Six Moon Designs 2007 Comet Backpack REVIEW

A durable and versatile “convertible backpack” with removable stays that allow it to be used either frameless or as an ultralight internal frame backpack.

Recommended

Overall Rating: Recommended

Compared to the original version, the 2007 Comet is nearly a complete makeover. Many elements have been re-designed and improved, new features and options have been added, and overall it’s a much more refined pack than the original. A big plus on the Comet is that the torso length and stay curvature can be tailored to the user’s back to achieve a custom fit. It’s an ideal pack for hikers who want durability and versatility, where one pack serves multiple needs. The Comet performs well for bushwhacking (with reasonable care), an ultralight frameless pack, and an ultralight internal frame pack for those occasions when more load carrying capacity is needed.>/p>

I have found that the stays are breaking through the fabric at the bottom of the sleeves. More reinforcement is needed in that stress zone to prevent failure, and the problem is being corrected. Also I recommend a design modification to anchor the bottom of the stays directly to the hipbelt for even better weight transfer. Also, the side pockets extend to the bottom of the pack, and the bottoms are not reinforced with durable fabric.>/p>

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by Will Rietveld |

Six Moon Designs 2007 Comet Backpack REVIEW - 1
The 2007 Comet is constructed of durable Dyneema Gridstop fabric and has numerous upgrades and refinements.

Introduction

The Six Moon Designs Comet is a convertible pack. Optional flat aluminum stays ($10, 4.7 ounces) are easily inserted into sleeves to create an internal frame backpack (27 ounces), or removed to use it as a frameless backpack (22.3 ounces). The hipbelt is also removable, further reducing the weight to 17 ounces. When I reviewed the original Six Moon Designs Comet I was impressed with its comfort and versatility, but I thought the construction was a little rough. The updated 2007 Comet adds some welcome improvements and is much more refined overall.

What’s Good

  • Durable fabrics and mesh
  • Huge front and side mesh pockets
  • Removable stays and hipbelt
  • Large hipbelt pockets available
  • Adjustable torso length and stay curvature
  • Very effective weight transfer to the hips
  • Very comfortable to carry

What’s Not So Good

  • Velcro dry bag closure catches on clothing
  • Aluminum stays are not anchored to the hipbelt, and do not have adequate reinforcement at the bottom (but this problem is being corrected)
  • Bottom of side pockets is not reinforced with durable fabric

Specifications

  Year/Model

2007 Six Moon Designs Comet

  Style

Internal frame or frameless, top loading, dry bag closure with top compression strap

  Volume

3700 ci (61 L)

  Weight

1 lb 11 oz (765 g) measured weight with stays and optional hipbelt pockets, 1 lb 6.3 oz (746 g) without stays; manufacturer’s specification 1 lb 13 oz (822 g) with stays, 1 lb 8 oz (680 g) without stays

  Sizes Available

One size with adjustable torso; 15 and 18 in (38-46 cm) shoulder strap lengths available; short, medium, and long hipbelts available to fit 26-44 in girth (66-112 cm)

  Torso Fit Range

15 to 22 in (38-56 cm)

  Fabrics

Body is 210d Dyneema Gridstop, bottom and backpanel are 420d pack cloth, extension collar is 70d silnylon

  Features

Durable fabrics, contoured shoulder straps, adjustable torso length, 11 inch extension collar, Velcro dry bag closure, one large front and two large side mesh pockets, interior zippered security pocket, interior pad/hydration sleeve with one hose port, three front compression straps, one ice axe loop, hipbelt stabilizers, load lifter straps, sternum strap, three hipbelt lengths available, two shoulder strap lengths available, hipbelt pockets available

  Volume To Weight Ratio

137 ci/oz with stays (based on 3700 ci and measured weight of 27 oz), 165.9 without stays (based on 3700 ci and measured weight of 22.3 oz)

  Comfortable Load Carrying Capacity

35 lb estimated comfortable load for an average person carrying the pack (with stays) all day

  Carry Load to Pack Weight Ratio

20.7 with stays (based on 35 lb and a measured weight of 1.69 lb)

