in there and is suspended from the bottom of the pack so I didn't have to worry about it hitting when I lay the pack down. While on the topic I will say, I wish the bottom of the SHADO was more padded or even just made with 1000D Ballistic nylon to give some peace of mind when setting it down. I usually carry my DSLR and other expensive/fragile in my EDC packs and not having any type of padding was hard to get used to. Especially since the pack is made with 500D Cordura instead of the 1000D Cordura I am used to. The main compartment was plenty large enough to hold my BOgear EDC pouch along with my GR2 Field pocket with room to spare. I would have also like to see the laptop sleeve in the other compartment but we will go over that next.
The front flap which you unzip acts as the internal organization of the main compartment. On the inside of the flap, there is a large mesh pocket that runs the entire length of the pack. You see this pocket a lot on similar packs however they are normally split up into two separate pockets. The SHADO has only one pocket and comes with both positive and negatives. The positive is that you can keep larger items in this pocket that you don't want in the main compartment. The negative is you will most likely be using this pocket for the smaller items you don't want in the main compartment and they will all just fall down the bottom of the pack. This inside flap is normally where I keep my laptop charger, external charger, and hard drive, and other electronics I don't want in the front grab pocket. While using this pack every item I put in would slide all the way down to the bottom and was a hassle when trying to grab it. This could be fixed fairly easily by just adding a zipper in the middle to seperate the one pocket into two.
Behind the main compartment, you have the second large pocket of the SHADO. As I mentioned before this is where I would like to see the laptop sleeve placed so I can keep all of my bulky and non-forgiving items in the front compartment. I struggled to find a use for this second compartment as it felt weird having books in it, then my laptop and DSLR/kits in the front pocket. This compartment would be great however if you wanted to hook up a hydration bladder as there is nothing else in the pocket. There is a flap on the back side you could slide the bladder into however there is no hose outlet so you would need to bring both of the zippers up together and run it through that way.
The back of the SHADO features a lightly padded back panel with two raised sections to help with air flow. At the bottom of the back panel, there is a slot with velcro to allow for the optional hip belt. The back panel was comfortable while carrying the pack all day, but don't expect any super ventilation while hitting the trails.
The shoulder straps on the SHADO are lined with mollee to give plenty of attachment points and the pack does come with an included sternum strap +. While using this pack I couldn't help but notice the length of the straps.. one issue I have never had before. I am in no way a small guy especially when it comes to the chest and back. I have never had a backpack with straps that I had to cinch all the way up to come close to fitting me. I know this was a much talked about aspect of the pack on many of the closed Facebook groups I am in and I wanted to see it for myself. The strap also keeps the pad all the way down instead of stopping and just using a 2" nylon strap. I feel this was the reason I was not able to continue cinching the straps up to give me a tighter fit. On the bottom of the straps, there are buckles which allow you to unclip the straps. The straps are lightly padded but feel flimsy. I was able to get the straps to form against my chest pretty well though. Once fully adjusted the SHADO did carry well even with substanial weight.
Along with the super long shoulder straps, the pure overall length of the SHADO just felt too big. I come in right at 5'10 so the pack could fit taller people better however for me it felt way too long. As you can see from the picture below, even with the pack fully cinched up the bottom was still hitting my backside.
Overall, the SHADO was one of the weirdest pack reviews I have had in awhile. I was originally so excited about the SHADO and could not wait to get my hands on one primarily due to the awesome list of materials and pictures I had seen. After testing it out with my EDC and taking it on some hikes, however, I was disappointed. The pack to me felt like it was trying too hard to be different while staying the same as other packs. If you are a taller individual I could see the SHADO fitting extremely well, but for us under 6ft guys not so much. The SHADO is built with Grade A materials and built in the US by a great company, it is just not the pack for me.
- 500D Invista Cordura
- Suspended Laptop Sleeve
- Full Clamshell Opening
- Velcro Panel
- Made in the US
- Bottle pockets are much too small
- Laptop Sleeve in front compartment
- Shoulder straps way too long
- Bottom is unpadded
- Front inside mesh pocket should be two sections
- No Admin style pocket for pens/business cards
- Top grab handle is only 2" webbing