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#102690 - 08/15/07 08:40 PM Backpacks
KarenRei Offline

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 28
Perhaps a bit offtopic, but I'm looking for some feedback and figured that I'd get some good advice around here smile Last trip my partner and I went on, she had to borrow a pack and my old backpack finally gave up the ghost after 12 years. I'm not in a rush, but I am eyeing a trip to Nahanni (a Northwest Territory wilderness park that doesn't even have roads that go into it -- only realistic access is by bushplane) in the semi-distant future, and will certainly need two packs by then. As with anyone making an investment in gear, I'd like to get the best possible pair of packs.

When I was in Japan, I had an idea for a pack, but I'm not sure if anyone makes one like this. After digging through my pack, and watching my friend and my partner dig through theirs, having to take things out and then stuff them back in to find stuff, I thought, wouldn't it be great to have a pack that had a rigid hinge on one side so that you could open the pack up like a butterfly. If you were to put velcro all over the inside of each half of the pack, and then a bit of velcro on each of your gear bags (clothing, food, stove, etc), you could stick gear bags to the outer or inner sides. When you opened your pack, it would be transformed into a "shelf", with everything out and ready for the picking -- your gear hanging off the two sides like feathers. You could hang your pack from a tree and have everything at an arm's reach if you wanted. If it starts to rain or you want to leave, just close it up and everything is all packed -- no loading it back up.

Anyone know if any such pack exists?

If not, any idea of a good pack that would be best for approximating such a thing? I.e., a long zipper on the main compartment that lets the pack open wide, good volume for it the pack's weight, reasonably priced, durable, and all the usual stuff? I'd be keeping an eye out for two packs of similar design but different sizes (I'm 6'0", while my partner is only 5'6")

Thanks in advance. smile

Edited by KarenRei (08/15/07 08:42 PM)

#102697 - 08/15/07 09:55 PM Re: Backpacks [Re: KarenRei]
KevinB Offline

Registered: 08/17/06
Posts: 91
You didn't say how big a pack you wanted. I'm guessing something more than a weekender?

I've always liked Gregory packs, though I don't know of any with the features you describe. I've also found REI gear to have tremendous bang/buck. Several of their packs feature dual top-loading and U or J-shaped zippers for duffel style loading. This might be something you'd be interested in. Look at the REI Mars and Venus packs.

Kevin B.

#102700 - 08/15/07 10:19 PM Re: Backpacks [Re: KarenRei]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3077
Hi KarenRei,

I'm not aware of any backpack of a similar design you've mentioned. Good idea though but probably goes against the main design criteria most manufacturers are aiming for, that of design weight, comfort, load capacity, waterproofness and durability with ease of access well down the design list.

But the great thing is that there is a tremedous range of superb quality multiday trekking backpacks out there.

I personally would stay away from standard issue military packs as they are designed to carry very heavy loads, tend not to be very comfortable and are consequently very heavy although very robust. There are some military type packs, which are more durable constructions of good quality civilian packs and if you like Olive Drab or Camo these make excellent packs.

There is a good review of the Karrimor Sabre 60-100 available at


You may also want to consider packs with adjustable height backs to get that perfect fit.

Another personal favourite is the Lowe Alpine Crossbow Expedition 75+15 because of the crossbow design which gives excellent load stability. If you can still find one.

The Berghaus C7 Pro series backpack may also be worth a look as it has a good design balance. (very good waterproofness designed for temperate i.e wet and damp UK conditions)

A good review is available here at

Hi end Macpac and Force Ten have an excellent reputation also.

#102702 - 08/15/07 10:34 PM Re: Backpacks [Re: KevinB]
KarenRei Offline

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 28
Sorry, yes -- volume of a typical hiking backpack (not an ultralight), somewhere in the 40-60 liters range, designed for use on long trips. Thanks!

