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BPL Absaroka

in Backpacks - Internal Frame

Average Rating
4.00 / 5 (3 reviews)

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John Reichle
( mammoman - M )

BPL Absaroka on 12/30/2010 18:28:10 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I just used my new Absaroka pack on a 3 day 2 night outing in N. Alabama on a particularly cold weekend. Temps ranged from 14-40, and I encountered both snow and cold drizzle on the trip.

Ryan Jordan designed this pack with a specific purpose, and my rating of a 5/5 reflects this purpose. This is NOT the pack to carry your typical 15 lb. UL load. My pack weighed 22 lbs. at the trailhead, including 2 days worth of food and 48 oz. of fluid. I subsequently filled my 6L MSR DromLite and added it to the pack just for "test purposes," temporarily bringing my pack weight up to over 34 lbs.

Initial packing of the Absaroka is tricky, in that it is a relatively small volume pack vs. its weight capability. I initially had some trouble closing my pack with the 22 lb. load for instance! However, once I gave packing some proper thought AND effort I was able to fit almost everything into the pack, roll the top over 4 times and clip it shut. My shelter (Scarp 1) fit into one of the stretchable side pockets, and my 1 & 2L bottles into the other. I strapped a ThermaRest Z-Lite on top.

Sorry pic of used Absaroka in the back of my Denali

Inside the pack was 48 hours worth of food in an Ursack, a FF Swift bag, a MontBell ThermaWrap Parka and pants, 2 Equinox sundries bags, stove (GigaPower), 4 oz. IsoPro canister, squishy bowl and spork, a ThermaRest Prolite 3 women's pad, SnowPeak 700 mug, extra socks and baselayers. The DromLite when filled barely fit into the upper part of the main bag. Into the large side pockets went a headlamp, some Clif bars, water purification tablets, one of several lighters, etc.

The best part of this pack is how light it feels on you. 22 lbs. felt like nothing at all, and 34 lbs. was not stressful....both loads carried equally well. There are multiple options for dialing in fit with adjustment of torso, shoulder straps and hip belts. The hip belt is well-cushioned, plenty thick, and rides where it's supposed to. The shoulder pads are wide, adequately cushioned, and curved just right for me at least. The adjustable sternum strap is great too.

I added bungee cord through the loops on the front of the pack, which adds capacity- you could carry a small shelter back here for instance. You could also configure it to carry tools this way.

The pack proved VERY durable, as my misadventures found me doing some unplanned bushwhacking, falling into creeks, sliding down mud banks etc. and also led to the pack freezing one night along with my wet shoes. The Absaroka came through unscathed.

Two thumbs up to the ventilated backpanel, which never heated up.

Overall, this will be my go-to pack for intermediate volume loads of any weight in the future. For the UL backpacker, this may be the ideal pack for that 7-10 day through hike where you have to carry a lot of food (high wt. per vol.) or water. I have a feeling this is one of its target niches. For the mainstream UL hiker who carries a 15-20 lb. load, only you can decide whether the extreme comfort of carry is worth the roughly extra one pound. For me it is.

Edited by mammoman on 12/30/2010 18:32:38 MST.

Price comparison from GearBuyer:
Clif BAR priced at: $1.49
MSR Dromlite priced at: $20.21 - $32.95
MSR Spork priced at: $4.21 - $4.99
MSR Mug priced at: $11.96 - $14.99
Therm-a-Rest ProLite - Women's priced at: $57.34 - $119.95
Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite priced at: $32.97 - $39.95
Shop Equinox, Lite On, Montbell, Swift products at GearBuyer
Jarod Fleming
( flemdawg1 )

Better hipbelt design needed on 06/16/2011 11:42:14 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

After a failed experiment with a Jam2 frameless pack, I decided to try out the BPL Absaroka. I bought a NWOT Large for $100 on the Gear Swap.

I thought the construction of the pack was first-rate. I really liked the amount of padding on the shoulder straps and hipbelt. I noticed alot of loops for shock cording, but unfort the pack included no cordage or locks to use them (which would've been a nice bonus, like MLD).

The roll-top packbag closure was something I didn't expect. The top rolls up like a dry bag, but instead of the two ends snapping together, they clip to straps that come up from the side pockets. After packing it up a couple of times it was second nature.

One thing I missed, vs other packs I've owned, was that there were no side compression straps. I usually carry a hydration blader in my left side pocket with a side strap keeping the bladder secured. However the Absaroka pockets are very deep and I ran the vertical side strap thru thru the bladder frame to keep it secured.

The pack's volume easily managed my summer 12lb base weight load plus an enormous foodbag (my hiking partner called it the Country Store).

My beef with this pack is the lack of security of the hipbelt. I picked a large hipbelt due to my 36" waist. However, the large hipbelt padded wings prevented me from being able to cinch this into a tight enough point. The hipbelt is also in 2 peices, thru which the tubular loop stay inserts. The stay and belt have a smallish ear that fit into a samll 3/4" pocket on the back-panel. This small pocket and a 1x4 velcro strip is all that hold the hipbelt on. Add to the fact there is nothing attaching the top of the stay to the packbag and preventing it from sliding upward out of the pocket. This meant the hipbelt fell off quite a bit. Well over a dozen times in 3 days! Only after I used the top compression strap over the stay (instead of under, which seemed intuitive to the design/location of the strap) did the hipbelt stay in place. I would suggest as a design improvement adding small velcro strapping to secure the top of the stay, and making the hipbelt 1-piece with a larger velcro patch on each side (against packbag and back panel padding).

Despite the annoyance of the frequent stops to reattach the runaway hipbelt, it carried very well, even as plushly as my GG Nimbus Ozone. Just please fix the freakin hipbelt!

Willie Evenstop
( redmonk )

Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Great design on 10/16/2011 10:25:25 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

Great pack. Smallish, but fits a bearikade expedition. I used it on a JMT thru, and it carried great with 30# in it. Comfortable. Carries on the hips, not much should pressure at all. Would work well for 10-14 day trips with great food and refined gear selection.

Material and bearikade not a great match.
Angle of pockets could be more accessible.

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