Rating: 4 / 5
I purchased this pack a few months ago from AarnUSA. I received it quickly, well packaged. I have used it on many short (4-8 mi) dog walks with about 20 pounds in it.
After the adjustments to fit my body where made and I had a little experience with it I decided to make a few changes to save a bit of weight. I decided that the front pockets are something I will always use so I removed all the material that made them removable and had them sewn to the hip belt. I also removed the top part of the hip belt and all the compression strap pieces on the back. The weight is now 36 ounces.
The pack has a flap top cover with a small pocket inside. I put emergency stuff like my pad repair kit spare light and cord there. I can fit my 20 ounce sleeping bag, solo tent or tarp, cooking setup, short air pad, all extra cool weather clothing, 1/8 CCF, small Bare Boxer can (without the D700 a larger bear can would fit nicely), Gitzo GT921 tripod and Nikon D700 camera in the pack. There is a strech mesh pocket in the back that will hold a jacket, empty platy and a bit more.
The balance pockets weighed 5 oz each before surgery. Now 3.5 oz they have a divider down the center so a aqualina bottle fits well but not a 1L platy. With a .5L bottle there is room for smaller items and food bars. The pockets also have a mesh front that is rather large with a cord tightener.
I removed the cord and may remove the mesh pocket as I would have preferred something like a simple spandex pocket with on strings. I bent over to get water out of a stream and lost the contents of both mesh pockets to the stream.
I then decided to test the pack on 29 mi weekend hike on the AT in Shenandoah NP with about 22lb load. I carried one liter in each front pocket (4 bottles) plus some snack bars. After 14 miles I setup camp and felt very good, no problems. The next day I did 15 miles and the pack was working very well still. I will note that it is a bit of effort to retie shoes with the front pockets. That is the only issue I have with them. I was hiking the AT which can be very rocky and lots of roots to snag a foot. Vision was not an issue using the ft pockets and as long as I had the pockets clipped together using trekking poles was not an issue.
There are many adjustments to this pack, straps, shoulder attachment and stays. It was easy for me to get a great fit. I am 6ft, 195lbs with a 20 inch or so torso. The hip belt had a V attachment to each side with webbing. There is a conus strap that replaces a sternum strap. It works with the shoulder strap that IMHO is the greatest feature of this design. The shoulder strap runs through sleeve at the bottom rear of the pack and will slide as your shoulders move.
Wearing the pack your shoulders can freely opposite the hips. I don't think there is much swing in my body when I walk but wearing this pack has a very free feeling with no rub anywhere. I like simple, functional and light which this pack is not. There are many straps and I get hung up in them sometimes. There are many pieces to the internal frame which seems to work very well but adds weight. The material seems heavy duty which adds weight and there are lots of bits added to the pack which I did not think I needed.
I have tried many packs from REI, Montbell, TNF, GG, SMD and Osprey. I have sold the rest and will keep this one. I think the shoulder straps help make this pack work as do the ft pockets. I would like to see this pack at a lower weight but durability may suffer. I will live with what I don't like so that I can use the most comfortable pack I have yet to find. I don't expect to do more than a four day hike or carry much over 25 pounds. Now if only I could find a 16 ounce hard carbon fiber-kevlar bear can at 450 ci.