Reviewed by HokieTrax from Mountains of Hokieburg, VA on Sunday, December 14, 2014
Because of its in between size, I got this pack to fill the size void between my 50L backpacking pack and my smaller day pack, and serve as my Search and Rescue pack. I am new in training and was observing what others on our team have - they are mostly guys, former military, with tactical packs which may look tough with all those Molle attachment points but I wanted something that was well-made and that would ride comfortably for me as a older female. I love the very visible Hokie orange color - easy to see in the woods too (I did not need to worry about wearing another blaze orange item - it's hunting season here.) I am so pleased with this pack. It is so well made in every detail. The website description says '2nds' but the invoice said 'closeout' and nothing on the pack tagging said '2nds'. It is heavier than my Osprey that I use for backpacking by about 4 oz but has the similar vented back - but unlike the Osprey does not allow you to put your hydration bag in that space between the net and pack. There is a slot inside the bag and my 70oz Camelback just fits. (The H2O port is a tight squeeze to thread through the bite valve.) I also bring a water bottle and the stretchy side pockets work great for this. I keep a flashlight and other essential gear in the stretch pocket on the other side. NOTE: This bag is for RIGHT-handers - the H2O port is on the right and the small zippered pocket on the waist belt is only on the right side. There are a few attachment points on the right side shoulder strap and sternum strap that I will be able to use for a radio, etc. but none on the left side.
It seems more roomy than it should be. I like how the lid has two zippered compartments - one inside the lid and another on the outside where you can put your first aid kit, toilet bag, etc. The lower compartment is great to stash my emergency bivy, change of clothes and spare socks (required for SAR). Maps and mapping instruments fit great in the flat outside diagonal zipper pocket. I am only using one of the zippered side pockets right now (for my tarp) but they bellow out so you easily could stash a SweetWater water purifier in one. I have room leftover in this pack for other SAR equipment...or could easily use this pack for a weekend backpacking trip in summer. The trekking pole attachment points are important to stash poles, esp. with SAR work. The integrated pack cover is a bonus - it adds a few ounces to this pack but very handy to have.
It is a trim bag that did well for my land navigation class where we were bushwacking in a wooded area, ducking under tree branches. I found it comfortable all day and taking it off was not the first thing I thought about at our debrief at the end of the day. I did not weigh my load but guessing total packweight including pack was about 15 to 17 lbs. I was nervous to use a new pack for training and not be practiced in where things were but it's very intuitive. I did my SAR 'pack test' with this pack (to check to see if you have all the 10 essentials, etc) and pass with flying colors. Every part of this pack seems so thoughtfully engineered and practical. I cannot attest to its long-term durability at this point but everything about - zippers, fabric and construction says sturdily made.