Gear Review: Datsusara Battlepack Core

Gear Review: Datsusara Battlepack Core

The Battlepack Core is a 32L 100% hemp canvas backpack loaded with practical features and backed by Datsusara’s famous customer service. A spacious main compartment with full-length zipper, large variety of external/internal pockets, front and side PALS webbing, and comfortable straps means that Datsusara’s middle-size backpack satisfies the needs of Brazilian jiu-jitsu / MMA / judo / muay Thai types, as well as hikers, cyclists, and world travelers.

There are many reasons to like Datsusara—clean designs, practical features, environmentally friendly materials, stellar customer service—but their most unique characteristic is in the name, which is derived from the Japanese phrase “to leave the corporate worker’s life.” Owner Christopher Odell’s distaste for frivolous consumerism is clear. Datsusara doesn’t advertise. Their products have a minimum of logos. While our senses are under constant siege by deceitful and obnoxious advertising by companies whose sole aim is to sell future landfill, Datsusara’s only marketing strategy relies on product quality, customer service, and word of mouth. They even shut down online retail sales during the Black Friday consumer orgy.

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Evangelizing aside, the Battlepack Core is an exceptional backpack. It looks awesome, appears tough with double stitching and reinforcements throughout, carries loads comfortably thanks to its nicely padded straps and back panel, and has more than enough pockets to keep your gear organized. It will also fit, fully loaded, into an airplane’s overhead luggage bin. A few more details:

  • Laptop compartment
  • Two large zippered side pockets
  • Two small Velcro pockets
  • Front zippered pocket
  • Interior pocket for hydration bag
  • Small microfiber-lined pocket
  • Internal media player compartment with headphone port
  • Nasty Bag Core (included) quarantines your sweat-saturated gear until it can be safely dumped into the wash
  • Three-year warranty against manufacturer defects

For an in-depth view check out Christopher Odell’s video tour of the Battlepack backpacks.

battlepack-interior      battlepack-back


How do those details translate into the life of a gym rat? Here’s what’s currently wedged into my Battlepack Core:

  • Gi and belt
  • Datsusara fight shorts
  • Fuji Sakana rashguard
  • Manto vale tudo shorts
  • 16 oz. boxing gloves
  • Top King shin guards
  • 1L water bottle
  • Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone: The Essential Writing of Hunter S. Thompson
  • The New Quarterly issue 128
  • Brazilian jiu-jitsu notebook and pen
  • Canon PowerShot ELPH 100HS
  • Mouthguard
  • Cup
  • Tape, band-aids, replacement contact lenses, deodorant
  • Lacrosse ball
  • Ziploc bag of raisins, almonds, chocolate chips


The bag is stuffed like a sausage, but the multitude of pockets makes everything easy to locate and keeps blind rummaging to a minimum.

My only concern with the Battlepack Core is water resistancy. Vancouver, Canada is a wet, mossy, moldy, rainy place. Polyurethane-coated nylon deals well, but hemp will need help, especially when laptops are involved. To accommodate wet climates, Datsusara makes Battlepack rain covers (sold separately).

Aside from weatherproofing, the appeal of hemp is huge. It’s naturally anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and breathable—no small deal when toting sweat-soaked gear. Hemp fiber is recyclable (unlike synthetics) and not only more durable than cotton, but produces higher yields with less water and fewer pesticides. It’s also expensive in the US, thanks to some historical nonsense.

My intro to the benefits of industrial hemp came courtesy of Jello Biafra’s “Grow More Pot” spoken word bit at Centennial Hall in London, Canada in 1991. That gave my straightedge teenager worldview a spin. But don’t take Jello’s word for it, there’s enough information on the United States Department of Agriculture, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, or Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Food websites to keep any researcher busy for hours. So support Datsusara, they’re a good company doing good things and making excellent gear.

The Battlepack Core sells for $109.95 USD on the Datsusara website. Keep Datsusara on your radar by following them on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus.

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