Dana Design ArcLight Glacier
Number of Pockets: two huge ones+top fanny pack
Max. Load Carried: 45 lbs.
Height of Owner: 6'
Price Paid: about $300
This is the most comfortable pack I have ever carried. I carried about 45 pounds in my pack on a 10-day trip to northern New Mexico and I am very pleased with the pack. The hip belt is supremely comfortable and the bag is perfectly sized to fit clothes and other junk in the two pockets, easily accessible stuff in the top pocket, and heavy cooking stuff on the inside. I used the two straps on the bottom to carry my tent. Overall a very useful and durable design.
Two years ago I went on a similar trip to New Mexico carrying a Lowe Alpine Contour Elite. My hips were so sore each morning I began thinking backpacking wasn't for me. Luckily when I purchased my Dana my interest was rekindled. I carried about 45 pounds in the pack and I have only a few quips:
1) one of the fiberglass rods inside the pack ripped out at the bottom so I couldn't fully tension the suspension (which put more weight on my shoulders), but I hardly noticed any difference in comfort because I was carrying only 30-35 pounds by then.
2) I sent the pack back to the manufacturer after I returned from the trip and after over two months Dana still hasn't FOUND it, let alone fix it. I think it got shipped to the wrong place so this may be an isolated case. The guys at the gear shop said it was the first Dana they had ever seen that had failed.
But overall the pack is awesome and probably the most comfortable pack you can buy for $300.
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: 50
Height of Owner: 6'1'
Price Paid: $240 (sale)
I've owned the Glacier for four years and have found it excellent for loads of up to 40 pounds. As pack weight approaches 50 pounds, the Glacier rapidly becomes uncomfortable. I'm sure for those loads a Terraplane would be good to have.
The Glacier is very comfortable, offering enough adjustments to keep you happy on the trail. I remember no significant break in time. I remember no significant break in time. The two long lined back pockets are great for carrying water, fuel, or wet items you don't want in the tent's main compartment. The hood converts to a day (fanny) pack that works well.
The sleeping back compartment at the bottom is rather small. If you have trouble fitting your bag in consider a compression sack or use the Dana feature of folding in the bottom compartment and strapping the bag to the outside.
In deciding which backpack to choose consider your longest typical hike--not the longest you could possibly imagine. Since I've learned to pack reasonably light, I can't imagine needing to carry as much as I've carried before. For my needs (up to 10 days on the trail in summer), the Terraplane would have been an overkill. (Even the Glacier gets pretty slack by the end of a summer trip.) And the Glacier is considerably lighter.
The Dana worksmanship is excellent and the warranty is lifetime (whatever that means in an age with mergers so rampant).
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: 45 lbs
Height of Owner: 6'1"
Price Paid: $250
This is one hell of a pack. It does almost everything perfect. I looked at and tried a lot of packs before finding a deal on this one. I know Arcteryx, Gregory and Osprey make nice packs too, but I have to believe Dana tops them all. There are quite a few reasons why I like this model even better than the Terraplane...
It's sized a bit smaller and more appropriate for most outings up to two weeks.
It carries loads up to 50 lbs. very well.
Same body style.
More precise adjustments on shoulder straps.
It costs less.
The Glacier did everything I asked on a recent four day solo trip. The craftsmanship is unbelievable. Tight stitching, parts fit evenly. I have very bony hips and have been bruised by every other hipbelt. My hips were barely sore (a big improvement) after wearing this pack around. The Cordura resists abrasion easily and every other part is built to last. Compared with packs the same price ($340 retail), this one is a steal. The new D2 fabric for 1999 is ridiculously tough. I don't care for the new shoulder pads as much. But that wouldn't be enough to deter me from buying another one if this one ever wears out.
Size: 5,200 cu.in.
Number of Pockets: 2/3
Max. Load Carried: 58 lbs
Height of Owner: 6'2"
Price Paid: $299
This is truly a wonderful pack for up to 50lbs. It rides like a dream. When overloading plan for shorter daily distances because the straps and belt aren't heavy enough to prevent sagging. If I "had" to shop again for a new pack I would not hesitate to order another Glacier. If I were adding another pack to the armory I'd opt for a Terraplane to carry the heavy loads and keep the Glacier for the shorter treks.
ps..... I weighed it heavily against the Gregory's but for comfort Dana wins hands down.
Design: top-loading with sleeping bag compartment
Number of Pockets: 5
Max. Load Carried: 40 lbs
Height of Owner: 5'10"
Price Paid: $190
I couldn't ask for a better pack. It has the right combination of pockets, incredible suspension, low weight (5 lbs. 8 oz.) and since I found it for less than $200, you can't find a better pack for the money. Handled 40 lbs well, I'm sure it could handle more. Dana packs are the best you can get. Incredible comfort and excellent durability. I've logged hundreds of miles with mine.
Where to Buy
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