So, I think I am nuts. I had my big three all picked out, wrote an article about it even. But, yesterday I ordered a new backpack. It comes with a 30 day trial period, so I will put it through its paces and see how I like it. This was critical as it is a very different design approach to a backpack. The background on this decision is that my current pack, a Jansport Carson, is beginning to show signs of wear. It has been used on numerous weekend scout outings, four trips to Philmont, two trips to Isle Royale and tons of preparation hikes. After a close inspection a while back I determined I that I don’t think it will make the 2,200 miles without breaking down on me. So I decided to send my two other external frame packs from days gone by back to Jansport for repair or replacement. My thought was that the repaired packs would be my backup in case of catastrophic failure. Well, a couple days ago I got my replacement packs. Two brand new internal frame Jansport packs. I know I should not be disappointed, but I was. They won’t work for me. So the search for a new pack began in earnest. I immediately thought Kelty, because back in the day you were either Jansport or Kelty. Now that Jansport is out of the external frame market, I figured I would check into the dark side. From there, I went literally all over the world looking at packs and I settled in on one made from a cottage industry supplier in Texas.
Here is the website:
What I like about it is that it is an external frame. I don’t care what anyone says, but a good external frame supports the weight better than an internal frame. The only time an internal frame makes good sense to me is when you are going ultralight with a base weight (everything except food and water) under 20 pounds (preferably under 15 pounds), because then you would rarely be carrying weights of 25-30 pounds. With minimal weight any two shoulder straps and weight belt would do, so the internal frame packs work well in that environment. Although I care about weight I am not an ultralight packer.
I like the three barrels. This compartmentalizes my gear, which is what I have with my Jansport Carson backpack through two main compartments, two large side pockets, and tent and sleeping bag attached at the top and bottom. I like that there are no zippers and that the barrels are waterproof (huge plus). I like that the hip belt stays on throughout the day and you simply pop the pack off and on. This could help with the lower back pain that sometimes develops after a practice hike. The belt may act like those that weight lifters wear and support the lower back better than the traditional belt on a pack. I like that with a simple adjustment my umbrella will attach to the pack and I won’t have to carry it. If I had to carry the umbrella I would not be bringing it. As an aside, I want to try the umbrella as anytime I wear rain gear I end up sweating so much that I am soaking wet anyway, so the rain gear is kinda useless for me. From what I read, hikers who have umbrellas love them. We shall see.
What I am not crazy about is that I don’t have smaller side pockets. This may not be a big loss, but I am used to them and I do/did find them handy. I am not crazy about the front pack for carrying water bottles and other stuff. It looks like it hangs down in front too much. I like to be unobstructed in front. I think. That being said, I do like a front pack. I have always used one in some fashion, be it a fanny pack or what I currently have now from http://www.ribzwear.com/. I rarely use them for water, but instead for snacks, a bandana or two, TP, sunglasses, and other small things I would like to get to throughout the day. I am going to try his front pack, but I suspect I’ll likely stick with my own if I am honest.
I also don’t like that I don’t have a place for my water bladder. I used to never use one, but once I did it makes a huge difference. A water bladder typically holds two or more liters of water and has a tube with a bite valve on the end that you can attach near your head for easy access to water throughout the hiking day. I’ll see what I can figure out there. Finally, I am bit concerned about weight shifting with the three barrels. It appears they only attach to the frame at two points, so it seems to me that they may flop around a bit if not packed right. I am fairly certain I am wrong in that assessment however, as it is based on pictures only at this point.
Pack ships next Monday. Then I’ll have 30 days to figure this out.