Rating: 5 / 5
I've been a UL backpacker for a few years now and this pack was my first purchase where I've actually gone up in weight, meaning that I decided the benefits of using this pack are worth the extra ounces.
Some highlights and stats:
- floating (and removable) lid with two good-sized pockets
- delrin rod and stiff foam paneling form the "frame"
- continuous mesh pocket on the back
- weighs just over 32oz once straps are cut down and the hydration bladder pocket is removed
- many lashing points
Overall impressions after ~150 miles on the trail:
The pack is very comfortable; my hips are usually sore after the first day but I'm fine after that (like getting your trail legs back). I'm able to keep all the weight on my hips and pull the pack in tight with the load-lifters.
I love the livability of the pack. The mesh pocket is large enough for a rain jacket or tarp that you want to keep close and accessible. I usually keep my map, glove liners, beanie, ipod, and other often-used items in the top lid pocket. Less-used items like my medical kit, ground cloth, cell phone, and wallet go into the bottom lid pocket. My camera/aquamira/knife go in the hipbelt pockets. I stick all my clothing and sleeping gear in a compactor bag at the bottom of my pack and then put the food on top. This pack is every bit of 45 liters; I managed to fit my 9lb base weight (including the pack's weight) into the pack along with 7 full days of food and two liters of water.
Some have complained about not being able to fit 1 liter gatorade bottles in the mesh pocket if the pack is completely stuffed. You can make the bottles fit, but it's definitely difficult. I highly recommend using compressible water bottles as they'll slide in much easier.
Also, some have noted that the pack doesn't compress down very well if you have very little gear in it or try to use it as a dayback. This is true for most framed packs, but that is why I have a smaller pack (GG Murmur) to use for trips where I don't need as much gear or food.
In conclusion, this is a great lightweight pack. Yes, there are lighter framed packs out there. However, there is something to be said for a fully-featured $130 pack that, with a bit of trimming, weighs under 2 pounds, is very comfortable and durable, and can be found at any REI store. If you're just getting into ultralight backpacking and aren't willing to sprint for a 10oz cuben fiber pack just yet, or if you're looking for something a bit more durabe and capable than that 10oz cuben fiber pack and don't mind the weight gain, this this pack is for you.