ALPS Mountaineering Commander
The ALPS Commander frame pack is very comfortable…
Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (Kept it)
The ALPS Commander frame pack is very comfortable to wear and is extremely durable. It is lightweight, solid, adjustable, and easy to use.
- Solid construction
- Material can rip easily if you aren't careful
I wasn't sure how well the pack would fit my shoulders with a heavy load, so in order to test the capabilities I piled everything on it. The Commander has a shelf that can be lowered and this is a great feature. I loaded camera gear, a spotting scope, tripods, food, water, etc. You get the picture.
When I weighed the pack 3/4 loaded it was 57 lbs. I'll admit, planning to hike over a riverbed full of boulders, running water and thick brush may not have been the most comfortable way to test it out. On the other hand, I think it was one of the best ways because I got to see how it would feel and work in a crazy situation. After I lad it loaded, I was able to tighten the side straps attached to the shelf to tighten the fit. This was a very nice feature.
Once I loaded the Commander with my gear and separate backpack, I ran out of strap for two of the three on the back side. I wasn't sure I could secure everything, but Alps Outdoorz thought of that and included three lash extenders. Let me tell you, these worked very well. I was able to clip them in, cinch everything down and nothing moved.
Once on my shoulders, I was able to adjust the shoulder harness and belt with ease. The pack itself was very comfortable even with the extra weight. I was sure to keep most of the weight on my hips and that freed up my shoulders. There were a few times that my gear shifted on the frame and pulled me one way or another. A few minor adjustments and I was back in business.
The hike in was a true test, but I kept imagining having to pack out an elk in the backcountry. We hiked in nearly a mile and a half. Most of the terrain was rocky, no make that full of boulders. My legs were given quite a workout, but I managed. Some of the areas were tricky and it was good to have more people around to lend a hand when needed.
The pack was run through the gamut. I dropped it on rocks, sat down and dinged it up, and I even dragged it a few time just to make it over some major deadfalls. Some of the fabric tore underneath the shelf, but that was about it! It held up well through the beating.
I was pleasantly surprised at how well the straps held everything down in the back. They didn't loosen up and were also easy to adjust if needed. Some pack straps lock down so tight that you tear flesh trying to release them. This was not the case as the Commander straps locked down easily and even with me going through thick brush they stayed locked down. Releasing them was super easy and required a little effort, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Loading the pack back up for the hike out was quick and painless. Everything had a place and I had confidence that my camera gear would stay locked down through the journey. That made the hike even more memorable. Everything stayed in place and while I drifted toward the back of the pack (my legs were super tired), I was able to truly enjoy the remaining quarter mile over semi-even ground. The weight was still manageable and my shoulders and hips did not ache.
The Alps Outdoorz Commander Frame Pack suggested retail is $129.99. When compared to other frame packs, the Commander falls right into the average price range for one of this quality. Well constructed and durable. I would recommend this frame pack to anyone.