User Review: Aarn Guiding Light 60L
Price Paid: sample tested
I have the "luxury" of testing gear professionally for outdoor magazines. Rarely have I been as impressed with a pack as I have been with the Aarn Guiding Light.
I began backpacking in the late 1970's when the externally framed packs were being ushered out in favor of the better balancing internals. While the externals could carry heavy weights, they limited one's freedom of movement, feeling like a ladder strapped to one's back. What the internals did to the old externals is what Aarn does to most of today's internals. The Guiding Light is the first time I've felt "free" with a full load (forty pounds-one fourth my body weight).
Unlike any other pack that I've used, this one does not inhibit one's motion. The shoulders and hips can move freely. After using the Aarn Guiding Light, most other packs I own feel as if they are locking me in a straight jacket.
The hip belt pivots with you and allows you to bend, twist and really stretch forward. The shoulder pads are linked together at the bottom by a web that slides freely through a slot in the bottom of the pack. You can reach up and down when climbing or freely swing your arms as in cross-country skiing and the pack enhances rather than inhibits your freedom of movement.
The Balance Pockets that attach to the top of the shoulder straps and to the hip belt help equalize the pack's load. Unlike most packs where the center of gravity is behind you forcing you to lean forward to compensate. The balance pockets enable you to walk comfortably, erectly, almost as if you wore no pack at all. Also, I could conveniently grab items without having to waste energy taking my pack off and then having to sling it back on.
The pack has a plethora of other cool features including a removable waterproof liner and a quiver for ice tools, wands and trekking poles. Just as an archer does not have to take off his quiver every time he needs an arrow, I can reach over my shoulder and grab an ice tool without having to take my pack off.
I have walked across America and have walked from Mexico to Alaska. If I ever decide to walk around the world, I would choose the comfort and convenience of an Aarn pack.