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Drop 40L Backpack

This Drop 40L Backpack review features an internal frame backpack designed by Backpacking Light Member Dan Durston that weighs 29.7 oz (842 g), has a load-carrying capacity of about 40 lbs (18 kg), and retails for $180.

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  • Designed with efficiency in mind, with a versatile exterior pocket configuration.
  • Zippered side QuickAccess pocket provides secure access to gear while wearing the pack.
  • Lightweight, durable, and water-resistant.
  • Extremely good value considering its weight, load carrying capacity, and quality of materials.

Where to Buy:


The Drop 40L Backpack is a 30 oz (842 g), 40 L (2400 ci) pack designed to make externally stored gear easily accessible while moving quickly. Some of the more attractive features of the Drop 40L Backpack include are its weight, its high-quality fabric and materials, its wide shoulder straps, its frame design, and easy and its innovative external-pocket access.

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The Drop 40L Backpack (Photo:

Features and Specifications


  • Roll-top closure
  • Adjustable top strap for vertical compression
  • Daisy-chain system and removable front-pocket
  • Shoulder-strap pocket
  • Two large stash pockets
  • Removable foam back-pad
  • Adjustable tiedown cords for horizontal compression
  • Removable aluminum U-frame
  • Yoke-style shoulder straps
  • One-piece suspension construction
  • Dual hipbelt pockets
  • Hydration port
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Some of the Drop 40L’s features (Photo:


  • Carrying Load: 40 lbs (18 kg)
  • Weight: 29.7 oz (842 g)
  • Dimensions:
    • Bottom circumference: 30.5 in (78 cm)
    • Top circumference: 34.5 in (88 cm)
    • Unrolled height: 34.5 in (88 cm)
  • Material: VX21 and VX07 X-Ply Fabric
  • Capacity (2 sizes): 40L / 43L
  • Internal frame weight (removable): 3.25 oz (92 g)

Review Context

In judging a backpack’s performance, I primarily look for:

  • Construction: materials, design, and durability.
  • Fit: How does the pack feel against my back? Is it a design that will accommodate a variety of body types? Are the shoulder straps comfortable, and does the sternum strap stay in place? Does the hipbelt take the pack weight off of the shoulders?
  • Organization and gear access:
    • Backpacks are designed/organized as follows:
      • Main compartment
      • External pockets for quick access
      • Shoulder straps
    • Packs for hiking and backpacking will add:
      • Hipbelt
      • Sternum strap
      • Frame or frame sheet
      • Add-on features such as load lifters, integrated rain cover, “brain case,” etc.

Description of Field Testing

Gear Shake-Out

My gear shakeout functioned as my “first impressions” of the Drop 40L Backpack. Since the Drop 40L backpack has a recommended 40 lb (18 kg) load limit I loaded it with a sandbag to – you guessed it – 40 lbs (18 kg). I then went for a three-mile walk through my neighborhood. Temperatures dropped from 18F (-8C) to 8F (-13C) during the test walk. There was light snow. In the gear shakeout, I was primarily interested in the pack’s load capacity. The Drop 40L has an advertised load capacity of 40 lb (18 kg), and I wanted to verify this.

Three-Day Backpacking Trip

For my primary testing trip, I loaded the Drop 40L Backpack with a 0F (-18 C) sleeping bag, sleeping mats, and a four-season tent. I also brought a combination of dehydrated meals and ready-to-eat food. I tried to carry two liters of water whenever possible. The weather warmed up in early November – the daytime high temperatures were 68F (20C), and nighttime lows were 6F (-9C). The weather stayed clear, no rain or snow fell.

Drop 40L
The Drop 40L on the trail in Colorado.

Performance Assessment

My performance assessment of the Drop 40L Backpack included the following:

  • General construction and durability
  • Fit and Comfort (load-bearing ability)
  • Organization and Gear Access

General Construction and Durability

Knots on the Cordage

The first thing I noticed about Drop 40L Backpack was the adjustable tiedown cords were tied with overhand knots and that the length of the cords had been shortened with an extra stop knot. Since I was planning to use the pack to its full 43L capacity, I untied the overhand knots and tied double overhand knots instead. The double overhand knots won’t pull through as an overhand knot might.

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