#102703 - 08/15/07 10:37 PM Re: Backpacks [Re: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor]
KarenRei Offline

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 28
I've noticed that ease of access is usually way down on the list :P I find that annoying, personally. It makes it so that you have to take half or more of your stuff out at each campsite and load it up the next day. And if it rains and your stuff isn't in shelter, you have to scramble to get it loaded. If it is in your shelter, you have to sleep with it. I'd gladly take an extra pound or two to have easier access to gear and reduced setup/takedown time. Backpacking isn't just about reducing strain on your body, but also about keeping your mental wellbeing in good shape. smile

Thanks for the info. smile

Edited by KarenRei (08/15/07 10:39 PM)

#102706 - 08/15/07 11:48 PM Kifaru is the way [Re: KarenRei]
Polak187 Offline

Registered: 05/23/02
Posts: 1403
Loc: Brooklyn, New York
Well kind of what you are looking for can be achieved with Kifaru Marauder pack. You open it up by unzipping a front panel (like a suitcase) which allows you to see the entire inside of the pack. Since there is mole webbing inside you can attach pockets and pouches also made by Kifaru and organize your gear. Since pack has also molle webbing on the outside you can also attach pouches there in order to make it bigger. Using all the pouches makes it for a heavier set up but it sure keeps things organized.

You can see pouches inside the pack for gear organization (http://brunerdog.tripod.com/images/usn/m3.jpg):

This view shows you how I added more storage space on the outside of the pack. The back pouch and claymore pouch gave me additional storage and if I wanted to I could have attached two extra pouches on the left and right side (http://brunerdog.tripod.com/images/usn/m1.jpg).

Annother option is a Kifaru Xray that is a top loading/front pannel hybrid. You can load stuff from the top but also you can open up a front pannel on the bottom. Also this pack can be customized with additional pockets and pouches.

This is a pack with extra pouches:

And this is what I meant by front/top loader hybrid:

And this is size comparison:

#102707 - 08/16/07 12:05 AM Re: Backpacks [Re: KarenRei]
Roarmeister Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 09/12/01
Posts: 893
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Most manufacturers have male/female styles to their equipment lines. You will have to judge for yourself on how large a bag you will need but given the Nahanni area (rugged REMOTE wilderness) AND the need to bring all your food with you (no resupply available) I'd think you would require an expedition size pack. That's about 70-100 litres in size and capable of 50-80 lbs. There are people who have done remote trips with smaller packs but they've trimmed their gear over years of experience.

I would suggest logging onto the formun sections at backpacker.com and backpackinglight.com for more advice. But you will have to be prepared to be more specific on your needs and requirements before anyone can give you directed advice.

http://www.adventurenetwork.com/cgi-bin/adventurenetwork/Backpack_Best_Worst_Features.html http://www.patc.net/hiking/gear/packs.html

A couple of examples below:

The type of pack design you suggest doesn't sound like it would be structurally sound for carrying larger loads. But there are dozens of packs out there that will give you side zipper access, bottom compartment access, removable top compartments, and strap on exterior pockets. A large amount of velcro on the exterior to attach other items is just asking for trouble - from simply attracting plants, pollen, dirt to getting yourself hung up on bushes, etc.
Most packs are also size adjustable for different back lengths and waist sizes.

#102709 - 08/16/07 12:12 AM Re: Backpacks [Re: KarenRei]
Roarmeister Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 09/12/01
Posts: 893
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Opps didn't see your follow-up post. 40-60 litres for the Nahanni IS an ultralight pack, IMHO. smile

I've got 2 backpacks and 60 litre Osprey pack and a 72 litre MEC pack - for an remote wilderness trip it would definitely be the larger pack for me as it is capable of handling a 50-65 lb load whereas the smaller pack is limited to 45 lb loads. Unfortunately for me, my knees are only rated for 40 lbs! laugh

Edited by Roarmeister (08/16/07 12:15 AM)

#102716 - 08/16/07 01:04 AM Re: Backpacks [Re: KarenRei]
hamilton Offline

Registered: 04/10/07
Posts: 81
Gear skin

You could probably modify a gearskin like pack, by adding a rigid frame and a locking hinge. Although, I think the gearskin is already a good pack as far as accessibility is concerned.

#102719 - 08/16/07 02:29 AM Re: Backpacks [Re: KarenRei]
OldBaldGuy Offline

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
Best I can find is this , and it isn't nearly large enough for your plans. Sorry...

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