  MSRP

$160 US

  Options

Two shoulder strap lengths (no charge), three hipbelt lengths (no charge), hipbelt pockets $15, aluminum stays $10

Performance

The 2007 Comet is more of a makeover than an upgrade. I was impressed with the original Comet’s comfort and versatility, but acknowledged that there was room for improvement. The 2007 model basically “gets it right” with the following improvements:

  • Durable Dyneema Gridstop body
  • Contoured shoulder straps
  • Redesigned torso length adjustment
  • Redesigned detachable hipbelt
  • Stay sleeves moved to the inside of the pack
  • Added interior zippered security pocket
  • Three hipbelt lengths available
  • Two shoulder strap lengths available
  • Hipbelt pockets available
  • Simple elastic binding on exterior pockets
  • Webbing reinforcement between pockets

A notable upgrade is the use of durable Dyneema Gridstop fabric in the new pack. The original pack was made of 70 denier silnylon, and its yellow color was likely a negative for some people. The new pack is a more pleasing blue. Overall, the new Six Moon Designs Comet is a much more refined backpack, as can be seen in the following photo gallery.

Six Moon Designs 2007 Comet Backpack REVIEW - 2
Views of the 2007 Six Moon Designs Comet. The front of the pack (top left) has a large mesh pocket with 250 cubic inches of capacity. Each side (top right) also has a large mesh pocket with 200 cubic inches of capacity. The backpanel view (bottom left) shows the stay sleeves, new contoured shoulder straps, and new hipbelt with pockets. The top view (bottom right) shows its dry bag closure and top strap.

Frame and Suspension

The Comet comes in only one size that fits 15 to 22 inch torsos. I measured the pack torso length (underside of shoulder straps to the center of the hipbelt) in the fully extended position at 21 inches, and 15 inches in the shortest position, which more or less conforms to the manufacturer’s claimed fit range.

Six Moon Designs 2007 Comet Backpack REVIEW - 3
The shoulder straps (left) are now contoured and two lengths are available; the padding and surface fabric are the same as the previous model. The hipbelt (right) is removable and available in three lengths (short, medium, long), with or without pockets. The hipbelt pockets are very roomy (42 cubic inches each) and will easily hold a digital camera or GPS, plus an assortment of smaller items that you want instant access to.

Six Moon Designs 2007 Comet Backpack REVIEW - 4
The frame of the Comet consists of two 0.5 inch wide contoured aluminum stays (left) that slide into sleeves attached to the inside of the backpanel. The stays (right) are anchored to the load lifters at the top, but are not anchored to the hipbelt at the bottom.

Although the Comet’s flat aluminum stays weigh 4.7 ounces/pair, a distinct advantage is they can easily be shaped to match the curvature of the user’s back. I found the existing curvature to be pretty close, but I got my wife to bend one stay to match the curvature of my back, then I bent the other one to match. The resulting custom anatomical fit made the pack feel like I was wearing it instead of carrying it. While I have had a problem with other packs leaning back at the top, the Comet pulled in tight to my shoulders, owing to a combination of its custom bent stays and load lifter straps.

Features and Utility

If you like a backpack with lots of exterior storage, you'll appreciate the Comet's large mesh pockets. The front and side mesh pockets will swallow a lot of gear and make it readily accessible on the trail. The side pockets are 18 inches deep and 8 inches wide, and the front pocket is 13 inches deep and 10 inches wide. All three pockets have an elastic binding to prevent gear from falling out when you bend over.

Although the tall side pockets are roomy, they are not designed for reaching a water bottle on the go, so one is forced to take the pack off to get a drink, or use a hydration bladder. Also, the side pockets extend all the way to the bottom of the pack and do not have a durable fabric reinforcement at the bottom, so the mesh could suffer some wear at the bottom. I did not experience that problem, but I am not hard on gear.

Six Moon Designs 2007 Comet Backpack REVIEW - 5
The new Comet has a zippered security pocket on the inside (left), along with a sleeping pad sleeve against the backpanel that will accommodate most compact pads. The pack’s Velcro dry bag closure (right) is easy to open/close and roll down.

