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Fanatic Fringe Thompson Peak Backpack REVIEW

Improves on the classic (now discontinued) GoLite Breeze, and cuts the weight by a third.

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by Will Rietveld | 2005-12-27 03:00:00-07

Fanatic Fringe Thompson Peak Backpack REVIEW

Introduction

At first glance the Thompson Peak Pack appears to be a clone of the (now discontinued) GoLite Breeze, but when you look more closely, there are some significant improvements. In several ways it’s a “better Breeze.” but there are a few refinements we would like to see.

What’s Good

  • Balance of light weight and durability
  • Side compression straps
  • Dual drawcord closure
  • Optional hipbelt

What’s Not So Good

  • Narrow shoulder straps
  • Too much extension collar
  • No top compression strap
  • Needs two more side compression straps
  • May not be suitable for abusive bushwhacking, off trail scrambling, canyoneering, etc.

Specifications

  Manufacturer

Fanatic Fringe

  Year/Model

2005 Thompson Peak Pack (without hipbelt)

  Style

Frameless, top loading, roll top with drawcord closure

  Sizes Available

S (13-15 in/33-38 cm torso), M (15-18 in/38-46 cm torso), L (18-21 in/46-53 cm torso)

  Volume

3600 ci (59 L) all sizes; 2400 ci main body + 800 ci extension collar + 400 ci pockets (39 L + 13 L + 6.6 L)

  Weight

Size L tested. 9.4 oz (266 g) measured weight; manufacturer’s specification 10 oz (283 g)

  Fabrics

Pack body is 1.9 oz/yd2 (64 g/m2) PU-coated nylon ripstop; backpanel and bottom are 200d nylon Oxford, pockets are nylon mesh

  Features

Three outside mesh pockets, extension collar with two drawcords, padded shoulder straps, two side compression straps, haul loop, optional hipbelt

  Volume To Weight Ratio

383 ci/oz (based on 3600 ci and measured weight of 9.4 oz)

  Comfortable Load Carrying Capacity

15 lb (6.8 kg) estimated maximum comfortable load an average person can carry all day in this pack

  Carry Load to Pack Weight Ratio

25.5 (based on 15 lb carry load and 0.59 lb pack weight)

  MSRP

$69, $79 with hipbelt

Performance

The resemblance of the Thompson Peak pack to the GoLite Breeze pack is probably not coincidental. The two packs are very similar, as shown by comparing manufacturer’s specifications in the following table (both packs in size large and without a hipbelt) and the photos below.

PackMSRPTorso fit range (inches)Weight (ounces)Body Volume (cubic inches)Extension Collar Volume (cubic inches)Pocket Volume (cubic inches) Total Volume (cubic inches)Load Capacity (pounds)
Thompson Peak$6918-21102400800400360020
Breeze$7018-24152650850450395020

Fanatic Fringe Thompson Peak Backpack REVIEW - 1
The GoLite Breeze Pack (left) and Fanatic Fringe Thompson Peak Pack (right).

Basically, Fanatic Fringe has tried to improve on the classic GoLite Breeze. Is the Thompson Peak a “better Breeze”? Well, yes and no. There are pros and cons to both packs, so read on.

Here are the main differences: the Thompson Peak is made of lighter fabrics and weighs 5 ounces less, it has a second drawcord on the extension collar, it has two side compression straps, the shoulder straps are narrower and less padded, and the pack body and outside pockets are smaller.

I definitely like the lighter weight of the Thompson Peak Pack. In my opinion, 1.9 oz/yd2 nylon ripstop and 200 denier Oxford are adequately strong for a pack designed to carry less than 20 pounds. Sure, it is less durable than the Breeze, but does an ultralight pack need to be made of bombproof fabric like Spectra Gridstop? (The answer is yes if you’re into serious bushwhacking or canyoneering. Durability was one of the great strengths of the Breeze.)

