Rating: 5 / 5
I bought my McHale Chasm pack to be my one and only do-all pack, and I've not been disappointed in the least.
First off, the workmanship is second to none. Next and most importantly is the fit.
McHale's are designed so that most of the weight is carried on the hips until you begin to exceed 40lbs.
This is done by making the pack to your exact measurements,and by having the shoulder straps anchored or positioned slightly higher than your shoulder crest. As a result the pack stays glued to my back, with no tipping or pulling back on me, like you can get with so many other packs.
The dual aluminum stays have small swiveled ends that allow the pack to be lowered or raised by approx. 1".
With lighter loads the stays remain raised and with heavier loads they are lowered, to allow the shoulder straps to bear more of the load.
The frame extensions or bayonets are installed at this time, and the bypass straps, which are similar to load lifter straps.
These differ in that they pass through a nylon tube that is sewn onto each shoulder strap. The bypass straps pass through these tubes then attach at the bottom of the pack, at the same locations as the lower shoulder strap webbing attachment points.
As these straps are tightened the load is raised from the bottom of the pack, rather than lifting or pulling up on the top of the shoulder straps, very unique.
The shoulder straps although lacking in extreme contour(slightly curved) are well padded and very comfortable.
The hip-belt is not overly padded with soft foam, yet uses a stiffer foam that might seem as if it would be uncomfortable but is in fact very comfortable.
Dual 1.5" wide hip-belt webbing and buckles help achieve a custom fit. All compression straps on McHale packs are removable as well.
I went with the optional dual Crest hip-belt pockets which are huge and can carry all of my small incidentals and snacks as well.
I opted for a Summit Lid which is lighter in weight compared to the Fanny pack lid.
Later, after receiving the pack, I also decided to get the Fanny pack lid with the optional bladder holder that can be attached to the underside of the Fanny pack lid, or hung from the inside of the pack.
I used the Fanny pack lid with bladder holder to summit a few Eastern Peaks,and it worked well with a 2 liter platty loaded in.
A Garcia Bear canister will fit horizontally into the Chasm, which I used on a 6 day trip and still had room to spare, in the pack.
Approx. volume is 4,000ci, not including the front Kangaroo pocket or top lid. Approx. weight with all components attached. 5lbs 8oz
All in all, a GREAT pack,and although seemingly expensive, it is worth the price when you consider how unique the pack is, with it's custom fit, features,durability, and the fact that its made in the USA too.