I have mixed feelings about the Comet’s Velcro dry bag closure. I am not a big fan of Velcro, and find that it snags clothing (especially socks and fleece) when putting it in or taking it out of the pack. Velcro can damage certain fabrics. On the other hand, it’s easy to close (just pull the ends tight and the Velcro lines up) and it makes a tight seal. It’s also easy to open, just pull on the two center loops (right photo above).

The interior sleeping pad sleeve will accommodate any lightweight sleeping pad. A folded ¾-length RidgeRest pad (shown in the above photo) takes up quite a bit of the pack’s volume. However, for shorter trips, using a thicker pad or partially inflating an inflatable pad can be a useful technique to use up unneeded volume and make it possible for one pack to suffice for a variety of uses.

By itself, the interior sleeping pad sleeve does not work very well as a hydration sleeve, because a full water bladder creates a large rounded bulge in the center of the backpanel that is not very comfortable against the back. It does work okay if the bladder is separated from the backpanel with a sleeping pad. There is one hose port on the right side. I personally prefer to carry a hydration bladder in a side pocket because it is much easier to access for refilling.

The Comet does not have any exterior webbing loops to tie large items to the outside of the pack, or to create a bungee system to attach clothing.

Field Testing

My first trip with the Comet was with Backpacking Light MYOG Editor Jay Ham to a large, remote mesa on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. I started out with a total weight of 24 pounds, which included insulated gear, proper shelter, and food for a five-day late winter trip. The Comet with stays and adjusted to its longest torso length fit me very well and comfortably carried the load on our approach. But there was one catch - the mesa was dry, so we had to carry all our water up with us. At the last available waterhole, I added a full 6 liter Platypus Water Tank (about 12.5 pounds) to the Comet, bringing the weight up to about 36 pounds. Then we packed that heavy load (for us) up 1600 vertical feet on a primitive Indian trail to the top of the mesa. The Comet carried the load surprisingly well, and with the hipbelt tight it put most of the load on my hips.

Six Moon Designs 2007 Comet Backpack REVIEW - 6
Packing a 36 pound load in the Comet up an ancient Indian trail in a remote corner of the Navaho Indian Reservation, Arizona. The platy in the front pocket contains 6 liters of water. Note: this is not the correct location to carry heavy, dense weight (inside the pack against the middle of my back is better), but the front pocket was convenient (Ok, I was lazy!).

On subsequent trips I carried more modest 17 to 22 pound loads in the Comet, with stays in, and it was extremely comfortable. I found that for any load over about 15 pounds the stays are a definite benefit and are worth their weight (4.7 ounces).

On shorter summer backpacks, I carried the Comet as a frameless backpack with loads from 12 to 16 pounds, leaving the hipbelt on for extra stability and for its pockets. I easily adjusted the pack volume for smaller loads by tightening the pack’s three front compression straps (see photo below). With those straps pulled completely tight, the pack volume is reduced to about half, but the use of the front mesh pocket is eliminated. At 22.3 ounces in this configuration, the Comet is overkill; there are several packs on the market weighing half as much that will comfortably carry the same load. In its lightest configuration (sans stays and hipbelt), the Comet still weighs 17 ounces. However, it’s notable that the Comet is a single pack that will adapt to a wide range of loads and conditions.

Six Moon Designs 2007 Comet Backpack REVIEW - 7
To evaluate how well the Comet fits a shorter person, I adjusted the pack to its shortest torso (15 inches) and tried it on my petite wife. It fit well (left). Although the tall stays put the load lifters 5 inches above her shoulders, the pack still fit and carried well, transferring weight to her hips. For smaller loads (right), the pack’s three front compression straps reduce pack volume to about half.

I did a lot of off-trail hiking in forested terrain, and found the Comet to be very stable and durable for bushwhacking. The mesh pockets are also quite durable, showing no snags so far.

Six Moon Designs 2007 Comet Backpack REVIEW - 8
The only issue I discovered with the Comet is a lack of adequate reinforcement at the bottom of the stay sleeves. Probably as a result of carrying the heavier loads described earlier, the stays are starting to break through the bottom of the sleeves. To correct the problem Six Moon Designs is sewing a second layer of webbing over the first, which puts additional reinforcement between the stay and the backpanel. All future packs shipped will have the fix, as well as any pack sent in for upgrade.

