ANGUS Canyon (BBP) BLS Backpack
Manufactured by: Sands Canada, Ltd.
Independent product review by: Wade MacPherson, A-EMCA, ACP, TECC(P)
The ANGUS Canyon backpack is made and assembled by Sands Canada, Inc. in Brockville, Ontario, Canada. This Paramedic-designed response solution is acclaimed to be a rugged, sturdy pack designed with organization in mind. I was privileged to receive this pack many months ago to trial and evaluate. This was an exciting opportunity for me knowing that the bag was designed by an Ontario Paramedic. It’s refreshing to look at something designed by somebody I’ve never met, and see exactly what nuances of the job they were hoping to overcome with their design. Over the last few months, I have tested this bag in various loadouts, brought it through extreme weather, packed and re-packed it in just about every configuration I saw possible. Below are my thoughts…
For sake of familiarity, I’ll introduce myself as an Advanced Care Paramedic working in one of Canada's busiest city centers. I have worked for three different Paramedic Services, and have toured/rode-along in both rural and major urban Paramedic services across Canada and internationally. In my experience, Paramedic Services vary widely in how they deliver service, deploy their resources, and equip their Paramedics. One of the most obvious variations between neighboring services (even in the same province) is their bag loadout, their vehicle layout, and their choice of equipment. As a health care professional who spends much of his day lifting heavy patients and equipment, weight distribution, smart-loading, easy access, and organization are always on the top of my mind. For your ease of reading, I will divide this independent product review into five categories. I want to review this product from the perspectives of design, construction, accessories/compatibility, ergonomics, and overall satisfaction. Please take a read below…
A Paramedic’s Design:
The ANGUS Canyon brings a familiar response-bag look that is easy to organize regardless of your local equipment loadout or gear requirements. Its sections, pockets, and windows are intuitively laid out, and easy to access. This bag is designed like a good corporate logo – it draws your eye in and allows you to view and access it in a systematic way. Whether that was intended or not is beyond me, but Sands seemed to have the right idea with this one. While other manufacturers on the market produce packs similar to this in look, size, and layout, few can match the price point. This bag was designed to be familiar, attractive, visible, and economical. I’m impressed by the thought put into keeping this bag simple. We like simple. The bag comes in at 24” long x 19” wide x 9” in height. Expansive exterior pockets leave plenty of room for assessment tools, throw-modules, trauma gear, or other easy-grab equipment.
The CANYON is offered in a more traditional 1000 denier nylon construction, and was recently redesigned by Sands Canada, Inc. to incorporate a blood-borne pathogen barrier material that looks awesome, stands up to wear and tear, and is easy to decontaminate. This blood-borne pathogen version of the bag is what I was sent, and I'm very satisfied with the new material. The seams are well stitched, almost stiff at first, and feature YKK zippers that are smooth and easy to use - even with winter gloves on. I will say that the zippers can be quite stiff around the corners, but I feel that is largely due to how tough the Blood Borne Pathogen material is. The backpack is well mounted on a shoulder harness/yolk, and comes with extra protection on the under side... you know, that side that seems to somehow always end up sitting in somebody's fluids or mess no matter how careful you are? While I can’t possibly abuse the bag as harshly as non-stop 9-1-1 calls could, I can say with good confidence that the economical price point of the Canyon has very little reflection on its stellar build quality. It’s not a Bugatti suitcase, but it’s got the necessities down, and is rugged enough for the abuse your crews will throw at it.
Accessories & Compatibility:
The Canyon’s design gives the user 4 exterior pockets for easy-access equipment, while further organizing the interior with two cover-mounted window pockets for common use items. Sands went a step further and includes a set of 4 modular zipper pouches which are secured inside the back with hook & loop fasteners. While I'm not a fan of the cheap-feeling modular window pouches that the CANYON comes with, my understanding is that medics everywhere tend to like organization, and EMS services everywhere like inexpensive equipment. Whether you choose to use the included modular pouches or not, the backpack has endless organizational possibilities and can be easily organized to fit your specific needs as a first-responder. I asked Sands to send me a few of their most popular modules so that I could put this bag to the test with various different load-outs and configurations. I am impressed with the quality sands is able to produce in their modules, and it became very apparent that Sands is willing to work with their clients to develop products tailored to their needs. I contacted Sands a few months into my trial and asked about build quality of their modules. Much to my surprise, Sands has produced the same modules in higher and lower quality models to fit the requests of their customers. Not so much to my surprise, a fair number of their corporate clients have requested that modules be manufactured to be as inexpensive as possible to ensure they are easily replaceable at minimal cost.
The ANGUS Canyon backpack can be easily organized for different purposes...but I was curious how easily it could be configured for different sizes of users/responders. I have to say… I was surprised with the user friendly straps/yolk configuration that comes on the Canyon. The yolk configuration attached to my Canyon was very different than the straps pictured on the Sands website… and it was a significant upgrade. Any backpack of this size has the potential to be very heavy. My experience with many emergency response bags leads me to believe that it is not simply the amount of weight that causes long term injuries, it is how the weight is carried. The wide ruck-sack style shoulder strapping on the Canyon backpack allows the load to be properly distributed across the shoulders. The position of the shoulder harness mounted on the bag ensures that (if your heavy items are packed "mid-line & low") the weight rides closer to the body allowing for adequate movement and flexibility while wearing the backpack. If there is one improvement I could recommend, it would be to tailor the yolk to be slightly closer to the pack, as under heavier weights, it feels as though the border of the straps cuts into your lower neck. This isn’t exactly a deal breaker for me - I only noticed this while testing the pack with heavy loadouts – more so relevant for people using this pack in environments which require it to be worn for extended lengths of time. A non-issue for most urban/rural Paramedics / EMTs.
From first glance to 6+ months of occasional use I am pleased to say I have been nothing but satisfied with the looks, performance, and quality of the ANGUS Canyon backpack. I have loaded this pack with a wide variety of medical and first-response supplies for various patient types. During those often tedious processes, I have never failed to find an intuitive and simple way to organize this response backpack. The ANGUS Canyon backpack is a new twist on an old style of Paramedic response kit, and I’m satisfied that Sands Canada, Inc. will leave any user of the ANGUS Canyon impressed and satisfied with their new gear-hauler. From the vehicle to the patient, this is an effective way to get your life-saving equipment deployed in a hurry, and it comes in at around $200.00 CAD. Medical response gear is improving every year, but at present, the ANGUS Canyon is the pack of my choice at its unbeatable price. Head on over to www.Sands.ca to check out their line of Angus Bags. After my time spent putting the Canyon BBP backpack to the test, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.