Wednesday, April 11, 2012

More Hiking Equipment

I purchased a Kelty Redwing (50) day-pack at REI last week. There is a good video review and overview, (10:24)min,, of the pack here. Another shorter video review, about (5:28)min., is here. The pack is hydration bladder compatible (most of them seem to be nowadays), has nice padding on the back and the hip-belt, and includes an aluminum spine/frame-stay and semi-rigid polymer framesheet (which appears to be removable). I had been pretty set on buying the Osprey Stratos (24), but the lumbar pad at the base of the stay on the Kelty pushed me in that direction.

Kelty Redwing (50)L Pack, Cypress; Image (c)REI, (c) Kelty

The Osprey has an included (removable, replaceable) rain-cover, and dedicated bungees for attaching your hiking poles while still wearing the pack (i.e. you don't have to stop and remove the pack to stow your 'poles, or have someone else stow them for you); this feature is referred to as "Stow-on-the-Go" on the website. This last feature had a lot of appeal for me because I plan on hiking Half Dome solo this year, and I also intend to do several other solo hikes before, and after, Half Dome. The lack of lumbar padding was a ding against the Osprey because, while the pack has a floating mesh support web, the aluminum frame stays seemed to dig into my lower back just a little; over time I expect it would just become worse. Also, the hip-belt was not as well-padded and the shoulder straps were a bit narrow.

Osprey Stratos (24) Pack, Tarn; Image (c) REI, (c) Osprey Packs.

I also tried the REI Lookout (40) day-pack (which is what I believe Dave used on the hike last year), but I disliked that it had only two (2) compression straps (one on each side), rather than four (4) (two on each side). As one reviewer pointed out, this means you can't cinch down the base of the pack as much as at the top, so keeping the pack close to the back (front to back) is not possible. This may be a trivial point, but I will go with the option, rather than without. The REI pack also had an integrated rain-cover; I still wish the Kelty included one. And the REI pack also included an internal frame, which I did not realize it had when I was checking out Dave's pack.

REI Lookout (40) Pack, Grecian Blue & CastleRock Gray; Image (c)REI.

Dave's REI day pack. Yosemite Half Dome Hike, Sept. 2011. (c) Lancer!!

When I was at the REI San Carlos store a couple weeks back, the same day as the San Jose 408K, I tried on the Gregory Z30 pack. It seemed to fit well, and has all the features I was looking for, except the Stow-on-the-Go bungee cords (Osprey is the only one that appears to have them). The salesperson who helped me get fitted for the pack mentioned that some customers had complained that the frame stays had a tendency to dig into their lower back, despite the lumbar padding, so rather than purchase this one on the spot, I chose to wait and try some others at the Stockton store when I had more time to spend on it. Disappointingly, the online inventory checker shows these packs are unavailable in any of the stores, but it is still available online. I really like the deep blue color, Midnight Blue.

Gregory Z30 Pack, Midnight Blue; Image (c) REI, (c) GregoryPacks.

Now, since my pack did not include a rain-cover I purchased one separately: the REI Duck's Back (60). This rain-cover appears to be more than suitable for my needs. On closer inspection of the rain-cover itself, I see there is an attached stuff-sack that can be used for storing the cover, which means the included carry case can be used to carry other items on a belt, or other webbing attachment point on your pack. Nice! The built-in pouch also appears to have a hole in one corner. That is either a defect (possible), or a pass-through port for your hydration bladder hose (more likely?). If and when I need to use this cover, I believe I will treat that opening as a hose pass-through.

REI Duck's back (60)L Rain Cover, Liquid Orange; Image (c) REI.

Mine does not appear to be quite as bright as in the photo, but it is still orange.

That's it for now.


Update: Proof read and made corrections. Added another video review link.

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