Assessment

Although the original Six Moon Designs Comet was not necessarily a best-seller, the new 2007 model is much more refined, and definitely deserves serious consideration. Its best use is for an ultralight backpacker who wants a more durable pack, and one that is capable of carrying heavier loads in certain situations - like cold weather backpacking or hiking for extended periods between re-supplies. It’s also ideal for a lightweight backpacker whose total pack weight is in the 20 to 30 pound range.

Very noteworthy features of the Comet are its adjustable torso length and removable flat aluminum stays. I was able to obtain a perfect fit by matching the pack’s torso length and stay curvature to my back. This helped tremendously to comfortably carry a heavier load. The stays themselves weigh 4.7 ounces, which is a significant amount of weight. Possibly thinner, lighter stays could be used to reduce weight a bit.

The Comet has a slightly larger cousin, the Starlite, with 4200 cubic inches of volume and a somewhat different feature set. The weight and cost are very similar.

Compared to a conventional lightweight internal frame backpack with approximately the same volume, such as the recently reviewed GoLite Quest and REI Cruise UL 60, the Comet is 1.5 pounds lighter and more versatile because of its removable stays. However, the Comet does not carry heavier loads with as much comfort. If you consistently carry loads in the 25 to 35 pound range (or more), then a more heavy-duty lightweight internal frame pack is a better choice because the stays will likely be anchored to the hipbelt, and more anatomically shaped padding and load control features are added.

Although the Comet (27 ounces with stays) is a very lightweight and durable convertible pack, it’s not the lightest one available in its category. The durable Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus weighs just 21 ounces with stays, and the Mariposa (made of silnylon) weighs just 18 ounces with stays. However, the Mariposas’ straight carbon fiber stays are not bendable to fit the curvature of your back, hipbelt pockets are not presently available, and they do not have an adjustable torso length (rather the pack comes in three sizes to fit different torsos). Although the Comet weighs 6 ounces more than the Mariposa Plus, I would personally choose it over the Mariposa Plus because its flat aluminum stays can be shaped for a custom fit, allowing me to more comfortably carry a 20 to 30 pound load. I also prefer it because of its adjustable torso, inside security pocket, and roomy hipbelt pockets (a $15 option).

Six Moon Designs 2007 Comet Backpack REVIEW - 9
The Six Moon Designs Comet pack (right) is about the same size as the Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus pack (left), although the volume specification for the Mariposa Plus is 500 cubic inches higher. Both are constructed of durable fabrics. Although the Comet weighs about 6 ounces more, its adjustable torso and bendable flat stays provide a better fit and a higher comfortable load carrying capacity.

What’s Unique

The Comet is a “convertible backpack” with removable stays that allow it to be used as either a frameless or internal frame backpack. The body is made of Dyneema Gridstop, which is considered to be one of the best backpack fabrics available because of its high strength to weight ratio.

Recommendations for Improvement

  • Anchor the bottom of the stays in sleeves on the back of the hipbelt
  • Consider using the “gentle touch” version of Velcro for the dry bag closure, it’s less snaggy than the conventional type
  • Consider thinner narrower stays to reduce weight
  • Add a durable fabric reinforcement to the bottom of the side pockets


Citation

"Six Moon Designs 2007 Comet Backpack REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/six_moon_designs_2007_comet_backpack_review.html, 2007-10-10 02:00:00-06.

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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Six Moon Designs 2007 Comet Backpack REVIEW


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Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Six Moon Designs 2007 Comet Backpack REVIEW on 10/09/2007 20:55:32 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Six Moon Designs 2007 Comet Backpack REVIEW

Andrew Richardson
(arichardson6) - F

Locale: North East
Re: Six Moon Designs 2007 Comet Backpack REVIEW on 10/09/2007 21:28:35 MDT Print View

Good review Will. In my case, I would also choose the comet over the Mariposa or Mariposa Plus simply because as a beginner I would appreciate the versatility of the Comet. Since I can't really afford more than one pack right now, it's nice to have enough volume to get me thru the shoulder seasons and a decent compression system to get me thru warm weather.

