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.
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
- Carrying Load: 40 lbs (18 kg)
- Weight: 29.7 oz (842 g)
- 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)
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:
- Sternum strap
- Frame or frame sheet
- Add-on features such as load lifters, integrated rain cover, “brain case,” etc.
- Backpacks are designed/organized as follows:
Description of Field Testing
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.
Member's Only Content
Login as a Premium or Unlimited Member to read the comprehensive Performance Assessment section of this review:
- Performance Assessment:
- General Construction and Durability (including cordage and fabrics)
- Load Bearing (including frame and backpad)
- Fit and Comfort (including yoke, shoulder straps, breathability, sternum strap)
- Organization and Gear Access (including main compartment, external access, hydration port)
- Daisy Chains, Straps, and Attachment Points
- Designer's Optimization - Pending Changes in Next Version
Member's only version is 4,300 words and includes 26 photographs.
Strengths and Limitations
- Light - 1.86 lbs (842 g)
- Waterproof, rugged VX21 / VX07 X-Ply Fabric shed snow and moisture easily
- Thoughtful, innovative exterior pocket design
- Daisy chain attachment points for easy modification
- Yoke-style, wide shoulder-straps and inverted U-Frame interior structure make for a stable, comfortable ride
- Yoke style shoulder strap
- Inverted U-frame
- Daisy chain front pocket fits only fit relatively thin items (<7.5 in / 19 cm)
- I had trouble accessing the side pockets while hiking
- The testing version of the pack is not entirely reflective of the final product
When comparing packs to the Drop 40L, I considered design, volume, load capacity, and fabric choice. Based on those factors, I chose the following backpacks to compare to the Drop 40L:
- Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 2400
- Mountainsmith Zerk 40
- KS Ultralight Gear R-50
- Cilogear 45L WorkSack
|Product||Drop 40L Backpack||Hyperlite 2400 Windrider||Mountainsmith Zerk 40||KS Ultralight Gear R-50||Cilogear 45L WorkSack|
|Weight||1.86 lbs |
|1.87 lbs |
851 g (White)
916 g (Black)
Base R-50, no add-on options
Base 45L WorkSack, no add-on options
|Load Capacity||40 lbs|
|Dimensions||Top Circumference: 34.5 in |
Bottom Circumference: 30.5 in
Unrolled height: 34.5 in
|Top Circumference: 37.5 in|
Unrolled height: 30 in
W x D
11.75 in x 5.75 in
(47 x 30 x 14.6 cm)
|Not listed||Not listed|
|Material||VX21 / VX07 X-Ply Fabric||DYNEEMA® FIBER + DYNEEMA® COMPOSITE FABRICS||100d Nylon HT w/ 200d Spectra Double R/S TPU|
Atilon Foam (Backpanel)
210g Stretch Mesh
EVA & PE Foam
|X-pac VX21 black or color, bottom in cordura 1000D||Dimension Polyant VX42 / VX21
Hi-Tenacity Nylon / Dyneema® 210d Ripstop
|Volume||40L / 43L||40L||40L||Up to 45L||32L up to 75L|
|Frame||Internal, inverted-U Frame||Removable, contoured aluminum stays||Stiff atilon foam||Available as an add-on option||Framesheet|
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 2400 is a 40L backpack, with an empty weight of just under 2 lbs (30 oz).
The Drop 40L backpack compares well with the Windrider. Both are 40L backpacks with a comparable weight. Both are lightly framed with removable materials. The external pocket philosophy is There is also a difference in materials (which likely accounts for the cost difference). The Drop 40L is made out of VX21 and VX07 x-ply fabric vs. Hyperlite’s Dyneema® Composite fabric. The 2400 Windrider sells for $310.00 from Hyperlite’s webpage. The Drop 40L sells for $180 on Drop.com. See the section on Fabric (above) for an exploration of the difference between fabrics used on these packs.
There are two other packs in our table made from X-Pac material.
KS Ultralight Gear offers made to order packs of various models. I chose the R-50 (which we reviewed here) because it is similar in size and features to the Drop 40L. The R-50 is a 45L pack, boasts a roll-top “joker hat” design where the load lifters attach to the ears of the roll-top when closed. Other options are available, although any add-on features take the pack past its base weight of 1.1 lbs (499 g).
The R-50 is reasonably priced, even with the added cost of shipping from Japan, at $194 (¥21,000 JPY), and is available for purchase directly from the manufacturer’s website using PayPal.
Cilogear also offers a variety of packs, primarily for alpine climbers. The 45L WorkSack is comparable to the Drop 40L based upon size. The 45L WorkSack base weight is 1.6 lbs (726 g.) A key feature of the WorkSack is that it has a large capacity range - it can be compressed to 32L or expanded to pack up to 75L. This large capacity range comes with a large price tag- $289, just slightly less than the Hyperlite 2400 Windrider. Cilogear also sells direct through its website, and packs are made to order.
The Mountainsmith Zerk 40 is a comparable pack by size (40L) but uses 100d Nylon HT w/ 200d Spectra Double R/S TPU materials for the pack body (vs. the X-Pac or Dyneema.) The Zerk 40 is slightly more expensive ($219.95 vs. $180) but is also slightly lighter (1.75 lbs / 794 g vs. 1.86 lbs / 842 g). The Zerk 40 has no frame, but has comparably wide shoulder straps and lacks a load-bearing hipbelt. It also shares a similar external organization design philosophy with the Drop 40L, though the execution differs somewhat.
The Drop 40L Backpack is a versatile and outstanding contender in the high-performance 40L pack category. You can expect this pack to perform well for trips from three-to-five days in warmer weather when less gear is needed.
The 29.7 oz (842 g) weight is light and doesn’t compromise function to achieve this weight. The VX21 and VX07 x-ply fabrics (a.k.a. X-Pac fabric) are durable and waterproof - making the Drop 40L a great all-around pack suitable for scrambling and bushwhacking in addition to on-trail use.
The Drop 40L retained a degree of comfort at maximum load-carrying capacity but was certainly more of a pleasure to carry at lighter loads. The wide shoulder straps and yoke-style attachment-design contribute to this comfort, as does the close-to-body suspension and inverted, removable U-Frame support. Fans of a less-sweaty back and more-cushy shoulder straps might want to look at another pack, however.
The external storage design choices - shoulder-strap pockets, large-ish hip-belt pockets, and voluminous side-pockets - reflect a growing trend towards on-the-go gear access. Where the Drop 40L innovates is with the QuickAccess pocket and daisy-chain-attached, solid-fabric rear pocket. I found the side pockets difficult to access. The shoulder-strap pockets and hip-belt pockets were to small to be of much use to me, but these pockets are changing in the final design.
We can’t fairly judge the pack as a whole until we get our hands on the final version. But until then, we are excited about the potential for the Drop 40L to be a high-performing, forward-looking backpack at a great value.
Where to Buy
Links to product reviews of related packs at Backpacking Light:
- The Osprey Lumina/Levity 60
- The REI Co-op Flash 55
- The Mountainsmith Zerk 40
- The Atom Packs Atom
- KS Ultralight RS-50 Review
- Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider Review
Also, see what our community is saying about the Drop 40L Backpack in the Forums:
Disclosure StatementUpdated November 7, 2019
- This review features a product designed by Backpacking Light Member and contributing author Dan Durston. Dan was not involved in the editorial direction of this review, other than providing factual information about the product as described above as requested by the author.
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