Rating: 3 / 5
I bought this pack (along with the optional Hoop Stay and Wing Belt) intending to use it for trips that required a bear canister. The light weight, capacity to fit a bear canister and option to add the hoop stay was what attracted me to this pack. My initial impressions were very favorable and I found the pick quite comfortable after loading it up (with about 20-25 lbs.) and walking around the house. The bear canister fit in the pack vertically and I did not feel the bulge against my back as I did with my other, smaller pack (GG Gorilla). I was a little bit concerned that the plastic connectors used to attached the hip belt to the pack would rub against my sides, but this turned out to not be an issue for me.
I ended up using this pack for my JMT thru hike this summer and I had about 32 lbs. in it after resupply at Muir Trail Ranch. With this load in it, I found that it was still fairly comfortable (that is, not uncomfortable), but it was pushing the limits and I wouldn't want to carry that much weight in the pack for too many days.
Some other features I really like are:
- The Wing Belt pockets have a lot of capacity. I like to keep a bunch of items handy in the hip belt pockets and these pockets had more than enough room for my purposes.
- The interior pad pocket fit 6 panels of my Z-Lite perfectly.
- The interior stash pocket was a nice touch and convenient for ID, Credit Card, Money or any other miscellaneous items like that.
- The bigger side mesh pocket was a nice place to put my tarp tent.
- I was able to easily reach my water bottle from the smaller side mesh pocket without having to take my pack off.
One problem was that some of the stitching that connects the main pack to the extension color came undone and there is a small hole in the extension collar where it was pressed against the corner of my bear canister. I do have a tendency to really crank down on the straps when closing the pack, but I was still surprised by this. If not for this, I probably would have given the pack 5 stars.
The other problem with this pack for me is that I think it's a little bit too big. When loaded up near capacity with a bear canister, it gets a little bit too heavy and does not carry as comfortably as some other, heavier packs. But when I don't have a bear canister, then there is too much empty space in the pack and I'd prefer a smaller pack.
All in all, a solid pack with some nice features, but in the future I will likely use something that carries 30+ lbs. better when I need a fully loaded bear canister or other heavy items and I'll use a pack that is a little smaller when I carry lighter loads. But if you're looking for only one pack that can handle a variety of situations, then this just might be it.