When I was setting out to buy my first pack I found that it was hard to find a pack that is both light and versatile. Most of the truly ultralight packs sacrifice compression straps because they weigh too much, I suppose. Those stretchy cords just don't compress that well. This is why I ultimately decided to get a light pack that compressed well. It made me feel like I could have a bit of a learning curve as I well...learned. I considered this pack, but then decided against it. Really, I just don't like stuff outside my pack, so I see no need for pockets..

Edited by arichardson6 on 10/10/2007 11:39:14 MDT.

Dave Heiss
(DaveHeiss) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Six Moon Designs 2007 Comet Backpack on 10/10/2007 11:36:35 MDT Print View

I have tried to work up enthusiasm for the Comet backpack (and the Mariposa Plus as well - which IMO is a superior pack design), but I just can't get past my concerns about all the mesh pockets. I'm sure the mesh they use is light and relatively durable, but do I really want a significant amount of my gear to be out on display and exposed to rain, UV, branches, and prying eyes? I've read the reviews that say mesh pockets are great for drying wet items, but if I have anything that needs time to dry, I can just as easily stick only that item under a strap and keep the rest of my gear tucked away.

I do think it's important to keep some gear (and/or lunch) easily accessible, and the mesh pockets are good for that, but just about any pocket would be good for that purpose.

As for me, I'm going to hold out for the new OHM. As far as I can tell from the sneak peeks a few BPL members have enjoyed, that pack will be light, generously sized, comfortable to carry with up to ~30lb loads, and be free of that annoying mesh.

robert courson
(bertcourson) - M

Locale: lake michigan
OHM? on 10/10/2007 17:07:21 MDT Print View

What is OHM?

I was excited about the pack but when I read that it does not support a water bottle I realized it was not for me. I guess I am old or something because I think all packs should have a place for at least 1 one Liter bottle.

Dave Heiss
(DaveHeiss) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Wait for the OHM on 10/11/2007 11:45:18 MDT Print View

The OHM is a new backpack in development over at ULA (www.ula-equipment.com). There are no photos available that I know of, but I hear it is going to be similar to their AMP model, only larger, with a harness system that’s derived from their CIRCUIT pack design. I guess with all the electrical terms they’ve chosen for pack names, “OHM” is a better option than “WATT”, but that one could have started some great Abbott and Costello-type trail routines....

Robert makes a good point about the Comet having no water bottle pocket. I too am a water bottle user, and while the lack of a water bottle pocket may be no problem for bladder fans, it is a problem for the rest of us.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: Six Moon Designs 2007 Comet Backpack on 10/11/2007 12:28:08 MDT Print View

The Ohm is an pack from ULA Equipment to be released next year.

Someone mentioned concerns about mesh pockets and how useful they are. I personally find the mesh pockets on my pack (particularily the large back pocket) to be indespensible. I don't really worry about items I place in the pockets. Usually its raingear, lunch, a wet tent, or something of that sort. Not having to open my pack at all during the day is a real time saver for me during breaks.

Jim Cowdery
(james.cowdery) - MLife

Locale: Central Florida
Review on 10/11/2007 13:01:00 MDT Print View

Good review, your comments and experiences a similar to mine.

I am a conservative buyer and did extensive research before purchasing my comet. Of the 5 packs I’ve purchased over the last ten years this is the most comfortable. It has handled 32 lbs on a 5 and a 7 day AT trip. My gear has stayed dry in the high-humidity conditions in the Smokies. I keep all my “wet” gear in the mesh pockets including my tarp or tarptent, bladders, water treatment, rain gear and cooking gear. It may look a little odd having all this stuff exposed but it makes these items very accessible and separates them from my pad, bag and food.

I also use a water bottle but carry it in an old OR bottle holder strapped to my hip belt. Platypus bags, 2 liters each for those dry spells, go in the side pockets to balance the load.

The hip-belt pockets are a godsend. They are a great place for me to store my glasses, maps and snacks.