The body of the Thompson Peak has a little less volume than the Breeze (3600 versus 3950 cubic inches). Frankly, I don’t like the volume proportions of either pack. Both packs have way too much volume in the extension collar. The purpose of the large extension collar is to provide extra room for food after a re-supply. With the extension collar loaded up, both packs are very top-heavy and a burden to carry. The extension collar could be reduced by a third (or more) to put it into better proportion with the rest of the pack.

The Thompson Peak has two drawcords on the extension collar. The lower one is the main drawcord for normal loads, and has a metal grommet that allows it to be tightly closed. The upper drawcord is used when the extension collar is needed. With normal loads, it works well to fold the extension collar inside the pack and only use the lower drawcord. I sometimes found it convenient to put gear (like a jacket or rainwear) in-between the two drawcords so it was handy when I needed it.

Fanatic Fringe Thompson Peak Backpack REVIEW - 2
The Thompson Peak Pack has roomy outside mesh pockets (top left) that will hold a lot of gear and keep it handy. A pair of side compression straps (top right) allow some pack volume adjustment for smaller loads. The drawcord closure (bottom left) does not have a top compression strap, so the top cannot be rolled down and secured. There are two drawcords on the extension collar (bottom right). The lower one is used for normal loads (as shown in bottom left photo), and the top one is used for larger loads.

On the exterior, the Thompson Peak has less pocket space than the Breeze. I’m disappointed with that change, and would instead prefer to see larger outside mesh pockets to provide lots of convenient storage even though that would add to the pack’s weight, since mesh is relatively heavy.

A really nice feature of the Thompson Peak is the addition of side compression straps. They help a lot to reduce pack volume as load volume diminishes on a multi-day trip. They also make the pack more usable as a daypack on a trek from camp. While two side compression straps are good, four are better. I suggest adding a second pair of compression straps below the side pockets.

One feature I would like to see on the Thompson Peak (and the Breeze) is a top compression strap, so I can roll down the top and secure it. My wife added one to my Breeze and I love it. The present Thompson Peak design allows the top of the pack to expand without constraint. I would readily trade the two drawcords for one drawcord and a top compression strap.

I carried the Thompson Peak on several trips, with loads ranging from 12 to 18 pounds. With lighter loads it rides high on the shoulders and is comfortable to carry. It becomes less comfortable at about 15 pounds because of its narrow (2 inches wide) shoulder straps with thin (3/8-inch) padding. At that weight I found it more comfortable to let it ride a little lower on my shoulders, rather than tighten the shoulder straps and put more pressure on my shoulders. Wider shoulder straps are definitely desirable on a pack without a hipbelt as they increase the comfortable load carrying capacity.

Fanatic Fringe Thompson Peak Backpack REVIEW - 3
Two-inch wide shoulder straps are thinly padded and have a slide-resistant wicking polyester fabric on the inside (top). The backpanel (bottom) is 200 denier nylon Oxford fabric.

My assessment of the comfortable load carrying capacity of the Thompson Peak Pack without hipbelt is 15 pounds. Carrying loads greater than 15 pounds with this pack depends on the strength of your shoulders and ego. I recommend getting this pack with a hipbelt if you intend to carry loads heavier than 15 pounds.

What’s Unique

The Thompson Peak Pack hits a sweet spot between light weight and durability. It is a third lighter than a more durable pack like the Breeze but it is considerably more durable than spinnaker fabric packs.

Recommendations for Improvement

Overall, Fanatic Fringe designed some significant improvements into the Thompson Peak Pack over the GoLite Breeze Pack. However there are a few places where some further improvements would help its utility:

  • The shoulder straps need to be wider to better distribute weight
  • A top compression strap should be added to allow the top to be rolled down and secured
  • Two more side compression straps should be added just below the pockets

Citation

"Fanatic Fringe Thompson Peak Backpack REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/fanatic_fringe_thompson_peak_backpack_review.html, 2005-12-27 03:00:00-07.

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