Wednesday, 10 August 2016

SF Xelium Archery Backpack

Archery backpacks are the best thing since sliced bread. Though you will inevitably lose some of the protection of a hard case, the functionality and ease of carrying makes it perfect for anyone wanting to carry their kit anywhere.

If you are looking for other bag types, then there's a good starting guide here: Jordan Sequillion

The SF Xelium is about as cheap an archery backpack you are going to get from one of the big brands. It comes with an extendible arrow tube, which is a must, and some internal covers and bags which are unfortunately just material and not protective.
SF Xelium Archery Backpack
SF Xelium Archery Backpack

Competition

For this I have only looked at the cheaper end of the market. The high end bags have the same zips on, same space, and though do feel stitched better, you are going to be paying a lot of money much better spend on the rest of your equipment.
In the end, you could always just use any old large backpack for £15 with a cardboard tube for £1 for you arrows and you'd be fine!

Legend Streamline Backpack £34.99 available HERE. The cheapest one here, but not from a well known archery brand, it's light and the materials don't feel the best.
SF Xelium Backpack £47.90. Cheapest of the big makes, lacking padded interior bags and a raincover.
SF Premium Backpack £74.03. I couldn't see the advantage of this over the Xelium in the shop other than a rain cover thrown in and better internal bags. The quality feels the same maybe the bag is slightly bigger; but I haven't struggled fitting all my stuff into the Xelium yet.
Soma Tentron Backpack £74.03. Same price as the SF Premium, the Zips didn't feel quite as sturdy, however it does have loads of pockets and storage. I would pick the Premium over this.
Hoyt Recurve Backpack £86.90. It's the best known brand here, which is great if you want to impress your archery friends. But it is also the most expensive over double the Legend bag, so you've got to really want that Hoyt branding on your back!

Space

For an archery backpack, The SF Xelium is average to small. There is enough space in there for two sets of limbs, a riser, 20/30 arrows plus longrod and all of your sights, and other bits and bobs.
There's plenty more space in the main section, but the front pocket is fairly small so you're not going to be able to get too much in there.
I've been able to put my work-laptop in the main section with everything else, shove in my lunch box and a jumper as well, so as long as you aren't wanting to put the kitchen sink in, you aren't going to struggle.

Build Quality

The part that fails most often on backpacks is the zips. On this bag, they seem well made and durable. no trouble with them so far and they look like they will hold out for quite a while.

Surprisingly the weak part seems to be the top of the straps. Obviously a full bow kit with all the paraphernalia is going to weight quite a bit, and at first look it seems to have been made well for this, however after a few weeks of using this backpack daily:
crack...
SF Xelium Archery Backpack
SF Xelium Archery Backpack
one of the shoulder straps has started to come away. It's not good news at all. I'm going to have to fix it myself, but it looks like this is a weak part of the bag, so should you buy one, do be careful when putting it on and off that you aren't putting too much strain on the strap. Since posting this review, the other one has started to do the same, and this is now with me being as gentle as possible!

The Name

What's 'Xelium' all about? You may ask. Well it's a not so good riser SF make. It's a bit up from a club bow, but not really good enough to be your first proper riser. I haven't even considered one when reviewing risers, and I'm not about to. But that doesn't mean you want own the bag!

Verdict

The SF Xelium is big enough, the zips and materials are good enough, and is one of the cheapest backpacks on the market.
I would prefer some other stuff with it. a rain cover, a bit more padding for the internals, especially for your sight and riser. Adding these in however will make the bag bigger and bulkier which would make it quite unwieldy.
If it wasn't for the slight tear in the strap then I would be recommending this; but as it is I'm going to have to say No. Plump up a bit more cash and get the SF Premium or Soma Tentron. At £25 more I think they'll be worth it.