I agree with the comments on the Velcro closure and would almost like to see matching rubber strips instead of the Velcro. The Velcro only serves to keep the fabric together as the closure is folded shut. It does snag clothing especially my fleece jacket.

I highly recommend this pack even to those that aren’t ultralight backpackers.

bruce a. bowden (disabled)
(firelookout)
Mesh pockets on 10/15/2007 21:58:06 MDT Print View

I have the 07 Comet Backpack and used it over the summer. Everyone has their preferences of a course but I value the mesh pockets greatly and keep things in them that I frequently use or may need off and on thru the day or in the case of outerwear that I have taken off as I warmed up hiking but then put back on when I take an extended break of go thru a windy section. I keep a 1 liter water bottle in each side pocket as I do not usually use a bladder with a hose either....and I cannot access them with the pack on easily ..... but my style is to take a 5 minute break every 30 minutes or so if the trail is steep and take the pack off and sit down.....that is when i drink (deeply) from the bottles, put on more sunblock, nibble at a snack, take a picture or two,etc all out of the mesh pockets without opening the main sack. When I work for the NPS, I keep my radio in the back mesh pocket with the volume up just a bit so I can monitor the transmissions. If the weather is really foul, I will slide a silnylon pack cover over to protect the gear but this is rare. My suggestion is that if you haven't tried BIG mesh pockets, give them a try before you discard the idea. For me they are invaluable.

todd harper
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: Sunshine State
Re: Mesh pockets on 10/16/2007 07:06:03 MDT Print View

Well put, Bruce.

I couldn't agree more.

Walter Underwood
(wunder) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Mesh Pockets on 10/22/2007 22:52:00 MDT Print View

Mesh pockets (on GoLite packs) were the perfect place to put all the discarded Gu packets my son and I picked up on the Skyline to the Sea trail. We could hose off the pack after the last bit of Gu leaked out. Also good for the wet tarp in the morning.

Steve O
(HechoEnDetroit) - F

Locale: South Kak
Sewing quality of 2006 vs. 2007 Comet on 12/05/2007 20:42:10 MST Print View

There were some complaints of poor sewing quality with the 2006 Comet, so did SMD take care of this issue in 2007? From Will's review and everyone's responses it sounds like thats the case. Has anyone had issues?

Edited by HechoEnDetroit on 12/05/2007 20:46:39 MST.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
An Alternative Pack... on 07/08/2009 13:12:27 MDT Print View

I recommend the REI UL Cruise as an excellent, lower cost alternative choice to this Six Moons pack. The REI pack has loads of good features that equal and exceed the Six Moons design.

Eric

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
Re: An Alternative Pack... on 07/08/2009 14:50:33 MDT Print View

at 3lbs 3oz??
i dont see how that is an alternative to a 1lb, 13oz pack. my focus is on carrying up to 30lbs max for a weeklong trip, and i feel the Comet will do just that.

i just purchased a SMD Comet newest model, which is on closeout for $120 (due to lack of demand) which is $10 less (bare bones) than the (sold out) REI cruise

so far it meets my expectations. i had read about the issues with the older models and it seems they were addressed, and the color changed to a more mild bluish-purple.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Six Moon Designs 2007 Comet Backpack REVIEW on 07/08/2009 16:09:07 MDT Print View

How does it carry? Despite being heavier it may make the 30 pounds feel like much less.

KEVIN BYRNE
(kevinp203@hotmail.com) - F
Love this backpack on 07/20/2009 20:08:47 MDT Print View

I finally got out and used my Comet. The outside mesh pockets are great to have so many things visible. I kept a pair of lightweight Merrel "water shoes" in the back pocket and kept 4 0.5l recyclable water bottles in the side pockets. I used a POE Therm-6 pad folded up in the pad pocket, though I did use the aluminum pack stays for support. Now I just have to figure out how to bend them to the shape to my back. I got my pack weight down to under 25lbs because of equipment changes; backpacking is much more fun with so much less weight - but that is another story.

I heard somewhere that 6 Moons was going to be a way to reinforce the bottom of the stay sleeve to keep it from wearing through at the bottom. That hasn't happened yet on my pack, but better do it before it happens.