Dec 21, 2010 at 1:36 pm #1266814
Companion forum thread to:Dec 22, 2010 at 2:47 am #1676679
@adrianbLocale: Auckland, New Zealand
Nice review Will, I agree with most of your points.
I think this pack is fairly unique with it's combination of low weight, good volume, carrying comfort and panel access.
There is no other panel loading pack near this light. Travelling with a panel loading pack is a real luxury, also I find them great for more relaxing walking trips with plenty of picnic stops, often when I want to carry gear for others, versus more non stop trips where I eat out of my pockets and only unpack at the end of the day.
You mention the dimensions are too large to qualify as carry on, actually this isn't true if you really tighten the front straps down all the way. Another trick is to wrap the hipbelt around the pack backwards, which helps compress the side pockets, and streamlines things a bit. I empty the side pockets and rely on the top zippered pocket when in 'travel' mode, the result of all this is the pack becomes longer and slimmer looking. If there was a way to compress the top of the pack it would be even better for this.
I'd reiterate the carrying comfort of this pack, while carrying gear for a group I've absolutely filled it to the maximum (15+ kg) and still found it very comfortable. The adjustable torso length probably helps here. I only use a single layer (not folded) nightlite cut specifically to fit into the pad pocket and this works well (I don't like bulky pads in the pack stealing my volume and pushing the weight away from me). The resulting pad is too small for a torso pad but works well as a sit pad (and easily retrieved at stops) or to keep lower legs off the ground in combination with a bigger pad. So using an inflatable pad with this pack can work, which is good because bulky foam pads are a pain when travelling.
The pack gives you tons of pocket space while walking. The zippered top pocket is well designed to expand to a good sized volume. The front pocket is a bit redundant to me, it ends up obstructed and crushed by the two straps tightened over the top. But the large side pockets are excellent, and more than make up for the small front pocket – you can easily fit a 2 person tent in the longer side pocket. I too had the same problem where the mesh wasn't properly sewn into the mesh in one pocket. I wish the mesh material was a little less plasticy and more like the softer (but still tough) mesh used by MLD. Even if sewed properly they aren't as tough as the full dyneema hems on the current MLD packs, which now also allow adjusting of the tightness.
Also I wish there were bungee attachment points so that you could keep the pockets from billowing out when they are empty (eg when using it as carry on on a plane). In fact in general the pack needs a few small tie out points, for example I missed not having any way of strapping a pad to the underside of the pack, or any way of attaching poles or gear to the back or sides.
So to sum up, if you changed:
– some tie out points to allow side pocket compression
– some way to compress the top of the pack (a few more tie outs to attach bungee cord might do)
– nicer mesh material with better integration into the elastic hem
– moved or dropped or otherwise fixed the front zip pocket
Then I think this would be getting near the perfect ultralight travel pack.Dec 22, 2010 at 10:49 am #1676772
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
Excellent write up, Will. Any chance you can post a pic or two of the panel-loading flap and pack interior?Dec 22, 2010 at 11:09 am #1676777
@wandering_bobLocale: Oregon, USA
My wife and I have each had one of the originals since the first day they became available, and have carried it through the Sierra twice and along the Colorado Trail this year. FABULOUS….if you like panel loaders (and I do). I'll take it back to the CT again next summer.
One of the big selling points for us was the adjustable shoulder harness system. So many packs have fixed harnesses; they either fit or they don't. With the Traveler, you can fine-tune the set-up to fit you and the load you are carrying at the time.
The front pocket is a mixed bag, but I've learned to adjust my kit to use it. The bellowed pocket holds a LOT, but because one-half of the zipper is solidly sewn to the panel, the maximum opening is smaller than expected, limiting the size of what solid objects you can get in there. Soft items like my Gatewood Cape or jacket stuff through easily. I also use it to carry the OP sack holding all my maps and reference materials that I need to access during the day. Keeps me from having to open the panel numerous times a day.
The mesh side pockets have seen a lot of use and brush, but show no signs of wear. I have carried my collapsed trekking poles in the tall one, but prefer to strap them diagonally across the front pocket with the tips through the ice axe loop. The scree baskets prevent them from falling through.
I have carried up to 32 pounds in my Traveler without issue. A lot depends on the BULK of your gear, rather than the weight. There's a lot of room in the Traveller; you just have to learn how to load it. EDIT: My Bearikade Expedition fits vertically with room to spare. It can be made to fit horizontally, but you will abrade the fabric quickly as tightly as it fits. As stated below, the smaller Weekender fits horizontally with ease.
Given the paranoia of the TSA, I've never tried to carry my Traveler onto a plane. There are just too many items in my gear that, although permitted and legal, might get questioned, cause delays, or the risk of a "no way" declaration that forces me to return to the counter to check my pack and thus miss my plane. Besides, how else can I get my knife and stove aboard?Dec 22, 2010 at 11:32 am #1676788
@dking1005Locale: Olympic Peninsula
I like panel loaders and I bought the Traveler so that I could have a pack like my Mountainsmith Ghost that would accept a Bearikade. The weekender stows horizontally in the main compartment.
I always use the optional aluminum stays. I put my folded Neo-Air in the pad pocket, and insert my re-hydration cozy between the Neo-Air and the stays to protect my pad from chafe and to act as lumbar pad. Though the thin pad provides no support it does keep the weight close to my back.
I use color-coded silnylon bags for my gear and the volume is welcome. I really like how the top pocket is designed. If there's nothing in it the bottom lays against the top of the pack and doesn't reduce the size of the main compartment. The long mesh pocket fits my Squall or my Rainbow beautifully. My hydration reservoir goes in the upper mesh pocket on the other side.
I re-bent the stays to fit my torso and I find the pack very comfortable and have had it up to about 35 pounds with either provisions or snow gear. My usual weight with food and water is about 23 pounds.
It is a big pack. I'm amazed what I can get into it. It's too easy to take too much stuff, so I have to watch that.Dec 27, 2010 at 6:36 pm #1678103
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Interesting and thorough review. Good info.
REMOVABLE STAYS> I'd leave 'em in for most situations. Far better for load transfer.
MESH SIDE POCKETS> I prefer REAL side pockets with zippers – not mesh that WILL tear.
DYNEMA FABRIC> good choice for durability without adding noticable weightJan 9, 2011 at 7:31 pm #1682206
I've used one of these for more than 2 years on all continents. Because of international carry on restrictions (8 kg), I use this instead of a suitcase for business as well as backcountry. It stays partially packed, ready to go at a moments notice.
I probably have 200 days of use on it, and it looks great.
Absolutely no defects.
I use it as daypack by strapping it tightly.
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