Reviewed: 22 March 2006
COMFORTABLE AND USABLE
It's quite comfortable to carry. One of the things I like about it is that it's long enough to sit on my hips (but I'm not 6'6"!) and has a proper waistbelt. It's true that the sweat on your back dries out a bit quicker. It has compression straps and walking stick loops. Stronger than it looks.
Too many seams; side pockets not useful; only accepts a very narrow bladder; inconvenient to pack and unpack; heavy; only right side hose exit port; rapid evaporation can refrigerate your back when it's cold and windy; no waistbelt pockets; small lid pocket; doesn't fit some bus and plane overhead racks and is inflexible and hard to pack into anything else; no keyring hook(!).
I bought this pack in about 2003 to replace my normal daypack and regretted it instantly. The thing is just too elaborate, with red, grey and black panels stitched together all over the place. I thought the seams would compromise its integrity. But I was stuck with it and have been using it ever since. I'm not thrilled with it, but it serves the purpose and is certainly quite comfy. I haven't been dragging it over rocks or anything, but it's held up well - no signs of wear. I tried to replace it with a Camelback for day hikes for a few months, but that was just too small - it feels like the waistbelt is around your armpits. But now I've switched back, mainly because I like to have a pole with me, but don't use it much, and there's really no place to secure it on the Camelback. I've also taken it on a couple of treks in northern Pakistan and for a couple of days on the Kathmandu Valley Rim. It easily accommodates a weekend's stuff, but where do you put the mattress? The side pockets will hold one litre bottles and then some, but if you put vitually anything in them, it transforms this sleek pack into a wide lumpy thing. Trying to lash anything under the compression straps is frustrating when the pockets are full. My main complaint about it, though, is the weight. Mine seems to weigh about 1500g empty, without a bladder, and I've become quite weight conscious lately. If I replace it, and I'm giving it some thought, it will be because of the weight. I definitely wouldn't buy another and can't really recommend it.
I've always wondered why I can never find the keyring hook!