I have used Alien Gear inside-the-waistband holsters now for the past couple of years. First I utilized the Cloak Tuk 3.0, and then I switched to the ShapeShift version of the inside-the-waistband hybrid holster which remains my primary carry holster until now. I have recently had the opportunity to test a newer product Alien Gear has released: the ShapeShift Backpack holster.
The Backpack holster uses the same module concept as the rest of the ShapeShift line. I have been very pleased with the versatility of the ShapeShift system since I have been using it, and I genuinely favor the retention system in place on the holster shells. The Backpack holster ups the retention; rather than just adjustable retention as is found on the standard holster shell in the ShapeShift line, the backpack holster offers active retention, a mechanism that relies on a thumb release to un-holster the gun. This retention system makes perfect sense as the intention of this particular holster is to accommodate outdoor activity in which the user may strap the firearm to a backpack or a variety of other options.
The holster itself is designed with versatility in mind. The holster shell attaches to the backpack strap mechanism via the same system as used by one of the ShapeShift OWB holsters, a round slot that provides a great deal of versatility and customization for positioning the exact angle of the gun. This flexibility proves valuable for this particular setup because when attaching a holstered gun to the strap of a backpack customization of the angle may be different for everyone based on the pack and individual preference.
The apparatus that attaches to the backpack strap, or any other myriad of items honestly, is very well designed. Although I have not been using this backpack holster for very long, it seems robust and well made, like the rest of Alien Gear products, which have not failed me in two years of daily use. This mechanism can be tightly wrapped around a backpack shoulder strap, thus providing the means of affixing the actual holster to it. This piece of gear proves versatile in accommodating different sizes of straps and with some imagination would probably work well for strapping the holster to a variety of things. It works well, however, for backpack straps in particular, which is obviously the primary intention.
In testing the holster on several different backpack straps, I found that the retention is very solid on just about anything. As long as you have a decent backpack that will not fall apart on you, the gun is not going to move. I find that a cross-draw probably facilitates the best access when carrying a gun in this manner, but the holster can be affixed to either strap, of course. When actually drawing the gun from this holster the retention mechanism works great. Just depress the retention release with your thumb, and the gun comes right out. While locked in with the retention the gun does not budge. This setup is a very secure and you can use it with confidence that the gun will be retained even under vigorous activity.
If you do choose to carry a gun affixed to a backpack strap, then you will find that the placement of the holster on the strap is going to call for some experimentation. This setup seems to work good on thick and thin straps alike, within reason. I find that placing the holster far down on the strap facilitates easier access than having the holster ride high on my chest, but your mileage may vary. Some experimentation is in order.
So, bottom line, do I recommend the Alien Gear Backpack Holster? Absolutely, as long as it is practical for you. Each individual needs to fully consider this mode of carrying. I have always preferred to carry a concealed gun on my belt even if I am hiking. However, many serious hikers use heavy-duty backpacks with waist straps, as these are the best for carrying heavy loads. In this case, a gun on the belt does not work very well and if concealment is not an issue and you wish to carry a full-size handgun while hiking then carrying the gun on the backpack may be a good option for you. If backpack strap carry works for you, then I absolutely and highly recommend the Alien Gear backpack holster. It is robust, versatile, and has excellent retention so that your gun will stay secured during vigorous activity.
For more information and to purchase visit Alien Gear Holsters.